9/11 Commission Records Still Sealed at the Archives

Article excerpt

OPEN RECORDS

A decade after al Qaeda's attacks on the United States, the 9/11 Commission's records remain sealed at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), despite a directive from the commission to make most of the material public in 2009.

Matt Fulgham, assistant director of NARA's center for legislative affairs, which oversees the commission documents, told Reuters that more than a third of the 575 cubic feet of records have been reviewed for possible release. But many of those documents have been withheld or heavily redacted, and the released material includes documents that have already been made public, such as news articles.

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States was established by Congress in late 2002 to investigate the events leading up to the 9/11 attacks, the pre-attack effectiveness of intelligence agencies and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the government's emergency response.

According to Reuters, documents still classified include a 30page summary of an April 2004 interview by all 10 commissioners with President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney that was conducted in the Oval Office - the only time the two were formally questioned about events surrounding the attacks.

Other sealed records document actions taken by Bush on the day of the attacks, as well as the Clinton White House's earlier responses to growing threats from al Qaeda. The material also includes vast amounts of information on al Qaeda and U.S. intelligence efforts in the years preceding the attacks, Reuters said.

Shortly before the commission ceased to exist, it turned over all its records to NARA. In a letter dated August 20, 2004, the commission's chairman and vice chairman instructed NARA to make the material public "to the greatest extent possible" on January 2, 2009, "or as soon thereafter as possible. …