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Public Statement 

Release of 9/11 Commission Report 

The Hon. Thomas H. Kean and the Hon. Lee H. Hamilton 

July 22, 2004 

Good morning. Today, we present this Report and these recommendations to the 
President of the United States, the United States Congress, and the American people. This 
report represents the unanimous conclusion of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks 
upon the United States. 

On September 11, 2001, 19 men armed with knives, box-cutters, mace and pepper 
spray penetrated the defenses of the most powerful nation in the world. They inflicted 
unbearable trauma on our people, and turned the international order upside down. 

We ask each of you to remember how you felt that day — the grief, the enormous 
sense of loss. We also came together that day as a nation — young and old, rich and poor, 
Republicans and Democrats. We all had a deep sense of hurt. We also had a deep sense of 
purpose. We knew what we had to do, as a nation, to respond. And we did. 

But on that September day we were unprepared. We did not grasp the magnitude of a 
threat that had been gathering over time. As we detail in our report, this was a failure of 
policy, management, capability, and - above all - a failure of imagination. 


We recognize that we have the benefit of hindsight. And, 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. government before 9/1 1 disturbed or even delayed the progress of the al Qaeda 

There were several unexploited opportunities. 

o Our government did not watchlist future hijackers Hazmi and Mihdhar before they 

arrived in the United States, or take adequate steps to find them once they were 

o Our government did not link 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. 
o Our government did not discover false statements on visa applications, or 

recognize passports manipulated in a fraudulent manner. 
o Our government did not expand no-fly lists to include names from terrorist 

watchlists, or require airline passengers to be more thoroughly screened. 

These examples make up part of a broader national security picture, where the 
government failed to protect the American people. The United States government was simply 
not active enough in combating the terrorist threat before 9/11. 

o Our diplomacy and foreign policy failed to extricate bin Laden from his 

Afghan sanctuary. 

o Our military forces and covert action capabilities did not have the options on 

the table to defeat al Qaeda or kill or capture bin Laden and his chief 

o Our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies did not manage or share 

information, or effectively follow leads, to keep pace with a nimble enemy. 

o Our border, immigration, and aviation security agencies were not integrated 

into the counterterrorism effort; and 

o Much of our response on the day of 9/1 1 was improvised and ineffective, even 

as extraordinary individual acts of heroism saved countless lives. 

Our failure took place over many years and Administrations. There is no single 
individual who is responsible for this failure. Yet individuals and institutions are not 
absolved of responsibility. Any person in a senior position within our government during this 
time bears some element of responsibility for the government's actions. 

It is not our purpose to assign blame. As we said at the outset, we look back so that 
we can look forward. Our goal is to prevent future attacks. 

Every expert with whom we spoke told us that an attack of even greater magnitude is 
now possible—and even probable. We do not have the luxury of time. We must prepare and 
we must act. 

The al Qaeda network and its affiliates are sophisticated, patient, disciplined, and 
lethal. Usama Bin Ladin built an infrastructure and organization that was able to attract, train 
and use recruits against ever more ambitious targets. He rallied new zealots with each 
demonstration of al Qaeda's capability. His message and hate-filled ideology have instructed 
and inspired untold recruits and imitators. He and al Qaeda: 

o despise America and its policies; 

o exploit political grievances and hopelessness within the Arab and Islamic 


o indoctrinate the disaffected and pervert one of the world's great religions; and 

o seek creative methods to kill Americans in limitless numbers, including the use 

of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. 

Put simply, the United States is presented with one of the great security challenges in 
our history. We have struck blows against the terrorists since 9/11. We have prevented attacks 
on the homeland. We believe we are safer today than we were on 9/1 1 - but we are not safe. 

Because al Qaeda represents an ideology - not a finite group of people - we should 
not expect the danger to recede for years to come. No matter whom we kill or capture - 
including Usama Bin Ladin - there will still be those who plot against us. Bin Ladin has 
inspired affiliates and imitators. The societies they prey on are vulnerable; the terrorist 
ideology is potent; and the means for inflicting harm are readily available. We cannot let our 
guard down. 

Recommendations - A Global Strategy 

This Commission does not have all the answers. But we have thought about what to 
do - a global strategy - and how to do it - a different way of organizing our government. 
But, based on our thorough review of the government's performance, and our examination of 
the enemy, we recommend the following elements for a counterterrorism strategy. 

This strategy must be balanced. It must integrate all the elements of national power: 
diplomacy, intelligence, covert action, law-enforcement, economic policy, foreign aid, 
homeland defense, and military strength. There is no silver bullet or decisive blow that can 
defeat Islamist terrorism. It will take unity of effort and sustained and effective use of every 
tool at our disposal: 

o We need to play offense: kill or capture terrorists; deny them sanctuaries; and 

disrupt their ability to move money and people around the globe. 

o We need to ensure that key countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi 

Arabia are stable, capable, and resolute in opposing terrorism. 

o We need to sustain a coalition of nations that cooperates bilaterally and 

multilaterally with us in the counterterrorism mission. We need a better 
dialogue between the West and the Islamic world. We also highlight the need 
to restrict and roll back the proliferation of the world's most dangerous 

o We need to put forth an agenda of opportunity - economic, educational, and 

political - so that young people in the Arab and Islamic world have peaceful 
and productive avenues for expression and hope. 

o We need to join the battle of ideas within the Islamic world: communicating 

hope instead of despair, progress in place of persecution, life instead of death. 
This message should be matched by policies that encourage and support the 
majority of Muslims who share these goals. 

o At home, we need to set clear priorities for the protection of our infrastructure, 

and the security of our transportation. Resources should be allocated based 
upon those priorities, and standards of preparedness should be set. The private 
sector and local governments should play an important part of this process. 

o We need secure borders, with heightened and uniform standards of 

identification for those entering and exiting the country; and an immigration 

system able to be efficient, allowing good people in while keeping terrorists 

o If, God forbid, there is another attack, we must be ready to respond. We must 

educate the public, train and equip our first responders, and anticipate 
countless scenarios. 

Recommendations - Organizing Government 

We recommend significant changes in the organization of the government. We know 
that the quality of the people is more important than the quality of the wiring diagrams. Good 
people can overcome bad structures. They should not have to. 

Day and night, dedicated public servants are waging the struggle to combat terrorists 
and protect the homeland. We need to ensure that our government maximizes their efforts 
through information sharing; coordinated effort; and clear authority. 

A critical theme that emerged throughout our inquiry was the difficulty of answering 
the question: Who is in charge? Who ensures that agencies pool resources, avoid duplication, 
and plan jointly? Who oversees the massive integration and unity of effort necessary to keep 
America safe? Too often the answer is: "no one." Thus we are recommending: 

A National Counterterrorism Center. We need unity of effort on counterterrorism. 
We should create a National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) to unify all 
counterterrorism intelligence and operations across the foreign-domestic divide in one 
organization. Right now, these efforts are too diffuse across the government. They 
need to be unified. 

A National Intelligence Director. We need unity of effort in the Intelligence 
Community. We need a much stronger head of the Intelligence Community, and an 
intelligence community that organizes itself to do joint work in national mission 
centers. We need reforms of the kind the military had two decades ago. We need a 
"Goldwater-Nichols" reform for the intelligence community. The intelligence 
community needs a shift in mindset and organization, so that intelligence agencies 
operate under the principle of joint command, with information-sharing as the norm. 

Reform in the Congress. We need unity of effort in the Congress. Right now, 
authority and responsibility are too diffuse. The Intelligence Committees do not have 
enough power to perform their oversight work effectively. Oversight for Homeland 
Security is splintered among too many Committees. We need much stronger 
committees performing oversight of intelligence. We need a single committee in each 
chamber providing oversight of the Department of Homeland Security. 

Reform in the FBI. We need a stronger national security workforce within the FBI. 
We do not support the creation of a new domestic intelligence agency. What the FBI 
needs is a specialized and integrated national security workforce, consisting of agents, 
analysts, linguists and surveillance specialists. These specialists need to be recruited, 
trained, rewarded, and retained to ensure the development of an institutional culture 
with deep expertise in intelligence and national security. 

Changes in Information Sharing. We need unity of effort in information sharing. The 
U.S. government has access to a vast amount of information. But it has a weak system 
for processing and using that information. "Need to share" must replace "need to 

Transitions. We need a better process for transitions involving national security 
officials, so that this Nation does not lower its guard every four or eight years. 

These, and other, recommendations are spelled out in great detail in our report. We 
have made a limited number of recommendations, focusing on the areas we believe most 

We are acutely sensitive to the need to vigorously protect our liberties as we guard our 
security. We endorse many of the actions taken in the wake of 9/1 1 to facilitate government 
action and information sharing. But we stress that these measures need to be accompanied by 
a commitment to our open society and the principle of review - safeguards that are built into 
the process, and vigorous oversight. We must, after all is said and done, preserve the liberties 
that we are fighting for. 

Concluding Thoughts 

Before we close, we offer a few more thoughts. We approached our task with a deep 
respect for the place of September 1 1th in our nation's history. Some have compared the 
shock we felt to Pearl Harbor, others to the Kennedy assassination. There are no 
comparisons. This was a moment unique in our long history. 

As every four years in this democracy, we are in the midst of a presidential campaign. 
Our two great parties will disagree, and that is right and proper. But at the same time we must 
unite to make our country safer. Republicans and Democrats must unite in this cause. 

The American people must be prepared for a long and difficult struggle. We face a 
determined enemy who sees this as a war of attrition - indeed, as an epochal struggle. We 
expect further attacks. Against such an enemy, there can be no complacency. This is the 
challenge of our generation. As Americans we must step forward to accept that challenge. 

We have reviewed 2.5 million pages of documents, and interviewed over 1,200 
individuals - including experts and officials, past and present. 

Our work has been assisted by a superb staff. Each one of these professionals has 
provided dedication and expertise that has exceeded our highest expectations. 

We also had the high honor of working with an extraordinary group of 
Commissioners. Each has shown skill, determination, and collegiality. 

We close by thanking the families who lost loved ones on 9/1 1 . You demanded the 
creation of this Commission. You have encouraged us every step of the way as partners, and 
as witnesses. From your grief, we have drawn strength. We are determined to do everything 
possible to prevent other families from suffering your tragedy. 

On that beautiful September day, we felt deep hurt, but we believed and acted as one 
nation. We united as Americans have always united in the face of a common foe. Five 
Republicans and five Democrats have come together today with that same unity of purpose. 

We file no additional views. We have no dissents. We have each decided that we will 
play no active role in the fall presidential campaign. We will, instead, work together in 
support of the recommendations in this report. We believe that in acting together, we can 
make a difference. We can make our nation safer and more secure. 

We would be happy to take your questions.