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CNN WOLF BLITZER REPORTS
9/11 Commission Report Released
Aired July 22, 2004 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST (voice-over): Happening now -- it's out. After reading two million pages of documents and hearing from hundreds of witnesses, the 9/11 Commission has released a massive and brutally frank report.
Stand by for hard news on WOLF BLITZER REPORTS.
9/11 report: A failure of imagination...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS KEAN, 9/11 COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: We were unprepared. We did not grasp the magnitude of a threat that had been gathering over a considerable period of time.
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BLITZER: ... and a litany of failures on the ground -- even as new video shows shocking scenes of the hijackers passing through security.
Failures of leadership past and present, but no blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I look forward to studying their recommendations.
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BLITZER: Reforms: Calls for an overhaul of U.S. intelligence and for changes in Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE HAMILTON, 9/11 COMMISSION VICE CHAIRMAN: These efforts are too diffuse across the government. They need to be unified.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I'll speak with Republican Chris Cox, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and Democrat Jane Harman of the House Intelligence Committee.
They lost everything.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't bring these people back. You know, for my wife and I, there's never going to be closure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... is an important and critical first step in making our country a safer place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We'll hear from the families of 9/11.
Iraq: The commission lays out its beliefs about an al Qaeda connection, as U.S. troops fight on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEAN: We are not safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: A certainty that al Qaeda will strike again. I'll speak with commission members Richard Ben-Veniste and Fred Fielding.
ANNOUNCER: This is WOLF BLITZER REPORTS for Thursday, July 22nd, 2004.
BLITZER (on camera): Hello. We're with you today from Boston where terror threats are certainly a concern out of next week's Democratic convention, but today the focus is on the 9/11 Commission, its findings on the past, and its recommendations for the future.
They call it a moment in U.S. history, and I'm quoting now, "unique in horror." Now the investigators of the 9/11 Commission have issued their final report on what went wrong that morning, and what needs to be done to keep it from happening again.
Let's get the details now. CNN's Brian Todd's standing by in Washington -- Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, at nearly 579 pages, over 14 chapters, the commission tries to steer away from blame, but we're left with a sobering narrative of a simple, ingenious plot and a bureaucracy that simply could not handle it.
(voice-over): At a time when they needed it most, America's leaders did not have the imagination to truly perceive their greatest threat and did not understand its gravity. Those core findings of the commission investigating the September 11th terrorist attacks amount to a scathing assessment of a bureaucracy ill-equipped to anticipate or confront a creative enemy.
KEAN: The United States government was simply not active enough in combating the terrorist threat before 9/11.
TODD: The commissioners emphasized they did not want to place specific blame on President Bush, President Clinton, or their intelligence agencies, but they cited several missed opportunities during both administrations, which could have allowed the government to break up or at least hinder the 9/11 plot.
KEAN: Our government did not watch-list future hijackers Hazmi and Mindhar before they arrived in the arrived in the United States, or take adequate steps to find them once they were here.
Our government did not link the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui, described as interested in flight training for the purpose of using an airplane as a terrorist act to the heightened indications of attack.
Our government did not discover false statements on visa applications or recognize passports that were manipulated in a fraudulent manner.
TODD: The commissioners admitted that discovery of any or all of those developments in 2000 and 2001 may still not have prevented the attacks, but they were clearly frustrated when citing the volume of intelligence the U.S. government possessed about al Qaeda much earlier.
BOB KERREY, 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: Note for the record that 75% of what we knew about -- found out about Osama bin Laden after 9/11, we knew in 1996; 90% of the facts that we knew about Osama bin Laden, we knew in 1998.
TODD: As expected, the commission traces the disconnect to a profound lack of communication between the FBI and CIA, and inadequate Congressional oversight of intelligence.
JOHN LEHMAN, 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: There is a deep fundamental dysfunction in the way we go about our intelligence-gathering and analysis and providing the data to the decision-makers.
TODD: A problem that would seem overwhelmingly difficult to solve, the commission takes it on.
HAMILTON: But we have thought about what to do, a global strategy, and how to do it -- a different way of organizing our government.
TODD: Specifically, the commission recommends the creation of a National Counterterrorism Center to unify foreign and domestic counter-terror operations.
Creation of a new post, National Intelligence Director, to oversee all the agencies.
More emphasis on the sharing of information between agencies.
Reform of Congressional oversight, which the commission says is too spread out between different committees. The commission wants to establish a career path for FBI agents who want to specialize in intelligence and national security.
It does not recommend the creation of a new agency focusing only on domestic terrorism like Britain's MI5.
More than one commissioner admitted all this reorganization will be exceedingly difficult in a town where leaders do not want to relinquish power, but the chairman was ominous in warning of the danger of inaction.
KEAN: Every expert with whom we spoke told us an attack of even greater magnitude is now possible and even probable. We do not have the luxury of time.
TODD (on camera): Chairman Kean acknowledged that, overall, Americans are safer now than they were on September 11th, but still, he says, not safe.
On the possibility of an Iraq-al Qaeda connection, Wolf, he says there was no question in the commissioners' minds that there was a relationship at one time, but they have no definite finding on any weapons collaboration between the two, and they have no evidence, they say, of a link between Iraq and September 11th -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, reporting from Washington. Brian, thanks very much.
The report probably never would have happened had it not been for the persistence of the families who lost loved ones on September 11th. Certainly a bittersweet day for many of them. CNN's Maria Hinojosa is picking up that part of the story in New York -- Maria?
MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, nobody more anxiously awaited this report than the families, the people who lost loved ones on September 11th and never gave up.
In the face of mourning, they pushed and pushed hard for answers. Why did this happen? And could other families be spared this kind of suffering?
(voice-over): Terry McGovern lost her mother on September 11th, just six weeks after her first baby was born. She pressed for the commission, because she wanted answers.
TERRY MCGOVERN, DAUGHTER OF 9/11 VICTIM: Sitting through those commission hearings and reading those reports carefully, it's a very scary thing. We are totally vulnerable. And I think that hopefully what it's going to do is get the public to understand that they have got to push the elected officials and the people running these agencies to do a much better job. HINOJOSA: Bob and Elaine Hughes traveled to Washington for almost every single commission hearing, thinking always of their 30- year-old son, Chris, who was a history and current events buff.
ELAINE HUGHES, MOTHER OF 9/11 VICTIM: I sat there and tried to think the way Chris would think. He was on my shoulder. He was -- as I was writing down information, as each witness was talking, it was his words.
HINOJOSA: What they got were 567 pages of words, clearly pointing to signals the government got, but missed. And so, their son died.
BOB HUGHES, FATHER OF 9/11 VICTIM: We, as family members, have been asked: Do you think it could have been prevented? We absolutely do. We think that, you know, the hints were there, the signs were there, the intelligence was there. We never realized, until we got into this ourselves, how much intelligence was there.
JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: The status quo failed us on September 11th, and it'll fail us again unless we reform and change it in some of the ways this commission recommended.
HINOJOSA: The families are learning about clues and miscues and of unheeded warnings, but the report, they said, assessed no specific blame and demanded no accountability.
BEVERLY ECKERT, WIFE OF 9/11 VICTIM: I'm not angry, it's not that I wanted heads to roll, but I worked in a large corporation, and I think, you know, sometimes you do have to identify the people within the organization who are -- who are not functioning the way they should be.
HINOJOSA (on camera): There are so many emotions for these family members today. For the ones that labored and demanded for this commission, a sense of achievement. The Hughes family, who lost their son, told me that they wanted this report, not only for themselves and for the American people, but for the many, many 9/11 family members who, for emotional or economic reasons, just couldn't be in Washington to continue this fight for information and reform -- Wolf?
BLITZER: CNN's Maria Hinojosa picking up that part of the story. Maria, thank you very much.
In Washington, President Bush initially fought the creation of the 9/11 Commission, but today welcomed the panel's final report, saying it contains very solid recommendation.
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BUSH: I look forward to studying their recommendation and look forward to working with responsible parties within my administration to move forward on those recommendation. As well, we look forward to working with the Congress on the implementation of ways to do our duty. And the most important duty we have is the security of our fellow countrymen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And as you saw live here on CNN, the president speaking now in the Chicago suburb of Glenview. Standing by there, our White House correspondent Dana Bash -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as we speak, the president is giving what is essentially his formal response to the 9/11 commission report, saying that he is very thankful to all of the commissioners and their staff for the hard work that they have done.
And essentially that he takes into consideration and really agrees with most of what they have said in terms of their findings. You heard the president earlier today say that he accepts their recommendations, but you notice he stopped short of saying that he endorses them or he will actually take any of them and embrace them or put them into effect.
In private, aides say that they are certainly going to take some time and look at them, but they understand that this is something that there will be a lot of pressure on the Bush administration to, if they don't accept exactly what the 9/11 commission has recommended, to do something -- some kind of compromise very, very soon.
Now, the White House strategy today is to highlight the fact that they believe that they have already done some or at least a lot, they say, of what the 9/11 commission is recommending in this report. That they have restructured the government in a lot of ways since 9/11.
Mr. Bush is using this particular trip, this training facility here in Glenview, Illinois, to try to highlight that, talking about the fact that he has streamlined the government and that the Homeland Security Department is something he has created in order to do that. Democrats of course are saying that the Homeland Security Department, like the commission, is something he resisted at first -- Wolf.
BLITZER: CNN's Dana Bash traveling with the president today in Illinois. Thanks, Dana, very much.
Senator John Kerry says the 9/11 report makes it clear that Americans are not as safe as they should be from terrorists. Kerry says the reason for that is due in part to disputes within the Bush administration. Kerry spelled out what he would do if elected president. "President Bush has not yet acted," he says, "on the commission's findings."
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SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will lead immediately by convening an emergency security summit that brings together leading Democratic and Republican members of Congress, as well as the leaders of the agencies that play a vital role. And we will put together the rapid agenda necessary, the administrative and legislative changes necessary, to protect this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Kerry's response to the 9/11 report came after he spoke at the Urban League convention in Detroit. Also responding to the final 9/11 report, the former president of the United States, Bill Clinton. He spoke out while signing copies of his bestselling biography in Coral Gables, Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The only time I think we could have gone more, if I had been president, I could have gotten confirmation from the CIA and the FBI before I left office that bin Laden was responsible for the Cole, which we all thought, but they didn't confirm it until after I left office.
Then I could have ordered a military assault. And that's as far as I know the only opportunity I had to do something that I did not do. We certainly were thinking about it virtually every day of the week for the last couple of years I was in office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Here's your chance to weigh in on this important story. Our web question of the day is this. "Do you think the 9/11 commission accomplished its goals?" You can vote right now. Go to CNN.com/wolf. We'll have the results for you later in this broadcast.
Terrorism is also a major concern for voters as they head to polls this year. And new numbers out this afternoon show President Bush with the edge on that issue. The new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll shows likely voters say they believe the president is better able to handle terror and the war in Iraq. John Kerry fares better on the economy and healthcare. In the overall race, Kerry had a slight lead over the president 47 percent to 46 percent with Ralph Nader taking in 4 percent.
The Bush administration says the war in Iraq is part of the war against terror. So why is there so little about it in the 9/11 report? I'll speak with two members of the 9/11 commission. Find out what they have to say. That's coming up.
And an eerie sight from the morning 19 hijackers attacked America.
BLITZER: We'll tell you where things are heating up in Iraq. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Just after the release of the 9/11 commission report, I spoke with two commission members.
BLITZER: Fred Fielding, Richard Ben-Veniste, thanks very much for joining us. Let's get to some of the controversy resulting from the final report. Richard Clarke, the former intelligence czar during both the Clinton and Bush administrations say that you dodged some of the most sensitive issues in order to get political agreement among the ten members, five Republicans, five Democrats.
Specifically you dodged the question whether the war on Iraq helped or hurt the war on terror. Fred Fielding, what do you say to that criticism?
FRED FIELDING, 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: I'm sorry that Mr. Clarke feels that way, but there are five Republicans and five Democrats that think we faced every question that came out of our charter from the Congress in setting up this commission. We faced them as boldly as we could and we examined them as deeply as we could and I think that the record speaks for itself.
BLITZER: Mr. Fielding, did the war in Iraq help or hurt the war on terror?
FIELDING: The war in Iraq may have helped and may have hurt the war on terror. The point is that the war on terror has to be fought in a methodical way and has to be fought here in the United States. We have to be prepared. We've got to reform our system. We've got to go into those structural defects that we've identified. And that's the way to win the war on Iraq -- on terrorism.
BLITZER: Let me let Richard Ben-Veniste weigh in. He's always a blunt, candid speaker. Did the war on Iraq help or hurt the war on terror, and why is there no reference to that in this final report?
RICHARD BEN-VENISTE, 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: Wolf, we operate under a congressional statute which set the boundaries of our inquiry. We were not authorized to, nor did it come within the scope of our authority to investigate the reasons for the war in Iraq and whether the justifications which were put forward were valid or not. And frankly, the war in Iraq is the third rail in terms of political controversy in this coming election.
Our job was to look at the reasons behind the 9/11 attack.
The only time in which we talked about Iraq was in connection with who was responsible for 9/11. We came to the conclusion that there was no credible evidence to suggest that Iraq played any role in 9/11. That was a unanimous determination by the commission.
And at one hearing we heard evidence from the CIA with respect to present recruiting efforts for al Qaeda, and there was a reference to the fact that recruiting had increased substantially since the war in Iraq. But other than that, we are not empowered to, nor did we get into the various issues regarding the justifications for the invasion of Iraq. BLITZER: Mr. Fielding, the other criticism that Richard Clarke has leveled today is that in order to get unanimity among all 10 members, you also dodged the question whether President Bush paid enough attention to the war on terror during the first nine months in office before 9/11.
What do you say to that criticism?
FIELDING: Well, I'd say that the report again will speak for itself. We analyzed every aspect of the administration of President Bush and we -- the administration of President Clinton. We methodically went through, and if you read our book and you read our report carefully, I think you'll see we have analyzed it.
Facts are facts, and we've put the facts out in exhaustive detail as we found them.
BLITZER: Mr. Ben-Veniste, you agree with that?
BEN-VENISTE: Yes, I do, Wolf. We have spent a great deal of time on the issue of what the Bush administration did from its inception in the transition until the 9/11 attack. We put forward what the president knew and what the president didn't know, and we've done that in extraordinary detail. The president and vice president, as you know, submitted to our interviews, and that information is also incorporated in the report.
BLITZER: Mr. Fielding, you heard Richard Ben-Veniste speak about the alleged connection between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al Qaeda. You do come to the conclusion there were, what you call, friendly contacts, but no evidence of a collaborative nature in advance of 9/11.
What do you mean by "friendly contacts" between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda?
FIELDING: There were extensive contacts that we've found and even more so are delineated in our report than were in the staff report. What we were trying to determine is whether there was an operational connection and an operational collaborative relationship in regard to 9/11, which is our charter. And we just could not find there was sufficient evidence of any of that.
But it's clear that there were relationships over the years starting in the Sudan with al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
BLITZER: Mr. Ben-Veniste, on the whole Samuel -- on the whole Samuel Berger matter, we've only heard in the last few days that he took some documents out of the National Archive -- documents related to your investigation, he shouldn't have taken out.
Practically speaking, how much damage was done as a result of the whole Samuel Berger mishandling of sensitive documents at the National Archives?
BEN-VENISTE: So far as we've been able to determine, absolutely no damage in terms of our ability to access information. We have had the information presented to us that we requested, including the documents, copies of which Mr. Berger is alleged to have taken improperly, and that hasn't affected us one whit in our ability to do our work.
FIELDING: Quite frankly, Wolf, one of the things that we were concerned about was not that it affected our work, but that the attention given to it would detract from the attention that we really want to be focused on, our report and our recommendation.
BEN-VENISTE: I agree. It's unfortunate that this information has leaked out just at the point that we're releasing our report.
BLITZER: When were the two of you -- and first to you, Mr. Fielding -- when were the two of you informed about the whole Sandy Berger incident?
FIELDING: I was not informed about it until I saw it -- actually I guess I heard it on the radio driving into work the other day.
BLITZER: Mr. Ben-Veniste?
BEN-VENISTE: We had no indication from any law enforcement or White House sources or other information other than what suddenly appeared in the media.
BLITZER: It's an exhaustive report, well worth the reading of all of our viewers. Fred Fielding, Richard Ben-Veniste, thanks very much for your public service, thanks very much for joining us today here on CNN.
BEN-VENISTE: Thank you, Wolf.
FIELDING: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And our coverage of the 9/11 report will continue with reaction from Capitol Hill. We've heard from the commissioners, we've heard from the White House -- what will the lawmakers do with all this information?
And new pictures of hostages in Iraq. We'll tell you what their captives -- what the captors are demanding right now.
And surprising revelations regarding the husband of the missing Utah woman.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: In Iraq, there's been heavy fighting between U.S. Marines and insurgents. CNN's Michael Holmes is in Baghdad with details and other key developments.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Various clashes after insurgents ambushed a Marine convoy in the often violent town of Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad. The initial attack: a roadside bomb, then what the military calls a barrage of small-arms fire and RPGs.
U.S. Marines say they killed 25 insurgents, wounded 17, captured 25 during the fighting. Fourteen U.S. servicemen were wounded; none of the injuries said to be life-threatening.
Fighting in Baghdad to running street battles early Thursday around Haifa Street. Weeks in planning, Iraqi police, Iraqi National Guard and U.S. forces carrying out joint raids, which included the use of U.S. tanks and helicopters.
There were sporadic, but heavy, exchanges of fire in the pre-dawn hours. The Interior Ministry says five Iraqis were wounded, 270 arrested -- including what was described as several non-Iraqi Arabs, as well as what the Ministry said were insurgents criminal gangs.
Disturbing pictures obtained by the Arabic-language network al Jazeera showing what's said to be insurgent attacks inside Iraq by a previously unknown group, the Tabook (ph) Missile Squadron. On the tape provided to al Jazeera television, the group is heard threatening Iraqi leaders and police.
New video, too, of seven hostages, all truck drivers, all working for the same Kuwaiti-based company and all under the threat of beheading.
(on camera): The men are from India, Kenya, and Egypt. And those holding them say they will behead one every 72 hours starting Saturday if those three countries don't call all of their citizens out of Iraq and if the men's company doesn't stop doing business here.
(voice-over): Truck driving in Iraq, especially if you're hauling goods for the multinational forces, is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world right now. But some Arab drivers, like this one, are unsympathetic.
"The kidnappers won't harm those who work with the Iraqis," said Radwan al-Hodge (ph), "but if they work for the Americans, then the kidnapping is legitimate."
North of Tikrit, fears for another hostage, a headless body in an orange jumpsuit found by police. Bulgarian authorities are conducting tests to see if it's the second of their citizens kidnapped last month. Another headless corpse, found last week, has been confirmed as being that of the other Bulgarian.
Michael Holmes, CNN, Baghdad.
BLITZER: The 9/11 Commission report clearly out right now, nearly 600 pages. We get reaction from Capitol Hill. We'll talk to two members -- influential members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
And chilling new images of the terrorists, and a missed opportunity to prevent disaster.
Protecting the games: The latest anti-terror efforts under way right now in Athens, Greece.
BLITZER: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting today from Boston.
A celebration of bipartisanship. We'll have reaction from Capitol Hill to the final 9/11 report. We'll get to that.
First, though, a quick check of other stories now in the news.
Officials say at least 139 people are dead after the derailment of a new high-speed Turkish passenger train making its first trip between Istanbul and Ankara. The cause is under investigation.
Salt Lake City, Utah. Police say the husband of missing jogger Lori Hacking is not a suspect in her disappearance. Hacking, who's five weeks pregnant, disappeared Monday. Mark Hacking's truthfulness came into question amid reports he falsely said he had been accepted into medical school.
Keeping you informed, CNN, the most trusted name in news.
The 9/11 report calls for some far-reaching changes on Capitol Hill, including a restructuring of the committees that deal with intelligence, and some lawmakers already are calling for quick action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The fact that they resisted pointing fingers, and instead said, let's solve this problem, starts things off in a great direction. Our worry is that this great report doesn't sit on some shelf and gather dust, because that's the real problem here.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I expect to encounter significant problems. One of the recommendations concerning the committee -- either a joint committee or a committee in each branch having its own budget and its own appropriations and its own authority is going to meet with significant institutional resistance, because you're going to be removing somebody's turf.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So is Congress prepared to act?
Joining us now from Capitol Hill, two influential members of the House. Jane Harman is the senior Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee. Chris Cox is the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
Thanks to both of you for joining us.
Congressman Cox, I'll start with you.
You wrote a very long, thoughtful piece on the editorial page of "The Wall Street Journal" today, critical in part of this 9/11 Commission. Among other things, you said by delaying their report until now, they've effectively prevented the Congress from taking any action so late in this current session. Are you that upset?
REP. CHRISTOPHER COX (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, that is an unfortunate fact of life, and we'll just deal with it. As you know, Congress is now going into recess for the Democratic Convention. We won't come back until after the Republican Convention. We'll have just a few weeks left before the national elections.
And so our earliest opportunity to pass real substantive legislation to effectuate these recommendations will be in the lame- duck session that might occur between the November elections and the January inauguration of a new president. But I don't think there's much question, as I pointed out in "The Wall Street Journal" article that I wrote that you referred to today, that this is going to impel Congress to act.
It's going to help marshal public support for action. And public support on the Congress is one of the things that helps us get things done. We're reading this report carefully. There's an awful lot of factual exposition here, leave aside the relatively small number of specific recommendations that can be the basis for even more good work by the Congress and by the executive blanch. So I think that this report comes at a propitious time. And I don't think there's much question at all that we will act, particularly on such things as making our first-responder grants threat-based, something that I've written legislation on that's about to come to the House floor.
BLITZER: Jane Harman, it looks for all practical purposes that serious consideration of legislation to restructure the whole intelligence community probably not going to happen until the new session of Congress in early next year.
REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, that may be true, but the ideas are now out there.
A number of us in the House have introduced a bill that is strikingly similar to the recommendations in the 9/11 Commission report. In fact, Lee Hamilton said to me yesterday when he briefed some of us that he borrowed a lot of our bill, and I'm certainly happy that he has.
My problem with slow action is this. We have been told by the administration, and I believe this, that we're at a heightened threat level, that there may be attacks sometime during this political season. We all know, there is no secret about this anymore, if there was even before this report came out, that we have challenges to our intelligence capability. We've had major failures over many years. And we know what the problems are.
If we don't fix them while we're at high threat, what are we adding to our preparedness? It seems to me we have to fix them now. The terrorists are not going to check our party registration and they're surely not going to delay their attacks until Congress gets organized.
I want to say about Chris' piece, if I just might, that we agree that major action is needed. I think he and I are two of the only people in this House that strongly agree with the recommendation about making the Homeland Security Committee permanent with real jurisdiction. But there was a tone to Chris' article that I am very disappointed with.
It was strikingly unbipartisan, and that's different from the tone that the commission has sent today.
BLITZER: You did in your article in "The Wall Street Journal," Congressman Cox, go after Samuel Berger, go after Joe Wilson. You did give it, at least at the beginning, the first part of the article, a partisan tone.
COX: Well, actually, I didn't mention anything at all about Joe Wilson in the article.
But I do think that the Sandy Berger problem has come at an unfortunate time, has impaired I think the credibility certainly of Sandy Berger, who was working on behalf of the commission to vet Clinton administration records, but also the commission's work itself. My point is this, that there is this politicization that has occurred.
We have to look beyond that and focus on the good work of the commission. As you know, I'm very highly complimentary of the work they have done, in particular the co-chairs, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton. And I don't think there's any question at all that we will get to a better place as a result of the recommendations, as a result of the work that the 9/11 Commission has done.
BLITZER: I stand corrected on the Joe Wilson matter. But on the Sandy Berger matter, Mr. Chairman, are you suggesting that there's been serious damage to national security?
COX: Well, as you know, yesterday, the day before yesterday it was, I met with Governor Kean and with Lee Hamilton, my former colleague, had a chance to ask them whether the documents that we now know have been destroyed that Sandy Berger took, the classified documents, were documents that the commission staff had had on some prior occasion before they were destroyed reviewed. And they didn't know the answer to that question.
That strikes me, given that we know from public sources that those documents contained some two dozen recommendations about how to respond to Osama bin Laden and the threat in the 1990s, that strikes me as very problematic, because that goes straight to the heart of whether or not the Clinton administration did have serious steps that they took or any opportunity we might have to evaluate their record. And, of course, the person who was vetting these was someone who would himself have been the subject of the investigation. He was a top Clinton administration official at the time.
BLITZER: Jane Harman, there's no doubt that when top secret documents go missing from the National Archives in this manner, this is a serious subject, worthy of serious investigation.
HARMAN: I think the investigation of Sandy Berger should proceed. Many of us are close friends of his. Chris and Sandy Berger and I all went to the same law school many, many years ago, for goodness' sakes.
And the Constitution provides that anyone is innocent until proven guilty. But I want to say this, and I strongly urge that the facts be accurate. No original documents are missing from the National Archives. Every single document that the Archives has on this issue was furnished to the 9/11 Commission. I think it is curious that the leak of this investigation came out this week, just to coincide with the release of the 9/11 Commission report.
I also think it's curious that over six months ago the White House counsel, Gonzales, briefed Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean about the existence of this FBI investigation. I think that is bizarre and I think that needs to be explained.
BLITZER: And there will be a lot more discussion of this and all the other matters down the road. I want to thank both of you for joining us.
Chris Cox, Jane Harman, thanks to both of you once again.
Terror on tape, new video of the 9/11 hijackers going through airport security.
And families react to the 9/11 Commission report. I'll speak to a couple who lost their son.
We'll get all of that. First, some other news making headlines around the world.
BLITZER (voice-over): There were hugs and tears in the Philippines for returning a Filipino truck driver held hostage in Iraq. The 46-year-old father was freed after the Philippine government gave in to the kidnappers by withdrawing its peacekeeping force from Iraq.
Bosnian bridge. The Old Bridge of Mostar, destroyed during the Bosnian war in the mid 1990s, is reopening. Many residents of the still ethnically divided town say the replica of the 16th century masterpiece can help heal the wounds of the conflict. Olympic security. The Greek Navy conducted an anti-terror training exercise in preparation for next month's Summer Games in Athens. It was the last of eight such operations carried out since 2001.
Whale tale. It's whale-watching season in Australia. And people are packing tour boats in a bid to see massive animals. Each year, the whales travel 6,000 miles from feeding grounds in Antarctica to Australia's warmer waters.
And that's our look around the world.
BLITZER: As Americans begin to leaf through the final report of the independent commission investigating the 9/11 attacks, there are also some disturbing new pictures to consider. They're from a security checkpoint at a D.C. airport where five of the 9/11 hijackers boarded the American Airlines jet that ultimately crashed into the Pentagon.
BLITZER (voice-over): They are grainy images made by security cameras at Washington's Dulles International Airport before American Airlines Flight 77 took off. The Associated Press says the man wearing a yellow shirt and blue trousers is Khalid al-Midhar. It says the man wearing a white shirt and light-colored trousers is Majed Moqed.
The pictures are extremely chilling, especially for those who lost loved ones aboard Flight 77.
DEBRA BURLINGAME, SISTER OF SEPTEMBER 11 VICTIM: It was really hard. It was really hard seeing that. Those are the guys that killed my brother.
BLITZER: The men believed to be al-Midhar and Moqed both set off alarms and both are directed through a second magnetometer.
The man identified by AP as al-Midhar does not cause the second device to go off and he's allowed to pass through. Al-Midhar's name had been placed on a watch list just weeks earlier. The man identified by AP as Moqed fails the second magnetometer test, but after a personal inspection with a hand wand, he too is allowed to pass through.
The 9/11 Commission says a third hijacker, Hani Hanjour, passed through Dulles without setting off any alarms. One minute later, two men the AP identifies as Salem al-Hazmi and his brother, Nawaf al- Hazmi, go through the checkpoint. The man identified as Nawaf al- Hazmi sets off an alarm and is checked with a hand wand. His bag is checked for explosives, but eventually the brothers are allowed to pass through. Like al-Midhar, Nawaf al-Hazmi is on a government watch list. Ironically, even if security guards had found knives or box-cutters, it's unlikely they would have done anything. At the time, there were no rules against carrying those items on planes.
FRAN TOWNSEND, WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: I think the thing that's really important for those families and the victims to remember is how much we've done to make sure that, if you went through that checkpoint today the way they did, it would be an entirely different process.
BURLINGAME: I just have hope going forward that there's no family that has to look at a tape like that ever again going forward.
BLITZER: Dramatic video, indeed.
The ones left behind by an act of hate react to the 9/11 report. My conversation with a mother and father who lost their son, that's coming up next.
BLITZER: Very emotional reaction today from relatives of those killed on September 11.
Earlier, I spoke with two of them after the 9/11 report was released.
BLITZER: Matt and Loreen Sellitto, thanks very much for joining us. First of all, our deepest condolences to you and your entire family on the loss of your son, Matthew.
Matt, he was 23 years old working for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 105th floor at the World Trade Center. You remember that day obviously very vividly. What do you think of these recommendations, this report from the 9/11 Commission?
MATT SELLITTO, FATHER OF SEPTEMBER 11 VICTIM: Well, we were called in prior to the press conference and went over a few of the points that this book came out.
So, obviously, I haven't really had to time to go through the whole book. But from the points that were brought out, I think they're valid and I think they're important. I think Tom Kean did a stellar job in producing this report and keeping the whole commission on task and not letting it break up into partisan politics.
BLITZER: Loreen, let me ask you the same question. What's your reaction?
LOREEN SELLITTO, MOTHER OF SEPTEMBER 11 VICTIM: I was very pleased. I think when anything of this nature comes out, one can always dissect and find something negative. But I think that we have to be above and beyond it. There are recommendations that have been made today. As one of the commissioners stated in the press conference, which I'm sure you covered, if there's other recommendations that are better, then let our president or our Congress bring them forth.
Right now, we have something that can be worked on, that can make a difference for all of us as Americans. And we really want to see our government rise to the occasion and make this country a better place for every single one of us.
BLITZER: Loreen, is there any one thing that you think the federal government must do right now that would reassure you?
L. SELLITTO: Yes, I do. If there's one thing I could bring to the forefront, it certainly has to be our immigration policy, or lack of one.
I think that more needs to be done. It should be a priority. Fighting terrorism in this country should be -- and protecting every American should be the priority of every elected official. And I am looking to see that major changes are done for the screening of who comes into this country and the accountable of people when they do come in.
BLITZER: Matt, let me ask the same question to you. Is there anything else you want to see done right now?
M. SELLITTO: Well, I wouldn't put it in a statement as something done right now, but here's the crux of it. This report is just the beginning. This commission did their job, and I think did it well.
But the people who have to implement it are our Congress and our president. And that's the important thing that has to get across to the American people. This is just a bunch of paper if our Congress and our president don't put this into action. So we as Americans across the country should do due diligence making sure our politicians put those recommendations that this committee came up with into reality.
BLITZER: Matt and Loreen Sellitto, once again, our deepest condolences to you on this day. I am sure nothing that this commission or any other commission could do could ever, ever ease your pain. I'm sure you go through it every single day, and our heart go out to you. Thanks very much for joining us.
M. SELLITTO: Well, it's people like you that will keep it in the forefront and keep an eye on things so that these suggestions become law. Thank you.
BLITZER: We will continue to report the news, as we do every single day. Thanks to both of you for joining us.
L. SELLITTO: You're welcome.
M. SELLITTO: You're welcome.
BLITZER: And we'll have the results of our Web question of the day, that's just ahead.
BLITZER: Here are the results of our Web question of the day. Take a look. Remember, though, it's not a scientific poll.
I'll see you tomorrow from the FleetCenter, the site of the Democratic Convention here in Boston.
"LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starts right now.
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