9/11 ‘could have been prevented’

“My feeling is a whole number of circumstances, had they been different, might have prevented 9/11,” Thomas Kean, chairman of The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, told CBS television.

In a preliminary report, the commission said insufficient attention was paid to early warning signs about the danger al-Qaeda posed to the United States and faulted both the Clinton and Bush administrations for failing to take aggressive action against bin Laden.

Mr Kean’s comments came shortly before US Secretary of State Colin Powell and his predecessor, Madeline Albright, gave their first public testimony at the inquiry.

Both defended the action taken by their administrations against bin Laden, but admitted measures had fallen short in the lead-up to 11 September 2001.

Mr Powell said that President George W Bush ordered moves to “destroy” al-Qaeda as soon as it took office because the previous administration under Bill Clinton had failed to eliminate the threat from Osama bin Laden’s group.

But Dr Albright insisted there was not enough evidence to support a case for war against al-Qaeda while Clinton held office.

“We did everything we could, everything we could think of, based on the knowledge we had, to protect our people and disrupt and defeat al-Qaeda,” Dr Albright told the commission.

President Bush is already facing criticism from a former White House anti-terrorism adviser.

He said on Tuesday that he would’ve acted quicker against al-Qaeda if he had information before September the 11th, 2001, that a terror attack against New York City was imminent.

He has agreed to speak to the commission members in private.

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