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 future recommendations.

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.