Senators Collins, Lieberman Hear Testimony From Secretaries Ridge, Powell at Governmental Affairs Hearing

WASHINGTON—Senator Susan Collins, Chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and Ranking Member Senator Joseph Lieberman today heard testimony from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Secretary of the State Department Colin Powell during a Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on intelligence reform. Today’s hearing marks the seventh hearing held by the committee on intelligence reform legislation, which is expected to be introduced by Senators Collins and Lieberman early next week.

During her opening statement, Senator Collins said that the third anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks serve as a time of grievance, but also a reminder that the government has an obligation to do more than grieve. “We in government have an obligation to dedicate ourselves to the defeat of our enemy. The role of this Committee in this effort is to transform an intelligence structure built for the Cold War into one that meets the demands of the war against terrorism,” said Senator Collins.

“Thanks to the hard work of this committee and the many expert witnesses we have heard from, as well as the efforts of other committees and the Administration, this new structure is within our reach,” she added.

Senator Collins said that significant points of consensus are emerging from the series of seven hearings. “The need for a National Intelligence Director with sufficient authority over budget and personnel to do the job effectively becomes more and more evident. The power of this NID position cannot inhibit the competitive analysis advantage we gain from a vigorous intelligence community,” she said.

Senator Collins added, “Virtually ever witness has endorsed a National Counterterrorism Center that will integrate our knowledge and coordinate our fight against global terrorism. Intelligence reform should enhance, not detract, from military intelligence and readiness.”

“As we have heard from many witnesses, there is a direct link between budget authority and the probability the NID will forge the unity of effort our intelligence community must have in order to defend our country against terrorism and other threats,” Lieberman said. “I am heartened by the fact that there is also a growing consensus that we need to establish a National Counterterrorism Center, and other centers, along the lines recommended by the Commission, to better target our efforts in critical areas.”