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US Lawmakers Vow to Enact 9/11 Commission Proposals - 2004-07-22

U.S. lawmakers are vowing to implement recommendations in the 9/11 commission report aimed at improving the nation's ability to prevent terror attacks.

Lawmakers, sensitive to the commission's criticism that they failed in their oversight role on terrorism and intelligence issues, say they are serious about enacting the report's recommendations.

Senator Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat and one of the first lawmakers to propose creation of the commission, called on Congress to complete work on the proposals this year, even if it means returning to Capitol Hill after the scheduled October adjournment.

"I call on the leaders to bring us back into special session to enact legislation that the commission has recommended before the end of the year," he said.

Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, has no doubt that Congress will follow through on the proposals.

"This is a seminal event," Mr. McCain added. "There have been a few commissions in the last 100 years that have had significant impact on national policy. This is one of them."

The commission is recommending the creation of a national counterterrorism center and the appointment of a national intelligence director to foster better cooperation among intelligence agencies.

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, says lawmakers would hold hearings on the recommendations in the coming months.

Some Democrats, including Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, used the commission report to criticize the Bush administration for not doing more to fund homeland security.

"The report is basically a wake-up call that we cannot win this war on terror without strong efforts here at home to protect our homeland," he said.

The report stops short of concluding that the attacks on September 11, 2001 could have been stopped.

But Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, has come to his own conclusion.

"There is no doubt in my mind that had all of the information been available in a coordinated manner, that 9/11 could have been prevented," he stated.

The report cites 10 missed opportunities during the Bush and Clinton administrations that could have deterred or derailed the attacks.