Text of press release from the office of Rep. Joe Pitts:
Washington — Congressman Joe Pitts (R, PA-16) called S. 2845 National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 good, but incomplete. The legislation, modeled after the recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, outlines an overhaul of the U.S. intelligence community. Congressman Pitts opposed the bill which passed the House this evening. He issued the following statement outlining his concerns with the bill.
“The purpose of this bill was to enact the 9/11 Commission’s most important recommendations,” said Congressman Pitts. “The House version did just that, and I voted for it. This House-Senate compromise, however, leaves the job half done. I voted against it because I just don’t feel it’s right to leave a job this important unfinished. What’s in the bill is good, but the bill is incomplete.”
Both the House and Senate passed competing versions of this legislation earlier this year. Negotiations over the bill stalled last month over two sticking points: access to intelligence for military commanders on the battlefield and the ability of illegal immigrants to obtain legal drivers licenses.
The House bill included a provision clarifying that the establishment of a Director of National Intelligence should not be construed to preempt the ability of soldiers on the battlefield to access real-time intelligence. The House bill also included provisions that prevented illegal immigrants from obtaining drivers’ licenses and put in place stricter asylum standards, problems identified by the 9/11 Commission as glaring weaknesses in our nation’s defenses.
“I’m pleased that the final product protected the access soldiers have to the information they need to win. But the Senate seems intent on ignoring some key points the Commission addressed – the ability of terrorists to get into the country, obtain identification, and abuse asylum rules in order to stay here. The 19 9/11 hijackers had 63 legally-obtained drivers’ licenses among them. Mohammed Atta got a speeding ticket two weeks before he crashed a plane in the World Trade Center and was due in court shortly after the attacks. He had a legal driver’s license!
“Because Senate negotiators won out on this provision the bill is much weaker. It’s our responsibility to finish the job. We will work to make sure the House does so. But I’m concerned the Senate will never address these important issues. That’s just wrong and I hope the American people tell them that,” said Congressman Pitts.
A summary of S. 2845 is available at GOP.gov.