“Five years later, there are elements that have made us safer,” said the Honorable Jamie Gorelick, speaking Monday night at the President’s Radio Show on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, “but there are also things that have made us less safe.”
The President’s Radio Show, hosted by Mark D. Gearan, “9/11: Five Years Later: Security, Press and Politics,” was produced in front of a live audience in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library. His guests were Gorelick, the only woman to serve on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, and Tony Reid ’79, assistant foreign editor at The Washington Post on 9/11. The show was broadcast on the radio station WEOS-FM.
Panelists included Kevin Dunn of the political science faculty, Thomas Baptiste of the College Republicans, Aaryon Matyac of the College Democrats, Joe Bochynski of the Progressive Student Union and Prabighya Basnet, representing the Intercultural Affairs Office. Gearan, panelists and many from the audience posed multiple questions to the guests. “Are we any safer?” “What have we learned?” “What have Americans sacrificed?”
Gorelick, whose interview with Gearan and Dunn was recorded earlier, gave a candid view of the Commission’s work. “By being transparent and by being thorough, we believed we could help this country learn the basic truths it needed to learn,” she said. But neither did Gorelick shy away from its mistakes. “We spent too long arguing over access and setting up the mechanics of the Commission,” she said.
The 10-member Commission nonetheless produced a significant investigation of the attacks and a best-selling “9/11 Commission Report.” “One big lesson for future administrations,” said Gorelick, “is that we needed a more polyglot, more sophisticated global intelligence network, but you are never going to have perfect intelligence.”
Reid fielded questions from the students about the role of media in forming public opinion and fostering debate. “The media is always in the position of teaching the public. We’re tying to give them information that they wouldn’t otherwise have,” said Reid. “I don’t think our mission is to consciously teach people; I think our mission is to give them the facts.”
Intimately involved in the coverage of the 9/11 attacks, Reid articulated his convictions about the neutrality of the press. “We try not to label anybody. We try to talk about what they stood for.”
William Smith juniors Kara Moore and Beth Meyer were among the students who enjoyed watching the show live. “I like that the show is so integrated, and that I could have asked a question if I wanted to,” Meyer said.
Gearan concluded the broadcast by recalling three Colleges’ alumni who perished in the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center: Scott W. Rohner ’01, Andrew H. Golkin ’93 and Michael J. Simon ’83, and playing a recording of “Amazing Grace,” sung by Judy Collins at the 2002 Hobart and William Smith Colleges Convocation.
The President’s Radio Show first hit the airwaves in the fall of 2005 and has hosted guests including political commentators Hugh Hewitt, Paul Begala, Donna Brazile and Torie Clarke, retired Federal Judge Herbert J. Stern ’58 and others. Suggestions and comments on the radio show can be sent to email@example.com