June 27, 2009
About those after-action reports from 9/11…
In chapter three of my book I speculated that if honest answers about 9/11 did exist they were likely to be found in the US military’s after-action reports, which are standard procedure at the Pentagon. Officially they are known as operational reports, OPREP for short.
Well, some weeks ago I discovered that the 9/11 Commission did indeed request, and later out of frustration even subpoenaed, the military’s after-action reports from 9/11, along with other pertinent records. The initial polite request was in the form of a May 2003 letter submitted by Daniel Marcus, the commission’s General Counsel. The letter was made public only last January and may be viewed at the following link. Notice, the after-action reports are mentioned in item #10 of a “Document Request,” which follows.
After discovering this file I immediately brought it to the attention of Daniel Marcus, who currently teaches law at American University. I hoped to jog his memory, and find out if the Pentagon ever handed over the reports. Well, yesterday, I finally received Marcus’ reply. See below. I have bolded the key passage where he states that the commission was “surprised” at the paucity of reports. But I must say, surprise does not begin to cover it. Not only are after-action reports required by military regulations, a national level event on the scale of 9/11 would have called for the highest level report, a so-called Pinnacle report, more likely, several such reports.
At any rate, now we know. In all likelihood, the Pentagon handed over a few minor reports to satisfy the commission, after shredding the important stuff. Incidentally, the John Farmer mentioned in Marcus’ reply is not the same John Farmer who helped with my book. The Farmer he mentions is an attorney who served as one of the commission’s team leaders.
Sorry about the delay in responding. I was out of the country for a couple of weeks and then grading 100 Constitutional Law exams (groan).
Here’s my somewhat fuzzy recollection re DoD and after-action reports: The letter you reference was sent quite early in the game, in June 2003. We obviously got a lot of documents from DoD after that, and the pace picked up some months later, when — out of frustration with some abject failures in producing documents (mainly relating to NORAD stuff) — the Commission issued a subpoena.
We eventually were reasonably satisfied with DoD’s document production and with their good-faith efforts to find and produce everything (no easy task at the Pentagon, Colorado Springs, and Rome, NY). I do recall that we were surprised that there were not more formal after-action reports on the morning-of-9/11 events, but we were assured that we had everything.
You might try inquiring further with John Farmer, who is now Dean of Rutgers (Newark) Law School.