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Bush didn't think terrorism was urgent: Ex-adviser

Agencies | March 25, 2004 09:24 IST

The administration did not consider terrorism an "urgent issue" before the September 11, 2001 attacks, despite repeated warnings about the Al Qaeda, US President George W Bush's former counterterrorism chief testified on Wednesday.

"I believe the Bush administration in the first eight months considered terrorism an important issue, but not an urgent issue," Richard Clarke told the 10-member National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.

Clarke has been in the spotlight for saying that the administration failed to recognise pending terror attacks against the US and that the president focused too much on Iraq after 9/11.

The testimony by Clark, the author of a recent book critical of the president, marked the climax of two days of hearings by the commission.

"Though I continued to say it was an urgent problem, I don't think it was ever treated that way," Clarke said.

But Secretary of State Colin Powell told the panel on Tuesday that Bush recognised terrorism as a priority even before the new administration took office.

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