Led by incoming chairman Senator Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn. and incoming Ranking Member Susan Collins, R.-Me, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held its first hearing of the 110th Congress today on “Ensuring Full Implementation of the 9/11 Commission’s Recommendations.”
Covering the unfulfilled recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, the hearing set priorities for homeland security legislation expected to be passed out of Committee within the month.
“In the five years since September 11, we have made significant progress in improving and restructuring our intelligence and homeland security communities, but we would be remiss in thinking our work is done,” Lieberman said. “Significant steps need to be taken, including improving information sharing among federal, state, and local agencies, ensuring our first responders have the equipment to communicate with one another in the face of disaster, and preventing terrorist infiltration into the United States. I am committed to working with the members of this Committee to write legislation that will address these and other un-adopted, unimplemented or inadequately implemented portions of the 9/11 Commission Report.”
“Congress has already enacted many significant measures to achieve the goals of the 9/11 Commission, starting with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which represented the most sweeping reform of the intelligence community in more than 50 years. The comprehensive legislation also included other wide-ranging provisions to protect Americans from the threat of terrorism. Congress also recently passed new laws to greatly strengthen protections for the country’s cargo ports and chemical facilities,” said Senator Collins. “However, urgent and unfinished business remains, such as improving interoperable communications, which is so vital to any coordinated disaster response.”
The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed legislation which was then adopted as law to create the 9/11 Commission to look into how and why the September 11, 2001 terror attacks could have happened. After the Commission reported its findings and recommendations, the Homeland Security Committee passed legislation in 2005 to put those recommendations into statute. Among other things, the legislation reorganized the nation’s intelligence community, created a Director of National Intelligence to coordinate the federal government’s intelligence gathering operations, and established a National Counter Terrorism Center to coordinate analysis of that information.
Now the Committee is drafting legislation to fill in the gaps and implement 9/11 commission recommendations that were never legislated or that have not been fully implemented.
The Committee heard testimony from Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, former 9/11 Commission Co-Chairman Lee Hamilton, and former 9/11 Commissioners Slade Gorton and Timothy Roehner, as well as James Thomas, Commissioner of the Connecticut Deparment of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Chief Joseph C. Carter, President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and Mary Fetchet, Founding Director, Voices of September 11, Carie Lemack, Co-Founder and President, Families of September 11, and Carol Ashley, Family Advisory Board Member, Voices of September 11.