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Cody Singh
Cody Singh

Dan Simmons The Terror Epub 97 __LINK__

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Dan Simmons The Terror Epub 97

On July 22, 2004, the 9/11 Commission2 became the latest of a number of commissions, think tanks, and other entities to weigh in on congressional oversight of the issue of homeland security. Some of these entities issued reports before the creation of DHS, some before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and some more recently. In addition, witnesses at House committee hearings in the 108th Congress held by subcommittees of the Select Committee on Homeland Security and the Committee on Rules provided additional ideas related to House oversight of homeland security. These entities' and witnesses' recommendations varied, but their variety offers the House a wealth of perspectives to draw on related to congressional-executive relations, building knowledge of homeland security policy issues among Members, and other aspects of congressional handling of the issue of homeland security.

Homeland security begins with counterterrorism and other initiatives overseas, and it includes intelligence activities at home and abroad that can help prevent terrorist attacks. In the 9/11 Commission recommendations, those of other entities, and those of some hearings witnesses, homeland security is a continuum of international and domestic initiatives and activities, all of which are essential to reducing the likelihood and potential impact of terrorist attacks against the United States.

Shortly after the convening of the 107th Congress, Speaker Hastert initiated a Working Group on Terrorism and Homeland Security as a unit of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.4 Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Speaker and Minority Leader Gephardt announced the elevation of the working group to a subcommittee.5 The subcommittee was to "coordinate the efforts of various [House] committees" with a claim to jurisdiction over various aspects of terrorism and to "provide a clearinghouse for legislative proposals."6

In his oral and written statements, former Speaker Gingrich explained the depth and breadth of the terrorist threat and the potential loss of life that could result from some forms of terrorist attack.23 In his prepared statement, Speaker Gingrich introduced this explanation by stating:

Former Secretary Schlesinger also addressed the threat of terrorist attacks to American democracy and society.25 Witnesses such as Donald Wolfensberger26 testified on the duration and seriousness of the terrorist threat as reasons for a "concentrated effort by both the executive and Congress."27

The problem has never been a lack of focus or interest by the standing committees. Rather, the missing ingredient was a national consensus that terrorism should be a top priority. Congress as a whole reflected the national will and has been unable to make the tough choices terrorism required. And that, we know, is a part of our history, unfortunately, today.

Because the success of the Department is vital to the continuing economic recovery and winning the war on terrorism, we all want it to succeed. Congress must provide the Department with the proper resources while at the same time maintaining aggressive oversight to ensure that this massive reorganization and commitment of resources succeeds.33

Although countering the terrorist threat is of significant importance in implementing our immigration laws, it is certainly not the only issue. Rather, immigration involves much more than homeland security[:] reuniting families, providing needed workers for American businesses, offering havens to refugees, and deporting those aliens who have broken our laws.56

The Energy and Commerce Committee has jurisdiction for security at commercial nuclear power plants. Everybody, regardless of where your committee is, agrees that securing these facilities from a terrorist attack or any kind of attack is a very good idea. The conference report on H.R. 6, the comprehensive energy bill, contains very strong new requirements in that respect. These requirements were developed in our committee on a bipartisan basis.58

Representative Mica, chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee, provided the Rules Subcommittee with a statement by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Young, which listed that committee's counterterrorism and homeland security legislation beginning in 1989. Representative Mica testified:

A number of committee leaders expressed reservations about or opposition to the transfer of jurisdiction from committees with long expertise and with perspectives in addition to that of counter-terrorism security. Agriculture Committee Chairman Goodlatte urged the Rules Subcommittee to be "cautious in considering [jurisdictional] changes," citing his committee's expertise in agriculture compared to the breadth of expertise that a single committee would need to cumulate to oversee DHS's wide and varied scope of responsibilities.76 Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Barton pointed out the difficulty of distinguishing the relationship of his committee's jurisdiction to homeland security from the homeland security jurisdiction of a new committee, explaining that the "consequences" of terrorist attacks or of other actions or events may be the same.77 Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Mica and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Oberstar explained the expertise that existed in standing committees and that was needed to legislate on homeland security within complex systems such as aviation or emergency management.78

Intelligence Ranking Member Harman explained the value of a permanent standing committee on homeland security as a "mechanism for coordinated review of terrorism" and as a means for effective oversight of DHS.95 Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Mica noted that a homeland security committee could have a role in coordination over homeland-security activities of executive entities that were included in DHS and those outside DHS and in marshaling expertise in the House from among the committees of jurisdiction.96

And, on November 16, 2004, following his renomination to the Speakership by the House Republican Conference, Speaker Hastert addressed the conference and said this about a House homeland security committee:

Definition: Homeland security is a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur.110

In this paragraph, consistent with the Office of Management and Budget's June 2002 'Annual Report to Congress on Combatting Terrorism', the term 'homeland security' refers to those activities that detect, deter, protect against, and respond to terrorist attacks occurring within the United States and its territories.113

The commissions and think tanks made their recommendations on committee reorganization in the context of a larger set of recommendations for combating terrorism and securing the homeland. This context is helpful in understanding how these entities defined homeland security and how they arrived at a recommendation for committee reorganization.

With regard to intelligence, counterterrorism, and homeland security, the 9/11 Commission stated in its report to the President and Congress that congressional committee reorganization was critical to a "unity of effort" across the federal government. For intelligence oversight, it recommended a joint committee of the two houses of Congress, or a single committee in each chamber with authorizing and appropriating authority. With regard to homeland security, the commission stated:

Congress needs to establish for the Department of Homeland Security the kind of clear authority and responsibility that exist to enable the Justice Department to deal with crime and the Defense Department to deal with threats to national security. Through not more than one authorizing committee and one appropriating subcommittee in each house, Congress should be able to ask the secretary of homeland security whether he or she has the resources to provide reasonable security against major terrorist acts within the United States and to hold the secretary accountable for the department's performance.

The Bremer Commission took its name from its chair, then-managing director of Kissinger Associates and former U.S. ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism L. Paul Bremer III. Its official name was the National Commission on Terrorism. The commission reported to the President and Congress on June 7, 2000.121

The commission's recommendation on congressional organization was part of a report that warned of an increasing and changing terrorist threat. The Bremer Commission focused its attention particularly on the intelligence and international components of counterterrorism and protection of the homeland, stating:

The report contained a series of recommendations related to laws, an unratified treaty, policies, and guidelines. In some instances the commission recommended ratification or implementation; in others it recommended change or repeal. These recommendations outlined specific actions that could help the U.S. government prevent terrorist acts, reduce their likelihood, and prepare for their possibility.

In its report to the President and Congress, the Bremer Commission recommended that Congress "should develop mechanisms for coordinated review of the President's counterterrorism policy and budget, rather than having each of the many relevant committees moving in different directions without regard to the overall strategy."123

The Gilmore Commission's principal recommendation, which it examined in each of its five annual reports, was the promulgation of a national strategy to combat terrorism, "impelled by a stark realization that a terrorist attack on some level inside our borders is inevitable and the United States must be ready."125 In the commission's view, a federal strategy would be a component of the national strategy.126 And, by addressing its own organization, Congress would be able to address the national strategy for counterterrorism and homeland security in a "cohesive way."127 The Gilmore Commission made numerous other recommendations.


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