Suche innerhalb des Archivs / Search the Archive All words Any words

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[] U.S. List Seeks to Assess Terrorism Vulnerabilities: Bush Effort Examines Critical Infrastructure,

U.S. List Seeks to Assess Terrorism Vulnerabilities 
Bush Effort Examines Critical Infrastructure 

By Bill Miller
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 10, 2002; Page A14 

The Bush administration is close to completing a "super-critical list" of
potential terrorist targets that, if struck, would cause  the greatest
damage to the United States in terms of lives, money, national defense and
public confidence, officials said this  week.

The list arises from what White House officials said was one of the most
comprehensive examinations ever done of the nation's  physical
infrastructure, including its food and water supplies, telecommunications
systems, energy facilities and transportation  networks. Besides identifying
the most glaring vulnerabilities, a team led by Homeland Security Director
Tom Ridge is putting  together a report that will recommend steps the
government and private sector should take to tighten security.

Ridge said the assessment would put "a sharper point" on weaknesses
uncovered since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But when the  final report
is finished later this year, he said, the public will not be provided with
the most sensitive findings.

"We will let you know how we reviewed it, how we made the assessments, maybe
generically some kind of recommendations," Ridge said  in an interview this
week at his White House office. "But we certainly don't want to be
telegraphing our defenses to the enemy." 

Ridge, who began his second year on the job Tuesday, said the study was a
companion piece to the national anti-terror strategy his  office released in
July. The report will cover 13 "critical infrastructure" categories,
including agriculture, food, water, public  health, emergency services,
government, defense industrial base, information and telecommunications,
energy, transportation,  banking and finance, the chemical industry, and
postal and shipping operations.

"There's no magic wand here," Ridge said. "There's no easy way to go about
the process of methodically and comprehensively taking  a look at systems
and determining where you have the greatest vulnerability. . . . It's a
time-consuming and very demanding  process."

Others working on the project said the report would deal with how to
mobilize government and businesses in the fastest and most  effective way if
credible intelligence reveals threats of terrorism. The report also will
call on government to work with  industries in developing contingency plans
to keep the infrastructure running in the event of an attack, they said.

The private sector owns nearly 90 percent of the nation's infrastructure,
and officials in Ridge's office have been discussing  ways to encourage more
private investment in security, such as through new regulations, industry
standards and insurance and tax  incentives. 

Whether or not Congress creates a new Department of Homeland Security, Ridge
said, the work will help authorities analyze future  terrorist threats,
evaluate risks and set priorities. The administration issued a related set
of recommendations last month on  cybersecurity. 

In conducting the research, Ridge's staff relied heavily on studies and
analysis by federal government experts, as well as on  details gleaned in a
series of seven workshops with state and local officials, business leaders
and trade associations. Ridge's  office organized the workshops by subject;
for instance, a session on the energy industry stretched two days and
included meetings  focusing specifically on areas such as electrical grids,
natural gas facilities and oil refineries.

"We were discussing pretty sensitive information about how we operate, what
we think our vulnerabilities are, and what sorts of  things the government
can do to help address them," said Kendra L. Martin, who heads the American
Petroleum Institute's security  program. Her organization joined in the
energy workshop and one on transportation, she said. 

The workshops -- which ran from March to August and typically included 100
or more participants -- led to more extensive  discussions with industry and
government leaders.

In the weeks after last year's attacks on the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon, White House officials brainstormed about  worst-case terror
scenarios as they organized an early homeland security agenda. Since then,
the FBI has passed along dozens of  warnings that urged the operators of
nuclear power plants, banks and others in the private sector to take
additional precautions. 

The National Infrastructure Protection Center, an arm of the FBI, is working
with Ridge's office on the vulnerability study, along  with the Commerce
Department's Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office. Both have years of
experience in dealing with private  industry, which at times has been
reluctant to share sensitive information about security gaps because of
concerns the information  will be made public, lead to lawsuits or weaken
competitive abilities.

Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a
nonprofit watchdog group, said she hoped that Ridge  would agree to identify
those industries that have the greatest weaknesses without revealing the
exact nature or locations of  deficiencies. The exposure would give Congress
and the public a chance to pressure industries to make changes, she said. 

"I understand there has to be some judgment on exactly how much detail
should be public, but some of it has to be public, or there  will be no
change," Brian said.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company 

Myriam A. Dunn
Critical Information Infrastructure Project
Center for Security Studies
ETH-Zentrum/ WEC E 23
CH-8092 Zürich
phone: +41 1 632 07 55
fax: +41 1 632 13 72
e-mail: dunn -!
- sipo -
 gess -
 ethz -

Liste verlassen: 
Mail an infowar -
 de-request -!
- infopeace -
 de mit "unsubscribe" im Text.