Family Steering Committee Statement Regarding
the One-Year Anniversary of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States
November 27, 2003
In his remarks at the signing of the Intelligence Authorization Act on November 27, 2002, President Bush stated that the Commission’s investigation “should carefully examine all the evidence and follow all the facts, wherever they lead. We must uncover every detail and learn every lesson of September the 11th. My administration will continue to act on the lessons we’ve learned so far to better protect the people of this country. It’s our most solemn duty.”
Sadly, on the one-year anniversary of the establishment of the 9/11 Commission, we, on the Family Steering Committee find that the President has not respected his “most solemn duty.” By refusing to provide full and unfettered access to the Presidential Daily Briefings to all of the Commissioners, this Commission will be unable to “carefully examine all the evidence and follow all the facts wherever they lead.”
President Bush also stated, “We have a duty — a solemn duty — to do everything we can to protect this country. And that’s important for America to know. In the war against terror our goal is to take every measure that is necessary, to gather all information that is available and gain every advantage that is possible. An aggressive investigation into September the 11th, with a responsible concern for sensitive information that will allow us to win the war on terror will contribute to the security of this country.”
In an effort to protect this country and honor our loved ones lost, the FSC respectfully objects to the Agreement reached between the Commission and the White House regarding access to the PDB¹s. We urge the Commission to follow the directive of the President as stated on November 27, 2002, and to aggressively take every measure necessary to gather all information that is available. This Commission must subpoena the White House to provide full and complete access for all ten Commissioners to the entire document group of PDB’s. All ten Commissioners have the highest security clearance; all ten should review these critical documents.
President Bush further stated, “I also hope that the commission will act quickly and issue its report prior to the 18-month deadline embodied in the legislation. After all, if there’s changes that need to be made, we need to know them as soon as possible, for the security of our country. The sooner we have the commission’s conclusions, the sooner this administration will act on them.”
Ironically, the production of a timely report no longer seems to be possible, in large part because of the delays caused by the administration and the agencies who report to it. Due to the untimely issuance of subpoenas to the FAA, NORAD, and the City of New York along with the access restrictions placed by the White House (resulting in a compromised Commission), the FSC strongly recommends that this Commission explore the possibility of an extension.
As President Bush stated, “As a people, Americans are always looking forward. As a nation, we’re working every day to build a future that is peaceful and secure. To reach this goal we must learn all about the past that we can. This commission is not only important for this administration, this commission will be important for future administrations.” As victims’ family members, we more poignantly than anyone realize, value, and want to see the words stated by President Bush on November 27, 2002 honored, but we believe that the Commission will be unable to issue a thorough, comprehensive and final report by May 27, 2004. Above all, we have always wanted and still want a definitive, final, and comprehensive report that would give us answers as to why over three thousand people died that day. We wanted – and still want – answers, explanations, and reforms that would show us that the future of America is, indeed, peaceful and more secure. We call upon President Bush and the Commissioners to have the courage to reevaluate their positions with regard to the Commission. And now, we must look forward and wait.