Tue, Oct 28, 2003 - Page 6 News List

Inquiry threatens to subpoena White House

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

The Bush administration was embroiled in a new controversy on Sunday over its handling of intelligence after the chairman of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks warned he would use the courts and issue subpoenas to obtain evidence from an uncooperative White House.

Thomas Kean, the chairman of the federal commission created last year to investigate the attacks, told The New York Times: "Anything that has to do with 9/11, we have to see it -- anything. There are a lot of theories about 9/11, and as long as there is any document out there that bears on any of those theories, we're going to leave questions unanswered. And we cannot leave questions unanswered."

The former Republican governor of New Jersey also warned that his commission would not hesitate to embarrass the White House by launching court proceedings to obtain classified material.

"I will not stand for it," he told the newspaper. "That means we will use every tool at our command to get hold of every document."

Members of the commission accuse the administration of sabotaging their work through endless delays, making it impossible to meet next May's reporting deadline.

The administration faces two investigations into its processing of classified data relating to the war on Iraq. A criminal investigation has been opened into the outing of a CIA operative by administration officials.

Senate committees are also investigating the Bush administration's use of intelligence reports to bolster its claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Yesterday one senator charged with tracing how the administration constructed its case for war said the complaints of non-cooperation were familiar.

"My sense of it is that on the intelligence committee we have been facing the same problems," Jay Rockefeller, the ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, told NBC television.

The commission has demanded especially sensitive material from the White House: copies of presidential daily briefings for the weeks preceding the attacks.

The object of his inquiry is to reveal how much the White House knew about potential terrorist threats against the World Trade Center. Last year the White House confirmed that President George W. Bush had received a written intelligence report in August 2001 warning that al-Qaeda might try to hijack airliners.

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