The House and Senate intelligence committees held a series of dramatic public hearings after the Sept. 11 attacks a decade ago, sessions that laid bare the failures of the nation’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies to detect or prevent the al-Qaeda plot.
The two panels announced Wednesday that they are planning a reprise of those joint sessions to coincide with the 10-year anniversary of the attacks, this time focusing on how the terror threat has changed and whether the United States’ defenses have kept pace.
“The ten year anniversary of 9/11 is an opportunity to take stock of the progress made in the Intelligence Community in the past decade,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House intelligence committee, said in a statement.
The hearings — the first combined public sessions since the 9/11 inquiry — are scheduled to get underway Sept. 13, with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in the center witness chair.
The committee said it will also call witnesses from other agencies including the CIA.
The hearings held as part of the two committees’ joint inquiry into the Sept. 11 attacks produced a number of historic moments, including 2002 testimony from Cofer Black, the former director of the CIA’s counter-terrorism center.
In hindsight, Black’s remark that “after 9-11 the gloves come off,” was one of the early signals that the Bush administration was prepared to use severe measures, including harsh interrogation methods, in what officials had begun calling the “global war on terror.”
The new round of hearings won’t be revisiting those methods or the failures that led up to the Sept. 11 attacks. Instead, officials are likely to reiterate recent testimony about how al-Qaeda has evolved from a highly centralized organization to one that has inspired violent off-shoots in Yemen and other countries. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemen-based group is known, has been behind most of the recent serious attacks against the United States, including the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day in 2009.
The only official scheduled to appear in the new hearings who was actually in the same job a decade ago is FBI Director Robert Mueller, who has been asked to testify on Oct. 6.