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Democracy Matters - Episode 73: Making Sense of Collective Mass Trauma: Lessons from the 9/11 Commission


 
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SUMMARY: Dr. Philip Zelikow, who served as the executive director of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, better known as the "9/11 Commission," discusses how the Commission and its report helped the public and policymakers make sense of a collective mass trauma.


This year marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 extremist terrorist attacks on the United States driven by Usama bin Ladin. In this episode, we talk with Dr. Philip Zelikow, who served as the executive director of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, better known as the "9/11 Commission." The Commission's landmark report was published in 2004 and provides an authoritative narrative on the attacks and U.S. response to them. The Commission's work and report provide lessons for making sense of collective mass trauma and reimagining more responsive governing institutions.

Philip Zelikow is the White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He has also served at all levels of American government, including as an elected member of a town school board. He began his professional career as a trial and appellate lawyer in Texas, including work for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. After returning to graduate school and then teaching for the Navy, he joined the Foreign Service and served as a career diplomat, posted overseas and in Washington, including service on the NSC staff for President George H.W. Bush.

Dr. Zelikow also directed the 2001 Commission on National Election Reform, chaired by former Presidents Carter and Ford. This work led directly to congressional passage of the bipartisan Help America Vote Act of 2002. He has also been a member of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board both for President Bush (2001-03) and for President Obama (2011-13), one of few individuals to serve on this board in administrations of both parties. Dr. Zelikow was a member of the Defense Policy Board (2015-17). He also advised the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s program in global development (2007-12). He is currently leading the privately-sponsored Covid Commission Planning Group (2021).

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Published: Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Last Updated: Saturday, August 14, 2021

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