Dramatic geopolitical changes that continue into the first decade of the 21 s’ century increase rather than lessen the need to protect sensitive national security information. Some of this information is classified while some is unclassified but sensitive due to its relationship to, or impact upon, our critical infrastructure. Increased threats to our cyber security and the inadvertent or deliberate disclosure of sensitive information underscore the necessity for the National Security Community to have reliable, timely, and trusted information available to those who both need it and are authorized to have it. During the last five years we have established a set of security countermeasures policies, practices, procedures, and programs for a rational, fair, forward looking, and cost-effective security system. More needs to be done, however, and efforts will continue in providing a better synchronized, integrated and interoperable programs for personnel security, physical security, technical security, operational security, education and awareness, information assurance, classification management, industrial security, and counterintelligence.
The United States has mounted an aggressive response to terrorism. Our strategy pressures terrorists, deters attacks, and responds forcefully to terrorist acts. It combines enhanced law enforcement and intelligence efforts; vigorous diplomacy and economic sanctions; and, when necessary, military force. Domestically, we seek to stop terrorists before they act, and eliminate their support networks and financing. Overseas, we seek to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries; counter state and non-governmental support for terrorism; help other governments improve their physical and political counterterrorism, antiterrorism, and consequence management efforts; tighten embassy and military facility security; and protect U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad. Whether at home or abroad, we will respond to terrorism through defensive readiness of our facilities and personnel, and the ability of our terrorism consequence management efforts to mitigate injury and damage.
Our strategy requires us to both prevent and, if necessary, respond to terrorism. Prevention — which includes intelligence collection, breaking up cells, and limiting the movement, planning, and organization of terrorists — entails more unknowns and its effectiveness will never be fully proven or appreciated, but it is certainly the preferable path. For example, as a result of the quiet cooperation with some of our allies and among federal authorities, agencies, and local law enforcement, planned terrorist attacks within the United States and against U.S. interests abroad during the millennium celebration were thwarted. A major aspect of our prevention efforts is bolstering the political will and security capabilities of those states that are on the front lines to terrorist threats and that are disproportionately impacted by the expanding threat. This coalition of nations is imperative to the international effort to contain and fight the terrorism that threatens American interests.
Avenues of international trade provide a highway for the tools and weapons of international terrorists. The same sophisticated transportation network that can efficiently, safely, and reliably move people and goods is also equally attractive to those whose motives may be hostile, dangerous, or criminal. Systems that promote efficiency, volume and speed, fueling economic prosperity, create new challenges in the balance between policing and facilitating the transnational movements of people and goods. Globalization and electronic commerce transcend conventional borders, fast rendering traditional border security measures at air, land, and sea ports of entry ineffective or obsolete. Despite the challenges, we are developing tools to close off this avenue for terrorists. In this new environment, prudent, reasonable, and affordable security measures will require an approach transcending any particular transportation node or sector. The International Trade Data System (ITDS), already in initial implementation pilot testing, was created to foster an integrated system to electronically collect, use, and disseminate international trade and transportation data. By transcending transportation nodes and sectors, efforts like the ITDS project will foreclose opportunities terrorists may believe are emerging with globalization.
When terrorism occurs, despite our best efforts, we can neither forget the crime nor ever give up on bringing its perpetrators to justice. We make no concessions to terrorists. Since 1993, a dozen terrorist fugitives have been apprehended overseas and rendered, formally or informally, to the United States to answer for their crimes. These include the perpetrators of the World Trade Center bombing, the attack outside CIA headquarters, and an attack on a Pan Am flight more than 18 years ago. In 1998, the U.S. Armed Forces carried out strikes against a chemical weapons target and an active terrorist base operated by Usama bin Ladin, whose terror network had carried out bombings of American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and planned still other attacks against Americans. We will likewise pursue the criminals responsible for the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.
Whenever possible, we use law enforcement, diplomatic, and economic tools to wage the fight against terrorism. But there have been, and will be, times when those tools are not enough. As long as terrorists continue to target American citizens, we reserve the right to act in self-defense by striking at their bases and those who sponsor, assist, or actively support them, as we have done over the years in different countries.
Fighting terrorism requires a substantial commitment of financial, human, and political resources. Since 1993, both the FBI’s counterterrorism budget and the number of FBI agents assigned to counterterrorism have more than doubled. The President has also created and filled the post of National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism. Three presidential directives now coordinate the efforts of senior counterterrorism personnel from various government agencies in dealing with WMD and other threats at home. The FBI and the State Department, respectively, operate Rapid Deployment Teams and interagency Foreign Emergency Support Teams to deploy quickly to scenes of terrorist incidents worldwide.
However, it is not only the response capabilities that need significant resources. It is our preventive efforts, such as active diplomatic and military engagement, political pressure, economic sanctions, and bolstering allies’ political and security capabilities, that also require strong financial support in order to squeeze terrorists before they act. Providing political support and economic assistance to front line states and other allies impacted by this threat expands the circle of nations fighting against threats to the United States. These preventive measures are an important partner to our counterterrorism response efforts.
We must continue to devote the necessary resources for America’s strategy to combat terrorism, which integrates preventive and responsive measures and encompasses a graduated scale of enhanced law enforcement and intelligence gathering, vigorous diplomacy, and, where needed, military action.
Domestic Preparedness Against Weapons of Mass Destruction
Defending the United States against weapons of mass destruction is a top national security priority. In October 1998, the President signed into law legislation criminalizing the unjustified accumulation of dangerous chemicals, thereby enhancing the ability of law enforcement to prevent potentially catastrophic terrorist acts by allowing enforcement action before the chemicals are weaponized. Additionally, concerted efforts have been undertaken to mitigate the consequences of a WMD attack.