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Two senators blame State Department in
Sept. 11 attacks
GUGGENHEIM; Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Sept. 11
attacks would not have happened if the State Department had followed
its own guidelines and denied visas to the hijackers, two top
Republican senators said in a report issued Wednesday.
Sens. Jon Kyl and Pat Roberts said in a report that "the answer to
the question—could 9/11 have been prevented—is yes, if State
Department personnel had merely followed the law and not granted non-immigrant visas to 15 of the 19 hijackers in Saudi Arabia."
If U.S. laws had been followed, "most of the hijackers would not
have been able to obtain visas and 9/11 would not have happened,"
They said the hijackers should have been denied visas as single young
men with no visible means of support.
Many lawmakers have criticized the State Department's handling of visas
for the hijackers. But the criticism by Kyl and Roberts was among the
most blunt in tying the issuance of the visas to the failure to stop
There was no immediate comment from the State Department. State
Department officials have said previously they had no reason to believe
the men were terrorists and that their visa policies have been improved
since the attacks.
Roberts and Kyl are members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which
along with its House counterparts, conducted the inquiry into
intelligence failures leading up to the attacks. Roberts, of Kansas,
will likely be the committee's chairman next year; Kyl, of Arizona,
will have a top position in the Senate leadership.
Their comments were included in a supplemental report to the inquiry's
findings, which were completed last week. The committees found that
intelligence agencies were poorly organized and slow to pursue clues
that might have led to the attacks. They recommended creating a
Cabinet-level national intelligence director to improve communications
In a separate supplemental report, Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., also
criticized the State Department, saying most of the hijackers were
wrongly admitted "as a result of decisions made and errors
committed by responsible State Department and Justice Department
Roberts, Kyl and Castle all noted that State Department's actions was
not part of the inquiry, which was limited to intelligence issues. A
newly formed commission headed by former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean
will examine immigration and other issues related to the attacks.
Kyl and Roberts also criticized the recently completed congressional
investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks, saying it didn't dig deeply
enough into intelligence problems. They said intelligence committee
leaders excluded lawmakers from key decisions during the investigation.
KEN GUGGENHEIM; Associated Press Writer
Two senators blame State Department in Sept. 11 attacks, 12-18-2002