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U.S. begins sharing evidence with allies



WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration has begun the process of sharing with allies evidence that officials say links Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network to the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, senior administration officials told CNN Monday.

The administration for the past week has been "pretty much convinced" that bin Laden was responsible, one official said.

Another senior administration source said that Secretary of State Colin Powell is "totally convinced" al Qaeda carried out the attacks.

Despite their certainty, federal officials were only ready to begin imparting varying levels of classified information on Monday. The evidence was to be contained in diplomatic cables to certain U.S. embassies around the world, they said.

During the course of the day State Department officials were in the process of putting the finishing touches on presentations that "make the case in a logical kind of way" without providing "every morsel of evidence," explained one senior source.

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Officials say the evidence is laid out in diplomatic cables to be dispatched to certain U.S. embassies. The first round of cables was expected to go out Monday or Tuesday to U.S. embassies in English-speaking countries, including Great Britain, Canada and Australia, the sources said. The U.S. ambassadors or senior diplomats in those countries will then provide the cable to the host governments.

The next round was expected within 48 hours, with close U.S. allies, including NATO members, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, receiving the information, the source said.

The second round, said sources, will not be as revealing as the initial cables.

Shortly after the second round is transmitted, "everyone else" will receive cables laying out the U.S. case, officials said. Again, those cables will contain less-detailed information than that given in the first two rounds.

Pakistan also will receive information, but it will be a "special case," with the evidence likely presented "eyeball to eyeball" in a meeting between President Pervez Musharraf and U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin, a source said.

Frank Taylor, the State Department's coordinator for counter terrorism, on Wednesday is scheduled to meet with officials from NATO countries and Russia on the terrorist attacks, a State Department official said.

Taylor is to brief the North Atlantic Council, NATO's decision-making body, and the Permanent Joint Council, a group in which NATO countries and Russia sit together.

-- From CNN State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel and producer Elise Labott.



 
 
 
 


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