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These are things that must be completed. One could argue that all other items on the agenda should not have been up for discussion until we took care of these national security needs earlier. So before us today are two distinguished professional people who have given up large portions of their lives to study homeland security. I appreciate their willingness to be before us today.
In the report, Mr. Chairman, on page 5 in the Executive Summary, we talk about the Intelligence Community failed to capitalize on both the individual and collective significance. And I take issue with that, because the Intelligence Committee really is a reflection of those in Washington who determine foreign policy for this Nation. And it would seem to me that if we are going to direct criticism at that Intelligence Committee, we ought to be a lot more careful in examining the very foreign policy which created and precipitated terror throughout this country and continues to do throughout this world.
A foreign policy to a point should not be color-blind, culturally blind, or spiritually blind. And if it is, we must understand what the consequences may be. What in foreign policy stimulated perhaps and precipitated terror? What in our foreign policy continues to do that? And I mean this for both political parties.
Which leads me to a final point, Mr. Chairman, if I may.
Mr. PASCRELL. I make a suggestion to this committee that we change what we look like. And my suggestion today through the Chair, and not for discussion but hopefully would be considered, that this committee which is statutorily-which statutorily exists, fashion itself after the Ethics Committee, which is the only other committee that I know of in the Congress of the United States which is split 50-50 where we have co-chairmanships. If the issue of protecting our children and our grandchildren and our neighborhoods is so significant-and I believe it is, and all of us here think that it is then this committee should be absolutely bipartisan and we should have shared chairmanships in order to move on. This is a disservice to the majority and a disservice to the minority where we move more political than in the public's interest, Mr. Chairman, and I ask that this be taken under consideration at a proper time. Chairman Cox. I appreciate the gentleman's suggestion. The gentleman's time is expired.
Chairman Cox. Does any other member on the minority side seek to be recognized? The gentlelady from New York, Mrs. Lowey, is recognized for 3 minutes.
Mrs. LOWEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to join you in welcoming our witnesses, and we look forward to your testimony.
Tomorrow many of us will return home to commemorate September 11th in our communities, and as I meet with my constituents, with first responders and doctors, school superintendents and parents, those families and that day are always in our minds.
Today we will discuss opportunities and challenges to increase homeland security, but we must remember the people we represent, and on Sept. 11th as today, our communities depend first and foremost on firefighters and police to protect them and to help them in times of crisis. And I believe it is the responsibility of this
Congress to make sure that local communities are prepared to prevent or respond to an attack.
So as we look through this material, we always have to keep our local communities in mind. And with this hearing, I hope we have time to address intelligence as it relates to local communities. It is extremely important that first responders be integrated into our national intelligence network, and this has been discussed at previous meetings, but with the information I have to date, it has not been done effectively.
So as far as I am concerned, it is important that they can also contribute to intelligence gathering, prevention and response to an attack in ways that are both smart and effective. They must be able to communicate quickly with Federal, State, and other local officials in order to have a clear understanding of the situation and to react in the best and fastest possible way.
And there are many lessons, as we know, that we learned about September 11th. Let's have no doubt that one of the most important one centers on people; within the buildings and cities targeted on September 11th were people from all over the world. Our community, the idea of America, was attacked. We are here today to make our country better prepared, and to do that we must make sure that our communities are better prepared.
So I want to thank the witnesses once again for joining us, and I will save the balance of my time for questions. Thank you. Chairman Cox. Thank the gentlelady.
Chairman Cox. Who seeks recognition?
Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Chairman, I have an opening statement, but in the interest of time I would ask unanimous consent to just insert it in the record.
Chairman Cox. By all means. Without objection, so ordered. [The information follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE LOUISE MCINTOSH SLAUGHTER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK With this anniversary, we remember one of the greatest tragedies in our nation's history. We commemorate the three thousand innocent lives that were lost when terrorists murdered in the name of hate. We pay tribute to the bravery and courage displayed by the first responders who served in New York City, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. We pray for the families who lost loved ones on that terrible day. From the calamity emerged strength, hope and an outpouring of charity that could happen only in America. All Americans came together to support each other and aid victims. In my district, thousands opened their hearts to help the harmed. Without a second thought, dozens of firefighters, paramedics and other first responders rushed to New York City. Ordinary citizens got in their cars and drove for hours to offer their help.
Businesses and citizens gave whatever they could. Wegman's Food Markets literally sent tons of food and supplies to New York City. LaRocca's restaurant in Rochester opened up on their day off and gave all their profits to the Red Cross. Mitchell Green, a 5-year-old from Rochester, raised $50 for the Red Cross by selling American flags he printed out. Hundreds of other children in Western New York collected pennies, washed cars or sold lemonade to raise money for victims.
Acts likes these helped our nation to emerge stronger and more full of pride than ever before. We stand unified in the war against terror and the battle to protect/ maintain America's freedom.
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Even as we pause to remember so must we move forward. Duty obliges us to prepare, prevent, and protect. This committee and this Congress must remain ever vigilant in our ongoing efforts to secure this great nation. Thank you for taking the time to appear before us today and share the results of your hard work.
Chairman Cox. The gentlelady from-oh, I am sorry, Mr. Etheridge.
Mr. ETHERIDGE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I ask
Chairman Cox. Mr. Etheridge is recognized for 5 minutes for purposes of an opening statement.
Mr. ETHERIDGE. I ask unanimous consent that the balance of my statement be included in the record.
Chairman Cox. Without objection.
Mr. ETHERIDGE. I have a brief opening statement.
Let me welcome our witnesses today, and like all Americans I will never forget the experience of 9/11 and where I was. We were having our annual meeting of roughly 200 business people from North Carolina who were here in Washington that day, and they were in a seminar at the time that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. I remember seeing with my own eyes the smoke pouring out of the Pentagon as we walked out of the building to evacuate it. And I will never forget the sight of that proud building, which represents so much of our Nation's strength, charred and wounded. Among all of us there was fear for our own situation and grief for those that we had lost, but there was an underlying defiance that we would never be cowered.
Since then, Congress has made great strides in our efforts to protect our Nation. Last year we passed a Homeland Security Act which established the Department of Homeland Security. This year saw the formation of this Select Committee on Homeland Security which has been charged with the oversight of that newly created Department.
However, my service on this committee has given me the opportunity here in all of the evolution of the Department and meet with many first responders, as my colleague first talked about, and we need to do more in this area. We aren't doing as much as we need to. I am afraid that our progress is slowing, and other events are drawing attention away from the critical need to secure our Nation from terrorist threats.
Ms. Hill has appropriately pointed out that the administration has not learned the right lessons from the al Qaeda terrorists. The American people deserve to know that the leaders of the Federal Government are taking all appropriate actions to protect them from harm, and this administration's effort has been inadequate thus far.
Recent news reports as well of the two distinguished witnesses today clearly indicate the need to make the Select Committee on Homeland Security permanent, and clarifies jurisdiction and oversight function. And I would trust the leadership of this House would move forward and ensure that this body will be permanent and empower the committee to carry out its necessary functions.
I will reserve the balance of my time and insert the balance in the record, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Cox. I thank the gentleman.
[The information follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HON. BOB ETHERIDGE
Thank you, Chairman Cox and Ranking Member Turner, for giving members of the Homeland Security Committee the opportunity to speak about our experiences
on 9/11 and share some thoughts on the progress our nation has made in the areas of domestic security.
Like all Americans, I will never forget my experiences on 9/11. We were in the middle of our annual Washington meeting with members of North Carolina's business community. There were about 200 people from across North Carolina in a seminar with us, when we learned that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Cen
I remember seeing with my own eyes the smoke pouring out of the Pentagon. I will never forget the sight of that proud building, which represents so much of our nation's strength, charred and wounded. Among all of us, there was fear for our own situation and grief for those who had been lost, but there was an underlying defiance that we would not be cowered.
Since then Congress has made great strides in its effort to protect our nation. Last year we passed the Homeland Security Act which established the Department of Homeland Security. This year saw the formation of the Select Committee on Homeland Security, which was charged with oversight of the newly created Department. It is an honor to join so many other distinguished members of the House and to serve under the solid leadership of Chairman Cox and Ranking Member Turner. However, my service on this Committee has given me the opportunity to hear a follow the evolution of the Department of Homeland Security and meet with first responders from all over my state. I'm afraid that our progress is slowing, and other events are drawing attention away from the critical need to secure our nation from terrorist threats.
Ms. Hill has appropriately pointed out that the Administration still has not learned the right lessons about the Al Qaida terrorists. The American people deserve to know that the leaders of the federal government are taking all appropriate actions to protect them from harm, and this Administration's effort has been inadequate at best.
Recent news reports, as well as the reports of the two distinguished witnesses today clearly indicate the need to make the Select Committee on Homeland Security permanent and clarify its jurisdictional and oversight functions once and for all. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in the House has failed to provide the assurance that this body will permanently empower the Committee to carry out these necessary functions.
On Sunday the President indicated that terrorists continue to threaten our nation, so we must put aside our differences and give this committee the authority it needs to provide effective oversight of the Department of Homeland Security's critical functions.
I also want to take this opportunity to mention the need for our leaders to recognize the danger terrorists pose to our nation's agricultural system and food supply. A bioterror attack could have devastating and far-reaching consequences on our nation's economy. Although people would not lose their lives, the impact on the agricultural and transportation systems could bring our economy to its knees, and it is already crouching now.
Agriculture is hugely important to North Carolina and this nation, and I want this committee to conduct a field hearing in my district to hear from folks on the front lines of what could be one of our most vulnerable soft targets for terrorist attack.
Finally, I would like to close by thanking our witnesses for their testimony here today, and to remember the victims, and heroes of that tragic day two years ago. Chairman Cox. The gentlelady from the District of Columbia, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, is recognized for purposes of an opening statement for 3 minutes.
Ms. NORTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I too want to welcome today's witnesses and look forward to clarifications from them in light of their most important reports.
9/11 is likely to be for this generation what the assassination of President Kennedy was for my generation. That is to say, the event by which other events will be measured, the event that makes you ask where were you on that date. But I know where I was: with three school children and three teachers who went down in that plane in the Pentagon along with a significant number of other D.C. residents, the school children and the teachers who were being rewarded for good marks and for service to their schools.
Of course today we are told that we should direct ourselves to the threat against our homeland in Iraq. Maybe so. But this committee is going to be held accountable for vulnerabilities to the homeland right under our nose. That is why the two reports are so important.
I want to raise two issues right under our noses, not in a faraway land, that concern me and that are simply representative, I think, of the plethora of outstanding issues: the absence of clear intelligence priorities based on threats and vulnerabilities. What am I to do when the security chief at Union Station comes to see me and says that there is nothing that has been done about security in the train system? The station is the center of the commuter train travel across boundaries. He talks about tracks, passengers, cargo. How am I to assess whether that—whether we are where we should be in that regard, with no sense of what the priorities in homeland security are in the first place? I can't tell him, well, we are going to get to that. I can't tell him that is happening. This is the kind of problem that I think that—and he comes to see me in part because I am a member of the Homeland Security Committee. Or, let's take charter service. It is down in this region. But generally it is a part of airline service. We haven't even gotten to that yet. When are we going to get to it? Where does it stand in the priorities?
Or, you look at television, and somebody says that there is construction and an airport is wide open. Very different from if you happen to be an employee at the airport. How am I to measure whether that is good or bad if there are no priorities that exist that I can point to that I know we are getting to or we have gotten there?
Finally, let me say a word about watchlists. If you happen to represent the Nation's Capital, you live here and you know that 2 years after 9/11 there still isn't any database of suspected terrorists from around the world, you really don't feel safer than you did on 9/11. I don't want to oversimplify this, but we are not asking that all the terrorists in the world be identified, just that they be put in one place on the same list, and that local and State officials have access to them. I know this is more than pushing a button or doing a computer run, but it does seem to me that 2 years later, one list somewhere where local law enforcement officers or people at ports of entry can go to is not too much to ask.
Those are representative of the kind of tasks, issues, that I think need to be raised here this afternoon. And I thank you, Mr. Chair
Chairman Cox. Thank the gentlelady.
Chairman Cox. Does any other member seek recognition?
Mr. LANGEVIN. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent toChairman Cox. Mr. Langevin is recognized for 3 minutes for purposes of an opening statement.
Mr. LANGEVIN. Čould I just ask unanimous consent to insert my statement into the record?
Chairman Cox. All members are advised that the record will be left open for the balance of the week, until the close of business on Friday, for purposes of additions to the record. Without objection.