The ten members of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (known as the 9-11 Commission) have initiated a nationwide public education campaign for the purpose of making America safer and more secure. In so doing, the commissioners will give people throughout America the opportunity to participate in a debate that has been limited largely to those inside the Washington Beltway.
Following the July 22, 2004, release of its official 567-page report, the 9-11 Commission, in accordance with its founding statute, disbanded as a government entity on August 21, 2004. All ten commissioners believe, however, that it is critical to educate the public on the issue of terrorism and what can be done to make the country safer. They would like to do so by reaching out, in bipartisan pairs, to communities around the country, encouraging a national conversation on these critical issues. In the absence of such an effort, they are concerned that there will be insufficient public examination of how the lessons learned from the terrorist attacks can be used to shape public policy. The perils of inaction are far too high-and the strategic value of the Commission’s findings too important-for the work of 9-11 Commission not to continue.
For this reason, the ten commissioners have formed a 501(c)(3) organization – the 9-11 Public Discourse Project – aimed at fulfilling the 9-11 Commission’s original mandate of guarding against future terrorist attacks, while adhering strictly to the same bipartisan and independent principles that have guided it over the last twenty months. This new organization, intended to remain in effect for one year, consists of the same leadership of the 9-11 Commission, including its commissioners, who now serve as the Board of Directors of the 9-11 Public Discourse Project.
The 9/11 Public Discourse Project wishes to thank those who have contributed funding for the Project.
Rationale for a Public Campaign
It is the consensus view of the 9-11 Commission members that there must be a national debate on how future attacks can be prevented, and that they can make an important contribution to this process. The rationale for this view is as follows:
This is a critically important debate for the future of this nation, yet a greater percentage of the people need to participate in the consideration of the 9-11 Commission’s findings and their implications for public policy. By engaging in a national education campaign, the commissioners hope to use the information and insights they developed to increase broader public understanding of these issues.
The former Commissioners are independent and bipartisan. None of the commissioners holds public office. There are five Democrats and five Republicans who have worked together to produce a unanimous report, filed without dissent or separate views. Throughout, the commissioners’ public appearances have been bipartisan.
The need is immediate. The Commission has challenged policy-makers to consider its report and to act. Therefore, the moment for public education on these critical issues is now.
The Public Education Campaign
Led by Chair Thomas H. Kean and Vice Chair Lee H. Hamilton, the Board of Directors of the 9/11 Public Discourse Project will undertake a year-long, nationwide public education campaign, beginning in September 2004 in an effort to accomplish the following objectives:
enhancing the understanding of American citizens of the nature of the terrorist threat;
examining key policy issues contained in the 9-11 Commission’s final report.
The campaign will target a variety of audiences, including the following:
national and local news media;
think tank scholars;
former policymakers with national security interest;
state and local policymakers;
relevant trade groups and associations.
The project’s small staff will:
serve as an information clearing house – responding to public and media inquiries regarding the work of the 9-11 Commission;
organize commissioner representation at town hall meetings – providing a public forum for citizens to evaluate how best to safeguard America;
organize commissioner response to speaking opportunities – responding to requests for commissioners to speak at venues that will reach into universities, civic organizations and gatherings of opinion leaders;
arrange editorial board meetings – informing the leadership of news outlets on the issues;
respond to inquiries from executive and legislative policymakers – enunciating the findings and recommendations of the 9-11 Commission; and
communicate directly with opinion leaders – conducting informational briefings with think tank scholars, academic leaders and other public policy experts.