18 June 2003 18:04 [Source: ICIS news]
PHILADELPHIA (CNI)--The head of a congressionally-mandated federal panel on antiterrorism security said Wednesday that the developing US national security strategy must focus on cyber terrorism and bioterrorism as well as protection of such critical infrastructure as chemicals manufacturing.
Former Virginia Governor James Gilmore also told those attending the first annual Chemical Security Summit (CSS) here today that a terrorist attack using conventional explosives against a chemical plant or rail line carrying chemical products "is very real and is very possible."
"We have to be very concerned about the very real prospect of such an attack," Gilmore said.
Gilmore is chairman of the Congressional Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction - an organisation whose name is apparently beyond acronym and instead is known simply as the Gilmore Commission.
In developing a US national strategy on antiterrorism security, the Gilmore Commission is to present a report on its yearlong study to the White House and Congress at year end.
He told some 350 chemical industry executives here that while a national security strategy should include input from the chemical industry as a critical part of US infrastructure, that strategy would of necessity be more broadly focused.
"We have to focus," he said, "on three crucial areas."
Cyber terrorism, Gilmore cautioned, is a critical threat that must be met and protected against. He said a terrorist-motivated attack on vital US Internet links and communications would in itself pose a major challenge to the US and its economy. In addition, he said, "if a cyber terrorism attack were to be launched as part of a major conventional attack on key points of infrastructure, such a cyber attack would constitute a significant force multiplier."
He said a second major area of concern remains bioterrorism, not only because of the potential harm from such an attack but "because you can't put a police tape around a bioterrorism attack." Referring to the yellow plastic tape that US police and fire-fighting forces typically use to rope-off an unsafe area around a fire or other disaster site, Gilmore said that "while you can put police tape around a nuclear or chemical accident, a bioterrorism attack could not be so easily contained."
Lastly, Gilmore said a US national security strategy must provide "reasonable security" for critical infrastructure, including chemical manufacturing sites.
He emphasised "reasonable security," noting that total security could never be achieved in an open and free society such as that in the US.
Co-sponsored by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (Socma), the three-day CSS concludes on Thursday.
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