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Probe of Sept. 11 attacks to review NYC's 911 tapes

WASHINGTON -- The federal commission studying the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks reached an agreement with New York City yesterday that will give the panel access to unedited 911 tapes and transcripts of firefighter interviews.

The commission issued a subpoena on Nov. 21 demanding the materials. The city had until yesterday to comply.

The panel's leaders, former New Jersey governor Thomas H. Kean and former representative Lee H. Hamilton, Democrat of Indiana, said in a statement that the commission's staff will have access to the material 14 hours a day beginning Monday. New York will retain possession of the unedited material, making it available to the commission at a designated city office. Only blacked-out transcripts that omit emotional outbursts and personal identifying information will be physically handed over to the panel.

"This agreement will afford commission staff access to everything it needs to do its job," said Kean, the chairman.

City officials said the accord "assures privacy protection for those tragically killed, as well as the privacy of their families and rescue personnel."

The bipartisan commission insisted on access to unedited transcripts and uncut tapes of 911 calls and transcripts of historical interviews with firefighters conducted shortly after the attacks.

The city offered the commission the same deal that was accepted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is reviewing the collapse of the World Trade Center.

The commission has a May 27 deadline to report its findings.

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