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Public Statements

9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


9/11 RECOMMENDATIONS IMPLEMENTATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - October 08, 2004)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 827 and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, H.R. 10.

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Mr. NETHERCUTT. Mr. Chairman, it is clear that our current intelligence system has failed us in recent years.

I do not doubt the capacities of individual analysts within our intelligence agencies and know them to be talented and capable individuals. But the configuration of the present intelligence system has denied our leaders the information we need to adequately warn of and respond to terrorist threat.

Our current intelligence structure dates to the National Security Act of 1947. It is a structure directed to a threat that no longer exists, the Soviet Union. We won the Cold War and it is time to reconfigure our intelligence capabilities to fight the next major threat of our generation, the threat of international terrorism.

The bill before us, H.R. 10, responds substantively to the broad range of recommendations offered by the 9/11 Commission. It creates a strong National Intelligence Director with strengthened budget authorities and new flexibility to redirect funding to urgent needs. All management of tasking, collection, analysis and dissemination of intelligence will be centralized within the office of the NID.

At the same time, the legislation acknowledges the very real requirements of the largest user of national intelligence products, the Department of Defense. H.R. 10 maintains full support for DOD during a time of war-efforts to integrate our national intelligence effort should not come at the expense of the requirements of warfighters. Indeed the 9/11 Report recommended that DOD military intelligence programs should remain part of that Department's responsibility.

We should reject the criticisms we have heard today about the scope of the House bill. The House shouldn't be a rubber stamp for legislation considered by the other body, any more than the other body should be the rubber stamp for the broad recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Passage of this bill today will allow both chambers to move to conference to reconcile the differences between the two pieces of legislation.

Similarly, I disagree with the notion argued here today that because opponents consider certain provisions to somehow be "extraneous," we should refuse to consider them. The preface to the 9/11 Report succinctly describes the mandate of the Commission: "How did this happen, and how can we avoid such a tragedy again?" Such also is our mandate-and we should not consider our work done with a retooling of our intelligence apparatus.

The scope of Public Law 107-306, establishing the 9/11 Commission, was far broader than an examination of the intelligence agencies. It directed an investigation of the "facts and circumstances relating to the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001, including those relating to intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, diplomacy, immigration issues and border control, the flow of assets to terrorist organizations, commercial aviation, the role of congressional oversight and resource allocation, and other areas determined relevant by the Commission."

Improvements to our border security, restrictions on terrorist travel and enhanced authorities to deport illegal aliens all respond to the concerns raised in the 9/11 Report and all provide substantive improvements to the security of our nation.

Intelligence reform only matters if we are able to do something with the information our agencies gather. A strong and effective National Intelligence Director is only relevant if we give other agencies of the government the tools they need to act on that improved intelligence.

It would be irresponsible for Congress to take a pass on acting on the clear security deficiencies described in the 9/11 Report and H.R. 10 answers that challenge.

In my decade of service in this institution, I have taken seriously my responsibility to cautiously weigh the consequences of our action on the Constitutional rights of citizens and to carefully evaluate the expansion of federal powers. I reflect on the perspective of that service as I consider H.R. 10.

H.R. 10 takes a significant step forward in recognizing this inherent tension in a democracy by requiring the National Intelligence Director to appoint a Civil Liberties Protection Officer to be responsible for ensuring that privacy and civil liberties are protected. All proposed and final rules would also be subject to an assessment of privacy rights. I believe this legislation achieves the necessary balance between protecting our society and protecting individuals.

There will still be more to do-both bodies have a responsibility to reorganize internally to consolidate congressional oversight. I am concerned that the other body has adopted a process that is a hollow semblance of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Far from consolidating oversight, amendments adopted by the other body will have the effect of pretending at consolidation while continuing business as usual. This should not stand and the House must take the lead in demonstrating the resolve to actually act upon the call of the Commission to streamline oversight by the legislative branch.

I encourage my colleagues to support this measure so that we may take the next step of moving this legislation to conference with the other body and producing a final product that will comprehensively address the range of recommendations presented by the 9/11 Commission.

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