Congressional Record: September 19, 2002 (Senate)
Page S8901-S8913

                HOMELAND SECURITY ACT OF 2002--Continued


                Amendment No. 4694 to Amendment No. 4471

  (Purpose: To establish the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks 
             Upon the United States and for other purposes)

  Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I send an amendment to the desk and ask 
for its immediate consideration.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Connecticut [Mr. Lieberman], for himself 
     and Mr. McCain, proposes an amendment numbered 4694 to 
     amendment No. 4471.

  Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
reading of the amendment be dispensed with.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  (The text of the amendment is printed in today's Record under "Text 
of Amendments.")
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, this is an amendment which embraces 
legislation that my friend and colleague

[[Page S8903]]

from Arizona, Senator McCain, and I introduced last December and then 
joined up with similar legislation introduced by the Senator from New 
Jersey, Mr. Torricelli. Ultimately, we have 22 Members of the Senate 
from both parties who have joined as cosponsors of the legislation.
  The underlying bill went to the Senate Governmental Affairs 
Committee, which I am privileged to chair, and was reported out 
favorably earlier this year.
  This amendment now embraces that legislation. It would create an 
independent, nonpartisan citizens commission to investigate how and why 
the tragic terrorist attacks against the United States happened on 
September 11, 2001.
  The underlying measure we are considering to create a Department of 
Homeland Security, to better organize the Federal agencies whose 
disorganization, I fear, created some of the vulnerabilities that the 
terrorists took advantage of in striking us on September 11, is a 
proposal that also came out of our committee.
  This amendment would improve the Department that will be created as a 
result of the underlying proposal. Up until this time, the Joint 
Intelligence Committees of the House and Senate have been pursuing 
investigations focused particularly on how the intelligence community 
performed and what lapses there were in that performance that may have 
contributed to the attacks of September 11.
  Senator McCain and I, and our colleagues, introduced this measure 
last December because we believed, first, that there was a need now, 
after this truly unprecedented attack of September 11, 2001. People 
compare it to Pearl Harbor. It is comparable, but remember, Pearl 
Harbor was primarily an attack against Americans in uniform. September 
11, 2001, was an attack against innocent civilians, a classic terrorist 
attack. After Pearl Harbor, there were investigations in Congress, not 
unlike the ones being carried out by the Joint Intelligence Committee. 
But there were also citizens' commissions involved to carry out broader 
investigations, and that is exactly what this commission, as created by 
this amendment now, would do, if adopted.

  This commission would build on the work done by the Intelligence 
Committees which began their reports yesterday.
  The testimony from the staff director of the committee, I found 
chilling, insofar as it reported that as far back as 1998, if I 
remember the date correctly, there was intelligence traffic intercepted 
that indicated that the al-Qaida terrorists were, in fact, discussing 
the use of civilian aircraft as weapons targeted against prominent 
buildings in the United States of America. Along the way, the Director 
of the CIA, so the testimony yesterday went before the Intelligence 
Committees, effectively declared an intelligence community war against 
al-Qaida but only assigned a single analyst to that task; there was 
intelligence information, of course, and law enforcement intelligence, 
not being coordinated.
  Senator McCain and I, as well as Senators Torricelli and Specter, met 
earlier today with some of the families of the people who lost their 
lives on September 11. The question they continued to ask is: How could 
this have happened and was it preventable? They strongly support the 
adoption of this independent commission. Why? Because they have had the 
heroic strength to turn their grievous loss into active advocacy for 
the kind of investigation that will go as far as we can humanly go to 
determine the causes of September 11 so we make sure it never happens 
  The commission, to be appointed by legislative leaders of both 
parties of both Houses, is to have 10 persons on it, not Government 
employees, not Members of Congress--an equal number of members of both 
political parties. They choose the chair and vice chair. This ought to 
be, and I am confident will be, a commission that will not consider 
itself in any sense limited or truly identified by party affiliation. 
This is a commission that will have a public purpose: To go beyond the 
focus of the Intelligence Committees; directed towards intelligence; to 
consider the widest array of possible causes of September 11; to look 
at our defense policies, our foreign policies, our international 
economic policies, our international public diplomacy policies, our 
intelligence, our law enforcement; to leave no stone unturned in trying 
to answer the question of how September 11 could have happened, so we 
make sure it never happens again.
  It will have the credibility of an independent, nonpolitical, 
nonpartisan commission composed of a mix of citizens whose experience 
and capacity will bring great credibility to this report.
  I am so pleased there has been a twist of fate and procedure, often 
quite important in this body, that has allowed us now to introduce this 
amendment. I am, therefore, honored to move its adoption.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Cantwell). The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, I thank my friend, Senator Lieberman, 
for the privilege of working with him on an issue that I think is of 
some importance. I appreciate again the fact that he moved this 
legislation through the committee of which he is chairman. At that 
time, the debate and the discussion lent weight to the passage of this 
  We are simply seeking a commission to investigate all of the factors 
that led to the tragic events of September 11. We believe there is more 
than an intelligence aspect of this scenario that needs to be 
addressed. We believe there were a variety of factors that need to be 
made known to the American people. Whether they be economic, 
diplomatic, intelligence, there are a number of factors which led up to 
the tragic events of September 11.
  Obviously, the lawmakers and those who are involved so far in the 
investigation are not satisfied with the information we have received. 
There is an article in the Washington Post, dated Thursday, September 
19, today, which says in part:

       Lawmakers from both parties yesterday protested the Bush 
     administration's lack of cooperation in the congressional 
     inquiry into September 11 intelligence failures and threaten 
     to renew efforts to establish an independent commission.

  The article continues:

       "Are we getting the cooperation we need? Absolutely not," 
     Sen. Richard C. Shelby (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the 
     Senate Intelligence committee said in a joint appearance with 
     Chairman Bob Graham (D-Fla). . . .
       Graham added: "What we're trying to do is get people who 
     had hands on these issues. . . .And what we're being told is: 
     no, they don't want to make those kind of witnesses 
       Both Graham and Shelby yesterday endorsed the idea of 
     independent panels. In his remarks at the start of the 
     hearings, Shelby warned that "there may come a day very soon 
     when it will become apparent that ours must be only a prelude 
     to further inquiries."
       Shelby acknowledged that the congressional probe would be 
     incomplete. "I'm afraid if we try to publish at the end of 
     this session a definitive paper on what we found, that there 
     will be things that we don't know because we hadn't had time 
     to probe them and we have cooperation."

  I quote Senators Shelby and Graham because they are two of the most 
respected Members of this body, the chairman and ranking member of the 
Intelligence Committee, both highly regarded in all areas but 
particularly in carrying out their responsibilities as members of the 
Intelligence Committee.
  I go back for a second to the issue of what brought about September 
11. I will give an example of a factor that needs to be examined which 
has nothing to do with any secret information or intelligence 
  In 1989, with the active help of the United States of America and our 
allies, the then-Soviet Union was driven out of Afghanistan. At that 
point in time, we, as a policy, the United States of America, turned 
our back on Afghanistan. We provided very little assistance, we paid 
very little attention, except to celebrate a great victory for the 
then-Afghan freedom fighters.
  We all know what transpired in the ensuing 10 to 11 years. The 
Government of Afghanistan basically became a series of fighting 
warlords, and chaos prevailed throughout the Nation, and up came, as 
happens in history, a group called the Taliban that promised order to 
the people of Afghanistan. Over time they welcomed the Taliban and, of 
course, the Taliban assumed power. As part of their regime, they not 
only allowed but encouraged and provided help and assistance--all this 
is a matter of public record--to Osama bin

[[Page S8904]]

Laden. It was well known that Osama bin Laden maintained and built his 
terrorist training camps there, his financial network, and was the 
breeding ground for the terrorists, including those who hijacked the 
airplanes on September 11.
  What is it that led the United States of America to make a policy 
decision that what happened in Afghanistan was not of sufficient 
concern to the United States of America and our policymakers to 
intervene at any time as this scenario unfolded? That is just one 
example of the areas that need to be explored.
  Where was the economic aid? Did the United States of America, because 
of a variety of reasons, not encourage or even countenance the behavior 
of the Saudi Government? The Saudi Government, as we all know, is 
funding the Madrasas. They are giving money to the Islamic extremists 
who recruit young Middle Eastern men off the streets and teach them to 
hate the United States of America, our culture, our values, the West. 
Indeed, 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11 were Saudi citizens. 
They were not uneducated. Many of them, as we all know, had received 
pilot training in the United States of America.
  Why did the United States fail to realize that the Saudis, in the 
guise, perhaps, of being the guardians of the most sacred places of the 
Muslim Islamic religion, were funding very generously these radical 
Islamic elements whose influence spread all over the Middle East?
  There was a tragic bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. 
What was the reaction of the United States to that, beside an eventual 
very rapid withdrawal from Beirut?
  The U.S.S. Cole, in port in Yemen, was attacked by Islamic 
extremists. U.S. Embassies all over the world were attacked. What was 
the response of the United States to those tragedies?
  My point is there is a broad variety of issues that need to be 
addressed. Those issues, as credible as the U.S. Congress is, need to 
be examined by the most respected people in the United States of 
America--men and women who have spent their entire lives in public 
service and are highly regarded by the American people whose assessment 
and evaluation and, most importantly, recommendations will be given 
enormous credibility by the Congress of the United States, the 
President of the United States and, most importantly, the people of the 
United States, who still are confused as to how these events came about 
to their great surprise, astonishment, and sorrow.
  The makeup of the commission should be of the most respected people 
in America. Exactly who appoints who--the President, the majority 
leader--we have a formula in our bill, but we are willing to negotiate 
that. In a bipartisan spirit, we can select the most respected people 
in America to serve on this commission.
  But let's have no doubt that a commission is called for, just as a 
commission was called for following December 7, 1941, when Franklin 
Delano Roosevelt felt that the United States of America was not too 
busy to appoint a commission to examine the events that led up to what 
he called the day that will live in infamy.
  I thank Senator Lieberman. I will quote from several articles that 
appeared in the newspapers in previous days that are bound to ratchet 
up concern and, in some cases, the frustration of the American people 
about this issue.
  L.A. Times headline: U.S. Overlooked Terrorism Signs Well Before 
September 11:

       A House-Senate panel report says al-Qaida was focusing on a 
     domestic attack and the use of planes as far back as the mid-

  New York Times editorial, September 19, 2002, "While America 

       The initial findings of a Congressional committee that has 
     been reviewing the performance of America's intelligence 
     agencies before Sept. 11 are profoundly disturbing. While the 
     investigation has not found that the agencies collected 
     information pointing to the date and targets of the attacks, 
     it has discovered reports that Osama bin Laden and his 
     followers hoped to hit sites in the United States and that 
     they might employ commercial airliners as weapons. The 
     response of spy organizations--and the government at large--
     was anemic.
       One of the great unanswered questions has been whether the 
     government had enough intelligence in the months before Sept. 
     11 to fear an imminent blow within the United States and to 
     take aggressive steps to heighten security, especially at 
     airports. The answer now appears to be affirmative. 
     Investigators working for the Senate and House intelligence 
     committees found numerous reports in the archives of the 
     Central Intelligence Agency and other spy organizations 
     suggesting that the bin Laden network was eager to mount 
     attacks within the United States.

  One of the articles here from USA Today is entitled "Intelligence 
Fails." It is very curious:

       Almost 3 years before the September 11 attacks, CIA 
     Director George Tenet sent a memo to his deputies. "We are 
     at war against Osama bin Laden. I want no resources or people 
     spared in this effort."

  I want to repeat what CIA Director George Tenet sent in a memo 3 
years prior to September 11:

       We are at war. . . . I want no resources or people spared 
     in this effort.

  But the article goes on to say that, by the morning of September 11, 
the war effort had yet to be mounted.

       According to a report released Wednesday by the House and 
     Senate in their first public hearing. . . . Lawmakers 
     revealed CIA's Counterterrorism Center had just five analysts 
     assigned full time to tracking bin Laden's network. The FBI 
     put one lone al-Qaida analyst assigned to the agency's 
     international terrorist unit. A lack of attention devoted to 
     al-Qaida before 9/11 helps explain why the $30 billion a year 
     spent on intelligence did not turn up the terrorist plot.
       But the report raises new questions about the failure of 
     the FBI and CIA to redirect resources from cold war enemies 
     to new age terrorists.

  The New York Times:

       Despite DCI's declaration of war in 1998, there was no 
     massive shift in budget or reassignment of personnel to 
     counterterrorism until after September 11.

  I ask unanimous consent that these articles I just quoted from be 
printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                          While America Slept

       The initial findings of a Congressional committee that has 
     been reviewing the performance of America's intelligence 
     agencies before Sept. 11 are profoundly disturbing. While the 
     investigation has not found that the agencies collected 
     information pointing to the date and targets of the attacks, 
     it has discovered reports that Osama bin Laden and his 
     followers hoped to hit sites in the United States and that 
     they might employ commercial airliners as weapons. The 
     response of spy organizations--and the government at large--
     was anemic.
       One of the great unanswered questions has been whether the 
     government had enough intelligence in the months before Sept. 
     11 to fear an imminent blow within the United States and to 
     take aggressive steps to heighten security, especially at 
     airports. The answer now appears to be affirmative. 
     Investigators working for the Senate and House intelligence 
     committees found numerous reports in the archives of the 
     Central Intelligence Agency and other spy organizations 
     suggesting that the bin Laden network was eager to mount 
     attacks within the United States. There were also warnings 
     that terrorists were considering using airplanes.
       The accumulation of alarming evidence led George Tenet, the 
     director of central intelligence, to tell his top aides in 
     December 1998 that "we are at war" with Osama bin Laden and 
     "I want no resources or people spared in this effort." That 
     was exactly the right reaction, but the mobilization of 
     resources that followed did not match the threat.
       The Congressional investigators learned that almost no one 
     at the Federal Bureau of Investigation was aware of Mr. 
     Tenet's declaration of war. On Sept. 11, the F.B.I.'s 
     international terrorism unit had just one analyst to deal 
     with Al Qaeda. Even the C.I.A. itself did not make major 
     readjustments to evaluate the threat. The agency increased 
     the number of analysts assigned full time to the bin Laden 
     network from three in 1999 to five in 2001 before the 
     attacks. Despite the indications that airliners might be used 
     as weapons, including one August 1998 report that terrorists 
     might fly a plane into the World Trade Center, intelligence 
     analyst apparently made little effort to assess the aerial 
     threat. The Federal Aviation Administration did not take the 
     threat seriously.
       Since Sept. 11, the C.I.A., F.B.I. and other agencies have 
     poured resources into the fight against terrorism, and 
     addressed many of the inadequacies depicted in the 
     Congressional study. The findings underscore the urgent need 
     for greater alertness, more coordination between agencies and 
     the recognition that intelligence agencies must constantly be 
     looking not just for familiar threats but also for new and 
     unexpected methods of attacking America.

[[Page S8905]]

                           intelligence fails

       As the massive FBI investigation uncovers more details of 
     the scope, complexity and long-term planning behind the Sept. 
     11 terrorist attacks, it is revealing an equally massive 
     failure in the nation's counterintelligence efforts.
       Earlier this week, the FBI suggested that two more planes 
     might have been targeted for hijacking. That's on top of what 
     is already known--that more than a dozen terrorists spent 
     years training and preparing for the attack inside the USA, 
     almost certainly with the help of many more accomplices. How 
     could so many terrorists operate for so long in the U.S. 
     piecing together a complex attack plan without detection?
       President Bush took the first much-needed step to 
     addressing that question Thursday with a call for a new 
     Cabinet-level homeland-defense agency. It is a recognition of 
     what many terrorism experts have long seen as a key weakness 
     in national security, one that has left the country not just 
     scrambling to piece together the Sept. 11 attack, but also 
     wondering whether the nation's counterterrorism efforts will 
     be able to detect the next attack before it is launched.
       The nation's checkered history of tracking Osama bin Laden 
     and anticipating the evil deeds later linked to his network 
     is anything but reassuring.
       Since the U.S. Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya in 
     1998, the government has claimed that it is taking 
     substantial efforts to root out bin Laden's terrorist 
     network. As recently as June of this year, the CIA and Senate 
     Intelligence Committee members were reassuring the public 
     that bin Laden was being kept "off balance" and "on the 
     run." Yet this diligence didn't detect or deter either the 
     Sept. 11 tragedies or the October suicide bombing of the USS 
     Cole in Yemen, both of which were only later linked to bin 
     Laden's terrorist network.
       These missteps come as no surprise to terrorism experts. In 
     recent years, studies by those inside and outside government 
     have repeatedly warned that the intelligence system, built 
     during the Cold War, was ill-suited to counter the modern 
     terrorist threat. The focus was too much on monitoring troop 
     movements and acquiring hardware and spying technology, not 
     utilizing the kind of human intelligence needed to penetrate 
     multinational, loosely organized terror cells.
       Responsibilities have been spread across several federal 
     agencies that don't always coordinate. As a December 2000 
     RAND report put it, the nation's anti-terrorism program "is 
     fragmented, uncoordinated and politically unaccountable."
       At the same time, reports were detailing the growing threat 
     of massive attacks posed by rogue terrorists. The spread of 
     technology made greater levels of destruction possible, and 
     the advance of religious fanaticism made use of it more 
     likely. As a June 2000 National Commission on Terrorism 
     report noted, "today's terrorists seek to inflict mass 
     casualties, and they are attempting to do so both overseas 
     and on American soil."
       With all efforts now devoted to tracking down leads in the 
     wake of the Sept. 11 attack, law enforcement and intelligence 
     communities have little time to analyze their failings. As 
     CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield put it Tuesday, the agency 
     "won't be distracted" by criticism.
       That's fine. Their failings will get plenty of airing in 
     Congress and elsewhere. The Senate Intelligence Committee has 
     already promised hearings on the failure to detect the 
     suicide hijackings.
       More important, though, is that problems identified in 
     these postmortems should be corrected. Recommendations made 
     in the wake of previous attacks tended to result in piecemeal 
     reforms. What's needed is a wholesale review of how the U.S. 
     collects, studies and uses foreign and domestic intelligence. 
     Preferably with an eye toward better coordination.
       In this context, Bush's new Cabinet position makes perfect 
       There are almost certainly other terrorist plots in the 
     works designed to take advantage of previously identified 
     weaknesses in the system.
       Finding out who perpetrated the unimaginable horror 
     inflicted on the U.S. last week is important. Preventing any 
     future attacks on U.S. citizens is critical.

  Madam President, there is an editorial from the Weekly Standard, 
"Time For An Investigation."

       If President Bush knows what's good for the country--and we 
     think he does--he will immediately appoint an independent, 
     blue-ribbon commission to investigate the government's 
     failure to anticipate and adequately prepare for the 
     terrorist attacks of September 11. Make George Shultz and Sam 
     Nunn co-chairmen. Give the commission full and unfettered 
     access to all intelligence from the CIA and FBI and to all 
     relevant internal administration documents.

  This is a very important point in this commission. This commission 
must have access to all relevant documents. I think the frustration 
articulated by Senators Shelby and Graham cannot be a part of this 
independent commission.

       There are three reasons such an investigation is necessary. 
     First, the administration is now in danger of looking as if 
     it has engaged in a cover-up. The carefully worded and 
     evasive statements by various administration spokesmen in 
     response to the report of the president's August 6 CIA 
     briefing have raised as many questions as they have answered. 
     We understand the conundrum that administration spokesmen 
     face. They can't be precise about what they did or didn't 
     know without revealing classified information. We also 
     presume the administration has nothing to hide. But the cat 
     is out of the bag. The ranking Republican on the Senate 
     Intelligence Committee, Richard Shelby, says that "we've 
     just scratched the surface." The country needs to be assured 
     that a reputable and unbiased group is going beneath the 
     surface to find the truth.
       Nor can we assume that the investigation already in 
     progress by a special joint congressional committee will do 
     the trick. Given the vulgar partisanship into which most 
     elected officials descended last week, we have no confidence 
     that any congressional committee can come up with a reputable 
     and authoritative report.
       Furthermore, regardless of what congress does, the 
     president should order an investigation for the sake of 
     accountability within the executive branch.

  I think my colleagues and the American people may know that not one 
person has been replaced, removed, fired, asked to resign, retire or 
held responsible for the events of September 11--remarkable. 

       Ever since September 11 we have been troubled and puzzled 
     that almost no one in the government seems to have been held 
     responsible--much less, heaven forbid, stepped forward to 
     assume responsibility--for failure. Was what happened on 
     September 11 the consequence of everyone doing their job 
     perfectly? Can it really be that no one made a mistake? And 
     if someone did make a mistake, shouldn't that someone be held 
     accountable, just a little? People lose jobs in government 
     for hiring nannies and forgetting to pay their taxes. In the 
     military, officers resign when something goes wrong on their 
     watch, even if they were personally blameless for what 
     happened. Isn't it possible that some people should be 
     reprimanded, or even lose their jobs, when 3,000 Americans 
     are killed in a terrorist attach? For the past eight months 
     the Bush administration has essentially been saying that 
     everything and everyone worked just fine. That is absurd and 
       And, of course, it's perilous. The third reason we need an 
     investigation is that the system did not work. Either we 
     didn't have the intelligence we should have had before 
     September 11. Or the information was not adequately 
     distributed and therefore key signals were missed. Or the 
     intelligence was assembled but wasn't taken seriously enough. 
     Or it was taken seriously but insufficient action was taken 
     to prevent an attack. We don't know there the system broke 
     down. We only now that it did.
       Surely the first step in fixing the system--and thereby 
     defending ourselves against the next attack [and that is 
     really what this commission is about, fix the system and 
     defend ourselves from the next attack] is to identify what 
     went wrong or who performed badly. Isn't anyone troubled by 
     the fact that if the failure stemmed partly from 
     incompetence, then the incompetent people are still at their 
     vitally important posts? Isn't President Bush troubled? If it 
     was the system that failed, then should that same system be 
     left in place because no one is willing to take a hard look 
     at how and why it failed?
       We understand the administration's reluctance to go through 
     this wrenching process. We understand, too, why the 
     president's supporters are reluctant to demand an 
     investigation. It was nauseating last week to watch 
     Democratic politicians trying to score cheap points against 
     President Bush, treating this most serious of questions as if 
     it were another made-to-order Washington scandal. "What we 
     have to do now is to find out what the president, what the 
     White House, knew about the vents leading up to 9/11, when 
     they knew it, and, most importantly, what was done about it 
     at that time," said Dick Gephardt smarmily, desperately 
     trying to fasten blame on the president a la Watergate.
       Unfortunately, the Bush administration, too, has gone into 
     scandal mode--into a defensive crouch. Vice President Dick 
     Cheney came out swinging, claiming that any criticism, even a 
     call for an investigation of the administration's actions 
     before September 11, was "thoroughly irresponsible . . . in 
     a time of war." But he's wrong. It's precisely because we're 
     in a war that we need an investigation to find out where we 
     failed. After Pearl Harbor, there were half a dozen such 
     investigations. Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the first--just 
     after Pearl harbor. President Bush should follow that war 
     president's lead. Then he should get back to the business of 
     winning the war.

  Again, I believe everyone who is responsible for anything, as a 
matter of public service, should be held responsible. That is obvious. 
But the reason why Senator Lieberman and I have fought so hard is 
because the American people deserve to know one fundamental fact; that 
is, that we know all of the factors and causes of the tragedy of 
September 11. Once we know all of those factors and causes, we will 
then be able to take the necessary action to prevent a repetition.

[[Page S8906]]

  I don't know how in the world we can assure the American people that 
there will not be a repetition unless we know everything that caused 
it. That seems to me so obvious on its face that that alone is a 
compelling reason for the appointment of this commission.
  I have had the great honor, as have most Members of this body, to 
have the opportunity to know the family members and survivors of those 
who perished or were wounded in the tragic events of September 11. They 
have come to me and to Senator Lieberman and many other Members of this 
body and said: We deserve to know. We deserve to know what happened 
that brought about the deaths of our loved ones.
  They make a very compelling case. They make an argument that I think 
is hard to refute. We owe them a great debt because of the service and 
sacrifice of many of their loved ones. Incredible feats of heroism, as 
we all know, were performed on September 11. I hope we will give some 
weight to their opinions and desires. I think it is perfectly 
legitimate and understandable that they have a right to know what 
caused the events that took away their husbands, fathers, wives, sons, 
daughters, brothers, sisters, and friends.
  I hope we can get a large majority vote so we can go to conference 
with the House, get this commission appointed, and give them the tools 
they need to make sure we appoint in a nonpartisan--not bipartisan, 
nonpartisan--fashion the members of this committee who are the most 
respected men and women in America. We could come up with a list in a 
very short period of time, give them the tools they need, and within a 
reasonable length of time they could report back to the President, to 
the Congress, and, most importantly, to the American people.
  In that way, as far as those who lost loved ones in the tragic 9/11 
attacks are concerned, at least they may have some comfort in the 
knowledge that we will be prepared to take whatever necessary steps to 
ensure that no other family member ever experiences the tragic loss 
they experienced.
  I hope we can discuss this issue at the proper length.
  I again thank my friend from Connecticut. I see my friend Senator 
Thompson on the floor, who probably knows as much as or more than, on 
many of these issues, any Member of this body. I am obviously very 
interested in hearing his views on this legislation.
  Finally, I say again that this legislation is not carved in stone. 
Senator Lieberman and I are willing to make adjustments to it. We are 
willing to take input from the administration or any of our colleagues 
or anyone else who is concerned about it. That is why we have the 
amending process. But we also think we ought to get it done, and we 
also think that time is not on our side because the sooner we get the 
results of this commission, the sooner we can take the necessary 
measures to defend against a repetition.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. I thank the Chair. I thank my friend from Arizona for 
a very eloquent statement. I thank him for the work we have done 
together on this proposal. I also thank him for clarifying something 
about which I misspoke. I said there had only been one analyst at the 
CIA committed to targeting al-Qaida even after al-Qaida had been 
determined to be the source of terrorism against us in a very committed 
act. In fact, there were five--still not a significant enough number--
in the counterterrorism center of the CIA, and one analyst at the 
Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  For the record, the amendment we have offered today differs in a few 
respects from the bill reported out of committee.
  We are calling for an even division between Republicans and Democrats 
in choosing commission members. As Senator McCain said, I certainly 
hope this is a nonpartisan commission--not even bipartisan--with the 
majority parties of the Senate and House each receiving three picks and 
the minority parties in each House having two nominations. This is the 
configuration of an equivalent commission recently created by the House 
of Representatives. And it has another notable precedent in the form of 
a National Commission on Terrorism created by Congress in 1999 headed 
by former Ambassador Paul Bremer, which produced some work that had an 
effect on our foreign policy.
  There are three other minor changes in the text of our original bill. 
The bill emphasizes that the commission should build on the progress of 
Congress and its committees, and other inquiries, especially the joint 
inquiry of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees regarding 
terrorist attacks.
  I hope they will come to the floor and speak for themselves. But I 
want to say that Senator Gramm, chairman of the Intelligence Committee 
of the Senate, and Senator Shelby, vice chairman, have each said to 
me--although originally earlier in the hearings--that they have some 
concerns but now fully support the creation of the commission that this 
amendment would bring about.
  The amendment, as we have submitted it, provides that the chair and 
the vice chair of the commission, in addition to the chairpersons, can 
issue subpoenas. And it makes technical improvements to the bill's 
alternative subpoena enforcement mechanism.
  I wanted my colleagues to know that there have been those changes 
from the bill as it came out of our committee, and to echo what Senator 
McCain has said. This is an idea. It is an idea that we believe is a 
necessity, in the public interest, to answer the plaintive cries of the 
families of those who died on September 11: How did this happen? And 
how can we know everything that is possible to know so we can make sure 
it never happens again?
  But as to the specific details, we welcome the questions and 
inquiries of the Members of the Senate before this amendment comes to a 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nevada.
  Mr. REID. Madam President, while the two sponsors of this amendment 
are in the Chamber, and the two managers of this bill, we have had a 
number of inquiries in the cloakrooms about what the rest of the day is 
going to hold. There is the question of whether or not we will have any 
more votes tonight.
  I know the Senator from Tennessee has looked at the proposed 
unanimous consent request, which basically would give several hours of 
debate on this amendment today and an hour set aside for Monday to 
complete debate on it and vote on it on Monday. But I am wondering, 
without pressing the Senator from Tennessee too hard, could the Senator 
give us some indication when he might be in the position to see if we 
can enter into this unanimous consent request so we can better field 
the questions in the cloakrooms?
  Mr. THOMPSON. I am not sure exactly what is in the unanimous consent 
request. But I can possibly be a little bit more definitive after we 
have had a chance to discuss what is going on here.
  Mr. REID. What it simply says is that there would be a total of 
probably 3 hours for debate equally divided, and then we would come 
back on Monday and debate it for another hour. At that time, the Senate 
would vote in relation to the amendment. There would be no second-
degree amendments in order prior to the disposition of the amendment.
  It is very simple and direct. But we are trying to get something set 
up for tomorrow and Monday. We have left a lot of Senators without any 
direction. We need to do that. As soon as the Senator from Tennessee 
feels confident that we can enter this agreement, let us know, and we 
will do that as quickly as possible. If we can do that, I think the 
leader will be in a position to announce that there will be no more 
votes tonight. Until that happens, we can't do that.
  Mr. THOMPSON. I will be happy to respond to the Senator a little 
later this afternoon.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. THOMPSON. Madam President, I welcome the opportunity, while I 
have two of my close friends and respected Members who are sponsoring 
this amendment here on the floor, to hopefully enter into a discussion 
under the rules of the Senate and with the consent of our colleagues as 
to some of the details of this proposal, as to what is

[[Page S8907]]

intended, as to what we are trying to accomplish, and as to whether or 
not this is the best way to accomplish it.
  I commend my colleagues for their effort. I think they have had for a 
long time the idea of a commission--a long time before a lot of other 
people who are now calling for one. They have had this vision. Quite 
frankly, I have tried to keep an open mind with regard to the wisdom of 
it. I sit on the Intelligence Committee. Right now, we are having 
bipartisan and bicameral hearings with regard to many issues, some of 
which have to do with 9/11.
  I ask my colleagues--either or both of them--how they view the role 
of the commission with regard to the intelligence issues.
  I am wondering whether we could probe very deeply and successfully 
into what happened with regard to 9/11, including any intelligence 
breakdown, and still come away with a not very good analysis of the 
difficulties we are having in the intelligence community.
  Is it the best thing to do to have a commission that has a rather 
broad mandate with regard to anything and everything and at any level 
of Government with regard to September 11 of which intelligence would 
be a part? Is that better than maybe a deeper probe that is more 
narrowly focused with regard to our intelligence failures? Because most 
of us believe that is at the heart of the difficulties we saw in 
relation to September 11.
  I have had the opportunity to read the amendment once. I notice the 
functions of the commission are to conduct investigations that may 
include relevant facts relating to intelligence agencies. But 
"intelligence agencies" is mentioned, along with a lot of other 
agencies: "law enforcement agencies;" "immigration, nonimmigrant 
visas, and border control;" "the flow of assets to terrorist 
organizations;" and other areas of concern that are not agencies, such 
as "commercial aviation" and "diplomacy." I am not sure what that 
  But I would ask my colleagues what went into their thinking, what is 
the state of their thinking with regard to that issue. Is it best to 
have the broader scope that might trip lightly over intelligence 
issues? Would that be better than having a more detailed and narrow 
inquiry as to intelligence failures?
  I would ask my friend from Arizona what his thinking is with regard 
to that.
  Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that Senator 
Lieberman, Senator Thompson, and I be allowed to enter into a colloquy 
for the exchange of comments to one another.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. McCAIN. I thank you, Madam President.
  I say to my friend from Tennessee, first of all, our amendment 
explicitly states--and we would be glad to report language, with the 
assistance of the Senator from Tennessee, to point out that clearly 
intelligence is a central and perhaps most important aspect of any 
investigation of this nature. The Senator mentioned that there are a 
number of other factors we would want to take into consideration.
  While the Senator was off the floor, I pointed out that we turned our 
back on Afghanistan after 1989. What were the reasons for that? And 
what were the diplomatic or national security factors that led to that 
decision being made?
  However, having said that, it is clear intelligence plays a featured 
role in any investigation. But I am also a little bit concerned--and I 
wonder if the Senator from Tennessee is concerned--about a report in 
the Washington Post where, "[Senator] Shelby acknowledged that the 
congressional probe would be incomplete. `I'm afraid if we try to 
publish at the end of this session a definitive paper on what we found, 
that there will be some things that we don't know because we hadn't had 
time to probe them and we have not had enough cooperation,' he said."
  As I respond, I wonder if the Senator from Tennessee has that 
concern, as expressed by Senator Shelby.
  Mr. THOMPSON. I would say, in response, that I indeed have had that 
concern as that investigation has gone along. And we have seen the 
various problems we have had with it and the various difficulties we 
have had internally and externally, and with the time limitation we 
placed on ourselves in this intelligence investigation. And I was 
concerned a long time about where we were going to end up and whether 
we were going to be in a position of assuring the American people that 
we had done more than we had really done.

  I will have more to say on that later. I still want to keep my powder 
as dry as I can for as long as I can because it is ongoing and hope 
springs eternal.
  But I certainly do have concern about that, which gets me back to my 
original concern about where intelligence ought to play in this 
  I appreciate the Senator's reassurance with regard to that, and its 
importance and, perhaps, central function, central role. But I wonder; 
it concerns me when I see that put together with immigration issues, 
and aviation issues, and diplomacy issues.
  For example, I would be interested and would like, if we could get 
the right kind of people and the right kind of objectivity, to have a 
session as to our policies with regard to reaction ever since the 
bombings in Beirut, to the attack on the USS Cole, to the events in 
Somalia, and all of that.
  What effect did all of that have on all of this? Did that embolden 
people around the world, who have ill intent toward us, to do some of 
these things? Those are very interesting, important issues. But can we 
take on all of that within--what do we have here?--a year's timeframe 
for this investigation?
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. Responding to the Senator, a total of 18 months, with 
a preliminary report due after 6 months.
  Mr. THOMPSON. All right. Well, that is more than the Intelligence 
Committee has had. I must concede that. But the question really is, Can 
we do all of that? We are combining some things that would be very 
subjective, very politically sensitive. Hopefully, we will have the 
kind of people on this commission to be able the deal with that, along 
with some very detailed inquiry with regard to the intelligence 
  Is that the best way to go? Can we really hope that at the end of the 
day we have been able to do all of that?
  That leads me to my second question, I suppose, and that is in regard 
to access to information. As I read through this, there is a provision 
for "Information From Federal Agencies" for this commission. On page 
9 of the amendment, it says:

       The Commission is authorized to secure directly from any 
     executive department, bureau, agency, board, commission, 
     office, independent establishment, or instrumentality of the 
     Government information, suggestions, estimates, and 
     statistics for the purposes of this title.

  I am not sure that--let's just say for the purposes of this 
discussion--having access with regard to intelligence agencies, with 
regard to suggestions, estimates, and statistics would do us very much 
  Now, the right kind of information would be helpful, but is the 
intent here that this commission will be able to go into these 
agencies, regardless of what they are?
  Also, you have another provision in here that provides for clearance 
and providing access to people with sensitive information.
  But is the intention to provide the members and/or staff of this 
agency with the authority and the ability to go into these agencies and 
to review the most sensitive information?
  I think back to the Rumsfeld Commission, which I think most people 
would agree was a very successful enterprise, dealing with issues of 
missile technology and nuclear capability of various countries, and so 
forth, very sensitive information. It was done successfully.
  A lot of these people were scientists and the same kind of people, 
perhaps, in many respects that your commission would adopt. They have 
done that very successfully. I am wondering if someone some months 
hence would read this document and say: We did not intend to do that. 
Whatever reports are out there, analyze those reports. But we didn't 
have any intention for you going in and really getting something that 
they didn't want to give you.
  I think that is relevant because apparently we still have to make the 
White House a believer that this is a good idea. I am wondering, in 
terms of

[[Page S8908]]

the wording of the bill or legislative history, what would be the 
proper way to address that question.
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. Madam President, I will respond to the Senator from 
Tennessee. I thank my friend for his very thoughtful and directly 
relevant questions.
  I will try to respond to the first one very briefly and add to what 
the Senator from Arizona said.
  The commission is given a broad mandate, in section 604 of this 
proposal, to conduct an investigation of all relevant facts and 
circumstances relating to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, 
and then it goes on to say, that "may" include relevant facts and 
circumstances relating to, first, intelligence agencies, and then all 
the rest. Obviously, intelligence is listed first, though I emphasize 
the "may."
  This commission has discretionary authority to go ahead as it will 
decide to conduct a very broad investigation called for under that 
section A that I read from. I certainly hope they will do some work on 
the intelligence community, building on the work the joint intelligence 
committee has done.
  The uniqueness of our proposal is to have it be more comprehensive, 
to get into exactly the kind of broader questions that may seem remote 
but are not, about what impact the USS Cole and Somalia, et cetera, had 
on both our foreign policy and the attitudes of others abroad that may 
have all contributed to what happened on September 11. The breadth is 
very important.
  We are trying to build a complementary structure because if you want 
to end this commission's work feeling that you asked every question 
that could have been asked about how September 11 happened, there would 
have to be a lot of questions about intelligence agencies but a lot as 
well about things that may seem remote, like commercial aviation 
policies or immigration policies. That is what the intent is.
  I do want to respond to the second question, which is very important. 
It seems to me this commission will not be able to successfully 
complete its work unless it has full access to all the relevant 
documents in our Government. That is why we have required in the 
wording of the proposal that the various departments expeditiously 
respond to requests for security clearances by members of the 
commission and their staffs.
  There was an earlier time when some criticized the idea for this 
commission, saying it might be a circus; I guess on the presumption 
that it would all be in public. That is not our intention.
  Mr. THOMPSON. Do you provide for closed hearings?
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. That is right. The legislation provides for closed 
hearings. It is my guess that most of the work of this commission, 
though not all of it, would be done in closed classified 
investigations. But some of it, hopefully, presumably, would be done in 
public, certainly to engage public testimony at various points.
  Mr. McCAIN. I have one additional comment for my friend from 
Tennessee. One, I believe some of these hearings have to be held in a 
classified environment. There is just too much raw data out there. I 
believe the Warren Commission, in their investigations, held closed 
meetings as well.
  I also want to say to the Senator from Tennessee, he was an integral 
part, as all of us know, in probably the most successful and best known 
investigation in this century. That, of course, was the Watergate 
committee. There are certain parallels, there are certain nonparallels, 
obviously, because we are dealing with different issues. But I know the 
Senator from Tennessee learned a number of lessons from the Watergate 
hearings. Those that apply to this legislation that he thinks could 
improve our efforts and get a better product--we now will have that 
vote on Monday, I understand--I would be eager to work up an amendment 
or amendments with the help of the Senator from Tennessee to bring this 
commission to the quality and level which would achieve the goals that 
we seek.
  I would like to engage in those discussions, if we could.
  Mr. THOMPSON. I appreciate that very much. I would ask, just 
narrowing down a little bit more, how do my colleagues see the work of 
this commission in relation to the work of the joint intelligence 
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. Responding to the Senator from Tennessee--another very 
important question--it is the intention of the sponsors that the work 
of this commission build on and complement the work of the joint 
intelligence committee in investigating the events of September 11, 
2001. The joint intelligence committee has done some very important 
work. It already produced some material, just yesterday released 
publicly, that was riveting and in its way raised an additional set of 
questions to be answered either by the committee and its later 
investigation or by this commission.
  Again, the purview, the focus of the commission we intend to create 
is much broader and would build on what the joint committee on 
intelligence has done but then go into other areas we talked about: 
Defense, foreign policy, immigration policy, law enforcement, 
commercial aviation, et cetera.
  Mr. THOMPSON. I say to my colleague, it seems to me the situation is 
basically this: We have concerns, some with regard to our intelligence 
community and our intelligence difficulties; some have to do with 
nonintelligence areas. We have talked about the area of diplomacy and 
action and reaction to attacks, for example. We have a committee that 
is about to wind up its work dealing with the intelligence area. I 
think many people are very concerned that they are not going to get to 
the heart of the issue.
  Your commission would come along and overlay that and take up where 
that leaves off but would have quite a bit broader mandate. It makes me 
wonder whether you really could pick up where they leave off and do the 
same kind of job they would have done had they been in business for a 
while longer, which leads me to the additional question: Has my friend 
considered--I haven't discussed this with anyone because it just 
occurred to me--whether or not it might be wise to extend the inquiry 
of the joint intelligence committee? We placed an end-of-the-year 
limitation on this. We had the first, I guess you might say, 
substantive public hearing yesterday. We know about how much longer we 
are going to be around here from a practical standpoint in terms of 
  I don't think anybody wants a result and a report that is totally 
staff driven. It is not even a permanent staff. It is a very good 
staff, assembled from various places. Some of us know who these people 
are and some of us don't. But on something this important, with this 
kind of time limitation, there is going to be an awful lot of 
uneasiness about all of that.
  I have some uneasiness about the ability of this commission to just 
pick up from there and go on, when we are considering these other broad 
categories that perhaps need to be considered, either in a commission 
or otherwise. I am not sure. But one of the things that occurs to me--I 
don't see why we would shy away from putting it on the table and 
talking about it--is perhaps extending the joint committee's work into 
next year.
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. Responding again to my friend from Tennessee, let me 
direct myself to the first part of your question. If this commission 
functions as its sponsors want it to, this national commission on 
terrorist attacks upon the United States, it will have the high-quality 
commissioners devoted to its work, as well as a large, first-rate staff 
that will have the capability both to pick up the work in the 
intelligence community and carry it as far as it can be carried forward 
to answer all relevant questions relating to the causes of September 
11, but also to investigate the other subject matter areas we have 
talked about--diplomacy, law enforcement, aviation policy, et cetera.

  Of course, the question of whether the Intelligence Committee 
investigation goes on is a separate question. And this commission idea 
stands on its own. I am encouraged, as I mentioned, that the chair and 
vice chair of the Intelligence Committee, Senators Graham of Florida 
and Shelby, both support the establishment of an independent 
commission. So I conclude they believe its work can be complementary.
  Mr. THOMPSON. I thank my colleague. Does the Senator from New Jersey 
have a contribution to make?
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. If I might first note the presence of the Senator from

[[Page S8909]]

New Jersey on the floor, he was an early, outspoken, and passionate 
advocate for an independent investigation--and I have another 
adjective--persistent. Acting separately, he introduced a bill with 
Senator Grassley, and Senator McCain and I introduced another measure. 
We all agreed we have the same goals, and we put our two proposals 
  I thank him for his advocacy of this idea, and I am glad he is on the 
floor. I welcome him now to this discussion.
  Mr. TORRICELLI. I thank my friend. Is the Senator from Tennessee 
controlling the time?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has used his time. The Senator 
from New Jersey is recognized.
  Mr. TORRICELLI. Madam President, on September 12, 2001, I came to the 
floor of the Senate to suggest to my colleagues that the magnitude of 
what had happened to the United States of America in the terrorist 
attack required an independent analysis and establishment of a national 
commission of inquiry. I am proud to have led this effort, but it was 
not either my creation or principally my idea.
  In New Jersey, a week after the terror of September 11, I began to 
hear from the widows and the families--simple Americans who believe in 
their country, pay their taxes, and felt secure behind our borders, 
recognizing that the United States is the most awesome military power 
ever assembled on the face of the earth. Intelligence and law 
enforcement services are larger here than in every other nation 
combined. Just 24 hours before, 19 men with $250,000 had delivered the 
most devastating attack on these United States in our history.
  Their inquiry of me as their Senator was simply: What do we tell our 
children? What are we to believe about our country and our Government 
that we were unable to defend our most vulnerable citizens; that 
thousands had been left dead and thousands were orphaned and lives will 
never be the same again? I did not have any answers to their questions, 
so I brought their questions to my colleagues.
  It has been a long struggle to bring this commission to this point. I 
am more grateful than I can explain that Senator Lieberman and Senator 
McCain have taken this effort to the point of legislation and possible 
  No one seeks to cast blame. No one seeks to unfairly lay 
responsibility upon those who may not deserve it. But something is 
wrong--370 days have passed, after thousands of lives were lost in a 
complete and total breakdown of the security of the United States of 
America, and I am unaware that one individual has been transferred, 
demoted, held responsible, fired, noted, or criticized. It cannot be 
that the security of the United States was breached, thousands of lives 
were lost, and every agency performed perfectly, everybody did their 
job, all 1 million Federal employees performed as expected.

  Madam President, I cannot give that explanation to the hundreds of 
widows or orphans and parents and brothers and sisters in the State of 
New Jersey who have survived and dealt with the unimaginable. I do not 
simply hope that this commission is adopted, but that, on a bipartisan 
basis, Members of this Senate send an unequivocal message that this 
Government is accountable, its agencies are accountable, and the 
American people will get answers.
  It is not that I have come to the floor with a suggestion that is 
somehow a compromise with our tradition or unusual in our practice. 
This commission will respond, exactly as every other generation of 
Americans has responded in every other crisis of similar or lesser 
proportions. This Congress demanded an answer from a commission about 
the reasons of the causes of the Civil War. They were still collecting 
bodies in the North Atlantic and this Senate went to New York and met 
in midtown Manhattan to get answers for how the Titanic could have 
sunk. The Depression was still ongoing when we demanded a commission 
for its reasons. And 11 days after Pearl Harbor, Franklin Delano 
Roosevelt, before the U.S. even counterattacked, wanted the American 
people to know how their Armed Forces had let them down. He would not 
allow American sons and daughters to die in a war until their parents 
knew what happened to our military, our preparedness, so their parents 
would know that their lives were in good hands.
  Lyndon Johnson did no less after the Kennedy assassination, and 
President Reagan did no less after the Challenger accident.
  None of these reports were perfect. It was always a painful 
experience. None of us ever want to admit that anyone in our 
Government, anyone in the service of our country did not perform 
perfectly. The truth is that terrible things happen even when people do 
perform well, and that may be the conclusion of this commission, as it 
has been with others. I don't know. But the truth is, no Member of the 
Senate knows either. Unless this commission is established, we will 
never know.
  The simple truth is the Senate might reject this commission, the 
President may fail to sign it, or the House of Representatives may fail 
to adopt it. But that does not mean that there will not be a 
  Sometimes justice is so overwhelming, a cause so obvious and powerful 
that you can delay it, but you cannot stop it. Defeat this commission 
today and it will be voted on next year or the next year--even if it is 
10 years, even if it is 20 years. No event of this magnitude can happen 
in a country, inflicting this much pain, this much change in a society, 
without the accountability of its Government. Either the widows and the 
widowers and the parents of these victims will get this commission or 
their children will.
  Either the Members of the Senate will establish this commission or 
our successors will. But make no mistake about it, there will be 
answers. Something very wrong happened.
  Somebody has to provide answers. First, we were told that a 
commission was impossible because it would interfere with the war in 
Afghanistan. What an extraordinary notion: A nation with a $2 trillion 
budget, a quarter of a billion people, a million men under arms and 
confronting al-Qaida in Afghanistan prohibited us from using resources 
or personnel to conduct an investigation--an extraordinary notion, 
considering that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was willing to undertake an 
investigation while fighting the Germans and the Japanese with 
sufficient resources.
  Then we were told this was better done in the Intelligence 
Committee--possibly a good explanation if the only issues of failures 
were in the intelligence community. What about immigration? How about 
the FAA? How about law enforcement? How about the coordination of 
policies to save the lives of those firefighters or police officers? 
How about 100 other Government agencies? This may be a CIA issue, but 
it is not only a CIA issue. Still the belief was this could be done in 
the Intelligence Committee. Only now the bipartisan leadership of the 
Intelligence Committee, Senator Shelby and Senator Graham, report to us 
that they cannot get cooperation from the necessary Government agencies 
to even conduct their limited review in this narrow focus.
  How dare they. How dare anyone withhold information or cooperation 
from this Senate or the families of the victims who have demanded 
answers? How dare anyone.
  Are there those in this Government who believe their principal 
loyalty is to their agency, the reputation of their bureau, someone in 
the bureaucracy rather than the people of the United States of America? 
Does it mean so much to be an agent of the CIA, an employee of the FBI, 
or the National Security Agency? Is that so important that you would 
withhold information from the American people in a search for justice 
for the United States of America?
  I have served in institutions, and I believe in institutional 
loyalty, but that means nothing compared to loyalty to the United 
States of America. Yet we have the spectacle of the bipartisan 
leadership of our Intelligence Committee claiming they cannot get 
cooperation from the bureaucracy itself.
  There are issues so large in this debate that they can only be 
settled by an overwhelming vote for this commission. It is about the 
accountability of the Government itself to the people. It is about many 
things, but most fundamentally it is that: Can the people of the 
country hold their Government and its agencies accountable? I do not 
  For one of the first times in my life, I am not sure the bureaucracy 
or its

[[Page S8910]]

components in the intelligence or law enforcement agencies genuinely 
can be monitored and controlled by the Congress of the United States. 
But we are going to find out because that is what this commission is 
about, more than anything else.
  One year has passed. Billions of dollars have now been appropriated 
to deal with terrorism and homeland security. The Congress has been 
asked for the most sweeping reorganization of the Government in 
American history. There is not a Member of this Senate who in good 
conscience either cast these votes or can cast votes in the future 
without knowing the results of this inquiry. Spend $10 billion, $20 
billion, $30 billion. On what basis is the money spent? Is there a 
Member of the Senate who knows which agencies failed, which should be 
improved, which should be expanded, which should be curtailed, what new 
activities would make a difference? What is the sum of our knowledge of 
what happened on September 11? I do not know. More importantly, neither 
do the other 99 Members of the Senate, and they will never know until 
we know what happened, why, who failed and who succeeded, who met their 
responsibilities, and who did not.

  Does this reorganization, the underlying legislation before the 
Senate, make sense for the country? Mr. President, I am going to be 
asked to vote upon that issue and, in good conscience, I cannot tell 
you. On what basis is this reorganization done? Because we have learned 
which agencies did not perform?
  It is no different than the financial recommendations. There is not a 
Member of the Senate who knows which agencies were not in control, 
which were, which met their responsibilities, how a chain of command 
might have been different. Some day we will know but not without this 
  What we are learning about the failures of intelligence and law 
enforcement since September 11 is shocking. Naming a national 
commission dealing with the realities of what happened is going to be a 
painful national experience.
  We now know that the CIA had advised the FBI of the names of a 
hundred terrorists and to watch for their entry into the United States. 
They failed. We now know as early as 1998 intelligence agencies 
received information about Bin Laden planning an attack involving 
aircraft in New York and Washington.
  We now know, as late as July 2001, the National Security Agency 
reported 33 communications involving a possible and imminent terrorist 
attack. We now know the U.S. Government was put on notice by foreign 
intelligence agencies and our own of the possibility of such attack.
  This will be a painful national experience--painful for the country, 
painful for the families. But this problem is not going away. Time will 
not heal it. The distance between ourselves and the events will not 
lessen the intensity of the need or the demand for the inquiry.
  I want nothing but the truth for the families, the communities in my 
State of New Jersey which have suffered so badly, and mostly for my 
country. The U.S. Government failed our people. It does not mean that 
we are not a good people or that this is not a great Government, but 
good and great governments learn by experiences and their failures. We 
can be a better country better able to protect our people with a more 
accountable Government, with intelligence and law enforcement agencies 
that understand their responsibilities and their needs based on this 
  It will be a painful process of growth, but it will happen. We will 
learn how it is that the FBI, given all these warnings, could not have 
had people who were possibly trained in Arabic translation, how piles 
of documents may have accumulated having never been analyzed. We will 
learn how information about flight schools and the possible warnings of 
the ill intent of its students never came to proper attention.
  We will learn how over the course of years a conspiracy was built, 
signals were received, but we were unable to see the dimensions of a 
plot that would so change our country.
  Put aside your loyalties to institutions. Put aside your commitment 
to individuals. This is not about the bureaucracy. We have passed the 
point of being able to preserve the reputations of agencies that failed 
our country. It is no longer about them. It is about the accountability 
of the United States Government. Whoever is found at fault, whoever is 
found to have performed their duties, it is time to face the truth.
  This is the issue that will never go away. This is the one part of 
the Government, the formation of an independent commission on September 
11, 2001, that will happen no matter what we do, no matter how we vote, 
or whatever is said. It is as inevitable as tomorrow morning's sunrise 
because the cause is so powerful, so just and so necessary.
  Give those few widows, parents, and children the one thing they have 
been demanding. Writing them checks will not change it. Laying wreaths 
will not change it. Prayers will not change it. They are asking for an 
answer. They want an answer, and so do other Americans. And I intend to 
get it for them. I intend to get that answer. I hope it is today.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Nelson of Nebraska). Who yields time?
  The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. I thank my friend from New Jersey for his comments. I 
used the words "passionate" and "persistent" to describe his 
advocacy of an independent inquiry into the events of September 11. He 
has brought that passion and eloquence to the floor today. We will 
persist together, in growing numbers in this body, until the questions 
that he asks, that the families are asking, are answered. He is right, 
there is an inevitability to this idea, but "inevitable" can be a 
long time. We have to make it happen sooner rather than later, and the 
adoption of this amendment will do just that.
  I do want to say to my friend from New Jersey, he raised a question 
about the underlying bill--I know it was done in the context of what he 
was saying. I do want to assure him, which I know he knows, that the 
underlying proposal for the Department of Homeland Security does derive 
from the Hart-Rudman Commission, which saw these vulnerabilities before 
September 11, and called for a new department, and the National 
Commission on Terrorism--the Bremer Commission did the same--and from 
the various hearings of our committee. So I think there is an ample 
record that cries out for the establishment of a Department of Homeland 
Security, but as I have said all along in this debate, this is our 
first best effort to create such a department.
  It will be, in my opinion, hope, and belief, measurably improved over 
time, by experience but also by the results of the inquiry that this 
amendment will create because the more we know about how September 11 
happened, the better we will be able, through this new Department of 
Homeland Security, to make sure it never happens again.
  This morning, I spoke to one of the family members of someone who was 
killed in New York on September 11, and she said that sitting at the 
hearing of the joint intelligence committee yesterday, hearing the 
staff director report on findings to date, forced her to a conclusion 
that she did not want to reach; that the attacks were preventable.
  I am not one who believes that another September 11 type of attack is 
inevitable. It is not. We all know that if somebody is crazy enough to 
strap explosives around their waist and walk into a crowd, it is hard 
to stop that; but even that, with proper intelligence and infiltration 
of terrorist groups, can be stopped. A terrorist event as large and as 
comprehensive as September 11, involving all of the context it had with 
financial resources, with aviation, with Governmental agencies, 
immigration and otherwise, when one considers all the money we are 
investing every year in satellites and conversation surveillance 
devices, that should have been noted and prevented, and that is the aim 
of the commission and the department, to make sure that September 11 
never happens again.
  The Senator from New Jersey made reference to the Titanic. I will 
share with my colleagues very briefly an excerpt from an article that 
appeared in the New York Times on September 11, 2002, just last week, 
on the first anniversary of that day. It is written by Jim Dwyer, and 
it says:

[[Page S8911]]

       Of course the country had to understand what went wrong. 
     One of the largest structures ever built had failed, at a 
     terrible cost in lives. When warned of danger, those in 
     charge had shrugged. Many died because the rescue effort was 
     plagued by communication breakdowns, a lack of coordination, 
     failure to prepare.
       These findings on the sinking of the Titanic entered the 
     public record after the Carpathia docked at the Chelsea piers 
     in Manhattan on April 18, 1912, with the 705 survivors 
     plucked from the North Atlantic. Starting the next morning at 
     the Waldorf-Astoria, the barely dry witnesses provided a rich 
     body of facts about the accident, the Titanic, the maritime 
     practices to the United States Senate Commerce Committee, 
     which held 18 days of hearings. Their testimony gave form to 
     a distant horror, shaping law and history. No inquiry 
     remotely similar in scope, energy, or transparency has 
     examined the attacks of last September 11, the devastating 
     collapse of two of the world's tallest structures, the deaths 
     at the Pentagon, or on United Airlines flight 93 in 
     Pennsylvania. A handful of tightly focused reviews have taken 
     place mostly in secret, conducted by private consultants, or 
     by Congressional committees.
       One year later, the public knows less about the 
     circumstances of 2,801 deaths at the foot of Manhattan in 
     broad daylight than people in 1912 knew within weeks about 
     the Titanic, which sank in the middle of an ocean in the dead 
     of night.
       That hardly seems possible, considering that 9/11 
     iconography has been absorbed into everything from football 
     pageants to pitches by speakers peddling lessons in 
     leadership. And yet, says John F. Timoney, once a senior 
     police commander in New York and the former police 
     commissioner in Philadelphia, the events of September 11 are 
     among the most rare in American public life: true 
     catastrophes that have gone fundamentally unscrutinized.
       "You can hardly point to a cataclysmic event in our 
     history, whether it was the sinking of the Titanic, the Pearl 
     Harbor attack, the Kennedy assassination, when a blue-
     ribbon panel did not set out to establish the facts and, 
     where appropriate, suggest reforms," Mr. Timoney. That 
     has not happened here."

  That is the dreadful gap and omission that this amendment aims to 
fill. I hope my colleagues will support it.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. THOMPSON. Mr. President, my colleague is very eloquent in the 
promotion of his cause, which is the creation of this commission. I 
appreciate the response of Senator Lieberman and Senator McCain to the 
concerns I have. I appreciate the offer they have made to work with us 
to see if we go in this direction and make sure we can put forth our 
best effort. I suppose I look at the whole endeavor a little bit 
differently than my friend from Connecticut.
  Probably the best reason for going forward with some additional 
activity, whether extension of the joint committee or creation of a new 
commissioner, is not necessarily because we can do something that will 
prevent future catastrophes. I wish we could. But there is too much 
hate and too much technology in the world to be able to ever guarantee 
our citizenry that we can do that. It is not that we can even resolve 
the issue. Tragedies have happened before in this country, and we are 
still debating what happened or what did not happen.
  It is a matter of doing what we can to find out what happened in the 
best way possible. It is a matter of simple justice. We owe it to the 
people involved. We owe it to the American people. We owe it to 
ourselves. We owe it to our world to do the best we can to do all those 
things to make it a little more preventable, to resolve key issues, do 
the best we can. It is the right thing to do. It is a matter of simple 
justice--not that there will be a pot of gold at the end of the 
  I have become more realistic as I look into these things. When I hear 
about the "connecting of the dots," we should have been able to 
connect these dots, or this is preventable, what I know is these dots 
were in a sea of dots, a veritable sea of dots. The problem we had with 
regard to September 11 is not just the fact we did not have the 
analytical capability there at that time, before that time, in order to 
put this together, but for a long time now we have lost our ability, 
analytically and technologically, to pull together these disparate 
facts. Technologically, we ought to be able to evaluate the disparate 
facts and put our computers to work and get analyses and estimates as 
to what is likely to happen.
  It will be a long, drawn-out deal. We did not get there overnight, 
and we will not get a solution to it overnight. Even if we do 
everything right, we are never going to be totally safe. There is too 
much hatred, too much fanaticism in the world, and too much high 
technology. It is too easy for those things to come together. We will 
have to be vigilant for the rest of our lives and the lives of our 
children and our grandchildren--and spend a lot of money and have a lot 
of effort.
  The idea that we can come together and have a little investigation or 
have a commission, and we can tell the American people and those tragic 
victims who lost loved ones, and imply we are going to find out exactly 
what happened, we will prevent this thing from happening again--I wish 
that were true. I don't think it will be.
  As I said, we need to do what we can. We need to do as much as we 
can. What we are struggling with is trying to determine the best way to 
do that and the best forum. We should not be afraid.
  People say it is not a blame game. Of course, it is a blame game, to 
a certain extent. Why shy away from assessing blame if there is blame 
to be assessed? We are talking almost 3,000 lives here. That is part of 
it. Prevention is a part of it. But also a very important part of it is 
doing what we can to assess the nature of the problem so that we are as 
strong as we can be--not that we can prevent any potential problem, but 
be as strong as we can be. That is what I think my friend is trying to 
do with this commission. I appreciate that effort.
  I want to continue to study this bill, this amendment.
  I want to talk to my friends who support this amendment between now 
and the time we vote. I want the opportunity to discuss our process 
with my colleagues.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the order for the 
quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, the majority leader has asked me to announce 
there will be no more rollcall votes tonight.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I rise to support Senator Lieberman's 
amendment establishing a National Commission on Terrorist Acts Upon the 
United States. This amendment would direct the new independent 
commission in both investigation of the facts and circumstances 
relating to the September 11 attacks, and evaluation of the lessons 
learned from the attacks regarding the Federal Government's abilities 
to detect, prevent and respond to such attacks. Further, the bill 
empowers the commission to hold hearings, collect relevant materials 
and subpoena witnesses for the purpose of studying the systemic 
problems within the intelligence and law enforcement communities and to 
discover what part these problems played in the September 11 attacks. I 
support this amendment with the expectation that the recommendations 
coming from this commission will assist us in strengthening our 
national security by improving our intelligence and law enforcement as 
well as our intelligence efforts. We need to do everything possible to 
make sure that this type of attack never happens again.
  As we learn more from the investigation into the September 11 
attacks, it is increasingly evident that there are many barriers of 
communications between the several agencies involved in the battle 
against terrorism. I have been concerned about this problem for a 
number of years. There is no place for jurisdictional battles and 
unnecessary statutory barriers when America's security is at risk. We 
also need to determine where our national security shortcomings are, 
and what can be done to remedy them, so that we can look at potential 
legislative initiatives or the appropriate allocation of resources.
  Make no mistake, this commission will not be a witch hunt. We are not 
trying to place blame. Our goal in creating this commission is to find 
the best way to make our law enforcement and intelligence the best that 
it can be.
  Although I support this amendment and the general idea of a 

[[Page S8912]]

for this purpose, I would like to note that I have concerns regarding 
the changes to the composition of the commission. Focusing on the party 
affiliation of the officials who select the commission members 
unnecessarily politicizes the commission's work. This commission should 
be staffed by men and women with knowledge and expertise necessary to 
develop solutions that will prevent further terrorist attacks.
  That having been said, I would like to reiterate the importance of 
this amendment and the need for an independent commission that will 
dedicate its time to fleshing out these problems and in turn allow us 
to prevent further attacks and most importantly to protect the American 
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, more has changed in the last year than any 
of us, 1 year ago, would have cared to imagine. It was on a September 
day not unlike this one that terrorists committed mass murder in 
America, transforming forever the way we think about our security and 
our role in the world. One year later, we are in the midst of 
restricting our entire apparatus of Government to protect against 
future acts of terror in our homeland. But we have yet to 
comprehensively assess what went wrong last September 11--how our 
defenses failed us, why our worldwide intelligence network did not 
provide us warning of imminent attack, how terrorists operated and 
trained within our borders, how policy decisions may have made the 
events more likely, and how various Government agencies failed to 
analyze information in their possessions that could well have provided 
us a blueprint of the terrorists' intentions.
  The anniversary of September 11 is past us, and with it the 
celebration of heroism and sacrifice that will forever mark that day. 
Now is the time to take a harder look at the other side of that tragic 
event: the utter failure of the United States Government to predict and 
prevent the slaughter of Americans in America's greatest city.
  The September 11 attacks were incredibly depraved but not, as it 
turns out unimaginable. As early as 1995, an accomplice of Ramzi Yousef 
revealed that the mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center attack 
intended to plant bombs on 12 U.S.-bound airliners and crash a light 
plane packed with explosives into CIA headquarters. The accomplice had 
trained as a pilot at three separate U.S. flight schools. In 1999 the 
Library of Congress prepared a report for the National Intelligence 
Council warning that al-Qaeda suicide bombers "could crash-land an 
aircraft packed with high explosives" in the Pentagon, the CIA, or the 
White House.
  Two months before the September 11 attacks, Kenneth Williams, an FBI 
field agent in Phoenix, suspected that terrorists had enrolled in an 
Arizona pilot training school. He urged the FBI to begin investigating 
whether other U.S. flight schools might be training terrorists to fly. 
His prophetic warnings went unheeded. Similarly, FBI agent Coleen 
Rowley, whose efforts to have the FBI and CIA investigate hijacker 
Zacarias Moussaoui were rebuffed, believes such an investigation could 
have uncovered the terrorists' plot in the weeks before the attacks.
  Yesterday, the joint congressional intelligence committee reported 
that U.S. intelligence received a number of reports indicating that 
terrorists were plotting to use planes as weapons and planning to 
attack domestic targets. According to the committee, U.S. intelligence 
learned in August 1998 that a "group of unidentified Arabs planned to 
fly an explosive-laden plane from a foreign country into the World 
Trade Center." This information was given to the FBI and the FAA, 
which took little action.
  CIA Director Tenet told the intelligence community in December 1998 
that "We are at war," and "I want no resources or people spared in 
this effort." According to the joint committee, "Despite the D.C.I.'s 
declaration of war in 1998, there was no massive shift in budget or 
reassignment of personnel to counterterrorism until after September 11, 
2001." The committee's report continues: "By late 1998, the 
intelligence community had amassed a growing body of information--
though general in nature, and lacking specific details on time and on 
place--indicating that bin Laden and the Al Qaeda notework intended to 
strike within the United States, and concern about bin Laden continued 
to grow over time and reached peak levels in the spring and summer of 
2001, as the intelligence community faced increasing numbers of reports 
of imminent Al Qaeda attacks against U.S. interests. . . ."
  According to the congressional investigators, senior government 
officials in July 2001 were briefed on the threat in the following 
language: "Based on a review of all source reporting over the last 
five months, we believe that [Osama bin Laden] will launch a 
significant terrorist attack against U.S. and/or Israeli interests in 
the coming weeks. The attack will be spectacular and designed to 
inflict mass casualties against U.S. facilities or interests. Attack 
preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no 
warning." National Security Agency intercepts on September 10th 
warning in Arabic that "The match is about to begin" and "Tomorrow 
is zero hour" went untranslated until the attacks, when their meaning 
became all too apparent.
  Asking for, urging, and demanding answers for why various agencies of 
the Federal Government failed to understand the enormity of the danger 
facing the United States is an obligation shared by all elected Federal 
officials. As is the responsibility for understanding why and how the 
previous administration failed to combat the growing menace of 
international terrorism more effectively. As is responsibility for 
questioning Congress' inability or unwillingness to exercise more 
diligently its oversight responsibilities for those agencies. As is the 
expectation that officials who did not competently discharge their 
responsibilities be held accountable.
  Congress is on the verge of creating a Department of Homeland 
Security that constitutes the largest reorganization of the Federal 
Government in many of our lifetimes. But there has been no 
comprehensive diagnosis of the state of our preparedness for terrorism 
prior to last September, no proper analysis of the security loopholes 
in our immigration and airline security organization that provided the 
terrorists with the access they needed to kill Americans; no systematic 
review of the failure of Government agencies to analyze and share 
information on the terrorists' planning that coordinated analysis could 
have revealed prior to the attacks; and no formal assessment of the 
consequences of policy decisions dating back years that led to a 
climate in Afghanistan in which a terrorist network could train and 
flourish, with consequences that need no retelling.
  We need an honest search for answers, so that we and the people we 
represent can arrive at fair conclusions about what went wrong and 
develop ways to repair it. The independent commission we are proposing 
to look into these and all matters concerning our vulnerability and our 
initial response to the attacks would provide a blueprint for reform of 
the way we defend America. The insights of a blue-ribbon panel of 
experts, removed from the pressures of partisan politics, would add to 
the reforms we are making with creation of a Homeland Security 
Department by highlighting additional areas where the way our 
Government is organized have made us vulnerable.

  Eleven days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt 
mandated an investigation into how such tragedy could have struck an 
unknowing America. Ultimately, four different major panels appointed by 
the President and Congress investigated this "Day of Infamy." Seven 
days after President Kennedy was murdered, President Johnson appointed 
a commission of distinguished leaders to investigate the assassination. 
The independent commission we are proposing would carry on this 
requirement for answers, which has gone unquestioned and been deemed 
necessary in previous crises of this magnitude.
  There is a crisis of confidence in America today. Americans are more 
proud than ever to be American. But large percentages deeply distrust 
the institutions that shape our daily lives--the Federal Government, 
corporate America, the Church. Corporate corruption, the scandals of 
campaign financing and corruption of the political process have 
deprived many Americans of the sense that they have a stake in the way 
they are governed. In

[[Page S8913]]

the same way, I believe the lack of a fundamental accounting for the 
greatest tragedy in the Nation's history--one that touched all 
Americans and permanently altered the way we live and think about 
ourselves--is another source of alienation and insecurity.
  I do not believe the administration and the Congress have given the 
American people reason to be confident that we no longer remain 
vulnerable to terrorist attack, despite the admirable leadership our 
President has shown in prosecuting the war on terror, and despite the 
important work of Congress to create a Department of Homeland Security. 
The congressional intelligence committees have been conducting a very 
limited investigation into the intelligence failures related to 
September 11 and even this narrow inquiry has been sidelined by staff 
disputes that disrupted its operations and an FBI investigation into 
leaked material. Strangely, the FBI is now investigating the same 
people who are investigating the FBI. Indeed, until this week the joint 
committee has not held any open hearings. Ranking Republican Senator 
Shelby in particular has been outspoken in criticizing its lack of 
progress before it goes out of existence when the 107th Congress 
  Both Senator Shelby and joint committee co-chairman Senator Bob 
Graham support the establishment of an independent commission to carry 
on the work performed by the congressional intelligence investigation 
they helped to lead. I am pleased that a number of the Senate members 
of the joint congressional intelligence committee have endorsed our 
proposal to establish a panel that would build upon their work. The 
rationale for an independent commission seems indisputable if the very 
leaders charged with a more narrow inquiry do not believe their own 
investigation met the necessary standards to authoritatively report on 
and learn from our past failures.

  Many in Congress and the administration voiced concern last year that 
an independent investigation into September 11th's causes and 
consequences would interfere with Congress' investigation into these 
matters. With Congress planning to adjourn very soon, the congressional 
investigation represents only a first step into the intelligence and 
other failures that gave the terrorists their opening. The independent 
commission Senator Lieberman and I are proposing would explicitly build 
on the work of the congressional investigation and would go far beyond 
it by examining Government practice and policy in a host of other 
areas, including foreign policy, border control, aviation security, and 
law enforcement.
  Americans deserve answers after the events of September. This issue 
rises above politics, as the families and friends who lost loved ones 
will attest. Indeed, a commission would remove the issue from the 
political realm and serve the needs of both the administration and 
Congress by providing a blueprint for action, above and beyond any 
conclusions the joint congressional intelligence investigation may draw 
from its limited review.
  Leaders of the joint congressional investigation into the 
intelligence failures of September 11th have said the attacks may well 
have been preventable, based on everything we have learned since then 
about what we knew and how it fit together in a way that formed a 
blueprint for attack. I find it unfathomable, and frankly unacceptable, 
that we would accept that we could have prevented the attacks, but in 
the same breath say we should move on. We should move on--after we have 
answered all the lingering questions about why we were neither prepared 
nor organized to meet the challenge of terrorism, and after we have 
made the kind of reforms that only a panel of distinguished experts 
separated from politics could propose.
  An independent inquiry will not impose a serious burden on the 
administration as it prosecutes our just war on terrorism, any more 
than a similar inquiry after Pearl Harbor impeded Franklin D. 
Roosevelt's prosecution of World War II. Nor should it prevent members 
of Congress, the press, or any American citizen from questioning or 
criticizing the Government's apparent failures over the course of 
successive administrations. All wars and national security failures 
have occasioned contemporaneous criticism, and the Republic has managed 
to thrive.
  It is irresponsible in a time of war, or any time for that matter, to 
attack or defend unthinkingly or because partisan identification is 
one's supreme interest. But it is not responsible or right to shrink 
from offering thoughtful criticism when and to whom it is due, and when 
the consequences of incompletely understanding failures of governance 
are potentially catastrophic. On the contrary, such timidity is 
indefensibly irresponsible especially in times of war, so irresponsible 
that it verges on the unpatriotic.
  Two years before the attacks, the distinguished Hart-Rudman 
Commission on national security warned that as a result of the threat 
of catastrophic terrorism, "Americans will likely die on American 
soil, possibly in large numbers." Congress and successive 
administration ignored the commission's recommendations for reform to 
defend against this threat--many of which are now embodied in the 
homeland security legislation we are considering this week. We 
shouldn't wait for the next attack to investigate what more we need to 
do to protect the American people.
  Until we have comprehensive assessment of needed reforms across the 
spectrum of our Government, based on what went wrong last September, we 
will not be prepared to predict and prevent the next attack. Americans 
need answers. I urge my colleagues to join us to create a commission 
that will tell them the truth--and put in place the protections that 
will prevent future generations from judging us for abdicating our 
responsibility to that truth.
  Mr. THOMPSON. Mr. President, I have been asked by Senator Hatch to 
request unanimous consent that Senator Schumer be removed as a 
cosponsor of amendment No. 4693.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.