Statement in Defense of Philip Zelikow


A new book, The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, by Philip Shenon, purports to describe the inner workings of the 9/11 Commission. The book levels an assortment of charges at the Commission’s Executive Director Philip Zelikow. The book’s clear implication is that Zelikow, because of his links to the Bush Administration, used his position to try to distort the findings of the Commission in order to protect the Administration from blame for failing to prevent the 9/11 attacks.

The 9/11 Commissioners, in a statement they issued on February 8, 2008 emphasized their jointly held view that “The author is mistaken in his criticism of the role of Executive Director Philip Zelikow. The proper standard for judgment is the quality of the report, and there is no basis for the allegations of bias he asserts.” As senior members of the 9/11 Commission staff, we wish to add our voices to those of the Commissioners.

We stand by the accuracy and quality of the Report we helped to research and write. Many of us came to the Commission from long careers in public service. We were not – nor could we be -- manipulated or cowed by anyone into distorting the factual record. Executive Director Zelikow himself implemented a process of investigation, writing, and review that assured that no one person’s views could skew the Report.

Among other things, Zelikow deserves credit for subjecting all views – including his own – to that rigorous research, writing, review, and editing process. As the 9/11 Commissioners have made clear, moreover, they participated actively in strategic investigative decisions and reviewed literally every word of every draft. The result is history that we believe will stand the test of time.

It is not our intention, here, to address Shenon’s book point-by-point. We believe, however, that it is important that the public understand that any claim that Zelikow somehow caused The 9/11 Commission Report to be inaccurate or politically skewed is utterly without merit.

Christopher A. Kojm
Deputy Executive Director

Daniel Marcus
General Counsel

Steven M. Dunne
Deputy General Counsel

John J. Farmer, Jr.
Senior Counsel & Team Leader

Alvin S. Felzenberg
Deputy for Communications

Susan Ginsburg
Senior Counsel & Team Leader

Barbara A. Grewe
Senior Counsel, Special Projects

L. Christine Healey
Senior Counsel & Team Leader

C. Michael Hurley
Senior Counsel & Team Leader

Douglas J. MacEachin
Professional Staff Member & Team Leader

John Roth
Senior Counsel & Team Leader

Kevin J. Scheid
Professional Staff Member & Team Leader

Dietrich L. Snell
Senior Counsel & Team Leader


Daniel Byman
Professional Staff Member

Related Links

  • Zelikow supporters cite more errors in Philip Shenon's book about the 9-11 Commission 5/18/08
  • Philip Zelikow vs. Eric Alterman: The 9-11 Commission controversy
  • Max Holland: Review of Shenon book

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    More Comments:

    Alonzo Hamby - 2/26/2008

    I doubt that Joseph Douglas has any idea who these people are or who Zelikow is. In fact, he is a respected historian with an elite academic background. Mostly for that reason he succeeded in putting together a report that people actually read and that most still respect as an outstanding example of the genre.

    Joseph C. Douglas - 2/26/2008

    Ah, a bunch of lawyers trying to salvage the reputation of another Bush lackey. Does anyone believe the 9/11 commission wasn't chosen in part to limit political damage to Bush, you know, over stuff like the PDB on Ibn Laden? And they did their job admirably - whitewash Bush and limit discussion. Oh, and these oh so connected attorneys don't have the guts or evidence to refute the accusations, they just protest that "our guy was a good guy."

    Brilliant work, mouthpieces. So why does it reek of BS?