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Senate moves up 9/11 commission hearing

From Ed Henry
CNN Washington Bureau

September 11 attacks
U.S. Senate
House of Representatives

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Senate hearings about national security reforms recommended by a commission report on the September 11, 2001, attacks were moved up to Friday, a Senate committee spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The new date accommodates the schedules of commission co-chairmen Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, who are slated as the hearing's first witnesses.

Kean, a former governor of New Jersey, and Hamilton, a former Indiana congressman, had prior commitments next week -- when the hearings were first scheduled to begin.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs committee, and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the ranking Democrat, said last week that they hoped the hearings would lead to a reform bill drafted by October 1.

The first recommendations to be addressed will be those dealing with creating a national counterterrorism center and establishing the position of national intelligence director, Collins said.

The 9/11 commission, formerly called the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, released its findings July 22 in a 570-page report.

Congress established the bipartisan panel to investigate events before, during and immediately after the attacks.

A spokeswoman for the Senate committee said it likely will continue with a second hearing next week that is expected to feature other members of the 9/11 commission.

House hearings planned

In the House, Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, both Republicans, have praised the 9/11 commission's work and promised that the House of Representatives would "immediately assess everything we have done in this regard since 9/11 and everything more we need to do."

GOP aides said House Republicans will begin a series of hearings of their own beginning next week with a session convened by Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Connecticut, who chairs the National Security and Emerging Threats Subcommittee of the Government Reform Committee.

Rep. Chris Cox, R-California, chair of the Select Committee on Homeland Security, is expected to follow up with multiple hearings in mid-August.

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