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Fact-Finding Investigations In U.S. History

Thompson Hicks Nordstrom
Cliff Owen/AP
FR170079 AP
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., holds a hearing about last year's deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 8, 2013. From right are witnesses Mark Thompson, the State Department's acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism, Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Libya, and Eric Nordstrom, the State Department's former regional security officer in Libya. House Republicans insist the Obama administration is covering up information about the attack, rejecting administration assurances to the contrary and stoking a controversy with implications for the 2016 presidential race. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

More than six months after the capitol riots, many unanswered questions remain. On this edition of River to River, a conversation about what fact-finding commissions of the past may reveal about the present.

Host Ben Kieffer is joined by presidential historian Tim Walch and political scientist and presidential scholar Donna Hoffman to look at U.S. history and learn what makes fact-finding commissions a challenge to set up, and what makes them effective at getting to the root causes of what is often a national tragedy or crisis.

Throughout the discussion, Ben Kieffer and his guests examine the investigations following September 11th, Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy assassination, the Challenger explosion, and other investigations of historical significance.


  • Tim Walch, director emeritus of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum
  • Donna Hoffman, professor of political science at University of Northern Iowa
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Matthew is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa