Senator Rockefeller was appointed to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) in January 2001. His tenure coincided with some of the most critical years for the SSCI and the intelligence community. Only eight months after joining the Committee, terrorists carried out the 9/11 attacks, thrusting the Intelligence Community, and the SSCI, into the limelight in unprecedented ways and changing the nature of the conduct of intelligence oversight.
Using select materials from the archives of Senator Jay Rockefeller, the exhibit explores how the intelligence community and the SSCI responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The exhibit text is derived from the Memorandum for the Record regarding a review of Senator John D. Rockefeller’s Service on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: 2001-2015.
Senators Jay Rockefeller and Dianne Feinstein confer during a hearing of the SSCI, January 22, 2009, Senate Photographic Studio
Within a month of the attacks, the United States launched operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and in March 2003, invaded Iraq. These conflicts, and what became known as the “Global War on Terror,” dominated American national security policy and defined the agenda of the SSCI during Rockefeller’s terms as Vice Chairman and Chairman.
Rockefeller made priorities of both intelligence community reform and congressional oversight of intelligence programs. He was tenacious in pushing the SSCI to investigate the NSA’s surveillance program and the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. During his chairmanship, the Committee began reviewing the CIA interrogation records, resulting in one of the largest reports in Senate history, which would be commonly referred to as "The Torture Report."
Using select materials from the archives of Senator Jay Rockefeller, the exhibit explores how the intelligence community and the SSCI responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The exhibit opened in September 2021 on the 20th anniversary of the attacks, as America exited Afghanistan and ended its combat mission in Iraq. The archives and exhibit offer an opportunity to reflect on some of the events and decisions that have reshaped the world and American democracy.
The exhibit was curated by Danielle Emerling, Associate Curator, Congressional and Political Papers Archivist, with research contributed by Library Associate Ashley Brooker and Graduate Assistants Crystal Coon, Meredith Dreistadt, and Hannah McCoy.