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Full text of "The 9/11 Commission report [electronic resource] : final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States"

THE 9/11 

COMMISSION 

REPORT 

Final Report of the 

National Commission on Terrorist 

Attacks Upon the United States 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 




**iElMn&> 



COMMISSION 
MEMBERS 



^~M&^ ^ 



Thomas H. Kean 

CHAIR 

Richard Ben-Veniste 



Lee H. Hamilton 



VICE CHAIR 





Bob Kerrey 



Fred F. Fielding 



John F. Lehman 



Jamie S. Gorelick Timothy;). B 




Timothy j. Roemer 



Slade Gorton 




James R. Thompson 



COMMISSION 
STAFF 



Philip Zelikow, Executive Director 

Christopher A. Kojm, Deputy Executive Director 

Daniel Marcus, General Counsel 



Joanne M.Accolla 
Staff Assistant 
Alexis Albion 
Professional Staff Member 
Scott H.Allan, Jr. 
Counsel 

John A. Azzarello 
Counsel 

Caroline Barnes 
Professional Staff Member 
Warren Bass 
Professional Staff Member 
Ann M. Bennett 
Information Control Officer 
Mark S. Bittinger 
Professional Staff Member 
Madeleine Blot 
Counsel 

Antwion M. Blount 
Systems Engineer 
Sam Brinkley 
Professional Staff Member 
Geoffrey Scott Brown 
Research Assistant 
Daniel Byman 
Professional Staff Member 
Dianna Campagna 
Manager of Operations 



Samuel M.W. Caspersen 
Counsel 

Melissa A. Coffey 
Staff Assistant 
Lance Cole 
Consultant 

Marquittia L. Coleman 
Staff Assistant 
Marco A. Cordero 
Professional Staff Member 
Rajesh De 
Counsel 

George W. Delgrosso 
Investigator 

Gerald L. Dillingham 
Professional Staff Member 
Thomas E. Dowling 
Professional Staff Member 
Steven M. Dunne 
Deputy General Counsel 
Thomas R. Eldridge 
Counsel 
Alice Falk 
Editor 

John J. Farmer, Jr. 
Senior Counsel & Team Leader 
Alvin S. Felzenberg 
Deputy for Communications 



COMMISSION STAFF 



Lorry M. Fenner 
Professional Staff Member 
Susan Ginsburg 
Senior Counsel & Team Leader 
T. Graham Giusti 
Security Officer 
Nicole Marie Grandrimo 
Professional Staff Member 
Douglas N. Greenburg 
Counsel 

Barbara A. Grewe 
Senior Counsel, Special Projects 
Elinore Flynn Hartz 
Family Liaison 
Leonard R. Hawley 
Professional Staff Member 
L. Christine Healey 
Senior Counsel & Team Leader 
Karen Heitkotter 
Executive Secretary 
Walter T. Hemp el II 
Professional Staff Member 
C. Michael Hurley 
Senior Counsel & Team Leader 
Dana J. Hyde 
Counsel 

John W Ivicic 
Security Officer 
Michael N.Jacobson 
Counsel 

Hunter W Jamerson 
Intern 

Bonnie D.Jenkins 
Counsel 

Reginald F.Johnson 
Staff Assistant 
R.William Johnstone 
Professional Staff Member 
Stephanie L. Kaplan 
Special Assistant & Managing Editor 
Miles L.Kara, Sr. 
Professional Staff Member 
Janice L. Kephart 
Counsel 
Hyon Kim 
Counsel 

Katarzyna Kozaczuk 
Financial Assistant 
Gordon Nathaniel Lederman 
Counsel 



Daniel J. Leopold 
Staff Assistant 
Sarah Webb Linden 
Professional Staff Member 
Douglas J. MacEachin 
Professional Staff Member & Team Leader 
Ernest R. May 
Senior Adviser 
Joseph McBride 
Intern 

James Miller 
Professional Staff Member 
Kelly Moore 
Professional Staff Member 
Charles M. Pereira 
Professional Staff Member 
John Raidt 
Professional Staff Member 
John Roth 

Senior Counsel & Team Leader 
Peter Rundlet 
Counsel 

Lloyd D. Salvetti 
Professional Staff Member 
Kevin J. Scheid 

Professional Staff Member &Team Leader 
Kevin ShaetTer 
Professional Staff Member 
Tracy J. Shycoff 

Deputy for Administration & Finance 
Dietrich L. Snell 
Senior Counsel & Team Leader 
Jonathan DeWees Stull 
Communications Assistant 
Lisa Marie Sullivan 
Staff Assistant 
Quinn John Tamm, Jr. 
Professional Staff Member 
Catharine S.Taylor 
Staff Assistant 
Yoel To bin 
Counsel 

Emily Landis Walker 
Professional Staff Member & Family Liaison 
Garth Wermter 
Senior IT Consultant 
Serena B.Wille 
Counsel 
Peter Yerkes 
Public Affairs Assistant 



THE 9/11 

COMMISSION 

REPORT 



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 



EXECUTIVE 
SUMMARY 



We present the narrative of this report and the recommendations that 
flow from it to the President of the United States, the United States Congress, 
and the American people for their consideration. Ten Commissioners — five 
Republicans and five Democrats chosen by elected leaders from our nation's 
capital at a time of great partisan division — have come together to present this 
report without dissent. 

We have come together with a unity of purpose because our nation demands 
it. September 11, 2001, was a day of unprecedented shock and suffering in the 
history of the United States. The nation was unprepared. 



A NATION TRANSFORMED 

At 8:46 on the morning of September 11, 2001, the United States became a 
nation transformed. 

An airliner traveling at hundreds of miles per hour and carrying some 10,000 
gallons of jet fuel plowed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in 
Lower Manhattan. At 9:03, a second airliner hit the South Tower. Fire and 
smoke billowed upward. Steel, glass, ash, and bodies fell below.The Twin Towers, 
where up to 50,000 people worked each day, both collapsed less than 90 min- 
utes later. 

At 9:37 that same morning, a third airliner slammed into the western face of 
the Pentagon. At 10:03, a fourth airliner crashed in a field in southern 
Pennsylvania. It had been aimed at the United States Capitol or the White 
House, and was forced down by heroic passengers armed with the knowledge 
that America was under attack. 

More than 2,600 people died at the World Trade Center; 125 died at the 



2 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

Pentagon; 256 died on the four planes. The death toll surpassed that at Pearl 
Harbor in December 1941. 

This immeasurable pain was inflicted by 19 young Arabs acting at the behest 
of Islamist extremists headquartered in distant Afghanistan. Some had been in 
the United States for more than a year, mixing with the rest of the population. 
Though four had training as pilots, most were not well-educated. Most spoke 
English poorly, some hardly at all. In groups of four or five, carrying with them 
only small knives, box cutters, and cans of Mace or pepper spray, they had 
hijacked the four planes and turned them into deadly guided missiles. 

Why did they do this? How was the attack planned and conceived? How did 
the U.S. government fail to anticipate and prevent it? What can we do in the 
future to prevent similar acts of terrorism? 

A Shock, Not a Surprise 

The 9/11 attacks were a shock, but they should not have come as a surprise. 
Islamist extremists had given plenty of warning that they meant to kill 
Americans indiscriminately and in large numbers. Although Usama Bin Ladin 
himself would not emerge as a signal threat until the late 1990s, the threat of 
Islamist terrorism grew over the decade. 

In February 1993, a group led by Ramzi Yousef tried to bring down the 
World Trade Center with a truck bomb. They killed six and wounded a thou- 
sand. Plans by Omar Abdel Rahman and others to blow up the Holland and 
Lincoln tunnels and other New York City landmarks were frustrated when the 
plotters were arrested. In October 1993, Somali tribesmen shot down U.S. hel- 
icopters, killing 18 and wounding 73 in an incident that came to be known as 
"Black Hawk down."Years later it would be learned that those Somali tribes- 
men had received help from al Qaeda. 

In early 1995, police in Manila uncovered a plot by Ramzi Yousef to blow 
up a dozen U.S. airliners while they were flying over the Pacific. In November 
1995, a car bomb exploded outside the office of the U.S. program manager for 
the Saudi National Guard in Riyadh, killing five Americans and two others. In 
June 1996, a truck bomb demolished the KhobarTowers apartment complex in 
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. servicemen and wounding hundreds. The 
attack was carried out primarily by Saudi Hezbollah, an organization that had 
received help from the government of Iran. 

Until 1997, the U.S. intelligence community viewed Bin Ladin as a fin- 
ancier of terrorism, not as a terrorist leader. In February 1998, Usama Bin 
Ladin and four others issued a self-styled fatwa, publicly declaring that it was 
God's decree that every Muslim should try his utmost to kill any American, 
military or civilian, anywhere in the world, because of American "occupa- 



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 3 

tion" of Islam's holy places and aggression against Muslims. 

In August 1998, Bin Ladin's group, al Qaeda, carried out near-simultaneous 
truck bomb attacks on the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, 
Tanzania. The attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans, and wounded 
thousands more. 

In December 1999, Jordanian police foiled a plot to bomb hotels and other 
sites frequented by American tourists, and a U.S. Customs agent arrested Ahmed 
Ressam at the U.S. Canadian border as he was smuggling in explosives intend- 
ed for an attack on Los Angeles International Airport. 

In October 2000, an al Qaeda team in Aden, Yemen, used a motorboat filled 
with explosives to blow a hole in the side of a destroyer, the USS Cole, almost 
sinking the vessel and killing 17 American sailors. 

The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were far 
more elaborate, precise, and destructive than any of these earlier assaults. But by 
September 2001, the executive branch of the U.S. government, the Congress, 
the news media, and the American public had received clear warning that 
Islamist terrorists meant to kill Americans in high numbers. 

Who Is the Enemy? 

Who is this enemy that created an organization capable of inflicting such hor- 
rific damage on the United States? We now know that these attacks were car- 
ried out by various groups of Islamist extremists. The 9/11 attack was driven by 
Usama Bin Ladin. 

In the 1980s, young Muslims from around the world went to Afghanistan to 
join as volunteers in a jihad (or holy struggle) against the Soviet Union. A 
wealthy Saudi, Usama Bin Ladin, was one of them. Following the defeat of the 
Soviets in the late 1980s, Bin Ladin and others formed al Qaeda to mobilize 
jihads elsewhere. 

The history, culture, and body of beliefs from which Bin Ladin shapes and 
spreads his message are largely unknown to many Americans. Seizing on sym- 
bols of Islam's past greatness, he promises to restore pride to people who con- 
sider themselves the victims of successive foreign masters. He uses cultural and 
religious allusions to the holy Qur'an and some of its interpreters. He appeals 
to people disoriented by cyclonic change as they confront modernity and glob- 
alization. His rhetoric selectively draws from multiple sources — Islam, history, 
and the region's political and economic malaise. 

Bin Ladin also stresses grievances against the United States widely shared in 
the Muslim world. He inveighed against the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi 
Arabia, which is the home of Islam's holiest sites, and against other U.S. policies 
in the Middle East. 



4 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

Upon this political and ideological foundation, Bin Ladin built over the 
course of a decade a dynamic and lethal organization. He built an infrastructure 
and organization in Afghanistan that could attract, train, and use recruits against 
ever more ambitious targets. He rallied new zealots and new money with each 
demonstration of al Qaeda's capability. He had forged a close alliance with the 
Taliban, a regime providing sanctuary for al Qaeda. 

By September 11, 2001, al Qaeda possessed 

• leaders able to evaluate, approve, and supervise the planning and direc- 
tion of a major operation; 

• a personnel system that could recruit candidates, indoctrinate them, 
vet them, and give them the necessary training; 

• communications sufficient to enable planning and direction of opera- 
tives and those who would be helping them; 

• an intelligence effort to gather required information and form assess- 
ments of enemy strengths and weaknesses; 

• the ability to move people great distances; and 

• the ability to raise and move the money necessary to finance an attack. 

1998 to September 11, 2001 

The August 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania established 
al Qaeda as a potent adversary of the United States. 

After launching cruise missile strikes against al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan 
and Sudan in retaliation for the embassy bombings, the Clinton administration 
applied diplomatic pressure to try to persuade the Taliban regime in Afghanistan 
to expel Bin Ladin. The administration also devised covert operations to use 
CIA-paid foreign agents to capture or kill Bin Ladin and his chief lieutenants. 
These actions did not stop Bin Ladin or dislodge al Qaeda from its sanctuary. 

By late 1998 or early 1999, Bin Ladin and his advisers had agreed on an idea 
brought to them by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) called the "planes oper- 
ation." It would eventually culminate in the 9/11 attacks. Bin Ladin and his 
chief of operations, Mohammed Atef, occupied undisputed leadership positions 
atop al Qaeda. Within al Qaeda, they relied heavily on the ideas and enterprise 
of strong-willed field commanders, such as KSM, to carry out worldwide ter- 
rorist operations. 

KSM claims that his original plot was even grander than those carried out 
on 9/11 — ten planes would attack targets on both the East and West coasts of 
the United States. This plan was modified by Bin Ladin, KSM said, owing to its 
scale and complexity. Bin Ladin provided KSM with four initial operatives for 
suicide plane attacks within the United States, and in the fall of 1999 training 



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 5 

for the attacks began. New recruits included four from a cell of expatriate 
Muslim extremists who had clustered together in Hamburg, Germany. One 
became the tactical commander of the operation in the United States: 
Mohamed Atta. 

U.S. intelligence frequently picked up reports of attacks planned by al Qaeda. 
Working with foreign security services, the CIA broke up some al Qaeda cells. 
The core of Bin Ladin's organization nevertheless remained intact. In December 
1999, news about the arrests of the terrorist cell in Jordan and the arrest of a 
terrorist at the U.S. -Canadian border became part of a "millennium alert."The 
government was galvanized, and the public was on alert for any possible attack. 

In January 2000, the intense intelligence effort glimpsed and then lost sight 
of two operatives destined for the "planes operation." Spotted in Kuala Lumpur, 
the pair were lost passing through Bangkok. On January 15, 2000, they arrived 
in Los Angeles. 

Because these two al Qaeda operatives had spent little time in the West and 
spoke little, if any, English, it is plausible that they or KSM would have tried to 
identify, in advance, a friendly contact in the United States. We explored suspi- 
cions about whether these two operatives had a support network of accomplices 
in the United States. The evidence is thin — simply not there for some cases, 
more worrisome in others. 

We do know that soon after arriving in California, the two al Qaeda oper- 
atives sought out and found a group of ideologically like-minded Muslims -with 
roots in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, individuals mainly associated with a young 
Yemeni and others who attended a mosque in San Diego. After a brief stay in 
Los Angeles about -which we know little, the al Qaeda operatives lived openly 
in San Diego under their true names. They managed to avoid attracting much 
attention. 

By the summer of 2000, three of the four Hamburg cell members had 
arrived on the East Coast of the United States and had begun pilot training. In 
early 2001, a fourth future hijacker pilot, Hani Hanjour, journeyed to Arizona 
with another operative, Nawaf al Hazmi, and conducted his refresher pilot train- 
ing there. A number of al Qaeda operatives had spent time in Arizona during 
the 1980s and early 1990s. 

During 2000, President Bill Clinton and his advisers renewed diplomatic 
efforts to get Bin Ladin expelled from Afghanistan. They also renewed secret 
efforts with some of the Taliban's opponents — the Northern Alliance — to get 
enough intelligence to attack Bin Ladin directly. Diplomatic efforts centered on 
the new military government in Pakistan, and they did not succeed. The efforts 
with the Northern Alliance revived an inconclusive and secret debate about 
whether the United States should take sides in Afghanistan's civil war and sup- 



6 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

port the Taliban's enemies. The CIA also produced a plan to improve intelli- 
gence collection on al Qaeda, including the use of a small, unmanned airplane 
with a video camera, known as the Predator. 

After the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, evidence accumulated that 
it had been launched by al Qaeda operatives, but without confirmation that Bin 
Ladin had given the order. The Taliban had earlier been warned that it would 
be held responsible for another Bin Ladin attack on the United States. The CIA 
described its findings as a "preliminary judgment"; President Clinton and his 
chief advisers told us they were waiting for a conclusion before deciding 
whether to take military action. The military alternatives remained unappealing 
to them. 

The transition to the new Bush administration in late 2000 and early 2001 
took place with the Cole issue still pending. President George W. Bush and his 
chief advisers accepted that al Qaeda was responsible for the attack on the Cole, 
but did not like the options available for a response. 

Bin Ladin's inference may well have been that attacks, at least at the level of 
the Cole, were risk free. 

The Bush administration began developing a new strategy with the stated 
goal of eliminating the al Qaeda threat within three to five years. 

During the spring and summer of 2001, U.S. intelligence agencies received 
a stream of warnings that al Qaeda planned, as one report put it, "something 
very, very, very big." Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet told us, "The 
system was blinking red." 

Although Bin Ladin was determined to strike in the United States, as 
President Clinton had been told and President Bush was reminded in a 
Presidential Daily Brief article briefed to him in August 2001, the specific threat 
information pointed overseas. Numerous precautions were taken overseas. 
Domestic agencies were not effectively mobilized. The threat did not receive 
national media attention comparable to the millennium alert. 

While the United States continued disruption efforts around the world, its 
emerging strategy to eliminate the al Qaeda threat was to include an enlarged 
covert action program in Afghanistan, as well as diplomatic strategies for 
Afghanistan and Pakistan. The process culminated during the summer of 2001 
in a draft presidential directive and arguments about the Predator aircraft, which 
was soon to be deployed with a missile of its own, so that it might be used to 
attempt to kill Bin Ladin or his chief lieutenants. At a September 4 meeting, 
President Bush's chief advisers approved the draft directive of the strategy and 
endorsed the concept of arming the Predator. This directive on the al Qaeda 
strategy was awaiting President Bush's signature on September 11, 2001. 

Though the "planes operation" was progressing, the plotters had problems of 



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 7 

their own in 2001. Several possible participants dropped out; others could not gain 
entry into the United States (including one denial at a port of entry and visa 
denials not related to terrorism). One of the eventual pilots may have considered 
abandoning the planes operation. Zacarias Moussaoui, who showed up at a flight 
training school in Minnesota, may have been a candidate to replace him. 

Some of the vulnerabilities of the plotters become clear in retrospect. 
Moussaoui aroused suspicion for seeking fast-track training on how to pilot 
large jet airliners. He was arrested on August 16, 2001, for violations of immi- 
gration regulations. In late August, officials in the intelligence community real- 
ized that the terrorists spotted in Southeast Asia in January 2000 had arrived in 
the United States. 

These cases did not prompt urgent action. No one working on these late 
leads in the summer of 2001 connected them to the high level of threat report- 
ing. In the words of one official, no analytic work foresaw the lightning that 
could connect the thundercloud to the ground. 

As final preparations were under way during the summer of 2001, dissent 
emerged among al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan over whether to proceed. The 
Taliban's chief, Mullah Omar, opposed attacking the United States. Although 
facing opposition from many of his senior lieutenants, Bin Ladin effectively 
overruled their objections, and the attacks went forward. 

September 11, 2001 

The day began with the 19 hijackers getting through a security checkpoint sys- 
tem that they had evidently analyzed and knew how to defeat. Their success rate 
in penetrating the system was 19 for 19. They took over the four flights, taking 
advantage of air crews and cockpits that were not prepared for the contingency 
of a suicide hijacking. 

On 9/11, the defense of U.S. air space depended on close interaction 
between two federal agencies: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and 
North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Existing protocols 
on 9/11 were unsuited in every respect for an attack in which hijacked planes 
were used as weapons. 

What ensued was a hurried attempt to improvise a defense by civilians who 
had never handled a hijacked aircraft that attempted to disappear, and by a mil- 
itary unprepared for the transformation of commercial aircraft into weapons of 
mass destruction. 

A shootdown authorization was not communicated to the NORAD air 
defense sector until 28 minutes after United 93 had crashed in Pennsylvania. 
Planes were scrambled, but ineffectively, as they did not know where to go or 
what targets they were to intercept. And once the shootdown order was given, 



8 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

it 'was not communicated to the pilots. In short, while leaders in Washington 
believed that the fighters circling above them had been instructed to "take out" 
hostile aircraft, the only orders actually conveyed to the pilots were to "ID type 
and tail." 

Like the national defense, the emergency response on 9/11 was necessarily 
improvised. 

In New York City, the Fire Department of New York, the New York 
Police Department, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the 
building employees, and the occupants of the buildings did their best to 
cope with the effects of almost unimaginable events — unfolding furiously 
over 102 minutes. Casualties were nearly 100 percent at and above the 
impact zones and were very high among first responders who stayed in dan- 
ger as they tried to save lives. Despite weaknesses in preparations for disas- 
ter, failure to achieve unified incident command, and inadequate communi- 
cations among responding agencies, all but approximately one hundred of 
the thousands of civilians who worked below the impact zone escaped, 
often with help from the emergency responders. 

At the Pentagon, while there were also problems of command and control, 
the emergency response was generally effective. The Incident Command 
System, a formalized management structure for emergency response in place in 
the National Capital Region, overcame the inherent complications of a 
response across local, state, and federal jurisdictions. 

Operational Opportunities 

We write with the benefit and handicap of hindsight. We are mindful of the 
danger of being unjust to men and women who made choices in conditions of 
uncertainty and in circumstances over which they often had little control. 

Nonetheless, there were specific points of vulnerability in the plot and 
opportunities to disrupt it. Operational failures — opportunities that "were 
not or could not be exploited by the organizations and systems of that 
time — included 

• not watchlisfing future hijackers Hazmi and Mihdhar, not trailing 
them after they traveled to Bangkok, and not informing the FBI about 
one future hijacker's U.S. visa or his companion's travel to the United 
States; 

• not sharing information linking individuals in the Cole attack to 
Mihdhar; 

• not taking adequate steps in time to find Mihdhar or Hazmi in the 
United States; 



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 

not linking the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui, described as interested in 
flight training for the purpose of using an airplane in a terrorist act, to 
the heightened indications of attack; 
not discovering false statements on visa applications; 
not recognizing passports manipulated in a fraudulent manner; 
not expanding no-fly lists to include names from terrorist watchlists; 
not searching airline passengers identified by the computer-based 
CAPPS screening system; and 

not hardening aircraft cockpit doors or taking other measures to pre- 
pare for the possibility of suicide hijackings. 



GENERAL FINDINGS 

Since the plotters were flexible and resourceful, we cannot know "whether 
any single step or series of steps would have defeated them. What we can say 
with confidence is that none of the measures adopted by the U.S. govern- 
ment from 1998 to 2001 disturbed or even delayed the progress of the al 
Qaeda plot. Across the government, there were failures of imagination, pol- 
icy, capabilities, and management. 

Imagination 

The most important failure was one of imagination. We do not believe lead- 
ers understood the gravity of the threat.The terrorist danger from Bin Ladin 
and al Qaeda was not a major topic for policy debate among the public, the 
media, or in the Congress. Indeed, it barely came up during the 2000 pres- 
idential campaign. 

Al Qaeda's new brand of terrorism presented challenges to U.S. governmen- 
tal institutions that they were not well-designed to meet. Though top officials 
all told us that they understood the danger, we believe there was uncertainty 
among them as to whether this was just a new and especially venomous version 
of the ordinary terrorist threat the United States had lived with for decades, or 
it was indeed radically new, posing a threat beyond any yet experienced. 

As late as September 4, 2001, Richard Clarke, the White House staffer long 
responsible for counterterrorism policy coordination, asserted that the govern- 
ment had not yet made up its mind how to answer the question: "Is al Qida a 
big deal?" 

A week later came the answer. 



10 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

Policy 

Terrorism was not the overriding national security concern for the U.S. gov- 
ernment under either the Clinton or the pre-9/11 Bush administration. 

The policy challenges were linked to this failure of imagination. Officials in 
both the Clinton and Bush administrations regarded a full U.S. invasion of 
Afghanistan as practically inconceivable before 9/11. 

Capabilities 

Before 9/1 1, the United States tried to solve the al Qaeda problem with the 
capabilities it had used in the last stages of the Cold War and its immediate 
aftermath. These capabilities were insufficient. Little was done to expand or 
reform them. 

The CIA had minimal capacity to conduct paramilitary operations with its 
own personnel, and it did not seek a large-scale expansion of these capabilities 
before 9/11. The CIA also needed to improve its capability to collect intelli- 
gence from human agents. 

At no point before 9/11 was the Department of Defense fully engaged in 
the mission of countering al Qaeda, even though this was perhaps the most dan- 
gerous foreign enemy threatening the United States. 

America's homeland defenders faced outward. NORAD itself was barely 
able to retain any alert bases at all. Its planning scenarios occasionally consid- 
ered the danger of hijacked aircraft being guided to American targets, but only 
aircraft that were coming from overseas. 

The most serious weaknesses in agency capabilities were in the domestic 
arena. The FBI did not have the capability to link the collective knowledge of 
agents in the field to national priorities. Other domestic agencies deferred to 
the FBI. 

FAA capabilities were weak. Any serious examination of the possibility 
of a suicide hijacking could have suggested changes to fix glaring vulnera- 
bilities — expanding no-fly lists, searching passengers identified by the 
CAPPS screening system, deploying federal air marshals domestically, hard- 
ening cockpit doors, alerting air crews to a different kind of hijacking pos- 
sibility than they had been trained to expect. Yet the FAA did not adjust 
either its own training or training with NORAD to take account of threats 
other than those experienced in the past. 

Management 

The missed opportunities to thwart the 9/11 plot were also symptoms of a 
broader inability to adapt the way government manages problems to the new 
challenges of the twenty-first century. Action officers should have been able to 



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 1 

draw on all available knowledge about al Qaeda in the government. 
Management should have ensured that information was shared and duties were 
clearly assigned across agencies, and across the foreign-domestic divide. 

There were also broader management issues with respect to how top leaders 
set priorities and allocated resources. For instance, on December 4, 1998, DCI 
Tenet issued a directive to several CIA officials and the DDCI for Community 
Management, stating: "We are at war. I want no resources or people spared in 
this effort, either inside CIA or the Community." The memorandum had little 
overall effect on mobilizing the CIA or the intelligence community. This 
episode indicates the limitations of the DCI's authority over the direction of the 
intelligence community, including agencies within the Department of Defense. 

The U.S. government did not find a way of pooling intelligence and using 
it to guide the planning and assignment of responsibilities for joint operations 
involving entities as disparate as the CIA, the FBI, the State Department, the 
military, and the agencies involved in homeland security. 



SPECIFIC FINDINGS 

Unsuccessful Diplomacy 

Beginning in February 1997, and through September 11, 2001, the U.S. gov- 
ernment tried to use diplomatic pressure to persuade the Taliban regime in 
Afghanistan to stop being a sanctuary for al Qaeda, and to expel Bin Ladin to 
a country where he could face justice. These efforts included warnings and 
sanctions, but they all failed. 

The U.S. government also pressed two successive Pakistani governments to 
demand that the Taliban cease providing a sanctuary for Bin Ladin and his organ- 
ization and, failing that, to cut off their support for theTaliban. Before 9/11, the 
United States could not find a mix of incentives and pressure that would per- 
suade Pakistan to reconsider its fundamental relationship with the Taliban. 

From 1999 through early 2001, the United States pressed the United Arab 
Emirates, one of the Taliban's only travel and financial outlets to the outside 
world, to break off ties and enforce sanctions, especially those related to air trav- 
el to Afghanistan. These efforts achieved little before 9/11. 

Saudi Arabia has been a problematic ally in combating Islamic extremism. 
Before 9/11, the Saudi and U.S. governments did not fully share intelligence 
information or develop an adequate joint effort to track and disrupt the finances 
of the al Qaeda organization. On the other hand, government officials of Saudi 
Arabia at the highest levels worked closely with top U.S. officials in major ini- 
tiatives to solve the Bin Ladin problem with diplomacy. 



12 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

Lack of Military Options 

In response to the request of policymakers, the military prepared an array of 
limited strike options for attacking Bin Ladin and his organization from May 
1998 onward. When they briefed policymakers, the military presented both the 
pros and cons of those strike options and the associated risks. Policymakers 
expressed frustration with the range of options presented. 

Following the August 20, 1998, missile strikes on al Qaeda targets in 
Afghanistan and Sudan, both senior military officials and policymakers 
placed great emphasis on actionable intelligence as the key factor in recom- 
mending or deciding to launch military action against Bin Ladin and his 
organization. They did not want to risk significant collateral damage, and 
they did not want to miss Bin Ladin and thus make the United States look 
weak while making Bin Ladin look strong. On three specific occasions in 
1998—1999, intelligence was deemed credible enough to warrant planning 
for possible strikes to kill Bin Ladin. But in each case the strikes did not go 
forward, because senior policymakers did not regard the intelligence as suf- 
ficiently actionable to offset their assessment of the risks. 

The Director of Central Intelligence, policymakers, and military officials 
expressed frustration with the lack of actionable intelligence. Some officials 
inside the Pentagon, including those in the special forces and the counterterror- 
ism policy office, also expressed frustration with the lack of military action. The 
Bush administration began to develop new policies toward al Qaeda in 2001, 
but military plans did not change until after 9/11. 

Problems within the Intelligence Community 

The intelligence community struggled throughout the 1990s and up to 9/11 to 
collect intelligence on and analyze the phenomenon of transnational terrorism. 
The combination of an overwhelming number of priorities, flat budgets, an 
outmoded structure, and bureaucratic rivalries resulted in an insufficient 
response to this new challenge. 

Many dedicated officers worked day and night for years to piece together the 
growing body of evidence on al Qaeda and to understand the threats.Yet, while 
there were many reports on Bin Laden and his growing al Qaeda organization, 
there was no comprehensive review of what the intelligence community knew 
and what it did not know, and what that meant. There was no National 
Intelligence Estimate on terrorism between 1995 and 9/11. 

Before 9/1 1, no agency did more to attack al Qaeda than the CIA. But there 
were limits to what the CIA was able to achieve by disrupting terrorist activi- 
ties abroad and by using proxies to try to capture Bin Ladin and his lieutenants 
in Afghanistan. CIA officers were aware of those limitations. 



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 13 

To put it simply, covert action was not a silver bullet. It was important to 
engage proxies in Afghanistan and to build various capabilities so that if an 
opportunity presented itself, the CIA could act on it. But for more than three 
years, through both the late Clinton and early Bush administrations, the CIA 
relied on proxy forces, and there was growing frustration within the CIA's 
Counterterrorist Center and in the National Security Council staff with the 
lack of results. The development of the Predator and the push to aid the 
Northern Alliance were products of this frustration. 

Problems in the FBI 

From the time of the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, FBI and 
Department of Justice leadership in Washington and New York became increas- 
ingly concerned about the terrorist threat from Islamist extremists to U.S. inter- 
ests, both at home and abroad. Throughout the 1990s, the FBI's counterterror- 
ism efforts against international terrorist organizations included both intelli- 
gence and criminal investigations. The FBI's approach to investigations was case- 
specific, decentralized, and geared toward prosecution. Significant FBI resources 
were devoted to after-the-fact investigations of major terrorist attacks, resulting 
in several prosecutions. 

The FBI attempted several reform efforts aimed at strengthening its ability 
to prevent such attacks, but these reform efforts failed to implement organiza- 
tion-wide institutional change. On September 11, 2001, the FBI was limited in 
several areas critical to an effective preventive counterterrorism strategy. Those 
working counterterrorism matters did so despite limited intelligence collection 
and strategic analysis capabilities, a limited capacity to share information both 
internally and externally, insufficient training, perceived legal barriers to sharing 
information, and inadequate resources. 

Permeable Borders and Immigration Controls 

There were opportunities for intelligence and law enforcement to exploit al 
Qaeda's travel vulnerabilities. Considered collectively, the 9/11 hijackers 

• included known al Qaeda operatives who could have been watchlisted; 

• presented passports manipulated in a fraudulent manner; 

• presented passports with suspicious indicators of extremism; 

• made detectable false statements on visa applications; 

• made false statements to border officials to gain entry into the United 
States; and 

• violated immigration laws while in the United States. 



14 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

Neither the State Department's consular officers nor the Immigration and 
Naturalization Service's inspectors and agents were ever considered full partners 
in a national counterterrorism effort. Protecting borders was not a national 
security issue before 9/11. 

Permeable Aviation Security 

Hijackers studied publicly available materials on the aviation security system 
and used items that had less metal content than a handgun and were most like- 
ly permissible. Though two of the hijackers were on the U.S.TIPOFF terrorist 
watchlist, the FAA did not useTIPOFF data. The hijackers had to beat only one 
layer of security — the security checkpoint process. Even though several hijack- 
ers were selected for extra screening by the CAPPS system, this led only to 
greater scrutiny of their checked baggage. Once on board, the hijackers were 
faced with aircraft personnel who were trained to be nonconfrontational in the 
event of a hijacking. 

Financing 

The 9/11 attacks cost somewhere between $400,000 and $500,000 to execute. 
The operatives spent more than $270,000 in the United States. Additional 
expenses included travel to obtain passports and visas, travel to the United 
States, expenses incurred by the plot leader and facilitators outside the United 
States, and expenses incurred by the people selected to be hijackers who ulti- 
mately did not participate. 

The conspiracy made extensive use of banks in the United States. The 
hijackers opened accounts in their own names, using passports and other iden- 
tification documents. Their transactions were unremarkable and essentially 
invisible amid the billions of dollars flowing around the world every day. 

To date, we have not been able to determine the origin of the money 
used for the 9/11 attacks. Al Qaeda had many sources of funding and a pre- 
9/11 annual budget estimated at $30 million. If a particular source of funds 
had dried up, al Qaeda could easily have found enough money elsewhere to 
fund the attack. 

An Improvised Homeland Defense 

The civilian and military defenders of the nation's airspace — FAA and 
NORAD — were unprepared for the attacks launched against them. Given that 
lack of preparedness, they attempted and failed to improvise an effective home- 
land defense against an unprecedented challenge. 

The events of that morning do not reflect discredit on operational person- 
nel. NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector personnel reached out for infor- 



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 15 

mation and made the best judgments they could based on the information they 
received. Individual FAA controllers, facility managers, and command center 
managers were creative and agile in recommending a nationwide alert, ground- 
stopping local traffic, ordering all aircraft nationwide to land, and executing that 
unprecedented order flawlessly. 

At more senior levels, communication was poor. Senior military and FAA 
leaders had no effective communication with each other. The chain of com- 
mand did not function well. The President could not reach some senior offi- 
cials. The Secretary of Defense did not enter the chain of command until the 
morning's key events were over. Air National Guard units with different rules 
of engagement were scrambled without the knowledge of the President, 
NORAD, or the National Military Command Center. 

Emergency Response 

The civilians, firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians, and 
emergency management professionals exhibited steady determination and 
resolve under horrifying, overwhelming conditions on 9/11. Their actions saved 
lives and inspired a nation. 

Effective decisionmaking in New York was hampered by problems in com- 
mand and control and in internal communications. Within the Fire 
Department of New York, this was true for several reasons: the magnitude of 
the incident was unforeseen; commanders had difficulty communicating with 
their units; more units were actually dispatched than were ordered by the 
chiefs; some units self-dispatched; and once units arrived at the World Trade 
Center, they were neither comprehensively accounted for nor coordinated. 
The Port Authority's response was hampered by the lack both of standard 
operating procedures and of radios capable of enabling multiple commands to 
respond to an incident in unified fashion. The New York Pohce Department, 
because of its history of mobilizing thousands of officers for major events 
requiring crowd control, had a technical radio capability and protocols more 
easily adapted to an incident of the magnitude of 9/11. 

Congress 

The Congress, like the executive branch, responded slowly to the rise of 
transnational terrorism as a threat to national security. The legislative branch 
adjusted little and did not restructure itself to address changing threats. Its atten- 
tion to terrorism was episodic and splintered across several committees. The 
Congress gave little guidance to executive branch agencies on terrorism, did not 
reform them in any significant way to meet the threat, and did not systemati- 
cally perform robust oversight to identify, address, and attempt to resolve the 



16 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

many problems in national security and domestic agencies that became appar- 
ent in the aftermath of 9/11. 

So long as oversight is undermined by current congressional rules and reso- 
lutions, we believe the American people will not get the security they want and 
need. The United States needs a strong, stable, and capable congressional com- 
mittee structure to give America's national intelligence agencies oversight, sup- 
port, and leadership. 

Are We Safer? 

Since 9/11, the United States and its allies have killed or captured a majority of 
al Qaeda's leadership; toppled the Taliban, which gave al Qaeda sanctuary in 
Afghanistan; and severely damaged the organization. Yet terrorist attacks contin- 
ue. Even as we have thwarted attacks, nearly everyone expects they will come. 
How can this be? 

The problem is that al Qaeda represents an ideological movement, not a 
finite group of people. It initiates and inspires, even if it no longer directs. In this 
way it has transformed itself into a decentralized force. Bin Ladin may be lim- 
ited in his ability to organize major attacks from his hideouts. Yet killing or cap- 
turing him, while extremely important, would not end terror. His message of 
inspiration to a new generation of terrorists would continue. 

Because of offensive actions against al Qaeda since 9/11, and defensive 
actions to improve homeland security, we believe we are safer today. But we are 
not safe.We therefore make the following recommendations that we believe can 
make America safer and more secure. 



RECOMMENDATIONS 

Three years after 9/11, the national debate continues about how to protect our 
nation in this new era. We divide our recommendations into two basic parts: 
What to do, and how to do it. 



WHAT TO DO? A GLOBAL STRATEGY 

The enemy is not just "terrorism." It is the threat posed specifically by Islamist 
terrorism, by Bin Ladin and others who draw on a long tradition of extreme 
intolerance within a minority strain of Islam that does not distinguish politics 
from religion, and distorts both. 

The enemy is not Islam, the great world faith, but a perversion of Islam. The 



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 17 

enemy goes beyond al Qaeda to include the radical ideological movement, 
inspired in part by al Qaeda, that has spawned other terrorist groups and vio- 
lence. Thus our strategy must match our means to two ends: dismantling the al 
Qaeda network and, in the long term, prevailing over the ideology that con- 
tributes to Islamist terrorism. 

The first phase of our post-9/11 efforts rightly included military action to 
topple the Taliban and pursue al Qaeda. This work continues. But long-term 
success demands the use of all elements of national power: diplomacy, intelli- 
gence, covert action, law enforcement, economic policy, foreign aid, public 
diplomacy, and homeland defense. If we favor one tool while neglecting others, 
we leave ourselves vulnerable and weaken our national effort. 

What should Americans expect from their government? The goal seems 
unlimited: Defeat terrorism anywhere in the world. But Americans have also 
been told to expect the worst: An attack is probably coming; it may be more 
devastating still. 

Vague goals match an amorphous picture of the enemy. Al Qaeda and other 
groups are popularly described as being all over the world, adaptable, resilient, 
needing little higher-level organization, and capable of anything. It is an image 
of an omnipotent hydra of destruction. That image lowers expectations of gov- 
ernment effectiveness. 

It lowers them too far. Our report shows a determined and capable group of 
plotters. Yet the group was fragile and occasionally left vulnerable by the mar- 
ginal, unstable people often attracted to such causes. The enemy made mistakes. 
The U.S. government was not able to capitalize on them. 

No president can promise that a catastrophic attack like that of 9/11 will not 
happen again. But the American people are entitled to expect that officials will 
have realistic objectives, clear guidance, and effective organization. They are 
entitled to see standards for performance so they can judge, with the help of 
their elected representatives, whether the objectives are being met. 

We propose a strategy with three dimensions: (1) attack terrorists and their 
organizations, (2) prevent the continued growth of Islamist terrorism, and (3) 
protect against and prepare for terrorist attacks. 

Attack Terrorists and Their Organizations 

• Root out sanctuaries. The U.S. government should identify and prior- 
itize actual or potential terrorist sanctuaries and have realistic country 
or regional strategies for each, utilizing every element of national 
power and reaching out to countries that can help us. 



18 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

• Strengthen long-term U.S. and international commitments to the 
future of Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

• Confront problems with Saudi Arabia in the open and build a relation- 
ship beyond oil, a relationship that both sides can defend to their citi- 
zens and includes a shared commitment to reform. 

Prevent the Continued Growth of Islamist Terrorism 

In October 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asked if enough was 
being done "to fashion a broad integrated plan to stop the next generation of 
terrorists." As part of such a plan, the U.S. government should 

• Define the message and stand as an example of moral leadership in the 
world. To Muslim parents, terrorists like Bin Ladin have nothing to 
offer their children but visions of violence and death. America and its 
friends have the advantage — our vision can offer a better future. 

• Where Muslim governments, even those who are friends, do not offer 
opportunity, respect the rule of law, or tolerate differences, then the 
United States needs to stand for a better future. 

• Communicate and defend American ideals in the Islamic world, 
through much stronger public diplomacy to reach more people, 
including students and leaders outside of government. Our efforts here 
should be as strong as they were in combating closed societies during 
the Cold War. 

• Offer an agenda of opportunity that includes support for public edu- 
cation and economic openness. 

• Develop a comprehensive coalition strategy against Islamist terrorism, 
using a flexible contact group of leading coalition governments and 
fashioning a common coalition approach on issues like the treatment 
of captured terrorists. 

• Devote a maximum effort to the parallel task of countering the pro- 
liferation of weapons of mass destruction. 

• Expect less from trying to dry up terrorist money and more from fol- 
lowing the money for intelligence, as a tool to hunt terrorists, under- 



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 19 

stand their networks, and disrupt their operations. 
Protect against and Prepare for Terrorist Attacks 

• Target terrorist travel, an intelligence and security strategy that the 
9/11 story showed could be at least as powerful as the effort devoted 
to terrorist finance. 

• Address problems of screening people with biometric identifiers across 
agencies and governments, including our border and transportation 
systems, by designing a comprehensive screening system that addresses 
common problems and sets common standards. As standards spread, 
this necessary and ambitious effort could dramatically strengthen the 
world's ability to intercept individuals who could pose catastrophic 
threats. 

• Quickly complete a biometric entry-exit screening system, one that 
also speeds qualified travelers. 

• Set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of iden- 
tification, such as driver's licenses. 

• Develop strategies for neglected parts of our transportation security 
system. Since 9/11, about 90 percent of the nation's $5 billion annual 
investment in transportation security has gone to aviation, to fight the 
last war. 

• In aviation, prevent arguments about a new computerized profiling 
system from delaying vital improvements in the "no-fly" and "auto- 
matic selectee" lists. Also, give priority to the improvement of check- 
point screening. 

• Determine, with leadership from the President, guidelines for gather- 
ing and sharing information in the new security systems that are need- 
ed, guidelines that integrate safeguards for privacy and other essential 
liberties. 

• Underscore that as government power necessarily expands in certain 
ways, the burden of retaining such powers remains on the executive to 
demonstrate the value of such poweres and ensure adequate supervi- 



20 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

sion of how they are used, including a new board to oversee the imple- 
mentation of the guidelines needed for gathering and sharing infor- 
mation in these new security systems. 

• Base federal funding for emergency preparedness solely on risks and 
vulnerabilities, putting New York City and Washington, D.C., at the 
top of the current list. Such assistance should not remain a program for 
general revenue sharing or pork-barrel spending. 

• Make homeland security funding contingent on the adoption of an 
incident command system to strengthen teamwork in a crisis, includ- 
ing a regional approach. Allocate more radio spectrum and improve 
connectivity for public safety communications, and encourage wide- 
spread adoption of newly developed standards for private-sector emer- 
gency preparedness — since the private sector controls 85 percent of 
the nation's critical infrastructure. 



HOW TO DO IT? A DIFFERENT WAY OF ORGANIZING 
GOVERNMENT 

The strategy we have recommended is elaborate, even as presented here very 
briefly. To implement it will require a government better organized than the one 
that exists today, with its national security institutions designed half a century 
ago to win the Cold War. Americans should not settle for incremental, ad hoc 
adjustments to a system created a generation ago for a world that no longer 
exists. 

Our detailed recommendations are designed to fit together. Their purpose is 
clear: to build unity of effort across the U.S. government. As one official now 
serving on the front lines overseas put it to us: "One fight, one team." 

We call for unity of effort in five areas, beginning with unity of effort on the 
challenge of counterterrorism itself: 

• unifying strategic intelligence and operational planning against Islamist 
terrorists across the foreign-domestic divide with a National 
Counterterrorism Center; 

• unifying the intelligence community with a new National Intelligence 
Director; 



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 21 

• unifying the many participants in the counterterrorism effort and their 
knowledge in a network-based information sharing system that tran- 
scends traditional governmental boundaries; 

• unifying and strengthening congressional oversight to improve quality 
and accountability; and 

• strengthening the FBI and homeland defenders. 

Unity of Effort: A National Counterterrorism Center 

The 9/11 story teaches the value of integrating strategic intelligence from all 
sources into joint operational planning — with both dimensions spanning the 
foreign-domestic divide. 

• In some ways, since 9/11, joint work has gotten better. The effort of 
fighting terrorism has flooded over many of the usual agency bound- 
aries because of its sheer quantity and energy. Attitudes have changed. 
But the problems of coordination have multiplied. The Defense 
Department alone has three unified commands (SOCOM, CENT- 
COM, and NORTHCOM) that deal with terrorism as one of their 
principal concerns. 

• Much of the public commentary about the 9/11 attacks has focused 
on "lost opportunities." Though characterized as problems of "watch- 
listing," "information sharing," or "connecting the dots," each of these 
labels is too narrow. They describe the symptoms, not the disease. 

• Breaking the older mold of organization stovepiped purely in execu- 
tive agencies, we propose a National Counterterrorism Center 
(NCTC) that would borrow the joint, unified command concept 
adopted in the 1980s by the American military in a civilian agency, 
combining the joint intelligence function alongside the operations 
work. 

• The NCTC would build on the existing Terrorist Threat Integration 
Center and would replace it and other terrorism "fusion centers" with- 
in the government. The NCTC would become the authoritative knowl- 
edge bank, bringing information to bear on common plans. It should 
task collection requirements both inside and outside the United States. 



22 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

• The NCTC should perform joint operational planning, assigning lead 
responsibilities to existing agencies and letting them direct the actual 
execution of the plans. 

• Placed in the Executive Office of the President, headed by a Senate- 
confirmed official (with rank equal to the deputy head of a cabinet 
department) who reports to the National Intelligence Director, the 
NCTC would track implementation of plans. It would be able to 
influence the leadership and the budgets of the counterterrorism 
operating arms of the CIA, the FBI, and the departments of Defense 
and Homeland Security. 

• The NCTC should not be a policymaking body. Its operations and 
planning should follow the policy direction of the president and the 
National Security Council. 

Unity of Effort: A National Intelligence Director 

Since long before 9/11 — and continuing to this day — the intelligence commu- 
nity is not organized well for joint intelligence work. It does not employ com- 
mon standards and practices in reporting intelligence or in training experts 
overseas and at home. The expensive national capabilities for collecting intelli- 
gence have divided management. The structures are too complex and too secret. 

• The community's head — the Director of Central Intelligence — has at 
least three jobs: running the CIA, coordinating a 15-agency confeder- 
ation, and being the intelligence analyst-in-chief to the president. No 
one person can do all these things. 

• A new National Intelligence Director should be established with two 
main jobs: (1) to oversee national intelligence centers that combine 
experts from all the collection disciplines against common targets — 
like counterterrorism or nuclear proliferation; and (2) to oversee the 
agencies that contribute to the national intelligence program, a task 
that includes setting common standards for personnel and information 
technology. 

• The national intelligence centers would be the unified commands of 
the intelligence world — a long-overdue reform for intelligence com- 
parable to the 1986 Goldwater- Nichols law that reformed the organ- 
ization of national defense. The home services — such as the CIA, DIA, 



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 



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NSA, and FBI — would organize, train, and equip the best intelligence 
professionals in the world, and would handle the execution of intelli- 
gence operations in the field. 

• This National Intelligence Director (NID) should be located in the 
Executive Office of the President and report directly to the president, 
yet be confirmed by the Senate. In addition to overseeing the National 
Counterterrorisni Center described above (which will include both 
the national intelligence center for terrorism and the joint operations 
planning effort), the NID should have three deputies: 

• For foreign intelligence (a deputy who also would be the head of 
the CIA) 

• For defense intelligence (also the under secretary of defense for 
intelligence) 

• For homeland intelligence (also the executive assistant director for 
intelligence at the FBI or the under secretary of homeland securi- 
ty for information analysis and infrastructure protection) 

• The NID should receive a public appropriation for national intelli- 
gence, should have authority to hire and fire his or her intelligence 
deputies, and should be able to set common personnel and informa- 
tion technology policies across the intelligence community. 

• The CIA should concentrate on strengthening the collection capabil- 
ities of its clandestine service and the talents of its analysts, building 
pride in its core expertise. 

• Secrecy stifles oversight, accountability, and information sharing. 
Unfortunately, all the current organizational incentives encourage 
overclassification. This balance should change; and as a start, open 
information should be provided about the overall size of agency intel- 
ligence budgets. 

Unity of Effort: Sharing Information 

The U.S. government has access to a vast amount of information. But it has a 
weak system for processing and using what it has. The system of "need to 
know" should be replaced by a system of "need to share." 

• The President should lead a government-wide effort to bring the 



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 25 

major national security institutions into the information revolution, 
turning a mainframe system into a decentralized network. The obsta- 
cles are not technological. Official after official has urged us to call 
attention to problems with the unglamorous "back office" side of gov- 
ernment operations. 

• But no agency can solve the problems on its own — to build the net- 
work requires an effort that transcends old divides, solving common 
legal and policy issues in ways that can help officials know what they 
can and cannot do. Again, in tackling information issues, America 
needs unity of effort. 

Unity of Effort: Congress 

Congress took too little action to adjust itself or to restructure the executive 
branch to address the emerging terrorist threat. Congressional oversight for 
intelligence — and counterterrorism — is dysfunctional. Both Congress and the 
executive need to do more to minimize national security risks during transi- 
tions between administrations. 

• For intelligence oversight, we propose two options: either a joint com- 
mittee on the old model of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy 
or a single committee in each house combining authorizing and 
appropriating committees. Our central message is the same: the intel- 
ligence committees cannot carry out their oversight function unless 
they are made stronger, and thereby have both clear responsibility and 
accountability for that oversight. 

• Congress should create a single, principal point of oversight and 
review for homeland security. There should be one permanent stand- 
ing committee for homeland security in each chamber. 

• We propose reforms to speed up the nomination, financial reporting, 
security clearance, and confirmation process for national security offi- 
cials at the start of an administration, and suggest steps to make sure 
that incoming administrations have the information they need. 

Unity of Effort: Organizing America's Defenses in the 
United States 

We have considered several proposals relating to the future of the domestic 
intelligence and counterterrorism mission. Adding a new domestic intelligence 



26 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT 

agency will not solve America's problems in collecting and analyzing intelli- 
gence within the United States. We do not recommend creating one. 

• We propose the establishment of a specialized and integrated national 
security workforce at the FBI, consisting of agents, analysts, linguists, 
and surveillance specialists who are recruited, trained, rewarded, and 
retained to ensure the development of an institutional culture imbued 
with a deep expertise in intelligence and national security. 

At several points we asked: Who has the responsibility for defending us at 
home? Responsibility for America's national defense is shared by the 
Department of Defense, with its new Northern Command, and by the 
Department of Homeland Security. They must have a clear delineation of roles, 
missions, and authority. 

• The Department of Defense and its oversight committees should reg- 
ularly assess the adequacy of Northern Command's strategies and 
planning to defend against military threats to the homeland. 

• The Department of Homeland Security and its oversight committees 
should regularly assess the types of threats the country faces, in order 
to determine the adequacy of the government's plans and the readi- 
ness of the government to respond to those threats. 



We call on the American people to remember how we all felt on 9/11, to 
remember not only the unspeakable horror but how we came together as a 
nation — one nation. Unity of purpose and unity of effort are the way we will 
defeat this enemy and make America safer for our children and grandchildren. 
We look forward to a national debate on the merits of what we have recom- 
mended, and we will participate vigorously in that debate.