Photo of Bill Moyers Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Watch & Listen The Blog Archive Transcripts Buy DVDs
9/11 For the Record
9/11 For the Record
Read Transcript
September 14, 2007

Please note that we will not be able to stream this episode of BILL MOYERS JOURNAL online.

Six years later, a critical question continues to haunt America's national psyche: how could the most powerful nation on earth have been so utterly unprepared to protect its homeland? In "9/11: For the Record," a special one-hour analysis of the 9/11 Commission Report first broadcast in 2004, BILL MOYERS JOURNAL connects the dots of what happened that day and the warning signs leading up to it. The program highlights the agonizing close calls, missteps, and outright failures of two successive administrations and America's intelligence and security agencies in the months and years leading up to 9/11.

Follow the path of pre-attack intelligence and review post Commission findings with our INTERACTIVE TIMELINE.

The 9/11 Commission

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission, released its final report on June 22, 2004. The Commission was created in late 2002 after families of victims put intense pressure on the White House and Congress to form an independent investigative commission. The families and other critics feared the reports underway by congressional intelligence committees would not be able to tell the full story.

Initially, the White House was accused of dragging its heels on the full-scale investigations the victims' families sought, and it was not until late 2002 that Public Law 107-306 created The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, an independent, bipartisan commission. Its mandate was sweeping — to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks — and to provide recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.

The White House faced additional fire when the President appointed former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as chairman of the Commission. Kissinger stepped down within the first two weeks of taking the post rather than answer allegations of potential conflicts of interest. His replacement was former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean, a Republican, Democrat Lee H. Hamilton, former U.S. Representative from the 9th District of Indiana, was chosen as vice chair. The other committee members included Richard Ben-Veniste (Democrat, attorney, former chief of the Watergate Task Force of the Watergate Special Prosecutor's Office), Fred F. Fielding (Republican, attorney), Jamie S. Gorelick (Democrat, former Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration), Slade Gorton (Republican, former Senator from Washington), Bob Kerrey (Democrat, former Senator from Nebraska), John F. Lehman (Republican, former Secretary of the Navy), Timothy J. Roemer (Democrat, former U.S. Representative from the 3rd District of Indiana), James R. Thompson (Republican, former Governor of Illinois) — a total of five Republicans and five Democrats.

Update on Commission members.

The Commission encountered a number of hurdles in its investigation. Battles over the handling and release of classified documents were frequent. The White House was criticized by some for placing too tight restrictions on interviews, but in the end President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Condoleezza Rice all testified. Commission members also needed to ask for both more time and more funding to complete the task with which they were charged.

In the course of its duties the Commission interviewed over 1,200 people in 10 countries and reviewed over two and a half million pages of documents. You can read the full report online. You can also read the submitted testimony of experts called to testify at open hearings held before the Commission at the Commission's Web site. The transcripts of public hearings are also on the Commission's Web site.

Congressional intelligence committees released a separate report on the actions of the FBI and CIA before and after the September 11 attacks. Read the Report of the Joint Inquiry into the Terrorist Attacks.

Recent Reports

In August 2007, the CIA declassified the summary of a CIA Inspector General's Office report from 2005. The summary, released over the objections of the CIA, is critical of information sharing leadership pre-9/11 attacks. (Read the summary.) (PDF). Visit the resources section for additional recent coverage the 9/11 intelligence.

Review the Commission's Recommendations

Additional 9/11 Resources

Commission Members Update

  • Thomas Kean (Chairman) - Republican, former Governor of New Jersey: Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton published an op-ed in THE SACRAMENTO BEE, on September 11, 2007. "We're not safe enough," stated "no conflict drains more time, attention, blood, treasure and support from our worldwide counterterrorism efforts than the war in Iraq. It has become a powerful recruiting and training tool for al-Qaida."

  • Lee H. Hamilton (Vice Chairman) - Democrat, former U.S. Representative from the 9th District of Indiana: Hamilton was also co-chair of the Iraq Study Group, bipartisan panel that mapped out an alternative U.S. strategy for Iraq in 2006. Hamilton is currently director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

  • Richard Ben-Veniste - Democrat, attorney, former chief of the Watergate Task Force of the Watergate Special Prosecutor's Office: Ben-Veniste is currently a partner at Mayer Brown and a member of the The Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group.

  • Fred F. Fielding - Republican, attorney and former White House Counsel: In January 2007 President Bush named Fielding White House Counsel to replace the outgoing Harriet Miers.

  • Jamie Gorelick - Democrat, former Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration: Gorelick is currently a partner at Wilmer Hale. She published a list of ten priorities for the next Attorney General in "A New Agenda for Justice," NEWSWEEK, on August 28, 2007.

  • Slade Gorton - Republican, former U.S. Senator from Washington: Gorton is currently counsel with K&L Gates. On August 29, 2007, THE SEATTLE TIMES, published an op-ed stating: "Slade Gorton could be the answer to President Bush's latest challenge replacing his embattled attorney general, Alberto Gonzales." Gorton is a also Director of the Discovery Institute "the nation's leading think-tank challenging various aspects of evolutionary theory."

  • Bob Kerrey - Democrat, President of the New School University and former U.S. Senator from Nebraska: He appeared on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL on June 1, 2007 to discuss his WALL STREET JOURNAL editorial "The Left's Iraq Muddle."

  • John F. Lehman - Republican, former Secretary of the Navy: Lehman is the head of J.F.Lehman & Company, a private equity investment firm.

  • Timothy J. Roemer - Democrat, former U.S. Representative from the 3rd District of Indiana: Roemer is currently the President of the Center for National Policy.

  • James R. Thompson - Republican, former Governor of Illinois: Thompson is a partner at Winston & Strawn, and is representing Former Illinois Governor George Ryan in his appeal against a racketeering and fraud conviction.

Related Media:
"Buying the War" How did the mainstream media get it so wrong in the lead up to the Iraq War?

License to Spy Bill Moyers talks with former Congressman Mickey Edwards and ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero about revisions to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Published September 14, 2007

Also This Week:

Review the 9/11 Commission's findings on events and intelligence available before the 9/11 attacks and review new reports.

Review the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and check on the progress of implementation

Investigate the history of U.S. intelligence services and review post 9/11 changes.

Sites for further research

Our posts and your comments
For Educators    About the Series    Bill Moyers on PBS   

© Public Affairs Television 2008    Privacy Policy    DVD/VHS    Terms of Use    FAQ