Congressional Record: December 20, 2001 (Senate) Page S13945-S13981 STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS [...] By Mr. LIEBERMAN (for himself and Mr. McCain): S. 1867. A bill to establish the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Governmental Affairs. Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I rise to introduce with my colleague Senator McCain legislation to establish the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. This Commission will have a broad mandate to examine and report upon the facts and causes relating to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks occurring at the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon, and it will be charged with making a "full and complete accounting of the circumstances surrounding the attacks, and the extent of the United States' preparedness for, and response to, the attacks." It will "investigate and report to the President and Congress on its findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures that can be taken to prevent acts of terrorism." Certain events stand out in our history for having left an indelible mark of pain and sorrow on America. The infamous attack on Pearl Harbor not only roused a slumbering giant, but also raised difficult questions about why our great Navy had been caught unawares. The tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy evoked powerful feelings of sorrow and loss, but also searching questions about the identity and motives of the assassin. And on this past September 11, the United States suffered assaults on its territory unparalleled in their cruelty, destruction and loss of life. Americans were stunned both by the magnitude of the loss and the maliciously simple plan that had caused the carnage. Here too, alongside their grief and rage, the American people have been asking questions: Why was this plan so successful in achieving its evil goals? Were opportunities missed to prevent the destruction? What additional steps should be taken now to prevent any future attacks? In the immediate aftermath of both Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy assassination, special commissions were formed to conduct investigations and answer similar questions. These precedents provide us with important models as we seek answers to such questions, and then use the findings to move forward with strategies to respond to the scourge of terrorism. Like many of my constituents, I too want to know how September 11 happened, why it happened, and what corrective measures can be taken to prevent it from ever occurring again. The American people deserve answers to these very legitimate questions about how the terrorists succeeded in achieving their brutal objectives, and in so doing, forever changing the way in which we Americans lead our lives. To be successful, this Commission must have a number of resources, including enough time, a top level staff, ample investigatory powers, and adequate funding, all of which we have provided for in this legislation. But most critically, it must have broad bipartisan support. This Commission must not become a witch-hunt. The events of September 11 were so cataclysmic that there is enough responsibility to be shouldered by multiple parties. The overriding purpose of the inquiry must be a learning exercise, to understand what happened without preconceptions about its ultimate findings. Just as Presidents Roosevelt and Johnson turned to national leaders of their day, Justice Roberts and Chief Justice Warren, to spearhead the Pearl Harbor and Kennedy assassination inquiries, respectively, this Commission must also draw upon the great reservoir of bipartisan talent that our nation possesses to answer crucial and fundamental questions. We expect that members appointed to this blue-ribbon Commission will be prominent U.S. citizens, though not currently serving in public office, with "national recognition and significant depth of experience in such professions as governmental service, law enforcement, the armed services, legal practice, public administration, intelligence gathering, commerce, including aviation matters, and foreign affairs." To help ensure that members of the Commission will possess some of these substantive areas of expertise, which are so critical to understanding and analyzing the events of September 11, 10 of its 14 members will be appointed by the Senate and House chairmen, in consultation with their ranking minority members, of the Congressional committees that oversee Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, Judiciary, and Commerce. President Bush will appoint the four remaining members of the Commission, including the Chairman, who in turn will appoint the staff. In an effort to mandate bipartisanship, or perhaps more accurately, non-partisanship, no more than 7 of the Commission's 14 members may be from one political party. Though some of the Commission's recommendations may include "proposing organization, coordination, planning, management arrangements, procedures, rules, and regulations," we cannot wait for the findings of this report to begin the process of strengthening our Nation's homeland defense. That process, of course, is already underway, and must continue to occur at a rapid pace to ensure the continued protection of American lives and property. This Commission will not issue its first report until six months after its first meeting, and its final report will be issued another year after that. Rather than wait for these reports to be researched and submitted, we must continue the process we have already started to pro-actively address vulnerabilities that undermine our daily safety. We have already received the valuable input of numerous other experts and Commissions, some of which even issued their prescient warnings before the events of September, such as the Hart-Rudman Commission. When this proposed Commission completes its investigation and makes its final recommendations, those suggestions and conclusions will augment the record we have already developed on ways we can continue to safeguard our nation. The Commission is not only the right thing to do, but this is the right time to do it. Understandably, the initial months after September 11 were preoccupied first with mourning, and then with prosecution of the war. There were legitimate concerns that a robust investigation into the causes of September 11 would siphon resources from the ongoing war effort. But with the first stage of the war against terrorism now drawing to a close, and with many perplexing questions still before us, we must now begin in earnest the process of finding answers to how it happened. This Commission should not be at odds with the war effort of any federal agency; rather, its efforts will complement the internal review processes some agencies are undergoing. Determining the causes and circumstances of the terrorist attacks will ensure that those who lost their lives on this second American "day of infamy" did not die in vain. In so doing, this Commission will not only pay tribute to those who perished, but it will ensure that their survivors, and all the citizens of this great nation, continue to live life secure in the knowledge that the U.S. government is doing all within its powers to preserve their lives, liberties, and pursuits of happiness. I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record. There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: S. 1867 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION. There is established the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (in this Act referred to as the "Commission"). SEC. 2. PURPOSES. The purposes of the Commission are to-- (1) examine and report upon the facts and causes relating to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, occurring at the World Trade Center in New York, New York and at the Pentagon in Virginia; [[Page S13952]] (2) ascertain, evaluate, and report on the evidence developed by all relevant governmental agencies regarding the facts and circumstances surrounding the attacks; (3) make a full and complete accounting of the circumstances surrounding the attacks, and the extent of the United States' preparedness for, and response to, the attacks; and (4) investigate and report to the President and Congress on its findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures that can be taken to prevent acts of terrorism. SEC. 3. COMPOSITION OF THE COMMISSION. (a) Members.--The Commission shall be composed of 14 members, of whom-- (1) 4 members shall be appointed by the President; (2) 1 member shall be appointed by the chairperson, in consultation with the ranking member, of the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate ; (3) 1 member shall be appointed by the chairperson, in consultation with the ranking member, of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate; (4) 1 member shall be appointed by the chairperson, in consultation with the ranking member, of the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate; (5) 1 member shall be appointed by the chairperson, in consultation with the ranking member, of the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate; (6) 1 member shall be appointed by the chairperson, in consultation with the ranking member, of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate; (7) 1 member shall be appointed by the chairperson, in consultation with the ranking member, of the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives; (8) 1 member shall be appointed by the chairperson, in consultation with the ranking member, of the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives; (9) 1 member shall be appointed by the chairperson, in consultation with the ranking member, of the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives; (10) 1 member shall be appointed by the chairperson, in consultation with the ranking member, of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives; and (11) 1 member shall be appointed by the chairperson, in consultation with the ranking member, of the Committee on International Relations of the House of Representatives. (b) Chairperson.--The President shall select the chairperson of the Commission. (c) Qualifications; Initial Meeting.-- (1) Political party affiliation.--Not more than 7 members of the Commission shall be from the same political party. (2) Nongovernmental appointees.--An individual appointed to the Commission may not be an officer or employee of the Federal Government or any State or local government. (3) Other qualifications.--It is the sense of Congress that individuals appointed to the Commission should be prominent United States citizens, with national recognition and significant depth of experience in such professions as governmental service, law enforcement, the armed services, legal practice, public administration, intelligence gathering, commerce, including aviation matters, and foreign affairs. (4) Initial meeting.--If 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, 8 or more members of the Commission have been appointed, those members who have been appointed may meet and, if necessary, select a temporary chairperson, who may begin the operations of the Commission, including the hiring of staff. (d) Quorum; Vacancies.--After its initial meeting, the Commission shall meet upon the call of the chairperson or a majority of its members. Eight members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum. Any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect its powers, but shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made. SEC. 4. FUNCTIONS OF THE COMMISSION. The functions of the Commission are to-- (1) conduct an investigation into relevant facts and circumstances relating to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, including any relevant legislation, Executive order, regulation, plan, practice, or procedure; (2) review and evaluate the lessons learned from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 regarding the structure, coordination, and management arrangements of the Federal Government relative to detecting, preventing, and responding to such terrorist attacks; and (3) submit to the President and Congress such reports as are required by this Act containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations as the Commission shall determine, including proposing organization, coordination, planning, management arrangements, procedures, rules, and regulations. SEC. 5. POWERS OF THE COMMISSION. (a) In General.-- (1) Hearings and evidence.--The Commission or, on the authority of the Commission, any subcommittee or member thereof, may, for the purpose of carrying out this Act-- (A) hold such hearings and sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, receive such evidence, administer such oaths; and (B) require, by subpoena or otherwise, the attendance and testimony of such witnesses and the production of such books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers, and documents, as the Commission or such designated subcommittee or designated member may determine advisable. (2) Subpoenas.--Subpoenas issued under paragraph (1)(B) may be issued under the signature of the chairperson of the Commission, the chairperson of any subcommittee created by a majority of the Commission, or any member designated by a majority of the Commission, and may be served by any person designated by the chairperson, subcommittee chairperson, or member. Sections 102 through 104 of the Revised Statutes of the United States (2 U.S.C. 192 through 194) shall apply in the case of any failure of any witness to comply with any subpoena or to testify when summoned under authority of this section. (b) Contracting.--The Commission may, to such extent and in such amounts as are provided in appropriation Acts, enter into contracts to enable the Commission to discharge its duties under this Act. (c) Information From Federal Agencies.--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 Act. Each department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, independent establishment, or instrumentality shall, to the extent authorized by law, furnish such information, suggestions, estimates, and statistics directly to the Commission, upon request made by the chairperson, the chairperson of any subcommittee created by a majority of the Commission, or any member designated by a majority of the Commission. (d) Assistance From Federal Agencies.-- (1) General services administration.--The Administrator of General Services shall provide to the Commission on a reimbursable basis administrative support and other services for the performance of the Commission's functions. (2) Other departments and agencies.--In addition to the assistance prescribed in paragraph (1), departments and agencies of the United States are authorized to provide to the Commission such services, funds, facilities, staff, and other support services as they may determine advisable and as may be authorized by law. (e) Gifts.--The Commission may accept, use, and dispose of gifts or donations of services or property. (f) Postal Services.--The Commission may use the United States mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as departments and agencies of the United States. SEC. 6. STAFF OF THE COMMISSION. (a) In General.-- (1) Appointment and compensation.--The chairperson, in accordance with rules agreed upon by the Commission, may appoint and fix the compensation of a staff director and such other personnel as may be necessary to enable the Commission to carry out its functions, without regard to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in the competitive service, and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title relating to classification and General Schedule pay rates, except that no rate of pay fixed under this subsection may exceed the equivalent of that payable for a position at level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of title 5, United States Code. (2) Personnel as federal employees.-- (A) In general.--The executive director and any personnel of the Commission who are employees shall be employees under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code, for purposes of chapters 63, 81, 83, 84, 85, 87, 89, and 90 of that title. (B) Members of commission.--Subparagraph (A) shall not be construed to apply to members of the Commission. (b) Detailees.--Any Federal Government employee may be detailed to the Commission without reimbursement from the Commission, and such detailee shall retain the rights, status, and privileges of his or her regular employment without interruption. (c) Consultant Services.--The Commission is authorized to procure the services of experts and consultants in accordance with section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, but at rates not to exceed the daily rate paid a person occupying a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code. SEC. 7. COMPENSATION AND TRAVEL EXPENSES. (a) Compensation.--Each member of the Commission may be compensated at not to exceed the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay in effect for a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code, for each day during which that member is engaged in the actual performance of the duties of the Commission. (b) Travel Expenses.--While away from their homes or regular places of business in the performance of services for the Commission, members of the Commission shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, in the same manner as persons employed intermittently in the Government service are allowed expenses under section 5703(b) of title 5, United States Code. [[Page S13953]] SEC. 8. SECURITY CLEARANCES FOR COMMISSION MEMBERS AND STAFF. The appropriate executive departments and agencies shall cooperate with the Commission in expeditiously providing to the Commission members and staff appropriate security clearances in a manner consistent with existing procedures and requirements, except that no person shall be provided with access to classified information under this section who would not otherwise qualify for such security clearance. SEC. 9. REPORTS OF THE COMMISSION; TERMINATION. (a) Initial Report.--Not later than 6 months after the date of the first meeting of the Commission, the Commission shall submit to the President and Congress an initial report containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures as have been agreed to by a majority of Commission members. (b) Additional Reports.--Not later than 1 year after the submission of the initial report of the Commission, the Commission shall submit to the President and Congress a second report containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures as have been agreed to by a majority of Commission members. (c) Termination.-- (1) In general.--The Commission, and all the authorities of this Act, shall terminate 60 days after the date on which the second report is submitted under subsection (b). (2) Administrative activities before termination.--The Commission may use the 60-day period referred to in paragraph (1) for the purpose of concluding its activities, including providing testimony to committees of Congress concerning its reports and disseminating the second report. SEC. 10. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS. There are authorized to be appropriated to the Commission to carry out this Act $3,000,000, to remain available until expended. Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I am pleased to join my friend Joe Lieberman in introducing legislation calling for a blue-ribbon commission to examine the facts surrounding the September 11th attacks, and to propose reforms to better defend our country in the future. After Pearl Harbor and President Kennedy's assassination, the President and Congress established boards of inquiry to investigate these tragedies and recommend measures to prevent their recurrence. The terrorist attacks in New York and Washington represent a watershed in American history--the end of an era of general peace and prosperity, and a terrible awakening to the threats against our people that lurk within, and beyond, our shores. To prevent future tragedies, we need to know how September 11th could have happened, and explore what we can do to be sure America never again suffers such an attack on her soil. I believe President Bush and his team have responded forcefully, admirably, and with a sense of purpose in this time of trial. But neither the Administration nor Congress is capable of conducting a thorough, nonpartisan, independent inquiry into what happened on September 11th, or to propose far-reaching reforms needed to protect our people and our institutions against the enemies of freedom. As we did after Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy assassination, we need a blue-ribbon team of distinguished Americans from all walks of life to thoroughly investigate all evidence surrounding the attacks, including how prepared we were and how well we responded to this unprecedented assault. It will require digging deep into the resources of the full range of government agencies. It will demand objective judgment into what went wrong, what we did right, and what else we need to do to deter and defeat depraved assaults against innocent lives in the future. This is no witch hunt. Our enemies would be strengthened if their attacks caused us to turn on ourselves, consumed not with the malevolence of our foes but with our own failings. We are a proud nation, a strong nation. However horrible, September 11th reminded us of our love of country, our fierce patriotic pride. It highlighted the distinctive accomplishments of our civilization, and the sacrifices we will endure to defend it against evil. It made us stronger. That said, if there were serious failures on the part of individuals or institutions within the government or the private sector, we have a right to know, indeed a need to know. But to work, this must be a learning exercise, without preconceptions about the inquiry's ultimate findings. The commission's members should include leading citizens not now holding public office, but with broad experience in national affairs. The commission should have an adequate budget, a top-level staff, and ample investigatory resources--including subpoena power, if it is needed to uncover the truth. To be effective and legitimate, the commission should be given a broad mandate to discover facts and recommend corrective actions. It should be given time to proceed with care and deliberation. It should have the stature and significance afforded by its grave mission of telling the whole truth about September 11th, and telling us what we need to know to protect against future tragedy. To be credible, this inquiry must be independent from ongoing government operations, but it must of necessity draw on the resources of government. The commission's conclusions and recommendations will have enduring meaning only if they are valued by those of us who can set them in motion--the President, the Congress, and all concerned Americans. Our best defense now lies in pursuing our enemy overseas, and working here at home to adapt to the challenges of this new day. We can rid the world of terrorism's scourge. But it will take time, and our campaign will likely inspire further, desperate tests of our resolve. More Americans may die before we are through. In this moment when we enjoy peace at home, even as brave Americans risk their lives for us overseas, let us marshal our resolve to defend our homeland, not merely through force of arms, but through reasoned introspection into how September 11th happened, what we've learned, and how we can apply those lessons to the defense of the American people. More than 2 years ago, the bipartisan Hart-Rudman Commission on National Security envisioned a time when terrorists and rogue nations would acquire weapons of mass destruction and "mass disruption." "Americans will likely die on American soil," the commission warned, "possibly in large numbers." That time has come. The worst has happened. But it must not happen again. We hope history will judge America well for her response to September 11th--the incredible bravery of so many Americans, and the measures we have already put in place to prevent future acts of catastrophic terrorism. The commission is an integral part of our response to the attacks of September 11. Its mission is urgent. The American people clearly share our sense of urgency about protecting our country. I hope our proposed commission can channel that sense of urgency into a mandate for reform of the way we defend America.