Combating Terrorism: Linking Threats to Strategies and Resources, Statement of Norman J. Rabkin, Director, National Security Preparedness Issues, National Security and International Affairs Division, Testimony before the Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs, and International Relations, Committee on Government Reform, House of Representatives   [open pdf - 153KB]

To develop sound programs to combat terrorism, the United States must develop a thorough understanding of the terrorist threat. U.S. intelligence agencies track and analyze terrorist threats, including the use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons. In GAO's view, some public statements made about CBRN do not include important qualifications to the information they present. For example, terrorists would have to overcome significant technical and operational challenges to successfully make and release chemical or biological agents of sufficient quality and quantity to kill or injure large numbers of people without substantial assistance from a foreign government sponsor. Secondly, much federal effort to combat terrorism has been based on vulnerabilities and worst case scenarios rather than an analysis of credible risks. A threat and risk assessment can be used to develop a nationwide strategy and guide resource investments. Officials in five foreign countries GAO visited--Canada, United Kingdom, Israel, Germany, and France--said that because of limited resources, they make funding decisions for programs to combat terrorism on the likelihood of terrorist activity, not on the countries' overall vulnerabilities. These countries maximize their existing capabilities to address a wide array of threats, including emerging threats like CBRN, before they create new capabilities or programs to respond to such attacks.

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