WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of Senators Thursday expressed gratitude for the extraordinary work produced by the September 11th Commission and announced plans to introduce legislation in September to implement the Commission’s recommendations.
At a press conference attended by Commission Chairman Tom Kean and Vice Chair Lee Hamilton and several family members of September 11th victims, the Senators praised the Commission recommendations as bold and innovative and pledged to approach the task of legislating them into law with the same bipartisan spirit that marked the Commission’s work.
The group of senators included Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz. – co-authors of legislation introduced in December 2001 to create the Commission; Senator Arlen Specter, R-Pa., a senior member of the Judiciary and Appropriations Committees and former Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence; and Senator Evan Bayh, D-Ind., a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Armed Services Committee.
The Senators said their plan was to introduce legislation faithful to the Commission’s recommendations but they acknowledged, as the legislation wends its way through Congress, changes likely would be made. All agreed they must work on a bipartisan basis
McCain said: “The release of this report is a seminal event. Few commissions in the last 100 years affected national policy. The 9-11 Commission is one that will.”
Lieberman said: “The status quo has failed us and it must change. So, today, in the spirit of bipartisanship, we are accepting the challenge offered to us by the Commission. We pledge to breathe life into their efforts, to animate their recommendations, and to meet the great test of this generation, which is to win the war on terror.”
Specter said: “We are certainly on alert and the time has come for some action to put all of the intelligence agencies under one umbrella. With the filing of this very distinguished Commission’s report, the time is really ripe for action. There is no doubt in my mind that had all of the information been available in a coordinated matter, that 9/11 could have been prevented.” Senators Specter and Lieberman introduced the Homeland Security Bill 30 days after September 11, 2001.
Bayh said: “The 9-11 Commission has done a national service in determining what led to the tragedy. Their work will be for naught unless we translate their recommendations into action. While I don’t agree with every detail of every proposal, we cannot allow inertia, bureaucratic turf protection and political gridlock to stop actions to prevent another 9-11 or something even worse. We must maintain the momentum for constructive change. It has dissipated as the shock of the attack has worn off. My endorsement of these recommendations is an attempt to regain it.”