« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
measures to fortify our seaports, our borders, overhaul airport security, provide intelligence and law enforcement agencies with tools they need to track down terrorists here and abroad.
We have also created the new Department of Homeland Security in an effort to make America more secure. We must do all that we can as a committee and as a Congress to ensure that that Department is successful. Yet, we all know that much remains to be done. It is the goal of this committee, a goal that I share with the Chairman and every member, to ensure that America is as secure as it can be. We must accept nothing less.
Today we are doing exactly what we as legislators must do; that is, to learn everything we can about the failures that enabled the attacks to occur 2 years ago, and then to take absolutely every measure possible to prevent it from happening again. This hearing is an important part of achieving that goal.
We will hear from two very distinguished experts today whose experience in how to prevent and prepare for, and, if the worst befalls us, to respond to terrorist attacks have meant much to all of us, and I am pleased to welcome each of our witnesses.
Ms. Eleanor Hill comes highly regarded by both sides of the aisle in directing the enormously challenging work of the Congressional Joint Inquiry into the Terrorist Attacks of September 11. The report of that Inquiry led by our colleagues Porter Goss, Jane Harman-who serves with us on this committee-and minority leader Pelosi propose 19 recommendations to prevent further terrorist attacks. I have read the report and I commend you on the work. And I look forward to the thoughts of our witnesses today on how the report's recommendations have been implemented over the past 8 months and what work remains to be done.
This committee stands ready to work alongside others to make whatever change is necessary to meet the difficult challenge of preventing and responding to terrorist attacks.
Governor Gilmore was studying and advocating for homeland security before it became a household word. He presided over four reports to date as Chairman of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, and we look forward to the fifth report. It is a testament to the value of these reports that the Congress continues to reauthorize your work, Governor. I look forward to hearing your testimony on the findings and recommendations of the Gilmore Commission. Your recommendations have already been incorporated in much of our thinking, and it will be helpful to hear from you to allow you to discuss what government organizational changes needed to be made now and what investments we must make to improve our defenses.
Homeland security is not a partisan issue, it is an American issue, and we all share the same goal: to do all we can to prevent terrorist attacks and to fulfill our constitutional duty to provide for the common defense. Protecting America is the first responsibility of government, and nothing else matters if we fail to achieve that goal.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Cox. Thank the gentleman. [The information follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HON. JIM TURNER
Tomorrow our nation commemorates the attacks on America that changed the history of our nation and the world. Today, and every day, we honor the memories of those we lost by redoubling our resolve to do all we can to protect America, said Congressman Jim Turner, Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security.
Turner spoke before a meeting of the Committee to discuss the results of the Joint Congressional Inquiry on the Attacks of September 11th.
We remember the horror of the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the crash in an open field in Pennsylvania. We remember the determination on the faces of the firefighters and workers who entered the fiery inferno in a valiant attempt to save people they did not know.
Never again, we said, would we be caught unprepared. Never again would we send some of our bravest citizens-our police, firefighters and emergency crews-into harm's way unable to communicate with one another. Never again would we allow large gaps in our security that could be exploited by those who seek us harm.
?It is our duty to move faster and stronger to protect America. We have been told we are safer than we were on September 11, 2001. But that is not the test we must pass. The question before us is "Are we as safe as we must be to protect the American people?"
Today's hearing is an important step in achieving that goal. We will hear from two experts who have significant experience in understanding how to best prevent, prepare for and respond to terrorist attacks on our nation.
Today, we are doing exactly what we as legislators must do-learn everything we can about the failures that enabled the attacks of two years ago to succeed, and then take absolutely every measure in our power to prevent them from happening again.
That is our solemn vow to the American people.
Chairman Cox. The Vice Chairwoman of the full committee, the gentlelady from the State of Washington, Ms. Dunn, is recognized for purposes of an opening statement.
Ms. DUNN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I welcome our witnesses today and look forward to what they have to say.
We have come together today, on the eve of the second anniversary of 9/11, determined to honor the lives lost on that horrible day by continuing our discussion about how to best ensure that we don't ever witness another September 11th, 2001.
The President and Congress have shown an unfaltering commitment to this effort. Over $75 billion have been spent making our airports safer, securing our seaports, protecting our citizens against biological attacks. Everyone recognized that reform was needed to coordinate overgrown Federal agencies so that critical intelligence would no longer fall through the cracks. On March 1st of this year, the Department of Homeland Security came to life, harmonizing the efforts of 22 Federal agencies all sharing a common mission to wage the war on terror here at home.
The Department of Homeland Security's job is no small one. This committee's role is to oversee the Department as it organizes and spends resources to protect every aspect of security on the homefront, and so far we have been successful. There have been no further attacks on United States soil. However, we know from reports issued by experts such as the witnesses who sit before us today, as well as from firsthand knowledge as an oversight committee, that there always is room for more improvement. That is why we have made it a priority to find out what is working well in this effort and what needs to be changed in the first stages before we devote endless amounts of resources.
Like any other Federal Government undertaking, our oversight of DHS includes practicing fiscal responsibility and continuing to
look for the most efficient ways of getting money from Washington, D.C. directly to the people who need it. This committee must and always will be open to constructive discussion about how the homeland security effort can be made more efficient and more effective. On this day we also recognize how far we have come in securing America against terrorism, whether it be as we enter the airport gate or as we walk our children to the baseball stadium. The permanent safety of the American people is paramount to any other responsibility of the Federal Government, and Congress will continue to demonstrate, through resources appropriated and responsible oversight of the Department charged with carrying out that responsibility, our commitment to this most critical duty.
I look forward to the testimony of our witnesses today, and I yield back.
Chairman Cox. I thank the gentlelady.
Chairman Cox. The gentleman from the State of Washington, Mr. Dicks, is recognized for purposes of an opening statement.
Mr. DICKS. I don't have an opening statement, Mr. Chairman. I am going to reserve my time for additional questions.
Chairman Cox. The gentleman reserves his time, and the Chair reminds all members that in lieu of making a 3-minute opening statement, it is the member's option to add that time to the 5minute rule for purposes of questioning the witnesses if you so desire.
Next in order of appearance, the Chair would recognize for purposes of an opening statement the gentlelady from California, Ms. Harman, if you wish to make an opening statement.
Ms. HARMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Cox. And as you do that, I want to thank you for your role in the preparation of this report. And as I recognize each of the members, including Chairman Goss who serves on this committee, for the purposes of their opening statement, I will do the same. But we are deeply indebted to you for your service on this committee, because it will make our coordinating function work so much better. Thank you for your service there and here.
Ms. HARMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that. I would also note, as Ms. Hill knows, that the Joint Inquiry was the product of 37 members, on a bicameral, bipartisan basis, coming together to slog through the tough issues and to produce something that is not only readable but extremely useful. Ms. Hill had to do the hard work of getting it declassified, and I think it would take too many hours to relate all those wars, but the recommendations are very valuable, as are the recommendations in the four Gilmore reports to date, which I also have here, and the one to come, as are the recommendations in a lot of other reports that are out there, one of which is called the Bremer Commission. That was a commission on which I served, and I just hope we all take advantage of the information out there that highlights problems and directs us to the right fixes.
Let me make one more comment, which is that on the way over here, we all voted on a motion to instruct conferees on the homeland security spending legislation. That vote was 347 to 74. The House can be a bipartisan place, let us remind ourselves. What that instruction motion does is to instruct conferees to take the
highest possible level of funding and also insist on the Markey amendment on screening all cargo carried on passenger aircraft. I am very pleased that we were able to find such a large margin to approve that motion to instruct.
I just have a few brief comments in my remaining minute or so, and the first is that good intelligence now more than ever is the key to security, internationally and domestically. Intelligence is crucial to preventing another deadly terrorist attack on America and to winning the war on terrorism. It is also crucial to persuading our citizens and other nations of the correctness of our policies and actions.
With respect to the events of September 11, no one will ever know what might have happened had more dots been connected between the disparate pieces of information, but we do know now of the systemic failures that caused a breakdown in our intelligence systems, and we are on notice of what it will take to fix those failures. And we haven't yet done enough.
The current instability in Iraq should instruct us that good intelligence is more critical than ever in Iraq, and as the Ranking Member on the House Intelligence Committee, I am absolutely determined to complete our full and unbiased review of what went wrong with prewar intelligence and to make sure we fix the problem, not in the regular order, but immediately.
I see Mr. Gibbons here. He is another member of our committee. We have a bipartisan culture there, and hopefully it will work.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, let me just say to you that this committee has a huge opportunity, not just to make the Department of Homeland Security work, which is a critical assignment, but also to get it right in terms of the strategy that we need to protect the homeland. More Americans will die here if we have another major terrorist attack than will die probably in Iraq or other places around the world. So we are rightly focused here, and I commend you for holding this hearing. Thank you.
Chairman Cox. Thank the gentlelady.
Chairman Cox. The gentleman from Connecticut.
Chairman Cox. All right. The Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, the gentleman from Florida, Mr. Goss, to whom this entire committee and the American people as well, I am sure, owe a debt of gratitude for your work in conducting this Joint Inquiry, the gentleman is recognized for purposes of an opening
Mr. Goss. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to reserve my time but extend some of that gratitude to Ms. Hill.
Chairman Cox. The gentleman from Michigan, the subcommittee Chairman on Infrastructure and Border Protection, Mr. Camp. Mr. CAMP. I will reserve my time, Mr. Chairman.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE DAVE CAMP, CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON INFRASTRUCTURE AND BORDER SECURITY
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I would like to make a brief statement and begin by thanking our witnesses, Ms. Eleanor Hill and former Governor Jim Gilmore, for joining us for this important hearing.
September 11th forced our nation to take stock of the international threats and our vulnerabilities to those threats. The Gilmore Commission, the Hart-Rudman
Commission and the Joint Inquiry, along with other government and private sector studies and working groups are providing new ideas and proposals to address the problems identified by the September 11th attacks.
Since the September 11th terrorist attacks, there has been a major shift in focus on and within the Intelligence Community. Although international terrorism has been a major concern for the last decade, the Intelligence Community did not provide a specific warning of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Intelligence agencies face an enormous challenge in acquiring information about the composition, location, capabilities, plans, and ambitions of terrorist groups. Meeting this challenge requires unique and specialized skills.
Counterterrorism requires strong human intelligence, the use of agents to acquire information and, in certain circumstances, to carry out covert actions. The importance of recruitment and training has been highlighted and need continual support and attention from Congress.
Countering terrorism also requires close cooperation between law enforcement and intelligence agencies. While the bureaucratic obstacles that have previously hampered information sharing between different intelligence agencies are being addressed, more work needs to be done, while remaining watchful of civil liberty and privacy protections. The network between federal intelligence agencies and our state and local first responders can be strengthened.
Congress and the Administration created the Department of Homeland Security a little over six months ago and tasked the new agency with the large responsibility of intelligence analysis and evaluation. While, DHS is still organizing and restructuring, Congress has the responsibility to provide a clear framework to guide the unprecedented and uncertain evolution of intelligence sharing and organization. Today's hearing is another step in this oversight process.
I would again like to thank Ms. Hill and Governor Gilmore for their participation and willingness to testify before the Select Committee on Homeland Security. Your past experiences in evaluating and in-depth analyses of the intelligence environment prior to the terrorist attacks are of great value to this Committee.
I yield back my time.
Chairman Cox. Let me ask this. Does any member on this side wish to be recognized for purposes of an opening statement?
Does any member on the minority side-oh, I am sorry. Mr. Linder. No. I am sorry. Does any member on the minority side wish to be recognized for purposes of an opening statement?
Mr. Pascrell wishes to be recognized and is recognized for 3 minutes.
Mr. PASCRELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The anniversary of the terror attacks against our American family looms over us this week, its presence felt in everything we do, but I am glad that, along with the congressional tributes and remembrances, that this committee is focused on specific issues and ideas designed to make Americans safer and more secure from those who wish to bring us suffering and pain.
The victims of September the 11th came from 735 towns and cities in 40 different States, all members of one American family. My district, like so many others, lost wonderful people, brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers, dear friends. Fifty-four people from the Eighth Congressional District died that day, so I take my role on this committee very seriously, as all of you do. And it is with great frustration that we sit here, 2 years after the attacks, with much more still to do. There is still no single database or an integrated list of suspected terrorists for the worldwide use of intelligence officers, Federal, State and local law enforcement, border inspectors and immigration officials. State and local law enforcement officials, at least in my district, currently receive inadequate levels of information from the Federal Government. And there is still no threat vulnerability assessment. Yet, we are spending money, perhaps much of it being misused.