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Quotes - 9/11 Commission member said Commission was setup to fail

This page contains a quote used by conspiracy theorists that has been further researched. For more information about our quotes database, please see the introduction.


This quote is used by conspiracy theorists to attempt to make Lee Hamilton look like he was very dissatisfied with the 9/11 Commission and Commission Report:

"I don't believe for a minute we got everything right", that the Commission was set up to fail, that people should keep asking questions about 9/11, that the 9/11 debate should continue, and that the 9/11 Commission report was only "the first draft" of history.

Quote Status: Out of Context
Attributed to: Lee Hamilton
Category: 9/11; 9/11 Commission
Submitted By: Edward L Winston

Actual Details

As with many cases, using the same source as conspiracy theorists we come with with a more than slightly different explanation:

At the beginning of the interview where the quotes originate, something most conspiracy theorists obviously didn't read, we get Lee's view of the Commission and Commission report (my emphasis):
Solomon: Do you consider the 9/11 Commission to have been a success, and if so, under what ways do you measure that success? How do you call it a success?

Hamilton: The 9/11 Commission was created by statute. We had two responsibilities - first, tell the story of 9/11; I think we've done that reasonably well. We worked very hard at it; I don't know that we've told the definitive story of 9/11, but surely anybody in the future who tackles that job will begin with the 9/11 Commission Report. I think we've been reasonably successful in telling the story. It became a best seller in this country and people showed a lot of interest in it.

Our second task was to make recommendations; thus far, about half of our recommendations have been enacted into law, the other half have not been enacted. So we've got a ways to go. In a quantitative sense, we've had about 50% success there. In a qualitative sense, you could judge it many different ways. But we still have some very important recommendations that we think have not yet been enacted that should be.

That doesn't really sound like what conspiracy theorists are saying.

Going on:
Hamilton: I don't believe for a minute that we got everything right. We wrote a first draft of history.
We wrote it under a lot of time pressure, and we sorted through the evidence as best we could.

Now, it would be really rather remarkable if we got everything right. So far, of the things that have been brought up challenging the report, to my knowledge, we have more credibility than the challenger. But I would not for a moment want to suggest that that's always true, either in the past or in the future. People will be investigating 9/11 for the next hundred years in this country, and they're going to find out some things that we missed here.

So I don't automatically reject all the evidence you cite. It may be we missed it, it may be we ignored it when we shouldn't have - I don't think we did, but it's possible.

So, while he thinks they certainly got some things wrong, he still thinks they're more correct than conspiracy theorists. Interesting how the conspiracy theorists don't include that part of the quote.

Setup to fail:
Solomon: You write.. the first chapter of the book is 'the Commission was set up to fail.' - my goodness, for the critics - who suggest that it was indeed set up to fail as some kind of obfuscation - you certainly dangled a juicy piece of bait out there in the river. Why do you think you were set up to fail?

Hamilton: Well, for a number of reasons: Tom Kean and I were substitutes - Henry Kissinger and George Mitchell were the first choices; we got started late; we had a very short time frame - indeed, we had to get it extended; we did not have enough money - 3 million dollars to conduct an extensive investigation. We needed more, we got more, but it took us a while to get it.

What he's saying is that it was underfunded, not that it was a vast conspiracy to cause it to fail.


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