Intelligence aides, ACLU hit 9/11 report
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Commission members defended their plan, with some Republican members criticizing intelligence hawks and with Democrats taking on civil libertarians.
Commissioner John Lehman, a former Reagan-era Secretary of the Navy, urged a House committee to pass the entire package even as representatives of the national security community were trying to break up the package at the other end of Capitol Hill.
''Our recommendations are not a Chinese menu," Lehman said. ''They are a whole system. If all the important recommendations are not adopted, it makes it very difficult for the rest to succeed."
Meanwhile, Commissioner Bob Kerrey, a former Democratic senator, took on Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio and a former presidential candidate, accusing him of taking an absolutist position on civil liberties that ignored the ''hard-headed" reality of the threat posed by Al Qaeda.
''I'm glad we have this concern about civil liberties," he said. ''It needs to be there, but the enemy has no concerns for civil liberties. The enemy has no concern for the Geneva Convention."
In Boston, Commissioners Jamie Gorelick and Fred Fielding yesterday spoke at a conference hosted by WorldBoston, a group of academics and business people involved in international affairs, as part of the panel's broad offensive to build support for its recommendations.
Both said they were open to alternative proposals as long as their central goals could still be accomplished. First among them, in Gorelick's words, is a single national intelligence director who can ''bring the whole community together cohesively," unlike the current director of central intelligence, who controls only the budget and personnel of the CIA.
''We're not seeking change for change itself;what we're trying to do is emphasize the need for change," Fielding said. ''We have a Cold War dinosaur for the apparatus of our intelligence community right now, and it's time to change."
A similar fight may be looming over the commission's proposal to unite all the personnel and assets devoted to common themes -- such as putting the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and Terrorist Threat Integration Center into a new joint National Counterterrorism Center.
The proposal is modeled on two-decade-old reforms of the military that bridged divisions among the Army, Air Force, and Navy by putting them under unified commands based on region.
In Senate testimony yesterday, Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Patrick Hughes said: ''Have we considered carefully the facts that we can understand and the unintended consequences and the possibilities before we act? Because this is vitally important to our security."
Both Lehman and Kerrey also agreed that Congress must create a single joint House-Senate intelligence oversight committee that would make vigorous use of its subpoena powers. Greg Nojeim, ACLU chief legislative counsel, attacked two other commission proposals: establishing uniform federal standards for state driver's licenses and birth certificates, which he called a ''backdoor way to create a national ID card"; and setting up airport-like screening at train and bus stops, which he said would lead to a ''checkpoint society."
''We think that this particular proposal, which hasn't gotten a lot of attention, ought to raise a lot of questions," he said.
''If it means what we think it means, Congress ought to reject it."
Globe reporter Bryan Bender and correspondent Joaquim Encarnacao Jr. contributed to this report.
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.