Friday, January 8, 2010

Collins and Lieberman to hold hearings in wake of Christmas Day terrorist attack

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Friday announced the witness list for the first in a series of hearings the Committee will hold to discuss how to further improve the nation’s security in light of the Christmas Day terrorist attack.
The Committee will hear from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, and National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter on Wednesday, January 20, on the intelligence reforms recommended by the 9/11 Commission in its final report on the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“We are grateful to Secretary Napolitano, Director Blair and Director Leiter for agreeing to testify before our Committee to discuss the reforms made after 9/11 relevant to the Christmas Day attack, including changes in areas such as intelligence analysis, information sharing, watch-listing, border security and aviation security,” Senator Lieberman said. “We are especially interested in the progress of the intelligence reforms that were made in 2004 in response to the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, including the creation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Counterterrorism Center.
“As the President noted, while enforcement and intelligence communities have worked successfully together to disrupt several plots against our country, the intelligence to discover and disrupt the plot, masterminded by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was available to our government. But it was not pieced together. We will ask Admiral Blair and Director Leiter why the intelligence community was unable to bring together pieces of intelligence held by various agencies to detect this plot and whether the DNI and NCTC have the authority to integrate the intelligence community into a single, integrated enterprise.
“From Secretary Napolitano, we will want to know how - even after reforms designed to prevent it - Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was able to exploit passenger pre-screening systems and the international aviation security system to board a plane bound for the United States with an explosive device.”
Senator Collins said: “Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and enactment of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, much has been done to improve the performance of our intelligence, homeland security, and law enforcement agencies. Bureaucratic stovepipes that precluded information sharing have been dismantled, and collaboration has increased. As a direct result of these reforms, terrorist plots, both at home and abroad, have been thwarted.
“But human error, poor judgments, outmoded systems, and the sheer volume of data can still cause failures in the government’s ability to detect and detect terrorist plots as the recent attacks at Fort Hood and on Christmas Day demonstrate.

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