EDITOR’S NOTE: “Are We Safer Today?” is available for streaming online through PBS. The documentary will also air on WTIU on Nov. 13 at 3:30 p.m.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana University will host the Midwestern premiere of a new documentary that chronicles and examines the work, impact and legacy of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, better known as the 9/11 Commission.
“Are We Safer Today?,” written, created and produced by Indianapolis-based Naptown Media, tells the story of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission and the impact, then and now, of the investigation into the deadly terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 – the largest investigation in U.S. history. The film includes footage from a group discussion, featuring seven of the eight surviving members of the 9/11 Commission, who reunited at IU last fall for only the second time since they issued their landmark report in 2004.
The 90-minute documentary, which will air on public television beginning in early November, will be screened at a special invitation-only event Sept. 29 at the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies on the Bloomington campus. The event will be presented by the IU Center on Representative Government, which collaborated with Naptown Media on and supported the documentary project.
“The 9/11 Commission, the last truly bipartisan collaboration in our nation’s history, went to extraordinary lengths to investigate the attacks on our nation and their precursors, and to identify the most meaningful actions our democracy could take to mitigate future catastrophic events,” said former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton, who served as vice chair of 9/11 Commission and is the co-creator of the documentary project. “This superb documentary examines the critical work of the commission and its recommendations to prevent future attacks that have made a real difference in protecting our national security. Perhaps most notably, though, it reflects how our system of self-government can rise to meet the many challenges before us if it shows the kind of bipartisan determination that the 9/11 attacks awakened.”
Hamilton, who is expected to attend the premiere, is a senior advisor for IU’s nonpartisan Center on Representative Government, which he established in 1999 as the Center on Congress. He is also a distinguished scholar at the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies and a professor of practice at the IU Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.
Hamilton participated in last year’s group discussion along with former New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean, the commission’s chair.
The project probes the critical elements of the commission’s findings and how well the federal government has implemented its extensive recommendations for American security. It also highlights the commission’s unique bipartisan nature – the committee included five Republicans and five Democrats – as well as the critical role 9/11 families played in establishing the commission and ensuring that many of its 2004 recommendations were achieved. These recommendations were presented in clear, simple language in a report that was so accessible to the public that it remains the only bestselling publication produced by the U.S. government.
“The work of the 9/11 Commission was extraordinary,” said Bob Massie, the documentary’s executive producer. “They addressed systemic problems in the government’s preparedness, and they did it in a bipartisan manner. It is important for this and future generations to see a sterling example of how – in response to a national tragedy and in times of intense partisanship – a group of partisan leaders can come together for the good of the country.”
The documentary project also includes the compilation of oral histories from the 9/11 commissioners and their staff. These oral histories will form the basis of a new civic education curriculum and digital application that will be written, produced and distributed by the IU Center on Representative Government in partnership with Naptown Media. The project also includes a new, nine-episode podcast, which debuts this month and includes detailed insights from the staff who crafted the 9/11 Commission Report.
The 9/11 Commission was established in November 2002 by then-President George W. Bush and Congress and charged with making a complete accounting of the facts surrounding the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93, which killed nearly 3,000 people, and developing recommendations for the prevention of future acts of terrorism. Family members of those who died were instrumental in calling for the creation of the commission.