May 1, 2002: L. Britt Snider, ex-CIA official and the head of the joint congressional investigation into 9/11, resigns. Apparently there were many conflicts between Snider and his own staff, as well as with Congress. It is later revealed the final straw occurred when Snider tried to hire a CIA employee who had failed an agency polygraph test as an inquiry staffer. The hearings were expected to start in late May, but the resignation is one reason why the first public hearings are delayed until September (see September 18, 2002). [Los Angeles Times, 5/2/02, Los Angeles Times, 10/19/02] Snider is replaced by Eleanor Hill. She is widely credited for turning around an inquiry "hampered by infighting, politics, leaks and dueling agendas" after being hired in June. [Miami Herald, 7/14/02, Washington Post, 9/25/02]
May 23, 2002: President Bush says he is opposed to establishing a special, independent commission to probe how the government dealt with terror warnings before 9/11. [CBS, 5/23/02] He later changes his stance in the face of overwhelming support for the idea (see September 20, 2002), and then sabotages an agreement that Congress had reached to establish the commission (see October 10, 2002).
June 22, 2002: Internal FBI documents show that Thomas Kelley, in charge of matters relating to the FBI in the joint congressional intelligence 9/11 inquiry, blocked an inquiry into the FBI's role in Waco. For instance, an internal FBI memo from December 2000 states that Kelley "continued to thwart and obstruct" the Waco investigation to the point that a special counsel was forced to send a team to search FBI headquarters for documents Kelley refused to turn over. [Washington Post, 6/22/02] This follows the resignation of the inquiry head a month previously (see May 1, 2002).
September 5, 2002 (B): Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, expresses doubts that the committee's investigation into 9/11 will be able to accomplish anything, and he supports an independent investigation. "Time is not on our side," he says, since the investigation has a built-in deadline at the end of 2002. "You know, we were told that there would be cooperation in this investigation, and I question that. I think that most of the information that our staff has been able to get that is real meaningful has had to be extracted piece by piece." He adds that there is explosive information that has not been publicly released. "I think there are some more bombs out there ... I know that." [New York Times, 9/10/02]
September 20, 2002: In the wake of damaging Congressional 9/11 inquiry revelations, President Bush reverses course (see May 23,2002) and backs efforts by many lawmakers to form an independent commission to conduct a broader investigation than the current Congressional inquiry. Newsweek reports that Bush had virtually no choice. "There was a freight train coming down the tracks," says one White House official. [Newsweek, 9/22/02] But as one of the 9/11 victim's relatives says, "It's carefully crafted to make it look like a general endorsement but it actually says that the commission would look at everything except the intelligence failures." [CBS, 9/20/02] Rather than look into such failures, Bush wants the commission to focus on areas like border security, visa issues and the "role of Congress" in overseeing intelligence agencies. The White House also refuses to turn over documents showing what Bush knew before 9/11. [Newsweek, 9/22/02] Perhaps Bush's true stance on the inquiry can be seen by calls Vice President made to try and stop it earlier in the year (see January 24, 2002).
October 10, 2002: A tentative congressional deal to create an independent commission to investigate the 9/11 terrorist attacks falls apart hours after the White House objected to the plan (it appears Vice President Cheney called Republican leaders and told them to renege on the agreement [New York Times, 11/2/02]). Bush had pledged to support such a commission a few weeks earlier (see September 20, 2002), but doubters who questioned his sincerity appear to have been proved correct. Hours after top Republican leaders announced at a press conference that an agreement had been reached, House Republican leaders said they wouldn't bring the legislation to the full House for a vote unless the commission proposal was changed. There are worries that if the White House can delay the legislation for a few more days until Congress adjourns, it could stop the creation of a commission for months, if not permanently. [Washington Post, 10/11/02, New York Times, 10/11/02]
October 15, 2002: About 10 relatives of the 9/11 victims meet with lawmakers and two Bush administration officials in an unsuccessful attempt to break a deadlock over the establishment of an independent 9/11 commission. The Bush administration says it supports such a commission, but wants its allies to have more control over leadership and subpoena powers (see September 20, 2002 and October 10, 2002). [AP, 10/16/02] No agreement is reached before the 107th Congress ends a few days later.
November 1, 2002 (B): It is reported that the Congressional 9/11 inquiry is racing to complete its final report so Congress can vote on it before it adjourns on January 3, 2003. If the deadline is not met, the composition of Senators and Representatives in the inquiry is likely to drastically change as a new Congress is seated in February. Some of the most critical members, such as Senator Richard Shelby (R), will be replaced (because of term limit restrictions) by new members that have been very supportive of US intelligence agencies. These new members could significantly change the report's contents if the deadline is not met. [AP, 11/1/02]