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DOMESTIC RESPONSE CAPABILITIES FOR TERRORISM INVOLVING WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2001
Washington, DC. The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:10 p.m., in room SD-226, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. Jon Kyl, Chairman of the Subcommittee, presiding.
Present: Senators Kyl and Feinstein.
STATE OF ARIZONA Chairman KYL. The Subcommittee will come to order. I welcome everyone to this hearing of the Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee on Technology, Terrorism, and Government Information.
By way of apology, let me first say that we had three votes which delayed the party luncheons, as a result of which some of the Senators will be late. I am informed that Senator Feinstein has an additional meeting, and therefore she may be quite a little bit late. But with that information, I am going to go ahead because I don't want to keep all of you waiting.
At this hearing today, we are going to examine the findings of the Congressionally mandated Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, as presented in its latest report entitled "Toward a National Strategy for Combating Terrorism.”
At the dawn of this new millennium, the United States faces new challenges to the security of our Nation, our people, and interests abroad. We face no peer rival, and our view of the horizon is no longer clouded by the once ominous threat of either a large-scale nuclear attack on our homeland or a massive conventional attack on our European allies.
Yet, the security our citizens both at home and abroad is threatened. The threat no longer derives from a single source, but from a myriad of sources, including terrorists organizations that increasingly see Americans and their interests as their premier targets.
The means available to terrorist organizations and their sponsors are potentially more deadly and catastrophic than ever. We have only to look back to October of last year and the devastation
wrought by two men in a small boat heavily laden with conventional explosives that maneuvered alongside the USS Cole. Seventeen American sailors perished, with many others wounded, and an American war ship was reduced to a crippled hulk in just a matter of a few seconds.
In the 1990's, 6 people were killed and 1,000 were injured in bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City. But the bombers' goal was to topple the twin towers, which would probably have killed tens of thousands of people. Imagine the destruction if those responsible for these attacks had been more technically proficient or if they had had weapons of mass destruction.
The perpetrators of these attacks do not appear to be state-sponsored organizations in the classic sense. Recent reports have strengthened the links between the Cole bombing and exiled Saudi millionaire Usama Bin Ladin. Although not state-sponsored in the classic sense, Bin Ladin is dependent upon a variety of states for asylum and protection of his assets. The fact that his group is not state-sponsored does not mean it is less threatening.
According to the Director of the National Security Agency, Bin Ladin can afford to outfit himself with better and more sophisticated communications equipment than most of the agencies of the U.S. Government that might be charged with countering his efforts.
According to recent foreign press reports, Bin Ladin's financial empire has enabled his supporters to strengthen their hold upon the Taliban government of Afghanistan, thereby eliminating the likelihood of extradition. If Bin Ladin can afford all of this, someday he may even be able to buy a nuclear, chemical, or biological weapon and the means to employ it.
The emergence of terrorist groups that are not state-sponsored does not mean that nations no longer support terrorism. For example, Iran continues to be the most active state sponsor of terrorism. Tehran already has chemical and biological weapons. In fact, nearly all of the seven nations that the U.S. identifies as state sponsors of terrorism are believed to possess weapons of mass destruction of at least some capability.
Given this state of affairs, what should U.S. strategy be and how can we effect it? The Panel to Assess Domestic Response Against Terrorism was quick to realize that the presence of the word “Domestic" in its name did not limit it to the study of strictly domestic solutions to strictly domestic weaknesses.
The members, representing a broad cross-section of local, State and Federal expertise, came to the conclusion that much of the deterrence and prevention of terrorism must begin on foreign soil, with strong partnerships among our allies and an equally strong intelligence capability.
The panel made several recommendations aimed at strengthening our ability to both gather intelligence on terrorist organizations and share intelligence between agencies responsible for countering the terrorist threat. The panel also made numerous recommendations designed to improve the cooperation between Federal, State and local entities to enhance our capability to respond to a catastrophic terrorist attack.
In our first of two panels today, we are pleased to be joined by Vice Chairman of the Advisory Panel, Lieutenant General James Clapper, who formerly served as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. The Chairman of the Advisory Panel, Governor James Gilmore of Virginia, was invited to attend, but could not be here due to a scheduling conflict.
I might say that we decided to proceed with this hearing because it is our intention, both Senator Feinstein and myself, to take as much testimony as we can within a period of just a few weeks and begin to put together legislation that we can actually have an opportunity to run this year with an expectation that we could get it passed. We believe that if we take the best of the suggestions from this panel and from other panels that have addressed the same general subject matter and put them together into a package, we can perhaps begin to coordinate the efforts much better than they are and at least add the legislative perspective to it that we think may be required.
The second panel today includes two of our Nation's foremost experts on terrorism and national security. Dr. Anthony Cordesman currently serves as the Distinguished Arleigh Burke Chair and Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He has overseen and participated in a series of studies on terrorism and asymmetric warfare, and has a long history as an analyst of national security issues.
Dr. Yonah Alexander is a Senior Fellow at the Potomac Institute and Director of its International Center for Terrorism Studies. He is the founder and editor of "Terrorism," an international journal.
I will afford Senator Feinstein the opportunity, if she arrives, to fit her statement in wherever we are in the testimony, and any member of the Subcommittee will have an opportunity to submit their statements for the record.
[The prepared statement of Senator Sessions follows:) STATEMENT OF HON. JEFF SESSIONS, A U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF ALABAMA
I am very glad that Senators Kyl and Feinstein called this hearing today. This country faces a real threat. I am afraid that the question about whether a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or cyber-terrorist attack will happen in the United States is less a question of whether, than of when. As the anniversary of the most heinous attack in America history—the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995draws near, we remember what terrorism can do to this country. Not only were lives lost in that attack, but fear was allowed to rule us. That bomb was very simply constructed—just a bunch of diesel fuel and fertilizer in a moving van-yet it ripped a building in half, killing 168 people and wounding many others.
Now, imagine a terrorist walking into an airport or football stadium or even, God forbid, this building, with a nerve agent like VX. With an amount less than a drop of water, that terrorist has a weapon to kill even more people than in Oklahoma City. That would be harder to detect and even harder to prevent or contain once an attack occurred.
Worse yet, imagine a coordinated attack from all fronts. First, a computer terrorist sabotages U.S. government and military computers, shutting down lines of communication and defense. At the same time, he strikes civil telecommunications and financial services. Topping all that with a traditional military deployment by a rogue state, America would have a tremendous and frightening challenge to overcome.
Luckily, this country is already on the ball. Many agencies such as the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Justice, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Public Health Service component, and the Department of Energy have all taken substantial steps, along with over 50 other organiza
tions throughout the U.S. Government, to make sure that a domestic terrorist attack does not occur, and if it does, that we have the best ways to deal with it. Four different reports, issued by four different groups looking specially at this problem, have assessed the threat of domestic terrorism and come up with ideas on how to address that threat. Today's distinguished panel of witnesses will give us more insight into one of these reports—the second in a series of RAND reports issued by the Gilmore Commission.
I agree with all four reports that there is a huge need for greater coordination between the responsible agencies and between the federal, state, and local entities responsible for detecting, stopping, and responding to an attack in their particular community. Each of these reports presents a possible but slightly different solution to the problem. However, I think we need to really look hard at whether one of the four solutions will work best or whether we need a combination of all four.
I also agree with my colleagues here today, Senators Kyl and Feinstein, who last session introduced solid legislation aimed at finding counter terrorism strategies and solutions. This legislation passed the Senate. The bill takes an important first step towards solution to this problem.
First, it is important that we keep Syria and Iran on the Foreign Terrorist Organization list. There are indications that both countries continue to sponsor terrorist groups with ill will towards the United States.
Second, the reports and task forces required by this bill will ensure that we have answers to important questions: (1) how to improve the guidelines on recruiting terrorist informants to encourage them to spill the beans on their cohorts ; (2) where research and development may improve the technologies to combat terrorists on American soil; (3) how to get the best information disseminated to the agencies dealing with the problem; (4) what needs to be done to stop existing world-wide terrorist fund-raising efforts; and (5) how we can improve the monitoring of domestic sales and lab handling and storage of biological agents and the equipment needed to use them.
Senator Kyl's and Senator Feinstein's previous bill had the making of a crucial first step in the war on terrorists. Another fundamental step in domestic preparedness is the continual need to train first responders such as fire fighters, police officers, and emergency medical crews. Since we do not know where an attack using a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) will occur (it could be the Nation's Capital, another big urban center, or even in small town America) we need to be prepared across the Nation. To accomplish that preparedness means we need to train and equip our civilian responders to the highest standard possible.
Traditionally, the military has been responsible for dealing with attacks on the United States. However, the military is not and cannot be on hand in every community on a 24-hour basis. That's why first responders are so important.
In my home state of Alabama, we have the nation's only Center for Domestic Preparedness that trains with the actual chemical and biological substances that might be used in an attack. Exercises run in the Chemical Training Facility-identical to the training used by our military forces at Ft. Leonardwood, Missouri-is the only way to test how firefighters, policemen, and other first responders will react under pressure, taking away the fear of the unknown that is present whenever an invisible hand strikes. Incredibly, this Center -has already trained 5,000 first responders, but the nation needs to train many, many more. Politicians of every political persuasion have recognized the importance of this Center to the overall domestic preparedness picture. Our former Attorney General, Janet Reno, called the Center a “crown jewel” in testimony before Congressional Committees.
In conclusion, I want to again thank Senator Kyl and Senator Feinstein for holding this hearing and for developing legislation that is an important first step in dealing with the problems.
Chairman KYL. So with that, let me introduce our first witness, Lieutenant General Clapper, Vice Chairman of the Advisory Panel and former Director of the DIA.
General Clapper, welcome. Thank you for taking time to be here. We will place your full statement in the record and invite you to make whatever summary remarks you would like to make at this time.
STATEMENT OF LIEUTENANT GENERAL JAMES CLAPPER, JR.,
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE (RETIRED), VICE CHAIRMAN, ADVISORY PANEL TO ASSESS DOMESTIC RESPONSE CAPABILI. TIES FOR TERRORISM INVOLVING WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, WASHINGTON, D.C.
General CLAPPER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak to you as Vice Chairman of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, less awkwardly known as the Gilmore Commission.
You have asked that we provide testimony today on the findings and recommendations in our second report, which is the second of three, and we go out of business at the end of this year. I will outline those recommendations and will discuss particularly two of them, one dealing with the need for a national strategy and the other the need for somebody to be in charge.
You have also asked that I speak to areas of agreement and disagreement between the Gilmore Commission and the National Commission on Terrorism, chaired by former Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, who I might mention is also a member of the Gilmore Commission. So we did have fortuitously good cross-over there.
With respect to strategy, it is our belief, our conviction, after looking at this for a couple of years now that there is, in fact, no overarching statement of what the United States is trying to achieve with its program to combat terrorism.
Instead of a national strategy, what we really have is a loosely coupled set of plans and programs that aim individually to achieve certain particular preparedness objectives. Senior U.S. officials have stated that several official broad policy and planning documents that were published during the prior administration, such as the Presidential Decision Directives 39 and 62, the Attorney General's 1999 Five-year Interagency Plan, and the most recent Annual Report to Congress on Combating Terrorism, taken as a whole constitute a national strategy.
Our view is that these documents describe plans, the compilation of various programs underway, and some objectives, but they do not either individually or collectively constitute a national strategy. As a result, we recommended that the incoming administration develop such a national strategy by laying out national goals for combating terrorism focusing on results—that is, outputs rather than process or inputs.
We made three key assumptions to guide the strategy development. The first assumption was that local response entities, meaning law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical technicians, hospital emergency personnel, public health officials, and emergency managers, will always be the first, and conceivably only response.
Second, in the event of a major terrorist attack, however that is defined, no single political jurisdiction is likely to be capable of responding to such an attack all by itself without some outside assistance.
Third, and perhaps most important, we already have existing emergency response and management capabilities, developed over many years, for response to natural disasters, disease outbreaks,