Family Steering Committee Statement
Regarding the 9/11 Commission and the Need
to Access Documents from Administration Agencies
October 28, 2003
The Family Steering Committee is deeply distressed to find that eleven months into the government’s independent investigation into the attacks of 9/11, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States is still in the document-collecting phase due to stonewalling by the Administration.
Counter to the public statements made by both Administration officials and Commission members that there is continued cooperation between Administration agencies and the Commission, the record indicates otherwise.
A critical document the Commission needs is the Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB). Although such a document has never been released to an outside investigative agency during a current administration’s tenure, an full analysis of the administrative failures that led to the death of 3000 people on the morning of September 11th calls for such an historical precedent.
The Administration itself opened the door to a review of these documents when Condoleeza Rice, in the days after the attacks, stated that the Administration and its agencies did not foresee the use of planes being used as weapons. Such a statement by the nation’s National Security Advisor calls into question the quality of information that flows from intelligence agencies to the Executive Branch. Analyzing this information, as well as other intelligence prior to and on the morning of September 11th, is crucial in determining how any Administration could better prevent or prepare for terrorist attacks. And access to these critical documents will be limited to the Commissioners and staff only — all of whom have the highest levels of security clearance.
The flow of information from the Intelligence Community to the Executive Branch is a determining factor as to how pervasive the Intelligence failures were in the period leading up to September 11, 2001 and to what degree the Intelligence Community needs to be overhauled. The need to create new intelligence departments along with who they should report to can only be properly vetted after examining documents such as the PDB. All administrations rely on this vital flow of information from the intelligence community.
While respecting the concept of Executive Privilege, Family Steering Committee believes that in the interest of improving national security, Executive Privilege must rightfully yield so that this Commission can produce a comprehensive and definitive report.
Therefore, we call upon all members of Congress to demand that the Administration and its agencies grant immediate, full and unfettered access to all necessary documents requested by this Commission in order to ensure our nation’s safety.