[Congressional Record: September 10, 2009 (Extensions)] [Page E2243] INTRODUCTION OF UNITED STATES COMMISSION ON AN OPEN SOCIETY WITH SECURITY ACT OF 2009 ______ HON. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON of the district of columbia in the house of representatives Thursday, September 10, 2009 Ms. NORTON. Madam Speaker, today, I introduce the United States Commission on an Open Society with Security Act which expresses an idea I began working on when the first signs of the closing of parts of our open society appeared after the Oklahoma City bombing tragedy, well before 9/11. I introduce this bill on the eighth anniversary of 9/11 because this bill grows more urgent as an increasing variety of security measures proliferate throughout the country without any thought about their effect on common freedoms and ordinary access, and without any guidance from the government or elsewhere. The introduction of this bill also precedes my upcoming September 22nd hearing on federal building security, which has gotten so out of control that a tourist passing by a federal building cannot even get in to use the restroom or enjoy the many restaurant facilities located in areas otherwise bereft of such opportunities. The security in federal buildings has too long resided only in the hands of non-security experts who do not take into account actual threats, and as a result, spend lavish amounts on needless security procedures. For example, the Government Accountability Office completed sting operations this year, carrying bomb making materials into 10 high-security federal buildings and assembling them in the bathrooms. This scandal shines a light on the failure to use risk-based assessments in allocations of resources. The bill I introduce today would begin a systematic investigation that takes full account of the importance of maintaining our democratic traditions while responding adequately to the real and substantial threats terrorism poses. To accomplish its difficult mission, the Commission created by this bill would be composed not only of military and security experts, but for the first time, they would be at the same table with experts from such fields as business, architecture, technology, law, city planning, art, engineering, philosophy, history, sociology, and psychology. To date, questions of security most often have been left almost exclusively to security and military experts. They are indispensable participants, but these experts cannot alone resolve all the new and unprecedented issues raised by terrorism in an open society. In order to strike the balance required by our democratic traditions, a diverse group of experts needs to be working together at the same table. For years before our eyes, parts of our open society have gradually been closed down because of terrorism and the fear of terrorism-- whether checkpoints on streets near the Capitol even when there were no alerts, to applications of technology without regard to their effects on privacy. We have also seen heightened controversy, litigation, hearings, legislation and court decisions because of the use of technology that intercepts terrorist communications but also covers communications among Americans. Following the unprecedented terrorist attack on our country on 9/11, Americans expected additional and increased security adequate to protect citizens against this frightening threat. However, in our country, people also expect government to be committed and smart enough to undertake this awesome new responsibility without depriving them of their personal liberty. These years in our history will long be remembered by the rise of terrorism in the world and in this country and the unprecedented challenges they have brought. We must provide ever-higher levels of security for our people and public spaces while maintaining a free and open democratic society. Yet, this is no ordinary war that we expect to be over in a matter of years. The end point could be generations from now. The indeterminate nature of the threat adds to the necessity of putting aside ad hoc approaches to security developed in isolation from the goal of maintaining an open society. When we have faced unprecedented and perplexing issues in the past, we have had the good sense to investigate them deeply and to move to resolve them. Examples include the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9/11 Commission), the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (also known as the Silberman-Robb Commission) and the Kerner Commission that investigated the riotous uprisings that swept American cities in the 1960s and 1970s. The important difference in this bill is that the Commission seeks to act before a crisis-level erosion of basic freedoms takes hold and becomes entrenched. Because global terrorism is likely to be long lasting, we cannot afford to allow the proliferation of security that neither requires nor is subject to advance civilian oversight or analysis of alternatives and repercussions on freedom and commerce. With no vehicles for leadership on issues of security and openness, we have been left to muddle through, using blunt 19th century approaches, such as crude blockades, unsightly barriers around beautiful monuments and other signals that the society is closing down, without appropriate exploration of possible alternatives. The threat of terrorism to an open society is too serious to be left to ad hoc problem-solving. Such approaches are often as inadequate as they are menacing. We can do better, but only if we recognize and then come to grips with the complexities associated with maintaining a society of free and open access in a world characterized by unprecedented terrorism. The place to begin is with a high-level presidential commission of experts in a broad spectrum of disciplines who can help chart the new course that will be required to protect our people and our precious democratic institutions and traditions. ____________________
HR 3555 IH
111th CONGRESS 1st Session H. R. 3555 To establish the United States Commission on an Open Society with Security. IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
September 10, 2009
Ms. NORTON introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and in addition to the Committee on Homeland Security, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned
A BILL To establish the United States Commission on an Open Society with Security.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `United States Commission on an Open Society with Security Act'.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress finds that--
(1) an open society which affords free access to public facilities and spaces and which protects the right to engage in open discussion is an essential premise of American governmental institutions and democratic values;
(2) the United States is currently facing a challenge to the safety and security of the public, public employees, and public facilities and spaces that is unique in the history of this Nation;
(3) to meet this challenge without eroding or harming any of the basic tenets of the Republic and of our democracy, this Nation needs to assemble the best thinking available; and
(4) a commission of experts from a broad base of disciplines and backgrounds is necessary to examine all the factors that should be considered in securing public safety from terrorist attacks while maintaining the highest level of free and open access to the public.
SEC. 3. ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION.
(a) Establishment- There is established a commission to be known as the `United States Commission on an Open Society with Security' (in this Act referred to as the `Commission').
(b) Composition- The Commission shall be composed of 21 members appointed by the President from among individuals representing such fields or groups as the following: architecture, technology, civil libertarians, humanists, members of the Armed Forces, Federal Government employees, city planners, business leaders, lawyers, artists, public building security, engineers, philosophers, historians, sociologists, and psychologists. The President shall designate one of those members to be the Chairperson of the Commission.
(c) Terms; Quorum; Meetings; Vacancies- Members shall be appointed for the life of the Commission. Nine members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum, but a lesser number may hold hearings. After its initial meeting, the Commission shall meet at the call of the Chairperson of the Commission or a majority of its members. Any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect its powers and shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment.
(d) Appointments; Initial Meeting-
(1) APPOINTMENTS- It is the sense of Congress that the members of the Commission should be appointed by not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
(2) INITIAL MEETING- If, after 90 days following the date of enactment of this Act, 9 or more members of the Commission have been appointed, the members who have been appointed may meet, and the Chairperson shall have the authority to begin the operations of the Commission, including the hiring of staff.
SEC. 4. FUNCTIONS OF COMMISSION.
(a) In General- The Commission shall study and make findings and recommendations relating to the question of how the Government of the United States may provide, in a balanced manner, for both security in and public access to Federal buildings and other Federal property and sites.
(b) Matters To Be Examined- In carrying out this Act, the Commission shall specifically examine matters that relate to the security of, and open access to, public facilities and spaces, including--
(1) Federal, other governmental, and private security practices and proposals, building design, public space management, counterterrorism needs, and refurbishment of existing Federal facilities;
(2) the effect of access to public facilities and spaces on--
(A) maintenance of security and safety;
(B) free speech, the right to petition the Government, and other constitutional rights and civil liberties;
(C) economies of affected jurisdictions or parts thereof;
(D) physical changes and architectural aesthetics of affected areas;
(E) traffic and congestion; and
(F) job performance of employees within the affected facilities;
(3) current and potential uses of technology to augment or replace traditional modes of security;
(4) practices of and comparisons with other entities and nations; and
(5) current and potential analytical methods of assessing the risks posed by the various forms of terrorism, balanced against the specific needs and values of open access.
(c) Coordination of Activities- The Commission shall take appropriate measures to avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts previously or currently being undertaken by any other person or entity.
SEC. 5. POWERS OF COMMISSION.
(a) In General- The Commission or, on the authorization of the Commission, any member or agent of the Commission may hold such hearings, sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, and receive such evidence as the Commission considers appropriate to carry out this Act.
(b) Obtaining Official Information- The Commission may secure directly from any department, agency, or other entity of the United States information necessary to enable it to carry out this Act. Upon request of the Chairperson of the Commission, the head of such governmental entity shall furnish, to the extent authorized by law, such information to the Commission.
(1) SECURITY CLEARANCES- The members and staff of the Commission shall hold, as a condition of appointment to or employment with the Commission, appropriate security clearances for access to the classified briefing, records, and materials to be reviewed by the Commission or its staff and shall follow the guidance and practices on security under applicable Executive orders and agency directives.
(2) CONDITIONS TO GRANTING ACCESS- The head of an agency shall require, as a condition of granting access to a member of the Commission or a member of the staff of the Commission to classified records or materials of the agency under this Act, require the member to--
(A) execute an agreement regarding the security of such records or materials that is approved by the head of the agency; and
(B) hold an appropriate security clearance granted or recognized under the standard procedures and eligibility criteria of the agency, including any special access approval required for access to such records or materials.
(3) RESTRICTION ON USE- The members of the Commission and the members of the staff of the Commission may not use any information acquired in the course of their official activities on the Commission for nonofficial purposes.
(4) NEED TO KNOW- For purposes of any law or regulation governing access to classified information that pertains to the national security of the United States and to facilitate the advisory functions of the Commission under this Act, a member of the Commission or a member of the staff of the Commission seeking access to a record or material under this Act shall be deemed for purposes of this subsection to have a need to know the contents of the record or material.
(5) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION- A reference in this subsection to the `staff of the Commission' includes individuals described in sections 6(d) and 6(e).
(d) Mails- The Commission may use the United States mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as other departments and agencies of the United States.
(e) Gifts- The Commission may accept, use, and dispose of gifts or donations of services or property.
(f) Administrative Support Services- The Administrator of General Services shall provide to the Commission, on a reimbursable basis, such administrative support services as the Commission may request.
SEC. 6. PERSONNEL MATTERS.
(a) Compensation of Members- Members of the Commission shall not be compensated by reason of their service on the Commission.
(b) Travel Expenses- The members of the Commission shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, at rates authorized for employees of agencies under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, while away from their homes or regular places of business in the performance of services for the Commission.
(c) Staff- Subject to such rules as the Commission may prescribe, the Chairperson of the Commission, 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), may appoint and fix the pay of a staff director and such other personnel as may be necessary to enable the Commission to carry out its functions; except that no rate of pay fixed under this subsection may exceed the maximum rate of basic pay payable for GS-15 of the General Schedule.
(d) Staff of Federal Agencies- Upon request of the Chairperson of the Commission, the head of any department or agency of the United States may detail, on a nonreimbursable basis, any of the personnel of that department or agency to the Commission to assist it in carrying out its functions under this Act.
(e) Experts and Consultants- With the approval of the Commission, the Chairperson of the Commission may procure temporary and intermittent services under section 3109(b) of title 5, United States Code, at rates for individuals not to exceed the daily equivalent of the maximum rate of basic pay payable for GS-15 of the General Schedule.
SEC. 7. REPORT.
(a) Submission to the President- The Commission shall transmit its final report to the President not later than 2 years after the initial meeting of the Commission. Such report shall contain a detailed statement of the findings and conclusions of the Commission, together with its recommendations for such legislative, administrative, or other action as the Commission considers appropriate.
(b) Submission to the Congress- Not later than 6 months after receiving the final report of the Commission under subsection (a), the President shall transmit such report to Congress, together with any comments or recommendations (including any proposed legislation) which the President considers appropriate.
SEC. 8. TERMINATION OF COMMISSION.
The Commission shall terminate on the 90th day after the date on which the Commission is required to submit its final report under section 7(a).
SEC. 9. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.
There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act--
(1) $5,000,000 for fiscal year 2010; and
(2) $5,000,000 for fiscal year 2011.