9/11 CONFEREE MENENDEZ REACTS TO HOUSE REPUBLICAN DECISION TO PULL INTELLIGENCE BILL

House Republicans Choose Ideology over Nation’s Security

For Immediate Release:

November 20, 2004

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WASHINGTON, DC -- House Democratic Caucus Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ), a conferee on the 9/11 Conference Committee, today made the following statement in response to the House Republican leadership’s decision to pull the National Security Intelligence Reform Act of 2004:

“The decision to pull the 9/11 bill is a clear and unambiguous failure by House Republicans to protect our nation, who chose ideology over our nation’s well-being.  Clearly, House Republicans never really wanted this bill -- they opposed the creation of the 9/11 Commission; they opposed the extension of the 9/11 Commission; and they deliberately added extraneous provisions -- opposed by the 9/11 Commission and 9/11 families -- to the bi-partisan Senate bill. 

“Sadly, there are those who are so wedded to the Department of Defense that they, ultimately, ensured the bill’s demise.  But it is that very same intelligence structure that failed us on September 11th.

“Unfortunately, House Republicans thought of themselves before thinking of the American people and our nation’s security.  It has become clear why House Republicans delayed action on this bill until after the elections -- they never intended on passing it in the first place.

“The consensus bill, signed by 11 of the 13 Senate conferees, and supported by House conferees, would have provided for a strong Director of National Intelligence with real budget and personnel authority to effectively coordinate our nation’s intelligence efforts; established an effective National Counterterrorism Center to coordinate and unify all elements of counterterrorism intelligence operations; and provided for an independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Board that would have acted as an unimpeded arbiter in its review of policies and practices.

“In addition, the bill would have strengthened our nation’s borders, provided increased and improved screening of passengers and cargo entering the United States, and would have improved information sharing across government agencies, a major vulnerability leading up to the attacks of September 11th.

“Today, House Republicans not only turned their backs on America, they also failed the 9/11 families and Governor Kean and Congressman Hamilton, former Chair and Vice Chair of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, who supported this bill.”