Congressional Record: September 24, 2002 (Senate)
Page S9084-S9089

                 HOMELAND SECURITY ACT OF 2002--Resumed

                           Amendment No. 4694

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senator from 
Connecticut is recognized for 7\1/2\ minutes.
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. I thank the Chair.
  Mr. President, I am pleased to urge adoption of the amendment offered 
by Senator McCain and ask that the vote be taken by the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is the Senator asking for the yeas and nays on 
the amendment?
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. That is correct.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There is a sufficient second.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I rise to discuss briefly my vote on the 
September 11 Commission. I joined in the amendment proposed by my good 
friends from Connecticut and Arizona because it is the right thing to 
do. Sitting as I do on both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, 
it has become clear to me over the past year that many different causes 
contributed to the horrific terrorist attacks on September 11. I have 
become convinced that we need to take a hard look at how this tragedy 
happened in order to better understand how we might avoid a similar 
tragedy in the future. Hindsight is, indeed, 20-20, and we may be able 
to profit from a detached and objective analysis of mistakes that may 
have been made in the days and months before that attack. We need to 
learn from our mistakes. The stakes are simply too high to bury them.
  While I believe that a September 11 Commission should be appointed, I 
also think that the administration should have some voice in its 
makeup. The amendment establishes a 10-member commission with all of 
the 10 members appointed by the majority and minority leaders of 
Congress. It is fitting that Congress play a large role in defining the 
membership of this Commission, but it is striking to me that the 
Administration has no voice at all. Just as this Commission was 
approved by strong bipartisan support, so too should its task be 
apolitical. In this spirit, I would call upon my colleagues to think 
seriously about providing the administration with some role in defining 
the Commission.
  Mr. KYL. Mr. President, as a member of the Select Committee on 
Intelligence, I have had reservations about creating an outside 
commission to investigate 9/11 as called for in this amendment. My 
reservations have essentially been twofold: First, the Intelligence 
Committees were given the responsibility to look into this very matter, 
so an additional investigation would be duplicative and place 
additional stress on our intelligence community at a time when its 
resources should be dedicated to fighting the war on terrorism.
  Second, we had every reason to believe that the joint committee 
investigation would do its job that is, find out what went wrong, why 
it went wrong, and how we can reform the intelligence community to try 
to prevent future such failures.
  Sadly, it appears that the joint committee will fall short of that 
goal. In the Intelligence Committee, I have expressed serious 
reservations about the direction of the investigation, including the 
allocation of time and resources to holding premature open hearings.
  Last week, the joint committee held public hearings in spite of not 
having completed its investigation. In fact, what was presented last 
week was only a staff document, not a consensus product of the 
committee. Members had no practical input into this interim report.
  The interim statement from the joint inquiry staff provided 
information about what has been done to date, a chronology of events 
leading to the September 11th attacks, and some background information 
about al-Qaida. This history may be useful, but it does not address the 
questions that are fundamental to this investigation.
  In the committee, we heard from more than one witness that at least 
some of the problems in the intelligence community stem from a 
bureaucratically and politically-induced culture of risk aversion and/
or an inadequate allocation and improper prioritization of resources. 
Yet, it is not evident that the joint committee inquiry is serious 
about pursuing these fundamental questions.
  For these and other reasons, it will be difficult for me to concur in 
the final joint committee product without reservations. We will not 
know what we haven't been told. Therefore, we will not be able to vouch 
unequivocally for the final product.
  And, of course, these are the very questions that have led to calls 
for the creation of a national commission to investigate these matters, 
and, hence, to this amendment. Reluctantly, I have come to the 
conclusion that it is necessary. If its work starts after the Joint 
Intelligence Committee investigation has concluded, there should be no 
duplication or additional stress on the entities required to cooperate 
in the investigation.
  Mr. President, because of the inadequate course being taken by the 
Joint Intelligence Committee investigation, and because the imposition 
of that investigation on our intelligence apparatus will be ended by 
the time this commission begins its work, I will support the creation 
of the commission.
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I have had the chance to speak about 
the urgent necessity of this independent commission to review the 
causes of the tragic events of September 11. It responds to the public 
interest by creating the best possible Department of Homeland Security 
to close the gaps that existed prior to that. The joint intelligence 
committees have done excellent work that led to disclosures that cry 
out to us for further investigation by our intelligence apparatus--and 
some other aspects of our Government that created the vulnerabilities 

[[Page S9085]]

enabled the terrorists to strike at us last September 11.
  There is very little time available.
  I yield 2\1/2\ minutes to my colleague from Pennsylvania and 2\1/2\ 
to the Senator from Alabama.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania is recognized.
  Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I thank the distinguished Senator from 
Connecticut for yielding time.
  Immediately after 9/11, I opposed the creation of an independent 
commission because at that time I believed the appropriate 
investigation should be conducted by the Intelligence Committees of the 
two Houses and that there ought to be a period for the intelligence 
community to regroup after 9/11.
  As matters have eventuated, it has not been possible for the joint 
investigation by the Senate and House Intelligence Committees to be 
completed. We are now nearing the interim term, and that is why I now 
believe an independent commission would be the thing to do.
  When the so-called leak occurred and the Intelligence Committees 
invited the FBI to conduct an investigation, I thought that was very 
inadvisable, and by a letter dated June 24, I wrote to the chairmen and 
vice chairmen of the committees of both Houses saying in effect that it 
was unwise to have the Intelligence Committees investigating the FBI 
when the FBI was investigating the Intelligence Committees; that as a 
matter of separation of powers, it is highly undesirable to have the 
executive branch investigating congressional oversight; but if they 
believed it was necessary, a better approach would be to hire 
independent counsel, as the Judiciary Committee did when a leak 
occurred during the confirmation hearings of Justice Thomas.
  But it is evident at this point that the Intelligence Committees are 
not going to finish the job, that there are very vital issues to be 
determined as to the lapse on 9/11, and that on the basis of the 
current record, had the dots been connected, there is a veritable 
blueprint where 9/11 might have been prevented and the best approach 
now is to work through the commission.
  I ask unanimous consent that my letter be printed in the Record, and 
I thank my colleague from Connecticut and yield the floor.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                                  U.S. Senate,

                                    Washington, DC, June 24, 2002.
     Senator Bob Graham,
     Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
     Senator Richard C. Shelby,
     Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
     Congressman, Porter J. Goss,
     Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
     Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi,
     Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
       Dear Bob, Porter, Richard, and Nancy. I have noted the 
     press reports of Friday, June 21, 2002, that the two 
     Congressional Intelligence Committees had asked Attorney 
     General John Ashcroft to see if congressional sources were 
     improperly releasing classified information. That article 
     said: "Asked if lawmakers would be open to interviews and 
     polygraph tests conducted by the bureau, Mr. Goss said, `We 
     will cooperate with the FBI in every way possible'."
       For two important reasons, I urge you not to proceed in 
     that manner; but instead to pursue a congressional inquiry, 
     perhaps with outside counsel or through the House and Senate 
     Ethics Committees.
       My concerns are:
       (1) I believe it is inappropriate and unwise to have the 
     FBI investigate the Intelligence Committees when the 
     Intelligence Committees are investigating the FBI. That 
     approach raises the inevitable question as to whether there 
     would be reciprocal pulling of punches to avoid a tough 
     inquiry by the other investigators; and
       (2) I believe it is undesirable and unwise from a 
     "separation of powers" consideration to invite the 
     Executive Branch to investigate the Legislative Branch. If 
     there is a prima facie showing of wrongdoing by a member of 
     the Senate or House, then the Department of Justice has the 
     established authority to investigate; but this situation 
     would invite a widespread, open-ended questioning of 
     everybody who had access to the so-called leaked information. 
     In such an inquiry, it might be very difficult for members to 
     decline to be polygraphed; and if members agreed to be 
     polygraphed, that would set a dangerous precedent for the 
     future when the Executive Branch might seek retribution from 
     or pressure on a member.
       During the 104th Congress when I chaired the Intelligence 
     Committee, the Committee conducted internal inquiries where 
     concerns arose over improper disclosures of classified 
     material. If such an internal inquiry is deemed insufficient, 
     your Committees could proceed to hire outside independent 
     counsel, as the Judiciary Committee did on leaks in the 
     confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas where 
     Judiciary Committee members were then questioned, or you 
     could ask the House and Senate Ethics Committees to 
       I know Committee members face a difficult and touchy 
     situation in this matter but I suggest you reconsider an 
     investigation by the FBI with the attendant potential for 
     polygraph tests.
                                                    Arlen Specter.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cleland). The Senator from Alabama is 
  Mr. SHELBY. Mr. President, 3 months ago I would not have been on the 
floor supporting the establishment of a commission to look into our 
Government's failure to detect and prevent the attacks on September 11.
  Three months ago I believed very strongly that the Intelligence 
Committees of the House and Senate were not only capable of examining 
our Government's failures and vulnerabilities but were obligated to do 
  I believed then that if we dedicated the necessary time and 
resources, we would be able to conduct a thorough and comprehensive 
inquiry. And I think we have made a lot of progress.
  Now that we are rapidly approaching the end of the year and the end 
of this Congress, I am increasingly concerned that the joint effort of 
the House and Senate Intelligence Committees will not be able to 
complete such an inquiry.
  Our scope is not broad enough. It is confined to the intelligence 
aspects--not to FAA, and not to immigration and other aspects.
  We now know that our inability to detect and prevent the September 11 
attacks was not only an intelligence failure of unprecedented 
magnitude, it was a failure of our entire Government to protect and 
defend the American people.
  I am now convinced that an accounting on behalf of the victims, the 
families left behind, and the American people must include a 
comprehensive examination of how every relevant agency of our 
Government performed or failed to perform prior to the attacks.
  The House and Senate Intelligence Committees have been at work for 
approximately 6 months. We are making progress, but we are far from 
  Our Committee began with high aspirations, but we soon stumbled. We 
had some early staffing difficulties along with some false starts on 
our hearing schedule.
  Early on, our inquiry turned up only information that provided to us. 
Our separate joint staff was dependent upon the information provided by 
our intelligence agencies, which were reluctant to cooperate fully.
  While our joint staff was working in the agencies, they were often 
isolated in rooms constantly monitored by agency staff. Agencies 
refused to circulate the joint staff's contact information and forbade 
them from meeting with anyone without agency supervision.
  While our staff was allowed to view large quantities of documents, 
they were not allowed to make copies of all of them. Therefore, the 
process of documenting certain events became very onerous and time 
  Other agencies refused to allow the joint staff to interview key 
individuals. They were told that they could speak to supervisors and 
more senior personnel who often knew few, if any, details.
  Many of these problems were ultimately worked out, but that took 
precious time, time we did not have. Some of the problems persist 
today. For example, we are often arguing with agencies about who may or 
may not appear before our committees as late as the day before they are 
scheduled to appear. Witnesses are requested, refused, requested again, 
granted and then, at the last minute, refused again.
  There also remains a body of documents that the Director of Central 
Intelligence refuses to allow the committees to retain.
  Much of the information that we gather is classified. The process of 
declassification has taken an inordinate amount of time. Often we are 
still in the process of determining what we can discuss publicly 
moments before a hearing.

[[Page S9086]]

  It is this type of interaction that cannot be completely 
characterized as uncooperative but is, nonetheless, extremely 
counterproductive and has slowed the progress of this investigation. We 
are, however, making progress.
  The staff has reviewed many thousands of documents, but they have 
many thousands yet to review.
  They have interviewed many people, but there are many yet to 
  In fact, it is still very difficult even to determine how far we have 
come, and almost impossible to tell how far we have yet to go.
  I have been a part of many investigations in my career but none has 
been as important as this one. Almost 3,000 Americans have been 
murdered, and perhaps thousands more innocent lives hang in the balance 
every day. Our joint investigation must be thorough, comprehensive and 
complete. I want it to be a success.
  To be a success, however, an inquiry needs time and resources. If you 
limit either one, your chances of success diminish significantly. 
Unfortunately, we have a short supply of both and I am afraid that we 
are beginning to reap the results.
  From the outset, I argued strongly that our committees should avoid 
setting arbitrary deadlines. Deadlines are an invitation to 
stonewalling and foot-dragging, and we have seen some of both in our 
  I have also said many times that agencies under the congressional 
microscope are generally not motivated to cooperate. To be thorough, we 
must be able to identify and locate relevant information, retrieve it, 
and then analyze it in the context of all of other information we have 
gathered. This is inevitably a difficult and time-consuming 
  Because we have only one to three staffers actually focusing on any 
particular agency at any one time--and because so much of our joint 
inquiry staff resources are tied up in producing hearings--it has 
become exceedingly difficult to be as thorough and probing as we need 
to be.
  At this point, I do not believe we will be able to complete the job 
the American people expect us to do. However, I expect us to do a 
credible job and to lay the predicate for future investigations.
  While I continue to work on the joint effort, I believe ours must be 
a prelude to a more comprehensive inquiry. Therefore, I intend to 
support the creation of a commission, and I urge my colleagues to do 
the same this afternoon.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Who yields time?
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I know the Senator from Connecticut, Mr. 
Lieberman, has more to say. I don't believe there is anyone speaking in 
opposition to this amendment. The Senator from Connecticut, Mr. Dodd, 
was here earlier this morning to speak about Strom Thurmond. He was 
squeezed out by the majority leader, the Republican leader, Senator 
Byrd, Senator Hollings, and others. I therefore ask unanimous consent 
that when the Senator from Connecticut finishes his few minutes, 
Senator Dodd be recognized using the 7\1/2\ minutes in opposition to 
this amendment and 2\1/2\ minutes, for a total of 10 minutes, to speak 
as if in morning business prior to the vote.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I do not object to my colleague from 
Connecticut speaking. I want Senator Reid to know I would not be 
surprised to see the Senator from Arizona, Mr. McCain, a cosponsor of 
the amendment, on the floor hoping to say a few words. I will be 
mindful of that.
  The creation of a Department of Homeland Security, in which we're now 
engaged, is an urgent investment in the present and future safety of 
America. We need to take this step, and we need to take it now.
  But even as we do, we must recognize that we're acting on an 
incomplete picture of the problems that need to be fixed. We're relying 
on partial and sporadic reports about how the government failed to meet 
the challenge of securing our homeland pre-September 11.
  When the new department gets up and running, we owe it to ourselves, 
and to the country we're striving to secure, to give it as complete and 
independent an assessment as possible of what went wrong before 
September 11 and why. If we don't come to terms with the whole truth by 
looking back at what happened, we can never move forward with the 
knowledge and confidence we need to set things right.
  Since September 11, all of us, and particularly the families of the 
victims, have been subjected to the wrenching process of learning about 
their government's failures through a tortuous trickle of leaks and 
  All of this has hurt the nation psychologically by increasing anxiety 
and feeding speculation, leaving doubts about whether our government 
has come to terms with the full scope of the failures that allowed 
those terrible attacks to succeed. It has also damaged our spirit by 
turning almost every revelation into a regrettable volley of charges 
and counter-charges. And it has hurt us practically by failing to give 
us a clear, clean picture--with perspectives, context, nuance and 
shades of gray--of what agencies failed, how they failed, and why. As 
we begin to build a Department of Homeland Security, we will need that 
picture to make sure we do it right.
  I do want to pay tribute to the joint House-Senate Intelligence 
Committees, which have uncovered valuable and disturbing evidence of 
the intelligence community's failure to share and capitalize on 
information about the hijackers, in the months preceding September 11.
  As Senator John McCain and I see it, a non-political, blue-ribbon 
commission would build on the joint committees' work--reviewing their 
findings and continuing to explore areas they touched on--as part of a 
sober, comprehensive inquiry into all our pre-September 11 
institutional shortcomings.
  I also must add that I was enormously gratified last Friday when the 
administration reversed its longstanding opposition to creating an 
independent commission. Last November, even before we began drafting a 
bill, Senator McCain and I wrote the President inviting him to work 
with us. Since we never heard back, we introduced legislation in 
December. In the intervening months, we held an informative hearing on 
the proposal, reported it out of the Governmental Affairs Committee, 
which I am privileged to chair, and eventually won the backing of 22 
co-sponsors from both parties. As was the case with creating a 
Department of Homeland Security, I welcome the administration's 
support--regardless of when it arrives.
  Since Friday, we have entered into discussions with the 
administration, which requested a variety of changes. Assuming passage 
of the amendment today, we will gladly continue these talks.
  This amendment is based on S. 1867, legislation I introduced with 
Senator McCain on December 20 of last year. The legislation has been 
revised as it made its way through the legislative process. The 
Committee on Governmental Affairs heard from a distinguished panel of 
witnesses at a February hearing. The witnesses, all of whom had served 
on past commissions, recommended an inquiry by an independent 
commission into the September 11 terrorist attacks. The bill was 
reported out of committee by voice vote on March 21 of this year. I 
refer my colleagues to the committee's written report, no. 107-150, for 
a fuller explanation of the legislation's, and this amendment's, 
context, purposes and justification. The bill reported out of committee 
contained some changes from our original version. Several of those 
changes were the result of our discussions with Senator Torricelli, who 
had introduced a similar bill with Senator Grassley and others. Others 
were the result of the recommendations of our hearing witnesses and 
extensive consultations with experts.
  Last Thursday I described several ways in which the amendment we are 
voting on today differs from S. 1867, the bill that was reported out of 
committee. The amendment would ensure an even division between 
Republicans and Democrats in choosing commission members--with the 
majority parties in the Senate and the House receiving three picks 
each, while the minority parties in each house get two picks each. This 
is the configuration of an

[[Page S9087]]

equivalent commission recently created by the House, and it has other 
notable precedent, in the form of the National Commission on Terrorism, 
created by Congress in 1999, and headed by former Ambassador Paul 
  There are three other changes from the text of S. 1867. The amendment 
emphasizes that the Commission should build upon the work of 
Congressional committees and other inquiries, especially the joint 
inquiry of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees regarding the 
terrorist attacks. We do not by any means intend this change to suggest 
that the Commission should avoid looking at specific issues related to 
intelligence just because the Committees had investigated the same 
issues. Rather, the Commission should use the Committees' fine report 
as a resource, as it continues to review the role of the intelligence 
  The amendment also provides that the Vice Chairperson of the 
Commission, in addition to the Chairperson and others, can issue 
subpoenas. The amendment envisions a Vice-Chairperson with powers and 
responsibilities essentially equivalent to that of the Chair. This 
model worked very well in the case of the National Commission on 
Terrorism. Finally, the amendment makes technical improvements to the 
bill's alternative subpoena enforcement mechanism.
  As Senator McCain and I envision it, the commission would have 
purview over a broad range of areas. Of course, it would examine 
intelligence shortcomings, which are at the very core of our failure to 
anticipate September 11th. But it could also scrutinize a variety of 
other factors--law enforcement, immigration and border control, foreign 
policy, commercial aviation, for example--before recommending reforms.
  Commission members would be private citizens--not elected officials--
with expertise in a range of subjects related to what went wrong on 
September 11th. And the commission would have subpoena power and the 
right to meet in private session. It would also have enough time, a top 
level staff, ample investigatory powers, and adequate funding to 
perform its job properly.
  We are not interested in using this commission to point fingers 
across the room. I hope and believe that an independent commission will 
make the government as a whole look in the mirror. After all, it is our 
common security, and improving it is our common responsibility.
  We have a history of learning from history. America's first day of 
infamy, Pearl Harbor, was followed both by congressional investigations 
and by an independent commission. In the wake of other national 
tragedies--the assassination of President Kennedy, for example, and the 
Challenger explosion--similar independent investigations were launched 
  In the last two decades, investigative panels were convened after 
devastating terrorist attacks against U.S. military and diplomatic 
facilities, including the Marine barracks in Beirut; Khobar Towers in 
Saudi Arabia; U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; and the USS Cole. 
In 1989--after months of pressure from Congress and families of 
victims--the first President Bush created a commission to investigate 
the Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.
  Essential lessons were learned from each of these inquiries, and the 
inquiries represent a recognition in the value of immediately reviewing 
terrorist attacks, to provide vital information about possible 
vulnerabilities which could be corrected. The commission we propose 
would build on those examples.
  I have heard the criticism that recommendations of commissions are 
not followed, and therefore the modest expense in establishing them is 
not justified. Yet past commissions, with a small investment of 
resources, have had a real impact. Just ask Donald Rumsfeld: the 
Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States, 
which he chaired, recast our assumptions about the ballistic missile 
threat. What better evidence can there be than the homeland security 
legislation we are debating today, modeled closely on the 
recommendations of the prescient Hart-Rudman Commission? The National 
Commission on Terrorism issued a litany of policy prescriptions ranging 
from domestic law enforcement to intelligence to foreign policy--a 
number of those immediately passed the Senate, and more have been 
implemented since the September 11 attacks. And if in the past we had 
been lulled into complacency that we were safe against terrorism within 
our borders, how can anyone doubt that the enormity of the September 11 
attacks will not keep this nation focused on what needs to be done?
  At our Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the commission bill 
in February, Columbia University Professor Richard Betts, who served on 
the National Commission on Terrorism, said an independent commission is 
important because it would conduct a quote "sober investigation that 
the public could have confidence is as objective as humanly possible." 
This is our goal.
  I have met with families of September 11th victims on several 
occasions, and their desire for this commission is the strongest 
argument I can present on its behalf. The persistent advocacy of 
Stephen Push, Kristen Breitweiser, Mary Fetchet, Beverly Eckert, Monica 
Gabrielle, and many others--despite their devastating loss--has 
inspired my profound respect.
  Husbands, wives, and children were murdered on September 11th. Their 
survivors need to come to terms with what happened so that they may 
move on with their lives. The families want answers to questions that 
echo in my own mind and heart: Why was such a simple plan so successful 
in achieving its evil goals? What opportunities were missed to prevent 
the destruction?
  At a June rally organized by family members in support of this 
legislation, Mindy Kleinberg, a mother of three who lost her husband, 
Alan, on September 11th, told the New York Times--"I want to be able 
to look into the eyes of my children, and tell them the evil is over 
there, that they are safe, and that their country is secure. Nine 
months have passed, and I still cannot do that. I do not have 
  Let us help these families--and the nation they represent--find 
closure. Three thousand men, women, and children of America's family 
were murdered. We need definitive answers that force us to face what 
happened and why--answers that will ultimately lead to a stronger and 
better America, and an America less tortured by piecemeal speculations 
about what might have been.
  President John F. Kennedy said, "In the long history of the world, 
only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom 
in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this 
responsibility; I welcome it."
  We too must welcome it, with a strong vote in favor of creating this 
commission so that we might live well-informed and therefore safer 
lives in the future.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I will stand by what I have said before 
in behalf of the commission.
  I yield the floor at this point to my friend from Connecticut under 
the previous order.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. DODD. Mr. President, I will keep an eye on the door. If our 
friend from Arizona comes through the door, I will abbreviate my 
  (The remarks of Mr. Dodd are printed in today's Record under 
"Morning Business.")
  Mr. DODD. I see my colleague from Arizona on the floor. I know he 
wishes to be heard on this amendment.
  I yield the floor to my colleague from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. I thank my colleague from Connecticut.
  Mr. President, are we still going to vote at 2:15?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. All time has been extended by 2 minutes.
  Mr. McCAIN. By 2 minutes. I will take about 3 minutes, if that is OK 
with my other friend from Connecticut.
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
Senator from Arizona, who has been such a leader in this effort, be 
allowed to speak for up to 5 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. McCAIN. I thank the Chair and thank my friend from Connecticut, 
Senator Dodd. And I hope he will always yield to me when I arrive on 
the floor. I appreciate it.

[[Page S9088]]

  Mr. President, I rise today to urge my colleagues to vote to create a 
commission, composed of the most credible people in America, that will 
tell the American people the truth about how our Government was not 
prepared for the threat of catastrophic terrorism last September.
  To question American policies and practices in the months and years 
before September 11 is not to engage in a political witch hunt intended 
to score partisan points against one administration or another. To 
probe deeply but fairly into American policies predating the terrorist 
attacks is to examine the scale of American leaders' failure to imagine 
and plan for a contingency that was not, in fact, unimaginable. By 
American leaders, I mean the Congress, as well as other branches of 
Government. A thorough, nonpartisan investigation would provide an 
informed basis for the current administration and the Congress to take 
all necessary measures to ensure that our country is prepared to meet 
the challenges of this age of terrorism.
  On Friday, the White House announced its support for an independent 
commission to address "the panapoly of other important and related 
issues as they may relate to September 11 and "strengthen our ability 
to prevent and defend against terrorism and protect the security of the 
American public." We will continue to work with the administration to 
refine our legislation and appreciate their support. We look forward to 
continuing our dialogue with the White House as the homeland security 
bill moves through conference. We are also pleased to have the support 
of Senators Shelby and Graham, the Senate leaders of the joint 
congressional investigation into last year's attacks.
  The attacks on September 11 represented more than a failure of 
intelligence. They highlighted a failure of national policy to respond 
to the development of a global terror network implacably hostile to 
American interests. In 1989, the United States walked away from 
Afghanistan after fighting a proxy war against occupying Soviet forces. 
The subsequent civil war created the conditions for the rise of the 
Taliban, as the Afghan people submitted to a totalitarian government 
that imposed order over the chaos of warlord rule. The United States 
stood by passively as the Taliban formed an alliance with Osama bin 
Laden that turned Afghanistan into a sovereign training camp for al-
Qaida to prepare its attacks on America as it built a global network of 
terror. American leaders, including those of us in Congress, watched 
and knew all of this.
  The United States declined to respond meaningfully to terrorist 
attacks against our interests throughout the previous decade--again, a 
failure of national policy over the course of successive 
administrations and many Congresses that encouraged our enemies to 
perceive us as weak and unwilling to defend our interests. The 1993 
bombing of the World Trade Center; the 1995 and 1996 bombings of 
American targets in Saudi Arabia; the 1998 attacks on our Embassies in 
Kenya and Tanzania; the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole--all of these 
attacks were preludes of growing intensity to the attacks against New 
York and Washington, DC.
  In retrospect, a pattern becomes clear, a period in which the 
preeminent threat to American national security arose from the ashes of 
war and chaos in Afghanistan while the United States preoccupied itself 
elsewhere. We need to absorb the lessons of our failure so that, as 
after other national tragedies such as Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy 
assassination, we can tell those we are privileged to lead that evil 
men will never perpetrate such horror again. This commission will help 
us do that.
  I thank my dear friend and colleague, the Senator from Connecticut, 
Mr. Lieberman, for his leadership, and I look forward to us completing 
this job.
  I thank the Chair and yield the floor.
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, is there time remaining?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. There are 2\1/2\ minutes remaining in 
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. I thank the Chair.
  I wanted to say a personal word about the extraordinary way in which 
the families of so many of those who were lost on September 11 have 
taken their unspeakable losses and personal grief and turned it into 
remarkable, continuing acts of advocacy for action by our Government to 
guarantee, as best any human can, that no other families will suffer 
the losses that they have suffered.
  These families have pushed relentlessly, and with such principle and 
purpose, for the creation of this commission to answer the question 
that they naturally ask, that we all ask but they ask it with a 
personal poignancy: How could this have happened?
  Earlier this year, at a rally of family members in support of the 
creation of just such a commission as our amendment would provide, 
Mindy Kleinberg, a mother of three, who lost her husband, Alan, last 
September 11, said:

       I want to be able to look into the eyes of my children and 
     tell them the evil is over there, that they are safe, and 
     that their country is secure. . . . Months have passed, and I 
     still cannot do that. I do not have answers.

  The purpose of this commission is to provide those answers for Mrs. 
Kleinberg, for her children, for all the survivors and friends, and for 
all Americans, to make sure their Government is doing everything it 
humanly can to prevent anything like the tragic attacks of September 11 
of 2001 from ever happening again.
  I think this is our best way to do that. I urge the adoption of this 
  I yield back the remaining time that I have.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to amendment No. 
4694. The yeas and nays have been ordered. The clerk will call the 
  The assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. REID. I announce that the Senator from Montana (Mr. Baucus) and 
the Senator from Hawaii (Mr. Inouye) are necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 90, nays 8, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 223 Leg.]


     Nelson (FL)
     Nelson (NE)
     Smith (NH)
     Smith (OR)



                             NOT VOTING--2

  The amendment (No. 4694) was agreed to.
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. I move to reconsider the vote.
  Mr. REID. I move to lay that motion on the table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nevada.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, it is my understanding we are now on the 
homeland security legislation; is that correct?
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I have spoken with the minority. I ask 
unanimous consent that the Senator from West Virginia, the President 
pro tempore of the Senate, be recognized to speak for up to 1 hour as 
in morning business. I have spoken with Senator Gramm, and he is not 
quite ready to offer his amendment. He said he would be ready at or 
about 3 o'clock. I ask unanimous consent that at 3:40 p.m. we return to 
this bill. At that time, Senator Santorum indicated he might be present 
in the Chamber to talk about legislation he has. At that time, we will 
move forward on the legislation, hoping Senator Gramm is ready to offer 
his amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Clinton). Without objection, it is so 

[[Page S9089]]

  The Senator from West Virginia.