Carper, Hamilton Push Congress to Make Urgent Intelligence Reforms

Carper Joins Vice Chair of 9-11 Commission in Wilmington Thursday

WILMINGTON (August 19, 2004) – With the author of the 9-11 Commission Report at his side, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., today called on Congress to move swiftly but deliberately to enact much-needed reform to America’s intelligence network in order to prevent the kind of missteps and missed opportunities that led to the 9-11 attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. Carper was joined by Lee Hamilton, vice chair of the 9-11 Commission, at a news conference at the Wilmington train station Thursday. The two urged Congress to enact the commission’s main recommendation’s, including the creation of a national intelligence director, who would be the president’s lead advisor on intelligence issues, and a new counter-terrorism center, which would collect information on terrorist threats and use it for operations aimed at preventing attacks. “Taken together, these two recommendations go a long way toward addressing the intelligence failures that led to September 11th,” said Carper. “In the time leading up to the attacks, we had leaders who understood the threat al-Qaeda posed, but our intelligence agencies did a poor job sharing information and cooperating with each other to focus on the threat at hand. This must change, and it will if we adopt the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations.” Carper serves on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which has been charged with writing legislation to respond to the commission’s recommendations and bring much-needed change to our intelligence agencies. The Governmental Affairs Committee panel is expected to produce legislation by the end of September, and Sen. Carper will play a significant role in how that legislation is written. Hamilton, a former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, served with Carper in the U.S. House, and the two have remained friends since then. Recently, Hamilton served as the Democratic chairman of the bipartisan 9-11 Commission, which was created to investigate the 9-11 attacks and recommend changes to guard against future terrorist attacks. “The American people have a right to expect that we will respond to the work and the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission,” said Carper. “They have a right to expect that we will act swiftly and decisively to keep America safe.” In addition to making recommendations on intelligence reform, the commission also said that one of our main vulnerabilities remains our transportation network. Since 9-11, about 90 percent of the money the United States has spent on transportation security has gone to the aviation sector. But the commission report found that the risk of terrorist attack is “as great or greater” in maritime and surface transportation. Carper called the March attack on commuter trains in Madrid that left nearly 200 dead a “wakeup call” that Congress and the White House should heed. “It’s now clearer than ever that we need to take the steps necessary to ensure that Americans who ride trains are as safe as those who travel by air or any other mode of transportation,” said Carper. Carper said that while it’s not possible or desirable to implement the same kind of security measures at train stations that we have at airports, the federal government should allocate more resources to hiring rail security agents, bomb-sniffing dogs and other detection equipment, as well as update Amtrak’s network of underground tunnels in New York, Baltimore, and Washington. Carper is a strong supporter of two bills that would significantly enhance our rail security efforts. The first bill, the Rail Security Act of 2004, would authorize nearly $1.2 billion to help protect passenger and freight rail service around the country and make much-needed improvements to the Amtrak tunnels. The other bill, the Public Transportation Terrorism Prevention Act, would authorize nearly $5.2 billion for the nation’s transit and subway systems. Both bills passed their respective committees this spring but have yet to be brought to the Senate floor for final passage. “We shouldn’t adjourn this year without finally passing legislation to make our railways, subway systems and ports more secure,” said Carper. “Time may not be on our side.”