Terrorism & Extremism

9/11 Commission's 2004 Interview of Bush and Cheney Declassified

Hyemin Han
Tuesday, November 15, 2022, 4:58 PM

The notes, which give details on the administration’s response to the 9/11 attacks, were declassified by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel close to a decade after the appeal was initially submitted.

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On Nov. 9, the U.S. government declassified notes of the interview that then-President George W. Bush and then-Vice President Dick Cheney gave to 9/11 Commission members on April 29, 2004. The interview summary (the notes for which were drafted by Commission executive director Philip Zelikow, and parts of which remain redacted) details Bush and Cheney’s thought processes behind decisions made before, during, and after the 9/11 attacks. Among other topics, the summary details discussion about Cheney’s authorities to direct military responses on 9/11, intelligence on Osama Bin Laden prior to the 9/11 attacks, and the administration’s perspective on CIA authorities.

The Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, which declassified the document, was established by Executive Order 13526 (2009)—an order from the Obama administration that sought to address a balance between national security safeguards and the public’s right to know critical information about government proceedings, in part by establishing the Panel in Sec. 5.3(b)(3). The appeal for declassification was originally submitted in 2012. 

You can read the memo here or below:


Hyemin Han is an associate editor of Lawfare and is based in Washington, D.C. Previously, she worked in eviction defense and has interned on Capitol Hill and with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. She holds a BA in government from Dartmouth College, where she was editor-in-chief of The Dartmouth independent daily.

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