Lieberman Says 9/11 Families Needed More Than Ever

Following is the text of Senator Lieberman’s opening statement for the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs August 17th hearing on the 9/11 Commission recommendations:

Thank you Madam Chairman and good morning to our witnesses: Steven Push, Mary Fetchet, and Kristin Breitweiser. Yours have become familiar faces, as friends and colleagues in this quest to understand how 9-11 could have happened and how we can prevent something like it from happening again. We are moving toward our shared goal of passing the needed reforms that might have prevented 9-11 and which we believe will help detect and prevent future attacks. In December 2001, Senator John McCain and I proposed the establishment of a commission to help us understand 9-11. But our bill would not have been enacted had the families of the 9-11 victims not come to Washington and brought on the public pressure that forced the Administration and Congress to move. But the three of you have become skilled enough in the legislative process to know that we are not there yet. Your continued advocacy is still needed. When the Commission had difficulty gaining access to information it needed . . . when the Commission needed its budget increased . . . when some in Congress threatened to block the Commission’s request for a two-month extension, the families stepped forward and spoke out with a moral clarity that swept aside all attempts to delay, deny or deflect this investigation. On each of these occasions, you were there and the result was better than it would have been otherwise. If a Congressman or Senator refused to meet with Kristen Breitweiser and her three compatriots – known collectively as the Jersey Girls – three of them would wait inside the office while the fourth staked out the side door. Steven Push made friends with local editors and reporters around the country and if a Congressman or Senator was opposing the 9-11 Commission, Steven made sure that member’s hometown voters knew about it. Mary Fetchet opened up her home in New Canaan, Conn., to family members of other 9-11 victims who needed to share their grief or seek assistance. And then in the spare time she had left, she worked 15 hours a week lobbying for the 9-11 Commission all the way up to the President himself. I continue to be awed by the drive of these families to turn personal tragedy into safety for our nation. America deserved to know the truth. And our witnesses were among the many dedicated family members who put their lives aside to make that happen. Now the Commission has finished its work. The story of 9-11 has been laid before the American public, along with recommendations for reform. Congress is starting to move and opposition to the 9-11 Commission is beginning to be felt. These citizens, these survivors, have become successful advocates. You are a mighty force. You are a citizen army, a moral force. I continue to be awed and inspired by your ability to turn your personal tragedies into better public safety for this nation. Your presence has given me confidence that, when all is said and done, we’re going to have the reform we need to keep this country safe. So I want to say to the families, we need you now more than ever. We’ve come this far together. We need to stay together to get genuine intelligence reform done. Thank you.