National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

2005 - 2008


Materials arranged chronologically.

  Carpenter, Ted Galen. "Missed Opportunities: The 9/11 Commission Report and US Foreign Policy." Mediterranean Quarterly 61, no. 1 (Winter 2005): 52-61. []

The "most serious deficiency" in the 9/11 Commission's report "was the failure ... to adequately address the most crucial foreign policy issues pertaining to the threat that radical Islamic terrorism poses to the security of the American people."

Ridgeway, James. The 5 Unanswered Questions about 9/11: What the 9/11 Commission Report Failed to Tell Us. New York: Seven Stories, 2005.

Johnson, Loch K. "An Elephant Rolling a Pea." Diplomatic History 30 (Apr. 2006): 327-333.

This is Professor Johnson's critique of the report of the 9/11 Commission.

Kean, Thomas H., and Lee H. Hamilton. Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission. New York: Knopf, 2006.

The Publishers Weekly (via reviewer finds the tone of this work by the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the 9/11 to be "evenhanded and diplomatic.... The authors cogently defend the compromises they made and swat conspiracy theories about coverups.... [T]his lucid, absorbing account" of the commission's work is "very timely." Peake, Studies 51.1 (Mar. 2007), finds that this book "gives us an unusual glimpse of a government commission at work. The report card on intelligence work in the final chapter is not one any college student would want, but it makes clear what the authors think has been and still needs to be done."

Pillar, Paul R. "Good Literature and Bad History: The 9/11 Commission's Tale of Strategic Intelligence." Intelligence and National Security 21, no. 6 (Dec. 2006): 1022-1044.

Clark comment: There are only a few articles among the many dealing with diverse aspects of intelligence that I wish I had written. This is one of them.

Pillar calls the 9/11 Commission's report a "detailed and well-crafted account of the terrorist plot" behind the 9/11 attacks. However, he views "other parts of the account" as "not only wrong but willfully wrong." In addition, there were and are "serious flaws in the commission's reorganization plan" for U.S. intelligence.

As it related to the performance of the intelligence community, the commission's report "was advocacy of a particular proposal, and an effort to manipulate public opinion in support of that proposal." There were "a large number of factual errors and omissions in the commission staff's draft statement on intelligence." Although the intelligence community had the opportunity to point out those mistakes, the corrections were largely ignored; and "[m]ost of the errors in the staff statement on intelligence were repeated in the report." In contrast, the Silberman-Robb Commission (WMD Commission) was much more willing to listen to and heed "the observations of officers who were not only experts on the events and subject matter at hand but also at least as committed as anyone else to trying to make intelligence better."

Theoharis, Athan G. The Quest for Absolute Security: The Failed Relations Among U.S. Intelligence Agencies. Chicago, IL: Ivan R. Dee, 2007.

Keiser, Proceedings 134.3 (Mar. 2008), notes that the author believes "'absolute security' is an illusory quest." This work "is a most useful historical review." Noting the author's claim that "increased centralization will only lead to more abuses by the intelligence agencies," Peake, Studies 52.1 (Mar. 2008) and Intelligencer 16.1 (Spring 2008), finds that the book fails in its effort to make its point.

Shenon, Philip. The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation. New York: Twelve, 2008. []

Associated Press, 3 Feb. 2008, reports that this book by a New York Times investigative reporter includes the information that the 9/11 commission's executive director, Philip Zelikow, "had closer ties with the White House than publicly disclosed and tried to influence the final report in ways that the staff often perceived as limiting the Bush administration's responsibility." For Peake, Studies 52.3 (Sep. 2008) and Intelligencer 16.2 (Fall 2008), "there is little new" here. This is a "readable account" of the history of the 9/11 Commission. However, the author "has avoided taking sides or commenting on the quality of the commission's recommendations, even in hindsight."

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