The US commission investigating the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks has found "failures of imagination, policy, capabilities and management" by the US government.
The report recommends a reform of the US intelligence services.
Bill Clinton and President Bush have been cleared of any personal blame.
The final report comes after two years of exhaustive investigation.
What is the impact of the report? How far should the shake-up of US intelligence go? Has the commission done a good job?
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:
The commission researched into the failures that allowed this. They are not saying the terrorists are not to blame. It was well known that INS was really doing a poor job. Our politicians didn't help when they pursued policies to enrich the big companies. Clinton, Reagan, the Bushes, all pursued policies in the Middle East to stir up the hornets' nest. It is hypocritical to call our politicians' action "patriotic." We live in a spoiled society that has no resemblance to our humble beginnings. Arrogance should not be rallied around and called "patriotism."
Obtaining answers to why this occurred obviously is good for our country. Lots of things are "broken" within our intelligence community. However, the lack of accountability and the unwillingness of our leaders to assume any level of responsibility has a hollow ring to it. Creation of "Homeland Security" has not made us safer as I doubt if the creation of an intelligence "czar" will either. The President has failed his duties as steward of the US and our congress lacks the courage to stand up to him. I cannot help wondering how those who lost family and friends can find this acceptable.
Robert Bussell, Topsham, USA
This isn't about finding a "Head of Blame" - it's about being ready and better prepared for the next terror attack on US soil (judging by Madrid, this will be in the week before the US election). Pre-emptive, unilateral action cannot be abandoned - attack is the best form of defence and always has been.
Roger Morgan Freedlan, Whitwick England
I believe, given that Republicans and Democrats are quite divided right now, that the 9/11 Commission did an excellent job. With Bush as president I do not see any meaningful shake-up of US intelligence services before the November election. Bush gnashes his teeth by the mere mention of the word "change". He's been against any change - other than cutting taxes for the wealthy (which he wants to make permanent) and restricting civil rights. I'm so glad that there's an election in November.
Steve Baran, Chattaroy, WA - USA
What a confusing signal to send to the intelligence service. They are kicked for 9/11 for not following rumour and vapour trails, which are only now obvious by hindsight. But use of similar evidence in Iraq WMD case is viewed as failure! If the only evidence that is to be believed is the plane hitting the building and any thing less is 'over stating' the evidence, then we should prepare for more attacks.
Everton, London Uk
Having just watched the presentation on TV whilst in the USA, I was very impressed by the professionalism and non-partisanship. The report also stresses the need for a better understanding and dialog with the Muslim world - to present an option to terrorism.
Scott S, London
As a person who was there and a family member of a victim of 9/11 I feel that this report will have a marginal impact. It won't change much as far as the ones responsible for the US's shortfalls goes. As far as who is to blame (besides the butchers themselves) I think US presidents and their cabinets who have been making ignorant and misinformed decisions since the 60s are to blame. The whole way Americans and their officials think has to change.
Ravin Shah, Edison, NJ USA
In hindsight they could have stopped it happening. In hindsight I could have won the lottery last weekend.
John Kelly, Cardiff, Wales
The American foreign policy stance must become more neutral, especially in the Middle East. As well, they should stop treating Islam as the enemy of the American people - a falsehood. It is the American policy, not the people, that many around the world dislike.
Fadel Zabian, Woodstock, Ontario . Canada
Oh, please! In the eight years of Clinton, when there was so-called "peace", terror groups attacked at will around the globe and hundreds died. The September 11 attacks were planned during the 90's. Stop the insane argument that the world was peaceful before Bush ruined things!
Americans have never experienced a national tragedy of this magnitude on our own soil, so please forgive us if we can't forget about it. The commission was created under pressure from the families of 9/11 victims who don't wish to see such a tragedy befall other families. Should we have just said, "Oh well, hopefully that'll never happen again" without examining the weaknesses in our system that allowed it to happen? The commission will be proven to be a big waste of time and resources only if our leaders allow it to be.
Tabitha Metreger, Illinois, USA
A lot of cynics have mentioned about the fact this inquiry focuses on hindsight, well of course it does. That's the whole point in producing these reports! It allows us to focus on the failures beforehand and understand what went wrong. Thus allowing us to move forward. I worked on British Rail around the time of the Clapham Junction accident in 1988 and recall the impact that report had on our way of working.
Paul Scrafton, Sunderland, UK
The report and the 9/11 commission are both bunk. When will people stop trying to find someone or some group to blame for 9/11? September 11th was a tragedy that shouldn't be forgotten, but I seriously doubt it could have been prevented, and hyping up security in airports and installing legislature like the patriot act will not prevent further attacks. If a terrorist really wanted to harm us, he would find a way NO MATTER WHAT. Right now the American people need to be wary of the steps that are being taken to "protect us". We must make sure that we are not sacrificing our rights for our "safety".
Kristen, Maryland, USA
There was an "intelligence failure" in the White House! Don't blame MI6 or the CIA for the Bush administration ignoring dozens of warnings, including a report telling of a terrorist attack using airplanes...
David Stephen Ball-Romney, Seattle, USA
Surely the blame for the 9/11 attacks should be and can be placed at the door of al-Qaeda, rather than on our governments? One of the key failures of the commission's report is that of lack of imagination leading to us disregarding the possibility of an attack of this nature. Is it unreasonable to not think the unthinkable?
Richard Donaldson, Newcastle
There's always more that could have been done: More money, focus and collaboration doesn't mean 9/11 could have been stopped. If the US ploughed 100% of their GNP into beefing up security, it wouldn't make us 100% safe. Unfortunately decisions have to be made like how much should we spend and where, because there are limited resources.
Robert, Cupertino, USA
We can hope this report was forged with honesty and will uncover 20 years' lack of communication between the FBI and CIA. It would be wishful to think this report will change the US government's mishandling of foreign affairs. It will stir up nightly news for about a week and a half and then nothing will be said of it after. We won't be certain of the impact until the November election.
Christine, Philadelphia PA, US
So the hijackers went through security eh? Just shows how pointless all those unsmiling little "jobsworths" are then doesn't it? Far better to tighten up on checking ground service staff - time and again they have been the weak link. "Security" staff are just another hassle in an already stressful setup when travelling, only good for seizing nail files, pins and plastic toy swords off kids. When have they ever found anything major or stopped an attack?
Trevor, UK London
Trevor: The "weak link" is not the security personnel who failed to stop the hijackers boarding a plane carrying knives. You apparently fail to remember that prior to 9/11 it was not illegal to bring a knife on board a plane. The "weak link" is the mentality of people who think it is acceptable to commit mass murder to publicise their grudge against the West. That is where 100% of the blame lies.
Arrogance! 60 years ago the thought of another country attacking the US was ridiculed - Pearl Harbour should of been the wake up call to the fact NO country is too big to be hit. If we do not learn from our history then we should not be shocked by our future!
Mark, Fresno, Ca
The Bush administration continues to manufacture fear and hatred. The 9/11 commission, at least, made it clear there was no Iraq-Al Qaeda connection. And we were able to hear about Bush's indifference to the growing alarm in the months leading up to that day. Some Americans posting here should be ashamed of their desire for revenge at any cost and their inability to get on with their lives.
The 9/11 commission did little to deal with the intangibles such as the financing of the hijackers and the ease of Saudi citizens to obtain US visas.
The report is at its strongest in the careful description of the background to 9/11. It is weaker in its recommendations. It shows the continued failure of US politicians to understand that other ways of life might be different to their own. It suggests promoting the values of America as a "better future" for the Muslim world. But what I fear the Muslim world will see is not a better future, but a country which will not join in international efforts to promote non-parochial law (such as the War Crimes Tribunal). What kind of ideal is that for a moderate Muslim to aspire to?
David, Boston, USA
I am appalled at the insensitivity of some of the comments from the UK. Anyone who says we must put 9/11 behind us will never understand Americans. We will not and should not ever forget. I hear nothing but fear in every excuse explaining why 9/11 happened. I personally don't care why it happened anymore because it did happen! I for one will never cower in fear of any so called terrorist. The 9/11 commission is a joke, anyone can point out mistakes after the fact... the important thing is that we had the right leader at the right time to respond.
John, you "don't care" why it happened? Don't you want to prevent another similar attack from happening? Your "right leader" who impressed you with his response should have prevented it in the first place.
James, Enfield, UK
Why are there so many questions left unanswered? All of the controversy regarding how the World Trade Center collapsed has not been addressed. I have read reports on what happened on 9/11 that make more sense than what I have gathered form the commissions report! Our government is totally failing the American people with these commissions that are a waste of time because there is no accountability.
Tetsuyo, Los Angeles, US
Impact zero. I am not a supporter of Bush, but I don't subscribe to the 20-20 hindsight his critics have on this. If some good comes it will be to knock down the inflated egos and empires of the separate agencies in the US. It really is pathetic how the FBI, CIA, ATF, state, county and other law authorities fight over their perceived jurisdiction.
I understand the cynicism, as well as the desire to move forward. But the Commission mentions they are "mindful of the unfair perspective afforded by hindsight". So much for cynicism about hindsight. Every one of us should better contribute to the political processes at local level, if we are worried about the lack of government response to this report. I think we move forward by trusting that the more we participate, the better things will get. Change will come slow if we solely act as critiques of policy in our own intimate circles, but refuse to even send a simple letter or email to our representatives in the government!
Nazli, Boston, MA
I look forward to reading the report. My fear is it will scapegoat the CIA like the previous report on intelligence leading up to the war. I do hope the report will show that Clinton was in fact on top of terrorism, prevented a number of attacks and actually captured terrorists - and that it is the Bush group who ignored the threat, with many warnings.br />Michael, New York, NY, USA
It's a pity that the person most to blame for the ineffectiveness of the CIA and FBI - Bill Clinton - can't be brought to book. It was he after all who imposed his PC attitudes on those organisations and in doing so robbed them of the edge they need to be effective. Blaming a president who'd been in office less than a year at the time seems silly. The root problems go much further back.
Andrew, Cardiff, UK
It's not anyone's fault. Terrorists just took advantage of everyone's beliefs that North America was safe. Now, maybe people will realize what the soldiers are fighting for and be more supportive of the war on terror.
Andrew, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Where is Dr Rice? Hiding? She is one of the failed architects of homeland security and of the entire Iraq invasion mess.
Robert Shapazian, Los Angeles, CA, USA
There is currently a much greater need for an investigation to understand why 9/11 occurred rather than how. If only there was a mirror big enough to enable the United States to see how it is viewed by the rest of the world...
Jayne Foulger, Toulouse, France
Hopefully, nothing more than a lot of meaningless talk, reports being studied, and another idiot intelligence czar to waste our tax dollars on. At worst the socialist democrats will take one more step in dictatorial control.
Mark Luther, Asheboro, USA
The report is a disappointment. The work of the intelligence community has been politicized to further the aims of the neo-cons. Those of us who are not part of Bush's base are not safer. We will continue to be placed in harm's way as long Bush's base can make money by waging war. The investigation was a whitewash.
Janet Taylor, Bronx, NY, USA
It appears as though the BBC's readers from across the pond have forgotten that the purpose of the 9/11 Commission was to determine what happened. It has done that, and more. The report has outlined recommendations for improvement in several key areas of the US government, changes that will be made if the government has any hope of maintaining the trust of the US people. The report will also remind us of the tragedy that was 9/11, and focus the American people on ensuring that we never again have to undergo such a horrendous loss of lives. Never again.
Brian H West, Islip, New York
This report will play straight into Bush's hands. It sets the stage for a contrived security panic just days before the November election. We'll be on red alert, airports will be at a stand-still, and they will arrest some hapless Arab with much fan-fare. Whew! Bush's government has just averted a terrorist plot! Yippee! Best re-elect him! Meanwhile, sanity groans and the statue of Liberty cries.
Giles, Cincinnati, USA
The commission told us what we already knew. We are not going to win the war on terror; we need good leadership to find a middle ground to get peace. The direction that Bush is taking the US is fight everybody and we don't care how many of our men/women die. History will show the US was wrong and we Americans will pay the price of the Bush administration's failures.
Jackie Rawlings, USA
"Failures of Imagination" is the keyword here. For decades, the FBI, CIA and other agencies that deal with intelligence kept their doors shut to creative people, and hired individuals that lack certain qualities such as creativity, world vision, and intellectuality. The bureaucratic hiring structure that kept an army of staff who values promotion point systems is the responsible entity for not being able to imagine and prevent 9/11. It is time for the intelligence community to open its doors to intelligent and imaginative people.
Polat, Tampa, FL
I read the first chapter of the report. It really scares me. After reading it, I feel George Bush probably is the right man to deal with terrorists.
Kaps, London, UK (ex India)
Come on fellow Brits here, let's be a bit more constructive? Even now, do you think London is better prepared than NY was? Intelligence improvements will be made, but what will Western governments do to persuade the peaceful Muslim majority to 'out' the extreme Islamist minority? Without the Islamic world's help this war will just escalate, and everyone will suffer.
Adam, Kent, UK
Although the 9/11 commission might provide important insight into the events of 9/11 - it also has the potential of becoming a witch-hunt. Of course it's important to tweak certain weaknesses in the system to improve the system, but we cannot search out individuals or organization to blame. It will not bring back the lives of those lost on 9/11. We must look to the future to prevent other terrorist events.
Cristen, Washington, DC
Here we go again! The people who insist on a commission of inquiry will declare this a whitewash because the commission did not say what these people want them to say.
Impact? George Bush will use it as an excuse to further increase the powers of intelligence organisations while further restricting the liberties of common Americans.
Douglas, Brisbane, Australia
President Bill Clinton is to blame for the 9/11 attacks. The World Trade Center, African embassies and U.S.S. Cole were attacked on his watch, and he failed to make adjustments to recognize the al-Qaeda threat. Remember, the hijackers entered the country long before Bush took office. Bill Clinton should apologize.
Tom Sileo, Arlington, VA, United States
The comments mirror the whole Communist hype of the cold war - another excuse to build up arms and become a quasi-military state invading privacy and eroding the Bill of Rights. This is a sad day for what was a great country.
Thom, San Diego, California, USA
How typical of a government review - it's recommendation is to install several more layers of bureaucracy. I heard mention of the need for better communication with the Islamic world - but it would seem from the report that communication won't involve the US actually listening. Tom Ridge says it's an unending struggle against an enemy that won't quit - that suggests there's no way they'd think to examine or modify their own behaviour in the Middle East, specifically with respect to Israel/ Palestine. If the US was to renounce support for Israeli policy and work toward a genuine peace, keep out of other countries' business for a change, I believe truce could break out.
Dave, Christchurch NZ
America needs to change its foreign policy so that it is seen as a force for fairness by the Arab people. The terrorists will have no place to hide if the Arab people are hunting them too. America knew this at one time - by being kind to Japan and Germany after the war, turning former enemies into friends. Terrorism in the Middle East is a reaction to America's policies.
John, Edmonton, Canada
There was a collective responsibility for the errors and misconceptions that occurred. However, no single individual should be singled out for blame. That's the emerging pattern isn't it?
The impact of the 9/11 Commission findings is that it will help prevent this from ever happening again. It will also give closure to so many families and friends of the 9/11 victims.
Margaret, Twin Cities, USA
The terrorists found a weakness in airport security and exploited it. If that security had been better they would have found some other way of attacking the US.
As usual everybody will get blamed apart from the terrorists that actually murdered those 3,000 people. They made a conscious decision and are the only ones responsible.
Commissions after commissions. Inquiries after inquiries. Investigations after investigations. The results are the same, nobody resigns, no one is fired, lots of money spent. Life goes on, the poor taxpayers are suckered again.
Mike Aziz, Vancouver, Canada
The impact will not be much. The war has been done. I think the focus should be on how the US will contain al-Qaeda in the midst of so much anger and hatred around the world for US policy. The US government must increase the recruitment of non-US citizens as a clandestine operative for intelligence. The US must reach out to the hundreds of millions of poor Muslims living in Africa that do not share the radicalism and help them get out of poverty through programmes that support entrepreneurial development.
Trevor, Freetown, Sierra Leone
I would have thought that it would be more important and a lot more productive to fix the problem rather than to fix the blame. As far as I can see security is a lot tighter now than it was before, but the reality is that no country nowadays will ever be 100% safe and no matter what your foreign policies there will always be some group somewhere that disagrees with you.
Andy, GA, USA
This report will cause widespread anxiety, fear, and paranoia throughout the American voting public. Will us non-Americans notice any difference?
Gary Chiles, Wellington, New Zealand
Why is everyone still looking for someone to blame for 9/11? It is the terrorists who are solely to blame. It was a tragic event and any lessons which can help prevent terrorist attacks in the future should learned, but pointing the finger at individuals or organisations is no benefit to anyone and the money wasted establishing who to blame could be better spent on intelligence or security systems.
Dave, Reading, UK
Will it actually improve airport security? Four weeks ago I was travelling through a US airport back to London, and due to the connecting flight being delayed, I only had 25 minutes to get across terminals and onto my plane. The result? The airline moved me via the backdoor (after walking out of the terminal) and therefore avoiding all the security. US security is better than it was - but it still had a long way to go.
Mark, Reading, UK
One good thing to come out of this is that airport security is at least taken seriously now. On a recent trip to Australia, I was pleased to see that anyone suspicious-looking was taken aside for lengthy questioning and a thorough search. An slight inconvenience for those selected, I suppose, but far better than risking the lives of passengers.
Iago Murphy, UK
History also tells us that the US intelligence service also had enough information to positively conclude that there was going to be an attack on Pearl Harbour. The only thing we can do now is learn from it, get over it and move on before the terrorists get ahead too far again. You can bet those al-Qaeda fanatics are laughing like crazy at us wallowing in our sanctimonious drivel.
Trevor, Colchester, UK
Blaming airport security for 9/11 is like blaming Hiroshima's anti-aircraft battery for the city being nuked in 1945! Any realistic approach to stopping another 9/11 has to start way before terrorists are about to board a plane. Convenient as it might be to scapegoat the little people in this tragedy it will not protect us in the future.
John F, Macclesfield, UK
Two words: Political Football. Bush messed up, but neither Kerry or Clinton would have done any better.
Colin McClelland, FL, USA
This is like Anderson auditing Enron. I watched all the testimonies, I don't the current form should be acceptable. At least someone should be ultimately responsible. If they want to call him czar so be it.
Assigning blame for intelligence failures related to stopping the 9/11 attacks is wasted energy. Give the terrorists credit, they had a bold and brilliant (though evil) plan that no one on the face of the planet anticipated. The real inquiry, where a commission is needed, is to probe the intelligence failures on Iraq's WMD and on the profoundly inept planning process for the post invasion occupation.
Duncan, New Jersey, USA
The report will do little in the long run. The FBI and CIA ceased to be effective a long time ago because of the bureaucratic mentality that is so entrenched in them.
Charles, Montreal, Canada
Maybe the report will actually remind the world why we are fighting this war on terror.
Brendan, Hoboken, New Jersey, USA
The result will be the usual. Once again Bush will seize the opportunity to spend more money in security. As long as there companies in the US (in a position to affect the government decisions) that profit from war we will continue to see wars that could be avoided by other measures. By declaring the "war on terror" Bush denied the US public the opportunity to learn a useful lesson from 9/11. That lesson is that war is always a tragedy and should always be the last resort.
Kalliopi K, Luxemburg
Blame is being placed on organisations rather than individuals (as was done in the UK and elsewhere). This allows high ranking officials to get off the hook. As a result of the inquiry, the US is likely to appoint some type of "intelligence czar" who will oversee all intelligence agencies - as the CIA was intended to do when originally formed. Will this improve things - it might - but as we have seen in the 9/11 situation and other events, the significant issue is not necessarily what you know but what you do with the information you have.
Dave Woods, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
How come there's no time and date stamp on the CCTV footage of the "hijackers"? There always is. C'mon tell us - how come? Sorry, I won't be fooled by this...
As far as I'm concerned I think Michael Moore should be compiling the report. We might finally get to hear the truth.
Amy, Reading, Berks
Whatever decisions are made, is adding another layer of management in the form of an 'intelligence czar' really going to help things? Perhaps forcing US intelligence organisations to communicate with each other - CIA, FBI, police, etc - would be the obvious first step.
It'll just stir up 9/11 emotions again and put it back in the news again. They can't just let us put it behind us and move on. They have to keep rehashing it.
E, Norwich, UK
Big deal about the commission, hindsight is a wonderful thing, how many of us have said 'if only I had realised' after the events. Something else will happen that will eclipse the mistakes made in the run up to 9/11 and the findings of this report will be forgotten. Will the right people resign or be punished? Probably not.
Duncan, Salisbury, UK
George Bush to confirm to all that black is white; yes is no and rich is poor. Incompetence is to be re-branded as "risk-taking leadership" - Storm clouds are in fact sunshine in disguise - the world never looked better through a blind man's eyes. Now we're looking at an Iranian link to 9/11 - is this so we can all forget about Iraq for a while?
Hindsight is always 20:20 vision. I don't think any one in the US security setup thought that there would be an attack made on US soil. At the time the State Dept. was warning of attacks against US interests in various parts of the world not in the US. I think they thought the US was too rich, too powerful and too far away from the world's trouble spots to be attacked. The debate should be about the effectiveness of the US response to the attacks on the 11th of September.
Brian, Newcastle UK
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn't it? Could more have been done to prevent the attacks? Maybe, maybe not, but don't forget that the people responsible are the terrorists who planned and carried out the attacks, NOT the people who failed to prevent them. Nor are they the fault of people who happen to live in a country said terrorists might have been from/been supported by/visited/lived near. Let's just hope that, somehow, some good can come out of all of this.
Stephanie Clarke, Cambridge, UK
Yet another whitewash... when has any enquiry blamed a top figure for anything...... Yet another waste of time and resources...
Impact? Have you just arrived on this planet? A few precious trees will fall, reforms will be instituted, hot air will be dispensed and five years from now we will start the whole circus all over again.
Bob, Pittsburgh USA