9/11 Panel Getting Disputed Docs

The federal panel reviewing the Sept. 11 attacks will determine early next week whether thousands of classified counterterrorism documents from former President Clinton's administration were unduly held back by aides to President Bush.

The Bush administration granted the Sept. 11 commission access to the documents Friday after Bruce Lindsey, who was legal adviser to Clinton, said officials didn't turn over all of Clinton's records to the panel.

The commission's lawyers will begin reviewing the material Monday and should know by Tuesday if additional documents should be released, panel commission spokesman Al Felzenberg said Friday.

"Mr. Lindsey voiced a concern. We shared the concern. So they have come up with a way of assuring us that we have access to the materials we need," Felzenberg said. "We'll know quickly if there are materials we should have or if they are duplicates."

Until then, Felzenberg said, the commission is withholding judgment as to why some documents weren't released.
"There's a lot of paper flying around. Let's see if there's more to the charge than we know," he said.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the Bush administration had released all relevant documents but would cooperate in making sure the commission is satisfied that its requests were filled.

"If the commission wants to go back and verify that some documents are duplicative or non-responsive to their requests, then we are more than happy to work with the commission so that they can do so," he said.

On Thursday, Lindsey charged that the commission wasn't getting a full picture of Clinton's terrorism policies because the Bush administration had forwarded only 25 percent of the 11,000 records the former president wanted to provide the panel.

While such records are sealed by law for five years after a president leaves office, an exception was made to allow early access for the Sept. 11 panel. But the National Security Council and Bush administration attorneys released only a fraction, Lindsey said.

Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore are scheduled to meet privately with the 10-member commission in the coming weeks to discuss whether anything could have been done to prevent the attacks.

Lindsey's contention comes as national security adviser Condoleezza Rice prepares to testify next Thursday as to what Clinton officials told the incoming Bush White House about the al Qaeda terrorist network linked to the attacks and what the new administration did with the information.