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Zelikow's 'What Do I Do Now?' Memo

Zelikow's 'What Do I Do Now?' Memo

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The "What Do I Do Now?" memo drafted by 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow in March 2003. The memo tells staffers newly hired by the 9/11 Commission to take care of their personal paperwork, digest work already done on the area they will be studying, and prepare for further research.

The most controversial section says that if a staffer is contacted by a commissioner, he should contact either Zelikow or Deputy Executive Director Chris Kojm, who will then respond to the commissioner. This section was apparently rescinded after Commissioner Jamie Gorelick complained about it.
The "What Do I Do Now?" memo drafted by 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow in March 2003. The memo tells staffers newly hired by the 9/11 Commission to take care of their personal paperwork, digest work already done on the area they will be studying, and prepare for further research.

The most controversial section says that if a staffer is contacted by a commissioner, he should contact either Zelikow or Deputy Executive Director Chris Kojm, who will then respond to the commissioner. This section was apparently rescinded after Commissioner Jamie Gorelick complained about it.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: 911DocumentArchive on May 01, 2009
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05/11/2014

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March
2,
2003
MEMORANDUM
To: All
Incoming
Staff
From:
Philip
Zelikow
Subj:
"What
Do I Do
Now?"As
you
arrive
for
work
at the
Commission,
you
will
find
an
empty in-box
- or no
in-boxat all. Your colleagues will slowly
be
arriving
as
they
are
appointed
and
disengage from
their
other
jobs.
Some will
hold
full
TS
security
clearances;
others
only
at the
Secret
level; still others
may not yet
have
any
security clearance
at
all.
You'll
be
figuring
out
where
you
sit,
how to get the
office
supplies
you
need,
or how to
perform
basic
tasks
-
like getting your computer
to
work. This
is the
work environment
of a
start-up.
It can be
disorienting.So here are some suggestions to help you organize the work you should start doing on
Day
One,
regardless
of
your
clearance
status.
I.
Take Care
of
Your Personal Paperwork
Be sure you have completed and retained copies of your relevant paperwork in threecategories:Your federal employment status, salary,
and
benefits.
You can get and
track
these
with
our
GSA
liaison, Melynda Clarke, or the Commission's administrative
officer,
Tracy
Shycoff.
Your
security
clearance.
You can
track these with John Ivicic.
Your
financial
disclosure:
a)
If
your salary
is at or
above $102,165,
you are
required
to
file
the
public
financial
disclosure forms issued
by the
Senate Ethics Committee.
You
must
do
this
within30daysofyour formal start dateat theCommission.TheCommissionalso
has
responsibilities with respect
to
this information
and
will retain
a
copy
of
your
forms. Stephanie Kaplan
can
help
you
locate
the
necessary forms
andinstructions.
b) If
your salary
is
below this threshold,
you
should nonetheless
reflect
carefully
on
all
sources
of
nongovernment
income
you or
your spouse have received
during
the
last
two
calendar years,
or
assets
you
hold.
Please prepare
a
confidentialmemo
to me
that describes
any
potential
conflicts
of
interest
that
may
arise
with
 
your work
for the
Commission.
In
making
these
judgments,
consider outside
perception
- ask
yourself
how it
would look
if
this information
was
made publicand
you had not
disclosed
it.
c) Whatever
your
salary,
if you
were
employed by a
private
law or
consulting
firm
before coming
to the
Commission,
please
disclose
any
notable clients
of
your
formerfirm
that,
to the
best
of
your knowledge, might
be
affected
by the
Commission's
work.
This
would include,
for
example,
airlines,
parties
in any
9/11-related litigation,
officials
who are
objects
of
Commission
examination,
or
any
clients
being
represented
in
lobbying
or
litigation
related
to
homelandsecurity
orcounterterrorism.
All information
you
provide will
be
handled
in
strict confidence. Disclosure does
not
necessarily create
a bar
from doing your work.
If we
have
any
concerns
we
will discussthem with
you and
consult with
the
Chair
and
Vice-Chair
of the
Commission.
Fulldisclosure
is
your
best
protection against
any
potential concern.
If you are in
doubt about
what
you
must
do, let me
know
or, as
they come
on
board,
you can
contact
the
Commission's counsel
or his or her
assistant counsel.
II.
Compile
and
Digest
the
Work Already Done
on
Your
Subject,
andPrepare
to
Share
It
with
the
Commissioners
Significant
research
and
analysis
has
been published
in
open
sources
on
every majortopic being examined by the Commission. Our goal is to synthesize and build upon good
work
that has already been done. You must therefore be familiar with those foundations.
For
your
team's
subject,
you
must
be
conversant with
all the
more important work thathas been done
in at
least
the
last
five
years
- and on
some topics much earlier, including
major
press stories, relevant executive branch reports, and congressional or GAO studies.
You
should download or acquire copies of these works as part of your
team's
workingfilesandfor reference. The Commission will reimburse any reasonable expenditures.
Your
background research should include
official
executive branch documents, such
as
speeches and published papers (like the National Homeland Security Strategy or the
National
Strategy
for
Combating Terrorism),
and it
should include copies
of
relevant
congressional
hearings. You can locate relevant hearings either by contacting the
committee
staffs
or by
using information services such
as
Thomas
(Library
of
Congress)
or the
Lexis/Nexis-owned
CIS/Index.
As
youproceed with this work, keep thinking abouthow toshare whatyouhave learned
with
the
commissioners
in the
most
effective
way. Keep
a
rolling list
of
what written
work
you
consider truly essential
and
also keep
a
select
list
of the best
people
-
either
because of
their association
with that
essential work
or
other experience
and
qualifications.
These should
be
people
you
would like
to
learn from.
The
purpose
in
this
phase is
orientation
and
background knowledge, digesting what
we
have already learned
-
 
- not
interviews with officials
who are
objects
in our
inquiry. (I'll discuss them
in the
next
section.)Beginning
inApril,
every team should
be
readying draft plans
for
review that envision
the
contents
of a
briefing book
and a
notional schedule
for one or two
days
of
private
briefings
or
public hearings
on
that
team's
subject area.
This
will provide
a
way, early
in
our
work,
for all
commissioners
to
have
the
opportunity
to get up to
speed with
the
essential background material
on
every team's subject area
and
interact directly with
a
strong
set of
experts.
You
should consider what might better
be
handled
in
private
and
what
can
just
as
well
be
donein
public.
Our
initial hearings
in New
York City,
for
example,
are
likely
to
include
public
presentations
and
discussions with commissioners
of
some studies that havealready
been
done
on the
structural performance
of the WTC
towers
and the
emergencyresponse
by the
FDNY.
III. Prepare
for
Further
Research
and
Analysis
As
you do
your
background research,
you
should
be
identifying
critical issues
of
fact
andjudgment,
and
particular
records
and
people
relevant
to
addressing
those
issues.
To be
specific,
you
should
be
preparing
- at a
minimum:
Working
chronologies
for your
topic.
Lists of key
questions
or
issues, expecting that
you
will regularly need
to
revise
and
prioritize them.
Organizational
charts
for the
agencies,
or
parts
of
agencies, which
are
especially
relevant
to
your
work.
Many
of the
agencies
or
entities have been
significantlyreorganized
in
recent years.
You
should
have charts showing their various
configurations
over
at
least
the last
five
years.
Notes
identifying
which
individuals
held each
of the key
positions
in the
relevant
chains of
command throughout this period.
Running,
prioritized lists
ofcritical
records
and
knowledgeable
individuals
(judged
above
all by their
firsthand
knowledge
of
relevant events).
Asyouprioritize
your
lists, these
judgmentsmay be
influenced
by how
much
you
think
isalready known.
For
that
and
other reasons, every time
you
attach
a
high priority
to
interviewing
a
particular
individual,
you
should
feel
obliged
to
compile every relevant
record
of
prior
testimonies, talks, or
writings that
you can
locate
for that individual.
These
investments of
effort
will
pay offlater.

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