UQ Wire: First Interim Report Of 911 Commission
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Unanswered Questions : Thinking for ourselves.
First Interim Report of the
National Commission on
Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
Thomas H. Kean, Chair, and Lee H. Hamilton, Vice Chair
July 8, 2003
The 9/11 Commission will report on the facts and circumstances surrounding the attacks of September 11, 2001. It will review, identify, and evaluate lessons learned and make recommendations for the future. While we analyze the terrorist danger around the world, we are also addressing sensitive policy and intelligence issues across the federal government and beyond. In the last six months, the Commission has launched the most wide-ranging outside investigation of American national security in the history of the United States. We make this point so that the public will understand that the issues we are addressing have few, if any, precedents.
With a staff of more than 60 in three offices, two in Washington, DC and one in New York City, the Commission has received thousands of documents and is meeting with officials in every area of its work. The Commission is fully funded. Its professional staff has deep expertise. The staff now has the necessary security clearances. We are also able to build on work that has already been done inside the government.
This is a critical time for the Commission. We have worked hard to stay on schedule to complete our work by the end of May 2004, as required by our statute, but the coming weeks will determine whether we will be able to do our job within the time allotted. The task in front of us is monumental. Time is slipping by. Every day lost complicates our work. Extensive and prompt cooperation from the U.S. government, the Congress, state and local agencies, and private firms is essential. This report offers an initial evaluation of this cooperation.
When he signed the bill that created the Commission, President Bush pledged his cooperation. He and his subordinates have made significant efforts to keep that promise. Security clearances for commissioners and staff were expedited. The President designated a senior official at the Justice Department to facilitate Executive Branch cooperation with the Commission.
Yet it is also clear that the Administration underestimated the scale of the Commission’s work and the full breadth of support required. The facilitation job previously assigned to an already busy top official at Justice has now been transferred to another senior Justice official working full- time to support the Commission along with four deputies.
Every bit of that help will be needed in expediting responses to the 26 briefing requests and 44 sets of document requests, many with dozens of categorical areas of inquiry, that have already been filed with 16 different agencies. While thousands of documents are flowing in—some in boxes and some digitized—most of the documents we need are still to come. These documents are critical in their own right and to help our staff prepare for their hundreds of interviews with individual officials.
We now detail the status with respect to many agencies:
We believe the President when he says he is committed to assisting the Commission. The White House has demonstrated that commitment in some vital ways, but the next few weeks will be crucial. We will need strong support from the White House to insure that we are able to receive the materials we require in sufficient time to meet the statutory deadline.
We acknowledge the challenge faced in responding to these requests by officials already busy with other tasks. But we must look backward in order to look forward. The contemporary history of the country passed a watershed on 9/11. We must do the job we are required to do by law so that we may understand how we came to this turning point in the way we think about our security and to understand the choices that lie ahead.
We will provide another interim report on our progress in September.
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