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Conference Report on S.2845, Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the conference report for H.R. 10, legislation to reform our country's intelligence agencies. I support this report so, as a country, we can move forward quickly to give the President a completed bill to sign. The security of the people of western Wisconsin is of an utmost priority, and I am supporting this measure to make changes necessary to protect our homeland.

On September 11, 2001, our Nation was brutally attacked, and several thousand of our citizens were killed. Our country was shocked and dismayed, but we were far from defeated. The resolve of our Nation is strong, and we stood up to the challenge and struck back.

After the attacks on that fateful day in September, many questions about our homeland security were raised. I supported and worked for a comprehensive Homeland Security bill that created the Homeland Security Department and cabinet level secretary. The creation of the Homeland Security Department was an important first step for our country to ensure the security of its citizens. But there remained many unanswered questions about our Nation's intelligence failures before September 11, which is why I supported the creation of the independent bipartisan 9/11 Commission.

On July 22, 2004, the 9/11 Commission provided a full and complete report to Congress and the American public. I praise the Commission for its excellent work, leadership, patriotism, and service to our country. We owe it to the families of the victims of 9/11 and to the citizens of our country to use this report to make certain this type of attack never happens again; I fully support the unanimous and bipartisan recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

While I had several concerns with many of the provisions included H.R. 10, I decided to support passage of this legislation back in October. I supported H.R. 10 because when the safety of our country is at hand we need to be able to cross the aisle and work with our colleagues to protect our country. After passage, however, I was glad to see the conference committee move to more closely align the conference report with the 9/11 Commission's 41 recommendations and the Senate passed bill. Over the past several weeks, we have had several opportunities to pass this very important legislation, but the House leadership has been working towards passing the bill with the support of the majority.

I support this conference report for several reasons. First and foremost, the families of the 9/11 victims and the 9/11 Commission supports this conference report and have worked hard to ensure the legislation improves the safety for our country. In addition, the conference report contains not only major reforms of the intelligence community, but significant measures to improve aviation and border security and emergency preparedness and response. This bill implements a substantial portion of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations; I am happy that the conference report includes a strong National Intelligence Director as well as the essential authorities necessary for the National Intelligence Director's success. It also creates a strong National Counterterrorism Center and an independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Board.

The 9/11 report also addresses foreign policy and public diplomacy, something we cannot deal with in this legislation before us today. One of the most important chapters in the 9/11 Report was chapter 12, which offered a global strategy to work with the Arab and Muslim worlds. If we follow the recommendations in this chapter, and focus our energies on improving our economic and political ties to this part of the world, it will not only improve the image of the United States of America, but it will help reduce future terrorist attacks on our country.

Once again, I would like to thank the members of 9/11 Commission for their patriotism and hard work to help safeguard our country. I would also like to recognize the tireless work that the families of the victims of 9/11 have put into creating the Commission on the attacks, and, secondly, that legislation was brought to the floor for deliberation. Finally, I would like to thank the conferees for all their hard work on this essential legislation. I encourage my colleagues join me in supporting this long-overdue, critical legislation. This legislation is a crucial step toward making our country safer from terrorism.

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