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Need to Know More About 9/11?

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Zelikow's name is familiar in academic circles in Virginia, because he's also director of the Miller Center for Public Affairs and a history professor at the University of Virginia.

Little new ground is broken in the broadcast, which focuses on the process of the investigation of the 9/11 attacks and the commission's recommendations. Nonetheless, while walking the tightrope between political diplomacy and candid discussion, Zelikow makes no bones about what the commission found: The U.S. government didn't work as a team. The most significant lapse was a failure of imagination. "Somehow the full potential of all that talent was not being realized," Zelikow says.

He also maintains that if we want to prevent another attack, the government might have to do "things that seem disproportionate." Bringing the discussion's relevance to the moment, he cautions that "Some people will say that with Iraq, President Bush learned that lesson right, and some people will say that with Iraq, President Bush overlearned that lesson."

Commonwealth Public Broadcasting President Charles W. Sydnor who hosts the program, will annoy many viewers with verbal tics more appropriate to a rambling conversation. He peppers Zelikow's answers with murmurings of agreement: "Yeah, yeah, yeah" and "right, right." And he raises too many topics by asking, "Could you talk a little about…," rather than honing his questions. The program's drab set does little to make the broadcast visually interesting.

But the substance of the interview is compelling enough to overcome its shortcomings. The overriding reason for watching is we do have a need to know. — Don Dale

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