Kean On 9/11:
'Not Something That Had To Happen'
by Robert Cohen, Star-Ledger, December 17, 2003
Washington -- The chairman of the national commission investigating
the 9/11 terrorist attacks said last night the tragedy did not
have to occur, and that the panel's report next year will spell
out what might have been done to prevent it.
"As you read the report, you're going to have a pretty clear
idea what wasn't done and what should have been done. I mean,
this was not something that had to happen," said Thomas Kean
during an interview on the CBS Evening News.
a former Republican governor of New Jersey, said government officials
in decision-making positions did not do their jobs in the weeks
and months leading up to September 11, 2001, or on that day, and
should be held accountable.
"They failed. They simply failed," said Kean. He said
if he were in charge, some of these people would still not be
in their jobs today.
In the broadcast interview, Kean did not name any individuals
or offer any details explaining why he believes the attacks might
have been prevented.
He said some details will emerge in the next few months as the
panel takes public testimony from top officials in the FBI, the
CIA, the Defense Department, the National Security agency and
other government entities. The panel's final report is due by
In a report last year, a joint House and Senate intelligence faulted
the CIA and FBI for failing to follow up on a myriad of clues,
and for not sharing key information pointing to 9/11 and the threat
posed by the al Qadea terrorist network. But the report concluded
that none of the information was specific enough to have enabled
the prevention of the attacks.
Nevertheless, some members of Congress urged President Bush to
fire CIA Director George Tenent -- a move he resisted.
In an interview with The Star-Ledger earlier this week, Kean said
the commission is committed to finding the truth about the terrorist
attacks. He said the 10-member bipartisan panel is determined
to answer every question, make as much information public as possible
and hold those in high positions accountable.
"I don't expect to have any new friends after this is done,"
said Kean. "And after this, some old friends may not be friendly
Al Felzenberg, a spokesman for the National Commission on Terrorist
Attacks Upon the United States, said the panel has not reached
full conclusions and has much work still do. But he said Kean
has been involved in interviewing some witnesses and reviewing
thousands of documents.
"It is fair to say that the governor's preliminary conclusions
are that things didn't function as they should have." He
noted, for example, that the public testimony documented serious
lapses in the nation's air defense system in response to the hijackings
of the jetliners that slammed into the World Trade Center towers
and the Pentagon.
The commission is still culling through thousands of documents.
In recent months, it has subpoenaed documents from some agencies
that were hindering its probe, and after months of negotiations
recently worked out an agreement with the White House to see several
years worth of highly classified daily intelligence briefings
given to Presidents Clinton and Bush.
Attack Was Preventable
by Randall Pinkston, CBS News, December 17, 2003