WASHINGTON – Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said intelligence reform legislation approved by the Senate Wednesday was strengthened by the inclusion of nearly all the recommendations made by the 9-11 Commission on a range of other homeland security matters.
McCain and Lieberman had introduced legislation, S. 2774, in September to implement the 41 recommendations made by the Commission in its July report – including the creation of a National Intelligence Director but also including a variety of measures to improve the security of air travel, of the nation’s critical infrastructure, and at our borders.
Each of these provisions was added to the intelligence reform bill, S.2845 – shepherded through the Senate by Senators Susan Collins, R-Me., and Lieberman – by agreement or amendment during the past week of debate.
McCain and Lieberman, who co-authored legislation in December 2001 to create the 9-11 Commission, agreed the final result was the strongest possible measure the Senate could have produced to try and prevent future terrorist attacks on our homeland.
“This is an incredible bipartisan victory for the security of our country. In addition to thanking the managers of the legislation, I want to acknowledge the hard work of the Commissioners and especially the dedication of the families of the 9/11 victims, who turned their personal loss into a passionate appeal for a safer America,” said McCain. ote:
“Senator McCain and I felt a duty to carry on the Commission’s work to its logical legislative conclusion,” Lieberman said. “The Senate bill is historic in its sweep and import, and we are indebted not only to the 9-11 Commission and Senator Collins, but to the moral courage of the 9/11 families, and to a Senate, which like the Commission itself, was able to rise above party label and put the nation’s security before political considerations. We now call on President Bush to exert his influence and persuade the House to abandon the divisive provisions in its bill so that we can enact these critical reforms into law as soon as possible.”
Among other things, the McCain-Lieberman provisions added to the intelligence reform bill would:
• Develop an integrated system to ensure adequate screening at the nation’s entry points, internal transportation systems, and critical infrastructure vulnerable to terrorist attack.
• Make it harder to acquire fraudulent birth certificates, driver’s licenses and other forms of identification that terrorists hide behind.
• Improve transportation security, including strengthening screening for explosives on airplanes.
• Require development of a transportation security strategy that will analyze and prioritize risks to all modes of transportation and then craft plans to protect them.
• Increase aid to Afghanistan, renew U.S. commitment to Pakistan, and open new avenues of dialogue and diplomacy with the Muslim world.
One of the recommendations identified by the Commission as critically important – to reform the way Congress oversees intelligence and homeland security issues – was to be voted on in a separate resolution.