Family Steering Committee Press Conference Remarks
September 10, 2003
Three thousand lives were lost and three thousand families destroyed on September 11th. America was traumatized, and we are still reeling from the emotional and financial carnage. The families of the dead and all Americans deserve some accountability from our government for its failure to protect us on 9/11.
On August 27th the Family Steering Committee received an update on the Commission’s progress. We learned that there has been improved compliance from some government agencies and that minders continue to be present during interviews, even though the Chairman and Vice Chairman publicly protested.
We appreciate that the Commission staff is working very hard on this complex probe. However, no findings from the Commission’s investigation have been released. A lot of frustration stems from the fact that we have not heard anything of substance. The clock is ticking. Half the Commission’s allotted time has elapsed.
Two years have passed since the attacks. We know more about the terrorists and the breadth of intelligence failures from the Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry Report but we still don’t know much about the other factors related to why our government failed to protect us.
Since no substantive information about the investigation has been released, we are being asked to take on faith that an in-depth investigation is taking place and that it will not be a whitewash. But trust began to die when President Bush opposed an independent investigation for more than a year. We should not have had to fight our government for an independent Commission. Each subsequent misrepresentation or manipulation of facts by government officials has caused further erosion of trust.
Lingering questions, and those that have been answered with half-truths or omissions, do not promote trust. Instead they lead to conjecture and discontent.
Only a full, unfettered accounting of September 11th can restore faith in our government’s integrity and aid the Commission in making appropriate recommendations for improved security.
To reassure America that the Commission’s investigation is pursuing the truth wherever it leads, the FSC recommends that
• witnesses be sworn in
• subpoenas be issued for recalcitrant witnesses and agencies
• interim reports contain some concrete indication of progress being made, such as the Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry did
• hard hitting hearings be held in which government officials from the Bush and Clinton administrations are publicly questioned. Of the three public hearings so far, only that involving the FAA and NORAD asked any probing, investigative questions.
Some things about September 11th just don’t make sense in light of intelligence gathered and established protocol and procedures in place prior to 9/11, so the Family Steering Committee has submitted questions to the Commission on a wide range of topics. To date, none of our questions have been answered.
Why did our government fail its foremost obligation to protect its citizens on 9/11?
All other questions stem from that. There are questions about domestic and foreign intelligence, INS, NSC, NSA, FAA, NORAD, stock puts, and Promis software. There are also questions about the influence of non-government entities on our government’s foreign and domestic policies. No government official or agency should be exempt from questions about what they knew or did prior to or on September 11th.
The Commission is the only entity that is investigating all the factors that contributed to the mass murder of 3000 people. It is the only one looking at the whole picture.
We are counting on the Commission to examine evidence and explain how something so horrific could have happened here in America.
All Americans are stakeholders in the success of the Independent Commission. The security of our nation depends on it. Until we fully understand what went wrong on September 11th, we can’t fix the problems.
Once the Commission makes recommendations for improved security, it will be up to Congress to rise above the influence of special interests and act on those recommendations. And then follow through to see that the laws are enforced.
Until then, we will continue to be nearly as vulnerable as we were on September 11th.