9/11 commission plans to release additional staff reports

By Chris Strohm

July 23, 2004

The 9/11 commission plans to release several specialized staff studies that cover terrorist financing, border and immigration issues and transportation security, a commission official said Friday.

The commission released a 567-page final report Thursday that is only "the tip of a much larger iceberg of work the staff has done," said the official, who asked not to be identified.

"Some of this is work that we think is of high enough quality that it is publishable," he said. "We are now doing a [review] of which of the staff work is in sufficiently polished condition."

Four unclassified studies are expected to be released covering terrorism financing; border security, immigration and visa policy; aviation and transportation security, and a history of U.S. counterterroism policy from 1968 to 1992, the official said.

"If we have to bring anything out in classified form, it will be published by the CIA and made available in classified channels," he added.

The final report made dozens of recommendations for changing U.S. policy and overhauling the management structure of federal agencies, especially within the intelligence community.

On terrorist financing, the commission recommended the government follow money trails in order to gain additional intelligence.

"In contrast, terrorist travel, which we think is at least as powerful a tool as terrorism money … has not gotten anything like the attention that's been given to terrorist financing," the official said.

The commission made a number of recommendations related to border and transportation security, particularly the need to invest more in maritime, surface transportation, air cargo, general aviation and rail security.

"In some ways, our most important point about transportation security is that it's much more than passenger aviation," the official said. "We make a point that more than 90 percent of the money we're spending on transportation security is being spent to win the last war. It's being spent on aviation and passenger aviation security."

The official noted the government is already pursuing programs and policies related to many of the commission's recommendations in the areas of border and transportation security, but on an "ad hoc, fragmented basis."

"This is a very natural phenomenon when you have … an explosion of government activity, which we just experienced over the last two and a half years," he said. "There's a lot of stuff going on in a lot of different places. Now you should, if the government works right, be at a state where you reflect and evaluate and collectively organize this explosion."

By Chris Strohm

July 23, 2004