As President Bush signed into law legislation creating a blue-ribbon commission to investigate the government’s failures in the months and years leading up to the September 11th attacks, Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman issued the following statement:
President Bush’s signing today of the bill creating a non-political citizens’ commission to investigate the September 11th attacks is a clear statement of a basic American principle: we must learn from the past in order to secure a better future. George Washington once said we should look back “to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dear-brought experience.” That is the precise mission of this commission—to better understand what went wrong so we can prevent such a catastrophic attack from ever happening again.
Senator McCain and I introduced our bill last December, and as we went forward we were motivated by the wrenching pleas of the families of victims of September 11. What they said was profoundly persuasive. Above and beyond the grief of their loss, they endured terrible pain because they did not know the whole story, and feared they might never be able to tell their children that their government had learned every possible lesson from its own fatal failures. It was a tribute to the power of their message that the commission passed the Senate by a resounding vote of 90-8 on September 24.
Now, as the bill becomes law, it’s our shared responsibility to appoint members with the independence, intellect, and integrity to do the job right. Henry Kissinger is an ideal choice to head the commission, and I am confident he will be surrounded by equally eminent men and women. If we do this right, the commission’s full, fair, and unflinching assessment of what went wrong will be of immediate value to the new Department of Homeland Security, which will close the gaps that are uncovered. And it will be of lasting value to the American people, who will finally discover the unvarnished truth.