on Release of 9/11 Joint Inquiry Report
D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued the following
statement today at a press conference held to release the declassified
version of the report of the Joint Inquiry of the House and Senate
Intelligence Committees into the September 11th terrorist attacks:
It was a privilege to join Chairman Goss, Senators Graham
and Shelby, and the members of the House and Senate Intelligence
Committees for the critical effort to improve our intelligence capabilities
in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. I was pleased to work
on the joint inquiry with people of such patriotism and commitment.
thanks goes to the joint inquiry staff, particularly to Eleanor
Hill and Rick Cinquegrana who lead it so successfully. Eleanor and
Rick gave tirelessly of themselves not only on the investigation,
but also on the declassification process that turned out to be a
significant challenge in its own right. I want to thank Britt Snider,
too, for the work he did in assembling the staff.
on our minds during the inquiry was our responsibility to the families
of those who perished in the attacks and to the American people.
We are privileged to have some of the families here with us today.
I said often during the inquiry that anything touching upon the
events of September 11 is hallowed ground, to be treated with the
inquiry is not about assigning blame; it is about better protecting
Americans in the future. The inquiry was conducted with that uppermost
in our minds. The report discharges our responsibility as fully
as we were able to do.
started with the recognition of a sobering fact: al Qaeda was better
at planning the attacks and keeping their plans secret than the
United States government was at uncovering them.
that were released last December detail deficiencies in the performance
of our intelligence agencies: They failed to share information;
they failed to ensure that techniques for collection and analysis
were of the highest standards; and they failed to focus appropriately
on the possibility that foreign-based terrorists would attack in
the United States.
inquiry made recommendations last December that were intended to
address those fundamental problems, and I trust the intelligence
committees are monitoring the implementation of those recommendations.
The unclassified report we are releasing today provides a better
understanding of the basis for those judgments.
as the joint inquiry and its report are, they are not as complete
as they could have been. We repeatedly encountered obstacles in
getting necessary information from the Bush Administration.
we were never able to get much of the material we requested from
the National Security Council, specifically the records of the Counterterrorism
Working Group and written exchanges between the NSC and the intelligence
community on counterterrorism proposals.
was not well served by the Administrations failure to provide
this critical information to the committees. If the independent
9/11 Commission is not given access to this material, its work will
also be incomplete. That is not in our nations best interests.
the Administrations failure to cooperate fully with the joint
inquiry showed an unwillingness to exhaust every effort to discover
information that might assist in better protecting the American
people. Even the joint inquirys success in uncovering information
in the files of the FBI dealing with the activities of the hijackers
in the United States that had been previously unknown by senior
Bureau officials did not encourage the Administration to be more
responsive to requests for access to records and other documents.
disappointing was the process of declassifying the report. The joint
inquiry took about nine months to do its work. It took nearly as
long to negotiate an unclassified version of the report with the
was about six months too long. Much more of the report could have
been declassified without any impact on national security. This
is especially true with respect to references to sources of foreign
support for the hijackers.
and time again, this Administration keeps information classified
rather than making it public. Classification certainly must protect
sources and methods, but it should not be used to protect reputations.
This is at odds with the enormity of the tragedy we suffered on
September 11 and the necessity of doing everything we can to make
it less likely that we would experience events like those again.
proud of the work of the joint inquiry. Better cooperation from
the Administration, however, would have enabled us to do a more
thorough job for the American people.