Statement of the Family Steering Committee
Regarding the Need
for an Independent, Nonpartisan 9/11 Commission
April 1, 2004
Recent press reports and activities raise the concern that the independent
and nonpartisan nature of the 9/11 Commission is being compromised. The
Family Steering Committee (FSC) is very concerned about these recent
First, according to an article in today's Washington Post, entitled,
"Bush Counsel Called 9/11 Panelist Before Clarke Testified," White House
Counsel Alberto Gonzales had ex parte communication with at least one
of the Commissioners, Fred Fielding, prior to Richard Clarke testifying
before the Commission last week. The Washington Post also reports
that Commissioner James R. Thompson might have also had contact with
White House staff. Commissioners Thompson and Fielding refuse to answer
as to whether they had these ex parte communications. These ex-parte
communications raise serious concerns regarding the impartiality of
these commissioners and questions about whether the Commission has
been sidetracked from its mandate to focus on the facts and
circumstances of 9/11.
The Family Steering Committee (FSC) calls upon both the White House and
the 9/11 Independent Commission to answer the crippling allegations
raised by the Washington Post. Critical to the success of the work
of the 9/11 Commission is its ability to remain nonpartisan and
independent. Ultimately at risk are the integrity, transparency
and comprehensiveness of the Commission's Final Report and its
Second, we request the genesis of Commissioner Fielding and Thompson's
line of questioning to Mr. Clarke. In addition, both Commissioner
Fielding and Thompson should sign an affidavit that they alone
researched, prepared, and gathered their own information in preparation
for Mr. Clarke's testimony.
Third, the Family Steering Committee requests an explanation as to how a
"background briefing" from FOX NEWS was obtained by Commissioner James R.
Thompson. We would like to know who ordered the release of that
background briefing and whether Commission staff was used in the
retrieval of that information.
Fourth, we call for the sweeping de-classification of the entire transcript
of Richard Clarke's testimony before the Joint Inquiry of Congress and
the 9/11 Independent Commission. Further, we request the declassification
of Dr. Rice’s testimony, as well as all supporting documents (such as
emails, memos and correspondence) between Mr. Clark, Dr. Rice, Stephen
Hadley and others involved in making decisions related to national
security. We abhor the over-classification of information, and support
the public release of all information so long as it does not
legitimately harm national security.
Fifth, we request that going forward the Commission record and transcribe
all private and public testimony, from whatever source – even the President
and Vice President, in order to accurately preserve these historical
testimonies. It has been reported that the Commission failed to record
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice's private testimony on
February 7, 2004. The failure of the 9/11 Commission to record Dr.
Rice's testimony further calls into question this Commission's methods
in conducting its investigation.
Sixth, we respectfully request that President Bush and Vice President
Cheney reconsider their decision to testify together. Their testimony
should be separate, in public and under oath so that the Commission can
properly comprehend the individual responsibilities and decisions of
the President and Vice President. Individual testimonies would provide
the American public a much clearer understanding of the Administration’s
leadership during a time of transition and crisis.
Finally, the Family Steering Committee continues to oppose the condition
agreed to between the White House and the Commission in exchange for Dr.
Rice’s public testimony. Information gathered by the ongoing investigation
of the 9/11 Commission may warrant future public testimony of other White