WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Thursday appealed to the administration to cease its reported efforts to block the public release of a voluminous report produced last year on the September 11th terrorist attacks. Admonishing the administration for permitting its culture of secrecy to interfere with the national interest, Lieberman said the controversy surrounding release of the final report of the Congressional Intelligence Committees’ Joint Inquiry into the terrorist attacks undermines the government’s efforts to learn from its mistakes and build upon its strengths.
“I fear the administration is placing bureaucratic, political, or secrecy interests ahead of the national interest,” Lieberman said. “This does not bode well for the monumental intelligence-sharing tasks that lie ahead and reminds us of how little the leadership at the very top is doing to change the ingrained and counter-productive culture of the intelligence community.”
The Joint Inquiry report was completed in December 2002 and has been undergoing a declassification process for five months. Media reports have indicated that White House and intelligence agency officials are stalling the release and attempting to reclassify information already in the public domain.
“A year and a half later, we are still waiting to learn the lessons of September 11th – what went wrong, and how we can correct it, and what went right and how we can build on it,” Lieberman said. “The task is all the more difficult without this basic primer from the Joint Inquiry. Access to the inquiry’s unclassified final report would allow all government agencies, as well as state, local, and private entities, to evaluate whether they have indeed learned the right lessons and taken them into account in their efforts to provide the best security possible for all Americans.”
In the online version of Newsweek, Congressman Porter Goss, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was quoted as saying the clearance process had become “horrendously frustrating… Senior intelligence officials said things in public hearings that they [administration officials] don’t want us to put in the report… That’s not something I can rationally accept without further public explanation.” Lieberman concluded: “At the very least, the families of the September 11th victims deserve a definitive, comprehensive, and independent investigation to put their many outstanding questions to rest. The work of the Joint Inquiry began to do that and the independent commission now looking at the attacks will build on its work. The Joint Inquiry’s report is long overdue to see the light of day.”