Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission
Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton
Alfred A. Knopf, 2006
“We did, however, have some disagreement over foreign policy issues. Much of it revolved around the question of al-Qaeda’s motivation. For instance, Lee felt that there had to be an acknowledgment that a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was vital to America’s long-term relationship with the Islamic world, and that the presence of American forces in the Middle East was a major motivating factor in al-Qaeda’s action. Similarly, several commissioners pointed out that we had to acknowledge that the American presence in Iraq had become the dominant issue in the way the world’s Muslims viewed the United States.
“This was sensitive ground. Commissioners who argued that al-Qaeda was motivated primarily by a religious ideology – and not by opposition to American policies – rejected mentioning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the report. In their view, listing U.S. support for Israel as a root cause of al-Qaeda’s opposition to the United States indicated that the United States should reassess that policy. To Lee, though, it was not a question of altering support for Israel but of merely stating a fact that the Israel-Palestinian conflict was central to the relations between the Islamic world and the United States – and to bin Laden’s ideology and the support he gained throughout the Islamic world for his jihad against America.
“Since neither U.S. policy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict nor U.S. policy in Iraq was covered in our mandate, we were not required to discuss the issues at length. Had that been the case, reaching consensus would have been difficult. We ended up agreeing on language that acknowledged the importance of the two issues, without passing judgment.”