In its final report, published on July 22, 2004, the 9/11 Commission stated that the terrorist attacks of September 2001 “were a shock but they should not have come as a surprise,” as Islamic extremists such as Al Qaeda’s Osama Bin Laden had long declared their intentions to kill large numbers of Americans. The report outlined the failings of numerous government agencies, particularly the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pentagon and the National Security Council, in acting on existing intelligence in order to protect and defend the nation from such threats. Among a long list of recommendations designed to guard against future attacks, the 9/11 Commission advocated a comprehensive restructuring of U.S. intelligence agencies and an increased emphasis on diplomacy between the United States and the Islamic world.
Some critics have claimed that the 9/11 Commission was not truly independent, as its members were chosen by Congress and the Bush administration, and that it suffered from conflicts of interest due to connections between some of its members and key figures in the administration. Meanwhile, Kean and Hamilton have claimed that the commission was hamstrung by the time and budgetary constraints it was under, and that its effectiveness was hampered by misinformation given by organizations like the Pentagon and the Federal Aviation Administration.
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