The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission, was set up on November 27, 2002, "to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11 attacks", including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks.
The commission was also mandated to provide recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.
Chaired by former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean, the commission consisted of five Democrats and five Republicans. The commission was created by Congressional legislation, with the bill signed into law by President George W. Bush.
The commission's final report was lengthy and based on extensive interviews and testimony. Its primary conclusion was that the failures of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation permitted the terrorist attacks to occur and that had these agencies acted more wisely and more aggressively, the attacks could potentially have been prevented.
The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States was established on November 27, 2002, by President George W. Bush and the United States Congress, with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger initially appointed to head the commission. However, Kissinger resigned only weeks after being appointed, because he would have been obliged to disclose the clients of his private consulting business. Former U.S. Senator George Mitchell was originally appointed as the vice-chairman, but he stepped down on December 10, 2002, not wanting to sever ties to his law firm. On December 15, 2002, Bush appointed former New Jersey governor Tom Kean to head the commission.
By the spring of 2003, the commission was off to a slow start, needing additional funding to help it meet its target day for the final report, of May 27, 2004. In late March, the Bush administration agreed to provide an additional $9 million for the commission, though this was $2 million short of what the commission requested. The first hearings were held from March 31 to April 1, 2003, in New York City.
- Thomas Kean (Chairman) - Republican, former Governor of New Jersey
- Lee H. Hamilton (Vice Chairman) - Democrat, former U.S. Representative from the 9th District of Indiana
- Richard Ben-Veniste - Democrat, attorney, former chief of the Watergate Task Force of the Watergate Special Prosecutor's Office
- Max Cleland - Democrat, former U.S. Senator from Georgia. Resigned December 2003, stating that "the White House has played cover-up"
- Fred F. Fielding - Republican, attorney and former White House Counsel
- Jamie Gorelick - Democrat, former Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration
- Slade Gorton - Republican, former U.S. Senator from Washington
- Bob Kerrey - Democrat, President of the New School University and former U.S. Senator from Nebraska. Replaced Max Cleland as a Democratic Commissioner, after Cleland's resignation.
- John F. Lehman - Republican, former Secretary of the Navy
- Timothy J. Roemer - Democrat, former U.S. Representative from the 3rd District of Indiana
- James R. Thompson - Republican, former Governor of Illinois
The members of the commission's staff included:
- Philip D. Zelikow, Executive Director/Chair
- Christopher Kojm, Deputy Executive Director
- Daniel Marcus, General Counsel
- John J. Farmer, Senior Counsel
- Janice Kephart, Counsel
- Alvin S. Felzenberg, Spokesman
Officials called to testify
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Then government officials who were called to testify before the commission included:
- George W. Bush - President; testimony not under oath. The session was not officially transcribed because the White House considered it a "private meeting" in which highly classified information would be discussed. Asked to limit the length of testimony to one hour (However, the meeting lasted for three hours and ten minutes). Testimony took place in the Oval Office. Initially, Bush insisted that he testify only to the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the commission, but later agreed to testify before the full panel.
- Dick Cheney - Vice President; testimony not under oath. The session was not officially transcribed because the White House considered it a "private meeting" in which highly classified information would be discussed. Testimony took place in the Oval Office.
- George John Tenet - Director of Central Intelligence Agency
- Colin Powell - Secretary of State
- Donald H. Rumsfeld - Secretary of Defense
- Condoleezza Rice - National Security Advisor
- Richard Armitage - Deputy Secretary of State
- Paul Wolfowitz - Deputy Secretary of Defense
- Tom Ridge - Secretary of Homeland Security and former Governor of Pennsylvania
- John Ashcroft - Attorney General
Past government officials who were called to testify before the commission included:
- Bill Clinton - former President; testified in private separately from Al Gore. Testimony was recorded and not limited in time.
- Al Gore - former Vice President; testified in private separately from Bill Clinton. Testimony was recorded and not limited in time.
- Madeleine Albright - former Secretary of State
- William Cohen - former Secretary of Defense
- Sandy Berger - former National Security Advisor
- Richard A. Clarke - former chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council in the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations
- Janet Reno - former Attorney General
- Sibel Edmonds - former FBI translator
President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, former President Bill Clinton, and former Vice President Al Gore all gave private testimony. President Bush and Vice President Cheney insisted on testifying together and not under oath, while Clinton and Gore met with the panel separately. As National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice claimed that she was not required to testify under oath because the position of NSA is an advisory role, independent of authority over a bureaucracy and does not require confirmation by the Senate. Legal scholars disagree on the legitimacy of her claim. Eventually, Condoleezza Rice testified publicly and under oath.
The commission issued its final report on July 22, 2004. After releasing the report, Commission Chair Thomas Kean declared that both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were "not well served" by the FBI and CIA. The commission interviewed over 1,200 people in 10 countries and reviewed over two and a half million pages of documents, including some closely guarded classified national security documents. Before it was released by the commission, the final public report was screened for any potentially classified information and edited as necessary.
Additionally, the commission has released several supplemental reports on the terrorists' financing, travel, and other matters.
The commission was criticized for alleged conflicts of interest on the part of commissioners and staff (e.g., Philip D. Zelikow, 9/11 Commission Executive Director/Chair in 1995 co-authored a book with Condoleezza Rice). Further, the commission's report has been the subject of criticism by both commissioners themselves and by others.
Work of commissioners after the commission ceased its functions
Months after the commission had officially issued its report and ceased its functions, Chairman Kean and other commissioners toured the country to draw attention to the recommendations of the commission for reducing the terror risk, claiming that some of their recommendations were being ignored. Co-chairs Kean and Hamilton wrote a book about the constraints they faced as commissioners titled Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission.
The book was released on August 15, 2006 and chronicles the work of Kean (Commission Chairman) and Hamilton (Commission Vice-Chairman) of the 9/11 Commission. In the book, Kean and Hamilton charge that the 9/11 Commission was "set up to fail," and write that the commission was so frustrated with repeated misstatements by officials from The Pentagon and the Federal Aviation Administration during the investigation that it considered a separate investigation into possible obstruction of justice by Pentagon and FAA officials.
John Farmer, Jr., senior counsel to the Commission stated that the Commission "discovered that...what government and military officials had told Congress, the Commission, the media, and the public about who knew what when — was almost entirely, and inexplicably, untrue." Farmer continues: "At some level of the government, at some point in time … there was a decision not to tell the truth about what happened...The (NORAD) tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public." Thomas Kean, the head of the 9/11 Commission, concurred: "We to this day don’t know why NORAD told us what they told us, it was just so far from the truth."
- "National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States". 9-11commission.gov. September 20, 2004. Archived from the original on February 11, 2010. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
- "Investigating Sept. 11". NewsHour (PBS). November 27, 2002. Archived from the original on February 20, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2009.
- Cable News Network (December 13, 2002). "Kissinger resigns as head of 9/11 commission". CNN Inside Politics (Time Warner). Retrieved August 7, 2006.
- "Mitchell quits 9/11 probe". CNN. December 10, 2002. Archived from the original on February 20, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2009.
- "Bush taps ex-New Jersey governor for 9/11 panel". CNN. December 16, 2002. Archived from the original on February 20, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2009.
- Burger, Timothy J. (March 26, 2003). "Commission Funding Woes". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on January 14, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2009.
- "Probe Wins Boost in Aid". New York Daily News. March 30, 2003. Retrieved January 21, 2009.
- Chen, David W. (April 1, 2003). "Beyond Numbers, 9/11 Panel Hears Families' Anguish". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 20, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2009.
- ""The White House Has Played Cover-Up"–Former 9/11 Commission Member Max Cleland Blasts Bush". Democracy Now!. March 23, 2004. Archived from the original on July 16, 2009. Retrieved July 7, 2009.
- Jehl, Douglas (August 9, 2005). "Four in 9/11 Plot Are Called Tied to Qaeda in '00". New York Times (Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.). Retrieved January 19, 2015.
- "9/11 commission finishes Bush, Cheney session". April 29, 2004. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
- Kill the Messenger. SBS Australia, 2007. Documentary.
- Burger, Timothy J. (Dec 20, 2003). "Condi and the 9/11 Commission". Time. Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
- Shovelan, John (July 23, 2004). "9/11 Commission finds 'deep institutional failings'". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved February 2, 2007.
- Zelikow, Philip D.; Condoleezza Rice (1995). "Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft". Harvard University Press. http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/ZELGER.html?show=reviews.
- Associated Press, Feb. 3, 2008, "Ties between White House, Sept 11 Chief", http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/S/SEPT_11_COMMISSION?SITE=CAVEN&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT, archived at: http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/02/04/6826/
- "9/11: Truth, Lies and Conspiracy Interview: Lee Hamilton". CBC News, Canada. August 21, 2006. Archived from the original on June 23, 2008. Retrieved October 16, 2010.
- Eggen, Dan (August 2, 2006). "9/11 Panel Suspected Deception by Pentagon". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 31, 2009.
- Yen, Hope (August 4, 2006). "Book: Sept. 11 Panel Doubted Officials". Associated Press (Washington Post). Retrieved October 16, 2010.
- Levins, Harry (September 6, 2009). "The Ground Truth". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved September 12, 2009.
- Farmer, John (2009). The Ground Truth: The Untold Story of America Under Attack on 9/11. Riverhead Books. ISBN 1-59448-894-0.
- Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission, by Thomas H Kean and Lee H. Hamilton (Random House, August 2006) ISBN 0-307-26377-0
- The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, by Philip Shenon (the Twelve - Jan. 2008), ISBN 978-0-446-58075-5
- The Next Ten Years of Post-9/11 Security Efforts, Q&A with 9/11 Commissioner Slade Gorton (July 2011)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 9/11 Commission.|
- Official website
- The Complete 9/11 Commission Report (7 MB PDF)
- Kindle-formatted version of the Complete 9/11 Commission Report
- 9/11 Commission staff biographies
- 9/11 Public Discourse Project (Set up by Commission members following completion of report)
- The 9-11 Commission: An Audio Chronicle - NPR
- Congressional Research Service, 9/11 Commission Recommendations: Implementation Status, Dec. 2006
- Stonewalled by the C.I.A. Op-Ed piece written by Thomas Kean and Lee H. Hamilton in the January 2, 2008 edition of the New York Times
- 9/11 Chair: Attack Was Preventable - from CBS
- The Shea Memorandum to the 9-11 Commission
- Photos of 9/11 Commission Public Hearings 7 to 12
- Works by 9/11 Commission at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)