Page images
PDF
EPUB

COMBATING

TERRORISM:

ASSESSING THREATS, RISK MANAGEMENT AND ESTABLISHING PRIORITIES

WEDNESDAY, JULY 26, 2000

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,

SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL SECURITY, VETERANS
AFFAIRS, AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS,

COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM,

Washington, DC.

The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 1 p.m., in room 2247, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Christopher Shays (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.

Present: Representatives Shays and Blagojevich.

Staff present: Lawrence Halloran, staff director and counsel; J. Vincent Chase, chief investigator; R. Nicholas Palarino, senior policy advisor; Thomas Costa, professional staff member; Jason M. Chung, clerk; David Rapallo, minority counsel; and Earley Green, minority assistant clerk.

Mr. SHAYS. The hearing will come to order. Earlier today we heard testimony in closed session from those familiar with very specific and very sensitive aspects of the threats posed by terrorists to U.S. citizens and property at home and abroad. That information provided some depth and clarity to the subcommittee's ongoing oversight of governmentwide terrorism issues.

But terrorism also has a very public face. Using fear and panic as weapons, terrorists seek to amplify and transform crimes against humanity into acts of war. The growing and changing threat of terrorism requires an ongoing public discussion of the appropriate strategy, priorities and resources to protect public health and national security.

That discussion brings us here this afternoon. As this point in the evolution of our post cold war response to the new realities of a dangerous world, we should have a dynamic, integrated assessment of the threat posed by foreign and domestic-origin terrorism. We should have a truly national strategy to counter the threat. And to implement that strategy, we should have a clear set of priorities to guide Federal programs and funding decisions.

But for reasons of bureaucratic Balkanization, program proliferation, and a tendency to skew threat assessments toward worst-case scenarios, we still lack those important elements of a mature, effective policy to combat terrorism. In place of a national strategy, the administration points to an accumulation of event driven Presidential decision directives wrapped in a budget-driven 5-year plan.

(1)

Congress has also contributed to the fragmentation and shifting priorities in counterterrorism programs, responding to crises with new laws and increased funding, but failing to reconcile or sustain those efforts over time.

Yesterday, the House passed the Preparedness Against Terrorism Act of 2000 (H.R. 4210) to elevate and better focus responsibility for Federal programs to combat terrorism. If enacted into law, the bill should provide greater structure and discipline to the $11 billion effort to deter, detect and respond to terrorism. But any rearrangement of boxes on the organizational chart will only be effective if those involved are able to distinguish between theoretical vulnerabilities and genuine risks, and set clear priorities.

So we asked our witnesses this afternoon to join our public oversight of these pressing issues. As the administration and Congress attempt to refine threat and risk assessments, formulate strategic goals and target program funding, this subcommittee will continue to rely on their experience and their insights. We welcome them and look forward to their testimony, and you have been sworn in because in our closed door hearing you were all sworn in. So we can just have you begin.

[The prepared statement of Hon. Christopher Shays follows:]

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Earlier today we heard testimony in closed session from those familiar with very specific and very sensitive aspects of the threats posed by terrorists to U.S. citizens and property at home and abroad. That information provided some depth and clarity to the Subcommittee's ongoing oversight of government-wide terrorism issues.

But terrorism also has a very public face. Using fear and panic as weapons, terrorists seek to amplify and transform crimes against humanity into acts of war. The growing and changing threat of terrorism requires an ongoing public discussion of the appropriate strategy, priorities and resources to protect public health and national security.

That discussion brings us here this afternoon. As this point in the evolution of our postCold War response to the new realities of a dangerous world, we should have a dynamic, integrated assessment of the threat posed by foreign and domestic-origin terrorism. We should have a truly national strategy to counter the threat. And, to implement that strategy, we should have a clear set of priorities to guide federal programs and funding decisions.

But for reasons of bureaucratic balkanization, program proliferation, and a tendency to skew threat assessments toward worst case scenarios, we still lack those important elements of a mature, effective policy to combat terrorism. In place of a national strategy, the administration points to an accumulation of event-driven Presidential Decision Directives wrapped in a budgetdriven five-year plan.

Congress has also contributed to the fragmentation and shifting priorities in counterterrorism programs, responding to crises with new laws and increased funding but failing to reconcile or sustain those efforts over time.

« PreviousContinue »