Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001

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The Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 is the official name of the inquiry conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence into the activities of the U.S. Intelligence Community in connection with the September 11, 2001 attacks. The investigation began in February 2002 and the final report was released in December 2002.

Calls for inquiry[edit]

The White House, Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and Representative Porter Goss (R-FL), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, originally rebuffed calls for an inquiry following the September 11 attacks. After December 2001, initial resolutions in the Senate called for the establishment of an independent bipartisan commission.[1] The Joint Inquiry was announced February 14, 2002 with Senator Graham saying it would not play "the blame game about what went wrong from an intelligence perspective", and Representative Goss saying, "This particular effort focuses on the broader issues of terrorism worldwide, our capacity to counter terrorist activities and our preparedness to protect the American people at home and abroad."[2]


Senator Graham and Representative Goss, accompanied by their respective committee ranking minority members, Republican Senator Richard C. Shelby and Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi, led the joint inquiry. L. Britt Snider, the former inspector general of the CIA, was staff director.[2] He hired a 30-person investigative staff to gather evidence and interview CIA, Central Intelligence Agency ("FBI") and other intelligence and law enforcement agencies.[3]

However, the committee quickly ran into stonewalling, delays and attacks from Vice President Dick Cheney and United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, especially after an alleged leak from the committee. CNN had reported classified information that the National Security Agency had received warning of the attacks on September 10th but failed to translate and forward them.[4] Staff director L. Britt Snider was pressured to resign in April 2002 because of questions about whether one or more of his hires had lacked proper clearance to view classified material.[3]

The Washington Post reported in May of 2002 that Senator Goss dismissed as "a lot of nonsense" reports that five weeks before the attacks a CIA briefing had alerted President Bush about possible Osama bin Laden associates' plans to highjack aircraft; he said the investigation focus would be on why the United State intelligence bureaucracy composed of 13 agencies failed to detect the hijackers. Senator Graham said the question was why wasn't the intelligence precise. Critics on and off of Capitol Hill complained that Goss was too aligned with the CIA and Graham was insufficiently assertive.[5]

In August 2002 unnamed individuals who had read the report revealed it contained accusations of links between the government of Saudi Arabia and the attacks. The Saudis denied this and asked that the section be made public, but President Bush refused.[6] In December of 2002 Senator Graham himself revealed in a PBS interview that "I was surprised at the evidence that there were foreign governments involved in facilitating the activities of at least some of the terrorists in the United States."[7]

The report[edit]

The joint inquiry released their findings in December 2002. The 832 page report (available as both S. Rept. 107-351 and H. Rept. 107-792) presents the joint inquiry’s findings and conclusions, an accompanying narrative, and a series of recommendations.[8] The critical and comprehensive report detailed failings of the FBI and CIA to use available information, including about terrorists the CIA knew were in the United States, in order to disrupt the plots.[4]

Redacted sections[edit]

The Bush administration decided to classify the controversial twenty-eight pages which allegedly dealt with allegations about links between Saudi Arabia and the hijackers. The committee called for further investigations and the Saudi government again called for its release.[4] Senator Graham later noted that "this material was developed by the joint inquiry" and was "not classified information that was made available to Congress by the executive."[9] Some leaked information from CIA and FBI documents alleged that there was “incontrovertible evidence” that Saudi government officials, including from the Saudi embassy in Washington and consulate in Los Angeles, gave the hijackers both financial and logistical aid. Named were then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar and Osama Bassnan, a Saudi agent, as well as American al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta, and Esam Ghazzawi, a Saudi adviser to the nephew of King Fahd.[10]

In July 2003 Senator Bob Graham pressed the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to release the material, per its authority under Senate Resolution 400, which established the Committee in 1976. However, the committee did not vote and his request was merely denied. Then-chair Senator Pat Roberts, (R-KS) and Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) wrote Graham that "it is our view that release of additional information from Part Four could adversely affect ongoing counterterrorism efforts.” Graham later said the response showed that the Intelligence Committee had shown "a strong deference to the executive branch.”[9]

In July 2003 Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) joined approximately 42 Democratic senators in calling on President Bush to release the 28-page section which was censored for "national security reasons". Senator Graham stated the refusal "is a continuation of the pattern of the last seven months-a pattern of delay and excessive use of national security standards to deny the people the knowledge of their vulnerability."[11]

In December 2013 Representatives Walter B. Jones, Jr. (R-KY) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA) proposed Congress pass a resolution urging United States President Barack Obama to declassify all of the 2002 report.[10][12] They held a press conference in March, 2014.[13] House Resolution 428 of the 113th Congress had 10 co-sponsors as of September 2014. [14]

Family members of September 11 victims have said that President Obama told them both individually and in a group setting that he would release the documents so they could know the truth. The documents also would be used to support lawsuits against Saudi Arabia for complicity in the attacks and deaths. Families have worked closely with Representatives Jones and Lynch on de-classifying the documents.[15] In June of 2014 the United States Supreme Court ruled that the families, as well as insurance companies which paid large claims after the attacks, could sue Saudi Arabia. This permitted attorneys to begin collecting documents and deposing witnesses.[16]


September 11th victim families were frustrated by the unanswered questions and redacted material and demanded an independent commission.[4] In late 2002 President Bush and congress established the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, an independent bipartisan commission popularly known as the "9/11 Commission".[17]

In 2004 Senator Graham released his book Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America's War on Terror which dealt with issues raised by the investigation.[18][19]


  1. ^ Patrick Martin (6 March 2002). "Further delay in US congressional investigation into September 11 attacks". World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved 10 August 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Press Release of Intelligence Committee, Senate and House Intelligence Committees Announce Joint Inquiry into the September 11th Terrorist Attacks, February 14, 2002.
  3. ^ a b Greg Miller, Leader of 9/11 Probe Resigns Suddenly, Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2002.
  4. ^ a b c d Athan G. Theoharis, editor, The Central Intelligence Agency: Security Under Scrutiny, Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 222-224, 2006, ISBN 0313332827
  5. ^ Richard Leiby, A Cloak But No Dagger; An Ex-Spy Says He Seeks Solutions, Not Scapegoats for 9/11, Washington Post, May 18, 2002.
  6. ^ James Risen and David Johnston, Report on 9/11 Suggests a Role By Saudi Spies, Washington Post, August 2, 2003.
  7. ^ Improving Intelligence, PBS interview with Sen. Bob Graham, December 11, 2002.
  8. ^ "Congressional Reports: Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001". Retrieved 10 August 2010. 
  9. ^ a b Ali Watkins, Senate intelligence panel could seek to declassify documents; it just doesn’t, McClatchy Washington Bureau, August 12, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Paul Sperry, Inside the Saudi 9/11 coverup, New York Post, December 15, 2013.
  11. ^ Jonathan Karl and Steve Turnham, GOP senator joins push to declassify 9/11 report; Bush rejects calls for release of information, CNN Washington Bureau, July 30, 2003.
  12. ^ April 10, 2014 Letter to Barak Obama, signed by Representatives Walter B. Jones, Jr. and Stephen Lynch.
  13. ^ Press Conference on Declassification of 9/11 Documents with Representatives Walter Jones, Stephen Lynch, Thomas Massie (KY-4), and families of 9/11 victims; Rep. Walter Jones channel at YouTube, March 12, 2014.
  14. ^ H.Res.428 - Urging the president to release information regarding the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon the United States, 113th Congress (2013-2014) at
  15. ^ Chris Mondics, Struggling to detail alleged Saudi role in 9/11 attacks, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 31, 2014.
  16. ^ Chris Mondics, Supreme Court lets victims' 9/11 suit vs. Saudi Arabia proceed, Philadelphia Inquirer, July 02, 2014.
  17. ^ "Investigating Sept. 11". NewsHour (PBS). November 27, 2002. Archived from the original on February 20, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  18. ^ Bob Graham, with Jeff Nussbaum, Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America's War on Terror, Random House], 2004, ISBN 1588364526
  19. ^ Interview: Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, discusses his theory about a Saudi link to 9/11, NPR, September 9, 2004.

External links[edit]

  • S. Hrg. 107–1086, Volume 1. Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001. Hearings before the Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Senate and the Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence, House of Representatives; Volume I, September 18, 19, 20, 24, and 26, 2002
  • S. Hrg. 107–1086, Volume 2. Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001. Hearings before the Select Committee on Intelligence U.S. Senate and the Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence, House of Representatives, Volume II, October 1, 3, 8, and 17, 2002
  • S. Rept. No. 107-351, 107th Congress, 2d Session; H. Rept. No. 107-792. Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001. Report of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Together with Additional Views, December 2002.