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9/11 commissioners to discuss lessons learned this week at IU Auditorium

A decade after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, members of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission, will gather this week at Indiana University for a public discussion of subsequent history and lessons learned.

The event, "Ten Years Later: The 9/11 Commissioners Reflect," will take place Thursday (Sept. 15) from 2-4 p.m., at IU Auditorium in Bloomington. The commissioners will visit the campus at the invitation of former U.S. Rep. Lee H. Hamilton, who directs the Center on Congress at IU. Hamilton was vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, which was chaired by former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean.

Lee Hamilton

Lee Hamilton

The commission issued its landmark report July 22, 2004. Eight of the 10 commissioners are expected to participate in Thursday's discussion, which is sponsored by the Office of the Provost at IU Bloomington.

The anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has brought renewed attention to the commission and its recommendations. For example, a "report card" issued Aug. 31 by the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., awarded mixed grades for implementation of the commission's recommendations.

The report, from the center's National Security Preparedness Group, led by Hamilton and Kean, highlighted nine of the 41 recommendations that remain unfinished, including a need for increased cooperation at disaster sites, better communication among first responders, and improved teamwork by federal, state and local governments.

"These unfulfilled recommendations require urgent attention because the threat from al Qaeda, related terrorist groups and violent extremists persists," Hamilton said. "The terrorist threat will be with us far into the future, and we must constantly assess our vulnerabilities."

The IU Bloomington discussion will be moderated by Ken Bode, former NBC News national correspondent, CNN political analyst and PBS Washington Week in Review host.

The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required and are available in person at the IU Auditorium Box Office. The box office will be open through the afternoon of the event and will continue distribution of remaining tickets. As the event will be broadcast live, guests must be in their seats by 1:45 p.m. Bags, including backpacks, will not be permitted in the Auditorium during the event. Also, signs, banners and placards will not be permitted.

Indiana Public Media will broadcast the event on state public TV stations, including WTIU in Bloomington. It also will be available for live Internet viewing at http://broadcast.iu.edu; following the program, it will be archived and remain available for viewing at the website.

The 9/11 commissioners will spend the day of Sept. 15 on campus, where their escorts will be U.S. military veterans currently enrolled as IU students. Commissioners scheduled to participate include:

  • Fred Fielding, partner in the Morgan Lewis & Bockius law firm in Washington, D.C., White House counsel for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush and adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney
  • Jamie Gorelick, deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton, co-chair of the American Bar Association's Commission on Legal Ethics 20/20
  • Slade Gorton, attorney with K&L Gates and former three-term U.S. senator from Washington
  • Lee Hamilton, commission vice chairman, former member of Congress from Indiana and chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Iran-Contra Committee
  • Thomas Kean, commission chairman, former governor of New Jersey, former president of Drew University and current chairman of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Bob Kerrey, president emeritus of The New School and former governor of Nebraska and U.S. senator from Nebraska, co-chair of the Concord Coalition
  • Timothy Roemer, former member of Congress from Indiana, U.S. ambassador to India, 2009-11
  • James Thompson, longest-serving governor of Illinois (1977-91), senior chairman of Winston & Strawn law firm

The other two commissioners, Richard Ben-Veniste and John F. Lehman, are not expected for the IU event because of prior commitments.

The 9/11 Commission was established by President George W. Bush and Congress and charged with making a complete accounting of the facts surrounding the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93, and developing recommendations for the prevention of future acts of terrorism.

The commission's final report, published as a 624-page book that became a nationwide best-seller, recommended a global strategy against terrorism that would include attacking terrorists and their organizations, preventing the growth of Islamic terrorism and protecting against and preparing for terrorist attacks.

It also proposed a five-part government reorganization: linking intelligence and operational planning under a National Counterterrorism Center; bringing the intelligence community together under a National Intelligence Director; encouraging information-sharing through decentralized networks; strengthening congressional oversight of intelligence and homeland security; and strengthening the security workforce within the FBI and clarifying the missions of the Defense and Homeland Security departments.

The commission ceased to operate on Aug. 21, 2004, 30 days after issuing its final report, in accordance with the law that mandated the commission investigation.