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CRISIS RESPONSE REQUIREMENTS FOR HOMELAND
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES,
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 consolidation 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 CAPABILITIES FOR TERRORISM INVOLVING 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,
a Congresswoman from my home State of Virginia, a good friend to me and Roxanne, and someone that we rely on very much.
So, thank you very much, Congresswoman, for being here.
Mr. Chairman, as of course you know, and for the record, this Commission that we have, that has been established, your Commission on this advisory Commission to the Congress on terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and domestic response capabilities, was established by you, your leadership and that of this committee, all the way back in January of 1999. At that time, as I think the Chairman said, the thought was somewhat theoretical, but the truth was that the Congress and particularly the leadership that you provide was very concerned about the Nation's status and ability to respond to a terrorist attack, and, therefore, the Commission was established.
We, by statute, are required to report December 15th every year. We, in fact, did report on December 15th of the years 1999, 2000, and completed all of our work and sent to the printer our last statutory report to be published on December 15th; but it was done in late August, when of course the September 11th attack occurred. Then under your proposal, your leadership, our commission was extended an additional two years. We are now coming up, Mr. Chairman, on the end of the fourth year, and we have one additional year to go under the present status.
I want to thank you very much for your leadership. I have testified before your committee before, and other committees. You have been the person who has really focused attention on this, Congressman Weldon, and I want to thank you very much for your leadership in this. We look to you as our key contact in the Congress on these critical issues, particularly involving localities and states in a national strategy.
The panel composition, as everyone knows, is not a Commission that is traditional in Washington, D.C., of classic insiders of the typical blue ribbon commission. This Commission is established by working men and women who actually go out there and deal with these issues each and every day as a strong representation from fire, police, rescue, emergency services, as well as state leadership, local leadership, people from the intelligence community, retired general officers, a very good mix of people who would actually have to deal with many of these issues.
Ray Downey was a member of our Commission for years, the top leader of the New York Fire Department. He served faithfully with this Commission, and was unfortunately killed during the attacks on the World Trade Center, on September 11th. But others have stood in the place of those who have moved on to public leadership or who have passed away. And I think that the work we are doing continues to be very instrumental.
We have pointed out that all events are local, that all-hazards approaches work best, that there are policy and organizational issues that have to be addressed, not just simply more money and more technology, but cultural and organizational and policy issues that must be dealt with; and we have done that with the assistance of the RAND Corporation. This Commission has asked a major research organization to staff our Commission, and the RAND Cor
poration has done this from the very beginning and continues to do so to this day.
Our first report issued in 1999 was an assessment of the threat. At that time, we assessed that there was less possibility of an attack by a weapon of mass destruction in this country, but the Commission's deliberations took the issue so seriously that we knew we could not take it off the table and that it had to be up on the public agenda for discussion.
On the other hand, we concluded that the chances of a conventional attack, the hijacking of a train, the hijacking of an airplane, the explosion of a bomb were very highly probable inside the homeland. This was not considered in 1999 to be something that was very much on the forefront of discussion at that time.
In the second year, in the year 2000, we did major policy work. We recommended that there be a national strategy. We pointed out that a Federal strategy is not a national strategy; that a national strategy requires people at the Federal, State, and local level to be coordinated in order to do proper preparation, prevention, and response. We recommended in that year of 2000 that there be a special committee, or consolidation of committees, within the Congress in order to be able to provide proper oversight in enabling legislation for any potential Federal effort, that there be emphasis on intelligence sharing, health care, and, above all, national standards so that we could
begin to organize ourselves so that we were prepared to respond as a nation. Our focus was on State and local, health and medical, immigration and border in the third year, cyber security and the use of the military.
Mr. Chairman, if you—those who read our reports and the entire body of work over all these years, all will see a constant focus on the concern for the civil liberties of the people of the United States. The enemy would like to push this country into a position where we are so effective in our response that we begin to diminish what we are as Americans, and so there has been a constant concern for this issue. The introductory letter in the second report, in the year 2000, focuses on this very much.
With that preliminary, Mr. Chairman, the current deliberations that we are doing in Year four, we are just about to complete our work. In the report that we are publishing on December 15th, we will focus chapters on the strategy and structure necessary for the government to be in a position to respond-in short, the national strategy, the types of organizational efforts that have to be made, the use of the military, health and medical, critical infrastructure protection, and agroterrorism. Those are the concerns that I think our Commission is focusing on right now.
With respect to the issue of strategy and structure of government, I have a bit of an announcement to make in this forum this morning, because the Congress yesterday has just passed the Department of Homeland Security bill; and it is going to require further discussions in organization, and in the weeks ahead, additional legislation will no doubt come forward.
We have concluded that we wish to release the principal recommendations in the area of strategy and structure today to the Congress in our advisory capacity. A copy of that is at the desks of the Members, and I know that the staff people will make it