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With that, I will turn to one of our top advocates in this body on the issue of homeland security. He constantly has made the case that we have not focused our attention on the right threats, and he as much as any other Member was the leading advocate to make sure that every State in America has a proper response team in place which became a part of our defense bill.
He was the one who championed this, understanding that local effort is absolutely essential, my good friend and ranking member, Gene Taylor.
STATEMENT OF HON. GENE TAYLOR, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM MISSISSIPPI, RANKING MEMBER, MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me first apologize for the absence of my fellow Democrats. As you probably know, the leadership elections are occurring right now in the Democratic organizational meeting, so I apologize for their absence. But you might look on your side for some possible defectors, because a lot of your guys are missing also. I don't know where they are.
Mr. WELDON. The same place.
Mr. TAYLOR. Okay.
Governor Gilmore, one of the things that came to my attention quite by accident was the total lack of preparedness equipmentwise by many of our local communities. I had the fire chief of New Orleans come to see me on something dealing with Amtrak, and I had the opportunity to ask him how many chem-bio suits that large city of over a million had, and I think his answer was 18.
Since then, I have contacted most of the cities in my district and was absolutely shocked at how few suits there are available, how few suits are available at local hospitals. Has anyone got-and, again, has anyone got a comprehensive list of what is available through our communities and what would be available for resource sharing should there be a smallpox outbreak, which immediately comes to mind as something that would be very doable by a potential adversary?
Governor GILMORE. Mr. Taylor, that is a very managerial type of question, and I appreciate its being asked. That reflects a mind that believes that you need to go to work to actually inventory, to determine what exists and what is needed. From the point of view-and we applaud that.
From our Commission's point of view, what is essential is the establishment of a national strategy where we begin to develop a focus on what the more likely threats are and then what the best possible procedure and planning is that should be put into place to meet those potential threats.
So if, for example, we conclude that bioterrorism is a very serious, likely threat, then we believe that the new Department should in fact begin to develop the planning and to set the standards so that the suit that might be used-first of all, you have to decide whether suits are the best possible expenditure and how many you need, and then begin to do the planning for that and develop a funding mechanism in conjunction with the Federal, State, and local authorities to be in a position to purchase that.
So that is the exact right approach.
The direct answer to your question is that I doubt that anybody knows what inventory of appropriate equipment exists. But that would reflect the central concern. The central problem is that you don't even really know that the existing equipment is responsive to the more likely threat. And that, I think, is the challenge that rests ahead of us, that will require national coordination and national standards that have to be developed.
Mr. TAYLOR. I was curious if your group-number one, I want to compliment you on your presentation. And I found your remarks about the threat of conventional weapons to be also very close to home. And I am concerned, having read several books on the Afghan civil war, the number of Stingers that we supplied to them, the number of SA-7s that undoubtedly came from the other side that have sort of disappeared into hyperspace and therefore are in somebody's hands. To what extent did your group look at the possibility of a stinger or an SA-7 or some other shoulder-fired missile being used to take down commercial airliners as a weapon of terror?
Governor GILMORE. We have addressed an issue like that on the basis of the question of what is the more likely threat to the Nation, a nuclear, biological, chemical, major weapons of mass destruction, or a conventional attack. And we concluded that a conventional attack in this country is highly probable. And, in fact, in the introductory of the second report, we indicated that it was inevitable, that being published, December 15, 2000.
So the nobody knows whether or not the enemy has their hands on a Stinger missile and can get it delivered into this country, but it is a lot easier to do that and a lot more available than, for example, a smallpox attack which would be more difficult to get and to deliver into this country. That has been the way that our Commission has assessed these types of issues.
The direct answer to your question is, it is possible that a missile like that could fall into the wrong hands and could be delivered over a border and into this country. And that is why we focused so much attention on border security as well as preparing for coordination between Federal, State, and local authorities for the response to such an attack; and more fundamentally, the absolute necessity of information sharing between Federal, State, and local people so that if an attack like that is imminent, that we hope that we can pick up information and prevent it from occurring. The only way to do that is a broad-ranging opportunity to get information, both domestic and foreign, to get fused into a place where people are talking to each other, and then be in a position to prevent such an attack.
But Congressman, it could be a Stinger missile, it could be a bomb on a suicide person someplace or it could be any other type of conventional attack which is easily delivered.
Mr. TAYLOR. I am curious. From your previous role as the Governor, to what extent were you included in being made aware of the different threats, the hijacking of a commercial ship going into the Port of Norfolk and using it as a weapon to ram a dock or take out a pier full of commuters? The possibility that a Stinger missile could be on a rowboat out in the middle of a Potomac waiting to
take down a plane that is about to make a landing at Reagan National Airport?
To what extent are the Governors made aware of these threats, and to what extent are you involved in trying to do something about them?
Governor GILMORE. Congressman Taylor, I was the Governor of one of the two states that were directly attacked on September 11th. We have the terrible tragedy, of course, in Pennsylvania as well, but the direct attacks occurred in New York and Virginia, and I was Governor at that time. The Commission has focused on the reality that very little information passes up and down the line between Federal, State, and local people.
The direct answer is, Governors are told virtually nothing. They are not cleared automatically. They do not get information in an automatic, routine way. They do not get routine briefings. We are fortunate if our State adjutant generals (TAGS) or our State police get such information through the FBI. But the experience and history is that very little of this information passes up and down the line.
Much discussion has been in this body on the need to be able to share information laterally across the Federal agencies-—a lot of discussion on that. The FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency (NSA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), they don't share information much either, and that is a problem that I know they are working very hard to try to correct.
But you are focusing on a second and principal problem: you must get information moving up and down with Federal, State, and local people. This does not happen, and there is no provision set for it to happen. Our Commission has excruciatingly, closely focused on this issue over the years in our reports, and we continue to do that. And we believe that some system must be put into place where there is reliability and trust.
Congressman, we believe this can happen. We understand that the culture of intelligence is not to share information. We understand that. We understand the businesslike desire to protect methods and sources. However, you must get information to where it could do the most good. And a simple color-coded warning that says that we are in a high level of concern, people have testified before the Congress, people have testified before our Commission that that just isn't enough. We have to be in a position where we can prevent and deter and respond in a way that is more effective.
I believe that it can be done. It can be done by clearing people, designating a tight net, getting information on a need-to-know basis, training, exercising, and if necessary, punishing, as you would at the Federal level, for violation and disclosure of that type of information.
Congressman, sensitive information that has nothing to do with the Federal Government is handled at the State and local level every day without going into the newspapers. I am confident that we could set up a system that would share this information vertically up and down the line to the interests of the country.
Mr. TAYLOR. Again, to follow up, since you very strongly made the point that the local responders will be the first responders. How would you propose to do that? Apparently we had some warn
ing, certainly more than the first two planes, that the third plane was headed towards D.C. A number of high-value targets the Capitol building, the Pentagon-immediately come to mind, the CIA headquarters, which apparently the son of the blind cieric had in one of the transcripts said was going to be a target of his.
So how would you-as Governor of the State where one of those high-valued targets is, what do you think should have what information do you think should have been given to you once it was pretty clear that one of those planes was headed this way? And what could you have done in that limited time that was available that might have minimized damage?
Governor GILMORE. In the airplane example, clearly the skies are controlled by the Federal Government, without any doubt. That type of information would have been useful to a Governor only to alert him to trigger his procedures and to put into place either a response to that attack or any other attack, a warning that something may be at work.
And I can only share with you, Congressman, on that morning when we knew we were under attack both in New York and then, shortly thereafter, in Virginia at the Pentagon, the issue as a policymaker from my point of view is, what else is going to happen? We have seen now three attacks and another one that was deterred in Pennsylvania that might have occurred, and our response was, what next? Are there other airplanes? Do we have buildings that have to be put on alert? Do we have a potential for a ground attack? Do we have some other type of attack?
We were operating on our own and making sure that we were triggering our procedures and policies and putting them into place in order to protect the country and have good communications up and down our lines to the greatest extent possible. But there needs to be at this point, prior to an attack, information sharing on a regular and routine basis, perfectly secure, that will enhance the nature of the country.
But to be sure, an airplane attack is principally going to be deterred and prevented through the Federal system in control of the skies.
Not so on a ground attack, Congressman. Not so. If there were any evidence that was picked up of a potential ground attack, and the target might not even be precisely named, then the response to that is going to be principally law enforcement, sheriffs, police departments, State police. And even if the event is occurring and there is time to respond on a surprise attack, the National Guard. These are going to be the responders that are in the community and prepared to respond. And that is why it is so essential that governors and mayors and police chiefs and so on within a tight net, we have some facility for the passage of appropriate information.
Mr. TAYLOR. Last question, Governor. And I do find it interesting that I have the opportunity to ask these questions of a Governor. At one of your big universities, Virginia Tech, UVA, Saturday afternoon, a pretty good crowd at a football game, 40,000, 50,000 people. And the I am sure you use them, mosquito-control truck, which you see the truck drives around town, sprays the fog to keep the mosquito population down. Someone has taken it, and someone has
gotten upwind of your stadium, an appropriate distance where he could do so, and is spraying a substance. No one quite knows what it is, but they know it is pretty unusual for a guy to be spraying on Saturday afternoon upstream, upwind from the football stadium.
What would your response have been, and what sort of things do you think any governor would need to respond to that?
Governor GILMORE. Congressman, you have put your finger directly upon the essence of the challenge that we face today as a nation, and that is that the attack by the enemy is limited only by their imagination in terms of planning and targeting, and then of course their implementation. The September 11 attacks were a carefully-thought-through, long-term planned military operation, secretly-done surprise attack.
In a sophisticated and a free society such as ours, it is impossible to predict everything. So you have to ask the question, what do we do then? That is really what you are asking: What would we do in a case of a stadium attack, something of that nature? And the answer is that we have to put these systems into place that create the best likelihood of anticipating what the enemy is doing, or picking up information as to what the enemy is doing. NSA, of course, has that capability. CIA can hear things overseas. Domestic intelligence organizations can hear things locally. They must be in a position to share this information with each other and then with the proper authorities.
What would happen on a football stadium on a Saturday afternoon? There will be no Federal law enforcement officers there, Congressman.
Mr. TAYLOR. I am aware of that, Governor. So walk me through what legal authority you as the Governor of Virginia would have had to say, quarantine that area, confine those people so that if, in the case of something that is contagious, that they don't return home to their hometowns and infect other people.
Walk me through what you could do under existing law and which you feel like you should be able to do under a more ideal situation.
Governor GILMORE. An excellent question. I don't know that Virginia is necessarily the perfect example. Before
Mr. TAYLOR. But you will admit, Virginia has got a number of high-value targets.
Governor GILMORE. Oh, yeah. And we have a statute in place that is incredibly broad for the authority of the Governor.
Prior to the attack, when I became involved under the auspices of this Committee, we certainly went to work trying to anticipate what might happen in our State. And it is only an example of what all 50 States would do. But the Governors go to work, I believe, to establish these types of procedures into place.
The direct answer to your question is, the Governor of Virginia has virtual plenary authority to do anything necessary under an emergency type of situation like that. Actually, I am not sure it is constitutional, but that is the law, and we could do virtually anything that we had to do under emergency power. The challenge that we face as a nation is to apply these rules and regulations in