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Senate Panel to Soon Begin Work on  9/11 Commission Recommendations - 2004-07-23


A U.S. Senate panel next month will begin drafting legislation to enact some of the key proposals made by a bipartisan commission aimed at preventing terrorist attacks in the United States. Correspondent Deborah Tate reports from Capitol Hill.

Senate leaders called on the Government Affairs Committee to begin the work to implement some of the recommendations by the commission that investigated the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The committee announced it would hold a hearing the first week in August to consider the report, with particular focus on the proposal to create a Cabinet-level national intelligence director and a terrorism center to coordinate intelligence sharing and gathering.

The committee hopes to report the legislation to the full Senate by October first.

Amid intelligence warnings that another terrorist attack on the United States could come this year, the committee's top Democrat, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, said there is no time to lose.

"We have got to go after this with a real sense of urgency," he said.

But some Republicans are opposed to what they view as creating a new level of bureaucracy by establishing a new intelligence director.

Acting C.I.A. Director John McLaughlin also opposes the idea, and says his agency has already undertaken reforms.

The commission report, which was released Thursday, proposes other reforms, including reorganizing congressional committees and improvements in homeland security, but work on those will come later.

The chairman of the Government Affairs Committee, Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, acknowledged implementing the commission's recommendations will not be easy.

"It is always difficult to both reorganize the executive branch and the Congress," she said. "I think both are taking on established interests that are in some ways entrenched, and will be resistant to change."

In the House of Representatives, Speaker Dennis Hastert said Republican House leaders have not endorsed the commission's proposals, and he said lawmakers, as he put it, "should not rush into anything."

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