|Ben Rhodes||Sharon Coleman|
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 27, 2003 --- The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States today announced the selection of Dr. Philip Zelikow as its executive director.
The independent commission, created by congressional legislation and the signature of president George W. Bush in late 2002, is chartered to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. The Commission is also mandated to provide recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.
The 10-person commission comprising five Republican and five Democratic appointees is chaired by Thomas H. Kean, former New Jersey governor, and Lee H. Hamilton, former Indiana congressman, who serves as vice-chair. Other Republican members of the Commission are former U.S. Navy Secretary John Lehman, attorney Fred Fielding, former Washington Senator Slade Gorton and former Illinois Governor James Thompson. Additional Democratic Commission members are former Georgia Senator Max Cleland, former Indiana Congressman Tim Roemer, attorney Richard Ben Veniste and Jamie Gorelick, vice-chair of Fannie Mae.
“The entire commission met this morning for the first time in executive session to address key issues, including the designation of an executive director,” said Governor Kean. “Today’s meeting resulted in significant progress regarding staffing, processes, scheduling and logistics for the Commission. I am confident this bipartisan team will distinguish itself by fulfilling its historic mission to provide the American public with valuable insight into the circumstances leading up to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and, just as importantly, provide recommendations regarding how we can better protect the American people.”
Following the executive session meeting, Commissioners were able to meet informally with representatives from the families of the victims of September 11th. Congressman Hamilton noted, “This independent Commission will dedicate itself to a fair and thorough investigation that will seek to learn the crucial lessons of September 11, 2001. Members of the Commission understand that they are working on behalf of the safety and security of the American people and the thousands of families who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001, and that this is the most important factual inquiry they will participate in during their lifetimes.”
Executive director Zelikow is currently director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, and served as executive director of the bipartisan National Commission on Federal Electoral Reform, co-chaired by former presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald R. Ford. “Phil Zelikow is a man of high stature who has distinguished himself as an academician, lawyer, author and public servant,” said Governor Kean. Congressman Hamilton added, “Dr. Zelikow will be an extremely capable staff director. He brings a great breadth of skills and experience to the task.”
The Commission announced plans to hold a second executive session on Wednesday, February 12th, which will be accompanied by a press availability.