The roots of September 11

The roots of September 11

Miller Center events that examined how the United States found itself vulnerable to terrorist attacks

Following the events of September 11, Americans found themselves asking why and how it could happen. At the Miller Center, guests examined the question from several angles.

‘We found a lot of problems’

Eleanor Hill was the staff director of Congress's Joint Committee Into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001. She joined the Miller Center in June 2003 to examine the lessons of September 11, with an introduction by Ken Thompson.

‘You really need to decide what you want to do here in Afghanistan’

In November 2004, the Center welcomed Steve Coll, then the managing editor of the Washington Post, to examine the roots of the attack in Afghanistan and CIA activity in the country. Coll's book, Ghost Wars, won the Pulitzer Prize, which called the book “a news-breaking account of the CIA's involvement in the covert wars in Afghanistan that fueled Islamic militancy and gave rise to bin Laden's al Qaeda.” Today Coll is a staff writer at the New Yorker and dean of the Columbia School of Journalism.

‘It's a clash of identity’

In September 2006, the Miller Center welcomed yet another Pulitzer Prize–winner to explore the origins of the September 11 attacks as Lawrence Wright discussed his book The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. The Center's George Gilliam once again provided the introduction and Tim Naftali, the author of Blind Spot: The Secret History of American Counterterrorism, joined for a question and answer session following the talk. Naftali directed the Miller Center's Presidential Recordings Program until taking over as the first director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in October 2016.