WASHINGTON - April 7 -
TO: National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
301 7th St. SW, Room 5125
Washington, DC 20407
We at Psychologists for Social Responsibility have followed your careful investigation of the attacks of September 11, 2001 with great interest. Much has come to light about how our government has operated in the past and about what might be done in the future to detect threats of attack. We are deeply concerned, however, that a significant objective of the Commission's work will not be accomplished unless a change of focus occurs.
The Commission's website states: "The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States . . . is chartered to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. The Commission is also mandated to provide recommendations designed to guard against future attacks." [http://www.9-11commission.gov/about/index.htm]
Furthermore, Section 602(5) of the Commission's charter states that among the purposes of the commission is the charge to "investigate and report to the President and Congress on its findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures that can be taken to prevent acts of terrorism." [http://www.9-11commission.gov/about/107-306.title6.htm]
The focus on our preparedness for the attacks and our immediate response has left a major line of questioning insufficiently developed. Answers to these and related questions would be of utmost importance in making recommendations regarding future efforts to prevent acts of terrorism.
Among the questions that need to be asked are the following:
* What is the history of our relationship with extremist leaders who plan terrorist actions? Why have some of them turned against us after working with us?
* What attempts have been made to talk to militant leaders, either directly or through intermediaries, to see what might prevent further acts of terror? Why do our leaders seem to rule out trying to talk with them?
* Why is the worldwide public animosity toward U.S. military intervention and global corporate expansion being treated as a matter of inadequate public relations rather than as a response to the consequences of our policies?
* Do attempts to assassinate leaders of extremist groups contribute to a cycle of retribution in the form of increased acts of terror?
* How do the foreign policy and the security programs of the United States government need to be altered in order to avoid planting seeds of terrorism?
Among our members and associates are numerous experts on the psychology of terrorism. We would be happy to help the Commission access their knowledge. As a profession, we are ready to do all we can to deter future terrorism. This is what is really owed to the victims of September 11 and their families, as well as to the future innocents, in and out of uniform, who will die for want of the courage and wisdom to break out of the cycle of violence.
Linden Nelson, Ph.D., President
Anne Anderson , CO-Coordinator Psychologists for Social Responsibility