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.
Kean, 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 May 27.
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 any more.”
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