Sunday, October 24, 2004

Sam Brinkley on Weapons of Mass Destruction - May 22, 2001



MAY 22, 2001

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the panel. As a follow-on to Mr. Wong, I will focus my statement on our efforts to address the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) terrorism threat and our relationship with the domestic preparedness program.

Mr. Chairman, a good example of our evolving and improving counterterrorism effort is the work we are doing to counter a WMD terrorist attack. As Weapons of Mass Destruction know no borders, an attack of this type in the United States, whether conducted by international or domestic terrorists, will have significant international implications. The State Department must continue to be a partner in the domestic counterterrorism effort to play its critical role in addressing the international impact of such an incident.

During the May 2000 Top Officials (TOPOFF) exercise, for example, we simulated some of the international responses to domestic biological and chemical attacks. What we learned is that the WMD response and consequence management capabilities of the nation are finite and that we must understand better the decision-making processes and coordination required between domestic and international response requirements. This exercise helped us do that, and we look forward to the next such exercise.

First Responders and Crisis Management

More recently, DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs began a study of the feasibility and structure of a domestic pre-positioned first-responder equipment program. We are actively participating in this study to determine how we can best create and implement such a program to maximize the U.S. Government’s ability to meet its international response requirements and those of the Federal, state, and local governments at home.

The Department’s WMD International Crisis and Consequence Management Policy Workshop and First Responder Training Program, which began in FY 1999, prepares the host nation to better protect US citizens, installations, and interests abroad. The WMD Workshop, developed and provided by the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, brings together senior host nation interagency officials and their embassy counterparts to discern how best to prepare for and respond to WMD terrorism.

The First Responder Program, conducted by the Diplomatic Security Bureau Anti-terrorism Assistance (ATA) program, leveraged the U.S. Government's domestic training programs and the lessons learned, and introduces host nation responders to the dynamics of WMD response. These programs improve the host nation’s crisis and consequence management techniques. As part of these engagement activities, host nation officials learn about what assistance the U.S. Government can provide, how it can request that assistance, and how best to work the FEST and other USG responders. Finally, just as the host nation learns from us, we can learn from it. We actively working with Federal domestic preparedness officials, primarily the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs, to share domestically the lessons we learn from our overseas equipment, training, and exercise programs.

Other Specific Programs

The State Department also conducts specific programs that operate overseas but can help to protect Americans at home as well as abroad. The Terrorist Interdiction Program, led by the Department of State, is an important effort to increase host nations’ capacity to prohibit terrorists from travelling through their countries. When this new computer-based system is put in place, it provides the U.S. and its allies with an additional tool to interdict terrorists at international border points, helping us to stop terrorists before they can attack American facilities overseas or get into the United States.

The Department’s Anti-terrorism Assistance (ATA) program draws on the expertise of many agencies in training civilian officials of foreign nations, who often have primary responsibility for protecting American interests overseas, in the most effective anti-terrorism techniques. ATA courses include, but are not limited to, airport security, bomb detection, maritime security, VIP protection, hostage rescue, and crisis management. The ATA program also has the capability of designing a training course based on a specific, identified need. The Coordinator for Counterterrorism office provides policy guidance to the program and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security implements the training, working closely with the Department's Regional Security Officers at embassies overseas. ATA has trained more than 25,000 representatives from over 117 countries.

The Technical Security Working Group (TSWG), chaired by the Department of State in partnership with DOD, is an outstanding example of interagency coordination. The TSWG strives to improve the technical capabilities available to combat and mitigate terrorism. We share the results of this counterterrorism research and development with domestic first responders. For example, the explosives disrupter developed within this program is now a standard part of the equipment package of many American bomb squads. At State's initiative, the TSWG also works with three allied countries on joint R&D projects of mutual interest. The UK, Canada, and Israel contribute their expertise and funds for the common good.

In trying to curb terrorist fund raising, we work closely with the intelligence community and the Justice and Treasury Departments to designate foreign terrorist organizations and to take other measures to discourage the flow of money to terrorists, whether through illicit charities, front companies, or criminal endeavors. The ATA program has also developed a new training course specifically designed to help allies impact terrorist fundraising.


Mr. Chairman, the terrorism threat is evolving. We are adapting by sharpening proven polices and tools and by developing new ones to prevent terrorist attacks and to respond more effectively to those we cannot prevent. As we adapt we will, as Secretary Powell has said, work to build a stronger bridge between the international and domestic response efforts. As the lead federal agency in dealing with terrorism overseas, we stand ready to strengthen the ties between the domestic response infrastructure and our existing framework. We hope this overview is helpful and Mr. Wong and I would be glad to respond to your questions."