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CRISIS RESPONSE REQUIREMENTS FOR HOMELAND
House Of Representatives, Committee On Armed Services, Military Procurement Subcommittee, Washington, DC, Thursday, November 14, 2002. The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9:12 a.m., in room 2118 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Curt Weldon (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. CURT WELDON, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM PENNSYLVANIA, CHAIRMAN, MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
Mr. Weldon. This subcommittee will come to order.
This morning, the Military Procurement Subcommittee meets to receive testimony from Governor James S. Gilmore on the soon-tobe-released fourth annual report to the President and Congress from the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, more commonly known as the Gilmore Commission.
Good morning, Governor. We thank you for taking your valuable time to be with us. I apologize, but we have a number of conflicts at this very moment. Both the Democratic Caucus, which started at 9:00, and the Republican Caucus, which starts at 10:00, are causing a number of our Members not to be here, especially on the Democrat side. They are having very critical elections, and we understand why Members have to be there for those elections.
You have hung in there with us for four years, working this important issue, and we greatly appreciate your service to the Nation. And I would like to remind our colleagues that it was this committee that actually created the Commission back when it wasn't the most politically correct to be talking about. So while we hear a lot of praise for Hart-Rudman and some of the other commissions, it was this committee and this particular Commission that long before September 11, was out there, assessing what needed to be done to better prepare us to deal with the kinds of attacks that we saw on September 11.
In your first report to Congress in 1999, you cite the need for a truly integrated national strategy to guide national domestic preparedness. At that time, you called for fundamental changes of the Federal Government to support State and local authorities, and you suggested a federal clearinghouse for preparedness information. You also cited a need for the intelligence community to better use information technology to obtain and share data on potential terrorist threats.
We have made some progress. We now have a national strategy. But much remains to be done on intelligence collection and sharing, as well as restructuring in the Federal Government to better address the challenge of effective homeland security.
An even greater challenge is how we overcome the bureaucratic cultural impediments to get our people to work together at the Federal level, and between the Federal and State and local government agencies. We can change the fundamental structures—as we have witnessed, we have to overcome cultural barriers to effective communication and sharing of vital information—if we are to be effective at stopping terrorist acts.
President Bush's homeland security budget request for this fiscal year concluded that, quote, 'The threat of terrorism is an inescapable reality of the 21st century. It is a permanent condition to which America and the entire world must adjust," end quote.
The federal terrorism budget for the country is $38 billion for this fiscal year. That is about the same as the entire federal budget for the Russian Federation. It is estimated that our Nation as a whole spends $100 billion on homeland security. It is indeed unfortunate that for the foreseeable future terrorism is to be an enduring fact of life. All we can hope to do is to make sure that the dollars are well spent, are put to the most productive use in countering the terrorist threat.
Your appearance today is particularly timely given the confluence of many related events. The war in Afghanistan continues; the confrontation with Iraq and all that entails continues; international terrorist acts continue to be a part of our own and our friends' and allies' daily experience.
The Congress, this week, seeks to finalize authorization for the Department of Homeland Security. In fact, we did that last evening in the House, the largest reorganization in Federal Government in 50 years, and the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act is on its way to the White House for the President's signature.
Governor, many of the elements of your prepared statement warrant detailed discussion. Time is going to limit our ability to talk about them, but two of the recommendations I think are extremely important and, personally, have been at the top of my agenda for the past five years. The one deals with creating a national data fusion center, and that, contrary to what was editorialized in the national press as recently as this morning, does not mean that we have to create big brother watching on every American citizen.
As you well know and as you have pointed out continuously, what we have been talking about since 1997—in fact, we put language in two successive defense bills, in 1999 and 2000, calling for the creation of a National Data Fusion Center primarily aimed at external intelligence, intelligence collected overseas—does not violate the rights and the freedoms of people here at home in America. We want your full, candid assessment on that issue.
And the second is a recommendation that you have been calling for and which I just raised before I came here from attending a meeting with the Steering Committee of the new Congress, which I am a member of, and that is the creation and the need for a con
lidation of oversight of homeland security.
When we finish the homeland security bill and the President signs it into law, perhaps in a week or two, there will be a big Oval Office ceremony. But if we don't take the additional steps as a Congress and consolidate the authorization and the appropriation, that Agency, in my opinion, may be doomed to failure. We currently have 88 committees and subcommittees that have a piece of the jurisdiction of the new Cabinet Department of Homeland Security. It is unthinkable that we would have 88 committees and subcommittees attempt to control what is going to be in itself a very difficult task of standing up this new Agency.
You have been at the forefront of that, and we appreciate that. And I can tell you that many of us in the Congress will be pushing. Chairman Young has already said he is going to consolidate the appropriation process, and what I think we have to do is based on the recommendation that you all have been putting forth, and that is to consolidate the authorization process as well.
So, we appreciate your being here. The gentleman from Mississippi, my good friend, Gene Taylor, is not here. And he is very concerned and interested in this issue. I am going to ask unanimous consent that he can put whatever comments he wants in the record, along with the distinguished ranking member, Mr. Skelton, who has an intense interest in this area.
And again, the lack of their appearance here does not indicate that they are not interested. They are. I have had discussions with each of them. It is just, unfortunately, this two day period we are here, a lot is happening. We wanted to give you the chance to come before us and the country and present your outline during this very critical time period, which is why we scheduled this hearing at this very difficult time. But I want you to understand that our colleagues on both sides of the aisle do want to work with the Commission, do want to continue their support, and appreciate the work that you have been providing for us up until this point in time.
With that, Governor, I will, without objection, place your entire statement in the record, and you may use whatever time you might like before we get to questions.
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES S. GILMORE, III, CHAIRMAN, ADVISORY PANEL TO ASSESS DOMESTIC RESPONSE CAPABDLITD3S FOR TERRORISM INVOLVEVG WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, AND FORMER GOVERNOR, COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
Governor GiLMORE. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before you and Members of the subcommittee this morning. I certainly recognize that there are some organizational issues at work that are preventing some Members from being here this morning. But, nonetheless, I appreciate your affording us the opportunity, and me the opportunity, to make this record, which we believe will be useful for you and other leaders of the Congress as you go forward in the days and the months ahead.
I want to thank you for the opportunity to be here. I certainly want to thank Congresswoman Davis for her presence here today,