Washington, DC – The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Senator Susan Collins, held the first Congressional hearing today to examine the recommendations of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, known as the 9/11 Commission. Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, testified about the recommendations that the Commission released in its recent report.
Last week, Senate Leadership tasked the Governmental Affairs Committee with holding hearings on the Commission’s recommendations. Chairman Collins today focused on two of the major proposals: to create a new National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and a new position of National Intelligence Director (NID). The Committee will review other recommendations in subsequent hearings.
“We must act with speed, but not in haste. We must be bold, but we cannot be reckless. We must protect not just the lives of our citizens, but also those values that make life worth living,” said Chairman Collins. “The NCTC, as envisioned by the Commission, would not be another layer of bureaucracy, but rather a means by which our intelligence agencies can share and integrate their expertise, their information, and their institutional memories. The proposed NID would have the authority to allocate resources and control budgets to ensure that the most important priorities are funded in keeping with the policies established by the President and his National Security Council.”
The 9/11 Commission called for a restructuring of the national intelligence community. It recommended the creation of a NCTC to unify intelligence analysis and operational planning. It also recommended the creation of the NID position to direct the country’s entire intelligence effort, which now involves 15 agencies scattered across the federal government.
“The 9/11 Commission has given us a roadmap that it believes will better protect our nation and our liberty. It is important that Congress is able to give these recommendations careful consideration and determine the best way to act on them legislatively as expeditiously as possible,” said Chairman Collins. “This reorganization of the national intelligence community represents a massive change in our organizational structure and a sea change in our thinking. The precise form and extent of reorganization remain to be determined. And we need to make clear, just as the 9/11 report does, that the intelligence failures we are discussing were not the result of individual negligence, but of institutional rigidity.”
Senator Collins expects the Governmental Affairs Committee to hold further hearings this month and in September. The next hearing is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, August 3rd, with additional hearings on Augusta 16th and 17th. The Committee’s goal is to report out legislation by October 1st.