- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 15, 2001

Republican senators are discussing creation of a first-ever select committee on terrorism as Congress' first permanent response to Tuesday's deadly terrorist attacks on America.
The new panel would attempt to consolidate and streamline scores of anti-terrorism programs scattered throughout the federal budget.
The idea was prompted by the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. They said that about 10 Republican senators have come to the conclusion that a special committee is needed to coordinate the scores of current and proposed anti-terrorism programs.
The senators are discussing the new committee among themselves before broaching the subject to Senate Democrats and House members.
Some members are also pushing for an anti-terrorism czar who would oversee counterterrorism programs run by the FBI, Pentagon, and, to some extent, every federal government department.
Military officials told The Washington Times that the executive branch needs a senior anti-terrorism official, perhaps with Cabinet rank and a seat on the National Security Council, to oversee all programs.
A new anti-terrorism committee would work much like the Select Committee on Intelligence does today. Although the budgets of the CIA and other intelligence agencies are part of Defense Department spending, the intelligence committee has approval authority along with the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Officials said promoters of the new committee hope it will have authority over every single anti-terrorism program, no matter which agency controls the money.
"This may not necessarily prevent an attack," said one official. "What it does do is provide the ability to rationalize the policy and the funding that is seeking to address counterterrorism programs of the federal government."
The official said that each of the 13 annual appropriations bills have some component for fighting terrorism.
"What they need to do is focus it so that you have one committee that looks at all aspects of federal government activities on counterterrorism," the official said. "What it also does is reduce duplication."
As Congress made plans for new terrorism programs, the Pentagon continued to create options for President Bush to respond militarily.
The Army took the hardest hit Tuesday when a terrorist-flown Boeing 757 airliner slammed into the Pentagon's southwest side. In the Army, 74 civilian and uniformed personnel are missing.
"We're in pain. We're also angry," Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, told reporters.
Military officers say privately that if Mr. Bush is serious about conducting a lengthy sustained war against terrorists, the Army must play a role. Only ground troops, the officers say, can physically find and eliminate the perpetrators.
But when the Army was called on during the 1999 bombing of Kosovo, it failed to successfully deploy Apache helicopters on the Kosovo-Albanian border. Gen. Shinseki said the Army has done much to improve aviation readiness in the ensuing two years.
"We'll move and we'll move with all due haste. We'll get there," he said."

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide