Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the 9/11 Commission Records
Are any of these records online?
In addition to the Commission's website, the released Memoranda for the Record (MFRs) and other select records are available in the National Archives' Online Public Access (OPA) system.
Can I access the records without coming to Washington, DC?
The MFRs that are processed are also available online. For those researchers who cannot visit the National Archives, we accept reference requests via mail, fax, email, or telephone. Your request should be specific and, ideally, should cite particular folders from the online folder title lists. The National Archives charges a reproduction fee for all copies provided to the public. Details of the NARA fee schedule are available on our website.
Is there a list of all the people the Commission interviewed?
Some of the interviewees hold or formerly held sensitive positions that do not allow their names and/or details of their activities to be released. Consequently, the list available online with some names protected is the only list available at this time.
Why are the interviews with New York City first responders closed?
To facilitate interviews with New York City first responders, the Commission entered into an agreement with the City to keep the interviews confidential for a period of at least 25 years. The National Archives is honoring that agreement. The MFRs of certain high-ranking New York City officials, as well as former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, have been reviewed and released.
I'm finding withdrawal notices in the boxes. What are those?
The Commission records that were withdrawn or redacted fall within one or more of the specific exemptions listed in our review guidelines. The majority of the withdrawn items have been removed for reasons of national security. Non-textual records such as audiocassettes or CDs have also been removed from the boxes and replaced with a withdrawal notice.
How can I access the withdrawn records?
If the withdrawal notice indicates the record is classified, you may file a mandatory declassification review request (MDR) for that item. Please keep in mind that NARA does not have declassification authority for these records -- the agency whose information is in the document must review it for declassification. Due to the complex coordination review process, declassification review may take several years to complete.
For access to information that is not classified, researchers must submit a review request for specific documents. All requests must be submitted to the Center for Legislative Archives:
700 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20408
Can I file a Freedom of Information Act request for these records?
No. The Commission was established in the legislative branch and legislative branch records are not subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provisions. FOIA only applies to records of the executive branch and Presidential Records Act records.
How can I appeal a disclosure decision?
NARA has established guidelines for appealing disclosure decisions.
Do you have any audiovisual records?
Yes. The Commission compiled approximately 1,700 discrete audiovisual items, primarily audiocassettes of air traffic control recordings. These records must be preserved and screened prior to release. Some of the audio recordings of interviews are available through the National Archives' Online Public Access (OPA) system. The video of the Commission's hearings is accessible on the Commission's website.
Where are the Commission's electronic records?
The Commission created more than a terabyte of electronic data, including word processing files and e-mails (both classified and unclassified). While the electronic versions of these records are not yet available, many of the documents were printed by Commission staff and were filed with the textual records. NARA has preserved the electronic records, but has not yet screened them for research. This process is expected to begin in 2009 after development of the infrastructure to process and review these records.