Fairness should dictate that the examination of documents alone do not eliminate the need for interviews conducted by the investigators. Isolated emails, memos and transcripts can look much different when there is no context or perspective provided by those who sent, received or recorded them.It is important for all of us to remember how unprepared we were for the attacks of September 11, 2001 and how unprepared we were to do the things necessary to keep the country from being attacked again. There was no operating manual to guide the choices and decisions made by the men and women in charge of protecting us. I will continue to read the report to learn of the mistakes we apparently made. I do not need to read the report in full to know this: We have not been attacked since and for that I am very grateful.
It is important for all of us to not let Congress dodge responsibility. Congressional oversight of intelligence is notoriously weak. The 9/11 Commission recommended a number of changes in the authorities of Congressional committees but the proposal – advanced by Senator McCain – did not come close to gathering a majority of votes in either the Senate or the House.
The worse consequence of a partisan report can be seen in this disturbing fact: It contains no recommendations. This is perhaps the most significant missed opportunity, because no one would claim the program was perfect or without its problems. But equally, no one with real experience would claim it was the completely ineffective and superfluous effort this report alleges.
Our intelligence personnel – who are once again on the front lines fighting the Islamic State – need recommended guidance from their board of governors: The U.S. Congress. Remarkably this report contains none. I hope – for the sake of our security and our values – Congress will follow the leadership of Senator McCain and give them this guidance.