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On the first day of its hearings, the 9/11 Commission heard from survivors and family members of the victims of September 11, including:
Harry Waizer, who was badly burned in a plummeting elevator in Tower 1 of the World Trade Center, and David Lim, a Port Authority Police Officer stationed in Tower 2 during the 9/11 attacks.
Betty Ong was a flight attendant on American Airlines flight 11, the first plane to be hijacked on September 11. Using the in-flight telephone, Ong made the call to American Airlines operation to report the hijacking.
The 9/11 Commission investigated the response of top government officials to the September 11 attacks. One of the controversial issues it examined was who gave the order to shoot down unresponsive commercial jets.
During an 18-month investigation, the 9/11 Commission heard extraordinary testimony about the terrorist attacks on America. Witnesses told stories of lucky breaks and deadly errors. The commission pieced together new evidence and new details to tell the most complete story to date of the al Qaeda plot. This site presents highlights from the commission's hearings.
After September 11, intelligence officials said that the hijackers were able to get in to the United States because they didn't violate the law. The commission found that wasn't true. In fact, the hijackers made errors on their visa applications, manipulated their passports to disguise their past, and violated immigration laws while in the United States. The commission's staff also presented a detailed account of where the hijackers came from and how their plan unfolded.
Earlier accounts of September 11 suggested that the military heard about the hijackings in time to respond. After 9/11, military officials said that if the fourth airplane hadn't crashed, they would have shot it down before it hit its intended target - probably the White House, or the Capitol. The 9/11 Commission examined those claims, and their report tells a different story.
Experts who spoke to the 9/11 Commission said terrorists mean to attack the United States again. They said that the goal of groups such as al Qaeda is to kill large numbers of civilians, so New York City is particularly at risk. The commission examined New York's ability to deal with an emergency, and it looked back at how the city's emergency responders dealt with the attacks on September 11.
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