Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

Follow-on Reportage

Materials arranged chronologically.

Eggen, Dan, and Helen Dewar. "Leaders Pick Up Urgency of 9/11 Panel: Congress and Bush Vow to Speed Reforms." Washington Post, 24 Jul. 2004, A1. []

On 23 July 2004, "House and Senate leaders rushed forward ... with promises to quickly restructure the nation's intelligence agencies in the wake of damaging findings by the Sept. 11 commission, casting aside earlier doubts that Congress would tackle such complicated and politically divisive legislation this year. The White House also signaled that President Bush may consider intelligence reforms before the November elections, contrary to earlier suggestions that such a move was unlikely."

Carney, James. "If You Don't Have Time to Read It ...: The 9/11 Report Is a Riveting -- and Dispiriting -- Read." Time, 25 Jul. 2004. []

"The 9/11 Commission Report ... has produced one of the most riveting, disturbing and revealing accounts of crime, espionage and the inner workings of government ever written.... The narrative of what happened [on 11 September 2001] and in the months and years leading up to it will enthrall readers.... The chapters on how the government tracked and dealt with the threat from al-Qaeda before 9/11 fascinate and dispirit."

Pincus, Walter. "9/11 Panel's Plan Would Reduce Influence of CIA: Experts Predict Realignment of Roles." Washington Post, 29 Jul. 2004, A6. []

"The intelligence reorganization proposed by the Sept. 11 commission would have the overall effect of sharply reducing the influence of the CIA while increasing the importance of the Pentagon and giving the White House more direct control over covert operations, according to assessments by a range of experts including commission and congressional staff members, legislators and current and former intelligence officials."

Eggen, Dan, and Walter Pincus. "Key Idea of 9/11 Panel Is Faulted: Commission Seeks Intelligence Chief in White House." Washington Post, 31 Jul. 2004, A1. []

On 30 July 2004, "[t]he White House and senators from both parties raised objections" to the recommendation of the 9/11 commission that the war on terrorism should be coordinated by a single intelligence director working out of the president's office.

Washington Post. "From the Top . . ." 1 Aug. 2004, B1, B4, B5.

Stansfield Turner, William S. Cohen, John Deutch, Robert C. McFarlane, Phyllis Oakley, William E. Odom, and John J. Devine react to the 9/11 commission recommendations.

Turner: "We don't need a new layer of bureaucracy. What we do need is a review of what authority a coordinator of intelligence should have, whether we call him or her an NID or a DCI.... [A] fixed term is a bad idea."

Cohen: "One of my principal concerns ... is making sure that the NID office, however it is structured, is prohibited from having any advocacy role on operational matters.... I also suggest that the director have a fixed term, rather than be subject to the political fortunes of any given president."

Deutch: "Establishing a cabinet-level position -- a national intelligence director (NID) -- is no substitute for properly aligning authority with responsibility.... [T]he proposal for a civilian-led unified joint command for counterterrorism works better for counterterrorism than for managing intelligence regarding other security issues."

McFarlane: "The military's unified command structure ... is a sound model for the new director's office.... Giving the new director a fixed term that overlaps administrations ... is the right way to go to avoid the post's becoming politicized."

Oakley: "With an intelligence czar and a unified intelligence center, the system would lose the competitiveness that's been an important element of its successes until now.... Not everything about the present situation is bad."

Odom: "[S]ome [organizational] designs prevent competent incumbents from performing well. [This is what] the 9/11 commission's design for a new national intelligence director (NID) is sure to accomplish.... [A] fixed term for the NID ... [i]s a bad idea."

Devine: The "recommendations [of the 9/11 commission] regarding the intelligence community -- and specifically the CIA -- are potentially destructive.... The establishment of a national intelligence director and the national counterterrorism center (NCTC) would add a cumbersome bureaucracy without improving performance on the core issue.... [T]he DCI should be given the broad authority to direct the priorities and budgets of the other agencies in the intelligence community."

Allen, Mike, and Walter Pincus. "Bush Backs Creation of Intelligence Director; President Also Supports Counterterrorism Center Proposed by 9/11 Panel." Washington Post, 3 Aug. 2004, A1. []

On 2 August 2004, "President Bush called on Congress ... to create a national intelligence director and announced that he would build a national counterterrorism center.... Bush's statement embraced the two most significant of the 37 recommendations by the commission that investigated the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but with significant limitations. Under his plan, the new intelligence chief would lack the authority over budgets, hiring and firing that the commission had envisioned." See also, Elisabeth Bumiller, "Intelligence Chief Without Power? Support Leaves Questions," New York Times, 3 Aug. 2004.

Dewar, Helen. "Senate Names Intelligence Panel: Frist, Daschle Appoint 22 to Work on 9/11 Recommendations." Washington Post, 25 Aug. 2004, A2. []

On 24 August 2004, "Senate leaders tapped 22 of the chamber's most powerful members to undertake the highly sensitive task" of reorganizing its intelligence and homeland security operations. The report of the Sept. 11 commission "described congressional oversight of intelligence and counterterrorism operations as 'dysfunctional' and said major changes are needed."

Falkenrath, Richard A. "'The 9/11 Commission Report': A Review Essay." International Security 29 (Winter 2004-2005): 170-190.

Cited in Pillar, I&NS 21.6 (Dec. 2006): 1043/fn.5.

Miller, Leslie. "Revised Sept. 11 Panel Report Released." Associated Press, 13 Sep. 2005. []

On 13 September 2005, "[a] new version of the Sept. 11 commission's report ... was released ... with recently declassified information about terrorist threats and holes in airport security before the attacks. At the request of the Sept. 11 commissioners, the Bush administration declassified much, but not all, of the material it had blacked out before turning the report over to the National Archives in January."

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."

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