A Look Back At The 9/11 Commission

Report issued by the independent commission investigating the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks
Following the attacks of Sept. 11, the independent 9/11 Commission was created to generate an account of the circumstances surrounding the attacks. In addition to exposing the failures that led to the attacks, the final report set goals and made recommendations on how to achieve them.

What was the 9/11 Commission?

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (known as the "9/11 Commission") was an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and President Bush in late 2002. Its mission was to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, including how to prepare for the possibility of a future attack. The commission was also mandated to provide recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.

On July 22, 2004, the commission released its public report, which you can read here.

How many people served on the Commission?

The commission had nearly 80 full-time employees on staff. All the commissioners and staff have received the security clearances they need to carry on the investigation. Thomas Kean was the commission chairman and Lee Hamilton was the vice chairman.

How many people were interviewed for the account?

As of March 15, 2004, more than 1,000 individuals in 10 countries were interviewed. The commission has also held 10 days of public hearings to date, during which it received testimony from 110 federal, state and local officials, and experts from the private sector.

What were the major findings?

In addition to exposing the failures that led to the attacks, the final report of the Sept. 11 commission set goals and made recommendations on how to achieve them. The commission concluded that lack of communication among U.S. intelligence agencies contributed to the inability of government officials to stop the attacks. The report called for a three-pronged global strategy, and the creation of a new intelligence center and high-level intelligence director.

Click here for an interactive guide to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and here for an examination of how safe our country is five years later.

What did the commission say was al Qaeda's plan on Sept. 11?

The commission reports al Qaeda originally envisioned a much larger attack and is working hard to strike again, most likely in the form of a chemical, radiological or biological attack.

The commission staff said Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed initially outlined an attack involving 10 aircraft targeting both U.S. coasts. Mohammed proposed that he pilot one of the planes, kill all the male passengers, land the plane at a U.S. airport and make a "speech denouncing U.S. policies in the Middle East before releasing all the women and children," the report said.

Bin Laden rejected that plan as too complex, deciding instead on four aircraft piloted by hand-picked suicide operatives.

Could 9/11 have been prevented?

Thomas Kean, the chairman of the commission said publicly in December 2003 that 9/11 could have and should have been prevented.

"There are people that, if I was doing the job, would certainly not be in the position they were in at that time because they failed. They simply failed," Kean said. But on May 16, 2002, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said, "I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile."

To learn more about the 9/11 Commission and Sept. 11:

The September 11 Digital Archive

CBSNews.com provides you with more information here about the commission's findings, a video archive, testimony from officials, and transcripts from the public hearings.

Families of September 11

• The official site of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

• Read more from the 9/11 Commission Report

• What was the Environmental Protection Agency's response to 9/11? Read it here.