FAMILY STEERING COMMITTEE FOR THE 9/11 INDEPENDENT COMMISSION
October 3, 2003
The 9/11 Independent Commission's status report/press conference last
Tuesday, September 23, 2003, has left the Family Steering Committee (FSC)
deeply concerned about the ability of this Commission to access crucial
documents. Without these, the Commission will be unable to fully assess the
failures that led to the events of 9/11.
Specifically, we are concerned about document requests from the National
Security Council (NSC), the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board
(PFIAB), and any and all other communications made by Administration
officials leading up to, and including, the morning of 9/11. The FSC has
been assured that access to these documents is a part of a continuing series of
"negotiations" between the Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Staff Director of
the Commission and the White House.
At the outset of the Independent Commission's work, the FSC was aware that
Philip Zelikow was a co-author and close friend of Condoleezza Rice. We also
knew that Mr. Zelikow was hired as a member of the President's Foreign
Intelligence Advisory Board in early October, 2001. We had concerns about
these possible conflicts of interest but we were assured that Staff Director
Zelikow's relationship with the White House would facilitate the access to
Administration documentation and information.
We accepted this because we were aware of Professor Zelikow's role in the
release of certain Diplomatic Documentation for the National Archives and
his testimony before the State Department's Advisory Committee on Historical
Diplomatic Documentation that "the CIA's decision to withhold the entire PDB
series from release (w)as pernicious." (U.S. Department of State, Advisory
Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, April 10-11, 2000, page
8). We were aware that he also testified that "a blanket denial of all PDB's
would set a dangerous precedent."(Ibid, page 9). Thus, the FSC had an
expectation that Mr. Zelikow's position on the release of PDB's would also
apply to the situation facing the 9/11 Commission. Access to the
Administration's documentation, transcripts, and decision-making procedures
is crucial, especially the August 6, 2001, PDB, which contained information
regarding attacks against the U.S. by Al Qaeda.
On Tuesday, October 7, 2003, the 9/11 Independent Commission will inform the
FSC and the American people whether or not the White House has allowed
access to all of the documents requested by the 9/11 Independent Commission.
In order to be accepted as a full and truthful accounting of September 11th,
all aspects of the Commission's investigation must be free of suspicion.
Therefore, only Chairman Kean, Vice-Chair Hamilton or Deputy Executive
Director Kojm should be negotiating with the Administration regarding the
release of documents.
This naturally leads to our second area of concern, which arises from recent
research indicating that Philip Zelikow served as a member of the Bush
Administration's transition team. In fact, according to a Washington Post
article from February 2001, “Last September, Condoleezza Rice asked Philip
Zelikow, a fellow staffer on the Scowcroft NSC...to draft memos on
organizing the NSC along Scowcroft's lines. Edited by Rice and others, the
memos were further refined when Rice's deputy Stephen Hadley came on board,
and Zelikow…became part of the transition...free to roam the halls of the
Clinton NSC operation."
The investigation will naturally encompass the role of many individuals
involved with the Bush Administration's NSC and PFIAB. Due to this conflict
of interest, we believe Staff Director Zelikow should remove himself from
any and all portions of the investigation addressing the NSC in keeping with
established Commission protocols. For example, Commissioner Gorelick has
removed herself from all Justice Department investigations, Commissioner
Roemer and Vice Chair Hamilton have removed themselves from all
Congressional oversight investigations, and Commissioners Gorton and
Thompson have removed themselves from all airline investigations in response
to previous vetted conflicts of interest. Should Staff Director Zelikow refuse
to do so, the FSC respectfully requests his resignation as Staff Director from
the 9/11 Independent Commission.