Mr. Bush’s comments came in response to calls from Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and others to investigate alleged lapses in intelligence gathering prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.
“We’re still at war,” the president said during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin. “We’ve still got threats tot he homeland that we’ve got to deal with, and it’s very important for us not to hamper our ability to wage that war.”
The president said the Senate and House intelligence committees would best handle any such investigation.
“[Members of Congress] understand the obligations of upholding our secrets and our sources and methods of collecting intelligence,” Mr. Bush said. “And therefore I think that’s the best place for Congress to take a good look at events leading up to Sept. 11.”
Calls for a special commission began after the disclosure last week that the president had heard analysis on Aug. 6 discussing the possibility al-Qaida might try to hijack airplanes.
“The time has come for us to do what they did after the invasion of Pearl Harbor, do what they did with the assassination of President Kennedy … to ensure that we get all the facts,” Daschle said Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Vice President Dick Cheney expressed his opposition to such a move, telling CNN such a move would multiply potential sources for intelligence leaks. Cheney also said the administration’s recent terror warnings were not an attempt to counteract what he called “irresponsible” comments from Democrats.