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Briefing Section I

Background

GAO

Policy and Strategy on Combating

Terrorism • Presidential directives establish policy and

strategy.

• Strategy includes prevention, crisis

management, and consequence
management.

Priority is to prevent and respond to
terrorist attacks involving weapons of
mass destruction.

Background

In 1986, the President formalized U.S. policy to combat terrorism by signing National Security Decision Directive 207, which primarily focused on terrorist incidents overseas. After the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the President issued Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 39 in June 1995, which enumerated responsibilities for federal agencies in combating terrorism, including domestic incidents. In May 1998, the President issued PDD 62 that reaffirmed PDD 39 and further articulated responsibilities for specific agencies. Federal agencies drafted agency and interagency guidance to implement these directives.

These PDDs divide activities to combat terrorism into three elements: preventing and deterring terrorism, responding to a terrorist crisis, and managing the consequences after a terrorist attack. Crisis management includes efforts to stop a terrorist attack, arrest terrorists, and gather evidence for criminal prosecution. Consequence management includes efforts to provide medical treatment and emergency services, evacuate people from dangerous areas, and restore government services. When terrorist attacks occur without adequate threat warning, crisis management and consequence management will be concurrent activities.

One of the highest priorities in the federal government is to prevent and prepare for terrorist attacks that use weapons of mass destruction (WMD). These attacks include terrorist use of nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons or agents to cause mass casualties. The President (via PDD 39 and PDD 62) and the Congress (via legislation and committee reports) have emphasized the importance of preparedness against this type of threat.

'Activities to prevent and deter terrorism were not included in the scope of this report.

Background

GAO Counterterrorist Roles and

Responsibilities

State leads crisis management and consequence management overseas.

FBI leads domestic crisis management.

FEMA leads domestic consequence management.

Supporting roles are assigned to other key agencies (e.g., DOD, DOE, EPA, and HHS).

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