Documents on Terrorism
Testimony by Secretary of Commerce Donald L. Evans Before the Senate on Terrorism Washington, DC; May 9, 2001

[As Prepared For Delivery]

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, I want to thank you for this opportunity to testify on what the Commerce Department is doing to combat terrorism.

As you know, the Administration currently is reviewing all aspects of U.S. terrorism policy. Although the results of that review are still a few weeks away, several points are clear.

First, the threat of terrorist attack on American interests at home and abroad is real. My colleagues from the Departments of State, Defense, and Justice, and from the intelligence community already have testified on the seriousness of the problem.

Second, there are no simple solutions. I wish there were a silver bullet. But no single agency has the capacity by itself to tackle all the problems posed by terrorism. So we believe that the best strategy for combating terrorism is effective coordination among Federal agencies.

Third, the threat of terrorism affects our nation's economic interests, so we can't expect to fight terrorism effectively without working closely with the private sector.

That's why the Commerce Department is involved in this issue.

Let me briefly explain our role.

Essentially, we wear two hats. One involves export controls and the other is overseeing efforts to guard against attacks on the nation's critical infrastructure.

For many years, the Department has restricted foreign sales of American commercial products that might contribute to the military potential of terrorist countries and organizations.

The Department's Bureau of Export Administration manages our export control system in consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, and Energy, and the intelligence community. A key component of the system is controlling the export or re-export of U.S. goods to countries that have engaged in acts of terrorism, or support terrorism. These include: Cuba, Syria, North Korea and Libya. We scrutinize a wide range of products, including technology and software.

The Bureau also investigates violations of federal export laws, working with the FBI and the U.S. Customs Service as well as with regional task forces on counter-terrorism.

We place special emphasis on prevention. We actively seek to stop illegal exports of precursors to chemical weapons, biological agents, and nuclear weapons and missile development equipment.

Several methods are used in this effort, including pre-license screening, post-shipment verification, and working with exporters to help them identify and avoid illegal transactions.

Our other job is coordinating efforts to protect the nation's critical infrastructure.

This challenge is quite different from defending against a missile attack or an assault on a government building. You can't use a missile defense system or security guards to defend against a determined Internet hacker.

Indeed, government action alone won't do it because the vast majority of the nation's vital economic assets are privately owned and operated. Only an unprecedented partnership among private industry and federal, state, and local government will work.

Helping make this partnership a reality is the task of Commerce's Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office (CIAO). The office coordinates national policy planning and outreach initiatives across key sectors of private industry. It also assists federal agencies in analyzing their critical infrastructure dependencies, and interdependencies.

An important goal of the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office is to promote market solutions to improve security.

It seeks to do this by raising awareness throughout industry regarding critical infrastructure protection and by influencing corporate governance policies

The office also deals with statutory and regulatory issues that could undermine business incentives to maximize voluntary security measures.

In addition, the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration has the lead in working on infrastructure issues with IT and telecommunications companies. And the National Institute of Standards and Technology works with industry in developing standards and methodologies to safeguard information systems.

Finally, we have our own critical systems we're protecting, including the weather, computing, satellite, and telecommunications systems operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In conclusion, the Department of Commerce has a significant role in combating terrorism, and protecting the nation's critical infrastructure. We will continue to work with private industry to find market solutions to national and economic security. And we will continue to coordinate with other federal agencies.

I look forward to working with Congress in finding ways to improve the effectiveness of America's antiterrorist programs.

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