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投稿者 木村愛二 日時 2004 年 7 月 24 日 20:00:29:CjMHiEP28ibKM






July 24, 2004

Congress Plans Special Hearings on Sept. 11 Panel

WASHINGTON, July 23 - Moving swiftly on the recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission, House and Senate leaders announced on Friday rare August hearings to draft legislative changes.

At the same time, the panel chairman warned that President Bush and lawmakers would be held responsible if they failed to overhaul intelligence operations.

"We're in danger of just letting things slide," the chairman, former Gov. Thomas H. Kean of New Jersey, told a small group of reporters this morning as he offered new details of a lobbying campaign that the commission's members plan in the fall to ratchet up pressure on Congress and the White House, as well as Senator John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

"If the Congress and the president delay unnecessarily, and it's difficult again for me to say exactly when they should act,'' Mr. Kean said, "but if it seems that they are delaying, I think they are going to be held responsible by the American people, especially if the experts are right and there is another terrorist attack."

Mr. Bush, who began a weeklong vacation on Friday at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., ordered his chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., to lead an administrationwide review of the recommendations and to report to him "as quickly as possible," a spokeswoman said.

Mr. Kerry has embraced the bulk of the recommendations.

In Congress, which received withering criticism in the panel's report for lax oversight of the intelligence apparatus, House and Senate leaders stopped short of calling for a special session to consider the recommendations. Still, it was clear that the leaders felt enough urgency to work through the August recess, a time that in even years is traditionally devoted to campaigning.

"The threat of terrorism will be with us for a long time," the majority leader, Senator Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee, said on Thursday night on the Senate floor with the minority leader, Senator Tom Daschle, Democrat of South Dakota, by his side. "We need to fix the problems and correct the shortcomings cited by the commission so that we can make America safer."

To that end, Dr. Frist and Mr. Daschle deputized Senator Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who is chairwoman of the Senate Government Affairs Committee, and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut Democrat who is the ranking Democrat on that panel, to produce bills by Oct. 1 that would carry out two of the 9/11 panel's central recommendations. Those points are creating the post of director of intelligence and a counterterrorism center.

The Senate leaders also promised to name a bipartisan group to address the other central recommendation - changing the way Congress oversees intelligence agencies. That is a politically thorny task that could result in some lawmakers' losing power and others gaining it. The group will also be charged with making recommendations by Oct. 1, the leaders said.

Changing the way Congress conducts oversight is more a matter of changes in its rules than passing measures for the president to sign.

As the Senate leaders began to act, House leaders raced to keep pace. First, they announced that they had ordered committee chairmen to work through the summer recess to examine the report and recommend changes. Later, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, who on Thursday said that he was not certain that any recommendations could be adopted this year, declared that a hearing schedule would be announced next week.

"Congress needs to act as quickly as possible to examine the commission's report and recommendations, and the House plans to immediately assess everything we have done in this regard since 9/11 and everything more we need to do," Mr. Hastert said in a statement issued with Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the majority leader.

The unusually swift response caught some lawmakers off guard. Ms. Collins was headed to Maine when she learned of her assignment. She and Mr. Lieberman hastily convened a news conference to announce that they would convene a hearing in the first week of August, right after the Democratic convention. The hearing would probably include Mr. Kean and his deputy chairman, former Representative Lee H. Hamilton of Indiana, as witnesses.

The two men called for passing new laws by year-end, even if it means a special session after the November elections. Mr. Kean and Mr. Hamilton endorsed that idea.

"No longer is it going to be a sleepy quiet August around here," Ms. Collins said. "The American people expect us to act. This is a bipartisan commission that unanimously agreed on some very important recommendations. We need to respond to that, and we do not have the luxury of waiting months."

In the White House, even before the commission released its report, Mr. Bush reviewed candidates to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, which has an acting director, John McLaughlin. Mr. Bush has also been weighing proposals to overhaul the organization of the intelligence agencies, an issue that White House officials have said Mr. Bush would decide only after he had studied the commission's recommendations.

On Capitol Hill, the quick turnaround reflected, in part, the pressure on lawmakers not only by the 9/11 commission, but also by its victims' relatives, who have been extraordinarily vocal.

The families and the commissioners are engaging in an unusual publicity campaign to see to it that the panel's work does not gather dust on a shelf.

Outlining the summer plans for the panel, Mr. Kean said that its members would break into teams of one Republican and one Democrat each, traveling to speak discuss the recommendations and urge their adoption.

Though the commission officially goes out of business next month, Mr. Kean said members were contemplating options to let it continue as a private entity.

"We're willing to take our own time and use our own money and go out on the road to promote what we believe," Mr. Kean said.

In a veiled threat to members of Congress who are up for re-election, the former governor said he was discussing with victims' families monitoring the positions of members of Congress. Mr. Kean said he was eager to see Congressional candidates asked where they stood on the recommendations.

''The families have come together with us as a commission," he said. "And we are going out as a unified force to try to get these recommendations done."

Mr. Hamilton said the most radical idea in the report was a call to overhaul Congressional oversight, including its proposal for a single joint House-Senate intelligence committee or separate House and Senate panels, with direct budget authority over all 15 intelligence agencies.

He said the commission had heard from lawmakers who said oversight was so lax that the secret $40 billion annual intelligence budget was often approved after 10 minutes of debate.

''That is really absurd, that is genuinely nuts," Mr. Hamilton said. ''You've got to get a system whereby Congress has robust oversight of intelligence, because it is the only place where you get independent oversight of the intelligence community."

That recommendation, perhaps more than any other, is quite likely to generate turf battles that could doom it. By giving the oversight panels the power of the purse, Congress would be forced to strip the Appropriations Committees of their budget authority. On Friday, Senator Collins said that she was "absolutely delighted" that the task of adopting that recommendation did not fall to her.

The Sept. 11 commission is also quite likely to run into turf battles in the executive branch as it tries to turn into policy its recommendations for a director of national intelligence and counterterrorism center. The suggestions would require wholesale bureaucratic reorganization that would wrest power from individuals and institutions.

A spokesman for Mr. DeLay, Stuart Roy, said he was optimistic about achieving that change. He likened the recommendations to the debate over creating the Homeland Security Department. After the department became an issue in the 2002 elections, lawmakers returned here to quickly pass the bill that created it.

"This will probably unfold not unlike the homeland security debate did," Mr. Roy said. "Even though there were big issues, and it was a massive undertaking, you were able to quickly move on the issue because of the size of it and the seriousness of it."

Mr. Lieberman agreed.

"You know," he said, "when members of both houses go home for this recess, the folks back home are going to say: 'Why are you home? Why aren't you in Washington dealing with the recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission?' I've already heard this in a few conversations with people back in Connecticut, who said: 'Get this done quickly. It's our safety and well-being at stake."


July 22, 2004

Summary of Final Report

Here is the executive summary of the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, as provided by the commission:


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