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ing to raise is not going to buy us any more security. It is just going to buy us a title and some people in an office. And that maybe the time has come, maybe there is enough distance between us and September 11th at this point to begin to dig into these fundamental civil liberty issues that confront the CIA and the FBI even as we speak, and the military intelligence folks, too.
Governor GILMORE. Congressman, I am sensitive to what you're saying here. We have raged over this for six months in our Commission, believe me. I don't know that there has been a lot of reporting about it, but it sure has been good theater in our Commission. I can assure you of that.
I don't think this is all that complicated, however. The fact of the matter is that our Commission believes that the counterintelligence, the counterterrorism role must be played efficiently and effectively in this country, that it is not the same as law enforcement. The FBI has a long history of being a law enforcement organization. The Commission at this point believes an additional Agency is necessary to most effectively do the other piece of it. Either a new agency must be stood up to do this function or the FBI must be required to do this additional function.
In the end, we believe that we are making the best recommendation to get the job done. But if it is the will of the Congress that the Bureau be required to do this second function effectively and report to the Congress to that effect, that certainly would get the job done, too. Mr. SIMMONS. I certainly appreciate your comments.
I I'll conclude by just remarking on the Chairman's frustration a couple of years ago, I guess, when he was trying to find out some information on Mr. Karic, where he got eight sentences from the CIA, eight pages from this Army organization. I would argue that if he had gone to Bob Steele and his open source folks, he probably would have gotten eight volumes.
So it is really a question of us, as Americans, figuring out how to deal with the new world and new threats by using new technologies; and in some cases that requires new authorities. But I certainly appreciate everything your Panel has done, and I think that the recommendations of your Panel will be an excellent method to begin the debate on these important issues. So I thank you for that.
Governor GILMORE. Thank you, Congressman.
Mr. WELDON. I thank the gentleman. And I would say, Governor, you may want to get the distinguished gentleman from Connecticut over before the Commission because of his background in the CIA and his expertise having been on the inside. I think he could provide some valuable in-depth insights, as you have had me over from time to time with the Commission members.
Governor, I have a couple of other points I want to make.
You mentioned and alluded to briefly the issue of communication, which has been an issue you have focused on. It is one that is frustrating to me, and you have seen this as a Governor, that we do not have an integrated national emergency response communication capability. We have different frequency spectrums for different departments, and the problem is very frustrating.
You mentioned the issue of additional frequency spectrum allocation, which is a hot button issue right now. The way I assess it, the broadcast industry doesn't want to give up something required by the Congress several years ago to free up frequency spectrum for public safety purposes, and it is coming to a head very quickly. I just had a case in Camden, New Jersey, where their police department was interfered with by the broadcast signals of a TV station that is interfering with where they should be.
What is the Commission saying about this? And in your own assessment tell us how critical this is.
Governor GILMORE. Congressman, this is critical. This is a great demand placed upon a limited resource at this point with respect to spectrum. But the policy decision will have to be made by the Congress and by the administration as to how much spectrum is going to be set aside for commercial purposes and how much is going to be set aside for different functions, including law enforcement and public safety.
I point out that there are needs here that are greatly in demand not only from police, fire, and rescue but also for critical infrastructure, private people. Almost all critical infrastructure in this country is in the hands of private people. They are perfectly prepared to buy the communication devices to be able to interact and intercommunicate, but we don't have that today. Electrical people can't talk to police, police can't talk to fire, and fire can't talk to the Feds. And it is a serious issue.
New technology will be necessary for interoperability, absolutely. But you have to have the proper spectrum to be able to do that as well. This is a policy decision, however. Any time you are dealing with limited resources and you are making decisions about how it is ultimately going to end up, that is a policy decision for elected officials in both branches.
But we believe that there have to be some decisions made to make sure that local responders can be in a position to interact with all authorities and potential targets necessary.
Mr. WELDON. Did you give us a recommendation as to how much frequency spectrum should be reserved?
Governor GILMORE. Not today, sir, but I will begin to address that issue in and outside of the Commission.
Mr. WELDON. I think that will be very helpful to us. I have talked to Chairman Tauzin about this, and there is a debate about how much is needed both for the military and for our domestic responders. I think having an independent source come in and tell us, even though it runs contrary to what perhaps the national media wants, I think it is essential that public safety be given the highest priority in this area; and your recommendations would be very helpful to us in terms of what that range of allocation should be.
One other point I want to hit, and I think you probably addressed it in depth, but it is a hot button again for me, and that is the whole issue of technology transfer. What frustrates me, as the former chairman of the Military Research & Development Subcommittee, is that we spend $38 billion a year on equipping our military with the best technology available and yet we don't do a good job of transferring that technology to our civilian responders.
Case in point: We have fire fighters and rescue people die every day because we don't know where they are in a confined building or a confined space. We lost six fire fighters outside of Boston because four went back in to find their colleagues who were lost because their air supply ran out. We had the same situation in Philadelphia, where two died in a high-rise because they were two floors below where the chief thought they were. Yet the military has developed a global positioning system (GPS) system that does both latitude and longitude to be used on the battlefield for the soldier. The military has also developed and is completing work on an undergarment that a soldier can wear which gives you the vital signs, the breathing rate and the pulse rate.
Isn't it an absolute national disgrace that this technology we are spending billions of dollars on is not immediately applied to our domestic defenders? We lose 100 of them each year who are killed. What is your response to that?
Governor GILMORE. Yes, sir, it is a national disgrace to have that kind of capability and knowledge and procurement by the Federal Government through the use of its tax money and resources and then somehow it is just never focused on that that equipment is not going to be used because they are not going to be there. These police, fire, rescue, emergency services, health care organizations locally, emergency organizations at the State level will be there. They probably ought to have the top priority.
If there is money appropriated, it probably shouldn't be on a oneto-nine ratio State to Federal, it probably should be on a nine-toone ratio State to Federal so that the proper equipment and planning is procured and put into place and we draw from the experience and benefit of the technology and research that has been funded at the Federal level in order to provide those resources.
Mr. Chairman, you are absolutely correct about this. Our Commission, though, believes that if a strategy is set that draws on the experience you have alluded to, issues that replicate themselves over and over, then proper priorities can be set for spending and then money won't be wasted and the right things can be bought. Th they can be bought in a way within national standards that can be facilitated by this committee and by the administration in such a way that we can actually get our organization together and be in a position to respond.
But so long as the Federal Government focuses its attention on what goes on inside the beltway, this country will be in danger.
Mr. WELDON. Now, my final question is a curve ball. And I don't mean to do this, Governor. You may not want to answer it, but I am going to ask it for the record, because it is becoming a serious problem nationwide and one that I am intimately involved with and I think we're going to have to address it.
As you know, our domestic defenders are largely our fire fighters and paramedics and police. Our fire service is made up of about 1.2 million men and women; and 85 percent of those fire fighters, as they are in Virginia, are volunteers. About 185,000 are paid, especially in our big cities. The fire fighters union has come out with an edict that a person who serves as a paid fire fighter cannot volunteer in a town where he or she may reside in their off hours.
I do not know whether you are aware of this or not, but in fact they have already, in Canada, taken fire fighters to basically an internal court in the union and said we're going to kick you out because you are volunteering on your own time. This is causing us a major problem in areas like the D.C. suburbs, where you have paid fire fighters in D.C. who live in Virginia and who want to go back home in the evening and weekends and protect their towns but they are being told, because they are a member of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) in D.C., they can't do that.
Now the president of the local IAFF union in D.C. is a friend of mine, and it is causing him tremendous heartburn. But I think this, down the road, is going to have an impact on our ability to protect our towns and communities because it is actually discouraging hundreds if not thousands of people who want to volunteer.
So I would ask you, perhaps you have not taken a position on this, but perhaps the Commission could look at this issue and see what the potential impact would be if in fact the IAFF would enforce this edict nationwide. What would the impact be on those neighboring towns that can't afford a paid department and rely on those paid fire fighters who in their off hours decide they want to volunteer?
I don't know whether you got involved in this issue in Virginia or not, but, as you may know, it is becoming a very serious issue.
Governor GILMORE. Mr. Chairman, I see we are equally reticent personalities in terms of these kinds of critical issues.
Mr. Chairman, labor issues should not impinge upon the national interest. As governor, I focused a great deal of attention on State employees. I admire them and respect them and worked very hard for their pay and benefits and so on, because I thought it was right. It was good for the public interest to do that. But rules should not be set up by labor unions that impinge upon the national interest when the time comes to be in a position to properly respond.
I believe the chairman is right, and we will certainly recommend this issue to our Commission for further study and recommendation.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you. It is a very delicate issue. And I work with both the unions, they are good friends, and the volunteers, but it is coming to a head. And the last thing we need right now is a major national, in effect, internal fight between people who ultimately just want to protect our towns. And it is being driven from the top down, not from the bottom up.
Governor, you have been an outstanding witness and you have done an outstanding job, as has the Commission. Please thank all the commissioners. We are going to have another hearing on thi issue come early to mid-January, so we may be calling you k We are probably going to be bringing in some other witnesses are being suggested by our friends on the minority side, may! haps Dr. Hamre and others.
We look forward to continuing this discussion. But it was tant to get your word out today because so much is happen quickly in the whole homeland security debate. Thank you much.
This hearing stands adjourned.