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36. Jahrgang InternetAusgabe 2002
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11. September

September 11 Families Demand Independent Commission

What do you want?

We, the families of those murdered and injured in the September 11 attacks, demand that the U.S. government appoint a commission to (1) study the events surrounding the attacks and (2) make recommendations to improve prevention of and response to future attacks.  The commission must:

·be independent of all branches of government;
·be bipartisan; and
·have a broad mandate to study all relevant facts and events prior to, during, and immediately after the attacks, including intelligence and law enforcement activities, diplomacy, immigration policy and border control, aviation security, skyscraper safety, the flow of assets to terrorists, emergency and rescue operations, and any other matters the commission deems worthy of study.

Why is an independent commission necessary?

The coalition supports the establishment of an independent commission for the following reasons:

·The nation cannot effectively prevent or respond to future attacks without adequate knowledge of the problems that led to the September 11 tragedy.
·The victims‘ families and the public deserve to know the facts concerning the most devastating act of terrorism against Americans in history.
·Only an independent commission can conduct the study in an atmosphere free from political pressure.
·Only a comprehensive study can provide the „big picture“ view needed for an integrated approach to homeland security and the war on terrorism.

Won‘t an independent investigation interfere with the War on Terrorism?

The government established several independent commissions to study the Pearl Harbor attack between 1941 and 1945.  Those investigations did not interfere with the nation‘s ability to win a two-front world war.

Shouldn‘t we be rallying around our leader in a time of war?

The commission should not be charged with investigating only actions taken by the current administration. It should also examine the actions of Congress, prior administrations, and private-sector organizations that have a role in homeland security.

Won‘t an independent commission leak vital national secrets?

The commission should be a panel of highly distinguished former government officials and other leaders of national stature.  They and the senior staff they select would be required to obtain government security clearances.  We are confident that such men and women will be willing and capable of protecting sensitive national security information. While we want the commission‘s reports and most of its hearings to be public, closed hearings should be conducted when necessary to protect secret intelligence sources and methods.

Won‘t the search for people to blame undermine the morale of the agencies responsible for our security?

We want the commission to avoid a potentially divisive search for individuals to blame; the focus should be on improving the nation‘s security. The victims‘ families believe that saving lives is the only way to ensure that their loved ones will not have died in vain.

Which independent commission bill do you support?

We support any method of establishing a commission that is truly independent, is bipartisan, and has a sufficiently broad mandate.  There are three proposals currently being advanced on Capitol Hill:

·Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced a bill that would establish a 14-member panel of experts not currently in government service to evaluate facts relating to the September 11 attacks.
·Representative Tim Roemer (D-Ind.) introduced a bill that would establish a 10-member commission to study the attacks.
·Representative Chris Shays (R-Conn.) is calling on President George W. Bush to appoint a presidential commission to investigate the attacks.

Shouldn‘t the congressional intelligence committees do the investigation?

We applaud the Senate and House intelligence committees and other congressional committees that are undertaking investigations and oversight of various executive-branch agencies involved in homeland security and anti-terrorism efforts. But the nation needs an independent commission that takes a broad view of the issue, including an examination of Congress‘s role.  We believe that the congressional investigations should continue and that they would be complemented by an independent commission report.

Hasn‘t President Bush solved the problems by establishing the new Department of Homeland Security?

The President‘s proposal to establish a Department of Homeland Security is a step in the right direction, but it doesn‘t go far enough.  For example, the FBI and the CIA-the two agencies responsible for the most egregious cases of not sharing or acting on pre-September 11 intelligence-would not be incorporated into the new department under the Bush proposal.  If history is any guide, these agencies will view the new department as a competitor and withhold intelligence from it.  But even if the intelligence agencies were incorporated into the new department, an independent commission would still be needed to discover, analyze, and recommend solutions to other problems that contributed to the September 11 tragedy.

What precedents are there for such independent commissions?

Independent commission reports were prepared after the Pearl Harbor attack, the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and other tragic events in the nation‘s history.

September 11th Advocates

Families of September 11, Inc.

Voices of September 11th