Remembering the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks: A Conversation with Former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell

Co-sponsored by the Institute for Human Ecology and the Intelligence Studies Program.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 convulsed our country, and the effects reverberate to this day. Americans learned that day that in their own country they were not safe from external attack. The U.S. response to the attacks raised enduring questions about ends and means. How can a people flourish under the continual threat of attack by extremists bent on violence? How far do we go with security measures to ensure public safety?

These continuing questions manifest how the 9/11 attacks brought into vivid relief the relationship between security and liberty. Americans have had to grapple with the idea that, while too little security leaves us vulnerable to attack, too much security can undermine the liberty by which we define ourselves as Americans. As a people, we’ve been debating the proper balance ever since

Even so, this traumatic event is marching into the past and, for all its importance, out of our memories: our University’s seniors graduating this year barely remember 9/11—most of them were five years old.

To help us remember and put in context the 9/11 attacks and what followed, former acting director of CIA Michael Morell agreed to offer his memories and insights to the Catholic University community. Mr. Morell served at that time as President George W. Bush’s CIA briefer and was with the President in Florida on that morning. He later served in several crucial leadership roles in CIA as the Agency sought and eventually found Osama Bin Ladin. He was CIA’s deputy director during the raid on Bin Ladin’s compound by US special forces.

In an interview setting with Nicholas Dujmovic, director of the University’s Intelligence Studies Program, Michael Morell relates the challenges, frustrations, and accomplishments of the men and women of US intelligence as they worked to make sure another 9/11 would not occur.