updated 7/25/2004 4:25:04 PM ET 2004-07-25T20:25:04

The Sept. 11 commission’s report didn’t include the war in Iraq because Congress didn’t want it included and the commission couldn’t have agreed on a report if it had been, the panel’s vice chairman said Sunday.

“Moving to the war in Iraq just opens up a whole vast new area that I think is well beyond any reasonable interpretation of what we were supposed to do,” former Rep. Lee Hamilton.

Hamilton, an Indiana Democrat, was asked on CNN’s “Late Edition” why the commission did not say the United States should not go to war against countries that were not involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

He said Congress, in laying out the mission of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, set its mandate clearly on Sept. 11 and events surrounding the attacks.

Video: ‘Principal failures’ leading to 9/11 “I think it’s really people who are upset with the war in Iraq — and of course there are many who defend it and many who criticize it — (who) are trying to look at the commission report and expand the mandate from what it really should be,” Hamilton said.

He said he and the Republican chairman, Thomas Kean, former governor of New Jersey, decided that strictly following Congress’ dictates was the only way to ensure nonpartisanship among the commission’s five Democrats and five Republicans.

“If we had gone into the war on Iraq, it would have been hugely divisive, and we would not have been able to agree on the factual record,” Hamilton said.

“You have to make very pragmatic decisions, and I think Tom and I made those decisions. And one of them was to keep focus like a laser beam, if you would, on 9/11, and the events that immediately flow from that,” he said.

Bush reportedly to take action
President Bush probably will move within days to adopt recommendations made by the Sept. 11 commission, a senior administration official told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The White House is studying which of the panel’s can be implemented by executive order, which ones require congressional approval and which ones actually would improve domestic security.

Bush directed the White House chief of staff, Andrew Card, to undertake a high-level review of the proposals. That process will advance beginning Monday, when national security adviser Condoleezza Rice arrives at Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas.

“We will move as quickly as possible,” the senior administration official said, speaking to The AP on condition he not be identified because Bush has not announced his intentions or a timetable. “Some recommendations will happen within days; others may take more time.”

The official would not say which recommendations were likely to be adopted or offer more precise timing. Bush is following the long-standing tradition of keeping a low profile during this week’s Democratic National Convention, and announcing his acceptance of recommendations would be sure to draw attention from rival John Kerry’s gathering in Boston.

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