Segment 2 Of 2 Previous Hearing Segment(1)
SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 PREPAREDNESS AGAINST TERRORIST ATTACKS
Thursday, April 6, 2000
House of Representatives, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Emergency Management, Washington, D.C.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2:00 p.m. in room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Tillie K. Fowler [chairwoman of the subcommittee] presiding.
Mrs. FOWLER. The Subcommittee will come to order.
Our Ranking Member is over on the Floor right now with two amendments. So he's given us permission to go ahead and start, and we will make sure that both his and Mr. Oberstar's statements and questions will be included in the record. So you will be receiving some questions from them at a later date, also.
I want to thank all of you for being here this afternoon. I want to just go back with a little history and set a basis for why we're here today. In looking back, in April, this very month, of 1915, the German army initiated the first large scale use of chemical gas as a weapon, by releasing thousands of cylinders of chlorine gas over a four mile front near Ypres, France. Over 5,000 unprepared French and Algerian troops were killed or wounded in that attack. Many more of them, terrified, deserted their trenches.
Fortunately for the French, the Germans did not exploit this sudden break in the lines and the Allies learned some valuable lessons that helped them better prepare for future gas attacks. So here we are, 85 years later, and we live in a very different world, except the threat of a chemical attack has not changed. Today, civilians, not troops, may be at the greatest risk from a gas attack. And the battlefield is not some well defined war zone, it could be a shopping mall, an office building or the subway. And the threat is not just from chemicals, but from biological and radiological weapons as well.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 So at our first hearing that we had last June, we learned that this country is not prepared for a terrorist attack involving a weapon of mass destruction. More troubling, we learned that the Federal Government is engaged in a turf battle over trying to help people get prepared. In the process, then, we have fragmented and overlapping Federal programs that in some cases are making people more confused about what to do and when to do it.
I vividly remember at our last hearing, Chicago's fire chief John Eversole, who's with us here today, too, and I want to quote from him, he said ''There is so much confusion and competition between Federal agencies that they are sometimes more interested in what they are doing than in what's getting done on the general end of it.''
I've been closely following this issue since our hearing in June. And I am surprised at how many people in the Federal agencies that are trying to administer these programs still do not understand or admit that there is a problem with the lack of coordination and inefficient use of resources. They are either in denial or they are too busy with their turf and funding battles to care.
Since 1997, the increase in funding for some agencies has been tremendous. I want to give you an example. The budget of just one program in the Department of Justice increased from zero in 1997 to a fiscal year 2000 budget request of $142 million and a fiscal year 2001 request of $175 million. Now, I want to tell all of these agencies that it is past time to get their act together. I do not want to spend any more money trying to figure out how many different ways you can, in essence, boil water. We have got to do something very soon to get this Federal family under control, or we will be endangering the public that we are trying to protect.
In fact, I am pleased to announce that Mr. Traficant and I will be introducing legislation today to eliminate the duplication and fragmentation that exists within the existing Federal programs. Our proposal will provide the necessary framework for effective coordination of Federal agencies responsible for preparing State and local responders against terrorist attacks. It requires the creation of a much-needed national strategy and identification of measurable objectives to reach an end stage of preparedness.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 In addition, it will update the Stafford Act to bring it in line with today's threats. Our bill would empower an office within the Office of the President with the necessary authority to bring Federal programs in line with the needs of State and local responders. The office will function in a manner similar to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, thereby enabling it to coordinate all Federal assets and to eliminate fragmented and repetitive programs.
Although some areas of the country are now better prepared for a terrorist attack, there are still many communities that are not. And in fact, emergency response personnel in most of our suburban and outlying areas are not trained to handle such events. The individuals that serve these communities do not have access to the training programs and exercises that are available to larger communities. It's important that we will not forget these communities in our preparedness efforts.
So today we're going to hear from the people who are on the front lines, State and local officials who are obligated to respond when an attack occurs. In addition to these officials, we will receive testimony from a very knowledgeable individual, General James Clapper, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. General Clapper is currently the Vice Chairman of the Advisory Panel to assess domestic response capabilities for terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction. The Advisory Panel is a congressionally authorized panel established to address the threat of terrorism in the United States.
We will also hear from the General Accounting Office, which has prepared many reports assessing potential threats, Federal response team capabilities and Federal programs designed to enhance the preparedness of first responders against a weapon of mass destruction.
I look forward to hearing the testimony from all of our witnesses and working together to improve the capabilities of State and local responders. I hope that unlike the French in World War I, we do not need to be attacked before we learn it is better to be prepared than unprepared. And as I stated earlier, we will make the opening statements of Mr. Traficant a part of the record.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 So I would like to call on Mr. Terry, our Vice Chairman, if you have an opening statement.
Mr. TERRY. I have some observations and some thoughts that I'd like to share for the record. And one is that, if you ask Americans and the general population of this country if they feel there will be a terrorist attack and if they feel they are at risk, probably with near unanimity, people would say yes. We do not have to look very past just to the New Years Eve celebrations, where Seattle canceled theirs, for fear of attacks.
And on that day, more people were concerned about possible bombings like what happened at the Atlanta Olympics than they were of whether their cars would stop running or computers would shut down. So this is very real.
And I'm not sure if the American public would be aghast at how disorganized the Federal Government is in response to this, or if they just think it's typical. Because you look at it, and it does look like a Keystone Cops operation.
So I'm proud to work with you, Madam Chairwoman, and this Committee, to try and, I guess it's kind of the buzz word of this election cycle, reform. Certainly, whether we're talking about prevention and interdiction, or investigation or dealing with the consequences, we, this Committee, has to define those roles. We have to force those roles and implement them in this Government so we can run as efficiently as possible if, and hopefully it's only if, and not when, one of these occurrences occur. People expect it from us, and we should.
But we also need to keep in mind that as we organize and streamline and learn our roles, whether it's quarter back or running back or tight end of the same team, that we have to remember that we will work with the first responders. In some of the earlier testimony from the June hearings, we found that in a continuation of battle for turf and ground that some of our Federal responders went in thinking they were going to supplant the local first responders, the ones that had already been there, the ones that were trying to find bodies in the destruction in Oklahoma City and trying to save lives. We can't do that.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 So as we look to streamline the Federal Government's operations and make it efficient, so this can be a secure Nation, and the people can have some degree and confidence that the Federal Government is doing the right thing, and not just continuing to be the Keystone Cops in this area, that we remember that we're in a partnership with the local communities, that we're in a partnership with the firefighters and our police officers, and that we can't allow this to become a bill or, it's not, and that the right direction this is going, is simply learning what the Federal Government's role is when we get to the site. And everybody needs to know their role. And in dealing with the consequences, it has to be one of support.
So that's where I will always work from. I appreciate you allowing me to share those thoughts today, and I'm anxious to hear the testimony.
Mrs. FOWLER. Thank you, Mr. Terry. We're both former city council members, so we relate very closely to our local responders.
Mr. TERRY. Yes.
Mrs. FOWLER. Thank you.
I'd like now to call today's first panel. The first panel consists of General James Clapper, the Vice Chairman, as I stated earlier, of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction. Accompanying the General this afternoon is Michael Wermuth of the Rand Corporation. If you would come forward.
Gentlemen, before we proceed with your testimony, before you sit down, we will swear you in, as we do all witnesses who testify before the Subcommittee. If you will stand and raise your right hand.
Do you solemnly swear the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you, God?
[Witnesses respond in the affirmative.]
Mrs. FOWLER. Thank you. If you would, be seated.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 I think as you've been informed, we ask that if you could summarize your testimony in about five minutes, and then without objection, your full written statement will be included in the record.
General Clapper, you can begin.
TESTIMONY OF GENERAL JAMES R. CLAPPER, JR., VICE CHAIRMAN, ADVISORY PANEL TO ASSESS DOMESTIC RESPONSE CAPABILITIES FOR TERRORISM INVOLVING WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, ACCOMPANIED BY MIKE WERMUTH, SENIOR POLICY ANALYST, RAND CORPORATION, AND PAUL MANISCALCO, SENIOR EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT SERVICES, NEW YORK CITY
General CLAPPER. Madam Chairman, members of the Committee, I'm very, very pleased to be here today and have the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction. I promise that's the last time I'll use the full title.
As I commented to you earlier, I've been in these hallowed halls before, when I was in the Government. And this is one occasion where I actually look forward to coming here, because of my conviction and belief about the importance of this subject. I certainly want to commend your leadership and your interest as well.
The panel chair, Governor Jim Gilmore of the Commonwealth of Virginia, is unable to be here today due to other commitments. But he and the rest of the panel deputized me, I guess, to be here with you today. I'm accompanied by Mr. Mike Wermuth, a senior policy analyst with the Rand Corporation, who provides our research and logistical support. Mike himself has a long history of public service and is an expert on the subject at hand. I'd also like to introduce, since he's with us today, Paul Maniscalco, Senior Emergency Management Services official from New York City, who has great experience in this subject, and well represents the perspective of the first responders.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 I'm particularly pleased to be a member of this panel, all of whom are dedicated, patriotic Americans from all parts of the country: New York to California, Maine to Florida, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Virginia and Massachusetts, with literally hundreds of years of experience in the areas of terrorism and domestic response.
One of the great strengths of this panel, which distinguishes it from the standard cottage industry beltway study group, is its intentional focus on the State and local first responder perspective. For my part, I was a member of the Commission appointed by the Secretary of Defense to investigate the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia in 1996. I can tell you, having seen the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack, it was a real epiphany experience for me.
Having had that experience, I am much more sensitive and concerned about the potential for terrorism, and was certainly relieved, as I know you were, when we navigated through Y2K without a terrorist act inside our borders, as many feared. We shouldn't, however, be resting on our laurels. This is no time to let our guard down.
There are, as I can personally attest, terrorists out there, both overseas and in this country, who oppose this country and its Government and will look for ways to attack U.S. citizens and interest at home and abroad. We as a Nation must continue to work hard and smart to prevent that, or failing that, to manage the consequences quickly and effectively. But, to be sure to do so in ways that are sensitive to our constitutional guarantees and which protect our liberties.
Our panel agrees that a lot has been done to address the terrorist threat. But we also feel there is a lot of room for improvement. I might mention we have copies of our first report with us, and would be happy to provide them to Committee staff for you.
We recently submitted this report. It's the first of three. We are required by the legislation that you mentioned to submit two more, in 2001 and 2002. And then, unlike many other such entities in Washington, we actually go out of business.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 In our first report, among other things, we concluded that we will continue to face terrorist threats from a multitude of sources, both now and as far as we can see into the future. We concluded that the possibility that terrorists will use so-called weapons of mass destruction, or perhaps more aptly, as some would suggest, weapons of mass casualties, in this country as a genuine threat to the United States.
That the restraint on the use of such weapons by non-state actors may well be eroding, that such threats will, we believe, most likely come from fundamentalists or apocalyptic religious organizations, cults and extreme single issue groups, or other rogue members. That actually making and delivering a weapon that has the capability to cause mass casualties is certainly possible, but not without significant technical and resource obstacles, as we explain in our report.
That terrorists are more likely to continue to use conventional vehicle-borne explosives as the weapon of choice, but could certainly resort to smaller scale chemical, biological or radiological attack.
Our report raises the question whether the psychological preoccupation with the worst case mass casualty scenario has perhaps overshadowed the lesser consequence but more likely scenario. Nevertheless, we must prepare for potential terrorist attacks across the broad spectrum of potential threats in the full range of the results and consequences, whatever their magnitude.
In our report, we make several recommendations, but I want to highlight two for you today. We strongly recommend a coherent and comprehensive national level strategy for dealing with terrorist threats and attacks domestically that clearly distinguishes Federal, State and local roles and responsibilities, and that articulates clear direction for Federal priorities and programs to support State and local responders. It's our belief that such a national strategy does not yet exist below the level of the fairly cosmic presidential decision directive level.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 An issue I feel particularly strongly about, given my background of 32 years in the intelligence community, is that we must find waysand there are waysI am convinced, to improve the dissemination of information among agencies at all levels, not just law enforcement but across the whole range of the community that's involved in this. That is medical, health care, fire services and other first responders.
In conclusion, Madam Chairman, and members, just as we mounted a complex coordinated and in my view, highly successful, campaign to thwart Y2K disruptions, so must we now mount a similarly well-conceived campaign to thwart terrorism. To do less in my view is simply unacceptable.
Thank you for giving us this opportunity to speak to this critical issue. I'd be happy to answer your questions.
Mrs. FOWLER. Thank you, General Clapper.
We have been joined by our Ranking Member, Mr. Traficant. Before we go to questions, I'd like to yield to him for any statement he might want to make.
Mr. TRAFICANT. Madam Chairwoman, I'd ask that the statement of our Ranking Member of the entire Transportation Committee, Mr. Oberstar, be included in the record.
Mrs. FOWLER. Already ordered.
Mr. TRAFICANT. And unanimous consent that my official written remarks be included in this record.
Mrs. FOWLER. Without objection.
Mr. TRAFICANT. I'd also like to know that if I do not return because of Floor business, that I would like by unanimous consent that my questions be given to the respective panels and answered in writing in a reasonable time frame.
Mrs. FOWLER. Without objection, so ordered.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. TRAFICANT. I'd like to make a short statement. I want to compliment and commend the Chairwoman of this Committee. The major role of Congress is oversight, and we have forgotten that. And certainly, she hasn't. And she is bringing Congress, and setting an example for even other committees, as I hear that discussed on the Floor. I think you're doing it right.
There is an amendment that I will offer for this as a co-author, but I will not offer that amendment in the transportation section, because I do not want a sequential referral to military. It will deal with the border and the use of the military on the border, if this ever comes to the Floor.
But here's a statement I want to make on what's significant about this. We inspect 3 out of every 100 trucks coming into America. Three. Our ports of call are wide open. We're a magnet for narcotics and domestic terrorismif that isn't narcotics, I do not know what is.
But the focus of this hearing and the focus of this legislation, which I'm so proud to be involved with you, Madam Chairwoman, I want you to imagine the components of a nuclear warhead smuggled across our border, assembled in Arizona and fired at D.C. Sounds almost ludicrous, doesn't it?
Do not laugh. And I do not think we are prepared, and I do not think we have the preparedness to deal with it. Because we are a reactionary Government that deals with the Oklahoma City bombing after it occurs, while we only had one contract guard guarding three buildings, Federal buildings, in Oklahoma City.
So I just want to make this point, that I appreciate those witnesses who have come here today and are advising us. This Chairwoman has taken a broad, hard look at this issue. I concur with her 100 percent, support her 100 percent, and will try and get as many votes as I can on our side of the aisle for this legislation.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 With that, I thank you for giving me the opportunity and yield back my time.
Mrs. FOWLER. Thank you, Mr. Traficant.
I want to thank General Clapper for his testimony, and I have a couple of questions, then I'd like to yield to my colleagues also for theirs.
In reviewing your report, it indicates that one of the major shortcomings of Federal efforts involving preparedness of emergency responders against a terrorist attack is a lack of coordinated efforts among the agencies involved. So to what extent do you think, and you mentioned briefly about a national strategy, what do you think a national strategy for these efforts would eliminate some of the existing duplication and fragmentation in Federal programs?
General CLAPPER. Yes, ma'am, that is exactly what we had in mind, was a strategy that would, as I indicated in my brief remarks, delineate those responsibilities. And clearly articulate, so all could understand, the relative roles and relationships between the Federal level and the State and local.
As you know, I spent my career in the Federal Government, in the military. This has been quite an education for me to attempt to capture the first responder perspective, as they kind of look upward at this rather complex Federal apparatus, that they have to confront in their planning efforts. In every opportunity I've had to interact with first responders at the State level, as well as those who are on our panelas I indicated, that's one of the great strengths of our panelit isn't the typical beltway perspective is this crying for more coherence, more coordination, more rationality in the way we do business.
One of the points we made in our study was that we endorse strongly the need for an NDPO-like organization or entity that could serve as what I would call an authoritative coordinator. While well-intended, it appears at least, to this point, that the NDPO has really not lived up tofor lots of understandable reasons, perhapsnot lived up to that expectation.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 And although we haven't come down on what form such a coordinator might take, we have agreed, though, on some attributes that we think should characterize that entity, without having made a judgment yet on exactly what structural organizational form that might take. I'd be pleased to outline those attributes.
We believe that first of all, there needs to be a degree of autonomy in such an organization, independent of nay agency where it isn't dependent on being funded of manned, ''out of hide.'' And secondly, to be credible, such an entity must have appropriate full time professional representation from the State and local responder community across all the requisite functions.
Third, the various cabinet departments and agencies who are stakeholders in this endeavor must also have full time dedicated professional staff to promote the liaison which must occur, both laterally across the cabinet departments and agencies, horizontally if you willas well as vertically from the Federal to the State and local level. And this entity could, in our view, provide a very valuable service by forging that cross-hatching of communications, if you will.
Fourth, it must have genuine visibility over the commitment of money, programs and resources to first responder preparedness, and some degree of influence over the synchronization of these resources. The panel to this point, to be candid, hasn't taken a position on just how intrusive this visibility might be. It could range from pulling on coat sleeves to obviously something much more than that.
Fifth and most important in this town, the entity needs to be appropriately resourced in terms of staff, money and facility to accomplish its mission. And finally, I just want to emphasize the point, since I do not want to get too far ahead of the panel's or Governor Gilmore's headlights on this issue, which while we have talked about it, we have not arrived at a position on what organizational structure or placement this 'son of NDPO,' if I could use that expression, might take.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mrs. FOWLER. Thank you. Sounds like some of what we have got in our bill is tracking along with some of your suggestions. So we are pleased that it does, and look forward to your reviewing this along the way.
What would your panel identify as an appropriate end state for national preparedness against terrorist attacks? For example, how important is it for us to be prepared to handle multiple attacks at one time, or to lessen the time it takes for Federal response teams to respond and get to these local communities?
General CLAPPER. That's a question that we have confronted and at our last panel meeting decided to kind of take that on, what exactly would that end state be. I think that will be a prominent theme in our second deliverable that will be due out the end of the year.
If I could perhaps go beyond and offer some personal observations, I think there needs to be a set of uniform standards that should apply across the Nation, not necessarily just selected communities, but everywhere where there are certain minimal standards in terms of equipment for first responders and training, and knowledgeability in access to information. Again, at risk of being a 'one trick pony', that's very important to me personally.
I think there are some fundamentals that need to be uniformly applied across the Nation which, if built from the ground up, in other words, if we are able to respond reasonably well to a single local incident, if I can use that term, that in itself, if that capability is uniform across the Nation, that in itself will provide the building blocks to respond to a more profound, a multi-State, multi-city, multi-region sort of attack.
So my view is, let's do the basics first, and make that as universal as we possibly can, and then build from that.
Mrs. FOWLER. Do you want to add to that, Mr. Wermuth? I saw you nodding your head.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. WERMUTH. Madam Chairman, the comments that the Vice Chairman has made on that particular point are certainly germane to the discussion, and the statement that you made. Clearly, this panel believes that the perspective of plans and strategies needs to have a bottom up approach to them, that the men and women who are out there on the front lines every day putting their lives on the line, in any number of emergency situations, whether it's ordinary crime or firefighting or emergency medical situations, or what the situation may be, are almost always in fact, there's practically no scenario that you can describe that would indicate that they won't alwaysbe the first ones on any scene, if there is a scene.
But even if it's a biological event, there are still people at the local level who are going to be the ones who will respond first, before anybody from the Federal Government ever has the ability to arrive. So this panel believes very strongly that local responders, the State and local perspective, the 'first responder' perspective, is the one that needs to be the basis of the national strategy, that it not just be a Federal strategy. There's a Federal piece of it, for sure. But the national strategy really needs to be one from the perspective of those at the State and local level.
Mrs. FOWLER. Thank you.
Before I go on with any of my questions, I'd like to go to the Ranking Member and let you and Mr. Terry ask your questions.
Mr. TRAFICANT. Yes, I want to make a statement. I want to thank you, General, and Mr. Wermuth, for your testimony. And I would, I do not even think we have a bill number assigned yet.
Mrs. FOWLER. It will be dropped in this afternoon.
Mr. TRAFICANT. It will be dropped in this afternoon. I want to make sure that not only General Clapper, but all the witnesses that are here get an opportunity to have that, and respond to us in writing on the suggestions you make, those areas which you feel are the strongest, those which need improvement. Because we honestly want to do what would be best, and we want your input. We're very impressed with your frankness.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 General CLAPPER. We'd be happy to do that. In fact, what we will do is circulate the draft legislation to our panel members and I think I can commit to getting some feedback back to you in short order.
Mrs. FOWLER. That would be great, because we will be, if I'm able, we may be having some future hearings on that legislation.
Mr. TRAFICANT. Yes. One other thing I'd just like to say is, I think, Mr. Wermuth, your comments about a national, and General, your national strategy, not just a Federal strategy. I think that we have tried to accommodate that nationalistic approach with all participating to be inclusive, not exclusive. And that might be an area where there could be some beefing up, perhaps, in this. We will take a good look at it.
So I want to thank you for your testimony, and I have no further questions.
Mrs. FOWLER. Mr. Terry.
Mr. TERRY. I'm not going to be very articulate in my questions, here, but first I want to start out, I really do appreciate your professed commitment to the first responders and understanding their role. I really believe if we do not understand that, we're doomed for failure, in any strategy we invoke.
Now, elevating that to some of your comments and discussion with the Chair, coming here, I'm trying to rationalize what the proper national strategy or at least structural look should be. I can't envision anything that works well, unfortunately. I think that's probably just because I've been bogged down in the details of seeing so many agencies involved in here, and none having any clear understanding of what their role is.
So I do agree with your comment that one of the first things we have to do is come up with the generalized mission statement, of sorts, of what our national strategy is going to be, and then clearly define what the roles would be. I just would like to discuss in more detail with you options, perhaps, of the management of that area.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Now, you touched, I think the first question the Chair asked you dealt with that, and you talked about the single entity that would in essence have some coordination, I think is the word that you used. But frankly, I do not see coordination being powerful enough to be successful, when we're talking about working with the Justice Department and DOD. I see those two entitiestalking about brick walls. How are they going to coordinate with an entity that may not really have much authority?
So taking that, do we need to, in this drive to create efficient, effective strategy, in essence have to create a new agency and bring these facets away from current jurisdictions into one?
General CLAPPER. Mr. Terry, first of all, I think there are valid roles for the multiplicity of agencies and cabinet level departments. There is a valid role; they are stakeholders in this, I think, because of the charge they have as a part of the Government, to do. This is both perhaps a strength and weakness of our system.
At the same time, there needs to be, it's pretty clear, some form of cross coordination, so that what Agency A is doing is known to Agency B and C, and at the same time, to the extent that you can promote sort of 'one-stop shopping', as difficult as that may be, if I can use that expression, for the first responder community; it would make a lot more sense for them.
The form that that would take, whether that would mean an empowered lead agency which certainly I guess was the intent with NDPO, whether it would be along the lines of General Barry McCaffrey as the drug czar, or some other form, I'm not sure. I think the important thing is that wherever it sits, it have the attributes that I've described. And it should have the authority and the visibility and the resources to operate, and that it be in position and empowered to bring together, forcefully, if need be, the disparate Government agencies.
At the same time, though, I think it would be a mistake to disengage or relieve the departments of their responsibilities that they have for their particular role in the overall conduct of this mission. I do not know if I've responded to your question there, and again, it's an issue that we have discussed and just haven't come down on yet. I think your draft legislation will force us to come to grips with that.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. TERRY. Very good. I appreciate that.
Mrs. FOWLER. Did you want to comment on that, Mr. Wermuth?
Mr. WERMUTH. Just briefly, Madam Chairwoman. From an historical perspective, I had the opportunity several years ago, when I was in the Justice Department, in the Office of Legislative Affairs, to help craft the solution, if you will, or at least the compromise that resulted in the creation of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. There was a lot of discussion at that point about a drug czar, creating an entirely new cabinet level agency with a huge bureaucracy and transferring all of the resources and responsibilities to a new agency.
There was also a discussion about creating a new assistant attorney generalship, or an associate attorney general, to be the drug czar. But both of those were opposed, at that time, by the Administration and many members in Congress. First of all, the new cabinet agency was felt to be unnecessary and too costly.
But for the same reasons that General Clapper mentioned in describing attributes, the idea of an assistant secretariat or even a deputy level secretariat in some agency would still create the same kinds of turf issues in the single focus agency. That's why the thought was, put it where it's not viewed as being single-agency focused and raise it to the level where it really does have visibility, and particularly visibility to the chief executive of the United States. Put it in the Executive Officer of the President.
So that was some of the thought process that went into that issue. Then you must try to craft a well-defined mission for that organization, which I know you're doing here, one that will give it sufficient oversight and some authority, whether or not you go as far as giving it some operational authority. In 1988, it was decided that this office in the Executive Office of the President didn't need to have that kind of direct operational authority.
But such an entity must to have some coordinating authority, to provide a have some mechanism that requires agencies to come and spread program proposals and budget proposals on the table, and to serve as the mechanism for negotiating those things at the executive level and within the Office of the President, so that everybody across the lateral spectrum of the Federal Government, everyone knows what other agencies are going to be doing, how much money they are going to be spending, and trying to deconflict and certainly to eliminate duplication in those kinds of programs.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 People can agree or disagree whether ONDCP has worked well in that context. But it has provided the forum for creating the strategy and for the oversight of the budget piece without direct budget authority, without budget veto powers, for at least bringing these various agencies that have pieces of programs together and requiring them to sit down and justify their programs and the resources that they're spending.
And it has provided the structure for putting together the strategy and the plans that provide at least some coherence, some comprehensive nature to the way the entire Federal Government approaches the problem. And in this context, of course, to get more input in the way the Federal Government will assist the State and local responders.
That's the difference here, of course, in the comparison between an Office of National Drug Control Policy and perhaps what is sought in your bill. Again, I go back to the point that the focus here really needs to be on the State and local responders and how the Federal Government can then help them better prepare, to avoid the duplication, and to get the most effective results for every Federal tax dollars.
Mrs. FOWLER. Well, what we did, when you worked on establishing the Office of National Drug Control Policy, I mean, it was in response to a crisis, which unfortunately still exists today. We have I think about 14,000 people die last year in this country in drug related deaths. But because of the thousands dying each year and because of the crisis we were in, the determination was made, as you said, to establish that office within the Executive Office of the President.
There is thinking now that we have a similar crisis brewing as far as terrorist attacks in this country. And as we heard from the various agencies and saw the lack of communication and coordination, and began to think, how can we best get a handle on this, we looked at the format that you used, and really we tracked a lot of the language in that legislation, as the manner in which it was set up, in setting this up. Because it's working well, and there's no point in reinventing the wheel when you've got it working well.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 So again, we think there is a need to put it in that executive office so it's not taking anything away from any of these other agencies. They all have their roles that are very important. But they just need to be one entity with the power and the clout of the presidency behind it to establish this national plan and an annual strategy of making sure we get to that end game every year and making sure the State and local responders are getting the assistance they need.
So you did a good job then, and we have been tracking it with this legislation. So we're interested to hear what you think on it.
I just want one last question. There was an article last week in the Washington Post about the National Security Council, and the fact that it's aggressively pursuing foreign terrorist threats which may include the use of weapons of mass destruction. I do not know if either one of you read the article or not.
But how do you reconcile the findings of your panel's report regarding the likelihood of a terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction with the actions at the NSC, and does there appear to be a more significant threat than the report is indicating? If I could just get your thinking.
General CLAPPER. Ma'am, if your question implies that the Washington Post article, I assume this was the one about Mr. Clark?
Mrs. FOWLER. And I've learned when it's in the press it's not always maybe accurate. So it might not have been accurately represented.
General CLAPPER. Your question, I guess was prompted by an impression from the article that it somehow minimized the threat?
Mrs. FOWLER. Well, I think from what I understand from the article, Mr. Clark is certainly not minimizing the threat. There are others that appear to be. As Mr. Clark is stating, there is definitely a concern and a threat out there. There are others that were quoted in the article that do not share that concern.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 From looking at what I've seen of your report, I think you're saying there is one also.
General CLAPPER. Oh, yes, ma'am, absolutely. I think the feeling is strongly held in the panel that this is a clear and present danger, to use an expression. And we have a tendency, if I might, I had occasion to go back and re-read all the reports that were done on previous terrorist events overseas, starting with the Beirut bombing. This was in the course of my activities investigating Khobar Towers.
And in fact, we had a previous bombing in Saudi Arabia in November of 1995, and the Khobar Towers occurred in 1996. And the ink was hardly dry on the report from the previous bombing in Saudi Arabia when we were again into doing another investigation.
And what's depressing, frankly, is that many of the same observations occur again and again and again, if you go back to the bombing in Beirut, with the 241 Marines and sailors that were killed there. Many of the same observations occur, and would appear again and again in these reports.
We have a tendency, I think, to have somewhat of a short institutional memory. When things do not happen, we sort of get lulled into a false sense of security. But to say or to suggest that the threat is in any way diminished, that there aren't people out there both domestically in this country, unfortunately, as well as foreign terrorist threats that are there, and have the intent, certainly, to do harm to the United States and its citizens and its interests.
Mrs. FOWLER. Well, I first got involved in this area, really, due to the Khobar Towers bombing. I had a young constituent killed in that attack. And so I spent more time reviewing that than I might have otherwise, and was appalled, as you say, to see that some of the findings there had been findings from before recommendations that had been ignored, from the prior bombing's recommendations, that are still being ignored.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 And the 17 that died, I believe 12 would not have died if they had just put Mylar on those windows, as had been recommended a year before, and it had not been done. And the interesting thing I saw about the tornado out in Fort Worth, they said if they had laminated the windows to that building, there would have been a lot less damage. Just some basics that we need to be thinking about in our facilities around this country, some of which do not cost that much money, but save lives, whether it's from a terrorist attack or a natural disaster like a tornado, that aren't being followed through a lot of times.
General CLAPPER. If I may, ma'am, one subject I personally feel very strongly about, in which I think the Federal Government can and should take the lead, is in the area of information sharing with the first responders. That and the dialogue that we have had within our panel as well as with first responders outside the panel is a recurring theme. The need for information, and it doesn't necessarily mean classified intelligence information, but just information that would help on diagnosing, doing the forensics to determine are we having an attack or not.
Fairly simple things that I think the Federal Government could provide, taking some lessons and cues from the way the intelligence community disseminates information. I think there needs to be a similar arrangement for the first responder community.
Mr. TERRY. One of the areas that we can help our local responders, and this is what we implemented in my home town of Omaha, Nebraska, in order to disseminate information to our firefighters, all we did is hooked up, we have a special channel from our local cable provider that goes into our houses, each one our fire stations. And once a week, they have some continuing education seminar that runs during that new shift.
And it's so easy any more for us to disseminate that type of information. We keep getting caught up in whether we should do it, and yet all these localities are already taking it upon themselves to implement the methods. It's just that we haven't gotten into the mentality of communicating yet.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 General CLAPPER. In the intelligence community, there's a system called Intel Link, which is essentially the intelligence community's very own internet. But it's within the classified cloister of intelligence and its consumers. The idea I've been pushing is to have the same kind of thing, but designed for the first responders. And, it doesn't have to classified, it can be done on a secure basis. We certainly have the technology now to do that, to link them all up and to link them with web pages with the necessary Federal agencies that are concerned with this, and have information to share. It's already available.
Mrs. FOWLER. Well, I agree. So these are some of the things we can hopefully be moving toward as we work on this this year. If there are any further questions, Mr. Terry?
General, you've had a long, distinguished career of service to your country and you are continuing to serve your country. We really appreciate the time that you have put in and are putting into serving as Vice Chair of this panel. As we both know, it's very critical for our future.
So I want to thank you behalf of all Americans for what you're doing. We look forward to continuing to work with you on this throughout the year, and look forward to your upcoming reports and to your reviewing what we're putting in today and getting your input on it. As I said, we're going to have some future hearings on that legislation.
And Mr. Wermuth, thank you so much. Rand Corporation has done an excellent job in advising us and analyzing some of these situations. We appreciate your continuing to be involved with us.
Thank you so much again.
General CLAPPER. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mr. WERMUTH. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mrs. FOWLER. I'd like to now call the second panel.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. Norman J. Rabkin is Director of National Security Preparedness Issues for the General Accounting Office. Accompanying Mr. Rabkin today is Mr. Stephen Caldwell, who is also with the General Accounting Office.
Gentlemen, as you know, before we proceed with your testimony, we will swear you in, as we do all witnesses before the Subcommittee. If you will stand and raise your right hand.
Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you, God?
[Witnesses respond in the affirmative.]
Mrs. FOWLER. Please be seated.
As you know, we ask that you summarize your testimony in five minutes, and without objection, your full statements will be included in the record.
Mr. Rabkin, you may proceed.
TESTIMONY OF NORMAN J. RABKIN, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY PREPAREDNESS ISSUES, NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS DIVISION, ACCOMPANIED BY STEPHEN CALDWELL, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
Mr. RABKIN. Madam Chairman, Mr. Terry, we're pleased to be here this afternoon to discuss how the Federal Government is managing its counterterrorism programs. Steve Caldwell, who's with me, is responsible for most of our work in this area.
Given the probability of a terrorist attack against Americans and the probability that chemical or biological agents may be used in such an attack, it is important that Government at all levels be as prepared as possible to prevent, detect, react and respond. Although this subject is not a new responsibility of Government, it has taken on more significance since the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York in 1993 and the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 The Federal investment in combating terrorism has grown from about $5.7 billion in 1996 to a requested $11.1 billion in fiscal year 2001. At least 39 Federal agencies have some counterterrorism responsibilities. Congress and taxpayers expect these agencies to carry out their responsibilities in a well-managed and efficient manner.
Over the last three years, we have issued eleven reports and testified on eight separate occasions on this subject. Our work generally has had two major themes that I'd like to talk about this afternoon. First, we believe that Government needs a comprehensive strategy, and second, we believe that Government agencies need to better coordinate and collaborate.
I'll expand both of those. The comprehensive strategy should be based on a rigorous assessment of the threat and should identify each agency's role, the desired results or outcomes of the agency's efforts, indicators by which to measure the progress that the agencies are making, and the resources that each agency will need to achieve the desired outcome.
In other words, the Government needs a better road map of where it's going, who's going there, how much it's going to cost and how they'll know when they've arrived. So far it appears that the Government is basing its planning on worst case scenarios, relying more on vulnerabilities than on credible threats. And as a result, may be planning to spend more resources than would be prudent.
Our work has shown that it's doubtful whether terrorists can overcome significant technical and operational challenges to make and release chemical and biological agents in ways to cause mass casualties. Agencies need to take this into consideration when assessing what threats are likely and what they will need to respond to them.
The Attorney General has issued a classified five year interagency plan on counterterrorism that represents a good first step in developing a comprehensive strategy. The plan includes goals, objectives and performance indicators. However, it does not offer a clear desired outcome. It doesn't identify the resources needed to achieve the goal. And it's not clear whether all the agencies that are involved have been represented in and support this plan.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 OMB has also responded to legislation passed in 1997 requiring a better accounting for funds invested in counterterrorism programs. It has prepared useful reports to provide the President and the Congress an idea of the magnitude and direction of that investment.
However, without a clear, agreed-upon national strategy, it's difficult for anyone to conclude whether the Government is spending too much or too little. For example, how much should FEMA spend to improve the capability of States and local governments to respond to terrorist acts?
Regarding our second theme, Government agencies also need to work better together to help ensure that they can and will respond to any terrorist act in an effective, efficient and economical way. This means better planning, more coordination among the Federal agencies, less redundancies in the programs through which the Federal Government assists State and local governments, and better cooperation at the scene of any terrorist act.
In 1998, the Attorney General created the National Domestic Preparedness Office in the Justice Department to coordinate Federal policy and Federal program assistance to State and local agencies. Initial funding for the office has been provided this year.
However, we should not expect this office to resolve issues that go beyond the Federal role. One such issue is who is in charge at the scene of a terrorist attack. This becomes very important when tasks that may conflict with each other need to happen at the same time, such as gathering evidence for criminal prosecution, which is a Federal responsibility, and caring for the injured, which is the State and local responsibility.
The Gilmore Commission that General Clapper just testified about, their report echoes these themes that we have supported over the past few years. It calls for comprehensive planning based on credible threats, less duplication and better coordination across all levels of Government. The commission's next efforts are going to focus on the coordination and effectiveness of Federal programs. We believe our work has complemented their work, and we hope to continue in that effort.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 That completes our statement, and we would be glad to try to respond to your questions.
Mrs. FOWLER. Thank you. We will try to get our questions in as quickly as possible, because we have a series, I see here, of five votes. We still have a little while before the vote starts, so Mr. Terry, why do not you go ahead with your questions.
Mr. TERRY. I do have to admit that I haven't read your report yet, but I'm going to after your testimony. One thing that stood at is, and I want to work through this a little bit more, the assessment of the threats, and I do agree with your statement that we need to focus our resources to the most prominent.
So my first part of my question is going to be, where are we in the process of actually assessing the threats? We have talked about, for almost an entire year that I've been on this Committee, talking about it, but where are we by way of national strategy? Have we focused on what our real threats are versus the more theoretical?
And in that regard, does your comment conflict with the General's statement that we have to be, the way I understood his testimony, be prepared for across the board of possibilities?
Mr. RABKIN. First of all, I think the assessment of the threat has got to be a continuous effort. It's continuously changing and we have to monitor what those are. The intelligence community is perhaps the appropriate vehicle for doing that.
I do not think we're in conflict. I think that certainly we have to be aware of the threats and be prepared to deal with as many as possible. The question is, if we can't afford, at this point in time, to prepare to respond to all threats, how do we decide which threats are most credible, most likely, and how do we allocate resources to be able to do that.
We have issued a report recently related to this topic, and I'd like Mr. Caldwell to talk a little bit about threat assessments and where the Government is in terms of assessing threats both from a foreign perspective as well as domestic. Steve, would you like to comment?
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. CALDWELL. Yes. As you may know, we have made two recommendations in terms of threat and risk assessment. First we recommend
that some kind of threat and risk assessment be used to determine what local areas might be receiving assistance. We found that in general, the Department of Defense program as well as the Department of Justice program used only population as their criteria for picking cities that need help; they did not include threat at all. So we recommended that threat be included as a criteria.
Then also, we made a second recommendation that some kind of national threat and risk assessment be done to guide the Federal efforts in a larger sense. We talked to the FBI to get an update on both of these matters before the hearing. And I'd like to give you some information on that.
The FBI has been working with the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs to develop an assessment tool that State and local governments can use. We understand that they are about to send a package out that the local governments will use, and then will provide it to their States. It will help their States come up with a State-wide strategy.
As far as the national level threat assessment, FBI has agreed to do that. But they have provided us with some caveats in terms of their ability to do so because of the sensitivity of certain law enforcement intelligence information and how that can be used. Their current approach is to look at some of the WMD agents that could be used, and do assessments on the use of those agents, and then later, tie this in with in the classified threat information.
We hope to meet with the FBI at some point to see how they're doing on this effort They seem receptive to get some of our ideas as well. So there does seem to be some progress, but as far as milestones, there are none. FBI officials have no starting date to do that national level assessment, although they have said it could take maybe six months once they get it started in earnest.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. TERRY. And this bill, I would assume, would prompt them. So just to paraphrase your answer, here, based on your skills here in making assessments and reporting back, that our intelligence community has not gotten to the point yet that they could properly assess the risk that we could then use that as one of the premises in developing a national strategy, that we have to go there yet?
Mr. CALDWELL. Yes. I think the advantages of developing a national strategy is that you will hopefully come to some kind of consensus on what an end state should be in terms of how much is it going to cost to get every single State, regional, and city government fully prepared for the worst case scenario, as opposed to other alternatives, such as to get them up to the level area that they could initially respond on the scene and be trained to recognize WMD agents, as opposed to what role a Federal team would have that would fly in for the worst case scenario, which are much less likely but are much more costly to deal with. It may be less costly to have federal hot teams on a runway ready to go than to prepare every state and city to respond.
Mr. TERRY. And I'm curious, just a couple of quick questions here, you mentioned that the FBI has been contacted about helping assess the threat risk. Are there other intelligence organizations that are also empowered or doing or have done assessment risks, and are these conflicting?
Mr. CALDWELL. There's a separation between domestic intelligence gathering and foreign intelligence gathering. Normally when we refer to the intelligence community, we're talking about the role of the Director of Central Intelligence and the CIA. The FBI normally has a small role in terms of counterintelligence. But that's separate from the FBI's domestic role in terms of criminal intelligence gathering.
There has been national intelligence estimates done, looking at the foreign threat, which have gathered some of this information on threat. As we mentioned in our study, the national intelligence estimates also talk about some of the qualifications and the problems that terrorists would have in actually carrying out a successful WMD attack.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 The reason we made our recommendation on a national threat assessment to FBI is because the domestic piece on threat hasn't really been done. One of the important things for us is that FBI carefully look at credible threat information as opposed to hoaxes or other things, which lead to investigations but are not necessarily based on an actual group having a WMD capability or even an intention to use something like that.
Mrs. FOWLER. Thank you. We have got about five and a half minutes left, so if you do not mind hanging around, because I think I do have a few questions. It's going to be about a 20 minute recess, because we have got four votes. But the good news is there are no more votes today after this, and we won't have any more interruptions, anyway.
So we will recess, and we will just go back to you for two or three questions I have, and then go straight to the third panel. So this Subcommittee is recessed until after the votes end. Thank you.
Mrs. FOWLER. The Subcommittee will come back in session. As typical, the 20 minutes worth of voting ended up going on. I do apologize for the delay. The good news is Mr. Traficant got his amendment through. So he's happy. I do not know if we will get him back here this afternoon or not. He might be celebrating.
I just have a couple of questions so I can let you go. Because I know the next panel has to get moving also. Some of my questions I know have already been addressed.
When you talked earlier about the need for national strategy, and we heard that also from General Clapper, that there really has not been one yet, the Attorney General has drafted this five year plan that was referenced in your testimony, could you just explain how her plan differs from what would be called, deemed a national strategy and what really has been the effect of not having a national strategy in place to address our Federal and non-Federal roles here?
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. RABKIN. One of the differences is that the Attorney General's strategy, of course, is coming out of the Justice Department, and when we talk about a broad national strategy, we're looking for strategy that has been bought into, not only by the Federal agencies, but as General Clapper said, it's important to have it from the State and local support as well. And it's not clear how much of that has been done.
Also, quite frankly, her plan is classified and to a certain extent, the more open it can be, the more the Congress and the public can hold the agencies accountable. I think that's an important aspect of a national plan, too. I recognize of course that some of the specific aspects of the plan may have to be classified. But to start with a plan that is on the whole, unclassified, I think would be helpful.
Mrs. FOWLER. You have looked at the past into these Federal exercise programs that have been occurring. And they can certainly be a valuable learning tool. Are we incorporating any lessons we have been learning from these exercise programs into our existing programs?
Mr. RABKIN. I assume that we are. I do not know a lot about that. Steve, do you have a comment?
Mr. CALDWELL. Yes, we looked at federal counterterrorist exercises over a three year period and we did find some improvements just within that period in terms of additional State and local participation in Federal counterterrorist exercises. There was also an effort to exercise crisis management and consequence management simultaneously. However, there was still room for improvements in that area.
Since we completed that report, there was a major exercise called Westwind in Los Angeles. Perhaps Chief Freeman can discuss that, he was involved in that exercise. And as you may have heard, there's a large exercise in the planning stages now, which is going to involve State, local, and Federal officials.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 I think the bottom line evaluation on those federal exercises is going to have to come from the State and local officials. I think that's a good question to ask the next panel as well in terms of how they view progress on exercises with the federal government.
Mrs. FOWLER. The last thing I want to ask you is, there was an article recently in the Wall Street Journal about this upcoming, I think they're calling it Top Off exercise, which is supposed to last 10 days, have these mock attacks and three Cs at the same time, a no notice exercise, meaning the participants weren't supposed to be informed.
But I understand now from FEMA that's going to get scaled back considerably. It's certainly no longer no notice, since we are reading about it in the press. If the purpose was to be no notice, to have multiple attacks, to test our Federal response, what really is going to be the value of this now? And I understand it's going to cost anywhere from $3 million to $6 million or more to do this. Are we going to really get much value out of this?
Mr. RABKIN. I think there's an opportunity to learn quite a bit from it. The more that the exercises are held, and the more that the interagency cooperation is tested, I think there's value. I think you raise an interesting question about no notice and how much no notice can really take place. There's a lot of logistics that have to be worked out in local communities. You do not want to unnecessarily scare people about what's going on.
On the other hand, I would hope that some of the specifics of the exercises, what exactly is happening and when it happens, and how it's going to play out, are in fact no notice and that the responders will have to deal with that. We're hoping to send staff to a couple of the places where they're having those exercises to observe it. As Steve mentioned, we have had experience looking at these exercises, and we will be looking at it both from the perspective of how the exercise has been carried out, as well as what lessons should be learned and how they're being incorporated.
Mrs. FOWLER. We will be interested, too.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. CALDWELL. I'd like to just add one point. In looking at these exerciseswe actually participated in some of these exercisesit's important to note that one of the purposes of any exercise is to make mistakes, so that you can learn some things. I hope that the press and others aren't too hard on Federal, State and local agencies that put this exercise together, if everything doesn't come off perfect.
If it comes out perfect, then something's wrong, perhaps they staged it a little too carefully.
Mrs. FOWLER. It was not too realistic, then. Because in a real world, it's not going to be perfect. You're right.
Just one last question. In your reviewing these programs an plans, have you come across any sort of plan to create risk and threat assessments for chemical, biological and radiological terrorist attacks? And if these assessments have not been completed, then what's the effect of that?
Mr. CALDWELL. Just to summarize, I talked a little bit about this for Representative Terry. The FBI has agreed to do these kind of threat assessments both at the State and local level, as well as at the national level. However, it's a little too soon for us to evaluate how they're doing at this point. This need for such assessments is a point we have made for quite a while, and they have still not been completed. We wish there was a little more urgency attached to it by federal agencies.
Mrs. FOWLER. I thought you had been saying there needs to be. So if you keep pushing, we're going to push on it also. We would also, I do not know if you've already received it, we will make sure you receive the legislation that's going in. We would appreciate your feedback on it. And as I said, we're going to be having some future hearings also on it.
Mr. Terry, do you have any other questions?
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. TERRY. No.
Mrs. FOWLER. Thank you. I appreciate your patience.
I will now call the third panel. This panel consists of State and local emergency preparedness officials. We have four witnesses before us today. We have Mr. Brett Burdick, Terrorism Program Manager with the Virginia Department of Emergency Services in Richmond, Virginia. We welcome back to the Subcommittee Chief John Eversole, Fire Chief for the City of Chicago, Illinois. We have Chief Michael Freeman, Fire Chief for the County of Los Angeles. And we have Mr. Robert Neal Fudge, who is the Terrorism Program Manager with the Louisiana Military Department, Office of Emergency Preparedness, for the State of Louisiana.
I want to welcome you. Thank you for appearing, and as you know, it's our practice to swear in all witnesses before the Subcommittee. Please stand and raise your right hand.
Do you solemnly swear the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you, God?
[Witnesses respond in the affirmative.]
Mrs. FOWLER. Please be seated.
We ask that you summarize your testimony in five minutes, and without objection, your full written statement will be included in the record. I understand, Mr. Fudge, that you have to catch a plane. I appreciate all of you waiting. I'm sorry we had all this delay with the testimony.
So if it's okay with the other gentleman, I will let you go ahead and proceed first.
TESTIMONY OF ROBERT NEAL FUDGE, WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION PROGRAM MANAGER, LOUISIANA OFFICE OF EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS; BRETT A. BURDICK, TERRORISM PROGRAM MANAGER, VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY SERVICES; JOHN M. EVERSOLE, CHIEF, CHICAGO FIRE DEPARTMENT, AND CHAIR, HAZARDOUS MATERIALS COMMITTEE, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIRE CHIEFS; AND P. MICHAEL FREEMAN, CHIEF, LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT, AND CHAIRMAN, TERRORISM COMMITTEE, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIRE CHIEFS
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Mr. FUDGE. Madam Chairwoman, I'd like to thank the members of this Committee for the opportunity to be here today and to speak on a subject of vital importance to all of us. Emergency management plays a vital role int eh preparation for and consequences of WMD events. Planning, response, recovery and mitigation are all areas in which emergency management is involved.
To better prepare for a terrorist event, the State of Louisiana is currently forming a coordinating committee to address these different issues. This committee is co-chaired by the commander of the State police and the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard, who also serves as the director of the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness.
This committee will include representatives from the following agencies: Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness, Louisiana National Guard, Department of Public Safety, Department of Health and Hospitals, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Social Services, Department of Transportation and Development, the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association, which is made up of local emergency managers, the Louisiana Sheriffs Association as well as fire and emergency medical service personnel.
At the direction of Congress, the U.S. Attorney General has created a National Domestic Preparedness Office within the Federal Bureau of Investigation to serve as a single point of contact. The Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness applauds this effort and seeks to duplicate this concept to our coordinating committee.
The Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Training, which was provided by the Federal Government, went straight to local jurisdiction and bypassed the State. The State of Louisiana, as well as all States, during a WMD event, will be a key player in the response and recovery from such an incident. Coordination and communication between the Federal Government and State government in this program will result in more complete and adequate training for all involved in the State of Louisiana.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 The State has formed Louisiana Emergency Response Training Center to address this concern. The Louisiana Emergency Response Training Center has been created through the efforts of Louisiana State University and the Louisiana State Police. This facility provides a variety of training for all municipal and industry personnel for HAZMAT incidents.
Our vision is to expand the role of this facility through the incorporation of WMD training into the curriculum. In so doing, we hope to prevent duplication of training efforts, avoid training gaps and enhance communication among the various participants at the State and local level who deal with HAZMAT and WMD events. In an effort to maximize course availability, we are currently discussing the possibility of taking courses to the community for presentation. This state of the art training will be designed and accredited by the Louisiana Emergency Response Training Center and provided a variety of sources, to include Louisiana State University, Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness, the Louisiana National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team.
The Louisiana National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team will be a valuable asset to the State in dealing with consequence management activities associated with WMD incidents. The expertise in training and response will be a valuable resource for the Governor in dealing with WMD emergencies within the State.
In closing, Louisiana is working diligently to improve education and training and insure coordination and communication between Federal, State and local organizations. This formidable alliance between State and local agencies will prove to be a vital partner with the NDPO to counter WMD incidents at the State and local level.
The outreach of Louisiana Emergency Response Training Center will prevent duplication of training and provide well balanced and highly trained responders. With the added support of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, the State of Louisiana will prove to be a strong force in the battle against the consequences associated with mass destruction incidents well into the 21st century.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 I'd like to thank you for the opportunity to address this important subject matter.
Mrs. FOWLER. Thank you, Mr. Fudge. We appreciate your testimony. I was supposed to have started down here and back, but just in case, the way we sometimes we run over, I wanted to, in case he had to catch his plane. So now we can start back. I know you expected to start off, Mr. Burdick, so I'll come back to you. Thank you.
Mr. BURDICK. Thank you, ma'am. Very much appreciate it.
Good afternoon. I'm coming here today from the standpoint that's a little bit different than a lot of State emergency managers. The Department of Emergency Services, the folks that I work for, are not only the State emergency management agency, we also have a first response operational role as the organization that runs the Commonwealth's hazardous materials response group, the teams that go out and actually do the work. So we are coming with a little bit different perspective than perhaps some other folks here.
I have a strong Virginia bias. And it is going to flavor everything I have to say. So I wanted to get that up front and let you know that that's where it's coming from.
We want to make sure that whatever is going on in Virginia is consistent with Virginia law and Virginia organizations, Virginia levels of training. So some of the things I have to say may not be applicable to other parts of the Nation.
I also find myself in a very strong me, too, posture. A lot of things that I've heard today I'm in favor of and want to echo those as well.
I was asked to talk about some specific issues. First of all, about the duplication of existing training opportunities from the Federal Government. There's a lot of training that is available out there. It seems like a whole cottage industry of Federal consequence management training popped up all about the same time.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 The problem with it is I think that there is no standardized curriculum. What we get for training at the State and local level is not needs based or organizationally based, it's based on who gives you the training, whether it be Defense or Justice or FEMA or who. So I think that needs to be tightened up as part of this overall complete national approach.
The second point that I wanted to make had to do with the lack of a clear national strategy. I think that's been well stated thus far. I like the difference that it's not just a Federal strategy, it's a national strategy. And I like that point. I think that's well taken. We have heard a lot about a Federal strategy, and we haven't seen much in the way of a national strategy.
There's bits and pieces of one, and I think it does need an effort to pull it all together to decide how we as a Nation are going to address this problem. Certainly, deeply relying on the capabilities of local and State responders and primarily local responders, because they're the first to come and the last to go when one of these things happens.
We have a lot of exercise experience in Virginia as well, with Federal exercises. I was going through, before I started talking, trying to figure out how many we have done in the last five years. It's well in excess of a dozen opportunities to exercise with Federal entities. Generally it's been very positive. It acts as a reality check on what the Federal programs are looking at. It gives us some operational confidence in the way things are supposed to work when something goes terribly wrong out there.
One of the problems that we are seeing, two significant problems. One is that the communities that are most deeply involved in this, predictably the urban communities, are basically exercised out at this point. We have a large part of Virginia that has not participated in any sort of exercise, and one or two communities that simply do not have any other time available to do that. I think we need to pay attention to spreading these out over a larger area to get a better result.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 And essentially planning assistance to the localities is non-existent. We're exercising something, what are we exercising if it's not the plan? Where does the plan come from? Well, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of guidance available, with one or two exceptions, as to how localities need to do their planning. So that's an important point as well.
I was asked to talk a little bit about the Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams. We in Virginia have zero experience with the CSTs or the RAID teams, except in a talking environment. We do not know exactly what they can do and what they're supposed to do and so forth. We have a vision of what their mission should be. It's evolved significantly over the last couple of years, since the RAID concept was put out. I think it is coming more in lines with supporting existing civilian response capabilities. And that's really where it needs to be, rather than a new standalone entity. We applaud that transition.
I was asked to make quick comments on our relationships with the Department of Justice, and particularly two organizations within Justice, the Office of State and Local Domestic Preparedness and Support. OSLDPS is the group that's tasked with dishing out the money, essentially. We think we're working well with them, we think that that is going to be an able way to make this work. A few false starts have happened with that office. We hope they're back on progress now, and we're looking forward to working with them.
A big positive with that organization is that the money is coming out need based rather than a package of stuff that's pushed down and saying, this is what you get, try and use it.
The National Domestic Preparedness Office, or NDPO, a lot has been said about them. We in Virginia are strongly in favor of the concept. It makes a lot of sense. It's clearly been under-resourced as an organization. And I think we have heard also a little bit about the potential for turf battles or infighting among the Federal families, perhaps leading to some of its demise. I have no direct evidence or information on any of that, but I've heard those as well.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 If in fact there is going to be an NDPO or an NDPO-like organization, it needs to be staffed, it needs to be resourced. And it needs to have the clout that it needs to really be a single point of coordination.
Thank you for the opportunity, a very brief introduction. I'll certainly be happy to answer any questions when we get to that.
Mrs. FOWLER. Thank you, Mr. Burdick.
Chief EVERSOLE. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Mrs. FOWLER. We welcome you back.
Chief EVERSOLE. I think it's nice to be remembered in your opening remarks. I would hope that they were kind thoughts and not like, this is some buffoon from the Midwest.
Mrs. FOWLER. No, we wouldn't have had you back. You tell it like it is, and that's what we need.
Chief EVERSOLE. Well, I would like to think that I know what it's like. I would thank you for inviting me to the Committee. When testifying before you last year, I discussed the nature of civil emergency response. I said then and I repeat now that the issue of domestic terrorism is one in which America's fire departments have a vast and vital interest. Violence perpetuated against our citizens for political purposes, national or international, or otherwise, will be suffered locally.
As a primary provider of emergency life safety services, the firefighters will be the first on the scenes of any act of terrorism to save lives and mitigate the damages. It's been true in the New York City incident and in Oklahoma City, and so many other places that are possibly not so notorious, but well remembered.
Since my last appearance before this Committee, there's been progress on some fronts. However, I am very concerned that the pace of this program among others is not at all acceptable. Funding for equipment designed to enhance our ability to respond safely and effectively to an incident of terrorism involving chemical, biological, radiological or conventional weapons has been provided by Congress. This is a vital component of thorough preparedness. I cannot stress enough the point of effective life saving must take place immediately after the event.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 If we are to mount an effective response, we can only rely upon assets that may not arrive in Chicago for hours or days. This is not an indictment of Federal or State operational capabilities. It is simply a consequence of distance. They just can't get there to help us in time.
I heard earlier that there were 39 Federal agencies involved somehow in preparedness. The ones that we deal mostly with are FEMA, the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services. There is no doubt that progress has been made. In Chicago, we have been able to build an excellent joint response program with the local office of the FBI. Through the Department of Health and Human Services, we have established a very adequate program with the Veterans Administration to have a rapidly available drug cache.
These are but two examples of Federal and local entities working together for a common goal. And the Nunn-Lugar program at DOD, the awareness level training, developed by the Justice Department, and the operations level training developed by the Department of Justice, the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium, are excellent examples of how Congress can assist local first responders in a productive and efficient manner. I urge you to provide the resources necessary to expand access to these programs to as many firefighters as possible in the shortest possible time frame.
The Department of Justice in joint effort with the Department of Defense has created an interagency board, referred to as the IAB, to develop standardized equipment lists for use by agencies at all levels of government that may be consulted in determining how best to enhance existing hazardous material and other response teams that may be involved in terrorist incident response.
This is a significant step that has been a long time in coming. The IAB includes expertise from different levels of government and has gathered information that we can all use.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 I would put in there that the IAB is doing a good job. They are really figuring out what we need and how we can use it. But the bottom line is that the local hazardous material team still doesn't know how to go get a 78 cent pack of litmus paper that tells them if they've had a chemical warfare attack in their community. They still do not have that capability today, the very simplest of tools.
When I spoke to your Committee last year, I believe we discussed the need for respirator masks that could be used by responders in the event of an incident. We talked about the lack of commercially available respirators that meet NIOSH certification. Remember that civilian responders are required by law to use only those pieces of personal protective equipment that meet the NIOSH certification standards.
It has been 10 months since we had that discussion. Some respirator masks have been certified by NIOSH. However, the equipment certification program is greatly and generally lacking due to insufficient funding at NIOSH. It's just not happening.
If I may ask you and the members of this Committee for one single thing and nothing else, I ask that you do whatever is necessary to facilitate that funding so that we know we have the right equipment to protect our people.
I would also like to address the Federal interagency coordination that is necessary for coordinated preparedness and response programs. Notwithstanding the efficacy of many of the programs underway, there is an urgent need for better coordination among and between the Federal agencies involved. It is an enormous undertaking for a fire chief to attempt to navigate the Federal bureaucracy, to get what he needs in the way of help or information.
An office was approved last year by Congress to serve as a single point of contact for the response community. The National Domestic Preparedness Office is supposed to have filled that role. Funding for this program was inexplicably delayed and subsequently we are behind in this task. They have proved to do nothing at this point. We are very, very dissatisfied that such a good meaning program has not materialized.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Finally, I must tell you that not withstanding the apparent slow pace of progress, the fire service is better off today than it was three years ago with respect to preparedness for terrorist incidents. I urge you in the strongest possible terms to continue this effort. It should be improved, expanded and expedited.
Thank you again for allowing me to come back. And I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
Mrs. FOWLER. Thank you, Chief Eversole. We appreciate it, and I assure you, we will follow up with NIOSH on this certification. Because I am concerned to hear that, as you say, 10 months later, we're still not moving along very fast. And we need to. So I will certainly follow up on that for you. Thank you.
Chief EVERSOLE. Thank you.
Mrs. FOWLER. Chief Freeman.
Chief FREEMAN. Good afternoon. I'm Michael Freeman, fire chief of Los Angeles, California Fire Department. I also serve as the Terrorism Committee Chairperson on the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
I would like to thank your Committee for its continued interest in ongoing terrorism preparedness efforts. And also your recognition of local public safety agencies as the primary responders to these events.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department provides emergency services either directly or through mutual aid to the county's 10 million residents, over an area of more than 4,000 square miles. The Los Angeles County Fire Department has taken preparedness for terrorism seriously. In addition to Federal grant money, we are annually committing over $200,000 a year in continued ongoing staffing for preparedness. Next month, we will spend $300,000 more local dollars in training all county firefighters in mass decontamination procedures for response to the acts of terrorism.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 In the greater Los Angeles area, three years ago we created a terrorism working group that includes local fire service, local law enforcement, public health, emergency managers and the Los Angeles FBI office representatives. Los Angeles County and some of the 88 cities within it have participated in Federal preparedness efforts and grants since their inception. We have participated in the Defense Department's Nunn-Lugar training.
We received grant funding from the Department of Justice, and we have built a metropolitan medical response system with the financial and expert assistance of the Department of Health and Human Services. Last year's Westwind exercise, sponsored by the Defense Department, took place within the City of Los Angeles and involved over 3,000 participants and numerous Federal response agencies, State and local agencies as well.
All of these Federal initiatives to assist us in preparing for the contingency of the terrorist attack have indeed had a positive impact on our level of preparedness. Of that, there is no doubt. However, as a participant and as an observer of our national effort to prepare local communities for the threat of terrorism in America, I believe additional steps need to be taken both by Congress and the Administration here in Washington to craft a more well ordered national strategy.
It has been my experience, shared by many of my colleagues, not only in the fire service, but in the entire realm of public safety, that efforts undertaken to date at the Federal level, while by themselves are valuable, would greatly benefit from an increased level of coordination and accountability. Efforts that may be duplicative or worse, contradictory, lead to confusion at the local level and expend precious Federal dollars, perhaps unnecessarily.
Efforts underway at the Federal, State and local levels of government ought to be better synchronized for the benefit of public safety. In my view, a better focused effort would become more effective.
At the Federal level, there is certainly expertise located in different agencies that should be leveraged to create the most effective preparedness effort possible. It seems to me and to many of my colleagues that this could be better accomplished by designating one Federal official with responsibility and authority to coordinate and deliver these programs. It would also be best if that official was not at the same time responsible for managing additional responsibilities on a day to day basis.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Whom that official is or where he or she works is really not for us in the fire service to say. We have in the past requested a single point of contact in Washington so that we can access that point for answers and provide important local input. We respectfully repeat that request.
Quantifying our efforts is also an issue. We as a Nation have thus far not attempted to really define quantifiably what an acceptable level of preparedness really is. And without a clear, attainable preparedness goal, it is very difficult to measure progress in any arena. Our International Association of Fire Chiefs Terrorism Committee is comprised of fire chiefs from across the country, all of whom have decades of experience in responding to and mitigating public emergencies. It is our view that an overarching, comprehensive plan should be developed and adopted that would better define local preparedness for response to terrorist incidents.
I would respectfully suggest that future but immediate efforts develop a comprehensive plan that would facilitate and encourage both the interagency coordination at the local level and the State level, but also encourage the development of performance objectives that clearly define the task that first responding agencies need to perform in order to mitigate a terrorist incident.
Existing assets here within the Federal Government and within State government should be incorporated into this plan and built upon. These existing assets have been mentioned many times here today and I know are in the awareness level of your Committee. Under the plan, a grant funding would also be used to assist the first responders in meeting these performance objectives, developed to identify those actions which must be taken to mitigate a terrorist incident.
And perhaps most importantly, this comprehensive, overarching plan would provide us with not only a clear goal toward which we can work, but the plan would define most important of all the goal, that end game of adequate preparedness.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 I know that your Committee and other committees of Congress have heard testimony from fire chiefs in the past. We as a group have emphasized the role of local public safety personnel, particularly fire fighters, in responding to incidents of terrorism. When emergencies occur, time is really the enemy. And it has been my professional experience that local personnel will work alone in those crucial early hours following an event. And I cannot emphasize this point enough.
However, the first responders will be better prepared when there is clearly a single point of contact operating at the Federal level. Firefighters and all local first responders can better protect the public when an all encompassing plan for terrorism readiness is in place and adopted.
Madam Chairwoman, I thank you and members of the Committee for the opportunity to address you this afternoon.
Mrs. FOWLER. Thank you. You came a long way to be with us and we appreciate it, and appreciate all that the Association has done to help us with education and support in this area.
I just have a few questions, and then we will have some for the record, too, for our members who, once the votes ended, I think some people ran to get their planes. It is not because they're not interested, they are very interested in this and we are going to keep on with this area. They do each have some questions they'd like to submit to you for the record, if you would not mind answering those.
If each one of you on the panel, if you can tell me whether you consider your part of the country where you work and operate, is it ready for a terrorist attack involving a weapon of mass destruction, and how confident are you currently in the assistance of Federal response teams?
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. BURDICK. From Virginia's standpoint, it's a difficult question because of the range of effects and impacts of explosives versus chemical versus biological versus radiological, large, small, etc. I'm convinced that in Virginia, we are reasonably prepared to deal with those sorts of things that we have to do on a daily basis, but on a larger scale, putting out fires and dealing with hazardous materials releases, and mass casualty and these sorts of things. We can do that.
There is going to be some upper limit, the extent of our capabilities. And frankly, I cannot define for you what that is. If we were confronted with an Oklahoma City some place in Virginia, we would muddle through and we would probably be okay with that. Something larger, it's hard to tell. And I do not mean to be putting off the question, but it's a very difficult question to get involved with.
The second piece that you asked, having to do with the Federal teams, Virginia is blessed or cursed with proximity to the District. We have a lot of Federal assets that are very close at hand. They are deeply involved in our planning. We intend to use them to the greatest extent possible. And as Chief Eversole said, time and distance in our case is much reduced for an awful lot of these capabilities.
So we would intend to use them, yes.
Mrs. FOWLER. Thank you.
Chief EVERSOLE. Two weeks ago, we had a major anhydrous ammonia leak. It required that we had to, at about 4:45 in the morning, evacuate a half mile by half mile area. Several days later, I got a call from one of my friends at the Pentagon, saying, gee, we were watching your incident. I thought, that's neat. He said, we thought maybe you might activate one of the Federal teams. I said, you do not understand something. In five minutes, we were there. And in two and a half hours, we were going home. You can't get in your car in two and a half hours.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 What that really points out is, how are we going to use Federal assets? I am looking to use Federal assets on the front, not on the back side, of an incident. I need that help of telling me, hey, here's the newest thing, here's the newest equipment, here's the newest technology, here's the newest tactics. Because when it happens, it's rapid. It's a matter of minutes, and we have to be doing something if we're going to save our community.
Every day I'm responsible to protect 3 million people. I can't wait hours.
Mrs. FOWLER. Very well.
Chief EVERSOLE. So that's how we're going to use it. Are we reasonably prepared? I would like to think that we handle major emergencies in a daily basis. There are certainly some things that will get to be so big that the possibility that we can't handle it may occur. If that occurs, that will be such a disaster that our entire country will suffer.
So we have to be prepared on the front side, not the back side. It's just too long in coming to wait for actual people to do actions, coming from Washington, or wherever they're coming from. I need them in minutes, not hours and days.
Mrs. FOWLER. Thank you.
Chief FREEMAN. Thank you.
Within Los Angeles, we have as I said received some grant money. I would say that with my position on the International Association of Fire Chiefs as well, I have had the opportunity to work on the local basis and also watch very carefully what's happening at the Federal level.
I would say that the Federal programs that have come to the local government in our case have served as catalysts. But we would not be where we are today had we not committed local dollars, local staff, local time and effort to move forward. And that has led us to the recommendation that we addressed here earlier, and that is an overarching plan, a comprehensive plan that establishes some objectives, some clear performance capabilities.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 I think we're much further along in the City and County of Los Angeles than we were three years ago. We are embarking upon a training program ourselves, without Federal support or funding, to train all of our people in mass decontamination. What has occurred so far is there is certainly an interest, there has been progress in my opinion. But I know there are a number of areas in the State of California that are still waiting. With our master mutual aid program, we can send our resources to other localities. But it really calls for that overall plan and a coordinated, synchronized single point of contact here in Washington, so that we have some sense of where the end game is.
So I would respond simply by saying, the first steps have been taken. There are many more steps that are required for preparedness.
Mrs. FOWLER. What about the assistance of the Federal response teams? I think I was just reading in the press today about a couple of National Guard units out in your area that are getting ready to be trained.
Chief FREEMAN. Yes. And we have been in communication with them, and we will certainly utilize what capabilities they can bring to the incident. But they are not going to be there in the early critical moments. They will certainly provide some resource support.
We were very impressed during the Westwind exercise, because the way that was developed, a lot of the Federal resources were deployed based on the scenario, based on the threat that it had been determined to be credible.
It gave us a wonderful opportunity to see all of those experts and so forth, but recognizing that they are going to be hours away in an actual situation, which emphasizes what has been stated here, I believe by all of our panel, is that that local readiness has to be local.
Mrs. FOWLER. Mr. Fudge?
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. FUDGE. Yes, ma'am. I believe through our Nunn-Lugar training, our larger metropolitan areas in the State of Louisiana are better prepared than our more rural parishes. We have noticed this on a State level. So what we have started doing is working regionally. We are presently working with the northern region, actually the northeast region. Then we have, I guess you would say, a southern region. We're working with them, working on plans, training and exercise with them.
I think the State as a whole, though, we definitely have room for improvement.
Mrs. FOWLER. What about, again, the assistance of the Federal response teams?
Mr. FUDGE. We have worked with Federal agencies, such as the Coast Guard. We had a barge turn over I think about two and a half years ago, and worked hand in hand with them. We are working with Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team and I would like to see int eh future us be able to work more with the Federal agencies, Federal assets, to better understand what will happen in an incident of this magnitude.
Mrs. FOWLER. A couple of you have already commented on this, but talking about the Federal exercise programs that they do, I know in your testimony, Chief Freeman, you referred to them. Do the rest of you view these exercise programs as valuable, and are you learning lessons from these overall? Do any of you want to comment on those? I know there have been a couple already that have.
Mr. BURDICK. Yes, I think that as I stated before, they have generally been very valuable. There is, with the increasing number of exercises that occur, I am not sure we are really gaining a lot more insight as to new and original problems. We're seeing very much the same sorts of things, command issues, communication issues, organizational things. We're back to the whole question of who is really in charge or doing what, when and how. And those are recurring themes that we are seeing over and over again.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 I would recommend that with the statement that the exercise programs have been generally valuable, it would be much greater value to start codifying a lot of these lessons learned and turning that into training as well, and planning assistance. Because we're seeing the same things over and over again.
I do not want to derail any exercises, because it is real important to get new people involved and let them see the things as well. But I think we need, as a Nation, to make better use of the lessons learned that we have gotten from what we have already done.
Mrs. FOWLER. Any other comments? Chief Eversole.
Chief EVERSOLE. I would comment that as Chief Freeman said earlier, during the Westwind, when these forces are pre-deployed for a situation, or they come in like a national political campaign, the conference, that is very helpful. That is not a realistic state of life, though. They normally are not parked in your back yard, half dressed and ready to go.
So it's really good to see their capabilities and to understand that. But that's not the real world. They're sitting, for instance, at Camp Lejeune. That's a long way for me. If they were always in my back yard, or like they were for the Democratic National Convention, the last one, they were very helpful. Those were very reassuring forces.
But they're just there every day.
Mrs. FOWLER. Distance.
I want to ask each of you what your interaction has been with the NDPO. I know several of you have commented about their lack of funding. Has it been very helpful to you? And what would you think of an office within the Executive Office of the President that would be similar to the drug czar, but for terrorism preparedness? And I think as you are aware, that is sort of the track that we are using in this legislation that we're going to be putting forward.
I know you have not reviewed it, so you might want to wait until you review it. But just in general terms of the idea. Because Chief Freeman, you kept stressing one point, one source, which is what we saw as we have been working on this this past year, that there was nobody with the authority, with the clout that these people could answer to. They could sit them all down in a room and say, okay, let's get this coordinated, let's eliminate the duplication and the overlap. Let's lay out a national strategy and really a national plan and then an annual strategy of implementing that plan, without that person having to also do their department or agency's work, too.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 So that's sort of what we have been trying to do, but I would be interested in getting your thoughts, both on the NDPO and on how this type of structure, if you think this might or not, and is this the direction we should be going. Anyone that would like to start off is fine.
Chief FREEMAN. I'll be glad to speak to that.
I was encouraged by the concept of an NDPO. I did have the opportunity to interact with several individuals that were directly involved with the NDPO, the operation of it. There was an individual from the Governor's Office of Emergency Services from California that was reassigned to assist, as was the representative from the fire service.
I do not know exactly what has happened. I would certainly concur with what Chief Eversole has concluded, not much has come out of that. It is very unfortunate, and maybe here there is more knowledge as to what has been the problem. From local government's perspective, it's a failure. And we are not seeing that single point of contact. And that's disappointing.
I have not had the opportunity to review the proposed legislation in any great detail. However, I would say that the concept, the concept certainly seems to address what we and my colleagues, within first responder services within the fire service see as a need, that single point of contact, someone who is really focused on that, has the authority to bring the other very important Federal players together. Someone who is also accountable for the continuation and follow-through of that national strategy in the plan.
Mrs. FOWLER. Anyone else? Mr. Fudge?
Mr. FUDGE. Yes, ma'am. I definitely concur with Chief Freeman, as far as a single point of contact. The NDPO, as far as knowing exactly what they do and what they did, I can tell you from a State point of view, I do not know. And for the locals, either they need a better marketing strategy or something. We need to bring everything together so that we know what the Federal Government can actually offer to us. So on a State level, we can offer it to our locals.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mrs. FOWLER. And I know you might need to slip out, so do not worry if you have to. I appreciate your helping us today, Mr. Fudge. I promised you I'd have you out before 5:00, so thank you.
Anyone else want to comment on that? Chief Eversole?
Chief EVERSOLE. I would tell you that first of all, what Chief Freeman said, I could not say better. On a personal basis, I was excited, like a kid going to Disney World. And it just didn't materialize. I really am not close enough to tell you why it didn't materialize, but the bottom line is, you the Federal Government, failed us.
We are really disappointed. We thought we were going to get something that would work, that would help us all get one program, one idea, we'd all start moving in the same direction. I find it hard to understand. I have my personal feelings of why it failed. But I think that somewhere along the line, the Federal Government should look at themselves and truly be ashamed of their failure in this situation.
Mrs. FOWLER. Mr. Burdick?
Mr. BURDICK. I would echo what the other folks have said, as well.
I would also point out that there have been some products that were put out by the National Domestic Preparedness Office that have been very valuable. They had some planning guides that came out last year. There's a recurrent newsletter called the Beacon, which has been extremely useful, just getting information out. But clearly it has not had the widespread distribution it probably should.
And specific action guides, dealing with specific issues, having to do with anthrax and so forth, which have been extremely useful. It's really the first things that we have seen across the board from the Federal Government to assist localities and States with some of their planning and some of their preparedness efforts.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 In terms of an oversight or the correct position in Government for such an entity as is proposed in your bill, I am not sure I know the best place for it. It needs to be high enough to exert some clout, to exert some authority, and to have the ear of the true decision makers as to what is going on. I do not think where it is is necessarily the right place for that sort of entity.
Mrs. FOWLER. At the current time, you mean?
Mr. BURDICK. Yes.
Mrs. FOWLER. Well, I do not have any other questions, but I know I'll have some for the record. I want to thank each of you, because you have taken time away from your busy lives and all that you are doing for your States, and on the international level, too, to come today. It's because we all care, because we are concerned. The Federal Government has failed, you're right, Chief Eversole. That is why we are doing what we are trying to do now, to find some way in which we will not continue to fail and we can move forward, so that we can provide assistance we need.
As you know, this hearing was the second that we have had no this issue. As we continue to examine it and become even more aware of what needs to be done to make it work. One very important point I think we all must remember is that the function of preparing the Nation's first responders should not be a competition among the Federal agencies, which is what, unfortunately, it has been.
And as we have heard from the testimony today, we are going to continue to experience problems until we have established a national strategy to achieve preparedness. So I firmly believe, and as many of you have stated, too, that in the absence of a clearly defined role for each of the Federal agencies, as would be identified in a national strategy, then our efforts will not be completely effective.
They are each going to have a role. No one is going to be dropping off this list. It's just let's get them clearly defined and get them coordinated.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 So as we approach the five year anniversary of the bombing in Oklahoma City, our hearts and minds are turning to that unforgettable image. I was thinking of this the other night, saw it on the front page of the newspaper, when we had a firefighter working out, carrying the little boy in his arms, with the debris all around him. We do not want mothers and fathers across America seeing that again if we can help it.
So that's why we all, this is a high priority to you, it's a high priority to me and many of us here in the Congress. We are going to continue to push it. This Subcommittee is going to really follow this issue closely. It is my hope that if we continue, as we are going to, to focus on this issue, then it is eventually going to result in measurable improvement in how prepared we are in the event of a terrorist attack.
Mr. Traficant and I are going to work very closely with other key members of the Congress, as well as the Administration and the emergency preparedness community, such as you, to move forward with this bill. So I will look forward to scheduling a hearing soon with the relevant Federal agencies on the bill, and we are going to keep this moving, I want to assure you.
So again, I want to thank each of you for being with us today, for all that you do on a daily basis to make sure that your communities and our country is better prepared. We are going to try to get you more help and better help soon.
Thank you again very much for being with us. This hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 4:54 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]