FBI's Role in the Federal Response to the Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction

Statement of Robert M. Blitzer, Chief Domestic Terrorism/Counterterrorism Planning Section

Federal Bureau of Investigation Before the

United States House of Representatives Committee on National Security Washington, D.C. November 4, 1997

Thank you Mr. Chairman for this opportunity to address the committee on the FBI’s role in the federal response to the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) against the United States, and the preparedness initiatives we have undertaken in the interagency setting. I have submitted a written statement for the record which further details my testimony here today.

It is essential to understand that any criminal threat or use of WMD against the U.S., its population, interests, or critical infrastructure will be considered an act of terrorism. Consistent with mandates set out in Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) – 39, existing and newly created statutory requirements, the Antiterrorism and Intelligence Authorization Acts, and the Defense against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 1996, we have improved our ability to deal with those who may be planning to commit these heinous crimes.

Established doctrine, including PDD-39, identifies the FBI’s critical domestic role in the operational response to WMD terrorism. But it is important to recognize that the potential impact of WMD terrorism transcends any one agency’s ability to fully manage the necessary response to such and

incident. The effects of a WMD terrorist attack may be catastrophic and will require a unified approach among all federal resources in cooperation with federal, state, and local governments for definitive success.

As such, the FBI has undertaken several initiatives with its partners in the federal interagency community, including the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Energy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Public Health Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency. These organizations make up the nucleus of the government’s WMD response. The FBI is extensively engaged with these departments and agencies in policy, coordination, planning, exercise, and training programs to enhance the federal government’s overall ability to effectively respond to WMD terrorism. The FBI also interacts with the intelligence community on WMD and matters regarding counter-proliferation.

Among the interagency initiatives that have been undertaken to ensure an effective federal response are the following:

* We have developed “Guidelines for the Mobilization, Deployment and Employment of U.S. Government Agencies in Response to a Domestic Terrorist Threat or Incident,” also known as the “Domestic Guidelines.” These guidelines upon the signature of the Attorney General and approval of the President, will serve to facilitate coordination among the federal agencies for response within the framework of the U.S. policy on counterterrorism.

* Pursuant to PDD-39, we have formulated a specialized interagency team known as the “Domestic Emergency Support Team,” or “DEST, ” which has been signed to expeditiously provide expert advice and guidance to the FBI on scene commander and to coordinate needed follow-on response assets. The DEST would be deployed upon request of the FBI in response to a significant threat or act of terrorism. The exact composition of the DEST will be determined by the specific nature of the incident and will include, when appropriate, advisory modules for WMD conditions. The DEST has been deployed and tested in support of the last presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., and the Denver Summit of the Eight in 1997.

* We have also engaged in a major interagency planning effort to develop a WMD concept plan, or “CONPLAN” for an actual integrated U.S. government response to a domestic WMD threat or situation. The CONPLAN is intended to integrate the plans and procedures of individual agencies and departments. It specifies which U.S. government resources would be deployed, the conditions for their deployment, the priority of their movement, and the method for their operational engagement within the FBI’s crisis management structure.

* The FBI is finalizing new incident contingency plans for internal response to WMD events which detail the sequence of actions required to appropriately guide, oversee, and support the successful execution of the U.S. government response to a WMD threat or incident. These plans will be shared with our federal, state and local emergency responder counterparts to ensure a unified approach to the on-scene management of the crisis.

* To date, we have participated in over 30 interagency exercises involving WMD to test and improve operational readiness plans an procedures, clarify individual agency roles and responsibilities, and to improve coordination among federal resources.

* The DoD and the FBI have been supported by the interagency community in developing and implementing a Counter Proliferation Program for the newly independent states of the Former Soviet Union (FSU). This program provides training to law enforcement personnel and other officials in combating illicit trafficking in nuclear, chemical and biological weapons material or related technologies. This effort is intended to increase their ability to detect, prevent, and investigate criminal enterprises, corrupt officials, and individuals involved in illegal acquisition and transport of WMD materials and technologies. To date, 78 government officials from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have been provided the training. Additional FSU countries will be trained in 1997, 1998, and the out-years.

* The FBI also plays a major role in the development and delivery of the domestic preparedness “First Responder” Training Program which is intended to enhance the WMD response capabilities of federal, state, and local authorities across the country. The FBI has contributed to the curriculum by providing an assessment of the WMD domestic threat and a discussion on the integration of the federal response with that of the local incident command. In addition, the FBI has partnered with FEMA in the development of the Senior Officials’ Workshop designed to instruct community leaders and department heads on the details of an actual response. These contributions are important because the FBI is located in most metropolitan areas and in many small towns across the country. As such, we will be among the first federal responders to the scene of a WMD terrorist event.

The FBI looks forward to the development of an even greater partnership withing the federal, state, and local community as we move forward in the

important endeavor. This concludes my remarks. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

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