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March 2, 2003


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-box
at 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

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 three

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 within 30 days of your formal start date at the Commission. The Commission
also has responsibilities with respect to this information and will retain a copy of
your forms. Stephanie Kaplan can help you locate the necessary forms and

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 confidential
memo 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 public
and 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
former firm 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 homeland
security or counterterrorism.

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 discuss
them with you and consult with the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Commission. Full
disclosure 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, and Prepare
to Share It with the Commissioners

Significant research and analysis has been published in open sources on every major
topic 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 that
has 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 working
files and for 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 you proceed with this work, keep thinking about how to share what you have 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 in April, 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
done in public. Our initial hearings in New York City, for example, are likely to include
public presentations and discussions with commissioners of some studies that have
already been done on the structural performance of the WTC towers and the emergency
response by the FDNY.

III. Prepare for Further Research and Analysis

As you do your background research, you should be identifying critical issues of fact and
judgment, 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 significantly
reorganized 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 of critical records and knowledgeable individuals

(judged above all by their firsthand knowledge of relevant events).

As you prioritize your lists, these judgments may be influenced by how much you think is
already 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 off later.
Those who are working Al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations should adopt the
same approach, as if Al Qaeda was one of the organizations they are examining from the
inside (which it is). Work to the limits of the available material - which for some weeks
may remain largely unclassified. The list of "knowledgeable individuals" should again
be compiled on the same criteria of firsthand knowledge, though you should also identify
any experts who may later be able to help you find more direct evidence.

Draft chronologies, lists, and charts should be shared at least among colleagues in teams,
and perhaps with helpful colleagues on other teams, so that "team" versions of these draft
documents are available for review by mid-April. We may revise these targets as
circumstances warrant.

In sum, there is plenty that you can do as soon as you come on board, whatever your
security clearance status. And never, ever assume that classification levels are a reliable
guide to the value of information.

IV. General Guidelines

Regardless of formal classification, you are working with sensitive information on topics
of great public interest. You should not discuss the Commission or its work with the
press. Period. This is a bright line rule: Do not talk to the press at all. If you are
contacted by a reporter, do not return the call. Forward the message to me or to Chris, or
to our Deputy for Communications once he or she is in place. This is also a way that you
can protect yourself, in the event that any leaks prompt further inquiries.

Interactions with Commissioners can be helpful to you and to them. If you are contacted
by a commissioner with questions, please contact Chris or me. Consulting with the Chair
and Vice-Chair, we will be sure that the appropriate members of the Commission staff
are responsive.

Do not publicly disclose the street address of the Commission. If pressed you can
mention "K Street" or some other general location. This information is not classified, but
it is sensitive. If this information is published so that millions can find it, we may receive
unwanted visitors. Our location is secure, but its security rests partly on its anonymity.
We do not have setbacks, etc. We will soon have a PO Box as our mailing address, and a
public website to help people learn about our efforts.

We expect to have two principal office locations in the District of Columbia, and a very
small office to support our work in New York City. Your own office assignment may be
temporary, until full staff assignments are in place.
And - as you are catching your breath - Tom Kean, Lee Hamilton, Chris Kojm and I
thank you, once again, for joining up for an intense, challenging, and rewarding period of
public service. You are now part of a history-writing and history-making enterprise,
working with some of the most talented people in America, and led by an outstanding
group of commissioners. Welcome.