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29 April 2004

White House Report, April 29: 9/11 Commission

Bush, Cheney meet with September 11 Commission

President Bush and Vice President Cheney met with members of the September 11 Commission April 29 for three hours in the White House Oval Office.

According to White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, all ten members of the commission were present as well as one commission staff member. White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales was also present with two White House staff members.

Asked why the two White House staff members were present the press secretary said, "The White House staff members are from the counsel's office and have been very involved in working with the September 11 Commission. They will be there to take notes on the meeting".

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States -- also known as the September 11 Commission -- has been conducting hearings into the events surrounding the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

"This is a private meeting to discuss important matters and the discussion from this meeting will be reflected in the commission's final report," McClellan said.

When asked about President Bush's preparation for the meeting, McClellan said, "The president met with Chief of Staff Andrew Card, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and White House Counsel Al Gonzales to look over documents that the White House had provided the commission."

Following the meeting with the commission, President Bush spoke to reporters.

"This is an important commission, and it's important that they ask the questions they ask so that they can help make recommendations necessary to better protect our homeland," Bush said.

Asked if he was advised by the White House counsel not to answer some of the commission's questions, Bush said, "I was never advised by my counsel not to answer anything. I answered every question they asked."

The president said that he looked forward to seeing the commission's recommendations in its final report to see if there are additional steps that can be taken to win the war on terrorism.

Asked if the U.S. was still vulnerable to al-Qaeda, Bush said, "We are still vulnerable to attack. The best way to secure America, however, is to stay on the offensive and bring those people to justice before they harm America again."

The September 11 Commission released a statement following the meeting saying, "The Commission found the president and vice-president forthcoming and candid. The information they provided will be of great assistance to the commission as it completes its final report."