Sep 24 2002

INDEPENDENT COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE EVENTS LEADING UP TO SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 TERRORIST ATTACKS

STATEMENT OF SEN. RICHARD C. SHELBY

U.S. Senator Richard C. Shelby, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today commented on the creation of an independent commission to investigate the events leading up to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States:

"Three months ago I would not have been on the floor supporting the establishment of a Commission. Three months ago, I believed very strongly that the Intelligence Committees of the House and Senate were not only capable of examining our government's failure to detect and prevent the attacks of September 11th, but were obligated to do so."

"I believed then that if we dedicated the necessary time and resources we would be able to conduct a thorough and comprehensive inquiry. Now that we are rapidly approaching the end of the year and the end of this Congress, I am increasingly concerned that the joint effort of the House and Senate will not be able to complete such an inquiry.

"We now know that our inability to detect and prevent the September 11th attacks was not only an intelligence failure of unprecedented magnitude, it was a failure of our entire government to protect and defend the American people.

"I am now convinced that an accounting on behalf of the victims, the families left behind, and the American people must include a comprehensive examination of how every relevant agency of our government performed or failed to perform prior to the attacks.

"The House and Senate Intelligence Committees have been at work for approximately six months. We are making progress, but we are far from done. In fact, at this point, it is still very difficult even to determine how far we have come, and almost impossible to tell how far we have yet to go.

"I have been a part of many investigations in my career - but none has been as important as this one. I want it to be a success, but an inquiry needs time and resources and we have a short supply of both.

"At this point, I do not believe that we will complete the job the American people expect us to do.

"While I will continue to support the Committees' joint effort, I believe now that ours must be only a prelude to a more comprehensive inquiry.

"Therefore, I intend to support the creation of a Commission and I urge my colleagues to do the same."