Review for Unanswered Questions: What the September Eleventh Families Asked and the 9/11 Commission Ignored by Ray McGinnis

On September 11, 2001, thousands of lives were ended in the span of less than two hours. The tragedies that occurred involving the use of planes as missiles against the World Trade Center (American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175), the Pentagon (American Airlines Flight 77), and the hijacked plane that crashed in Shanksville, PA (United Flight 93) left countless questions in their wake. The lives of tens of thousands of family members were irrevocably changed. The first blaring headlines in the wake of the stunning attacks heralded a “Massive Intelligence Failure”. The families, united in grief, wanted and were entitled to answers. The government promised explanations. However, time has shown the explanations to be lacking.

Despite the Bush Administration’s promise to provide answers for the intelligence failures that enabled the attack, their actions showed otherwise. The administration had gone on record as stating their belief that Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were behind the attacks. The administration started bombing Afghanistan in October, as the Taliban was providing shelter for Bin Laden. However, 15 of the 19 alleged 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. The identities of the 19 hijackers were known within 24-48 hours, yet questions about how they got admission into the US without further scrutiny developed. Within a year, the administration would shift on to a proposed invasion of Iraq, despite no direct evidence of a 9/11 connection.

The families of the 9/11 victims were faced with a tough choice in the wake of the tragedies: whether to accept a government settlement from an established fund or seek their day in court against culpable parties. By accepting the settlement, they would forfeit the right to sue. However, the quest for justice in the death of a loved one trumped financial considerations. The Family Steering Committee(FSC) was formed and lobbied to have an independent commission formed to obtain answers. The commission would be formed in November 2002 and their report would be published in 2004. The commission was headed by Thomas Kean (Former Governor of NJ) and Lee Hamilton (Congressman-Indiana). The families were looking for answers and accountability, what they received was obstruction and government shrouded secrecy. 91% of the questions the FSC posed were not answered satisfactorily. NYC Mayor Giuliani wasn’t pressed by the commission about faulty radios and evacuation orders for the FDNY(343 deaths) as the Mayor expressed foreknowledge of the buildings collapse. The Pentagon brass skated by with token excuses in regards to chain of command and the scrambling of planes to deter the hijacked planes. President Bush and Cheney were allowed to be interviewed together at the White House, when both men on their own had plenty of actions to answer for, before and during 9/11. The Commission seemed content to ask a few pointed questions and otherwise defer to the excuse of “Failure of Imagination”.

“Unanswered Questions” is a revealing and frank account of justice denied in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Author Ray McGinnis cuts to the heart of the matter when addressing the lingering questions that remain unanswered by the US Government with respects to 9/11 and the circumstances leading up to the fateful day. McGinnis doesn’t push any particular theory, as much as uncovers the important queries the FSC desired answers for. 2900 + people killed, countless more dying from related illnesses from the toxic air at Ground Zero, $2 trillion spent on the war in Afghanistan, a Global War on Terror that cost untold miseries…Transparency needed for all of the above..Questions still abound regarding…Able Danger, Vigilant Guardian, Building 7’s spectacular Free Fall(and multiple reports of a collapse hours earlier). 20 years passed, a book such as this could kickstart a new wave of interest in opening doors the government would rather remain closed. The memory of the victims and the quest of their families shall not be in vain.

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