Shays, Maloney Renew Request for 9/11 Commission Monograph Public Release
“The American people deserve the whole truth,” Shays said. “September 11th was a day of profound tragedy. We need to have all the pieces to put the puzzle together and prevent another attack. It appears this monograph is a key piece and I expect our request for its release will be honored.”
Maloney added, “The families deserve the full unvarnished truth.”
"Three and a half years is too long to wait for accountability,” said Carrie Lemack, Co-founder of Families of September 11. “It is time to shed light on the problems that led to 9/11 and not hide behind the black ink of redaction."
Shays and Maloney, with 23 colleagues, wrote to the Attorney General and Director of the CIA on December 2 asking that the monograph be declassified and released. On January 14, the Department of Justice responded claiming bureaucratic and legal challenges to releasing the report. Shays and Maloney state in today's letter, “It would be troubling if this report’s delayed release date or redaction was a function of the concerns its conclusions may raise.”
Shays will hold a hearing on overclassification of intelligence on March 2. This is a follow-up to his August hearing. Overclassification was sited by the 9/11 Commission as a serious impediment to the information sharing required to thwart future terrorist attacks.
The full text of the letter follows and the original request and DoJ response:
Dear Mr. Attorney General:
On January 14, the Department of Justice responded to the letter we and 23 of our colleagues sent December 2 requesting declassification of the classified monograph prepared by the staff of the 9-11 Commission regarding civil aviation matters.
Today, The New York Times reported that monograph was released to the National Archives, in a heavily redacted form, approximately two weeks ago. A copy of the monograph has not been made available to our offices, so we must rely on the information provided in The New York Times article.
According to the article, the monograph states that in the months before the September 11, 2001, attacks, federal aviation officials reviewed dozens of intelligence reports that warned about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, some of which specifically discussed airline hijackings and suicide operations. Specifically, it is reported that the monograph said that the leaders of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) received 52 intelligence reports from their security branch that mentioned Bin Laden or Al Qaeda from April to September 10, 2001 - representing half of all the intelligence summaries in that time. Five of the intelligence reports specifically mentioned Al Qaeda's training or capability to conduct hijackings, and two mentioned suicide operations, although not connected to aviation.
The article also states that the FAA, despite these warnings, was "lulled into a false sense of security," and "intelligence that indicated a real and growing threat leading up to 9/11 did not stimulate significant increases in security procedures." The report apparently takes to task the FAA for not implementing security measures that would have possibly prevented the attacks of September 11, 2001.
In addition to obvious concerns about the conclusions of the report, we are concerned the monograph has still not been made available, and reiterate our request for its immediate declassification. We are also concerned about the process and timing of the release of the report. While the Department's letter of January 14 states there have been bureaucratic challenges to the report's release, it appears to us that the Commission's other work was released in a timely and complete manner. It is also our understanding no other product of the 9/11 commission report was redacted in any way. It would be troubling if this report’s delayed release date or redaction was a function of the concerns its conclusions may raise.
The mission of the 9/11 Commission was to provide answers as to how the attacks of September 11, 2001, happened and what we can do to prevent attacks in the future. Its final report and the accompanying staff monographs have gone a long way in fulfilling that mission, but The New York Times clearly details the extent to which this monograph is a critical piece of the puzzle. Other than disclosing sources and methods it seems to us there is little justification for its continued redaction. Because the Department of Justice letter of January 14 does not note such concerns, we expect it will be released forthwith.
Thank you for your time and attention.