The Family Steering Committee For the 9/11 Independent Commission Statement Regarding the Need for an Extension to January 10, 2005
February 3, 2004
It is a fact that:
• It took over one year to get the 9/11 Independent Commission created.
• The Commission now finds itself behind schedule, unable to meet its mandate and unprepared to issue a complete and comprehensive Final Report by May 27, 2004.
The FSC supports an extension to January 2005. A pre-mature termination of this Commission will place this nation at risk.
Prior to this Commission terminating its investigation, the Commission must:
• Fulfill its legislative mandate of fully investigating the attacks of 9/11 and going wherever the facts may lead;
• Fulfill its verbal promises to the American public regarding public hearings;
• Fulfill its promise to gain access to all relevant information regarding 9/11, including information contained in Presidential Daily Briefings and held by federal whistleblowers;
• Fulfill its promise to conduct a transparent investigation that provides accountability and fixes responsibility to those who contributed to the failures that led to 9/11.
Chairman Kean has stated that he is in opposition to such a lengthy extension, arguing that the report will have important national security recommendations that should be put in place as soon as possible.
We remind Chairman Kean that the Commission has the authority to make interim recommendations and can expedite legislative reforms. Sec. 610 of Public Law 107-306 specifically states: (a) Interim Reports—The Commission may submit to the President and Congress interim reports containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures as have been agreed to by a majority of Commission members.
Question 1: Should valuable public hearings be canceled?
The 9/11 Independent Commission promised the 9/11 families and all of America that there would be public hearings on all topics covered in their mandate and that substantive, investigative, hard-hitting hearings would commence in January 2004.
Public hearings serve a valuable purpose. They educate and inform the American public about the work of the Commission and the performance of public and private official leading up to and including the day of September 11th.
The FSC opposes the wholesale cancellation and/or curtailment of any public hearings.
Question #2: Should access to the presidential daily briefings be denied because the Commission is unwilling to issue a subpoena?
The 9/11 Independent Commission has not received an acceptable level of access to the Presidential Daily Briefings (PDB). In fact, the 9/11 Independent Commission, as a whole, has not received one article from a PDB. Without this access, these highly relevant pieces of information regarding 9/11 cannot be made part of the Independent Commission’s investigation or Final Report.
When the agreement was made between the 9/11 Independent Commission and the White House regarding access to the PDB’s the Commission told the 9/11 families that if the agreement became unacceptable, the Commission would re-visit the agreement.
The FSC recommends the Independent Commission’s use of a subpoena to gain full and immediate access to the PDB’s.
Question #3: Should high-ranking officials escape testifying at public hearings and being held accountable during those public hearings for their failures on 9/11?
The 9/11 Independent Commission promised the 9/11 families and all of America that testimony by high-ranking officials would be sought starting in January 2004.
The FSC maintains that all high-ranking officials with information relevant to 9/11 should be required to testify and should do so under oath, whether testifying in public or in private. The FSC supports the use of a subpoena for any high-ranking official who refuses to testify.
Without the testimony of high-ranking officials whose job it was to protect and serve the nation pre-9/11, on 9/11, and post-9/11, the Commission will have failed to meet its mandate and its report will be incomplete. The FSC will not accept such an incomplete report.
The FSC respectfully requests that the Commission release a list of all high-ranking officials currently being considered for testimony under oath.
Question #4: Should federal whistleblowers from intelligence agencies, the FAA, and the airlines—whistleblowers with vital, first-hand knowledge about 9/11 failures–be denied access to the 9/11 Commission?
The 9/11 Independent Commission, because of its time-constraints, has been unwilling to include certain specific and highly relevant material regarding 9/11 held by federal whistleblowers. These federal whistleblowers are ready, willing, and able to testify before the Commission as soon as possible. The information these certain individuals share must be made part of the Commission’s investigation and Final Report.
The FSC will not accept the failure of the Commission to interview these whistleblowers. The 9/11 Independent Commission’s mandate will not be met and the Final Report will be incomplete without the inclusion of these individuals’ knowledge and information as it pertains to 9/11.
Question #5: Should Americans be prevented from seeing what information is being withheld from them in the 9/11 Independent Commission’s Final Report?
The 9/11 Independent Commission currently plans to issue a ‘non-classified’ Final Report. The FSC opposes this form for the Final Report. Rather, all redacted material should be apparent to the American people and the 9/11 families. The only way to show such visible redactions is to first issue a ‘classified’ Final Report, followed by a de-classified Final Report, with visible line redactions. Otherwise the Commission will not have met its mandate to provide a transparent investigation into 9/11.
There will never be another opportunity for a comprehensive examination of all the factors leading up to and including the events of September 11th. An extension to January 10, 2005, together with adequate funding, is the only practical -and ethical- way for the Commission to meet its mandate and produce a comprehensive, transparent, and conclusive Final Report.
The FSC (Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Commission) is a coalition of 9/11 family members who campaigned for the establishment of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. The FSC is working to ensure that there is a comprehensive investigation into the individual and systemic failures leading up to and occurring on September 11th. The Commission’s report must encompass accountability as well as substantive recommendations for reform. The FSC holds that once there is recognition of past failures, there must be a concerted, non-partisan effort to make the necessary changes via legislative enactments and other appropriate means, to ensure that this nation is safe from terrorism.