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letter Congressman Eric Cantor sent to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States.

Location: Washinton, DC

Chairman Thomas H. Kean
National Commission on Terrorist
Attacks upon the United States
301 7th Street, SW
Room 5125
Washington, DC 20407
April 15, 2004
Dear Commissioner Kean:
As an American and Member of Congress, I have watched the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States proceedings with great interest. I am deeply disturbed by the partisan nature of the hearings and the opinionated statements and dogmatic interviews from some of the Commissioners. Congress charged the Commission, the entire Commission, with a sacred duty to find truth and avoid partisanship and sensationalism. So far, the Commission has failed in this responsibility.
Unfortunately, the recent tone of the Commission has become that of opportunism and assigning blame. I have observed hearings and interviews in which allegedly impartial members of the fact-finding Commission are clearly attacking for partisan gain. I would like an explanation as to why Commission members are granting interviews and sharing opinions before the investigation has been completed.
The Commission has been asked to be judges of our preparation for and response to the 9-11 attacks, not to be advocates, shills or ideologues for a cause or party. I do not look to silence the Commission, but to encourage an unbiased search for truth.
The Commission was created to examine the weaknesses and strengths in our national security network. The Commission's charge is to ascertain, evaluate, and report on the evidence developed by all relevant governmental agencies regarding the facts and circumstances surrounding the 9-11 attacks, the solutions put into place after that attack, as well as suggest new alternatives to further buttress homeland security.
The Commission is a separate, non-partisan entity created to build upon previous House and Senate 9-11 investigations and not be influenced by Congress. I agree with this necessary separation and am very reluctant to see Congress react before the Commission has had time to examine the facts and issue a comprehensive report.
The Commission's myopic approach is too concentrated on pointing a finger at a single action or an individual rather than examining the long-term, systemic problems that led us to 9-11 and measuring the effectiveness of the broad-based reforms that were put in place after 9-11.
The decade-long pattern of attacks against Americans and American interests should have been a wakeup call to the federal law enforcement and intelligence communities. It appears that barriers were put in place between agencies, atrophy set in, counterterrorism funding was cut and a coordinated national response was lacking. This was not an eight-month problem of President Bush's, but rather a systemic decade-long problem.
What has also been lacking from these hearings is a review and evaluation of the lessons learned since September 11th. Those attacks made Americans realize that we must take steps to improve security. With the leadership of the President, Congress took bold measures to make those changes. Now we need to know if those efforts were enough, or if there is more we can do to protect lives.
It is my hope that the Commission will not remain hijacked by politics. Americans died on Sept. 11, 2001 and more have died since trying to protect America. Ideological demagoguery must not replace the Commission's duty to do everything possible to examine the complete responses of both Presidents Clinton and Bush to worldwide terrorism.
The American people expect a real and valuable product from the Commission. They expect a report that is not a short-term tool for partisan gain but a timeless guide that dissects a national tragedy and offers valuable analysis and prevention. With these goals in mind, I hope that the Commission will renew its commitment to examine these weighty national issues accurately and fairly.
Hon. Eric Cantor

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