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DOMESTIC PREPAREDNESS IN THE NEXT

MILLENNIUM

TUESDAY, APRIL 20, 1999

U.S. SENATE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON YOUTH VIOLENCE, AND
SUBCOMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGY, TERRORISM, AND
GOVERNMENT INFORMATION, COMMITTEE ON THE JUDI-
CIARY,

Washington, DC.

The subcommittees met, pursuant to notice, at 2:09 p.m., in room
SD-226, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. Jeff Sessions (chair-
man of the Subcommittee on Youth Violence) presiding.
Also present: Senators Kyl, and Feinstein.

OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. JEFF SESSIONS, A U.S.
SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF ALABAMA

Senator SESSIONS. I will ask that this joint subcommittee hearing come to order, and I would apologize for not being here on time myself and for the others who are not here. We are in, as you know, a serious crisis concerning the events in Kosovo, and I know the conferences are discussing that today, and still ongoing, with some important matters. So I know that is where a number of the people are at this point. And I wish that were not so, but that is what the situation is and, in fact, heightens in some degree the interest in this hearing, since there have been a number of predictions that weapons of mass destruction or terrorist acts could spring out of this military action in Kosovo.

Four years ago yesterday, America experienced the worst incident of domestic terrorism in its history. The bomb that exploded outside the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City took the lives of 168 Americans. I am sure we all remember the images of panic, shock and grief that we associate with that incident. We can all recall the pictures of emergency rescue workers as they struggled diligently to save lives.

Although the attack in Oklahoma City caused massive damage and loss of life, a weapons of mass destruction attack would have been perhaps even worse. Chemical, biological, or even nuclear weapons are not beyond the capability of some of the world's terrorists. As many have said, the question is not whether we will have such an attack, but when.

It is clear America must be prepared to defend itself against such a threat to our homeland. A significant portion of the funding for domestic preparedness will come through the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs. This year, the Youth Violence Subcommittee's jurisdiction was expanded to include oversight over

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the Office of Justice Programs. Considering the importance of domestic preparedness, I expect that this subcommittee will spend a significant amount of time exercising its oversight responsibilities in this area.

I would like to thank also Senator Jon Kyl, of Arizona, for agreeing to this joint hearing. I admire and respect the work that Senator Kyl's Subcommittee on Terrorism performs as it works to strengthen our capacity to deal with the threat of terrorism. They are doing critical work in this area and I look forward to working with Senator Kyl, his subcommittee, and with the administration to establish clear policies on domestic preparedness and providing the appropriate training and funding to adequately prepare our first responders in case a weapons of mass destruction attack oc

curs.

All agree a heavy emphasis must be placed on first responders. First responders are those State and local fire, law enforcement and medical workers that will be the first to respond to a domestic terrorism incident. It is the job of these people to assess the damage, treat the wounded, and keep the casualties to a minimum.

Although the FBI, FEMA and other Federal agencies will assume many duties in the event of such a terrorist incident, State and local officials will clearly have the initial responsibility to respond to the crisis. Accordingly, any effective national domestic preparedness policy must contain a plan for adequately training and adequately equipping first responders to provide the services they need in the event of an attack.

State and local officials must be provided with enough training and the best available information so that if a crisis occurs, frontline responders can assess the immediate needs and take actions to protect themselves and the public from further harm. In the words of Attorney General Reno, it is these personnel which must restore order out of chaos.

Mr. Cragin, who is here today, stated the situation clearly over a year ago before the House Committee on National Security.

Should a weapon of mass destruction actually be used, responders, be they local, State, Federal, civilian or military, will confront unique and daunting challenges. These rescue and medical personnel will need to perform their mission without themselves becoming casualties.

Some of the challenges, including providing medical assistance, investigating the nature of the attack, and containment, are important. This is a challenge which faces us today. Because many Federal agencies perform various functions in this endeavor, successful coordination and management among them is crucial.

In response to the needs of State and local government, the President has stated that over $10 billion will be dedicated to this effort. However, before we follow through on this request, Congress has an obligation to examine the plan and strategy behind the funding to ensure that our Government is not just throwing money at the problem, hoping that it will solve itself. Domestic preparedness, only if conducted properly and efficiently, will save lives in the event of a terrorist attack.

And I will just say I was in the Department of Justice when we began under President Reagan a war on drugs. And any of you that have been in the Government know when you have a multiplicity

of agencies getting involved and there is money on the table, a lot of conflicts, disorganization, competition that can be really destructive to the overall goal begins to take place. So I am somewhat troubled about the lack of clarity in leadership in this effort.

So I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today, how they would explain the administration's plan to train and equip first responders to the highest possible standards, so that in a crisis we do not have a situation where casualties that could have been prevented through preparedness are lost. I also encourage the witnesses to describe how we in Congress can assist with this effort.

I am excited about this hearing. I think we have an outstanding panel. We have an oversight responsibility, but we also have a responsibility to assist and to make this program as effective as it possibly can be, and I would pledge to do that.

Senator Feinstein, we are delighted to have you with us. I have just concluded my remarks and if you would like to make some at this time, I am pleased to recognize you.

STATEMENT OF HON. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, A U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

Senator FEINSTEIN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I would ask unanimous consent that my statement go in the record, if I may.

Senator SESSIONS. Without objection.

Senator FEINSTEIN. Let me just say a couple of things. The first is I think that this hearing is very important. I think one of the things I am most concerned about is the threat of biological terrorism, which really, I think, was highlighted and began some of this subcommittee, the Technology and Terrorism Subcommittee some of our concern back in 1995, when a man by the name of Larry Wayne Harris, who was an Ohio white supremacist, managed to order and receive samples of bubonic plague through the mail.

Then I cosponsored with Senator Hatch some biological agents enhanced penalties which ultimately passed as part of the 1996 terrorism bill. And I think one of the things that we are seeing is that whereas, to date, the United States hasn't experienced a biological or chemical weapons attack of any significance, we have suffered literally hundreds of deaths around the world due to terrorist attacks using conventional explosives, and certainly in this country as well.

So I think it is important to give the Treasury Department increased authority. We had some taggants legislation earlier on to be able to better trace the purchaser of certain explosive materials. That passed also as part of the 1996 bill.

So to sum it all up, I think it is very important that we look ahead and try to see that we have the infrastructure in place in terms of counterterrorism, and the bills that really deal with the proliferation and sale of some of the commodities that are utilized. And I just very much look forward to the testimony today, and hopefully we will learn something new.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[The prepared statement of Senator Feinstein follows:]

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