Family Steering Committee Statement Regarding the 9/11 Commission’s Hearings
May 22, 2004
The Family Steering Committee remains dissatisfied with the
quality of questioning during the Commission’s public hearings. In particular,
we are extremely disappointed with the 9/11 hearings that took place in New
York May 18th and 19th.
Public hearings serve a valuable purpose. First, they should educate and
inform the American public about the work of the Commission and the
performance of public and private officials leading up to and including
the day of September 11th. Second they should serve to restore confidence
in our government that was unprepared for the events of 9/11. Third,
they should serve to garner the nation’s support for the Commission’s
The Commission promised the 9/11 families and all of America that there
would be public hearings on all topics covered in their mandate. However,
due to imposed time constraints, at least 4 previously scheduled hearings
were cancelled by the Commission, making the few public hearings that
remained all the more significant.
The recent set of hearings in New York failed to serve much if any of
their purposes. While the Commissioners stated that they had questioned
witnesses in private during prior interviews, their collective failure
to use this public forum for either “fact finding” or “fact displaying”
of the answers previously procured during closed sessions with the
witnesses, resulted in a hearing that produced little more than
frustration. This frustration was clearly evidenced in the public
outcry during the Giuliani testimony, as families sought to hear
testimony regarding the non functioning FDNY radios and other
failures of communication, coordination and emergency management
which could have saved hundreds of lives on 9/11.
The Commission's continued lack of aggressive questioning and its production
of staff statements that overlook matters of serious probative value raise
concerns about the credibility and value of the Commission's final report.
As Dennis Smith most aptly testified, "our times, now more than ever call for
an honest appraisal of our record in counter-terrorism preparedness. With
diligence and courage, we must record our mistakes to enable the trumpet of
truth to sound out. Without it we will be shattered...to learn is to save
future lives, and we learn by making conclusions, even if they might be unpopular."
The time needed to answer the questions that the FSC and the public have submitted
to the Commission has nearly run out. We respectfully request that the Commission
include an addendum to the final report in order to attend to these questions. And,
we strongly urge the Commission to make the final declassified report definitive
and thoroughly documented in its conclusions. History demands nothing less.