History Commons Groups

April 2, 2009

Examining the 9/11 Commission Archives (updated again 12 April 2009)

Filed under: community,Complete 911 Timeline,Document Collection — kevinfenton @ 1:03 pm
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Update: This post is now inactive. For the new masterlist see here.

One of the contributors, paxvector, has been busy at the History Commons page at Scribd, where he has uploaded over 500 documents from the 9/11 Commission.

The documents were part of a set recently made available by the National Archives. Although the Archives posted some of what it had (summaries of interviews the commission conducted) online, most of it was offline. So paxvector has been going to the Archives and posting copies of what he has found.

The job now is to correctly describe and label the documents, which is going to be a big task. I’m not sure what the final format will have to be, so for now I will just start at the begining, with the first documents he posted.

The quality of some of the documents is not great in Scribd, but is fine when downloaded.


(1) A letter sent by 9/11 Commission counsel Dan Marcus to the Department of Defense complaining about the lack of documents the DoD has sent the commission. The commission’s first two document requests for the DoD are appended.

(2) A list of seven outstanding issues to be resolved by from September 2003 concerning NORAD, including the Atlantic City fighters, apparently missing recordings and military exercises.

(3) A letter from commission counsel Daniel Marcus about an after-action review the Department of Defense apparently failed to provide the commission with.

(4) The DoD’s response – they claimed not to have any more reports.

(5) A memo from 9/11 Commission staffer Dana Hyde to 9/11 Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste from June 2003 about information received and still needed from NORAD, the FAA, the FBI, and the Secret Service.

One section refers to the five fighters scrambled during the attacks: “Both the Otis and Langley fighters vectored over water and took a rather circuitous route to their intended destinations; their routing raises additional questions about whether, given a more direct flight path, the scrambled aircraft could have reached the hijacked aircraft in time.”

(6) An internal 9/11 Commission memo from October 2003 stating that the Department of Defense has not provided the commission with the relevant documents it asked for regarding Otis Air Force Base.

Two commission staffers visited the base and found that several materials not produced by the Defense Department existed.

(7) An internal 9/11 Commission memo from late October 2003 complaining about the lack of documents about the failure of the air defenses on 9/11 that have been produced by the Department of Defense.

The memo notes that significant information is being withheld and that information that had been provided was misleading and incomplete; it recommends a subpoena be issued for the relevant records.

(8) June 2003 e-mail from Colonel Robert Marr, a senior Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) officer on 9/11, forwarded to the 9/11 Commission. The e-mail says in part:

“At the time AA77 was occurring we were focused on UAL93 which was the only confirmed hijack that the FAA had identified to us. My records show UAL 93 reported as hijacked at 0916L, once we found it and identified it’s westerly heading, we scrambled Langley at 0924L just in case it turned around toward DC, which it did later.”

(9) A referral by the 9/11 Commission to the inspectors general of the FAA and the Pentagon of false statements made by FAA and Defense officials about events on the day of 9/11. The commission became aware the statements were false during its research, but did not investigate whether they were knowingly false and asked the inspectors general to do so.

The memo mentions the circumstances in which one of the key NEADS tapes was lost: “The reason for the malfunction is disputed. NEADS claims that the officer (who was reviewing the tape) accidentally reformatted one of the tapes; the officer denies that this occurred.”

(10) A 5-page timeline of the events of the day of 9/11, covering the four hijacked flights, Delta 1989, the FAA and NEADS.

(11) Another 5-page timeline (more detailed) drafted by the 9/11 Commission of the events of the day of 9/11.

(12) A set of draft questions to be asked by the 9/11 Commission to Air Force General Richard Myers and Captain Charles Leidig, who was in charge of the National Military Command Center on 9/11. The questions are highly pertinent and cover the lack of co-operation with the FAA, the failure to add it to the significant event conference call and the failure to make use of military staff at the FAA to get information. The questions also state that the FAA was not a participant in the air threat conference call.

(13) 9/11 Commission e-mail about records made by the National Military Command Center on 9/11 by a Colonel Kuehl.

(14) Lynne Cheney’s notes from the White House bunker on 9/11. There are two particular points of interest. The note: “Aircraft coming in from 60 miles out?” is timed at 10:10. The note: “Condi has talked to POTUS. She/RBC/Scooter say we know who did it,” is timed at 12:00.

(15) List of Joint Staff personnel on duty on 9/11 from the 9/11 Commission’s files.

(16) Extracts from press articles in which military leaders explain why the military failed to defend the skies on 9/11, apparently compiled by the 9/11 Commission.

(17) First-hand account of the day of 9/11 by Major Charles Chambers, a key official at the National Military Command Center. Chambers was the official who failed to monitor the FAA’s hijack net teleconference, but does not mention this at all in his account. However, he does claim that the NMCC was aware of a hostile plane headed towards DC before American 77 hit the Pentagon. He also says that after the Pentagon was hit the NMCC was aware of two more hijackings. In addition, he puts the issuance of the shoot down order before he was informed United 93 was down.

(18) A set of draft questions prepared by the 9/11 Commission for General Richard Myers. The questions cover NORAD’s missions, Myers’ perception of the threat posed by Osama bin Laden and hijackings prior to 9/11. There are also questions about the day of 9/11, when he learned about specific events, coordination with the FAA and the shootdown order.

(19) Brief timeline of events on the day of 9/11, apparently drafted by the White House. Some of the times seem to be off, for example it has American 77 hitting the Pentagon at 9:30. It also has Cheney moved to a secure location in the White House at 9:40 and implementing continuity of government at 9:55. In addition, it gives a crash time of 10:06 for United 93.

(20) Notes of an interview of General David Wherley by 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow. General Wherley commanded some aircraft out of Andrews Air Force Base that were launched towards Washington on the day of 9/11 and describes his experiences that day. He describes interactions with the Secret Service and the rules of engagement he was given. In addition, he claims planes operating under NORAD from Langley were aware of United 93.

(21) A subpoena served by the 9/11 Commission on the US Department of Defense. The subpoena was issued after the DoD repeatedly failed to comply with the commission’s document requests.

(22) 9/11 Commission Document Request No. 18 for the US Department of Defense. The document request is for materials linked to military exercises, such as Vigilant Guardian, Amalgam Virgo, Amalgam Warrior, Cornet White, Amazon Condor, Fencing Indian and COSIN. The request also asks for material on the use of aircraft as weapons.

The request was filed on November 23, 2003. This copy of the request was later annotated by the commission at some point in or after mid-January 2004 indicating that many documents requested had not yet been produced. One such document was a 1999 briefing “on terrorist use of aircraft as weapons.”

Insider Trading

(1) A letter from the Securities and Exchange Commission to the 9/11 Commission about possible insider trading related to 9/11. The SEC tells the commission it will not yet provide it with some documents the commission has requested; the documents were supplied to the SEC by foreign partners and these partners have to approve their provision to the 9/11 Commission before they can be passed on.

(2) A withdrawal notice for a chronology of US and foreign markets between September 17, 2001 and October 20, 2001. The document was part of the 9/11 Commission’s archives and presumably relates to allegations of insider trading related to the attacks.

(3) Withdrawal notice for 9/11 Commission document, related to “suspicious financial transactions.”

(4) Letter from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to the 9/11 Commission about the confidentiality of information. The letter says that the commission should remind the National Archives that documents the commission obtained from the SEC but are confidential (because, for example, they are from foreign governments with a confidentiality agreement) cannot be disclosed by the Archives, after the commission’s records are transferred there.

(5) A chart found in the 9/11 Commission’s records showing numbers of call and put options in United Airlines and American Airlines stock between August 20 and September 10, 2001.

(6) A withdrawal notice for a 38-page document about the 9/11 insider trading allegations.


(1) CIA Director George Tenet’s written statement to a closed hearing of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry (blogged here).

(2) A list of “threat response activities” in the US in the months before 9/11. Intelligence on threats in Yemen features prominently and the document claims that Abu Zubaida was a “key planner” of 9/11, although this is now thought not to be the case.

It also claims that an al-Qaeda operative who is evidently Djamel Beghal was arrested in July 2001 as a result of “U.S. government activities.” This contrasts sharply with the usual explanation given for his arrest – that he was travelling on a false passport – and indicates Beghal was actually under US surveillance at the time of the arrest.

Finally, there is no clear mention of the famous 10 July emergency briefing of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, although a similar previous meeting on 30 May is covered in detail.

(3) A letter from the FBI to the commission about access to the bureau’s files.

(4) An e-mail from the Justice Department about the detention of illegal aliens immediately after the attacks.

(5) A complaint from Pakistan’s ambassador to the US about comments made by 9/11 Commission members linking the government of Pakistan to support for the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

(6) An internal 9/11 Commission memo from October 2003 that complains about a lack of co-operation by the Defense Department, which is failing to provide information from detainee interrogations.

The memo complains about the quantity and quality of information and concludes, “the Commission has been provided virtually no useful information from DoD regarding the interrogations of over 100 detainees.”

(7) A summary of the dispute between the 9/11 Commission and the White House about access by the commission to Presidential Daily Briefs (PDBs). It contains a chronology up to early November 2003, options on how to proceed and draft public statements related to the options.

One option is for a staff member to read a group of PDB items initially denied to the commissioners to see if there is anything really important there the commission must know. In this version the staffer would be Chris Kojm, but in the event this job was performed by Philip Zelikow, the commission’s executive director.

(8) A letter from 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey to 9/11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton about the deal the 9/11 Commission reached with the White House to get limited access to Presidential Daily Briefs (PDBs). Kerrey fears the access is too limited and will compromise the commission’s ability to do it job completely.

(9) A list of NTSB documents about the four flights hijacked on 9/11 provided to the 9/11 Commission and a covering letter.

(10) A White House memo sent one week before the publication of the 9/11 Commission report asking for changes to it.

(11) Questions Senator Edward Kennedy proposed the 9/11 Commission ask President George W. Bush. The questions focus on the August 6 PBD and a false claim by CIA Director George Tenet that he did not meet with Bush in August 2001. There are also some questions for Vice President Dick Cheney.

(12) An e-mail from 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow from July 2003 about regulations on the use of quotations in notes taken by commission staffers reviewing White House documents.

(13) Questions to be asked by the 9/11 Commission at an interview of its own Executive Director Philip Zelikow. The questions concern his role in the events leading to 9/11: his activities on the Bush administration transition team, his relationship with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, her focus on a policy worldview “too steeped in Cold War assumptions,” and his relationship to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, who was demoted at the start of the Bush administration.

(14) A memo sent from the 9/11 Commission’s Executive Director Philip Zelikow and Counsel Daniel Marcus to White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales asking for some White House memos. The memos were mostly to Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger from his counterterrorism staff, in particular counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke. They concern terrorist finance, al-Qaeda’s links to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the embassy and Cole bombings and other topics.

It appears Gonzales has been withholding the memos from the commission under a claim of executive privilege, as they were subsequently forwarded in some form to President Clinton.

(15) A repeat request from the 9/11 Commission’s Executive Director Philip Zelikow and Counsel Daniel Marcus to White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales for documents it has not yet received. The documents concern principals’ and deputies’ meetings during the Clinton era.

(16) A letter from author Peter Lance to 9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean. Lance criticizes the commission’s hiring of former prosecutor Dieter Snell, who Lance says should be a witness for the commission (due to his terrorism prosecutions), not an investigator. Lance also discusses the links between the Bojinka plot of Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and the September 11 attacks.

(17) A complaint from the 9/11 Commission’s terrorism finance team about the lack of documents it has received from government agencies, in particular the FBI.

One issue of note is that in response to a recent statement by FBI official John Pistole about the hijackers having received money from Pakistan (which Pistole later basically retracted), the memo’s author writes that such documents have already been requested by the commission, but not produced, although they “seemingly must exist.”

(18) Letter from White House lawyer Thomas Monheim in August 2003 to the 9/11 Commission about the commission’s access to its own notes. Monheim says the commission has taken notes about White House documents that breach agreed rules, but can have most of the notes anyway.

(19) 9/11 Commission e-mails about a sighting of 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta together with Florida-based al-Qaeda operative Adnan El Shukrijumah. One of the commission staffers, Raj De, called the link “significant,” but in the end the information was relegated to an endnote in the commission’s subsidiary terrorist travel monograph.

This post will be updated with links to additional documents when they are described and labelled. However, hundreds of them can already be viewed at the site.

1 Comment »

  1. This is an excellent example of what contributors can do besides write entries. No one told pax to do this — he just took it upon himself, and is now providing a tremendous service to the Commons and to researchers everywhere.

    Think outside the box, guys.

    Comment by Max — April 2, 2009 @ 10:40 pm | Reply

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