SLUG: 3-187 McIntyre-Terrorism
INTRO: Several events this week, including President Bush's signing of new legislation into law, put the spotlight on terrorism prevention. Col. David McIntyre, Deputy Director of the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security is an expert on homeland security and he appeared on VOA-TV's program, "Campaign Against Terrorism." Dr. McIntyre is particularly concerned about the need for the U.S. government to focus on preventing and preparing for terrorists' use of weapons of mass destruction. He spoke with VOA's David Borgida.
MR. BORGIDA: Now joining us to discuss security issues in the United States, Dr. David McIntyre, Deputy Director of the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security.
Dr. McIntyre, thanks for joining us today.
DR. MCINTYRE: I'm pleased to.
MR. BORGIDA: There is a lot to talk about. Let's begin, though, with the issue of safety around the nuclear power plants, which has been an issue of some interest in Washington and elsewhere, as I noted earlier. What is your take on that?
DR. MCINTYRE: Well, nothing is 100 percent. I mean, nothing is for sure. But there are a couple of things to remember. First of all, we are talking about a target that has been hardened by design. So you would have to get through the barriers that were designed to contain it in case of an accident. Secondly, they have increased the number of barriers around those targets. And then, thirdly, they are on alert.
Now, that does not mean that nothing could happen, but I will tell you that the history of terrorism that we have seen in the last few years is that they have gone after unaware targets or unalerted targets. And so I think it would be both unusual for them to hit this particular target and I think that they would have to be very lucky for something to happen. It would be a mess, but I think they would go somewhere else. I sure would.
MR. BORGIDA: Let's talk a little bit about the Federal bureaucracy that has been created, led by former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, to keep an eye on homeland security. There have been rumblings in Washington that perhaps he doesn't have as big a portfolio, as much clout, as he would like. What is your view about Mr. Ridge and his effectiveness so far? And what needs to be done in the weeks and months ahead?
DR. MCINTYRE: First, we are at the beginning of a very long process. In some respects, the homeland security problem is where the national security problem was in about 1953, after the end of the Korean War. We could see that the world was going to be different; we just weren't sure how to organize for it. And it took about 20 years before we really got it completely sorted out. It will take a while to get this completely sorted out.
He has made very good progress in a number of areas. The first thing he did was establish some priorities. And then he has funded those priorities. And so that is good.
He has, I think, in the last two or three months, encountered strong resistance from the established bureaucracy. That is, we have new missions now, and people who have been doing this for a long time, they're worried about their jobs and their money. We are going to have to find a way past that. I think this summer will be a critical period in that.
MR. BORGIDA: Now, there is this report about the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, creating this super squad that would be in charge of all terrorist activities worldwide, at least from the United States' point of view. You talked about the bureaucracy, does this add to the bureaucracy? Does this sharpen the focus of the U.S. anti-terrorism coalition?
DR. MCINTYRE: Boy, it's always a tough challenge. The same question has been raised about the Northern Command for the Department of Defense -- are we adding a layer of bureaucracy or are we making things simpler because we have one central focal point?
Well, the proof there will be in the pudding. We will have to see as it develops. However, it is important to understand the transition the FBI has had to make over the last eight months or so. This time a year ago, the terrorists that they were really concerned with were single domestic terrorists, like abortion bombers. Their attention was really focused on that.
And yes, there was some attention given to outside groups, but the statistics they were being forced to chase, the thing they were really focused on, was inside, one at a time, domestic terrorists. So they have had a tremendous change in focus, a change in mission and job for many of their agents. They are still trying to organize it. And my hope is that this will be much more effective, as they look at a single set of data rather than have the data scattered around in different offices around the country.
MR. BORGIDA: Dr. McIntyre, let's talk about this notion of the other kinds of terrorism, the domestic terrorism that we have just now seen in recent weeks in the United States, in the U.S. Midwest, where a student was charged and has been arrested, allegedly for planting pipe bombs in various mailboxes. There were a number of injuries, but no deaths fortunately. Does this again raise the specter of the domestic kind of terrorism that you talked about a moment ago?
DR. MCINTYRE: Well, it does. But there is a really important point here that escapes many people, and I fear it is a point that we have not made clearly with many of our friends and allies around the world. There are different types of terrorism. One word doesn't cover it all. It's like saying "theft," and you mean everything from pickpockets to stealing millions of dollars. There is an enormous difference between the terrorist that attacks by himself and they wound or kill a number of people, which is regrettable, but does not threaten the nation. There is a huge difference between that and a biological attack or a nuclear attack or a radiological attack that threatens the viability of the nation itself.
Those are the types of things -- the FBI has to guard against all of those -- but those last issues are the ones the President is concerned with. That is what brings us back to the question of the axis of evil, to nations that are dealing with terrorists and may be producing weapons of mass destruction, to the focus on Iraq. That is the big change that has taken place since 9/11, since the 11th of September, is the potential access of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups.
MR. BORGIDA: You recently were visiting some European and foreign capitals. You have had some conversations with your counterparts and others in the business of security. What is their view vis-à-vis the American view of the threat posed by al-Qaida and other terrorist groups and cells to the United States?
DR. MCINTYRE: First, I appreciate and commend the fact that so many nations around the world stood with the United States on the 11th of September. And that was a uniform emotion that we are still hearing from our friends in Europe, that they deplore these attacks and the techniques. However, I was very concerned that they seem to have a different perspective on the point I was just making; that is, the different types of terrorism. Their attitude seemed to be, those that I talked to -- and they were from many countries -- seemed to be, "look, we've faced terrorism before, we've seen the assassination of judges, we've seen car bombs in the Basque region, and we've dealt with the IRA, we understand this, and you Americans are just getting your first taste and that's why you're upset."
I fear that we have not made our point clear enough, that what concerns us is not a few bombs; it is this issue of weapons of mass destruction, which would threaten not just our cities but cities overseas. A nuclear weapon in a port in the United States would bring international commerce to a halt in not just our ports but other ports overseas. This is something we've all got to be concerned about.
MR. BORGIDA: Let me end the segment on that note, because we are all concerned about it. Hopefully we will have you back again some time, Dr. David McIntyre of the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security. Thank you, Dr.~McIntyre, for joining us.
DR. MCINTYRE: You bet, sir.
(End of interview.)
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