100 Hours: The 9/11 Commission


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Incoming Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has indicated a desire to implement 'all' recommendations of the 9/11 Commission during the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress. This is perhaps the most sweeping and overreaching commitment made in her platform of 100 hours initiatives.

I describe it as overreaching because many of the recommendations are outside the Congress' constitutional authority to implement. The recommendations of the commission are detailed in sections 12 and 13 of their report (link below.) Section 12 is all about foreign policy, and is, therefore, something Congress can do little about.

So, that said, let's assume she was talking about Section 13 and let's see what she can commit to there. Here are the specific bullet points of contained in Section 13.

  1. unifying strategic intelligence and operational planning against Islamist terrorists across the foreign-domestic divide with a National Counterterrorism Center;
  2. unifying the intelligence community with a new National Intelligence Director;
  3. unifying the many participants in the counterterrorism effort and their knowledge in a network-based information-sharing system that transcends traditional governmental boundaries;
  4. unifying and strengthening congressional oversight to improve quality and accountability; and
  5. strengthening the FBI and homeland defenders.

Let's take a look at what has been done to implement each point and what Nancy Pelosi is proposing (if known.)

First up is the National CounterTerrorism Center, which was established in 2004 by an executive order of the president. The NCTC was featured recently in a TV report that I saw (sorry no link), and is still in the staffing up process, but it does exist. Whether Jack Bauer will work there is an open question.

Second is the office of Director of National Intelligence or DNI. In April of 2005, Ambassador John Negroponte was confirmed by the Senate to serve in this post. The office was created by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

The third recommendation, a national intelligence database of sorts, was included in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 as the ISE of Information Sharing Environment. The Act gives the NDI one year to outline the proposed ISE to Congress. This was finally done this past November. Perhaps Pelosi intends some input into this process, but no details have been put forth.

The fourth element, unifying congressional oversight, is the only section for which Pelosi has specific plans. Her plan calls for the creation of a house panel that ties Intelligence oversight to the Intelligence purse strings. The Select Intelligence Oversight Panel would both oversee the intelligence efforts and is part of the appropriations committee and will therefore have some control over the intelligence budget.

The fifth recommendation, "strengthen the FBI and homeland defenders" is really to nebulous to speak to an difficult to get specifics on what has been accomplished. The central thrust is to bring the FBI back toward a domestic intelligence role for which it is already chartered. With the NSA wiretapping scandal being front-page news, I think we can assume that the federal government has domestic intelligence on its mind.

So, when Pelosi says 'implement all the recommendations of the 9/11 commission,' what she really means is with regard to congress' role in the matter.

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