Organizations representing the families of the 9/11 victims had been instrumental in the establishment of the 9/11 Commission, and closely monitored its progress. In March 2003, the 9/11 Commission sought $11 million in additional federal funding to complete its task in the allotted time period. Kean requested the funds as part of a $75 billion supplemental spending bill that Bush had submitted in order to pay for war with Iraq. Later that month, the Bush administration agreed to up the commission’s budget by $9 million.
From March 31 to April 1, 2003, the 9/11 Commission held its first public hearing in the United States Customs House, located not far from the World Trade Center site in New York City. Survivors of the 9/11 attacks and relatives of victims delivered their heart-wrenching accounts, and questioned the failures of American intelligence that had allowed such horrific attacks to occur. In a total of 12 public hearings over the next 10 months, the 9/11 Commission heard from a range of witnesses including Department of Justice experts, academics in the fields of terrorism and counterterrorism, and New York City Police and Fire Department representatives. Prominent leaders who testified before the commission included New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director George Tenet, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen. President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney gave private testimony (not under oath), as did former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore.