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The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

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Nearly three thousand people died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In Lower Manhattan, on a field in Pennsylvania, and along the banks of the Potomoc, the United States suffered the single largest loss of life from an enemy attack on its soil. In November 2002 the United States Congress and President George W. Bush established by law the National Commission o Nearly three thousand people died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In Lower Manhattan, on a field in Pennsylvania, and along the banks of the Potomoc, the United States suffered the single largest loss of life from an enemy attack on its soil. In November 2002 the United States Congress and President George W. Bush established by law the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission. This independent, bipartisan panel was directed to examine the facts and circumstances surrounding the September 11 attacks, identify lessons learned, and provide recommendations to safeguard against future acts of terrorism. This volume is the authorized edition of the Commission's final report. This volume is the authorized edition of the Commission's final report.


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Nearly three thousand people died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In Lower Manhattan, on a field in Pennsylvania, and along the banks of the Potomoc, the United States suffered the single largest loss of life from an enemy attack on its soil. In November 2002 the United States Congress and President George W. Bush established by law the National Commission o Nearly three thousand people died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In Lower Manhattan, on a field in Pennsylvania, and along the banks of the Potomoc, the United States suffered the single largest loss of life from an enemy attack on its soil. In November 2002 the United States Congress and President George W. Bush established by law the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission. This independent, bipartisan panel was directed to examine the facts and circumstances surrounding the September 11 attacks, identify lessons learned, and provide recommendations to safeguard against future acts of terrorism. This volume is the authorized edition of the Commission's final report. This volume is the authorized edition of the Commission's final report.

30 review for The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

  1. 5 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    It is often said (though researchers dispute it) that we always remember where we were when a historical event occurred. Well, I was only ten years old on September 11, 2001, so my memories are necessarily hazy. My mom had dropped me off at school before heading to her job in Manhattan. My dad was on his way there, too. This was one of my first days of fifth grade. Yet class was immediately derailed. Teachers went in and out of classrooms, whispering to one another. I was confused. No explanat It is often said (though researchers dispute it) that we always remember where we were when a historical event occurred. Well, I was only ten years old on September 11, 2001, so my memories are necessarily hazy. My mom had dropped me off at school before heading to her job in Manhattan. My dad was on his way there, too. This was one of my first days of fifth grade. Yet class was immediately derailed. Teachers went in and out of classrooms, whispering to one another. I was confused. No explanation was given to me except that “a plane crashed into a building.” It did not even occur to me that my parents might be in any danger. (They were fine.) The drama and significance of the moment were completely beyond me. So it was only many years later, when I finally visited the memorial and museum at Ground Zero, that I started to understand, really understand, the trauma inflicted upon the American psyche that day. Much like the pandemic, the attack created a rupture in history, marking everything else as either “before” or “after.” Yet as American forces withdraw from Afghanistan, and the 20th anniversary of the attack looms, the historical significance of the event is still rather unclear. This was why I decided to read this report. The 9/11 commission was established by an act of congress in order to investigate the attacks, with the aim of increasing the country’s preparedness in the future. The commissioners—career politicians, from both parties—conducted well over 1,000 interviews to produce an authoritative explanation of how this came about. However, as the Chairman and Vice Chairman said in a later book, though the commission was created by an act of Congress, the White House and the intelligence community were anything but cooperative during their investigation. Be that as it may, the commissioners managed to create an impressive document. It begins with a genuinely gripping narrative of the attacks. The rest of the book is, unfortunately, not nearly so riveting, but the reader is rewarded by a thorough analysis of the attack from a multitude of perspectives. The commissioners recount the history of Al Qaeda, Bin Laden, and several of the hijackers, and examine the actions of the military, FAA, and emergency response personnel that day. The lion’s share of analysis is, however, given over to determining what the intelligence community knew, when they knew it, and what they tried to do to stop the attacks. The report’s major conclusion is that a lack of cooperation between the CIA and the FBI (among other failures) allowed the terrorists to evade the grasp of the US government. They end with a series of proposals aimed to bolster the country’s capacity for counter-terrorism. These recommendations range from the specific (related to the organization of our intelligence apparatus) to the vague (broad statements of values, etc.), and I would be lying if I said I knew how many have been implemented. Notably lacking was any attempt at a broader historical contextualization of these attacks—any serious consideration of why the United States was chosen as a target in the first place. What struck me most of all, however, was how much the mood of the country has changed since this commission was written. Nowadays, most of the criticism aimed at Biden concerns the how—and not the if—of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan. Twenty short years later, our overpowering concern with Islamic terrorism has substantially receded (though I am sure it could easily be reignited). The spirit of the commission is also a reminder of our deteriorating political culture. Though the Bush years were hardly a paradise of bipartisan harmony, it is difficult to imagine anything like the degree of consensus on display in this report, about any topic, being held by professional politicians nowadays. In any case, this document remains a surprisingly readable account of one of the most significant turning points of this century. Not bad for a government report.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    There's not a whole lot to say on this report as there quite frankly is not a whole lot to the report. This is one of the worst pieces of "investigative committee work" that I have ever seen. They provide NO alternate viewpoints to the questions that so many are asking as to the holes in the official version. The complete collapse of building 7 is not even mentioned, and the report reads like a work of fiction, which in many cases one is compelled to believe that it is. This book and this report There's not a whole lot to say on this report as there quite frankly is not a whole lot to the report. This is one of the worst pieces of "investigative committee work" that I have ever seen. They provide NO alternate viewpoints to the questions that so many are asking as to the holes in the official version. The complete collapse of building 7 is not even mentioned, and the report reads like a work of fiction, which in many cases one is compelled to believe that it is. This book and this report would NEVER hold up in a serious investigation in an impartial court of law (of course you would have to go outside of the United States to get that as any judge in this country will tow the government line.) If you can read this book with a straight face and not have numerous questions by REALLY paying attention to the text, then you're a better person than I

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    Stunning and informative and depressing and scary. It is hard to say what is more unnerving about the revelations of this tome; that so many conspiracy theories persist, or that the true lessons of it seem to have gone completely unheeded by both sides of the political divide. One startling implication of the report is the freezing effect the Republican campaign to impeach Bill Clinton hindered our ability to get Bin Laden. Many times, apparently, opportunities were halted for political reasons, Stunning and informative and depressing and scary. It is hard to say what is more unnerving about the revelations of this tome; that so many conspiracy theories persist, or that the true lessons of it seem to have gone completely unheeded by both sides of the political divide. One startling implication of the report is the freezing effect the Republican campaign to impeach Bill Clinton hindered our ability to get Bin Laden. Many times, apparently, opportunities were halted for political reasons, and Clinton tried and failed to get Republican support to go after Bin Laden, but he was accused, literally, of "wagging the dog". That the politics of smear played that big a role in the evolution of events that led to 9/11 should have brought about a more bipartisan tone in Washington. Alas. Also notable is the fact that the few successes that day - particularly the air traffic controllers who grounded all planes in 3 hours despite not having any plan for such an unprecedented action - were down to a lack of bureaucracy. In their final report, they advised against - against - developing a set of rules or guidelines for another such future event, noting that the freedom to think and use their own individual judgment is the only reason they air traffic controllers succeeded that day. Also notable in the report: an overwhelming lack of any evidence that Iraq was involved in 9/11. The report makes it clear that Clinton didn't have the political strength, let alone support, to do anything about terrorism even though he knew it was the most important issue of the day, and Bush didn't want to hear anything about terrorism because he had an "anything but Clinton" policy. The lesson of the 9/11 Commission Report is not one of conspiracy or of evil. It is one of incompetence and sadness, and every American should read it. NC

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    I decided to read this book after some of the hype died down surrounding its release. I also wanted to have a little more perespective as 9/11 was such a nationally traumatic event (even when you live in Phoenix and have never visited New York). The report starts off with an insanely dramatic recounting of the events of the morning of Septemeber 11th, 2001. Nearly every sentence has a footnote listing the commission's source for the information conveyed in that sentence (which all you "Loose Cha I decided to read this book after some of the hype died down surrounding its release. I also wanted to have a little more perespective as 9/11 was such a nationally traumatic event (even when you live in Phoenix and have never visited New York). The report starts off with an insanely dramatic recounting of the events of the morning of Septemeber 11th, 2001. Nearly every sentence has a footnote listing the commission's source for the information conveyed in that sentence (which all you "Loose Change", 9/11 Truth movement people would do well to read). This thorough level of detail vividly brings alive the horror of that morning. The tone of the writing is Hemingwayesque - not many adjectives, a paucity of adverbs. This only heightens the drama, and tension of the hijackings. There are a slew of tiny details I had no idea of before reading this. For example, when Mohamed Atta told Flight 11 that they have a bomb, and are returning to the airport, he accidently presses the button that relays the message to Air Traffic Control; Atta lets slip: "we have some planes". Nobody in Air Traffic Control picks up on this essential fact which may have helped to identify the other hijacked airlines earlier. Another sinister detail involves Flight 75, which was asked to visually confirm Flight 11. This was their last transmission. The first section ends with the crashing of all four hijacked airplanes, relegating the collapse of the World Trade Center to a later chapter. The next few sections deal with a backround on terrorism against U.S. targets - mostly overseas - as well as the U.S.'s burgeoning efforts in counterterrorism. Al Qaeda is also given a chapter, recounting their formation and growth. Most of these chapters also read fairly easy, although there is a bit of acronym soup in reading about the different agencies tasked with counterterrorism. In reading this section alone, you can see why this attack wasn't thwarted: there was way too much beaucracy, and not enough information sharing. It was difficult to keep track of who worked in what agency and what they were responsible for trying to stop. The FBI was domestic, the CIA was foriegn, but nobody was domestic AND foriegn. After giving this background the report continues by recounting the "planes operation": from a grandiose idea in the mind of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to the morning of September 11th. In reading this section, you realize how many opportunities the U.S. had to recognize this plot and put a stop to it. Meaning, Al Queada wasn't perfect, they made mistakes that the U.S. could have capitalized on. Al Queada did do a good job of covering its tracks and selecting innocuous looking western muslims to train as pilots, and then not bringing the muscle hijackers into the country until a couple weeks before the attacks. The so-called Hamburg cell, had all lived in the West for at least three years. They understood how to blend in, and - far from being poor, economically exploited middle easterners - they had all benifited from the West's openess to educate muslims from the middle east, and most came from well-off families. And yet the simmering hate of the West was fostered in mosques which preached violence against a society that shunned the God of Islam. But really, if you look past the religion, you see these people for what they really are: sociopaths. Especially Mohamed Atta, which in character bore a striking resemblance to Eric Harris (the Columbine shooter) who also thought the world inferior and corrupt, and seeing himself as better, needed to show the world their inferiority (by killing them and ultimately himself). It's frightening to think that the pilots of the hijacked planes lived in the U.S. for two years, the whole time living as assimilated westerners, avoiding mosques (for the most part) and shying away from any public displays of being a devout muslim. They kept the hate buring inside all this time, trying to fly large jets, knowing each morning what they were training for: to kill thousands of people. The saddest story of the four pilots is Ziad Jarrah, who had a girlfriend in Germany, whom he seemed to genuinely love. Jarrah seemed the most uncomfortable with the plot and refused to sever ties with his family as the other pilots had done. Al Queada was even training another pilot in case Jarrah dropped out. In the end Jarrah went through with it, killing 44 people. And while there is no solid evidence, it seems he did it out of peer pressure more than a true hatred of the West. The next section recounts the devastation that occured after the planes were crashed. The tragedy of the north and south towers both unfolded in a similar fashion. A lack of communication had 911 operators telling people to stay put; fire and police gave evacuation orders, but trouble with communication lines meant everyone didn't receive this order. This section also tended to be confusing as there were multiple groups who responded to the crashes and at times it was hard to keep them apart. The report ends with an explanation of what happened and how, and also gives some recommendations of governmental changes to insure an attack of this magnatude does not occur again. While this section was written with good intentions, in reading the previous 300 pgs., it's obvious what happened and why. The intellegence community wasn't designed to stop this type of attack, thus they didn't. The design of these agencies also discouraged open-mindedness, and radical thinking, which might have helped recognize the exact nature of the threats pouring in from different agencies. Alas this didn't happen, and sadly, it doesn't seem that the government has implemented all the suggested changes. One more issue I had with the report was the lack of information regarding President Bush and his cabinet. The commision didn't try and get the bottom of why Bush didn't take these threats more seriously. They kept appearing in his presidential briefings, yet he seemed okay with not going after this group for another year or two. Also when there is conflicting accounts of what was said and when (most of which are pretty obvious when one person is lying, as their contradiction always clears them of responsibility) the commision should have done more work in ascertaining what really happened, as over 3000 people died that day, and if someone wasn't doing their job as they should have and that contributed to the attacks not being stopped, there should be some sort of repurcussion, or, at the very least, an apology. Yet the commmision hides behind the "hindsight is 20/20" rationale, which didn't work for me in high school when my teacher asked me why I didn't finish my homework, or why I didn't let someone know when that nerdy kid was being picked on. My inablilty to act has, in a small way, contributed to the bullying of that kid, as I did nothing to stop it. And in many ways it's worse for these government agencies, as in high school it wasn't my JOB to stop bullying, yet it was the President's sworn duty to protect the American people. And on the morning of September 11th he failed in doing this. And sadly, as far as I know, he's never apologixed for this, nor has he even admitted to such a tragic failure.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Terry Cornell

    My wife bought this for me shortly after it came out--I believe in 2004. I put off reading it for various reasons, one being that I thought it might be like the Warren Commission Report on the JFK assassination, which I found comprehensive but one of the driest, longest, and most challenging reads ever. Another is the emotional impact. Although I live on the West Coast, and don't know anyone directly that perished in the attacks I remember that day so well. Irony that I started reading this the My wife bought this for me shortly after it came out--I believe in 2004. I put off reading it for various reasons, one being that I thought it might be like the Warren Commission Report on the JFK assassination, which I found comprehensive but one of the driest, longest, and most challenging reads ever. Another is the emotional impact. Although I live on the West Coast, and don't know anyone directly that perished in the attacks I remember that day so well. Irony that I started reading this the same year as our country's withdrawal from Afghanistan. I don't think how that was accomplished will bode well for either our country, or theirs. The report is actually well written, and structured. Starting with a history of base of Islamic terrorism that is as informative as any books I've read on the subject. Counterterrorism efforts in the US preceding 911 is the next section, including threats and attacks by Al Qaeda and their affiliates on American targets throughout the world. What is now known about the terrorist's planning and preparations are laid out, their actions on the day of attack, and our first responders, military and FAA response. All presented in an easy to understand, and unemotional way. Another section deals with immediate US military response to the attack. Finally the report finishes with analysis of our countries failings in preventing the attacks, and recommendations for changes. Most of it I found highly readable and interesting. When it came to the final sections, I tended to lose interest. Some issues that need change were related to technologic communications improvements regarding first responders equipment--which seemed pretty obvious. Other changes regarding shifts in management and bureaucracy--some of those seemed like what people today have been calling 'word salad'. Granted legal rules prohibited some members from various US intelligence agencies from sharing information prior to 9/11, however creating new levels of bureaucracy to deal with anything doesn't ever seem like an effective way of handling problems. Overall a great summary of what led to 9/11, and the actual events. You might want to skip the last two or three sections unless you like diving into the weeds. The one major improvement would be more schematics and drawings regarding the WTC. There are a few in the report, but more would have helped create a better understanding of events.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nichole

    Can you really have an informed opinion on historical/political events that have taken place since 9/11 without reading the commission report? No.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paul Haspel

    The 9/11 Commission, at a difficult time in the nation’s life, achieved something that might previously have seemed impossible. The people of the United States of America were convulsed with grief, reeling with shock, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; but the members of the commission calmly and coolly looked at the situation that the country faced after 9/11, undistracted by the feelings of panic that had seized so many Americans. In a country that had been torn by partisan pol The 9/11 Commission, at a difficult time in the nation’s life, achieved something that might previously have seemed impossible. The people of the United States of America were convulsed with grief, reeling with shock, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; but the members of the commission calmly and coolly looked at the situation that the country faced after 9/11, undistracted by the feelings of panic that had seized so many Americans. In a country that had been torn by partisan political division, Democrats and Republicans – conservatives, liberals, and moderates – worked together productively for the greater good. The 9/11 Commission Report, crafted in the wake of tragedy, stands of evidence of the great things that Americans can still do, when we trust the better angels of our nature. For the benefit of those who are not old enough to remember those times, it may be helpful to recall just how fear-ridden the country was in the wake of those attacks. When a celebrity music telethon was held, to raise money toward relief and rebuilding in the wake of the attacks, the musicians played in an undisclosed location, as if otherwise the terrorists would surely find the location and fly a hijacked jet plane into it. When President George W. Bush threw out the first ball at a Texas Rangers baseball game, the first game played after the attacks, the crowd cheered their hearts out, as if relieved that a hijacked plane hadn’t been flown into that ballpark in Arlington, Texas. In those days, it was routine for the passengers on an airline flight anywhere in the U.S.A. to break into applause once the plane had landed safely. And in my home state of Maryland, some politicians were seriously suggesting that Baltimore’s own World Trade Center, on the city’s waterfront, be “protected” by parking the old naval frigate U.S.S. Constellation in front of the building. Left out of those calculations, evidently, was the question of how a wooden warship from 1854, its masts reaching perhaps three stories into the air, could “protect” a 30-story building. The time after 9/11 was, in short, a time when clear thinking was often being squeezed out by fear. Seen against that background, The 9/11 Commission Report is doubly impressive. The ten-member commission, chaired by Republican Governor Thomas Kean of New Jersey, with Democratic Representative Lee Hamilton of Florida as vice-chair, conducted exhaustive research in order to present their Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the report’s subtitle). The report’s first chapter, “’We Have Some Planes,’” provides a harrowing, in medias res recounting of the events of September 11, 2001. From there, the commission looks back to the very beginnings of the ideological conflict that led to the attacks – as the commission authors put it, “The Foundation of the New Terrorism.” From there, the commission examines the long sequence of events that led to 9/11 – counter-terrorism efforts by the U.S. intelligence agencies, al-Qaeda’s initial attacks against American targets abroad, U.S. responses to those attacks, and finally al-Qaeda’s planning and execution of the 9/11 attacks. The commission is carefully bipartisan in apportioning responsibility for the U.S. intelligence failures that led to the attacks, saying of the U.S. Congress, for example, that “Congress had a distinct tendency to push questions of emerging national security threats off its own plate, leaving them for others to consider. Congress asked outside commissions to do the work that arguably was at the heart of its own oversight responsibilities” (p. 107). There are 535 members of Congress. Would not any member of Congress from the pre-9/11 years, in his or her heart of hearts, find truth in that statement? In the bipartisan spirit in which the commission worked, both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations come across as concerned about Islamist terrorism – but as one problem among many, and not necessarily as a priority. One of the most sympathetic figures to emerge from The 9/11 Commission Report is former counterterrorism coordinator Richard A. Clarke, who spoke for so many years about the importance of taking seriously al-Qaeda’s threats of a massive attack against the American homeland. It is a telling indicator of the frustration that Clarke felt that “In May or June [2001], Clarke asked to be moved from his counterterrorism portfolio to a new set of responsibilities for cybersecurity. He told us that he was frustrated with his role and with an administration that he considered not ‘serious about al Qaeda’” (p. 205). A chapter that returns to the actual day of the attacks as they unfolded at the World Trade Center site in New York is appropriately titled “Heroism and Horror,” and contains plenty of both. Amid the heroism being demonstrated by members of the various public-safety agencies responding to the attacks – FDNY, NYPD, PAPD – there is the shock of learning that the sheer scope of the devastation revealed the communications difficulties within as well as among those agencies. For example, the commission reports that “To our knowledge, no FDNY chiefs outside the South Tower realized that the repeater channel was functioning and being used by units in that tower. The senior chief in the South Tower lobby was initially unable to communicate his requests for more units to chiefs either in the North Tower lobby or at his outdoor command post” (p. 300). The 9/11 Commission Report looks forward as well as back from the events of that terrible day, providing a long list of well-considered recommendations for changes in future policy. Characteristic in that regard is the commission’s finding concerning the coordination and distribution of terrorism-related intelligence: “In each of our examples, no one was firmly in charge of managing the case and able to draw relevant intelligence from anywhere in the government, assign responsibilities across the agencies (foreign or domestic), track progress, and quickly bring obstacles up to the level where they could be resolved. Responsibility and accountability were diffuse” (p. 400). The commission made many recommendations. Some were acted on fully and promptly; others were acted on only partially; still others were ignored altogether, notwithstanding the commission’s regular and energetic remonstrances to the government. Nonetheless, The 9/11 Commission Report stands as a powerful reminder of the good that Americans can do, even under the most difficult and tragic of circumstances, when they put aside day-to-day disagreements and work for the good of all.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Merritt O'Boyle

    Be prepared for a long read. At 428 pages, it's a bit of a doozy, but I felt it was important for me to read this. Overall, it's fascinating. Some parts were too technical for me (especially towards the end, it discusses restructuring of government entities, and I just lacked some of the knowledge and/or interest to find it totally understandable). Some parts were difficult to read. Some parts were frustrating. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, and we must remember that while a lot of the fa Be prepared for a long read. At 428 pages, it's a bit of a doozy, but I felt it was important for me to read this. Overall, it's fascinating. Some parts were too technical for me (especially towards the end, it discusses restructuring of government entities, and I just lacked some of the knowledge and/or interest to find it totally understandable). Some parts were difficult to read. Some parts were frustrating. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, and we must remember that while a lot of the facts unearthed in this tome show that perhaps, the attacks were not as "unfathomable" and unpredictable as officials claimed, the majority of people "in charge" were doing their jobs to the best of their abilities. It also reaffirms a respect for our first responders, for the inherent good in human beings, and the good of our nation. So to sum it up, it was of course a challenging book, not only due to the tremendous scope but the subject matter. However, for anyone who wants to know a bit more about one of the days that will live in infamy for all Americans, I'd say give it a shot, but bargain on spending some time here. I read it much more slowly than other works, simply because it's a lot to digest: twenty pages at a time seemed my average intake.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adam Pope

    What was left to read after it was hollowed-out to store my throwing-stars was substandard investigating, political jargon, and black flag waving.

  10. 4 out of 5

    M(^-__-^)M_ken_M(^-__-^)M

    A Dunkirk, Galipolli Pearl Harbour, just what nobody expected wait did they? Someone had blundered, theirs is not to reason why, theirs but to do and die. Clinical analysis of these events it is, fireman bravely doing their job, citizens hopelessly stranded and in confusing dire situations, emergency services not really knowing what was going on, then recommendations to stop further terrorist actions to be enabled near the end of the book. The motivations of the hijackers isn't in this report so i A Dunkirk, Galipolli Pearl Harbour, just what nobody expected wait did they? Someone had blundered, theirs is not to reason why, theirs but to do and die. Clinical analysis of these events it is, fireman bravely doing their job, citizens hopelessly stranded and in confusing dire situations, emergency services not really knowing what was going on, then recommendations to stop further terrorist actions to be enabled near the end of the book. The motivations of the hijackers isn't in this report so its only thing for me is this its just not here, maybe some other book. When someone tells you to do something and if you are of a certain type, age, or leaning you maybe mull it over and if it fits you go with it, some people are more likely to do it, but be you of a certain age or member of a certain group you go with enough of that war talk. But its more than just that its beyond my understanding really and would be fair to say I'm not alone. In 100 years time a young person doing this for a school assignment would their thoughts dwell alot or just rushing to get it done thoughts of it being a dusty tale in some long ago history, probably but what do I know.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    I had wanted to read this book for a while now and it was hard to get through, but I was finally able to get to it. After reading extensively on the topic over the years, I can say that I believe this book is a disgusting excuse of a commission report, not investigative at all and the ultimate insult to the victims of 9/11 and their families. It reads more like a novel and there is very little engineering or architectural investigation. It focuses mainly on pointing fingers at both the Clinton a I had wanted to read this book for a while now and it was hard to get through, but I was finally able to get to it. After reading extensively on the topic over the years, I can say that I believe this book is a disgusting excuse of a commission report, not investigative at all and the ultimate insult to the victims of 9/11 and their families. It reads more like a novel and there is very little engineering or architectural investigation. It focuses mainly on pointing fingers at both the Clinton and Bush administrations as well as the various government departments that were apparently so grossly unprepared for an attack in the heaviest defense spender and most surveilled country in the world. If the book does any good, it points out that being partisan lead to a serious misstep in the government and that all of our tax money has gone to waste. Here is everything I can think of off the top of my head that was NOT mentioned: Building 7 being "pulled" as said by owner Larry Silverstein (who profited greatly from the attacks), OBL denying he did the attacks only to later supposedly change his mind, the lack of WMDs in Iraq, the "missing taxes" announced September 10th being in the section of the Pentagon that was hit and consequently destroyed or that specific side of the Pentagon being remodeled beforehand to withstand a "plane or drone attack", the builder of the WTC saying they were made to withstand several plane hits, ANY real scientific explanation of how and why the buildings basically demolished onto themselves (the exact same way Building 7 was purposefully demolished)...the list goes on and on and on. The reason this book reads like a novel is because it is exactly that; a fictitious piece of literature pushed out by every bought and sold media outlet while ignoring facts, science and common sense. I believe every American or person interested in this topic should read this book and others, as well as do other research to connect the dots for themselves.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    If you are unfortunate enough to have the NYT copy of the report, skip the first 100 pages where the NYT tears down the country. It was sickening. The report itself is fairly comprehensive and unbiased. I tried to read the NYT slant and was truly surprised to see how anti-American they are and that was back in 2004 when it was published. Read the report, skip the anti-American rhetoric at the front.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jojo

    This book is an incredibly good read considering the genre (committee report). Keeping track of all the names is harder than reading War and Peace and I hope that one day they'll publish and indexed version so that it would be easier to go back and link up people with their various roles in the plot and its aftermath. Compelling, scary, instructive, but also makes you wonder what isn't in there that we also ought to know. Reading this while I was also watching 24 on DVD was an interesting study i This book is an incredibly good read considering the genre (committee report). Keeping track of all the names is harder than reading War and Peace and I hope that one day they'll publish and indexed version so that it would be easier to go back and link up people with their various roles in the plot and its aftermath. Compelling, scary, instructive, but also makes you wonder what isn't in there that we also ought to know. Reading this while I was also watching 24 on DVD was an interesting study in contrast. In real life the American government seems bungling at best when it comes to counter terrorism surveilance and technology and the terrorists seem to be functioning at the most basic level (yet they succeed). On 24, the government has every necessary tool to surveil and track terrorists (and they have a ready, willing, and able torturer on hand to get anything that the satellites fail to disclose), and the terrorists are all high tech super stars (who rarely succeed). Huh.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Self contradictory and over dramatic. I felt I knew less on the topic after reading it. It reads more like pulp fiction than an official account.

  15. 5 out of 5

    John Dudley

    This is an exceptional piece of investigative journalism. Whichever government pages actually wrote this thing for the committee should all be doing articles for The New Yorker. There isn’t a single element of the 9/11 story which isn’t covered here. And if it’s not in the text it’s for sure in the 116 pages of notes post-text. Just an incredibly impressive collection of information thoroughly detailing an incredible tragedy we never saw coming. There are many books now on 9/11, but I would reco This is an exceptional piece of investigative journalism. Whichever government pages actually wrote this thing for the committee should all be doing articles for The New Yorker. There isn’t a single element of the 9/11 story which isn’t covered here. And if it’s not in the text it’s for sure in the 116 pages of notes post-text. Just an incredibly impressive collection of information thoroughly detailing an incredible tragedy we never saw coming. There are many books now on 9/11, but I would recommend this as thee starting place for anyone interested in really understanding the immense scope of the attack, from inception to execution, from the origin of Al-Qaeda to the start of the war in Afghanistan, from the financing of 20 terrorists traveling in and out and all around this country to their final movements into motels the night before the attacks. For sure the account is dense and some of the information appears in a seesaw sequence which feels disjointed. There’s probably too much detail about the radios emergency personnel had the day of and who heard what transmission when; and, there’s probably not enough detail about the individual experiences of ordinary Americans whose whole way of living was suddenly, permanently incinerated (for that I highly recommend Garrett Graff’s “The Only Plane in the Sky”). But really is there any truly perfect way to capture a story which defies imagination, a cruelty which saw our bravest men and women go up into burning towers as they were preparing to come down, and a sinister plot five years in the making which evaded detection or exposure at the dawn of the new age of information? In my opinion, the 9/11 Commission Report is about as well constructed as we could ask or expect. And it is a searing reminder/warning of what can happen when our security agencies don’t work together and when the hubris of our leadership doesn’t measure up against the imagination and determination of our foes.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Schlatter

    I suppose I shouldn't say I enjoyed this book, given the grim subject matter, but I did come away feeling that I really understood the 9/11 attacks, the motivations and methods of the attackers, and the United States' response to them. I'm grateful that the 9/11 Commission took pains not only to do meticulous research, but also to keep the prose lively and to be honest about where there were controversies about and gaps in the information provided. I think it provides an excellent template for t I suppose I shouldn't say I enjoyed this book, given the grim subject matter, but I did come away feeling that I really understood the 9/11 attacks, the motivations and methods of the attackers, and the United States' response to them. I'm grateful that the 9/11 Commission took pains not only to do meticulous research, but also to keep the prose lively and to be honest about where there were controversies about and gaps in the information provided. I think it provides an excellent template for the proposed commission on the 1/6/21 riot.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    As far as I can tell, this is a thoroughly researched narrative of the events leading up to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Also, it is straight-forward and surprisingly readable. I am impressed that the commission was able to issue a unanimous report. Certainly there are holes in the research, but if you are interested in the full the story of 9/11, this is a good place to start.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Kesner

    Worth skimming in a library. I own a copy. I like to go back to it every few months just to remind myself of the jaw-dropping casualness of this report. Reminds me that "reality exists independently of opinions about it". Worth skimming in a library. I own a copy. I like to go back to it every few months just to remind myself of the jaw-dropping casualness of this report. Reminds me that "reality exists independently of opinions about it".

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    The "final report" what a farce! The official expolanation for collapse is admitted to have a low probability of occurrence and bldg 7 is not even mentioned once! Read DRGriffin to make sense of the propaganda. The "final report" what a farce! The official expolanation for collapse is admitted to have a low probability of occurrence and bldg 7 is not even mentioned once! Read DRGriffin to make sense of the propaganda.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Absolutely ridiculous.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Laine

    Not that I want to accuse our government of lying to us or anything, but this book should in the Fiction section.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jim Swike

    A tough read to say the least of this horrible event. This book provides a complete report, a good reference if needed, for research or a term paper.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Vicki G

    If any other family members actually like this explanation (which is no statement at all in terms of making anything clear) then I'll have to confess to not knowing why. I can't believe they spent over 300 pages - and 12 public hearings - making nothing lucid at all and not one person in the government (except Richard Clarke) taking any responsibility for anything at all. But now I know almost exactly how the person in my life died; they could explain that because they don't have to lie or avoid If any other family members actually like this explanation (which is no statement at all in terms of making anything clear) then I'll have to confess to not knowing why. I can't believe they spent over 300 pages - and 12 public hearings - making nothing lucid at all and not one person in the government (except Richard Clarke) taking any responsibility for anything at all. But now I know almost exactly how the person in my life died; they could explain that because they don't have to lie or avoid culpability of any person or group to do it. The one thing that stayed consistent through the whole book was the fact that everyone in this country turned the death of our loved ones into everything OTHER than the f'ing death of our loved ones; everything from an opportunity to get re-elected and start wars that you make money off of to feeling sorry for cold-blooded killers to god knows what else. To someone who knew one of those people, all of it feels pretty inhumane or at best shallow behavior. The only person in government who even apologized to us was Richard Clarke. Page 251:Bin Laden routinely told important visitors to expect significant attacks against U.S interests and during a speech at the al Faruq camp, exhorted trainees to pray for the success of an attack involving 20 martyrs. That's the grossest, most disgusting thing I've ever heard. My God. Reading about Bush and his presidency is making me sick. I voted for Bush twice but not for him to do what he did in this situation. I never thought he even could do what he did. Chapter 5: I could just KILL Bush, Cheney and their damn psychotic LAWyers who rewrote entire sections of the Constitution to excuse themselves for approving of torture of the captured al Qaeda members. Abbreviated statement about Chapter 4: Still so surprised they tried so many times and gave up the plan to find bin Laden as many times as they made one. So surprised and so agonized about it. It feel like a scab was torn from a wound and is bleeding freely again bc it wasn't as "healed" as I thought. Page 132: Osama bin Laden should be treated humanely and not abused if he surrenders to the capture. Me (thinking) What FOR? He doesn't treat anyone ELSE humanely. Why do we have to play games of niceties? Until they explain why more than 20 "important" people in government all remember little to nothing about any of this, it's going to STAY at three stars - and possibly drop to 2. I find it way TOO convenient that nobody alive recalls anything, that all their memories are dim with barely recollected information - and lots of people who could have told us something about it are dead. Well so is Eric, my daughter's dad, but he's one of the people who was considered nothing in our government. He wasn't President, Secretary of State, Under Secretary, etc. Just what President Obama called an innocent citizen having no influence in government. He was Vice-President of his company, but it was not connected to the government. Page 114: Impressions vary as to who actually decided not to pursue the operation [to capture bin Ladin in 1998.] Clarke told us that the CSG saw the plan as flawed. He was said to have described it to a colleague on the NSC as "half-assed" and predicted that the principals would not approve it. "Jeff" [CIA agent whose name they're hiding] thought the decision had been made at the cabinet level. Pavitt thought that it was Berger's doing, though perhaps on Tenet's advice. Tenet told us that given the recommendations of his chief operations officers, he alone had decided to "turn off" the operation. He had simply informed Berger, who had not pushed back. Berger's recollection was similar. He said the plan was never presented to the White House for a decision. Me: Why does that sound like a rendition of the f'ing Keystone Kops in government? Nobody knows ANYthing. Eric and all these other people are dead, but nobody in the government can rightly recall ANYthing. (sigh) When asked about the Africans who died in the 1998 bombing of the embassies in Kenya, Osama bin Laden said that Islamic law mandates that it's okay to do if that's what it takes to drive the Americans out of East Africa; which, for the LIFE of me, I never thought was HOLY land to Muslims, and he's a gd LIAR OF TITANIC PROPORTIONS. I know a Muslim person, and he said the jackass had no right issuing a fatwa b/c he wasn't an imam or scholar of Islam. That's why a group of sheiks issued a second fatwa for him, to make it "legal under Islamic law." Which is as much a load of downright CRAP as it is for Christians to try to force people into Christianity. While I was in the middle of page 61, I suddenly became filled with real revulsion that I was actually reading detail by disgusting detail of how his killers' minds work. It made me want to vomit just reading about it. Something about reading it unhinged me to the point of feeling I can't read this at all. It's really a vile and disgusting thing to get inside their brains, and I CERTAINLY don't WANT to spend any more time in there than strictly necessary. That's how I feel about members of Al Qaeda. That has nothing to do with Muslims, if you ask me. Al Qaeda murdered Muslims, according to President Obama and about that I don't think he was lying. The whole time I've been reading about Osama bin Ladin's desires and nefarious disGUSTING plans, I've wanted to throw up. I'm sorry but the dingbat was planning to kill my daughter's dad and all those other people, and he began his demented plan when my daughter was only two. Information like that tends to upset me. We're there living our life and almost the whole time my daughter was alive, someone was plotting a scheme to have her dad killed. No matter that he didn't know Eric was one of the people he would end up killing, it doesn't matter. He was still planning it. It's just a TAD upsetting to discover this, although I'm not going to go into detail here as to why it distresses me so much, mostly b/c IDK all the reasons. How downright disgustingly freakin' ODD do you have to be to plan for so many years to kill people just b/c they don't think the way you do? It's crazy. Chapter 2 and 'Bin Ladin's World View.' Excuse my language, but goddam if he isn't the most anNOYing person that ever lived; and by some MIRACLE walked on two legs instead of four. My friend, Robb, knows an Arab guy who works for the United Nations, but he doesn't think a damn thing like Osama bin Ladin. He can't STAND Osama bin Ladin. He said Osama bin Ladin and all his friends "had no authority to issue a fatwa, b/c none of them was a scholar of Islamic Law." The guy is really nice all the time, or every time *I* see him he's been openly friendly. But the only times I've seen him are during major holidays, times when most people are happy. I heard him translating a speech between President Obama and an Arab leader, but it was by accident. I recognized his voice though. He's just been so decent to me that, at first, it confused me. But after he said Osama bin Ladin and his friends had no authority to issue a fatwa, I felt a little more comfortable. Even though I don't know for sure what he means. I know he hated the attack that Al Qaeda carried out, b/c he said so, and that's good enough for me to trust him a little. Translating a speech lends even more credibility to him. If the damn FAA, NORAD & NEADS didn't have such a long chain of command to pass current hijack information, Eric MIGHT have actually lived. But they had to send information up a long line of command that resembled a mutated daisy chain. I mean hijackers can do a LOT to the people on the plane in the time it was taking for all these yay-hoo Air Controllers just to send information to all the right people, which would have taken too much time IMO. In an emergency rapid response is always one of the requirements to efficiently managing the incident. Or in this case Mass Casualty Incident. (MCI) The guy who said 'It's not our job to tell air personnel working for the airlines what to do' was OBVIOUSLY a freezing cold bastard. His response sounded like he didn't even care what happened in the first place. He was defensive the whole time they were asking him questions, and I bet that's b/c he's one of those people who don't want to do what they're doing anyway, and that type of person has no freakin' business working as an Air Traffic Controller. It's plain stupid to make him a head manager. It's ridiculous that it took them so blazing long to get things done. The New York Fire Department, the one everyone thinks employs stellar, heroic responders did some of the same stuff. While people were dead or dying inside the towers two of the managers, who also lived, were arguing about who has the say in directing firefighters or something similar to that. I no longer remember the exact words but more than 30 units responded to the blaze, and 23 units from the New Jersey area responded to it. Page 51: "Bin Ladin shares Qutb's stark view [of Islamic law], permitting him and his followers to rationalize even unprovoked mass murder as righteous defense of an embattled faith. Many Americans have wondered, "Why do 'they' hate us?" Some also ask, "What can we do to stop these attacks?" Bin Ladin and al Qaeda have given answers to both these questions. To the first, they say that America had attacked Islam; America is responsible for all conflicts involving Muslims. Thus Americans are blamed when Israelis fight with Palestinians, when Russians fight with Chechens, when Indians fight with Kashmiri Muslims and when the Philippine government fights ethnic Muslims in its southern islands. America is also held responsible for the governments of Muslim countries, derided by al Qaeda as "your agents." Bin Ladin has stated flatly, "Our fight against these governments is not separate from our fight against you." These charges found a ready audience among millions of Arabs and Muslims angry at the United States because of issues ranging from Iraq [before 2001] to Palestine to America's support for their countries' repressive rulers." Now I just have two tiny little things to say to all that: 1) WHAT THE HELL DOES ALL THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ERIC, ONE OF THE PEOPLE THEY KILLED. HE NEVER THOUGHT LIKE THAT SO, IN THIS CASE, HE SHOULD AT LEAST HAVE BEEN SEPARATED FROM THEIR IDEA OF 'AMERICA.' BUT THEY JUST LUMP EVERY SINGLE LIVING BEING IN WITH FOOLS LIKE GEORGE BUSH JUNIOR AND KILL EVERYONE THEY SEE? AND WHO DIED AND GAVE THEM THE REAPER'S GD DUTIES ANYWAY? 2) About Osama bin Ladin: He's fuckin' crazy. We're talking 'toys in the attic, three sheets to the wind CRAZY. I have no more to say about him. He's just crazy and that's all. What the hell? I don't get how all these "sectors" or sections of Northeast Regional Air Defense (NORAD) could have their sectors at all points of the country but none anywhere NEAR where the planes were flying. Colorado Springs, Colorado? Panama City, Florida? Cities in Virginia? None of those places are anywhere near where the planes were flying. Only Rome, New York was anywhere near but they called people from all those other points. What the hell were these people supposed to actually DO from Colorado Springs, Colorado other than call somebody in Florida? Then what did THEY do? I'm totally confused about the way this damn thing was set up. I've got to be missing some kind of information that other people aren't, b/c I have no idea why they called people in Colorado Springs, who called people in Panama City, who called people in Virginia. Rome, New York did this to alert all the centers. But why did the Colorado Springs Center need to know about something happening thousands of miles away? from page 17: "The threat of terrorists hijacking commercial airliners within the United States--and using them as guided missiles--was not recognized by NORAD before 9/11." No kidding. Like who would think the way Osama bin Laden was thinking? I don't even think the devil himself thinks as low and black and evil as THAT guy did. There's something wrong with that man, and I mean that in the present tense. The evil that was his soul still exists, and there's something definitely WRONG with it. Damn. On September 11, 2001, there were more than 20 things they tried while not one of them worked. Not even the Flight 93 deal, that everyone goes on and on about. Yes, they aVERTED the plane but what good did it do for the actual people who did it? They're still DEAD. I'd rather be alive but that's just me. And, anyway, one of them never got to meet his daughter while he was on earth. I know that b/c I met his wife. She was 6 months pregnant and he never got to meet Morgan, who's named after him. His middle name was Morgan, so Lisa named her Morgan Kay Beamer. She's really cute and, if I were him, I'd rather meet my daughter than be a dead "hero." I think he'd agree with me. from page 11: "Several FAA air traffic control officials told us it was the air carriers' responsibility to notify their planes of security problems. One senior FAA air traffic control manager said that it was simply not the FAA's place to order the airlines what to tell their pilots. We believe such statements do not reflect an adequate appreciation of the FAA's responsibility for the safety and security of civil aviation." I don't know what "they" believe but I think they're freakin' CRAZY to be concerned about "who's allowed to tell whom what" IN THE MIDDLE OF A NATIONAL DISASTER! I don't comprehend what's WRONG with the senior air traffic control manager, but I've worked long enough in a professional capacity to totally see that happening. I've heard so-called "professionals" lie right through their teeth whenever the fancy takes them, so I know it's completely possible that such a statement could occur. I think the man's crazier than a LOON if THAT'S the most important thing on his mind out of all that happened that day. from page 2: "In passing through these checkpoints, each of the hijackers would have been screened by a walk-through metal detector calibrated to detect items with at least the metal content of a .22-caliber handgun. Anyone who might have set off that detector would have been screened with a hand wand--a procedure requiring the screener to identify the metal item or items that caused the alarm. In addition, an X-ray machine would have screened the hijackers' carry-on belongings. The screening was in place to identify and confiscate weapons and other items prohibited from being carried onto a commercial flight. None of the checkpoint supervisors recalled the hijackers or reported anything suspicious regarding their screening." Last sentence: 'None of the checkpoint supervisors recalled the hijackers?' WTF?--- The guy from the security in Boston at Flight 11's security specifically TOLD us he recalled Mohammed Atta. He said the guy "looked like the angriest person I'd ever seen in my life." He said Atta looked "so angry, it made me deeply uncomfortable and I had to think about whether I was going to pass him through." He added that it took him "at least 5 minutes of thinking about it." Which was probably more than a few minutes and FELT like five. But anyway, what finally decided him was that they were all "quiet people [not causing any problems] and wearing business suits." How in the world can the 9/11 Commission team say that "none of the checkpoint supervisors recalled the hijackers?" I'm utterly confused by that statement. Unless the guy who talked to US wasn't a supervisor, which I have no way of knowing now, b/c I don't even remember his name. I remember his face and voice but his name is long gone. I DO know that I DID hear him say that. Two people were with me, and they'll remember him saying it, b/c one of them (my daughter) became visibly upset upon hearing that he let them through b/c they "were wearing business suits." She had to leave the room at that point and didn't return. She was a freshman in high school when all this happened and not much older than 18 when the Boston checkpoint guy said this. Anyway, I'm just saying: I'm NOT crazy, I know what I heard, and this guy comPLETEly remembered Mohammed Atta. And now I'm totally confused about this particular part of the issue. But I guess I should think 'What the hell ELSE is new?' I'm not going to try to understand it, b/c I KNOW what I heard, and I'm positive that at least one person working at Logan International Airport remembers Mohammed Atta. Mohammed Atta and the two or three goons with him killed Eric and all those other people in Tower 1. I know practically nothing about anyone but Mohammed Atta, b/c he's the one who flew the plane that crashed into Tower 1, where Eric was, which is why I know so much about Atta. He had a Master's Degree in Urban Development. His father was a lawyer, and both his sisters were doctors. With a Ph.D in something. He came from a wealthy family, had every opportunity in the world to make something of himself and it makes no sense why he threw it all away on committing mass murder combined with suicide. I think he's just about the most brain-dead person that ever lived, and that's all I can safely say about my feelings toward him. I believe what I saw on the security camera and on the Flight chart. Where they recorded the names of people and their seat numbers. They also played the tape of the two flight attendants calling into the control tower, saying they were being hijacked. Excerpt: "Mihdhar and Moqed placed their carry-on bags on the belt of the X-ray machine and proceeded through the first metal detector. Both set off the alarm, and they were directed to a second metal detector. Mihdhar did not trigger the alarm and was permitted through the checkpoint. After Moqed set it off, a screener wanded him. He passed this inspection." I'm sorry, but that makes no sense at ALL. How are they setting off more than one alarm and then NOT setting off the wand? And why, when the dufus set off TWO alarms did "security" think it was okay to pass him through just b/c a wand DIDN'T set off an alarm? I simply don't get why they were so damn tolerant about a person who set off two alarms, not one but TWO? I think if they both set off the first alarm and one set off a SECOND alarm, the security officers should have made THEM stay back. That news upsets me, even though Eric was unaffected by Moqed and Mihdhar. Not that making Mihdhar and Moqed stay off the plane would have saved Eric. Mihdhar and Moqed boarded Flight 77 at Dulles-International airport. The only people who would have benefited from keeping Mihdhar and Moqed detained are the people who worked at the Pentagon and the passengers/crew of Flight 77. Eric, being in Tower 1, would have still died. Mohammed Atta killed Eric and all the people in Tower 1, even those who died bc the tower crushed them to death at 10:28.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kitsune

    The Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States is possibly the best literary work ever produced by a committee. Compiled between 2002 and 2004, the 9/11 Commission Report is a 500-page deep dive into what went wrong before and during the September 11 terrorist attacks. The sheer breadth of the Report is fascinating in itself – the Commissions reviewed everything from America’s diplomatic strategies in the Middle East to the effectiveness of radio repea The Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States is possibly the best literary work ever produced by a committee. Compiled between 2002 and 2004, the 9/11 Commission Report is a 500-page deep dive into what went wrong before and during the September 11 terrorist attacks. The sheer breadth of the Report is fascinating in itself – the Commissions reviewed everything from America’s diplomatic strategies in the Middle East to the effectiveness of radio repeaters used by the Fire Department of New York. While it’s not perfect (I wavered a little on giving it a full 5/5 stars), it’s about the best document this sort of work could have been. If you’ve read a lot of GAO or CRS reports, you’ll know that they aren’t usually renowned for their intrinsic literary merit. But the 9/11 Commission did a true service by making the report not only comprehensive to the general public (there is no impenetrable jargon or cryptic acronyms), but also eminently readable. The first chapter (“We Have Some Planes”), starts practically in medias res , with the heart-wrenching drama of the hijackings on September 11 itself. While providing detailed information about the responses of NORAD and the FAA to the hijacked airlines, it is also undeniably enthralling, without any of the dramatizing of Hollywood or a paperback thriller. These were writers who understood that, for the Report to be maximally effective, they needed a lot of people – not just policy wonks who read RAND reports before bedtime - to actually read it. And so they wrote it accordingly. The Report covers a wide range of subjects related to 9/11 – from the formation of al-Qaeda, the bombings of Embassies and the USS Cole, the information stovepipes in the intelligence community, the visa logistics of the hijackers, radicalization, emergency management, aviation safety, Congressional reform, continuity of government, Iraq, Hamburg... it even discusses subjects that are normally third-rails for official documents, like the way the Lewinsky affair and Wag the Dog might have affected Clinton’s decision-making. These are really complex subjects, made comprehensible in clear and concise language. Serious kudos there. Though I do have two minor complaints about the scope. The Report doesn’t look much belong what happened in New York City after the towers collapsed (apart from a tucked-away endnote about the EPA’s handling of asbestos-level tests). The destruction of 7 World Trade Center is not even (as far as I can tell) even mentioned. And, secondly, I wouldn’t have minded if it addressed some conspiracy theories (“jet fuel can't melt steel beams”) head-on. I get that there are a whole host of reasons why doing so would be a double-edged sword, but I can’t help but feel that it would’ve been nice to have that debunking in such a prominent record. Given that the endnotes debunk a few minor conspiracy theories of their own (such as the “phantom flights” of the Saudis), it wouldn’t have been entirely out of place. The later chapters also get dangerously close to wishful thinking with their visions of a radically-restructured intelligence community and the state of affairs in AfPak. The book does avoid going into really technical/architectural details, which I believe were left to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This was probably for the best, as the Report is on the whole concerned with answering questions about policy and decision-making rather than physics and chemistry. It also does not deal with subjects of torture, extraordinary rendition, the Iraq War, or the Global War on Terrorism in general, except in passing mentions. Though there are many questions to be answered about what happened next, the Report is not the place for them to be asked. What I give the Report most credit for is managing to avoid hindsight bias. The Commissioners themselves note, repeatedly, that it’s so very easy to retroactively find all the breadcrumbs and rationalize how negligent the CIA or the FBI or whomever have you must have been. On a few occasions they even run mini-counterfactuals, pointing out that maybe if someone had done something differently here, maybe something else might have been realized. (The best opportunities, it seems, would’ve been small but publicized breakthroughs that might have spooked off the would-be hijackers.) And there are, certainly, mistakes to go around. CIA analysts didn’t seem to understand the (admittedly byzantine) procedures for sharing FISA-sourced information with law enforcement agents. The State Department probably should’ve nixed some of those visa applications. The FAA probably should’ve taken security screening more seriously. We all probably should’ve taken a few more shots at bin Laden before he became a household name. But the Commission, as best as I could get the gist of it, seems to conclude that the system was just not structurally set-up for a world where an exiled Saudi dilettante can orchestrate an earth-shaking terrorist attack from a country that barely has electricity. The entire 9/11 attack probably cost about half a million dollars to execute. It didn’t require stealing a nuclear bomb from Kazakhstan or anything as audacious as what Aum Shinrikyo attempted. The biggest failure on the part of the government was a failure of imagination. Even the al-Qaeda alarmists envisioned a worst-case scenario that killed hundreds, not thousands of people. Using planes for kamikaze terrorism was still the stuff of that one Tom Clancy novel. In the grand scheme of Iraq, North Korea, Russia, China, and India and Pakistan pointing nuclear weapons at one another, how much attention could a mid-tier terrorist organization like AQ really expect to merit? A thoroughly engaging work of history, though one would be remiss not to review Wikipedia “Criticism of the 9/11 Commission” after reading. The hundreds of endnotes were also very impressive, often containing pages of new information within them. Though they are partially limited by (a) many of their sources being CIA/FBI reports that I doubt I’ll ever be able to read or (b) interviews with unnamed people, the transcripts of which I assume are buried in some locked cabinet at NARA. (Also, Steve Coll should be proud at how often Ghost Wars is cited in that.) I read an EPUB version, though oddly enough I actually already possess a physical copy. The conspiracy theorists will, of course, be dissatisfied with it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Swystun

    American history is full of bravado and righteousness. The country is also a nation of marketers so often truth and authenticity are lost in the mix. Add the country's penchant for entertainment and second acts, and it often strays to the absurd. A final ingredient is the media which is now not only 24/7 but hyper and divided. This is a recipe for, at the very least confusion, at most, division and conspiracy theories. When you take historic events, the muddled often gets more muddled. Hoover pla American history is full of bravado and righteousness. The country is also a nation of marketers so often truth and authenticity are lost in the mix. Add the country's penchant for entertainment and second acts, and it often strays to the absurd. A final ingredient is the media which is now not only 24/7 but hyper and divided. This is a recipe for, at the very least confusion, at most, division and conspiracy theories. When you take historic events, the muddled often gets more muddled. Hoover played up the Anarchists to build his empire, America recruited Nazis, CIA led and backed regime changes, Bay of Pigs, The Gulf of Tonkin incident, the 60's assassinations, The Pentagon Papers, Watergate, Iran-Contra, First Gulf War, and, of course, 9/11. Now America is in the age of character attack, zero civility or normal discourse, and rampant disinformation. It was with this background, that I reread The 9/11 Commission Report. In the first reading, I was surprised at the narrative style. The opening chapter reads like a Robert Ludlum or Tom Clancy novel. If you remember Clancy's "Debt of Honor", in the novel, a Japanese pilot flies an empty Boeing 747 into the U.S. Capitol during a joint session of Congress, killing the president and other government leaders. At the time, it was panned as, implausible. The commission report came out in 2004. In many ways, that was quite the feat. It is backed by tons of investigations, interviews and research, carrying the hope of finding recommendations that would make such an event never happen again. When you think to that period, America was reeling much like from Pearl Harbour, and going on a war footing. It was fighting in both Afghanistan and Iraq. And there just wasn't enough time to arrive at absolutes. The whole effort seems rushed now. Perhaps there should be a followup, a second edition, that would benefit from time and more information. Or perhaps that would just muddle this examination more.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Worth reading as a consolidated history of how we got to 9/11, what happened that day, and some of our first grasps at government-wide reform afterwards. But it’s even more impressive as a demonstration of how sweeping and comprehensible narratives can be built to explain complex events and provide sensible reforms.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Deyth Banger

    Marvelous, Brilliant!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Galicius

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. We wanted to forget the infamous horror and put it behind us because we felt we lived through it too closely. First, we personally met one of the victims of the 1993 WTC bombing, Monica. I worked with her husband and we sat together at a company Christmas dinner in a Hudson riverfront restaurant. Monica and Ed were married two years previous and told us they were expecting their first child. The horror then when two months later on February 26th we get a call in the office from Ed who was in Manh We wanted to forget the infamous horror and put it behind us because we felt we lived through it too closely. First, we personally met one of the victims of the 1993 WTC bombing, Monica. I worked with her husband and we sat together at a company Christmas dinner in a Hudson riverfront restaurant. Monica and Ed were married two years previous and told us they were expecting their first child. The horror then when two months later on February 26th we get a call in the office from Ed who was in Manhattan that he was concerned because his wife was at work in the WTC and a bomb went off in the basement of the building a short while ago. Monica (RIP) was killed with the baby she was carrying in the WTC basement restaurant when a wall collapsed over them. Second reason, my employment put me too close for comfort to the disaster after the 9/11 event. But besides the fellow employees I had an occasion to work with what probably most impressed me was the huge number of volunteers who came from surrounding states, cities, and all kinds of municipalities and who extended themselves to no end in helping with the disaster. Third reason, we made a family trip to the top of WTC in May 1999. It was a Saturday afternoon and it only felt peaceful on top with the city below reduced to insignificance. We saw a wedding in progress on a ship on the New Jersey side. Then the horror two years later. I was appalled by the television showing the planes hitting the towers without end and the buildings crumbling. I came home from work involved in the disaster to find our teenage daughter silently watching the planes and the crumbling towers. These are some of the reasons why I read the report with much skepticism. I expected more from those on the watch. There is much about the Islamic terrorists in the early part that is terrifying. There is much plodding through descriptions of US government agencies sometimes quite aware of the terrorists’ intentions even to suspecting airline hijackings as early as 1998 but not doing much just discussing and debating. There was much knowledge about Bin Ladin and even attempted cruise missile assassination attempt, which may have been thwarted by Pakistani tipping him off about it and consequent miss. This is government investigating itself by data mining for three years after it happened. Its findings are a description of the labyrinth of movements by the perpetrators and endless findings who in the government did what and didn’t do what maybe they should have done. It’s a mind-boggling compendium that is in the end as useless as the government was that should have known better than to allow what should not have happened. It was their job. This disaster had a huge effect on our family. We visited the top of North Tower a couple of years earlier on May 29, 1999. We walked all around to see the four corners of New York and New Jersey. Our ticket says we checked in at 5:50 PM and paid $12.50. It was an impressive sight but quite different from the Empire State building. There was a wedding party on a boat parked in the Hudson River on the New Jersey side that we saw. We have photos from the top and we also had a souvenir photo taken downstairs next to a backdrop of the towers. I don’t understand the explanation in the Commission report that helicopters could not land to evacuate the people on the roof because of “radiation exposure” and “slanted surface”. Those people perished in the fires because there was no way down below the airplane impact floors. What “radiation” and what “slanted surface”? We did not see anything slanted unless the plane that struck the North tower between 93rd and 99th floors caused that. The report does not clarify that. It says nothing about the radiation exposure. Were we exposed? Was it the antennas? If so why were thousands of visitors, if not millions over the years allowed to visit? I do understand that the window of opportunity before the building crashed was short and eventually the roof was consumed by fire. It came out much later that there were 28 classified pages deleted from the report. They are still classified in 2016.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bill Shannon

    Some of the information almost feels quaint in the wake of ISIL and the world we live in now. The report is refreshingly sober, methodical, level-headed and thoughtful. It breaks the events of 9/11 into several parts: the attacks, the background, the planning stages, the victims and responders, the aftermath, and recommendations. It's not an "enjoyable" read by any means, but it is a compelling one, written by adults and not hyperpartisan hacks, thankfully. Some of the information almost feels quaint in the wake of ISIL and the world we live in now. The report is refreshingly sober, methodical, level-headed and thoughtful. It breaks the events of 9/11 into several parts: the attacks, the background, the planning stages, the victims and responders, the aftermath, and recommendations. It's not an "enjoyable" read by any means, but it is a compelling one, written by adults and not hyperpartisan hacks, thankfully.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ross Vincent

    Today, September 11, 2021, is the 20th anniversary of the day American was forever changed. A day the people, all over the world, remember. You ask people, of a certain age bracket, where they were when they heard about the planes and the towers and the Pentagon, and they can tell you. At work. Driving. At home. In Class. At the office, watching it as it was happening outside my window.... To honor the events of that day - heroes we lost, the innocent victims who didnt do anything, the people who st Today, September 11, 2021, is the 20th anniversary of the day American was forever changed. A day the people, all over the world, remember. You ask people, of a certain age bracket, where they were when they heard about the planes and the towers and the Pentagon, and they can tell you. At work. Driving. At home. In Class. At the office, watching it as it was happening outside my window.... To honor the events of that day - heroes we lost, the innocent victims who didnt do anything, the people who stood up to the hijackers and say "Not today and not with this plane. Let's Roll" - I spent the day reading and finishing this book. First, the honest part - it is long and dry in spots. There are chapters that are going to be dated - it was published 17 years ago- and will outline things that are almost a normal part of our lifes. TSA airport screenings. Heighten security measures to prevent future attacks. The need to combine intelligence and investigative resources into a cohesive group, so there is no 'This is our data, and we dont share'. The need to find and capture Bin Laden and to eliminate the non-state terrorists groups in the world. Another thing that has to be remembered is dates. For example, 1993 is almost 30 years ago to us now; at the time this report, it was 11 years. That the Clinton Administration ended 21 years ago - but it was still fresh and raw at the time of 9/11. That the threat of Saddam and Iraq was still present - and not a neutered and dead ruler as he is now. So yes, it is going to wrong or outdated at times. And the last 2 chapter can be skimmed - it is an outline of what changes/ improvements are needed. At this point, these are standard operating procedures. (Well, maybe not the Border issue. Still a hot topic). The Good news - the beginning part of the book is a History lesson. In the path of Bin Laden to global threat, in US policy failings to recognize the growing threat of Post Cold War terrorist. An in-depth outline of the planes on that day. And a chapter on the heroic deeds of PAPD, FDNY, NYPD, and others at the Twin Towers, and the brief, but positive review of how the Pentagon rescues and recovery was a case study in positive things. Would I recommend this book - maybe. It is a tough one - remember, we are talking about sudden deaths of thousands of people. And then you have to factor in the loves of those who have to deal with the aftermath - the 1st responders who are suffering still today, the soldiers who gave their time, their body and in some cases, their lives in America's Longest War. So, it is not a feel good book. (Side note: if you are looking for a feel good book about that same day, I would recommend "The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland" by Jim DeFede. It is the story of about what happened to the planes who couldnt land in NYC, and were diverted to Canada. And how the Canadians - the great people they are - welcomed them and made them feel at home for a brief period of time). But - I would say you should read parts of it. Maybe the chapters on the what the Passengers and first Responders did that day.

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