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Family Steering Committee Statement
Regarding 9/11 Independent Commission


February 20, 2004



(Four Parts)

Part 1: Access to Presidential Daily Briefings

The Family Steering Committee (FSC) maintains that limited access to the PDBs will prevent the 9/11 Commission from providing a comprehensive report on government failures that may have contributed to the loss of life on September 11th. Despite the White House publicly maintaining “full cooperation,” the Commission has been delayed with time-consuming negotiations that have hampered the Commission’s work and led to questionable agreements limiting access to important documents.

The FSC believes that all ten Commissioners should have full access to the PDB’s. Each Commissioner has the highest of security clearance and each provides a different perspective in evaluating the documents.

Because of the secretive nature of the agreements made between the White House and the Commission, the FSC requests that either the White House or the Commission in the interest of transparency release the following information:

1. Any and all written agreements between the Commission and the White House regarding access to the PDBs; and/or any written summaries of any verbal agreement made between the White House and Commission regarding access to the PDBs and/or any series of emails which discuss negotiations between the Commission and the White House with regard to accessing the PDBs.

2. Specific details regarding the amount of editing the White House is permitted prior to the Commission gaining access to this information. The FSC believes that there are at least four levels of editing on behalf of the White House prior to the Commission as a whole receiving information from the PDB articles.

3. An answer as to how this newly negotiated agreement made between the Commission and the White House is different than the original agreement made in November 2003 between the Commission and the White House regarding access to the PDBs.

4. A description as to what exactly the Commission had to “negotiate away” in reaching the current Agreement with the White House. In other words, because this was a negotiation, what documents initially requested did the Commission not gain access to?

5. An explanation as to where the White House breached the original agreement and why the Commission failed to subpoena the White House for full access to the PDBs which would have nullified any need for negotiation.

Part 2: Extension of Deadline until January 10, 2005

The FSC continues to firmly maintain that the Commission’s deadline should be extended to January 10, 2005. We support the bi-partisan and bi-cameral legislation that was recently introduced in Congress that supports the January 10, 2005 deadline. The FSC would encourage all Americans to support the January 10, 2005 deadline so that the 9/11 Independent Commission can:

1. Maintain all public hearings with high-ranking officials under oath;

2. Continue to investigate all new, relevant material related to the attacks of 9/11—especially material recently given to the Commission by whistleblowers, ex-government agents, or agents of foreign governments;

3. Fully access all information, documents, and testimony needed from the Executive Branch with regard to the attacks on 9/11 without having to lose certain elements of information from those documents or testimonials as a result of the elongated negotiation process;

4. Write a transparent, de-classified final report as opposed to non-classified final report. Only a de-classified report can indicate to the American people how much information is being kept secret from them by the use of visible redactions.

After meeting with Chairman Kean on February 11, 2004, we feel that the Commission has no legitimate, valid, non-political reason to oppose the January 2005 deadline. As such at their meeting on February 24, 2004 we request the Commission vote for an extension of January 10, 2005.

The FSC maintains that this Commission and its investigation into the 9/11 attacks must not be held hostage by politics. Furthermore, the FSC maintains that this Commission must be given the time it needs to complete its final report. Finally, the FSC will not accept any attempts by any individual or entity to “embargo” this report or its investigation at any time from now until January 10, 2005. To do so, especially for political reasons is unconscionable.

Any person or entity who stands in the way of giving the Commission the time it needs to carry out its investigation and complete a thorough final report, stands in the way of our national security. Any individual or entity that is either openly or furtively opposed to the January 10, 2005 extension should appear in public and explain to the country their reasons for opposing such extension.


Part 3: Request for Senate Intelligence Committee to Hold Hearings on the 9/11 Independent Commission

The FSC feels that the Independent Commission’s progress has been substantially compromised and hampered. Currently, the Commission has less than optimal access to Executive Branch documents, limited time to complete their investigation, and limited cooperation on behalf of certain high ranking officials to testify under oath in public hearings.

The legislation that created the 9/11 Commission, Law 107-306, was originally attached to the Intelligence Authorization Bill. As such, the FSC is formally requesting that the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, chaired by Senator Roberts and Senator Rockefeller, hold a one-day public hearing on the status of the 9/11 Independent Commission, its investigation into the attacks of 9/11 and its Final Report.

At this hearing we would request the 9/11 Commission formally answer all questions regarding:
1. Its failure to obtain certain Executive Branch documents;

2. Its failure to conduct an aggressive investigation by failing to fully use its subpoena power;

3. Its increasingly apparent failure to complete its report and meet its mandate by the original May 27, 2004 deadline and the reasons behind said failure;

4. Its failure to conduct an adequate number of public hearings on all specific topics listed in its mandate in order to maintain a transparent investigation;

5. Its failure to remove any appearance of impropriety regarding conflicts of interest of Staff Director Philip Zelikow and Commissioner Jamie Gorelick—two individuals interviewed by the Commission as part of their investigation into 9/11, the same to be chosen to have primary access to the PDBs.

6. Its failure to equally include all Commissioners in all aspects of its investigation, for example, some private interviews are currently scheduled with only certain Commissioners and certain information was only made available to selected Commissioners and staff.

7. Its failure to place all witnesses in public and private interviews under oath.

8. Its failure to require public testimony, under oath of high-level government officials from those government agencies in question (i.e. President Bush, Vice- President Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet.

A letter to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee members is attached hereto. The FSC eagerly awaits the immediate scheduling of such a hearing. A Congressional hearing is the only way this Commission can regain its lost ground, re-focus its investigation, and re-establish good faith in its work product.

Part 4: Letter to Senate Select Intelligence Committee Requesting Hearing on 9/11 Independent Commission


February 20, 2004

Dear Senator Roberts and Senator Rockefeller,

We write to you out of our frustration with the course of the 9/11 Independent Commission.

The Family Steering Committee (FSC) feels that the Independent Commission’s progress has been substantially compromised. Currently, the Commission has less than optimal access to Executive Branch documents, limited time to complete their investigation, and limited cooperation on behalf of certain high ranking officials to testify under oath in public hearings.

The legislation that created the 9/11 Commission, Law 107-306, was originally attached to the Intelligence Authorization Bill. As such, the FSC is formally requesting that the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, chaired by you both, hold a one-day public hearing on the status of the 9/11 Independent Commission.

At this hearing we would request the 9/11 Commission answer all questions regarding:

1. Its failure to obtain certain Executive Branch documents;

2. Its failure to conduct an aggressive investigation by failing to fully use its subpoena power;

3. Its increasingly apparent failure to complete its report and meet its mandate by the original May 27, 2004 deadline and the reasons behind said failure;

4. Its failure to conduct an adequate number of public hearings on all specific topics listed in its mandate in order to maintain a transparent investigation;

5. Its failure to remove any appearance of impropriety regarding conflicts of interest of Staff Director Philip Zelikow and Commissioner Jamie Gorelick—two individuals interviewed by the Commission as part of their investigation into 9/11, and the same to be chosen to have primary access to the PDBs;

6. Its failure to equally include all Commissioners in all aspects of its investigation, for example, some private interviews are currently scheduled with only selected Commissioners and certain information was only made available to certain Commissioners and staff.

7. Its failure to place all witnesses in public and private interviews under oath.

8. Its failure to require public testimony, under oath of high-level officials from those government agencies in question, i.e. President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Powell, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, Director of Central Intelligence Tenet, and Director of FBI Mueller.

A Congressional hearing is the only way this Commission can regain its lost ground, re-focus its investigation, and re-establish good faith in its work product. We eagerly await your response, and we are hopeful that, you too, will see the serious and absolute need for such a hearing.

Sincerely,

The Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Independent Commission