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.
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The result of months of intensive investigations and inquiries by a specially appointed bipartisan panel, The 9/11 Commission Report is one of the most important historical documents of the modern era. And while that fact alone makes it worth owning, it is also a chilling and valuable piece of nonfiction: a comprehensive and alarming look at one of the biggest intelligence failures in history and the events that led up to it. The commission traces the roots of al-Qaeda's strategies along with the emergence of the 19 hijackers and how they entered the United States and boarded airplanes. It details the missed opportunities of law enforcement officials to avert disaster. Using transcripts of cockpit voice recordings, the report describes events on board the planes along with the chaotic reaction on the ground from nearly every level of government. Going forward, the commission calls for a comprehensive overhaul of what it sees as a deeply flawed and disjointed intelligence-gathering operation. The creation of a post for a single National Security Director is recommended, along with the creation of a National Counterterrorism Center. The report finds fault with the approaches of both the Clinton and Bush administrations but, because they were a bipartisan panel and the problems described are so systemic and far-reaching, they stop short of assigning blame to any particular person or group. Credit must be given to how readable the report is. At more than 500 pages, the writing is clear and forceful and the information is made more accessible since it is fre from election politics and rancor. While the commission notes that future attacks are probably inevitable, a coordinated preventive effort along with a clear plan to respond with efficiency can offer Americans some hope in a post-9/11 world. --John MoeAbout the Author:
The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, also known as the 9/11 Commission, was an independent, bipartisan panel chaired by Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton.
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