Washington, DC – Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, today held the third of a series of hearings to examine the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Senate leaders gave Senator Collins and the Governmental Affairs Committee the responsibility to examine two key recommendations, the proposed creation of a National Counterterrorism Center and a National Intelligence Director (NID) position. Today’s hearing featured three former Directors of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), one who also served as a Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“It is the task of this Committee to draft legislation that would give the head of the intelligence community sufficient authority to do the job, while at the same time being subject to the restraints necessary – the oversight and accountability – to keep the position within the bounds of our Constitutional system of checks and balances,” said Senator Collins. “In other words, we want to create a position with real, not just symbolic authority, yet not impose just another layer of bureaucracy nor grant so much power that we open the door to abuse.”
The witnesses who testified at today’s hearing were: The Honorable William Webster, Former FBI Director (1978-1987) and Former CIA Director (1987-1991), The Honorable James Woolsey, Former CIA Director (1993-1995), and The Honorable Stansfield Turner, Former CIA Director (1977-1978). Former CIA Director (1991-1993). The Honorable Robert Gates also submitted written testimony to the Committee regarding the proposals of the 9/11 Commission. At the invitation of Senator Collins, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) also participated in today’s hearing to offer their input on reforms to the intelligence community.
“There is considerable, but by no means unanimous, support for the notion that putting in place a National Intelligence Director will help strengthen our intelligence system. There is a considerable range of opinion, however, about the details of the position, including how it should be structured, where the Director should work, and what authority the person should have,” said Senator Collins.
Senator Collins expects the Governmental Affairs Committee to hold further hearings this month and in September on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The next hearing, titled “Voicing a Need for Reform: The Families of 9/11,” is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, Augusta 17th, at 9:00am, in the Hart Senate Office Building, Room 216. The Committee’s goal is to approve legislation by October 1st.