Let me say that the importance of today's hearing is summed up in
the stark opening paragraph of the recently released report of the
Commission of the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction
Proliferation and Terrorism.
It says, and I quote, "Unless the world community acts decisively
and with great urgency, it is more likely than not that a weapon of
mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack, somewhere in the
world, by the end of 2013," end of quote.
In those 38 words, the commission compels us to focus our minds
and steel our resolve to confront the deadly global threat of Islamist
terrorists using weapons of mass destruction against innocent people.
And coming, as it does, so short a time after those terrorists engaged
in conventional urban warfare, against innocent people in Mumbai,
India, the commission's work and warning and recommendations deserve
extra serious attention.
This commission was established by the implementing
recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act, which our committee had a
primary role in passing in 2007. We are therefore particularly
grateful to the commission and its leadership, for its excellent and
timely report, and welcome this morning its chairman and vice
chairman, our distinguished former colleagues, Senators Bob Graham and
Jim Talent; two of its commissioners: our former colleague from the
House, member of the 9/11 Commission, Tim Roemer and Robin Cleveland,
whose governmental experience is too distinguished and long to
mention, though she remains very youthful nonetheless.
I thank each of you, as well as your fellow commissioners and
staff members, for all the hard work that I know went into this
insightful and really gripping report.
I also want to welcome our colleagues on the Senate Armed
Services Committee, who we've invited to join us at this hearing.
There's actually a lot of overlap between the members of the two
We invited our colleagues to join us because, obviously,
confronting and dealing with weapons of mass destruction requires the
combined efforts of many departments and many committees, and none
more so than are -- the two that are represented here at the table
As I mentioned, we hold this hearing in the wake of last month's
terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which originated in Pakistan. That fact
comes as no surprise to members of this commission. In fact, your
report says clearly, and I quote, "Were one to map terrorism and
weapons of mass destruction today, all roads would intersect in
Pakistan," end quote.
But you also note, quite correctly, that Pakistan itself has
repeatedly been a victim of the same Islamic -- Islamist terrorism,
most poignantly in 2007 when former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was
assassinated and 20 bystanders were killed just before -- two weeks
before the parliamentary elections.
The point here is that no one is safe from Islamist extremism and
terrorism, because these people have no respect for national borders,
religious identification or the lives of innocent people living within
those borders. London, Madrid, Bali, Mumbai, Jerusalem, New York, the
Pentagon, the Pennsylvania countryside have all suffered grievous
losses of life at the hands of these terrorists.
And as brutal and blood-stained as their course has been,
unfortunately this commission report tells us it can get worse, much
worse, because the terrorists have dedicated themselves to acquiring
weapons of mass destruction so they can murder and destroy on a scale
previously unimagined and unconfronted.
Just last year, the head of the International Atomic Energy
Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, said -- in this case of nuclear terrorism,
but it applies to all forms of weapons of mass destruction -- and I
quote, "For an extremist group there is no concept of deterrence.
If they have it, they will use it," end quote.
In fact, the IAEA handles about 150 cases a year involving
trafficking of nuclear material. Some of that material -- some of
that material reported stolen is never recovered, and some of the
material recovered has never been reported stolen.
The commission, whose leadership is before us, has also found
that biological weapons pose a very real threat, in fact, according to
the commission, one more likely to materialize than other forms of WMD
attack for reasons that will be explained by the commission
representatives during their testimony.
One conclusion I draw from your work is that the global
proliferation of legitimate biotechnology research and expertise,
while so much of a benefit in so many ways, also creates this problem,
because that work can be used to create weapons of mass bioterror.
And much of this research takes place in very poorly secured or, in
fact, totally unsecured facilities.
So the bottom line is we need a strong homeland and international
response now to protect us from the dangers that you have described.
Your report comes at an opportune moment, as a new administration
and a new Congress get ready to take a new look at our nation's
homeland security and our global war against the terrorists who
attacked us on 9/11/01.
Your range of recommendations provides a truly bipartisan,
nonpartisan road map for the urgent action needed to protect the
American people. And in fact, I would say that your recommendations
will constitute a centerpiece of this committee's agenda and perhaps
others in the coming 111th session of Congress.
Your report and recommendations, together with the work our
committee has done previously on WMD terrorism and the questions you
and we have raised, the specter of a WMD terrorist attack that you and
we have foreseen, are not topics that are pleasant to discuss, but
they are real. And it is our responsibility post-9/11 to discuss them
and act upon them.
For me, one of the most chilling sentences in the 9/11 report,
which Commissioner Roemer helped to draft and see through to
implementation, was that 9/11 occurred because of a failure of
imagination, which is to say a failure to imagine that people would do
to us what they did on 9/11. Since then, it has been our urgent
responsibility to imagine the worst. And frankly, working together
with the 9/11 commission and others, this committee and others --
other committees working with the administration have tried -- and
members of the House -- have tried to do exactly that. And I take
some satisfaction in believing that that is certainly a significant
part of the reason why, thank God, we have not suffered another
But we live in very dangerous times, as this commission has
documented once again, and these times call on us to consider the --
and imagine the worst possibilities, and then act to both prevent them
and prepare to respond then.
Again, I thank the members of this commission for joining us
today and for your extraordinary work.
And at this time, I'm pleased to call upon the ranking member,
Senator Susan Collins.
Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
"The World at Risk" report reinforces the sense of urgency that
this committee has felt during its many hearings on deadly threats to
the American people; threats that include terrorists dispersing
anthrax spores, detonating a nuclear device in a major city, or
striking with other weapons of mass destruction.
As the chairman has indicated, the commission bluntly warned that
it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be
used in a terrorist attack sometime by the end of 2013.
That warning, and the commission's report, are a call to action.
This committee has created the Department of Homeland Security,
reformed our intelligence agencies, strengthened FEMA, increased
grants for state and local first responders, and enhanced the security
of our seaports and our chemical facilities.
As the commission's report observes, however, the terrorists have
been active, too, and we must continue our efforts. Nuclear
proliferation and advances in biotechnology have given terrorists new
means to carry out their avowed intention to commit mass murder.
The commission has laid out three main sources of concern: the
proliferation of nuclear weapons technology, the growing threat of
biological weapons, and the special challenges relating to Pakistan.
Having heard chilling testimony on the effects of even a suitcase
nuclear weapon in a city like New York or Washington, I share the
commission's deep concern about nuclear developments in nations like
North Korea, Iran and Pakistan, as well as the challenge of securing
nuclear materials in the former Soviet bloc.
The mental images of nuclear blasts and mushroom clouds are
powerful and frightening, but as the commission rightly notes, the
more likely threat is from a biological weapon. In contrast to
nuclear weapons, there is a lower technological threshold to develop
and disseminate bioweapons, access to pathogens is more widespread,
and pathogens are harder to contain.
The spread of biotechnology, the difficulty of detecting such
pathogens, and the terrorists' known interest in bioterrorism combine
to produce an even greater menace. Bioweapons are appealing to
terrorists in part because we are unlikely to realize that an attack
has occurred before it begins to kill many of its victims.
In the early stages of an anthrax attack, for example, health care
providers are likely to believe that they are simply seeing an
outbreak of flu.
That worldwide security has lagged behind the growth of this
threat is sobering. Even within our own country, the commission found
that we failed to secure potential biological weapons effectively.
Thousands of individuals in the United States have access to dangerous
pathogens. Currently, there are about 400 research facilities and
nearly 15,000 individuals in the United States authorized to handle
the deadly pathogens on what is called the "select agents list." Many
other research facilities handle less strictly controlled yet still
dangerous pathogens, with little or no regulation.
In addition to the concerns about controls within our own
country, the global security concerns are daunting. There are certain
countries, like Syria, that have never adhered to the Biological
Weapons Convention. There are concerns that other countries that
signed the treaty may nevertheless be violating it. Beyond these
security considerations, there is also more that our country should be
doing to develop effective countermeasures and vaccines.
As the chairman has noted, the recent attacks in Mumbai and
Afghanistan have focused the world's attention on another tinderbox
identified by the commission, and that is the nation of Pakistan. The
confluence of terrorist mindsets, nuclear capability and political
instability in Pakistan creates enormous challenges. That country's
history of poor control over its nuclear technology, heightened
tensions with its nuclear-armed neighbor India, and the existence of
terrorist training camps and safe havens are a dangerous combination.
The commission has offered us 13 key recommendations which we
will hear more about today. We may differ on some of the details of
specific recommendations, but I believe that the commission has ably
identified the vital threats that our country faces and has given us a
clearly drawn road map toward improved security against terrorist use
of weapons of mass destruction.
The commission has produced exactly the kind of independent
analysis that Senator Lieberman and I envisioned when we included the
language creating the WMD commission as part of the 2007 Homeland
I commend the commissioners and their staff for their very
valuable contributions, and I look forward to hearing their testimony
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thanks you, Senator Collins.
We'll go now to the witnesses. Before we do, I want to express a
little parochial pride from both committees here. The executive
director of the commission is Evelyn Farkas, who used to be a staff
member for the Senate Armed Services Committee. The counsel for the
committee is Raj De, who used to be a staff member of the Homeland
Security Committee. So this explains the extraordinary quality of the
work product that is the subject of our hearing today.
I gather that the four of you have decided to divide the time
approximately five minutes each. And again, I want to thank you. All
of you have been involved in public service for varying lengths of
time. This is really a great service to your country, and I thank you
Senator Graham, welcome, and let us begin with you.
Thank you very much, Chairman. And thank you,
Senator Collins and the other members of the two committees.
appreciate the opportunity -- and this is our first opportunity -- to
present our report to an official body of these two committees of the
United States Senate.
Mr. Chairman, we have provided a written statement for the
record. We are -- we will each use our time to summarize and
elaborate on that written report.
You have indicated that our commission is the
product of your work. You established this commission and gave us two
principal responsibilities. First was to assess the current
governmental policies to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction; and second, to make recommendations as to how we can
enhance our national and global security.
This report is the result of a nine-member -- I would not use the
word "bipartisan"; I would say non-partisan commission, membership of
which was selected by the leaders of the Senate and the House. Our
report is a unanimous recommendation, with full support of all of our
This report was developed first by putting together staff -- and I
appreciate your recognition of two of our very able staff members --
but also some 20 or more others, coming from a wide range of
backgrounds. Scientific, law enforcement, military, intelligence were
all part of the capability that supported this effort.
Over the duration of the commission's work, which had been
approximately six months, we interviewed over 250 individuals --
academics, scientists, intelligence, military, political -- both in
the United States and abroad. The opinions of that broad array of
individuals was very influential on the findings and recommendations
that we bring to you today.
We held eight major commission meetings, including one public
hearing. And I'd like to recognize, if I could, two people who are
with us today who were witnesses at that public hearing that was held
on September 10th in New York: Carrie Lemack, who many of us know
from her great work over many years representing the families of
September 11, and Matt Bunn of the Harvard Kennedy School of
Government, who is one of the leading experts on nuclear proliferation
and has just completed this very thoughtful annual report on the
status of preventing nuclear terrorism.
We also augmented those interviews and hearings with travel. We
visited the Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque to learn more
about our state of nuclear preparation and the great support which
Sandia gives to the International Atomic Energy Agency. It is their
principal reservoir of scientific knowledge on nuclear issues and is
regularly called upon to assist nations around the world on these
We also visited the United Kingdom.
We visited Vienna, the home of the International Atomic Energy Agency,
We were going to visit Pakistan. We had flown from Washington to
Kuwait and were awaiting our flight to Islamabad when we received the
message that the Marriott hotel in which we were going to spend the
night had just been bombed. That made this effort a highly personal
one for the members of the commission, and it impressed upon us the
seriousness of our responsibility.
Mr. Chairman, just briefly, I would like to give the bad news of
our findings, and then my colleagues will give some of the good news
of the ways in which we can aggressively attack and reduce the
probabilities of attack that we find under the current circumstances.
Our first finding was that the risks that we are facing, in spite
of all that we have done in the Congress and in the executive branch,
at state and local government, that our margin of safety is declining,
that we are becoming more vulnerable.
You might ask why. Well, it's -- I analogize it to a canoeist
who is going -- who is canoeing upstream against a powerful current.
You may be canoeing as skillfully and energetically as you can, but
you're losing ground because the resistance that you're facing is even
greater. In many ways, that describes the circumstances in which we
are in. Our adversary -- are growing more nimble and effective, and
the scene of scientific development, particularly in the biological
area, is making the challenge greater.
Second, as the chairman and the ranking member have both stated,
but the commission finds that it is more likely than not that between
now and the end of 2013 a weapon of mass destruction will be used
somewhere on the globe.
Now, that statement has received some pushback as being too
alarmist. I might say that the same week we released this report, the
director of National Intelligence, Admiral McConnell, spoke to a group
of new congresspersons at the Kennedy School and made almost exactly
the same assessment, based on his agency's perspective of what the
threat of the use of a weapon of mass destruction might be.
So as grim as it may be, I believe it is a credible assessment.
Third, we found that it was more likely that the attack would be
by biological weapons rather than by a nuclear weapon, for the reasons
that the chairman and the ranking member have already mentioned, and
which particularly one of our commissioners, Robin Cleland --
Cleveland, will elaborate upon.
We also found that in terms of intent, that the terrorists are
just as intent to use weapons of mass destruction today as they were
almost 20 years ago, when bin Laden first attempted to acquire nuclear
material while still living in the Sudan. That effort to obtain and
use has been described by bin Laden as a religious duty of al Qaeda.
So, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, these are our
blunt findings. We have stated at several places in our report that
we think a key to winning this battle is for the United States
government to be open with its people, to understand both the reality
of the situation and the steps that can be taken to change that
reality. We have attempted to carry out that honesty and directness
with the American people and with this committee today.
Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. I would like, if I could, to
recognize our very distinguished vice chairman and colleague, Senator
Jim Talent. We also have with us today two other commission members,
former Congressman Tim Roemer and Ms. Robin Cleveland.
Senator Talent, welcome. Good to see you again.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Senator Collins. I'm
going to embarrass Bob Graham just for a second by saying as difficult
as this was -- and I didn't think anything would be more difficult,
for example, than working on a Senate committee and passing
complicated legislation; you all know how difficult that is -- this
was hard, getting these strong-minded people to agree on a unanimous
basis to a report that actually said something.
And it would not have happened if not for the leadership of the
gentleman to my right. And many of you know how good he is, and he
sure proved it here.
We have two witnesses after me who are going to offer some
comments in some very important areas, so let me just -- I'm going to
make one brief observation about the threat and then I've starred
about five areas I'm going to -- I'm going to be very brief with.
It occurred to me in the course of these deliberations that
there's a lot of people -- and even people in this room who focus on
this a lot -- who sort of assume that we can't really eventually lose
in this conflict with the terrorists, because they're relatively
small, transnational conspiracies that don't even have a national
base. But in reflecting on this, I mean, I think we tend to
underestimate how formidable they are. The nature of the world today
-- the interdependency of the world, globalization, information
technology -- all of that gives them advantages in warfare and tends
to disadvantage traditional first-world powers like the United States.
I mean, they -- and they see this. They get this strategic -- I
think it's one of the reasons they're so dangerous. They understand
the world's a matrix of systems, really -- you know, financial and
communications, transportation -- that we need and rely on and they
don't need very much and that are very easy for them to attack and
very hard for us to defend.
Now, one of the capabilities I think they'd like to enhance is
their weaponry. I mean, they have asymmetric weapons, which are very,
very powerful, but not quite as powerful enough as they need to really
knock us out. And that's the context in which I think we ought to
look at these weapons of mass destruction.
I mean, if they are capable of increasing their capabilities by
getting these weapons, and particularly -- and this is one of the
reasons we focus on bio -- if they get enough of the weapon material
that they can repeat the attack at will -- what Dick Danzig calls
reloading the bioweapon -- so they can hit an American city once and
then hit them three weeks later, we can lose this war.
I think they get that. And that's one of the reasons for our
threat evaluation and one of the reasons we put a five-year limit in
it. I mean, we think that and we want everybody to understand this is
not just important; it's urgent. You know how the urgent always
crowds out the important. This is urgent and important.
Okay, five comments about the recommendations, and they're
organized in four areas: bio, nuclear, government reform and then
government's role with the citizens.
First, we think, the big problem, a lot of the big problem, in
bio, stems from the different cultural approach towards this issue, in
bio as opposed to nuclear. You know, the nuclear age began with the
explosion of a nuclear weapon. So everybody in nuclear science got it
right away. This science can be abused and used for destructive
I think the assumption in the bio community quite understandably
is that this is just, it's benign research. And that's why, one of
the reasons, I think, it would be so good for you all to focus on this
early. Because the very act of passing legislation, and there's an
Robin's going to talk about this, changing the regulatory
apparatus. But the very act of passing that legislation, I think,
will raise the visibility of the issue and help with the underlying
cultural change that we need. This is a case of Congress as a
messenger as well, just as you did with the intel area. So that's
point number one.
Point two: Pakistan. We focus on Pakistan, I think, Mr.
Chairman, Senator Collins. You guys understand. Everything that
causes us to worry about both terrorism and proliferation, in the
context of weapons of mass destruction, is centered in Pakistan.
It's just, it's the perfect storm. They're a substantial nuclear
power. They are not willingly but they are a terrorist safe haven.
They're a recruiting ground for terrorists, as you know, if you've
ever talked to the British.
They have an unstable government, which therefore has to focus on
its stability, rather than on the things we'd like to see them
focusing on. And they have a competition with India which is raising
the specter of a traditional nation-state kind of nuclear standoff,
which is very dangerous and complicates everything else.
So we recommend continuing a lot of what we've been doing:
eliminating the safe havens, safeguarding the material and in addition
using Pakistan, as a place where there's a first really intense effort
at using the tools of soft power.
And this means we have to have the tools of soft power which
means, we think, that the State Department and the civilian agencies
of foreign policy need to go through the kind of self-analysis and
cultural change and integration that the military did, beginning 40 or
50 years ago, and completed with Goldwater-Nichols and that the intel
agencies have done, since you all passed the legislation. That's
With regard to the nuclear regime, we have a lot of
recommendations there. And I think the basic problem is the interest
in things nuclear around the world. And a lot of that interest is
benign in nuclear power. But it's straining. It's so great that it's
straining the international regime for inspecting and controlling it.
And so the IAEA needs -- needs more resources and more authority.
We have a recommendation about shifting the burden of proof so
that nations -- I mean, internationally we all agree that where
necessary, where there's a good purpose for it, nations stop acting
like, you know, the object of depositions -- trying to hide everything
they can, unless you ask exactly the right question -- and actually we
shift the burden of proof so they have to be more forthcoming in
trying to prove that they are in compliance.
And then finally -- I'll close, so we can get to Mr. Roemer --
one of the things that keeps popping up in our recommendations and
that we kept noticing was the importance of human capital and the
dangers we have in that area. The chairman talked about Sandia. I
mean, they told us down at Sandia that if we don't do something, we're
going to fall below the critical mass that we need in terms of
scientific expertise to make this international nuclear regime work.
It turns out the IAEA gets their expertise from us, and largely
down at Sandia, and that the cohort of people who understand this
science and have made it work all these years, they're all retiring
within the next few years. So intentional and deliberate efforts need
to be made at increasing our human capital in that area. That's
another area where this committee, or the ones with appropriate
jurisdiction, probably could take on an effort early.
I think I'm going to end it with that, Mr. Chairman. I know that
it's the question section that's probably the most beneficial of this,
but I appreciate the chance to be with you today.
Thanks very much, Senator Talent. That was
Congressman Roemer, welcome back. Thanks for your quite uniquely
extraordinary service post-9/11.
Thank you, Senator. And thank you for the honor to
be before both of these committees. It's always a privilege to be
back in the United States Senate, where I had my first job as a Senate
staffer for Senator DeConcini back in the 1980s, and to see all these
able and capable staffers up on the dais as well, too.
Senator, thank you for combining both committees here.
I'd like to start with some good news, and then some of the bad
news and the trends. The good news: We have people like Senator
Graham and Senator Talent, who can work in a bipartisan way to put
forward 13 different recommendations and make our country safer from a
very, very dangerous and urgent threat.
More good news is that when the 9/11 commission made 41 different
recommendations to begin to try to transform our government from a
Cold War structure to a new 21st-century "hot war" proactive
government, the Congress responded, for the most part.
With your leadership, Senator Lieberman, Senator Collins, everybody on
this committee, 39 of the 41 recommendations were passed into law to
help transform our government to these new 21st-century threats from
al Qaeda, from asymmetrical threats, from biological and weapons-of-
mass-destruction types of threats. That's the good news.
We now come out with a report, "World at Risk," that talks about
trendlines which are very dangerous to the United States: the threat
growing, and our margins of safety shrinking, and shrinking very
quickly, despite good action by Congress and the executive branch.
Osama bin Laden, months after the attacks on September 11th, said
it wasn't 19 Arab armies or 19 Arab states that attacked the United
States on 9/11; it was 19 post-graduate students who formed cells,
penetrated our country, and killed over 3,000 people. Now we're
starting to hear that bin Laden has been saying for a long time it is
a religious obligation to create Hiroshima-type activity on the United
States with some kind of nuclear or biological device, your religious
obligation to attack the United States.
And when we hear from biological experts that it's not very
likely that a terrorist is going to become a biologist, but it's
likely a biologist might become a terrorist, we are maybe a resume or
two away from al Qaeda having that biological capability of being able
to potentially weaponize and disseminate very dangerous material
against the United States or our allies. The threat continues to
grow, and grow quickly.
Senator, you said that the 9/11 commission -- we tried to capture
the phrase of "it was a failure of imagination." We cannot have
"World at Risk" be a failure of anticipation.
We have anticipated what is likely to happen over the next five or six
years. It would be a travesty if we did not take these steps and
better protect the United States.
Senator Talent and Senator Graham so capably and ably led this
commission in making these recommendations. We were on our way to
Pakistan, where so much of the roads to terrorism all meet, where the
cauldron is boiling today: a fragile government of our one of our
allies; al Qaeda and the Taliban metastasizing in the Federally
Administered Tribal Areas; Pakistan continuing to build new nuclear
capabilities, nuclear materials that we are worried may not be secured
well enough in Pakistan; a Mumbai attack just a week ago that creates
heightened tension between India and Pakistan; and our own
intelligence people, General Hayden and Ambassador Crocker, saying the
most likely threat to the United States homeland comes directly
radiating out of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan.
We centered, we really concentrated and we urgently call on you
to do more with respect to Pakistan. We have suggested five different
steps with regard to Pakistan.
One, that we continue to be very aggressive in going into the
FATA and using our Special Operations and our military and our
unmanned aerial vehicles to disrupt al Qaeda and the Taliban, and not
create safe havens in that area.
Secondly, that we increase our power, smart power. Secretary
Gates talks so eloquently, in a soon-to-be-published article in
Foreign Affairs in January 2009, that we are out of balance today;
that we don't have the balance we need between our military, our State
Department and our USAID to have non-kinetic forces -- our Foreign
Service, our diplomats -- an economic surge in this area, for
education and economic opportunities for Pakistani citizens.
Thirdly, that we try to make sure that we look at ways to address
the ideology of radical Islam and jihadists, and try to dry this up
and compete with it. After all, when we were headed to our hotel in
Islamabad, and 55 people were killed in Islamabad, they were Muslim.
They were maids, they were cab drivers, they were people that worked
at this hotel.
This was not an attack on the United States. This was an attack on
Pakistan, an attack on Muslims, an attack on -- by al Qaeda on
Pakistan and their own people.
And that's the way we need to portray this war, not a clash of
civilizations, but al Qaeda attacking its own citizens, without any
plan on jobs, on health care, in addressing some of the grievances in
that part of the world.
And one of the key areas, I think, that we had great discussion
on was what to do regionally and internationally in this area, when we
see Kashmir continue to pop up as one of the key problems. Do we send
an envoy into this area? Is this international engagement between
China, the United States, Pakistan, India and Russia? How do we bring
the right people together to resolve an area where there could be a
thermonuclear confrontation sometime in the future, as there already
has been threats over the last 10 or 15 years? This is an urgent area
of concern for Congress and the executive branch.
Also I'd like to address for just a moment the government, our
own government; not the Pakistani government, but our government. I
mentioned that 39 of the 41 recommendations were passed into law. You
took action, insisted on executive branch reform and the creation of a
new DNI, that's working pretty well. You created a new Homeland
Security Department, that is not working so well. But you didn't pass
reforms to look at yourselves, to reform Congress.
Article I, Section 1, of our Constitution states that the
legislative branch is one of the key powers of accountability and
oversight to our people, and to concentrate that oversight capability
and that accountability in our Congress, directly elected by our
people, so that we know what's going on in our intelligence community
and the secret community, so that when the call is there and
recommendations are put forward, it doesn't take three years to pass
legislation; that we have intelligence committees -- we recommend an
intelligence committee on the Appropriations Committee that can be the
power of the purse; and that the speaker of the House has taken an
important step, creating a SIOP, a panel on the House side on the
Appropriations Committee to oversee this.
I think the Senate has an opportunity to act on this.
We've also recommended, senators, that we do more on homeland
security to focus that oversight and that accountability, so the new
secretary of Homeland Security, unlike Mr. Chertoff, doesn't have to
come up here and report to 88 different committees and subcommittees
between the Senate and the House, and that when you come up with good
legislation to better protect the United States, it doesn't go to 88
different committees and subcommittees to try to pass legislation
through our bodies. So that is a key reorganization that we recommend
for the United States Congress.
We also say in the intelligence community that -- you recommended
that there might be an office that be created to oversee WMD. We
slightly disagree with that. We say it should be a person. They
shouldn't be confirmed, necessarily, by the Senate. It should be
appointed with three options by the president: It should be a deputy
in the National Security Council, it could be run out of the vice
president's office, or it could be some other person or entity outside
of the White House that would be responsible for WMD every day.
We also recommend combining the Homeland Security Council and the
National Security Council to better streamline accountability in the
White House and not have redundancies created there. The way you do
that is important and we can talk more about that in the Q and A
Finally, in terms of responsibilities -- we talked about
responsibilities for the president in terms of this new office, this
new person that's created. We've talked about congressional
responsibilities. We really think citizens can play an important role
in this effort. We think that that can be part of a checklist that we
work with the Homeland Security Department and our local law
enforcement communities to create the kind of checklist and
participation from our citizenry that really makes them part of
helping in a vigilant way to help protect this country -- with
information, with access to the right kind of family plan should
something happen, and with better information than color codes and
duct tape and plastic sheets.
We find people really want good information, even if it's dangerous or
a threat is out there.
We're very pleased, I think, with these 13 recommendations. We
hope the Congress will act on these. And we look forward to working
with you in implementing these and not letting these go by the
Thank you so much for the time.
Thank you, Congressman Roemer.
Senator Collins and I, as you know, and this committee, tried to
convince the Congress to adopt the reforms of congressional oversight.
But that was not one on which we succeeded. But your commission
report calls us again to go back into that battle and makes some good
arguments for it, and I promise you we will try.
I hope you'll keep fighting.
Ms. Cleveland, thanks for being here.
The chairman -- I just want to say this -- the
chairman, Senator Graham and I were very pleased to allow Mr. Roemer
to address the subject. (Laughter.)
I think that's why I was invited today.
Yeah, very gracious of you. Thank you.
Ms. Cleveland, please proceed.
I think I appreciate being here. I now know how
Tom Brokaw felt when he appeared before our commission when he said
that he was used to being on the other side of the table. And so this
is a new experience for me.
I'd like to start with his testimony before the commission,
because I think we all felt it was very compelling. He received an
anthrax letter, as we know, and in the weeks after 9/11 described the
harrowing experience of trying to identify what was happening to his
One of them broke out in terrible black lesions across her body,
and with all the resources that he had available to him in terms of
access to people, access to the -- to money, it -- for three weeks he
kept getting wrong diagnoses. He finally sent a biopsy to Fort
Detrick, Maryland, and even there he was told that his assistant
suffered from a brown recluse spider bite.
And so it speaks powerfully, I think, to the lessons that we
learned across the whole bio area in our inquiry. There were any
number of problems, including the fact that there are multiple
entities involved in the supervision of biological research and
regulation, including the Department of Agriculture, HHS, Department
of Homeland Security, Defense, elements of the intelligence community,
And there are constant turf fights, something that you all are
But I was surprised to learn that CDC and FDA can't -- they're
currently arguing over who's responsible for regulating the technical
procedures, not the equipment, the technical procedures for
investigating bioterrorism incidents and for determining the cause of
outbreaks of disease.
There aren't community-wide standards in the definition of what
constitutes a BSL-3 lab versus a BSL-4 lab. And if you don't have
common standards, in terms of how you operate, you're likely to end up
with gaps and weaknesses in your security system.
And it's not clear who should be setting those standards. Should
it be the Department of Army, because they're the host for USAMRIID at
Fort Detrick? Or should it be the FBI, which has far more experience
in terms of security procedures?
So you have too many agencies, too many turf fights and unclear
oversight entities. There's no single point where you can go and
determine who's the right authority for oversight.
Seven years later, we struggled with, you know, what's at the
heart of the problem? Why hasn't there been a clearer and more
compelling structure set up, to oversee the biological area?
And in part, it seems to stem from the fact that the need to
protect the country has to be balanced against the understandable
goal, of the private sector and academics, for freedom of research,
which has certainly produced extraordinary accomplishments in science
and medical miracles.
So we struggled with trying to strike the right balance between
freedom of research and protecting the country, which led us to
several key recommendations.
We think that it's time, past time, for HHS to lead an
interagency review of the Select Agent Program. The Congress in its
wisdom, in 2002, added agents to that list. But there has been no
subsequent review, of whether or not the list is sufficient, whether
or not the procedures and reporting mechanisms in place are doing
We think the Department of Homeland Security should lead a
national effort to develop a strategy on microbial forensics. The
fact that it took seven years to identify Ivins as the alleged culprit
in the anthrax case, I think, points clearly to the fact that we do
not have an adequate capability in microbial forensics and don't have
a pathogen lab -- a library, sorry.
We think that HHS and DHS together need to step up efforts to
improve management and security of high-containment labs and consider
how to manage pathogen research at lower-level facilities. And what
that really means is, it's key for Congress to be engaged. I think
that's probably one of our most compelling recommendations.
The only way that we're going to improve oversight, regulation
and security and safety, when it comes to the biological area, is for
the life sciences community to step up to their responsibility and to
promote a culture of security awareness. And I don't think that
that's going to happen on their own.
And I think it's key for Congress to hold hearings and reach out to
the life science community to develop a code of conduct -- hopefully
voluntary, but in the absence of a voluntary code, something that --
that the Congress can prescribe.
Finally, notwithstanding the fact that we are making efforts in
terms of improving security and safety in our labs, I don't think -- I
think the commission concluded that we can't do this alone; that we
could have the best procedures in place in our labs, but with the
emerging markets in India, Malaysia, Brazil, Pakistan, medical science
is advancing across the globe. And so we urge a convening by the
State Department of a biotech power conference; again, with a view to
trying to establish some kind of international norm or code of conduct
when it comes to security and safety.
And finally, when it comes to international standards, the
commission did not endorse a revival of the protocol associated with
the BW treaty. We do think that the BW treaty itself is essential and
is a key establisher of international norms in terms of transfer of
biological weapons, but we don't think that the effort to revive the
protocol would make sense. We heard from multiple witnesses that the
dual-use nature of much of this material complicates verification, and
so it would not be a wise course of action.
Finally, I think -- the administration, I think we concluded, has
done a good job investing on the first priority of consequence
management and taking that important step. But seven years later, I
think we all felt it was time to step up the effort in terms of
preventing, as opposed to protecting against, the transfer of
biological agents to hands of people that should not have them.
Thank you all. You've laid out the essence of
your report and made some recommendations.
I'm going to -- we'll just do six minutes, because we've got a
good number of people here. Senator Collins and I will start, and
then we'll ask Senator Levin and Senator Warner from the leadership of
Armed Services. And then we'll go on our traditional early-bird rule.
So, many -- much of your work jumps out at me, but the major
conclusions that draw our attention, obviously, are that it is more
likely than not that there will be a WMD terrorist attack somewhere in
the world by 2013, five years from now, and it is more likely than not
that it will be biological.
And both of those are riveting: first, because of the time frame
that you put; and second, because I think the instinct would be that
our minds have been focused more on a nuclear terrorist attack. And
you've explained why you reached those conclusions, and also offered
some very good suggestions about what we have to do to prevent --
remember that this commission is called a commission on the
We've spent some time on this committee and many other places in our
government on response -- how do we respond to a nuclear or a
biological or chemical or radiological attack? But obviously, the
more critical question is how do we prevent.
Let me begin by asking you, by what standard did you come to the
2013 date, that is to say that within five years it was more likely
than not that there would be an attack? Senator Graham?
(Off mike.) Obviously, that is a judgment.
It was a judgment reached in part by the wide net
that we put out to people that we thought were capable of having a
sound judgment on that. But the events are what is driving that
Here are some of the things that are happening: There is a
nuclear race under way in South Asia today among China, India and
Pakistan. In the not-too-distant future it is quite probable that the
third, fourth and fifth largest nuclear arsenals in the world will not
be held by places like the United Kingdom or France, but will be held
by those three South Asian states, significantly increasing the
tension in the region and the possibility of proliferation from one of
In other words, all of them nuclear powers now,
but expanding their inventory of nuclear weapons much more rapidly
than the other countries.
And second, we're in what's been called the nuclear
renaissance. After Chernobyl, long period that there was virtually no
nuclear activity in the world -- particularly in the United States --
now the world is becoming re-interested, re-engaged. And the global
climate, which I know is an issue that you're going to be dealing
with, is a factor. Energy is a factor. But it also has the risk of
having this technology and this base of science in the hands of states
that may not have the capability of appropriately securing it from
So that is another risk.
But overwhelming those two is the biological risk, dramatic
increases in number of sites, number of scientists, the ease with
which this material can be converted from a benign, healthy, positive
pathogen into a lethal pathogen, and the possibility of creating new
pathogens that are more difficult to suppress than anthrax, which is
the pathogen of choice today.
In a laboratory somewhere in the world, the influenza strain
which in 1918 killed 40 million people and which has been extinct for
most of the intervening 90 years has now been recreated. If that were
to get out, no inoculation -- there's no defense, and the death toll
of the last century might just be a shadowing of what it could be in
the 21st century.
And let me ask you this question as a follow-up.
Is part of the reason why the commission has decided that a biological
attack is more likely than the other forms of weapons of mass
destruction -- just to pick up on what you've just said -- that it is
both less expensive, if you will, to convert a biological pathogen to
-- into a weapon; and secondly, it is easier to conceal it and
therefore to deliver it -- for instance, to bring it into the United
States? Are both of those factors?
Both of those are factors. And Richard Danzig,
whose name was used earlier, has said that the only thing that
protects us now is a thin wall of the ignorance of our adversary. And
as our adversary -- as the scientist becomes the terrorist, as they
gain access to this growing number of people who are capable of
converting good into evil, that makes us more vulnerable.
Mr. Chairman, can I -- 30 seconds?
Go right ahead.
I'd put it this way. Two and two and two and two
make eight. Okay? We know they want to get it. We know that, and
that they've tried to get it.
We know if they get it they can't be deterred, or
it's very unlikely we can deter them from using it. We know it's
within their organizational sophistication. They don't have to move
to a new level of organizational sophistication to get either nuclear
And we know that their opportunities to get the
material are growing.
So you put all that together, and it's the conclusion of all
these people we talked to, and our gut level, that this is a near-term
risk, which is, I think, very key. It's not something that's in the
intermediate or long term. It's near-term. It's -- they're close to
it. And hence the five-year period. Now, we don't have -- some intel
-- and you've seen it already --
-- it says 2013. But -- and this is why I think
Admiral McConnell -- and I don't think that was accidental -- shortly
after we said this, basically confirmed it at the Kennedy School.
I appreciate what you've said.
And if you combine it -- if we combine it with what we saw in
Mumbai a few weeks ago, which seemed to me to be a new chapter in
terrorist activity, which was to create what one commentator, Walid
Phares, has called urban jihad, and contemplate that kind of terrorist
activity in a city not just being the use of arms and -- firearms and
explosives but biological weapons, you can imagine with horror the
multiplication of the panic, which was clearly a major aim of the
terrorists in Mumbai.
Bio's easier to weaponize and easier to reload.
Thank you. My time's up.
And Senator Talent, let me pick up on this discussion on
biological weapons. Your report raises a lot of concerns about the
lax or absent regulation of biological labs. And I was astounded, in
reading your report, at the 15,000 people working at these labs in our
country, with, in some cases, very light regulation.
When we passed the chemical plant security bill two years ago, we
required a risk assessment of virtually all chemical plants in this
And then DHS was in charge of reviewing these risk assessments and
coming up with a risk-based security plan, working with the private
sector, so there was a risk-based system of regulation. Do you think
that that is the kind of regulatory scheme that we should be looking
at imposing on these biological labs?
I'm going to defer to -- with your permission,
Senator, to Robin Cleveland, because she's really studied that. I
would just say that I agree with your concern. And the 1,500, as I
understand it, is just the ones working in the labs that we regulate,
which are the ones that get federal funds. I mean, if you don't get
federal funds, you're not regulated at all. And if you do, you're
regulated by three different agencies, at least three -- Ag, CDC. So
it's a major issue.
I think -- I would just say I think that's one way we could go.
I wouldn't want to -- personally, in my gut, I wouldn't want to
individualize it too much, because I think you can use a categorical
approach. But certainly some kind of regulation based on an
intelligent assessment of the risk would make a lot of sense. And if
you -- with your permission, I'll defer --
Ms. Cleveland, I would like you to address that.
But I also want you to address the issue of who the regulators should
be, because that's a major issue. When you look at the current
system, the CDC is regulating 30 labs that deal with human pathogens
and then you have the Department of Agriculture regulating those
dealing with plant or animal pathogens. The fact is, while both are
very concerned about health and safety, neither the CDC nor the
Department of Agriculture brings a Homeland Security perspective to
the regulation. So that too is of great concern, and it also leads to
inconsistent levels of regulation.
You've identified the problem that we have --
that we tackled.
I think you -- there's a third area, which is that there are
pathogens and agents that fall in between; that both CDC and the
Department of Agriculture have concerns about, because they jump
species -- I mean, they go from animals to humans. So you have this
-- an emerging area where no agency, essentially, is in charge.
I think I would agree that a risk-based approach is the right
approach. I think the key is going to be to engage with Homeland
Security and in turn with the life sciences community, because none of
this is going to happen unless there's cooperation on that front. And
I'm not sure -- I think I agree with Senator Talent that the risk-
based approach is one option. But the key is having one point of
contact and one set of security rules, safety rules and a governing
institution, in part so that these -- that folks working in the labs
know who to go to, to get guidance in terms of what the standards for
research should be.
You know, you also mentioned the possibility of a
voluntary code, and I have a lot of reservations about that approach,
based on what we saw with chemical plant security.
Sure, you have some great companies who adopt excellent practices, but
then you have the outliers, who don't. And it's not really fair to
require a -- or to rely upon a voluntary system, which may result in
competitive disadvantages, as well.
So this is an area where I personally believe that we need to
have a mandatory regime, but one that works, where the federal
government works with the private labs, as well as with the
government-funded labs, to come up with a very workable regulatory
And I continue to think also that when you have agencies involved
that have very different missions, and whose missions are not homeland
security, you're not going to have the regulation have as its mission
the homeland security perspective. So this is an area that I hope our
committee will look at.
In my time that's remaining, let me also ask for your advice. It
isn't just regulating the control of the pathogens or the security of
the site. It's also vetting individuals who work there, as your term
"a biologist becoming a terrorist" suggests, and as the Bruce Ivins
case is a clarion call for action, where there were all these warning
signs, and yet he maintained his access to these pathogens. So what
are your recommendations in that area?
Again, I think that the most -- can I comment
just first on the voluntary code? I think the reason the commission
endorsed the concept of some kind of voluntary code is because that
hasn't been tried yet. And I think it's important to engage in good
faith with the life sciences community, because I think there are many
willing and interested parties. There's been some extraordinarily
good work done at University of Maryland on what a code of conduct
might look like. And I think it's an important first step in terms
of, as I said, engaging in good faith with the life sciences
But I think inevitably there are going to be -- need to be some
kind of mandatory rules and regulations. The key then will be, of
course, trying to figure out how to engage our global partners to
assure that they too support those standards, because we don't want to
disadvantage U.S. medical or the life sciences community.
On the question of vetting and procedures, I think first and
foremost an entity has to be established to be in charge. I don't
know if it should be the FBI, that they should be responsible for all
vetting and then follow up investigations, whether or not -- in the
case of Fort Detrick it was the Army that was responsible for
supervision of security procedures. But there ought to -- just as
there is when you apply for a federal government job, there's one
entity now responsible for background investigations and follow-up. I
think the commission felt strongly that there ought to be one entity
in charge of supervision of this area, and to start at that point.
Thanks very much, Senator Collins.
Senator Levin, we welcome you in your dual-hatted capacity here,
as senior member of this committee and chairman of the Senate Armed
Thank you, Chairman Lieberman,
Thank you for holding this hearing. Thanks for
inviting the members of the Armed Services Committee, who aren't dual-
hatted, to join us here this morning.
We were planning on having our own hearing. But given the time
constraints and the fact that we have so many members on both
committees, we thought this would be a much more efficient way to have
the commission before us, for us to thank, to welcome our former
colleagues, Senator Graham, Senator Talent, other members of the
commission, for the tremendous job that you have done, to thank you
and to thank your staff, because we know how important staffs are in
all this work.
Let me start by raising the question of our relationship with
Russia. And I think that relationship is going to require a lot more
attention in a positive way. It's had a lot of attention in a
negative way. But it's going to need a lot of attention positively
for many, many reasons. And I think this is one of them.
The U.S. bilateral effort with Russia, to reduce the threat of
WMD, has always been a bedrock of the U.S.-Russian relationship. And
there's been a number of significant accomplishments there.
Now, I'm not sure which of you or how many of your staff have
traveled to Russia. But I know there has been some travel. And
you've had discussions with senior military and government officials.
And I'm wondering what conclusions you can share with us,
insights particularly you could share with us, about our future
relationship with Russia, our cooperative relationship, which is so
essential to address the WMD proliferation issue and terrorism
generally and to try to further reduce stockpiles of nuclear wea.
So Mr. Chairman, maybe you could start on that.
We did travel and spent four days in Russia. I was
frankly a little surprised that we got visas, because this was just
shortly after the Russian invasion of Georgia and all the tension that
came out of that. We not only received visas. We received a
surprisingly constructive and hospitable reception. This was a common
The United States and Russia are two great powers. They are
going to exist on this planet for a long time. There will be some
good periods, and there will be some bad periods. But there's one
thing that we share in common.
We have over 95 percent of the nuclear material, on the globe, is
in our control; one of these two countries. We have a responsibility
to the world to see that they are properly secure. These cannot
become part of the transitory disputes between our two countries.
We went to our Department of Energy, Secretary Bodman, and our
representatives who are in Russia, monitoring Russian compliance. And
they said that on the ground, that statement was being realized; that,
in fact, there had been no diminution in the Russian effort to secure
We found that to be very encouraging. So our recommendation is that
we -- we continue to recognize the primacy of security of nuclear
weapons in our relationship, and that we do some things that would
tell the world that this -- we are serious about this.
As -- two examples. A number of the agreements that were entered
into after the end of the Cold War are about to expire. Some of them
require that renewal negotiations start several years before the
treaty is going to expire. We think that we should take the
initiative in restarting those negotiations, to indicate that we think
the relationship may change. It's not going to be as much of a "U.S.
providing money for the Soviet Union's benefit." It will be more of a
partnership, a relationship of two equals. But that their -- that the
relationship be established is very important.
Another area that I might say I'm personally very interested in
is, I visited Pakistan in 2002, and I was struck with the fact that
their joint chiefs of staff said that, "We have virtually no
relationship with the Indians analogous to what we had with the Soviet
Union during the Cold War, a relationship to try to avoid an
accidental launch or an overreaction to an unintended potentially
I think if -- United States and Russia could play a great service
to the world if they could go to India and Pakistan and say, "Look.
We have 40 years of experience with how you do this. We would like to
share that experience, and maybe encourage you to develop some similar
protocols," so that what may well soon be the fourth- and fifth-
largest nuclear powers in the world will have that degree of
additional security in how they're managing these terrific sources of
Did you reach any conclusions about the IAEA,
particularly in terms of the adequacy of funding of the IAEA? That
would be my last question.
Yes. We found that the funding is inadequate; that
their job has multiplied by several factors in the last 25 years
without any commensurate increase in resources; and that, actually,
the level of surveillance in individual plants around the world is
lower today than it was 25 years ago. And we are facing this nuclear
renaissance where there'll be many more plants.
So I think -- and also, a lot of the increased funding that
they've gotten has been for specific projects, not in their base
budget. So it's been difficult for them to plan, to hire the
scientists, build the labs that are going to be required in this
enlarged nuclear age, when there isn't an assured, reliable funding
So I think -- again, this is an area in which the United States should
take leadership, in analyzing what is going to be required, what we
want -- for our own safety -- the IAEA to be able to do and step
forward with the -- with the support and resources to make that
Thank you very --
Senator, can I jump in --
-- just at the end of the chairman's remarks? We had
several meetings in Moscow over a significant number of days, and
after we talked about Georgia and the United States -- profound
disappointment there -- and after we talked about human rights issues
and after both sides were able to express their grievances and their
concerns, we found that there was a great deal of commonality and
interest in working together on counterproliferation initiatives.
We outlined in our report ways to strengthen the Proliferation
Security Initiative. We talk about the -- extending the essential
verification and monitoring provisions of the Strategic Arms Reduction
Treaty. We talk about the role of encouraging China and Pakistan and
India to announce a moratorium on the production of fissile materials
and reduce their existing nuclear stockpiles.
But we also found in addition to five or six things of common
interest and where we could develop some joint initiatives, when we
talked to a couple different generals that we had meetings with about
their own threat -- Chechnya -- and they quickly go back to the Beslan
attacks and their school where their schoolchildren were attacked by
terrorists. And so they have a real common interest here, despite
other disagreements in the world, to work together with us on this
terrorism proliferation issue.
And the more we can get to these and propose new initiatives to
work with them and outline this and have congressional oversight to
it, the new administration initiate these things, you follow through
on your oversight committees, meetings with the ambassador to Russia
and their ambassador, stress this with other meetings with China and
Pakistan, I think we're going to find that this is a real area of
productive joint initiative in the future.
Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thanks very much, Senator Levin.
I'm sorry, one --
On the IAEA resource issue, I would remiss if I
didn't say that I think there was consensus on the question of
increased resources, but it ought to be performance-based. And I
think there are real concerns about the management of the institution.
And so in my former capacity of not desiring to create unfunded
mandates, I think that performance standard is critical.
(Off mike) -- Roemer I know is going to have to
leave shortly. And I know he regrets that necessity. So I would
suggest if anyone has a question that they would like to direct to
Tim, if they might do so soon.
(Off mike.) I apologize.
I've got an event at the Center for National Policy that I'm hosting
with Ambassador Pickering and the author of "Victory on the Potomac,"
who helped organize, Senator Levin, the successful efforts on
Goldwater-Nichols, and we're trying to look at ways to get this
jointness in our foreign policy arena and our national security. So
we're having an event at the center at noon, and I have to excuse
myself for that.
Thanks, Congressman Roemer. We understand
completely, and I think we'll ask members who have questions for you
to file them with you in writing.
I just want to say very briefly, because Bob Graham said
something about how important it would be for Pakistan and India to
develop kind of high-level communications about their nuclear systems
that we have had with the Russians, I was in New Delhi and Islamabad
last week, and what was apparent to all of us, probably to anybody who
wasn't there is that the terrorist attack in Mumbai was not just or
even primarily an expression of the classic jihadist goals. It
probably had a specific aim here, which is to disrupt the increasingly
-- I don't want to overstate it, but the improving relations between
Pakistan and India, particularly since President Zardari took office,
and in fact perhaps to disrupt the increasing cooperation between the
United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan with regard to striking at
terrorist bases in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
So it just reminds us of the way in which non-state actors using
conventional or unconventional weapons of mass destruction can not
only carry out fanatical ideological aims but also can actually
influence and sometimes control the behavior of state actors.
So of course I hope that we can get back on the trail that you,
Senator Graham, have suggested.
Senator Collins and I wanted to hold this hearing as quickly as
we could after your excellent commission report. I think we had a
secondary subconscious aim, which is to have one more hearing at which
we could have the honor of the presence of John Warner. With that,
I'm honored to call on Senator Warner.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And
I commend you and the ranking member and my distinguished colleague
Senator Levin for having this hearing.
I guess this is my last appearance in 216, on this side. And
then maybe after two years I can get on the other side, but I've got a
hiatus to fill under the current laws.
Commissioner Roemer, I do appreciate your reference to the old
intel days with Senator DeConcini. I was vice chairman, I think. Was
that during the period you were there?
Yes, sir, and I neglected to mention -- (inaudible)
Oh, that's all right. I just wanted --
-- Goldwater-Nichols, and helping pass that.
No, that's -- don't worry about any neglect. I've
received more than my share of references to the past.
I'm a believer in the work of commissions. And they serve a very
important advisory role to the executive and legislative branches and
to inform the public. And I wish to commend each of you individually
for a job well done.
I simply want to ask a question too on process, because
undoubtedly the new administration will reflect on the use of
commissions. And do you feel that the federal executive branch
responded fully and adequately to your several requests for
information and discussions at various levels?
Senator, let me say how much the nation has been
honored and benefited by your service.
We wish you well. And I doubt that there's going to
be a two-year hiatus in your --
The law requires that. Otherwise I go to prison.
Well, there certainly are lawful ways in which you
Well, I'm not sure. I've studied this law at great
length. And I believe, at my age, it really is not good for my health
to be in prison for the last two years. (Laughter.) But nevertheless
possibly that will occur.
We submitted our report to President Bush, Vice
President Cheney and other members of the current administration.
while some might interpret some of our observations, particularly the
one that we are losing ground to our adversaries, as being negative, I
think, there is a general recognition that that is true, not because
of our inactivity but because the game has stepped up another notch.
And we've got to do likewise.
We also submitted it to our former colleague, Senator Biden, on
behalf of the new administration. And he pointed out that Senator
Obama has already for instance committed to establishing a position,
within the executive branch, that will have singular responsibility
for the oversight of these issues and, without making any specific
commitments, indicated a general support for the thrust of the
recommendations that we have.
And we submitted our report to the leadership in the House and
I would say that we got good cooperation.
I beg your pardon.
I understood your question to be, did they cooperate
And I think they did. In fact, I would really say
the cooperation was very good.
There were the usual issues, once we got our clearances, those of
us who needed it, about how many could go in and see this classified
thing and that. But I didn't find --
On the whole, you think, it was --
I do. And I think that everybody we dealt with, and
we worked with congressional bodies also, as well as third parties,
wished us well.
In fact, one of the things -- and we put this, I think, in the
executive summary -- really, we're trying to reassure the American
people that we didn't encounter anybody in any agency of -- obviously
of either party in either branch of government who didn't want the
government of the United States to succeed in stopping weapons of mass
destruction. (Chuckles.) I mean, everybody is working very hard to
achieve that goal. And I think there was good cooperation. I think
the staff --
Did the other two commissioners likewise feel that
that's the case?
I would agree with the chairman and Senator Talent,
But on to your larger question about commissions in general,
which you said you generally support. As you probably know, the
history of these commissions -- I believe our first president had the
first commission and picked average citizens to help advise him on
what happened after the Whiskey Rebellion and what he should do about
it. And there are a couple people that recommended what he should do
as a response to that rebellion, and I believe he took their advice.
So the first one was fairly successful.
We've had commissions on war, on race relations, on intelligence-
gathering, and on the 9/11 commission attacks. And I think generally
commissions can serve a very, very important, worthwhile and earnest
But I also think that they can be overdone. And Congress can
begin to punt some of its responsibilities to outside commissions when
Congress itself needs to, you know, concentrate on its own oversight
and accountability and reorganization. So I think there's a balance
to be achieved here in the future.
I may be talking myself out of future jobs, Senator Warner, and
never be on a commission again. But I think that we might be tipping
the balance here and creating too many of these commissions. And the
hard work of oversight, of making our government accountable, of
knowing what's going on in the executive branch, holding them
accountable and being responsible to our citizenry, is the key job
done in our committees. As Richard Theno (ph), the scholar on
committees, said, the work of Congress is the work of its committees.
And that includes oversight.
Ms. Cleveland, do you have any view?
I concur. We got full cooperation. I think we
-- with more than 200 staffers in various
agencies. And they were very frank, I think, in their assessment of
some of the challenges they face.
As I've said, you did a remarkable job in a short
time. To what extent have any of the entities of the federal
government, particularly the DNI, come back and commented on your
report? And if so, how did those comments then become incorporated in
such reports? Is it made permanent?
Senator, our report was issued on December the 3rd,
so it's been just a bit over a week. There is -- to my knowledge,
there's been no formal comment by any agency. I mentioned the one
statement that Admiral McConnell made, which seemed to be --
Yes, I've read --
-- be parallel with our assessment of the risk.
Our report is our report. It is now bound.
In fact, it's -- if I could give a commercial, being printed by
Vintage Books. It will be sold broadly. The proceeds that would
normally be the author's royalty will go to a U.S. foundation which is
working to build schools and hospitals in Pakistan, which we think
underscores the centrality of that country in accomplishing our
objective of avoiding the proliferation of weapons of mass
Now, lastly, Mr. Chairman, just on the process
again, obviously you had to get into classified material. I think you
mentioned that, that you did -- you elected not to file a classified
annex to your report. And if so, for what reason did you decide not
to do that?
First, we did submit the report to the appropriate
I'm not suggesting that, but there's obviously some
material that you unearthed in your hard work that would be of
advantage to both the executive and legislative in the nature of
This point it was our feeling that the essential
message that we wanted to convey and the supporting rationale and
documentation for that position could be conveyed in the declassified
form and be available to all the American people as well as decision-
We just -- we just didn't -- I just confirmed with
staff that Senator Graham and I talked about this late in the stages.
We just didn't think that there was enough that relied upon classified
material for us to have to do that, Senator. And I just -- we just
ended up not having to do that.
Thank you very much. I thank the chair and ranking
Thank you very much, Senator Warner. Let me now
indicate, for the information of the members here, that -- what the
early bird order suggests. And obviously -- well, we can only call on
people if they're here. Senators Akaka, Voinovich, Carper, Coleman,
McCaskill, Nelson, Martinez, Stevens and Pryor.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
And I would like to thank you and Senator Collins for holding this
And I want to also welcome senators here -- Bob Graham and Jim
Talent, and also Tim Roemer and Robin Cleveland. And along with your
welcome is a welcome to other commissioners and -- as well as staff on
your efforts in completing this report, "A World at Risk." And I
share your concerns that WMD proliferation and terrorism are critical
national security issues.
I want to be a little more specific, in asking you this question.
The commission recommends building a national security workforce for
the 21st century with the related goal of creating a culture --
creating a culture of interagency collaboration, flexibility and
innovation. And along with your report, you focus on WMD
proliferation and terrorism, and you've highlighted the need for
improved government operations as well as to improve coordination
throughout government to counter these threats and strengthen our
national security workforce.
So my question to you is in terms of creating this culture. Can
you name which departments and agencies would benefit in particular
from greater participation in this joint -- (inaudible) -- programs?
Thanks for your question, Senator, and for
spotlighting a really important part of the report -- (inaudible) --
reasons I mentioned in my very brief summary.
I would say everybody benefits because it's agencywide, but the
ones who I think were the most concerned, probably the intelligence
agencies -- their ability to analyze data and continue to promote a
joint culture. I mean, one of the good-news stories of this report is
the progress that has been made within the intelligence community in
accomplishing culture change, operating in a more synergystic fashion
along the lines of a Goldwater-Nichols model in the military. But to
do it, they've got to increase joint curriculum, joint education
within the service. They've got to continue to recruit effectively
and step up their efforts to recruit among, you know, the right
national communities, people who can analyze this data.
And then, secondly, the labs were very concerned -- Sandia was
very concerned that if something specific is not done, long-term type
of recruiting of people into those kinds of sciences, that they're not
going to be able to continue providing the expertise that they provide
across all agencies. As you know, Senator, every agency or a huge
number of them contract with the labs in various kinds of purposes.
And if they don't have this ability, they're not going to be able to
provide the needs for our government, much less international
organizations like the IAEA.
Bob, this report references the need for more
individuals with language skills in the federal government. As you
know, I've been a strong advocate for the need for a more
comprehensive approach to increase language education and training in
order to grow the number of qualified applicants and ensure that the
current gap in language skills does not expand. What do you believe
are the most significant challenges to recruiting and training
individuals in these skills?
Well, first I think we do not have today a pipeline
that is manageable to give us some confidence that there will be those
follow-on personnel to carry out important national missions.
Contrast the civilian side of the -- (audio break) -- government with
the military. The military not only has military academies, but also
in many universities and colleges reserve officer training corps
programs so that the Army, the Navy, the Air Force can tell what their
flow of young officers will be and can plan to carry out their
missions based on that human capital. We don't have that in other
I will say I have personally been interested in establishing a
very similar process for the intelligence, where we could bring young
people in at a university level, have them study for three, four or
five years these difficult strategic languages as well as study some
of the science that the intelligence community will need so it, like
the military, will have an assured source of new personnel.
I think that's one idea that could be expanded to substantially
accomplish the -- overcoming the concerns that you've expressed.
If I could add very briefly, Senator, to that,
there's some practical issues involved we keep running into. The kind
of people we want are -- are, you know, highly skilled people who have
a lot of opportunities in a lot of areas. And it just takes a lot
longer for the government to hire them. They have to go through the
security clearances and the rest of it, and they -- and these are not
-- these individuals, getting out a post-graduate course, they can't
wait around for 14 or 15 months to find out whether they get a job or
whether they'll be able to go to work. So we have to balance better
the need for the security clearances and all the things the government
does before it hires people with the need for speed, as well, so that
we can continue to recruit the best people.
If I could just add another element to that, today
there are groups of Americans who in many ways represent the most
immediate source of assistance who have been largely excluded,
particularly from the intelligence community. And those are persons
of Middle Eastern background. Very difficult for a young person,
let's say from an Iranian ancestry, to get into the intelligence
agencies. A large part of that has to do with a clearance process
that puts a lot of emphasis on your family background. It's hard to
get access to the family if the family is in Iran, and it's not
unlikely that you've got an uncle or some family member who may be
holding a position that raises some concern.
I think another benefit of a program like the military's ROTC is
that these young people will be under very personal, close
surveillance for four years, and you could make a judgment as to their
reliability more based on your assessment of their character than what
their family may be doing back in their home country.
Let me finally comment that I believe there is a
need for a comprehensive strategy that needs to be developed regarding
critical language skills. And I take it that you also believe in
that, and I hope we can move in that direction.
Mr. Chairman, I have a full statement that I would like to be
included in the record.
Without objection, it will be included in the
Thanks, Senator Akaka.
Senator Carper, welcome.
Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
I want to say to our colleagues Senator Graham and Senator
Talent, it's great to see you both. Welcome. And Tim Roemer slipped
out of the room, but I served with him in the House, and very much
appreciative of his continued service to our country. (Inaudible) --
that you're in good company, and they tell me that they're in good
company with you too. So thank you for the work that you've done on
I have a question first for -- one for Senator Graham, and maybe
a couple of questions. But -- and then I have a question that I'd
like to just direct to anyone on the panel who might wish to respond.
But I'm especially interested in the part of your report that
focuses on Pakistan -- I think it was maybe a chapter that focused on
Pakistan -- and your recommendations there, too.
And I would just ask of our colleague, Senator Graham, my
understanding is that you strongly believe that our country should
appoint a special envoy to deal with the India-Pakistan tensions. And
was that recommendation actually included in the report that you all
The answer is no.
Could you talk about that?
Well, and that was part of a general policy that we
wanted to focus our recommendations on goals to be accomplished and
strategic steps necessary to accomplish those goals. We thought it
was inappropriate for us to be at what I would call the tactical
level. A, in many -- (audio break) -- was beyond our expertise and us
saying it didn't add much to the force of the -- of the argument. And
second, that's a decision which either Congress or a new president or
some other responsible person has and they should have the latitude to
determine what tactics they want to follow.
I understand that there is -- that this idea of having a person
who specifically will be focused on our interests in this part of the
world -- and we think Pakistan, while there are some things that are
Pakistan-specific, also has to be dealt with in a larger regional
context. You're not going to bleed off a lot of the bad feeling
between Pakistan and India unless you can help deal with questions
like Kashmir, which has been a 60-year thorn in the side of that
relationship. So whoever performs this function needs to have a
portfolio that is not singularly Pakistan but allows the region to be
part of the solution to the problem.
All right. Let me come back at this just in a
little different way. Could you explain -- and I appreciate why you
didn't include it in your -- in your report, but could you explain to
us how such an envoy could be effective, given that India has, I
think, formally and consistently taken a position for a long time that
they're not interested in outside mediation of their disagreements
Well, and the landscape is littered with failures of
efforts to have special envoys. And many of those bodies are in the
But there also have been successes. For instance, I think the
work that Ambassador Holbrooke and General Clark did in Bosnia to try
to defuse that very contentious part of the world and to stabilize it
was very successful, and has in the main helped to keep the peace in
So that would be an example of effective diplomacy in a very
contentious area that may give you some hope that a similar initiative
could be helpful in Central Asia.
Senator, on this issue, and I didn't -- we did
discuss this. I did not personally have a dog in that hunt, as we say
back in Missouri. And I think that everybody believes that it's
important to pay very high-level attention to Pakistan. How the next
-- how the president-elect chooses to do that, you know, whether
through a special envoy, which is certainly a possibility, the
secretary of State, however, it's just something -- and you see this
in several places in the report, where we didn't want to presume to
make tactical choices for the president or, for that matter, for
Congress. But we felt strongly about a position -- and we said it --
like the WMD coordinator.
But I think we all agree with the thrust of what you're saying --
is that -- that this -- it needs to be regional; it needs to be
somebody who's senior, who has the attention of the president and the
foreign policy establishment who's paying attention to that.
I don't think anybody here would disagree with that,
for all the reasons you're saying.
Thank you. Another question, and this would be for
-- really, for any of you who'd like to respond. But I noticed that
the commission came down in support of the Bush administration's
decision five or six years ago to walk away from the negotiations on
an inspections protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention. And I
think you also recommended that the next administration resist
international pressure to resume negotiations on such a protocol.
Ms. Cleveland, I think you may have addressed this briefly this
morning, but could one or several of you elaborate on why you think it
would be a mistake to try to set up an international inspections
regime for biological weapons, and what steps you recommend instead to
reduce the risk of a biological weapons attack?
Senator, we heard from a number of people that
had been involved --
Can you speak up just a little bit louder, please?
We heard from a number of people who had been
involved in those negotiations early on and were looking at them with
fresh eyes. And I think the concern was, given the dual-use nature of
so much of the material that we're talking about, it would be
virtually impossible to come up with a credible regime. And rather
than pursue or tilt at windmills, I think that the sense was that it
was more important to come up with a framework where there would be
international adherence to the norms and standards in the underlying
And I'm trying to think if we heard from any witnesses that
actually argued in favor of proceeding with a revival of the protocol.
I think on a bipartisan basis we heard -- we heard generally that it
would not be a well-advised course; it would be expending an enormous
amount of time to pursue a fleeting possibility.
So I think what we learned was that when you had demands imposed
by Iran and some other countries as to what would the cost be in terms
of the verification protocol -- they were suggesting, for example,
suspension of all U.S. export controls in return for establishing a
verification regime -- that the cost was perceived as too high and
probably would not yield the kind of result we want in terms of access
All right. Thanks.
Let me say, as one who came to the conclusion that's
in our report with some reluctance, because I recognize the importance
of having a strong international convention to govern this, biological
is distinctly different than nuclear, where we do have an agency, the
IAEA, that does that. There are a definable number of sites around
the world where nuclear is being produced, used or stored. So it's
possible to have a list of the addresses with all those places and
have a meaningful set of inspections.
With biological, the number is so enormous and constantly
changing that we felt that you might create false expectations if you
said we were going to have effective international inspection.
What we suggested was that there should be two objectives now
with the biological weapons. One is to get all the countries that are
in this business members of the convention -- there still are a
handful of important countries that are not even members of the
biological convention -- and then second, have a verification regime
which is nation-based -- I'm now stating my own definition of what
means, but maybe coming up with some standards of what does a nation
have to have in terms of regulations and enforcement capability to
give the world confidence that their laboratories are not being used
for inappropriate purposes -- and then monitor whether the nation is
complying with those standards of regulations and enforcement
One of the things about biological is, it is in everybody's
interest not to let this leak out. The -- no country, no matter how
big or small, wants to be fingered as the contributor to thousands of
people being killed because biological weapons leaked out of their
laboratories into the hands of terrorists.
So we think you can build on that common interest of all the
nations of the world to have an effective verification scheme that
doesn't overstate what a biological IAEA might be able to (accomplish
Okay. Thanks. My time has expired. Let me just
say, again, thank you for your continued service and for the good work
that you continue to do for our country. Much obliged.
Thanks very much, Senator Carper.
Senator Coleman, it strikes me -- I talked about the various
reasons we're holding this hearing. Perhaps one unconscious one was
to give you an opportunity, Senator Coleman, to focus your
considerable talents on something other than the recount going on in
I welcome -- welcome you to the meeting, and thank you for being
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I actually
thought it was a good opportunity to talk to my colleague from Florida
about that when -- when this is all over. (Laughter.)
But let me say to my colleagues, by the way, I do thank you for
this tremendous continued service. We use the term "friends" in this
body sometimes too loosely, to Senator Talent, and I consider him a
dear friend and a great American. And Senator Graham, I always have
great respect for your leadership in this area. So Ms. Cleveland,
obviously in great company.
I want to talk a little bit about the biological threat and just
step back. One of the things that we did in the permanent
subcommittee was look at how easy the possibilities of obtaining
nuclear material to create a dirty bomb, set up a bogus facility. And
that's an area where it's highly regulated. A specific agent has
responsibility, regulated both on the state and federal level. And we
found gaps in the system and were able to set up a bogus company, get
access to material that could be used to create a dirty bomb. So I
look at that area that's regulated and then I look at the biological
area, and you know, the question for me is, is -- first, the
regulation that we have is, you know, regulation with a specific,
select agent list. The nature of biological materials is that you can
create new agents today that aren't on any list.
So the first question, and perhaps Ms. Cleveland, how easy would
it be to create a bogus BSL-3 lab, one, to get pathogens? And then
secondly, if in operation, what is the capacity and capability at the
state and federal level to know that there's a problem?
Senator, I don't think you need to create a bogus
lab because I think that the oversight and regulation in place already
presents a risk. I mean, with the proliferation of labs that we have
in the United States and the lack of clear accountability, it doesn't
need to be bogus. So I think -- I think what's important is to
establish a single point of contact in terms of agency oversight and
supervise the labs that we have.
And I believe Senator Collins pursued this area, I
think, in her question. But the report talks about, at times,
coordination between DHS and Health and Human Services. And you know,
all too often we have -- that's -- we find that -- you don't want to
look back and say that didn't happen. Is there a recommendation for a
single source here, that this is -- here's where the regulation should
be centered, here's where the responsibility is so that we're not
caught in, you know, he said, she said?
I think -- I think we all felt that Homeland
Security had the mission to protect the country, and that ought to be
the beginning point. And I think we had a sense in talking to
Governor Napolitano, the designated secretary, that she was very
seized with the urgency of that task. But I think some -- an agency
with the focus of the Homeland Security mission probably should be in
And if I could respond, because you were kind enough
to be complimentary towards us. And we before, you know, emphasized
our recommendations for congressional change, but I think it's
important to look -- it's important to emphasize how hugely effective
the role of this committee in the Congress will be in this area more
so than if just executive action is taken. I mean, probably in theory
this could be done by executive order, but one of the things we found
in looking -- talking to the intel community about the intel reforms
was the prominence of congressional action in that law in their
thinking. Even the ones who didn't like the idea of cultural
jointness and the rest of it kept saying, you know, when Congress
passed that law, we knew we had to salute and go on.
So this is an area where if you all follow up, even if
theoretically the president can do it -- it's weird, but I think the
executive branch people may be more impressed by you all doing
something than an order from the president in this area.
I don't want to -- I'm sorry -- take up your time.
No, I -- my next question would have focused on
our role here and the action. This is an area that is -- it needs
great oversight in a way that does not diminish, you know, the
scientific capability/capacity of, you know, folks in research to do
the things they do. But here is an area of great vulnerability, great
vulnerability with very little -- and I presume at the state level
there's not a lot of oversight here.
I think that's -- you have problems at the
federal, state and local level. And you currently have a system in
place that requires voluntary reporting of the transfer of these
lethal pathogens, but -- from lab to lab. But there's, as we all
know, and when you have voluntary reporting, if it doesn't happen and
there's no follow up and accountability in terms of federal oversight
or congressional oversight, voluntary reporting sometimes falls
between the cracks.
I would hope that -- and I anticipate we'll
continue to move down this path.
Let me shift gears a little bit, and the area of citizen response
and the things that we can do to facilitate a -- when this happens to
respond in a way -- I think the report says quick access to
information can save lives. Are we -- and I'd look at some of the
things we've done in the past, and I think the report talks about it
-- you know, recommendations about duct tape, even the color-coding
level we have today, I'm not sure how helpful that is to most
citizens. Who takes the bull by the horns on this one and really ups
the level of citizen awareness, of very concrete steps that can and
should be taken to -- when something like this happens somewhere that
the response is one that is -- saves lives, minimizes the damage,
ameliorates some of the terrible things that might otherwise follow?
Well, let me just -- (comes on mike) -- this
committee would be an appropriate place to take that leadership. As
an example, let me just mention to suggest areas of citizen
Every community in this country is going to need to have the
capability to respond particularly to a biological attack.
While our focus is on preventing it, the reality is that that's very
difficult to do, and there may be a biological attack. How well is
St. Paul or Hartford or Portland prepared to deal with that? I think
laying out what are some of the standards that a community should
strive for, what is the gold standard of a community being prepared
for this, so that citizens could then hold their local officials
responsible for that level of protection.
A second area is we think the American people, as in large and in
specific groups, need to be better informed. The question's been
raised, going back to this anthrax of 2001, the FBI carried out that
investigation in a very closed manner. It's been suggested that maybe
if they were more open and had involved more scientists in this
process, it wouldn't have taken seven years to have found out what the
nature of the attack was. So using the population broadly, but also
specific groups of the population, more effectively.
Another area that the British, when we met with Scotland Yard and
MI5 and (MI)6 in London, they said there was no terrorist attack
inside Great Britain that had been aborted without citizen
involvement. They have used their citizens very effectively as the
front line of knowledge of what's going on in the community. Now,
they have a different history and culture, from World War II, when
they were under attack for such a long period of time, to the IRA
since World War II. We fortunately avoided both of those experiences.
So it's going to be a heavier lift to get U.S. citizens engaged at
that level, but it would certainly be a tremendous asset in our
arsenal of avoiding a weapon of mass destruction to be produced.
And we recommend the secretary of Homeland Security
take the lead in this public information kind of campaign, is maybe
the wrong word for it. Actually, when we briefed the secretary-
designate, she indicated a real eagerness to roll up her sleeves and
get involved in this. And I think it's natural to come from her; it
would vindicate the credibility of the agency, which was hurt six or
seven years ago with the initial discussions of it. So it ought to
come from them.
It's not good that the American public is as unaware of the
nature and potential consequences of a bio-attack as they are. It
will just promote panic if something happens. So I think it's at that
level that it ought to occur, and I think our report says so.
And again, this is an example of why we were saying that, you
know, for the sake of the -- of public safety and Congress'
participation in this, it would be good to get a more unified
oversight of that agency so that you all can play your role in making
certain that they do what they're supposed to do. Right now,
oversight in that area is not what it ought to be.
Can I correct something that I said earlier, that
there is a mandatory requirement to report on transfer of a select
group of pathogens. The problem is that there is no enforcement
mechanism. There's no way to determine whether or not that code, in
fact, is being observed.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Senator Coleman.
Senator Bill Nelson.
Thank you all for your continued public
The Congress has been repeatedly assured by the Bush
administration that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is safe. What if the
worst took place, that you had a fall of the government into the hands
of some terrorist group? You all want to comment?
Well, today the nuclear arsenal in Pakistan is under
the control of the military, as it has been traditionally. And there
are strained relations between the military and the civilian
government. Witness this recent incident when the civilian government
ordered the military intelligence head to go to Mumbai to help with
the investigation, and then the military reversed those orders and the
intelligence officer stayed home and didn't go to India. So that's --
that is an unstable relationship.
I think that what would be ideal is if we could work with the
Pakistanis and maybe with the Russians and some other entities, so
it's not just a total U.S. operation, to try to internationalize the
security of both Pakistan's nuclear weapons and India's nuclear
weapons. That would be a source of comfort to both of those countries
and to the world.
Senator Graham, you mentioned earlier, most
insightfully, that what we need to do, you were building on the idea
of soft power in Pakistan. And it underscores one of your
recommendations, that we need to counter and defeat extremist ideology
in Pakistan. And you said with schools and hospitals. I agree. You
want to, for the record, amplify?
Well, what I said was that this report that we have,
the royalties for the sale of this book will go to a U.S. foundation
whose purpose is to build schools and hospitals in Pakistan. We
thought that was an appropriate way to underscore the centrality of
Pakistan in responding to the challenge of proliferation.
Senator Talent has spent a great deal of time thinking about this
issue of the use of soft power generally. But with Pakistan being the
initial point of impact -- and I'll turn it over to him. But
basically I think it says that we cannot depend just on the sword to
achieve our objectives. We can't continue to deal with the symptoms
of terrorism; we've got to start to understand what are the root
causes of terrorism, and where the soft power -- diplomatic, economic,
human interchanges, et cetera -- we can begin to bleed some of that
extremism out of the system.
And I think -- to answer the thrust of your
question, the answer is yes. I mean, I think we have a unique time
because there's really a pretty broad consensus, including within the
military, Secretary Gates, that we have to have this capability as a
government. In addition to the traditional military and intelligence
capabilities, it's also very important. This is a full-spectrum type
of engagement with the terrorists.
Now, what we did, Senator, was took it a little step further and
we said, we just can't think of it in vague terms of foreign
assistance. I mean, we -- our agencies that do this have to sit down
and say to themselves, what capabilities do we need? Just as the
military in Iraq, when the IEDs started hitting us, said, okay, we
have to be able to develop -- we have to be able to identify the
signatures of the bomb-makers, and so there's some capabilities, and
how do we get that organic, we need the State Department to do the
same thing. What does this really mean?
And we said in the report, as a minimum, it's the ability to
project targeted, effective messages about our intentions -- you know,
communications -- counter what the terrorists are saying, and at least
in a targeted way help -- and this is what you're referring to -- help
people build local social and economic and educational institutions
that are a bulwark against radicalism. We all want to do that, but we
don't want to be in a situation where President Obama says, boy, I
really like that, issues a presidential directive, and nothing happens
because nobody has the capability to do it. And so we need -- the
same thing you all achieved in the intel community that's going on
there now needs really to happen in the State Department.
And we have not briefed the secretary-designate there about this.
I can't imagine she would disagree. And I just think it needs to be a
Final question. Looking back on the issue,
Ms. Cleveland, of Dr. Ivins and him being a rogue scientist, what did
we learn about that that we could prevent that kind of action in the
Senator, we didn't look specifically at the Ivins
case, I think, in part, because Congress has determined that another
commission will take a look at it. We didn't choose to look backwards
in terms of specific events. But I think what we established in
looking at management of labs and anthrax in general as a threat, I
think we've come to terms with the fact that there needs to be
improved management and oversight of the labs. There needs to be some
kind of regulatory body that has specific responsibility for oversight
and establishing security and safety procedures. But we didn't look
specifically at the Ivins case.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you very much, Senator Nelson.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And I, too, want to echo the words of my colleagues and thank you
all for lending your experience, your skill to this very important
mission. And both of you, Senators, and Ms. Cleveland as well, people
who are very accomplished. And I know from personal experience,
having served with Senator Talent on this committee, the knowledge you
have of these issues and the passion you have for making sure that
we're taking the steps that are necessary to keep our country safe in
what is an increasingly dangerous world.
So thank you, all, for your efforts.
And also I note that I suspect that when you got into this, you
didn't realize that you would be putting yourselves in peril on your
trip to Pakistan. That had to have been a reminder of the dangerous
world in which we live. And I think that your principal finding that
we would experience some sort of an attack in the next five years came
as a shock to a lot of people but also a reminder to us how important
it is that we double down in our efforts to make sure that we prevent
that sort of thing from happening.
I want to follow up on the question that Senator Nelson raised
about Pakistan because your findings did, I think, talk about the use
of soft-power initiatives. And of course, as you know, a number of
things have happened there recently, which have drawn into question
their ability to carry out those types of initiatives.
And I'm just wondering, in terms of the current events in
Pakistan that have occurred subsequent to the submission of your
report, do you think that any of those recommendations, you know, may
need to be modified to take into account the likelihood that we may
have to deal with Pakistan in terms of it being a failed state?
There's growing belief and consensus that that could be the case. So
do you believe that Pakistan is on the brink of becoming a failed
Well, if I could first comment on your introductory
statement and thank you for your generous remarks.
We don't mean to be the commission of doom and gloom. Because as
we stated, this risk assessment is on the assumption that we do
nothing over the next five years. There are many things that are
available to us which will reduce that probability, more likely than
not that it will occur.
The challenge is going to be, do we have the will and the wisdom
to do so? That will be something for historians to recount.
As to Pakistan, I remember when President Kennedy made his
announcement that we were going to go to the moon in this decade and
put an American on the moon and bring them safely back, he said, we do
this not because it's easy but because it is hard. It will test us,
it will test our capability.
Well, I would apply the same thing to the whole issue of
(bleeding ?) extremism out of the world, beginning with Pakistan. It
is horrid and probably nothing of the scale that we think is required
has ever been attempted before.
So we think it is going to challenge the imagination and the
creativity of the United States and its leadership as to what are
effective strategies and then the will to implement them.
I will just state one thing that gives me some encouragement.
About (60 ?) years ago, then-Vice President Nixon had a 12-stop visit
to Latin America planned. The first two stops, he met insults,
vulgarity and tomatoes. And after two stops, he terminated the trip
and came back home. That probably was the (nay dear ?) of U.S.
relations in Latin America.
Although there are still rough spots, such as Mr. Chavez in
Venezuela, the general relationship between the United States and our
Latin America neighbors is dramatically improved. I think that a
fundamental reason for that is that over a period of half a century,
thousands of young people from the United States went to Latin
America, and they learned something about that region, not by theory
but by actual personal experience.
And generally, thousands of young people came from Latin America,
particularly to study at our colleges and universities. And they've
now returned home to occupy leadership positions. That may or may not
be a model that has some application here, but it does say that a hard
problem, improving U.S. relations in the hemisphere with creativity
and commitment, can be, if not solved, substantially mitigated.
And I think we have the same potential in Pakistan and in the
I think Pakistan has -- as you know, Senator, the
definition of a failed state is difficult. I mean, people argue of
what it is and what it isn't. There are certain elements that I'm
concerned -- personally, I don't know if the commission has done
anything about this -- that are present, you know, the instability
within certain aspects of their territory, the fact that within the
government, as Senator Graham was mentioning, the government doesn't
entirely control the government. And the attack in Mumbai just does
highlight all of that.
I don't know how useful it is, though, to conclude they are a
failed stated. I think it presents some of the risks of that. And
this is why we think this is a really good place to begin applying
both the traditional power, you know, because we recommend continuing
to be very active in reducing the safe havens, and then also the smart
power or soft power.
And I want to echo something Senator Graham said. We ought to be
saying this to the public. If this is hard, I mean, this new
president faces really difficult tasks, just like the old president
did. And I don't want the public to think that there's some silver
bullet out there, and if everybody up here wasn't just dumb we'd have
found it and shot it a long time ago.
I mean, this is hard. These people are a very formidable enemy.
And they get the strategy of this. And Pakistan's going to be very
difficult. But as Senator Graham said, we just think it has to be
One more question, if I might, Mr. Chairman.
Go right ahead.
And that has to do with the focus and particular
attention that the report made regarding biological weapons threat.
And I think, too, in terms of those being more likely to be
attainable, it doesn't seem to translate into as significant of a
threat as the threat of a nuclear strike, you know, or even for that
matter some of the conventional-weapons strikes. The attack at Mumbai
managed to kill an awful lot of people using conventional weapons,
firearms, explosives, more so than the anthrax attacks that we
experienced here back in 2001.
So I guess my question is you're aware, from your experience that
this institution, some of the constraints that we have to deal with
here in terms of finite resources and have to make some very hard
choices when it comes to allocating homeland security resources. So
in light of the historical record with bioterrorism, should we be
focusing more funding on the biological threat than we already do,
when the evidence, in terms of the sort of lethality of some of these
conventional attacks, have been far more effective and when we have
far more fear, obviously, from a nuclear strike?
It's a fair question. I would say, yes, I think you
do need to invest the resources which, fortunately, I mean, I don't
think it's beyond the ability or the capacity of the government to
come up with that.
Here's a scenario that is very worrisome. It's easier -- the
threshold for weaponizing a bio agent is lower than the threshold for
weaponizing nuclear material. Now, they have the sophistication to do
that, too, but it's lower. It's also easier to get.
Once you isolate the pathogen, it's easier to get large enough amounts
of it to be able to do more than one weapon.
And the concern I really had is, you know, they go to the top of
the Sears Tower in Chicago -- and I'll just pull Chicago; it could
have been any densely populated area -- and they release anthrax or
botulism or some new agent; you don't even know you've been attacked
until people start going to the hospital two or three days later. And
by that time, of course, if you were exposed with the initial one --
you don't know where the footprint is going to be, the wind and the
rest of it, and by that time it's too late to get the Cipro out. So
now you've got -- if it's anthrax.
So now the initial attack may kill thousands of people, and
what's to keep them from going up on a different one in the same
setting three weeks later and doing another one? And if you hit an
American city like that three or four times, I mean, there's a point
where you may kill the city. And if they have the demonstrated
capability to do that, what is our government doing? I mean, do you
continue to fight against them if they have it? Now, I'm not saying
that this is -- we're not saying this is going to happen, but when we
looked at this on bio, nuclear is harder to weaponize, and if they get
it, it's harder for them to get enough material for them to do more
than one bomb. I mean, they could, again, but it's a little harder.
So we're not at all downgrading the nuclear threat, and the
attack -- a nuclear device that was properly put together probably
would have a bigger initial impact than bio. But for those reasons I
think it's a fair statement of why we highlighted bio and why we think
you guys should also.
I think the commission draws a distinction
between the mass casualties that would be a consequence of a nuclear
event versus the mass consequence of a potential bio event. It would
not take very much in terms of material to create panic, or the
economic dislocation we experienced in the anthrax attack where there
were estimates as high as $6 billion in terms of economic consequence,
and severe psychological and social consequence as well. So I think
you're right to say the bigger event would be nuclear, but there is
consequence versus casualty.
I think the administration has invested heavily on the question
of biodefense, and on assuring that response to an event, whether it's
bio or nuclear, is robust. I think what we've tried to focus on his
how do you prevent this from happening in the first instance, and I'm
not sure that that's as much an investment of resources as it is
intellectual and policy issues. I mean, I think these committees
could have a huge impact in terms of preventing with relatively little
in terms of financial resources involved.
Without denigrating what's been said about the
importance of this investment for the specific purpose of avoiding a
biological attack, it's also true that many of the areas of investment
to avoid a biological attack or reduce its severity serve other
purposes. As an example, we learned with SARS that a disease that
breaks out in one distant part of today's flat world quickly moves
across national borders. So we have an interest here in the United
States and globally, if there is an outbreak, whether its origin is
terrorism or nature, that we know that it happened as soon as possible
so that we can try to put a fence around it to keep it from spreading
to our country.
One of our major recommendations is we need to increase the
surveillance capabilities to know that there is something beyond
ordinary influenza happening out there so that we can respond quickly,
whether it's a benign or a violent attack, and confine its
consequences and its lethality.
One other point Senator Graham raised early on in
our review, and I'm not sure that any of us has emphasized it
sufficiently, that part of prevention is blunting a terrorist's
presumptions about success. And so, to the extent that we have good
consequence management in place, which I think we've concurred we do,
and to the extent that we engaged the citizen and the Congress in
conveying that we have effective consequence management, that has
potential to blunt terrorists' assumptions about success, and that's
key to prevention.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your
indulgence on the time.
Not at all, thank you.
Thank you all very much for your continued service
to our country.
Thank you, Senator. Those are important
questions. If the three of you have time, I have a few more
questions. I don't know whether my colleagues do, but just one more
The first thing I want to say in regard to Pakistan, having just
come back from there, if there's any piece of encouragement, it is
that every time the Pakistani people get to vote, they vote for the
moderate candidates and against the extremists. So it is not
inherently an extremist country; nonetheless it is obviously under
siege from a minority who are extreme and terrorist, and unfortunately
there continue to be -- continues to be evidence that some parts of
the government, particularly the intelligence service, continue to
have contacts -- and perhaps more than that -- with different
terrorist groups, and that's the challenge.
So I think your recommendation that we really focus on the soft
power but really on a long-term plan of both civil and military soft-
power or hard-power aid and partnership with Pakistan is key.
Obviously we have developed an extraordinarily important bilateral
relationship with India. It's really one of the foundations of our
foreign policy. And both our Indian allies and we have an interest, I
think, in that long-term plan and partnership with both Pakistan and
The second thing I want to say, by way of some reassurance to the
public, because we're talking about nightmare scenarios here, and we
have to do that, is that I believe that the intelligence reforms we've
adopted over the last several years can, and hopefully will, act as a
form of prevention too in breaking plots to carry out a biological
attack on the United States. Let me go to a few questions quickly.
We know from our attempt to keep nuclear devices out of the hands
of terrorists that the source of those often is of course nations that
have nuclear capacity. So we have the A.Q. Khan case from Pakistan,
we have the North Koreans proliferating. In your report you mention
that no nation admits to having a biological weapons development
program, but six nations are suspected of having one. What are those
six nations, to the best of your knowledge?
This is the final exam.
Naturally we could answer that, but since it's Mrs.
Cleveland's area -- (laughter).
It's always the hardest questions that come last.
Yes. Well, I must admit I think it's hit about
a half dozen, so I'll give you a little leeway there if you can't
Russia -- yeah, Russia, Iran, Egypt, Turkey,
Syria -- Russia, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Syria.
Russia, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, and --
We've got that.
And North Korea. So has there been any attempt
to -- this is an odd business because of course they all -- in the
nuclear case they -- I guess the questions is, has there been any
international attempt to try to stop biological weapons proliferation
from those nations?
Let me -- I should have caveated that last answer
with that is based on speculation in the press --
Got it, okay.
-- so I didn't want to get into a discussion of
how that might be confirmed. I think that the issue we face here --
and we heard this when we were in Russia -- is that there is enormous
sensitivity about medical and science -- the protection of medical and
science equities. And so I think the short answer is no, there hasn't
been a coordinated effort to secure multiparty or global adherence to
the biological weapons mentioned, but I think that's -- (inaudible).
Yeah. Okay, and another question regarding
international relations. Is there any other country, for instance in
Europe, that is doing a better or different job than we are at
overseeing biological laboratories to prevent the weaponization of
I think the United States is today the standard of
What we're saying is that our standard needs to be
taken up a notch and then we can use our standard as the inspiration
for other countries, or as the example of what can be done.
So our domestic recommendations not only will help us here at home, it
will also increase our moral suasion with other countries.
Okay, thank you for that.
Let me ask a final question which goes to our governmental
affairs or governmental organization side as well as homeland security
because you called for the Homeland Security Council and the National
Security Council to be merged. And this is an idea that's been talked
about, so your recommendation is significant.
Obviously, there are a number of the risks involved in WMD
prevention that bridge the realms of homeland and national security.
So I wanted to ask you to talk a little bit more about this. And the
obvious first concern is, will the homeland security functions of the
Homeland Security Council be lost if there's a merger into the
National Security Council?
That was not our intention or belief.
In fact, we think that, like in so many things in
life, if you have multiple people responsible, then nobody feels the
ultimate accountability for results. We think that there is some of
that. And then just the bureaucratic demands of working across two
agencies which have such similar responsibility.
Our recommendation is that the National Security Council be the
survivor in that merger, and that the National Security Council
possibly have within it a core of individuals led by a person who
would be particularly focused within that context on the subset of
issues that could be described as homeland security.
And that person might, for instance, be a deputy
national security adviser, is that what you're thinking about?
Yes. And this is also in the context that we are
also calling for there to be a senior adviser/coordinator for the
president, who would focus even more specifically on this issue of
weapons of mass destruction and the interface with proliferation.
That was my next question which is, if we're
going to create a position like that, why not have it be part of the
National Security Council as opposed -- this is the position to
oversee the WMD prevention -- as opposed to being another special
adviser to the president?
Well, my feeling is that the only strength that this
position will have will be the degree to which the president of the
United States resides confidence in the position. And so with that as
a starting premise, we felt that the president should decide how he
would like to organize his executive in order to secure a position
that he will have that kind of respect and confidence in.
One thing that came out during the course of our hearings, which
concerned a number of us, including myself, was that there have been a
number of instances over the last 20 or 30 years where on one side of
the argument was counterproliferation and on the other side was a
geopolitical or economic objective.
In almost all of those standoffs, proliferation has lost. And
part of the reason is that you have a secretary of State or a
secretary of the Treasury or a secretary of Commerce arguing for the
geopolitical, and the economic and someone who is down in the
bureaucratic ranks defending the proliferation.
So we think that this position needs to be one that is
sufficiently attractive that it will draw someone of gravitas to it
who can make the case for proliferation. Now, it may be that for good
and sufficient reasons we're willing to accept an increase in our
vulnerability to proliferation in order to achieve some economic or
geopolitical objective. I think there has not been sufficient
exposition of what those consequences were when many of these
decisions were made in the past.
I agree. Very well said.
Senator Akaka, do you have --
Mr. Chairman, let me ask a final question here. In
September, I held a hearing that focused on public diplomacy reforms.
A State Department witness testified that the current national
strategy for public diplomacy was useful. And what it was was that
there are three public diplomacy priorities. One of them is expand
education and exchange programs, modernize communications and promote
diplomacy of peace.
And my question to you is, how would your recommended new public
diplomacy strategy and its implementation differ from the strategy
that is currently in place?
I think it's an attempt to make that kind of
thinking more effect, Senator, is what I'd say. I mean, there's been
a fair amount of activity in this regard within the State Department
from some of the other civilian agencies. But they're very much like
where the intel community was before you all passed the bill. They're
not looking at it strategically, saying, what's the purpose of these
Now, I was going to say in response to one of the chairman's
questions, because he was talking about the fact that the people of
Pakistan don't want, the vast majority of them, don't want these
extremists to be controlling things.
Now, if we all looked at that as we might look at a political
problem in a campaign -- I mean, we had a whole set of voters who we
knew really agreed with us. But how do we get them to join us in our
And I think if we can create, within the State Department and
these agencies, that kind of targeted thinking, what's the point of
the public diplomacy? Well, in Pakistan, it's to get them to oppose
the terrorists and more actively support the civilized community and
what we're trying to do and what capabilities do we need to achieve
them, which is going to include everything you talked about but done
in a more intentional way.
And we think the kind of organic reform that you all achieved in
the intelligence community is what we need there. That's what's so
significant about this progress. That bill you passed -- and this
committee's responsible for it -- that bill has actually reversed the
momentum of the culture within a set of agencies within the government
of the United States, which a lot of people thought could not be done.
So it's a long answer, Senator. And there's a report. One of
the reasons we didn't get into specifics is there's a commission
report that's actually just come out. It's called "Forging the New
Shield: The Project on National Security Reform." And they talk a
lot about the integrators that they think are going to be necessary to
accomplish what you're talking about.
I have other questions, but I'll submit them.
Thanks very much, Senator Akaka.
I want to thank the witnesses and in absentia Congressman Roemer.
It's been a very important hearing.
Senator Collins and I talked during the hearing, and we decided
this is so urgent, we're going to go ahead and try to convert a fair
amount of your report, particularly the parts about increasing
oversight of the high-containment biological laboratories, into
legislation. In other words, rather than going through a lengthy
process of consulting with stakeholders, we think it's a better idea
to try to force the issue by drafting legislation based on your
recommendations and then going to the hearing process as soon in the
next session as possible. So you've certainly had that effect.
You may know that yesterday, Senators Kennedy and Burr initiated
a letter based on one of the recommendations in your report that, I
think, more than 15 of our colleagues, including Senator Collins and
myself, signed to the bipartisan Senate leadership, urging funding of
$900 million in public health and weapons of mass destruction medical
countermeasures which is one of the things you've called for.
So you've done a great job really remarkably quickly for a
commission for Washington. (Laughs.) And I think we owe it to you to
respond, in light of the urgency of the subject matter and your
recommendations and conclusions, with similar urgency. So I thank you
very, very much.
We're going to keep the record of the hearing open for 15 days if
any of you want to submit additional testimony or our colleagues want
to submit questions to you.
And I cannot resist saying to you, Senators Graham and Talent,
that your presence and the high quality of your work here reminds us
once again that there is life after the Senate. This is very
With that, the hearing is adjourned.
Thank you very much.