Background of the Report

Background of the
Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities
Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001

aka: The Joint Congressional Inquiry (JCI)


September 11, 2001       The "attacks"
December, 2001 Senate vote to do an investigation (over objections of Chairmen)
February 14, 2002 Announcement of the JCI (after 5-month delay, given 6 months to finish)
December 20, 2002 Report approved and filed with the Senate and House
July, 2003 Final release after Intelligence Community identified parts to be classified and redacted on grounds of national security, including 28 pages in which it was hinted evidence was mentioned implicating the Saudi government in 9/11.

Some of the many problems with the JCI

  • Size -- It involved only a small number of Senate and House members (37).
  • Conflicts of interest -- A high percentage of these were insiders with long-term connections to the very intelligence apparatus they'd be investigating.
  • Limited Scope -- The JCI could look only into intelligence "failures" preceding the terrorist attacks.
  • Secrecy -- The Intelligence Committees basic operation is oriented toward secrecy rather than an open investigation, and limiting it to intelligence issues solidified that.
  • Obstruction -- Its requests for documents often stymied, and received only a small portion of the requested documents.
  • Interference -- The Whitehouse harassed the JCI investigators and censored their report.
  • FBI -- The FBI was investigating the JCI members while the JCI was investigating the FBI.

A history of delays and leaks

It's important to note up front that both so-called "investigations" into 9/11, The Joint Congressional Inquiry (2002) and the 9/11 Commission Report, were both limited investigations with many omissions and distortions. They were both essentially flawed, incomplete cover-up investigations. As can be seen from the title of the JCI, its mission was to investigate the intelligence community activities to learn how they failed to protect the country from the alleged terrorists. They accepted the Bush administrations account of what happened and only investigated the failures within various intelligence gathering agencies. Its scope was very limited. They assumed that OBL and Al Queda orchestrated 9/11 and never sought to verify these claims by the Bush administration. And instead of addressing the reports that several of the alleged hijackers were alive after 9/11, the JCI ignored them.

Congressional leaders involved in intelligence manners were not anxious for an investigation. A serious investigation could become a political to liability to both parties, involving both the Clinton and Bush Administrations [1]. In November, JCI cochairmen Senator Bob Graham and Rep. Porter Goss and vice-chairman Sen. Richard Shelby were on record as saying it was too early, that senior intelligence officials shouldn't be diverted from the war on terrorism [2]. The next month it was the same thing [3]. Graham is reported to have gone so far as to say "Once the possibility of fresh attacks by 'sleepers' already in the United States has diminished, the time will be ripe," [4] -- in effect, don't find out how we failed to stop this attack until after any others have happened.

In December, Congress finally voted to conduct an investigation [5], in response to the lobbying efforts of the victims' family members, some members of Congress and a few independent news sources. "Clearly the establishment didn't want anyone questioning its official narrative; its resistance to investigating 9/11 was unprecedented" never before had Americans seen such a delayed inquiry into a national calamity." [6]

Despite this, the Bush Administration was pushing to avoid an investigation. On January 24, Cheney called Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and even then urged him not to launch an investigation, in a tone characterized as "polite but threatening." Cheney said that if the Democrats push for an investigation, the White House will portray them as undermining the war on terror. Four days later, Bush called with the same message, and Daschle subsequently continued to get pressure. [7]

Eventually the Bush administration finally agreed to a joint investigation by the two Intelligence Committees. But it was it was hamstrung from the beginning:

  • it was to be led by two signficant insiders -- Graham and Goss,
  • it was to be carried out by committees whose proceedings frequently remained secret, and
  • its scope was seriously limited. Graham: it will not play "the blame game about what went wrong from an intelligence perspective"; Goss: "This particular effort focuses on the broader issues of terrorism worldwide, our capacity to counter terrorist activities and our preparedness to protect the American people at home and abroad." [8] None of this, of course, posed any deep question of the Official Conspiracy Theory.

It wasn't until February that the JCI was announced [9].

All of the other investigations into national tragedies, like the JFK assassination, began within roughly one week after the event.

The delay allowed time for much of the evidence at the WTC site to be shipped overseas or destroyed. It also allowed the time needed for the molten metal present at ground zero for several months after 9/11 to cool and solidify, thus taking away important evidence that something hotter than jet fuel and office fires brought down the towers. Also by the time the inquiry began the erroneous official account of what happened had been repeated over and over again by the corporate, and many alternative media, to the effect that most Americans believed it to be true.

In response to an alleged leak from the JCI, Chairman Senator "Bob Graham called a special meeting of JCI leaders to placate Cheney. They "requested" the DOJ conduct a criminal inquiry into whether anyone leaked information. In response, the FBI built dossiers on members and staffers and was investigating them while they were investigating the FBI.

"The JCI squandered a lot of resources investigating itself."


  1. Inquiries Into Failures of Intelligence Community Are Put Off Until Next Year, NYT, 11/23/2001
    (printable PDF)
  2. Ibid
  3. Reticence on a Failure Of Intelligence May End, NYT, 12/14/2001
    (printable PDF)
  4. Bob Graham and the Missing 9/11 Report Pages, Kevin Ryan, 5/12/2015
    (printable PDF)
  5. Further delay in US congressional investigation into September 11 attacks, 3/6/2002
    (printable PDF)
  6. Mounting Evidence: Why We Need A New Investigation Into 9/11, Paul Rea, p.115
  7. January 24, 2002: President Bush and Vice President Cheney Pressure Senator Daschle to Avoid 9/11 Inquiry, History Commons
  8. Senate and House Intelligence Committees Announce Joint Inquiry into the September 11th Terrorist Attacks, Press Release, 02/14/2002
  9. Ibid, Senate press release, 2/14/2002

Page updated: 2 June 2016