3 Ocotber 1998: See also Health and Human Services testimony

3 October 1998
Source: http://www.usia.gov/current/news/latest/98100203.plt.html?/products/washfile/newsitem.shtml

See related FBI comments: http://jya.com/fbi-barr.htm

USIS Washington File

02 October 1998


(Bureau may take over lead role in domestic preparedness) (580)
By Ralph Dannheisser
USIA Congressional Correspondent

Washington -- The number of credible terrorist threats and incidents
in the United States has climbed significantly this year, the chief of
the Federal Bureau of Investigation's counterterrorism planning
section says.

Robert Blitzer told the House Government Reform and Oversight
Committee October 2 that, through September, the FBI had opened more
than 86 investigations into the threatened or actual use of chemical,
biological, radiological or nuclear materials.

That compares, for example, with 68 such investigations undertaken in
all of 1997, Blitzer reported.

The FBI official said that few of the threats came from state sponsors
of terrorism abroad, who have generally chosen to hit the "softer
targets" of U.S. citizens abroad in embassies, businesses, and
military installations.

But at the same time, he said, the FBI believes that the domestic
threat that international terrorists do pose "will continue for the
foreseeable future."

Blitzer, along with almost a dozen other government and private
witnesses, testified as the subcommittee looked into the effectiveness
of a program, now run by the Department of Defense, to prepare local
government authorities for a terrorist incident involving a weapon of
mass destruction.

The program, called the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Plan after the three prime
Senate sponsors of the legislation that set it up, designates the Army
to coordinate training of firefighters and other so-called "first
responders" in the event of a terrorist incident involving a chemical,
biological or nuclear weapon.

Some 120 cities are targeted to receive training and, on average,
$300,000 worth of equipment, to respond to such an attack.

Opening the hearing, Representative Mark Souder (Republican, Indiana)
expressed concerns over such matters as "the criteria for determining
which cities receive federal aid, the apparent duplication in training
and equipment loans, the sustainment of training and equipment, and
the lack of valid threat and risk assessments."

Souder, vice chairman of the subcommittee, declared his "biggest
concern is that the bureaucracy currently in place to respond to a
terrorist incident may cause as much confusion and chaos as the attack

A witness representing the General Accounting Office (GAO), the
investigative accounting arm of Congress, alluded to a similar concern
on the part of some local officials. The comments by Richard Davis,
director of GAO's National Security Analysis, National Security and
International Affairs Division, appeared to preview a full report on
the issue that he said the GAO will issue "within the next few weeks."

Davis said some of the local officials see evidence of "a fragmented
and possibly wasteful federal approach toward combating terrorism."

But he cited recent consideration by the agencies involved, under a
National Security Council initiative, of transferring lead
responsibility for the domestic preparedness program from the Defense
Department to the Department of Justice.

Plans for such a transfer were confirmed by Michael Dalich, chief of
staff with the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs.

Dalich said Justice had reached an agreement in principle with the
Defense Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the
National Security Council to take over coordination of domestic
preparedness efforts, "with the FBI in the lead."

"We believe that this action...will resolve many of the problems of
potential overlap and lack of coordination" identified in the
soon-to-be-released GAO report, he said.

[Congressional Record: October 2, 1998 (Digest)] [Page D1088-D1091] From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov] [DOCID:cr02oc98-2] House of Representatives COMBATING TERRORISM Committee on Government Reform and Oversight: Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs, and Criminal Justice held a hearing on Combating Terrorism: The Status of the Defense Department Domestic Preparedness Program. Testimony was heard from the following officials of the National Security and International Affairs Division, GAO: Richard Davis, Director, National Security Analysis; and Davi D'Agostino, Assistant Director, National Security Analysis; the following officials of the Department of Justice: Robert M. Blitzer, Section Chief, Domestic Terrorism/Counterterrorism Planning Section, National Security Division, FBI; and Michael J. Dalich, Chief of Staff, Office of Justice Programs; the following officials of the Department of Defense: Charles L. Cragin, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Reserve Affairs; and James Q. Roberts, Principal Director, Policy and Missions, Office of the Assistant Secretary, Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict; and Robert Knouss, Director, Office of Emergency Preparedness, Department of Health and Human Services.