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Updated 10:00 AM March 14, 2005




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9/11 Commission counsel to speak March 24

U-M law alumnus Barbara Grewe will speak March 24 about her role as senior counsel for the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, commonly called the 9/11 Commission.
(Photo courtesy Barbara Grewe)

The panel was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to assess the circumstances surrounding the incident and provide recommendations to guard against future attacks.

"We expect all of our government agencies to work together on a common goal of security of the United States," Grewe says. "The cost of agencies not working together can be catastrophic, but the system is still not perfect."

Grewe will deliver he lecture at 4 p.m. in Room 100 of Hutchins Hall. She contributed to the writing and editing of the 585-page final commission report, issued in July 2004. It is available in bookstores and at http:// www.

In her position as an associate general counsel of the U.S. Government Accountability Office in Washington, D.C, Grewe supervises work related to the the commission's recommendations.

During her lecture, she plans to talk about the recommendations, the new law, and the state of the government's efforts to address the continuing threat of terrorism.

The report was unanimously approved by the 10 commissioners—five Democrats and five Republicans.

Grewe says the unanimous and bi-partisan endorsement of the report enhanced its credibility.

A former colleague of Grewe, who worked in the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, recommended her to the commission as it began its work in spring 2003.

Initially, she didn't expect the commission to receive significant national and international media attention, but its public profile grew dramatically as it held a series of public hearings a year ago with high-ranking leaders such as former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke and then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

The report made its way to the New York Times best-seller list and was nominated for a National Book Award.

The challenge in compiling the report, she says, was getting the White House and other agencies to cooperate in releasing important documents in a timely manner. The report was written in 2-1/2 months.

"We didn't sleep," she says. "There was a great deal of pressure. Not only did we have to write the report, but it had to be accurate. If we had gotten things wrong, we would have lost our credibility.

"It was gratifying that so many people were interested in what we had to say and that they wanted to know about our recommendations."

In fact, on Dec. 17, merely five months after the recommendations were issued, President George W. Bush signed the National Intelligence Reform Act, which included a provision to create the position of director of national intelligence, as recommended by the commission.

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