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Panel won't seek to declassify 9/11 documents

WASHINGTON -- Rejecting a request from other senators and the Saudi government, leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said they would not seek to declassify a secret section of a report dealing with foreign support for the Sept. 11 hijackers.

Releasing the information "could adversely affect ongoing counterterrorism efforts," committee chairman Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, and Senator Jay Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia, said in a letter this week to Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida.

Graham asked the committee in July to start procedures to declassify the material. Graham, a presidential candidate, was cochairman of the inquiry into the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and a former chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

"This is a serious disappointment from the current leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee," Graham spokesman Paul Anderson said.

He noted that both Graham and Senator Richard Shelby, the inquiry's top Senate Republican, have said that most of the section could be released without harming national security.

There was no comment from Roberts's and Rockefeller's offices late yesterday.

In their letter, they said they based their decision on their own review of the documents and a Sept. 4 closed-door hearing with FBI director Robert S. Mueller III and CIA deputy director John McLaughlin.

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