Friday, October 1, 2021

No. 440: The 9/11 Commission Report

As the 20-year commemoration of the terrorist attack on the United States blanketed the nation, I realized I had not read the 9/11 Commission Report. I have remedied the failure by reading the 593-page Report in its entirety. I then decided to prepare this blog post.

The 9/11 Commission
Congress and President George W. Bush created the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (Public Law 107-306, November 27, 2002). Ten Commissioners, consisting of five Republicans and five Democrats chosen by elected leaders from our nation's capital, came together to present the Report without dissent.

The Commission's Mandate
The Commission had a sweeping mandate: to investigate facts and circumstances relating to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, including those relating to intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, diplomacy, immigration issues, border control, the flow of assets to terrorist organizations, commercial aviation, the role of congressional oversight and resource allocation, and other areas determined relevant by the Commission. The Commission held 29 days of hearings and took public testimony from 160 witnesses.

Thomas H. Kean was Chair of the Commission. Lee H. Hamilton was Vice Chair. The other members were Richard Ben-Veniste, Fred F. Fielding, James S. Gorelick, Slade Gorton, Bob Kerrey, John F. Lehman, Timothy J. Roemer, and James R. Thompson. Philip Zelikow was the Executive Director of the Commission Staff.

Structure of the Report
The first major section of the Report is entitled "Inside the Four Flights." It describes in excruciating detail what happened on the four hijacked flights: American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 77, and United Airlines Flight 93.

The second major section of the Report is about the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The third major section is about National Crisis Management. The fourth major section, about "The Foundation of the New Terrorism," focuses on Usama [sic] bin Laden and also discusses Al Qaeda and its renewal in Afghanistan.

The fifth major section is entitled "Counterterrorism Evolves." It discusses the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Department of Defense, the State Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and other agencies.

General Observations
I was impressed by the quality of the Report. I think it is well worth taking the time to read it in its entirety. A link to the Report is in the first paragraph of this blog post. I would welcome comments from readers.