The American Public and Terrorism
TRANSCRIPT OF SPEECH
Center for Strategic and International Studies
September 25, 2003 at The Phoenix Park Hotel, Washington, DC
DR. JOHN HAMRE: First, thank you all for coming today to talk about the homeland security from a citizenís perspective. Boy am I glad to have this conference because I am now entering my seventh day of no electricity in Bethesda. I was in Baghdad for five days and we had more electricity in Baghdad than Bethesda.
This is a very important opportunity, however, to talk with everyone and we are exceptionally fortunate to be able to have this conference. First of all, let me just thank Amanda Dory for having the energy and the imagination to put this together. Amanda is on a work release program from the Defense Department and she has going to have to go back pretty soon. Pretty soon we are going to have to let Amanda go back, but she has been great. A special thanks to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and to the Chain Drug Store Association for helping us with this. You know, as a poor little think tank, we cannot do this stuff on our own and we desperately need good friends and partners. Thank you, we are really grateful for it.
And, of course, we have been really very fortunate to have so many notable leaders in the area of homeland security here, not just the speakers, and I am, of course, very grateful to shortly be able to introduce Governor Gilmore, but Congressman Turner, Congressman Harman and this afternoon Jerry Hauer is going to be with us and others. So, it is really great. And as I look out through the room, I have been fortunate enough to have a chance to have worked with probably half of the folks here in recent years on homeland security. I am just so pleased that we can do that together. It really is essential.
One of the things that I know we have realized is how fragile American consensus is for its views about government when you are in the middle of a crisis. It really tends to be the overarching challenge. We think that homeland security is really about the mechanics of response, but it is really about the credibility of government. How well have you thought about the problems? How forthright are you about dealing with them when you confront them? How open are you in interacting and understanding where citizens are and what their needs and concerns are? And, by and large, this is a real tough problem for the federal government to deal with. Somebody once described Washington as ten square miles surrounded by reality. And there is really a lot to that. We have become our own bubble. We are a very self-absorbed community. We are obsessed by our own internal dynamic. We tend, when it comes to the rest of the country, to have kind of that old motto, why, because I am the mom,
On a couple of occasions, I have had the opportunity to work with Governor Gilmore and one of the most recent ones we have had him participate with us on a couple of our war games when we have been trying to create a simulated National Security Council meeting with a crisis. The first one was Dark Winter, which was the one about a smallpox attack. The second was Silent Vector, and it was where we were looking at the prospect of a highly credible, but inherently unknown tactical threat. At that time, Governor Gilmore played the role of our Homeland Security Secretary.
Most recently, we did Bold Sentinel, which was about a North Korea crisis. In each of these three I can remember being caught up in the middle of this simulated National Security Council meeting crisis and sat through a couple of dozen of those for real when I was in government. These were, by far, the best meetings I have ever attended, the simulated ones. I remember having an observation to my mind, at the time, and I looked around the room, especially on the Dark Winter exercise, and I thought to myself, of all these people that are sitting at the National Security Council table, the only ones that I trust are the politicians. Now that is not the public sentiment in America. But the only ones I really trusted with my life in those meetings were the politicians, people that had been elected to public office. Everybody else that was sitting at the table was there talking about their bureaucracy or their agency or their expertise or their constituents. They always approached every problem with the perspective of that constituent element. But the only people who were sitting at that table thinking about the whole, what will the American people expect? What do I have to do? What are the constraints, the true constraints? If this really is a test about the viability of democracy, what do I have to do to get it right? Frankly, the only people in these exercises who I really felt had that grounded right were the politicians. So, let me just say, thank God we have got politicians. That is not said very much in this country. We are very lucky that we have people who are willing to do that. That is not the only reason we asked Governor Gilmore to come today. He has been tempered in the business of having to get elected and stay elected. You all do not appreciate how important that is. We tend to take it for granted how important this is. To be a credible witness and representative of the structure of life that we take for granted in a time of crisis, incredibly important.
Governor Gilmore, of course, as you all know, was also the Chairman of the now famous Gilmore Commission and looked at all of the issues of homeland security before 9/11, anticipating, maybe not the precise details of 9/11, but the context and the consequences of catastrophic terrorism. We are lucky to hear from him now, especially about this subject, which is, let us look at this problem from the perspective of citizens, not from the bureaucracies, not from, does my office look out over the mall or does it look out over 16th Street or how many assistant secretaries do I have working for me or which part of the regions are organized under my jurisdiction, but how does my mom and dad understand what we are trying to do to protect them?
That is where we are now. That is what this conference is for. Governor, we need to stop hearing me and we got to start hearing you. Thank you very much for coming. We are looking forward to what you have to tell us.
GOVERNOR JAMES S. GILMORE, III: John, thank you very much. I appreciate the invitation to be here with these distinguished assemblage here today to talk about homeland security and where we have been and we are going. I did do a couple of the exercises with CSIS. One I played the Governor of Virginia and another I played the Secretary of Homeland Security. I much preferred Governor of Virginia, and actually since Governor Ridge has always called himself Governor, he probably does too, but that is another story. John always did in his seminars and during that time express that same appreciation for politicians and the sum up, pock washes and analysis and so on like that, the conclusion was always that John Hamre had a moral problem of some kind that had to be dealt with.
Let us talk a little bit about this. When I was invited to come today and be your luncheon speaker I went on and looked at the agenda here at CSIS for this event. I must say, this is very impressive, the fact that you are able to deal with these essential questions through specific seminars through the balance of the day raises sort of a challenge of the lunch speaker because what I am going to do is discuss the whole big picture and give you some history and background on that. And then we will do some Q&A here after a while and talk about some of this. But this will give me a chance to go over many of the topics you are going to be talking about in detail with distinguished people who have come in.
Already you have had Jane Harman here. I am a big fan of Jane Harmanís. I know James Lee Witt is coming in after a while. James Lee Witt ran a wonderful FEMA at the time that I was Governor of Virginia. I appreciate the chance to try to add something to this.
Presently I am, obviously, no longer Governor of Virginia. In Virginia you get one term and that is it, unless you decide to come back at a later time. I never knew at the end of the term whether to laugh or cry, and I think I did both, but it does give me the opportunity at this point to do some things in business. So I am practicing law at Kelley, Drye & Warren over here in Washington and we are building a homeland security sort of a trade group that can come together in private businesses and address some of these homeland security issues as a group. We are calling that U.S.A. Secure. I am working with some corporate boards and one or two of the think tanks here in Washington as well. I am staying quite busy. But one thing that has been a consistent part of my life now for just about five years has been my position as the Chairman of the Congressional Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities involving Weapons of Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction. Now you cannot even make an acronym out of that. So nobody in Washington ever remembers it because you cannot make an acronym out of it, but that is what it is. The history behind this is that this was actually formed back at the end of 1998. As you probably recall where you were in 1998, there was not a lot of discussion about terrorism during that period of time, or homeland security. Just not a lot of talk about it. But there was a sense of unease in the Congress about it. So Curt Weldon asked that a commission be formed to address this question. If we had a major attack in the United States, would we really be prepared to address it at that time? So at the beginning of 1999, I was having a seminar in Williamsburg, together with the Governor of North Carolina, on terrorism issues. Dick Clark was, at that time, the National Security Council for President Clinton and people from the DOD came down and they basically surprised me a little bit and said this thing was getting ready to be formed, and asked if I, as Governor of Virginia, be prepared to chair it? They wanted somebody from the states to chair it. So I agreed to do it.
Now this Commission is not what you would typically see in Washington, DC. This Commission is a commission made up of police, fire, rescue, emergency services, healthcare, epidemiologists. It does have some retired General Officers that are on this Commission, and some intelligence people have been on this Commission. It is got a very distinguished alumni group. Jim Clapper, who now runs the National Mapping and Imagery Agency, was on the Commission, Vice Chair for all the years before he went to that branch. Rich Fairbank has served on it. He is now in the White House on the issues of homeland security. A guy by the name of Paul Bremmer served on the Commission for four years and resigned the Commission to go to Iraq. We had another fellow by the name of Ray Downy. He was one of the top people in the New York City Fire Department and was killed at the World Trade Center when he was trying to get people out. So we have had a very distinguished group of alumni and current people who are on there.
The Commission has stuck very well. Almost all of the Commission members who have not moved on to other things as have in fact stuck with this Commission. There is been great longevity and consistency. The way I have tried to run this Commission is to treat no member any more importantly than any other. So, as a result, everybody on the Commission has had complete latitude to get in their two cents on this a lot. There is been enormous debate. So let me give you some feel for it.
The first year, in 1999, we were to report every December the 15th and present the final report, then go out of business. By the way, this was a three-year commission, í99, 2000, 2001. So, we said, all right, what are we going to do here? The RAND Organization staffs us and we said, well, what are we going to do? How are we going to approach this? The first year we decided that we needed a threat assessment. Nobody was talking about this. We said, what is the reality here? What is the real danger?
So the first year we did a threat assessment. In the conclusion of the first year, when we reported December the 15th of the year 1999, we basically said, what is the real danger here of a true weapon of mass destruction being used in the homeland? And that is nuclear, biological, chemical, radiological. We did a complete study on it. At the end of the day, we concluded that the chance of a major weapon of mass destruction being used in this country was not probable. But, frankly, some of the staff really urged the Commission to write it off 100 percent and move on to other topics. The Commission refused to do that. The reason was that we were so concerned about the potential consequences of a weapon of mass destruction that no matter how unlikely it was, we thought we had to continue to address it for the balance of the next two years. But, on the other hand, we also address the issue of whether or not there was a likely attack in the United States, in the homeland here, with a conventional attack, a bomb, the hijacking of a plane, hijacking of a train, a conventional type of attack.
The conclusion we reached in our first report was that that was highly probable inside the homeland of the United States. Then we basically raised the topic. We said, well, we had better get a national strategy to deal with this because this is probably going to happen immediately so we better get on this. In the next year we probably did some of our best policy work and we reported in December of the year 2000. At that point we basically said, look, a year has gone by, there is still no national strategy, we better get one, and here is what we probably need to do. We need to have an office, probably in the White House, that would be in a position to look at this holistically, to make a national strategy and then to force, using the power of the presidency and budget authority, all the rest of the government to fit into that national strategy. And that that would be what we thought was the best managerial approach to the situation.
We urged that a national strategy would not be a federal strategy, not be a national strategy. It has to be federal, state and local. Now, this is not understandable in Washington, DC. They cannot get this, and it is very hard even to today. But there is still, today, a lot of discussion about federal, state and local authorities. It is reality. It is the right thing to do. It was very jarring though when we came out and said you have got to, that the federal strategy is not going to work, and that is still true today. We also discussed the fact that the intelligence community was not able to communicate between different organizations, CIA, FBI, NSA and all the rest of those organizations, just simply could not communicate with each other about homeland security problems. We also pointed out that there was absolutely no ability to communicate between federal, state and local people on intelligence and law enforcement types of issues. Culturally, it was just unthinkable and today remains very nearly unthinkable to be in a position to pass that information up and down the line.
So we pointed out these issues and then we went into the third report, the third and final year, 2001. That year we said, okay, we are going to go out of business now by trying to fill out some of the detail of what we think is important for the national strategy within the parameters we discussed. We basically focused our attention on healthcare issues, how to utilize the state and local responders in an attack situation, how to work with them and what their role was, which was absolutely critical and central. And so is the issue of border control and how you got the borders under control so that we would not have this constant danger here in the homeland.
We devoted a lot of attention to the use of the military in the homeland. The sense of the Commission was that this was a highly dangerous situation, that to utilize the United States military in the homeland, a violation of passť camatatas, although there are legal exceptions, particularly in the case of the use of weapons of mass destruction. But to utilize as a first responder the military for the homeland was highly dangerous to the democracy. And then finally we discussed the issue of cyber terrorism.. We finished this report, decided we would go out of business early. We would impress the Congress, save them a month or something like that. So we sent this thing off to the printer in the first week of September and got ready to have a big announcement in November when it came back and we have had a chance to review it one last time from the printer.
And then, of course, the attack occurred on 9/11/2001. I was actually still the Governor of Virginia at that time. We were one of the two states directly attacked at that time, being New York and Virginia. New York obviously, Virginia perhaps less obviously, but the Pentagon is in Virginia. The responders, from Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax County, Montgomery County, and later on local responders from all across the country, coming in to deal with this issue at the Pentagon. I was in my dressing room when I saw the attack occur at the World Trade Center. I watched the plane go in, just as I am sure all of you did, and then got my tie on and got across the street after doing all the appropriate notifications and just in time to arrive when Virginia was struck at the Pentagon and we had to deal with that.
Well, the Congress, at that point, decided to extend the Commission. So the Commission was extended two additional years, last year and this current year where we are. In the fourth report that we issued December the 15th of this past year, we focused much of our attention on the issues of intelligence, fusion of intelligence interaction and how we conducted anti-terrorism conduct here in the United States. We recommended that there be a fusion center of intelligence so that all the organizations could co-locate in one place to collect the dots and get the information together and try to break through the cultural barrier that we identified in the second year of our report in 2000. The President adopted a similar concept in his State of the Union Address shortly thereafter and that has become the TTIC, which all of you are familiar with that. What is it? Terrorism Technical Information Center. So that became the TTIC organization that exists today. That was a fairly consensus position on the Commission. It was kind of a no-brainer. The controversy in the Commission in the fourth year was this raging debate that went on between two different factions within the Commission on the issue of how you conduct counter-terrorism operations inside the United States. There was one faction led by me that believed that the FBI was the correct organization and we should build upon their current capabilities and force them to do the job correctly. That was my position. The second faction was led by Jerry Brimmer, his position was that it was impossible, the FBI would not be capable of ever doing this, and that it should be removed from them forthwith and put into the hands of a new organization based upon the British MI5 model. And that was the real issue that came out of that fourth report. If you want to read all this, it is on the RAND web page, rand.org. When the web page comes up, put Gilmore Commission in and this stuff comes up. You will find the recommendation of the Commission and the MI5 concept.
Now, this yearís report that we are getting ready to do will be out this coming December the 15th and then we are out of business. By statute, we are obligated to meet and report, and by statute we will go out of business on December the 15th of this year, after five years of laborious work on this. If you look at the material, you will see almost everything about homeland security has been dealt with by this Commission at one time or another and in detail. You will get a kick out of it if you are looking for some good light reading at bedtime.
In the fifth report that is coming up, we have asked ourselves this question, what contribution can we make at this point? The Department has been established, it is up and running, there has been a wide discussion of this, we have discussed very little else in this country since the 9/11 attacks. So, what can we do as we go out of the door? Our thinking at this point is that we want to try to address the big picture. We want to ask ourselves, what is preparedness? Define what it is. Try to get some idea of what an appropriate strategy is. How do you make the decision about what it is you are trying to buy, what it is you are trying to do, what is the purpose of grants? How do you get this stuff into the hands of the states and locals appropriately within a strategic framework that makes sense and then how do you get it trained and exercised?
I met with the local responders the other day in Seattle. They asked me to come and give a talk to them up there because of their frustration, and they asked me to keynote a little address for them in Seattle. I said, look, you are all saying that you are frustrated because you cannot get grants. I said, grants to do what? What are you trying to do? Who cares what your local parochial desire is, whether you need gas masks or something like that. The issue is not that. The question is, grant to do what and to buy what? I told them, if you do not somehow fit what you want to do into a national strategy, then the reason for giving you money disappears. There is no reason to give you any money. So, there is got to be a strategic framework thought about and our Commission hopefully will try to add some thinking into that as we go on.
There is another thought about this, which is, we are not going to ever be really secure and we should be cautious about trying to tell the American people we are going to be secure and constantly rolling towards that particular goal because it carries within it certain dangers. We have to decide how much security is appropriate, how much risk we are going to run, tell the American people and then move on, instead of this constant obsession that we have as a nation, which takes us away from a variety of other issues that have to be thought about as a nation. We have got to decide what we are doing, do it, and then tell the American people about it and move on to other things that we have to do as a country. Otherwise, the enemy is distracting us to the point where Lord knows where we are going to end up. And then that takes you to the second thought that we have as a Commission for this fifth report, and that is the issue of the civil freedoms of the country. I am a conservative republican so I am not typically using the words civil liberties, but civil freedoms is the identical concept. And we are talking about this quite a bit because I believe, and I think the Commission agrees that there is a consensus feeling about this, that this is an extremely dangerous time for the United States.
There are forces that already preexisted in the society that have been unleashed by the enemy by their attack at 9/11. What are those forces? Number one, this is the most managerial society in the history of the world. You are part of that class, all of you who are sitting in this room today, you are part of the managerial class of this country. We are a people that if we are told that we have a problem, we fix it. That is what we do. And Americans are very impatient people. If we are told we have got a problem, we start to manage through it and we fix it. And then there is a second problem. The second problem is that we are the most technological society in the history of the entire world. As we saw in the Iraqi war, you can win a war virtually on technology alone. And look at what we can do now inside the homeland that has never been able to be done before. We can take data and all of a sudden combine it together and create unified databases and now the government can know everything about everybody all the time. We are in real trouble because you cannot un-invent a lot of these things. You maybe have to pass laws to define it. We have the ability now to have cameras everywhere. Everywhere. In fact, the Washington, DC people are very proud about the fact that they have got some war room where they have got big cameras and screens on the wall and they can watch any street that they choose to.
Let me ask you a question. If you walked across Washington, DC, do you think you would behave differently if you knew you were being watched? I think you would. I would. You would behave different. You would feel differently. You would know you were being watched. When I was governor of Virginia, I vetoed the red light cameras at various intersections. The localities thought I was nuts because they said, Governor, that is revenue, we can get that. I said, no, young Virginians, with our background and history and tradition, should not have to grow up feeling watched on their own public streets. We should not do that as a matter of principal.
So these are very fundamental and troublesome issues that we have right now. The raging issue right now, the issue of what is it called CAPS Two. At our meeting in Sacramento last week, Admiral Loy was invited to come in and present to us, which he did by video, and I am a big fan of Jim Loy. He is an excellent man, but I do not have to agree with everything he says. One thing he said was they are going to put together this program where they will combine together all the databases and they are going to assign a color to everybody that wants to buy a plane ticket. Green, you get on the plane. A yellow, you get hauled off to the side and questioned closely. A red, you do not get on the plane. Have you ever tried to change one of your government records because there is an error in it? Have you ever tried to do that? What is going to happen when some poor guy just hits the profile and he has a red and for the rest of his life he has trying to figure out how to get off of red? If it is you, ladies and gentlemen, and I would say some percentage will be you, you are going to be pretty mad about it, and, it is dangerous. There is a lot to talk about here in the civil freedoms area. Our Commission certainly wants to address that issue. I am very optimistic about this country. I know what this country is like, just like you do. We are a country that has great strong values and a long tradition and a scent of individualism that exists uniquely in the world.
I was a soldier. I have lived in Europe. I have had a chance to do a lot of reading. I do not think people in the rest of the world look at things the way we do. We look at things better. We, as Americans, think a lot more about freedoms and liberties than anybody else does. Our traditions are not medieval. Our traditions come from the very beginning of prowling the British Army off, and men and women who listened to people like Benjamin Franklin who said, at the very beginning of our republic, he who would trade freedom in return for security is entitled to neither freedom nor security. This is the American tradition, the same American tradition of people getting in covered wagons and going across the country whether it was dangerous or not. Think of those women that marched along beside those covered wagons, dragging children with them, because they were part of the American value. And that is what we are. I am very optimistic that when we come through this we will maintain the values that make us Americans. John, thank you for the chance to be here.
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