September 18, 2002: The Congressional joint committee 9/11 inquiry hold its first public hearing. The committee was formed in February 2002 but suffered months of delays. The day's testimonies focuses on intelligence warnings that should have led the government to believe airplanes could be used as bombs (see the committee's complete 30-page report here: [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]). However, the Washington Post reports, "lawmakers from both parties ... [protest] the Bush administration's lack of cooperation in the congressional inquiry into Sept. 11 intelligence failures and [threaten] to renew efforts to establish an independent commission." Eleanor Hill, the joint committee's staff director, testifies that "According to [CIA Director Tenet], the president's knowledge of intelligence information relevant to this inquiry remains classified even when the substance of that intelligence information has been declassified." She adds that "the American public has a compelling interest in this information and that public disclosure would not harm national security." [Washington Post, 9/19/02] Furthermore, the committee believes that "a particular al-Qaeda leader may have been instrumental in the attacks" and US intelligence has known about this person since 1995. Tenet "has declined to declassify the information we developed [about this person] on the grounds that it could compromise intelligence sources and methods and that this consideration supersedes the American public’s interest in this particular area." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] A few days later, The New York Times reveals this leader to be Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 9/22/02] An FBI spokesman says the FBI had offered "full cooperation" to the committee. A CIA official denies that the report is damning: "The committee acknowledges the hard work done by intelligence community, the successes it achieved..." [MSNBC, 9/18/02]

September 18, 2002 (B): Two relatives of 9/11 victims testify before the Congressional 9/11 inquiry. Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband Ronald died at the WTC, asks how the FBI was so quickly able to assemble information on the hijackers (see August 13, 2002 (B)). She cites a The New York Times article stating that agents descended on flight schools within hours of the attacks. "How did the FBI know where to go a few hours after the attacks?" she asks. "Were any of the hijackers already under surveillance?" [MSNBC, 9/18/02] She adds, "Our intelligence agencies suffered an utter collapse in their duties and responsibilities leading up to and on September 11th. But their negligence does not stand alone. Agencies like the Port Authority, the City of NY, the FAA, the INS, the Secret Service, NORAD, the Air Force, and the airlines also failed our nation that morning." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] Stephen Push states, "If the intelligence community had been doing its job, my wife, Lisa Raines, would be alive today." He cites the government’s failure to place Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi on a terrorist watch list until long after they were photographed meeting with alleged al-Qaeda operatives in Malaysia. [MSNBC, 9/18/02]

October 17, 2002 (C): The directors of the US's three most famous intelligence agencies, the CIA, FBI and NSA, testify before a Congressional inquiry on 9/11. All three say no individual at their agencies has been punished or fired for any of missteps connected to 9/11. This does not satisfy several on the inquiry, including Senator Carl Levin (D), who says "People have to be held accountable." [Washington Post, 10/18/02]