The "most important failure" leading to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks," according to the 567-page final report of the special commission investigating them, "was one of imagination." "We do not believe leaders understood the gravity of the threat," the bipartisan panel wrote. The report, which culminated a 20-month probe into the plot that killed almost 3,000 people in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, endorsed creating a Senate-confirmed national intelligence center and urged the US and its allies to embark on a strategy of diplomacy and public relations to dismantle the global terror network.

Congressional auditors estimated that the Pentagon will need an additional $12.3 billion to pay for its worldwide war on terrorism through September, according to a projection released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office.

The Composite Index of Leading Economic Indicators, a closely watched gauge of future economic activity, declined last month for the first time in more than a year, the Conference Board said. It dropped 0.2 percent in June, when analysts expected it to remain flat.

AT&T Corp, the largest US long-distance telephone company, said Thursday it no longer would compete for residential customers. The move may pave the way for the company's corporate descendents, such as Verizon and SBC Communication, to win back millions of customers.

Four of five 9/11 hijackers were subjected to additional security screening, but still were allowed to board American Airlines Flight 77 at Washington's Dulles International Airport, a surveillance tape obtained Wednesday by the Associated Press showed. The grainy video was made available by the law firm representing families of some crash victims, who are suing the airlines and security industry. It shows the hijackers being pulled aside after setting off metal detectors. The carry-on bag of one is hand-checked, and the tickets of two others appear to be examined by screeners, although each was cleared for boarding.

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