WASHINGTON – Senators Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and John McCain, R-Ariz., – authors of legislation to create the commission now looking into the September 11th terrorist attacks – Monday sought an extension of the commission’s life so it can complete a comprehensive investigation into the most horrific attack upon U.S. citizens in our nation’s history. The two senators introduced legislation (S. 2040) to extend the authority of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States until January 10, 2005, and to provide an additional $6 million for its continued work. Last week, the commission requested additional time beyond its current May 27, 2004, deadline in order to complete its work.
“I don’t want to muzzle the commission,” Lieberman said. “The goal of an extension is to allow it adequate time to do the work we asked it to do. We owe that to the families of the September 11th victims and to the future security of our nation.” “An extension, until after the November elections, is warranted to ensure a comprehensive and thorough investigation in a non-partisan environment,” McCain said. “There should be no rush to complete a report that must address issues related to the very security of the American people.” Additional co-sponsors include Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., Senators Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., Bob Graham, D-Fla., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Representatives Vito Fossella, R-N.Y., Chris Shays, R-Conn., Reps. Hinchey, D-N.Y. and Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., who will introduce companion legislation in the House. Last week, the commission asked Congress for at least an additional 60 days to finalize its interviews, conduct more hearings, and report. The families of September 11th victims, however, urged a longer extension. The commission was created to hold public hearings, question witnesses, seek facts, and assess the situation leading up to the tragedy of September 11th. Congress and the relevant federal agencies will use the findings to develop new strategies and capabilities designed to deter and prevent future terrorist attacks.