WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., Thursday welcomed a bipartisan agreement on establishing an independent, non-political, blue-ribbon commission to investigate the causes of the September 11th terrorist attacks. The agreement will be added to legislation governing the 2003 activities of federal intelligence agencies.
“This is a decisive victory for the families of September 11th victims and the nation as a whole,” Lieberman said. “Finally, we will get a clear, clean picture of what government agencies failed, how they failed, and why. As we begin to build a Department of Homeland Security, we will need that complete picture in order to ensure that a tragedy of such proportions never happens again.”
“I am pleased that Senator Lieberman and I have reached an agreement to create an independent commission to investigate the events of September 11th,” McCain said. “Our agreement protects the principles we and the families of September 11th have pursued in calling for such a commission since last November: equal bipartisan membership, a broad mandate to review policies and responses related to the terrorist attacks across the range of government agencies, and the subpoena power to dig deep to find out what went wrong and how we can make sure it never happens again,” McCain said. “The families of September 11th will not rest until they have answers to the questions that have haunted them since that day.”
The agreement calls for the establishment of a 10-member National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States to make a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding the attacks. The commission could broadly examine subjects ranging from intelligence failures, to the flow of money to terrorist networks, law enforcement, diplomacy, immigration and border control. Commission membership will be evenly divided among the two parties. Members will be prominent U.S. citizens with national recognition and significant experience in national security issues. None will be current office-holders. The commission will report to the President and Congress on its findings and recommendations after 18 months.
Two commission members each will be chosen by the Senate Republican leader, the Senate Democratic minority leader, the House speaker and the House Democratic leader. One member will be chosen by the president, and one member chosen jointly by Congressional Democratic leaders. The president will choose the commission chair; Democrats choose the vice-chair. Subpoenas could be issued if six members agree or if the chair and vice-chair agree.