5,529. 12/17/2003

In preparing for the 9/11 Commission Report, the commissioners and staff asked the question: “Could we have prevented 9/11? We were asked this question over and over again, particularly after [Commission co-chair] Tom [Kean]‘s December [17] 2003 interview with CBS. Lurking in the background was the notion of accountability and politics: Should President Clinton or President Bush have prevented 9/11? But once again, the issue was not that clear-cut. The attacks of 9/11 were preventable in the sense that they did not have to happen, but the government lacked precise intelligence about the plot; the commission could not point to one presidential decision and say that it failed to prevent 9/11. Both President Clinton and President Bush could have done more to fight al Qaeda, but they were not going to personally stop hijackers at the border or track intelligence leads.”

 – Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, Without Precedent, Page 277

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