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Defense Department Fully Supporting 9-11 Commission Requests

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 31, 2003 – Defense officials are committed to fulfilling requests from the federal 9-11 Commission, a senior official said in the Pentagon today.

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also called the 9-11 Commission, was tasked by the Congress and the president to investigate the events leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and recommend ways to prevent future such attacks.

In a July 8 interim report, the commission contended that the Defense Department was not cooperating with several requests.

That's not the case any longer, defense officials say. "It's certainly our intent to interact with the commission aggressively and to give the commission what it needs to cooperate with the review it's conducting," the official said.

He spoke of six specific groups of requests from the commission consisting of varying amounts of documents. In some cases 100 percent of the request has been met; in others, defense officials are well on the way to fulfilling the request.

"We've established a process in the department to quickly identify those documents (requested by the commission), vet them and then get them to the commission," the official said.

He noted that the requests consist of "tens of thousands of documents," which may have contributed to initial delays in providing support to the commission. "Just getting your hands on that many pieces of paper is a task in and of itself," he said, adding that any delays were administrative in nature, not deliberate stalling on the part of the department.

Currently, more than 100 people in DoD are working to meet commission requests. None has been denied, and no document with redactions has been sent to the commission.

Notably, the official said, the commission is now happy with the level of cooperation it is receiving from DoD. "The commission told us that, in their view, the level of cooperation from the Department of Defense is good," he said. "They're getting a steady stream of documents, and they look forward to continued cooperation in the future."

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