WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Monday called on the White House and all government agencies to cooperate fully with the September 11th independent commission in order that the gaps in the nation’s domestic security defenses might be permanently closed. Lieberman cited intelligence gaps, in particular, that led to the worst foreign attack on U.S. soil in history.
“Everyone has a job to do,” Lieberman said. “The Bush White House must cooperate, as must all government agencies and members of previous administrations. And those of us in Congress must ensure that the Commission has the resources it needs to go wherever the evidence leads. With an 18-month tenure, this investigation is on a tight time frame; it must not be frustrated by anyone protecting the status quo.
“The Commission’s members also have a responsibility to the American people,” Lieberman continued, “to be aggressive, tireless, and searching in their inquiry, sparing no tough questions and following through on every lead. That is the only way we will ever be able to learn from our government’s failures and move forward to close the glaring gaps in our domestic defenses – and especially within the intelligence community – so that we are never caught off guard again.”
Lieberman and Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced legislation in December 2001 to create the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. The White House resisted an independent inquiry until September 2002 when it was clear the commission had near unanimous support in the Senate. The Commission is expected to examine the facts and causes relating to the terrorist attacks, to make a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding the attacks, and to report on the extent of the United States’ preparedness for them.
“If the Commission is allowed to do its work without interference, it will be able to finally lay to rest some of the wrenching questions that still haunt the families of September 11th’s victims and all Americans,” said Lieberman.
Former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean chairs the Commission. Former Rep. Lee Hamilton is vice-chair. Other members of the Commission include Democrats Max Cleland, Tim Roemer, Richard Ben-Veniste, and Jamie Gorelick; and Republicans Slade Gorton, Jim Thompson, John Lehman, and Fred Fielding.