'NORAD provided us and the public with a highly erroneous history of what happened ...'
On Sept. 11, 2001, former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton was at a conference in Leavenworth, Wash. He'd gone out for an early morning run when he got word a plane had flown into the World Trade Center in New York. He drove home to Seattle over a Steven's Pass, which had almost no traffic on it, trying to absorb the news of the attacks.
Gorton was later tapped to serve on the 9/11 Commission by President George Bush. He considers the work he did some of the most important of his life.
Gorton, reflecting on the work of the 9-11 Commission (officially known as The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States) says the lasting impact will be the "objective history" the Commission provided.
"We decided implicitly from the very beginning that if we couldn't reach a unanimous decision on the past, we were going to be a failure. And the way to reach a unanimous decision was not to express opinions. So we wrote a totally factual history. Now, you can read the report and say someone screwed up, it was Bush's fault, it was Clinton's fault, but we didn't say that."
Gorton says this was particularly important because there was a lot of inaccurate information being disseminated.
"NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) provided us and the public with a highly erroneous history of what happened and the order in which it happened. It took us quite a time to dig it out," Gorton said.
Gorton says the political nature of the Commission – half Republican appointees, half Democrat – was criticized by the families of the 9/11 victims. But, he says, after the report came out they were the Commission's strongest supporters, successfully pushing Congress to enact many of the Commission recommendations.
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