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Family Steering Committee’s Statement Regarding The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

December 1, 2003


On November 27, 2002, President Bush stated, "In the war against terror our goal is to take every measure that is necessary, to gather all information that is available and gain every advantage that is possible. An aggressive investigation into September the 11th, with a responsible concern for sensitive information that will allow us to win the war on terror will contribute to the security of this country."

In order for the Commission's report to be thorough and complete the FSC maintains the following:

1) PDBs-

       a. The Commission must subpoena the White House to provide full and complete access for all ten Commissioners to the entire document group of PDBs. All ten Commissioners have the highest security clearance; all ten should review these critical documents.

       b. The Commission should further account for how the following statement made by the Commission does not negate Staff Director Philip Zelikow’s role as set out in their Agreement with the White House regarding access to the PDBs:

“We have in place procedures to determine when and under what circumstances members of the Commission or its staff have conflicts of interest. It has been our practice that an individual recuses himself or herself from aspects of our investigation in which the person has a potential conflict of interest or where there may be the appearance of such a conflict. Dr. Zelikow did assist in the transition at the National Security Council. He had previously recused himself from direct involvement in the part of our investigation that pertains to the NSC during the Clinton-Bush transition. He is making available to the Commission information from this period. Thus, the Commission will have full and reliable information on this topic. Other members of the professional staff will supervise all staff activity that pertain to the NSC transition and report directly to us on those matters. We have taken these steps at Dr. Zelikow's request. He believes, and we believe, that the public must be assured that all who participate in this investigation are free of conflicts of interest or the appearance thereof.”

2) Time Constraints -

Initially, the Independent Commission was to have issued its Final Report within eighteen months of its creation. In order to win the war on terrorism it is in the nation's best interest for the Commission to release its final recommendations as soon as possible. However, because of serious delays in accessing information from key agencies (namely, the FAA, NORAD, the White House, and the City of New York) the FSC feels that the original May 27, 2004 deadline is unrealistic and must be extended. Simply stated, the Commission needs more time to thoroughly access and acquire crucial information in order to produce the complete and definitive Final Report that is mandated. The arbitrary deadline previously set for this Commission must now yield towards the higher goal of producing a thorough, complete and well thought-out Final Report. This goal--nonpolitical in nature--is undoubtedly in this nation’s best interest.

3) Replacing Commissioner Cleland -

At this late date, the Commission will soon lose one of its Commissioners. The person who replaces Senator Cleland should be someone who understands the Commission's mandate, is familiar with the issues at hand, and is thoroughly committed to following all of the facts wherever they may lead. The FSC feels that these criteria are imperative and mandatory for any potential replacement.