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U.S.: Bush Says He Answered All Questions Posed By 9/11 Panel

Washington, 30 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush says he answered every question during a meeting yesterday with an independent government commission investigating the 11 September 2001 attacks on America.

Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney took questions for more than three hours during the closed-door session at the White House. Afterward, Bush briefly appeared before reporters.

"It was a very cordial conversation,” Bush said. “I was impressed by the questions. And I think it helped them understand how I think and how I run the White House and how we deal with threats."

Bush said the commission was particularly interested in what steps can be taken to avert future terrorist attacks.

"There was a lot of interest about how to better protect America. They are very interested in the recommendations that they're going to lay out, and I'm interested in those as well," Bush said.

Asked why he insisted on jointly appearing with Cheney, Bush said, "If we had something to hide, we wouldn't have met with them in the first place. We answered all their questions, and as I say, I think -- I came away good about the session, because I wanted them to know, you know, how I set strategy, how we run the White House, how we deal with threats."

The president also said he cannot guarantee that there will not be any future attacks on the United States.

"We are still vulnerable to attack. And the reason why, is Al-Qaeda still exists. Al-Qaeda is dangerous. Al-Qaeda hates us. And we have to be correct 100 percent of the time in defending America and they got to be right once," Bush said.

Bush and Cheney did not answer the questions under oath and their statements were not tape-recorded. Only notes were taken.

The president initially opposed the creation of the commission and tried to limit which administration officials could testify before it.