THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Friday, May 22, 1998
MEETING THE TERRORIST THREATS OF THE 21ST CENTURY
"If our children are to grow up safe and free, we must approach these 21st Century threats with the same rigor and determination we applied to the toughest security challenges of this century."
- President Bill Clinton
May 22, 1998
Today, in a commencement speech to the graduates of the United States Naval Academy, President Clinton will announce a comprehensive strategy to strengthen America's defenses against the terrorist attacks of the 21st Century, including attacks on our infrastructure, computer networks, and through the use of biological weapons.
Securing America's Safety In The 21st Century. America stands as an unrivaled military power. However, as we move into the 21st Century, the United States is a potential and powerful target for those who commit terrorist atrocities and would undermine our national security. President Clinton recognizes these potential threats and will announce a three part strategy to combat them. The President will: 1) implement a comprehensive strategy to deter, detect, and defend against terrorist attacks; 2) adopt policies to protect the vital elements of our infrastructure; and 3) work to limit the development of dangerous biological weapons and better defend our citizens against them.
A Coordinated Strategy To Meet 21st Century Threats. To ensure our ability to deter and prevent terrorist attacks, the President will issue a directive which will result in a more systematic approach to fighting terrorism. This directive:
- establishes the Office of National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-Terrorism, which will oversee a broad range of policies, including counter-terrorism, protection of critical infrastructure, and preparedness and consequence management for weapons of mass destruction;
- clarifies and codifies the role U.S. agencies play in combating terrorism, apprehending and prosecuting terrorists, increasing airport security, enhancing response capabilities and protecting our computer-based infrastructure; and
- reinforces the role these agencies play in fighting terrorism.
Protecting Our Infrastructure In The 21st Century. As our society becomes more reliant on technology, the critical parts of our infrastructure -- our power systems, water supply, emergency medical, police, and fire services, air traffic control, and financial services -- have become linked through massive computer networks. The risk of a "cyber-attack" on these networks increases as our society becomes more automated. To help combat these risks, the President announces his intent to:
- create a partnership between the government and private sector to find and reduce the areas of vulnerability we have to such attacks;
- develop warning systems, including a national center to alert us to such attacks;
- increase cooperation with friendly nations; and
- develop the means to minimize damage and recover quickly in the eventuality of an attack.
Fighting the Dangers of Biological Weapons. The President recognizes the significant threat biological weapons pose as we enter the 21st Century. In an effort to prevent their spread, and to protect our citizens, the President announces that he will pursue policies to:
- strengthen the International Biological Weapons Convention through stronger inspection systems to detect and prevent cheating;
- inoculate our entire armed service, active and reserve, against the anthrax bacteria;
- upgrade our public health systems for detection and warnings against biological weapons;
- train and equip local authorities on how to handle emergencies involving weapons of mass destruction;
- stockpile medicine and vaccines that can be used against biological attacks.