"I answered every question," Bush said on Thursday after the three-hour session.

Families of 9/11 victims and government critics were hoping the investigators - who were picked by the White House - would press Bush and Cheney to explain how suspected followers of Usama bin Ladin pulled off the worst attack in American history.

But speaking with reporters in the White House Rose Garden, Bush sounded at ease. He declined to say what questions the commission members specifically asked. But he did say the session was cordial.

"I'm glad I did it. I'm glad I took the time...I enjoyed it."

The 10 commissioners gathered around Bush and Cheney in the Oval Office for the unprecedented closed-door meeting that was off-limits to all but White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and two members of his staff.

Bush and Cheney were not questioned under oath and transcripts of the conversation were forbidden.

Joint appearance

Asked why Bush felt it necessary to appear jointly with Cheney, the president vigorously defended that arrangement.

Members of the bipartisan inquiry
gathered at the White House

"If we had something to hide, we wouldn't have met with them in the first place," Bush said.

Critics have suggested the two men met together to make certain there were no discrepancies in their statements.

While he declined to say what the questions focused on, Bush told reporters, "I was never advised by my counsel not to answer anything. I answered every question they asked."

"There was a lot of interest about how to better protect America," he said. "They're very interested in the recommendations that they're going to lay out and I'm interested in that as well."

Candid

"I was impressed by the questions. I think it helped them understand how I think and how I run the White House and how we deal with threats," Bush said.

In a statement issued by the panel after the meeting, commissioners said they found the president and vice president "forthcoming and candid".

"The information they provided will be of great assistance to the Commission as it completes its final report. We thank the president and the vice president for their continued cooperation with the commission," the statement said.

One commissioner, Jim Thompson, said the questions included everything "across the board" that had been in public hearings.