What Is the Nature of the Worldwide Threat ?
What Is the Nature of the Worldwide Threat ?
Testimony by Deputy Secretary of
Homeland Security Admiral James Loy Before the Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence. Washington, D.C.. February 16, 2005.
Good morning, Chairman Roberts, Vice Chairman Rockefeller and distinguished
members of the committee. I am pleased to have the chance to appear before you
today to discuss the threats against the United States homeland – as well as
some of the capabilities we have developed – and must continue to develop – to
confront these threats.
That important link – between the intelligence we process and the systems we
develop in response – cannot be understated. For every possible action we
uncover, there must be an intensely focused reaction designed to secure our
homeland against that threat. In so many areas of greatest concern –
vulnerabilities we’ve identified such as our transportation systems (particularly
air travel), our border functions, and our critical infrastructures such as
ports and energy facilities, we’ve made real, measurable progress that has made
our nation more secure.
The topic of our hearing is very straightforward. What is the nature of the
worldwide threat ? From the DHS perspective, I would make five basic points:
First, the threat is unclear and complex … but enduring. The condition is not
expected to change. We continue to note attempted entry into the U.S. by aliens
who according to intelligence pose a threat.
Second, we assess that al-Qaeda continues to be the primary trans-national
threat group, although we are seeing the emergence of other threatening groups
and gangs like MS-13 that will also be destabilizing influences.
Third, we think we are most likely to be attacked with a vehicle borne
improvised explosive device. However, it remains very clear that our primary
adversaries continue to seek weapons of mass effects with which they intend to
Fourth, at DHS, we continue to make progress in acquiring analysts and improving
our capabilities, however, we have not yet achieved full capability in people,
facilities, and technical capability. We can and we are doing the job through
extraordinary effort on the part of our intelligence professionals.
Lastly, the IC community interaction with DHS has markedly improved over the
past year and we continue to work toward full integration and interoperability.
The aftermath of the Intelligence Reform Act is being treated as an opportunity
to complete that work, to earn the respect of our colleagues as a full and
deserving player in the IC and to allow that respect to serve as the foundation
DHS needs to fulfill its responsibilities to secure our homeland.
Thankfully, we have not experienced another attack on our soil since September
11th, 2001. But the rest of the world has not been so fortunate. If you ask
residents of Madrid, or Beslan, or Bali, or Jakarta, they will assure you that
not only the threat, but also the harsh daily reality of terrorism is ongoing.
We realized that an attack here could come in any form, at any place, on any
timetable. Terrorist groups – even ones whose capabilities may have been
weakened by arrests and interdictions worldwide – are patient, strategic and
methodical in their operational planning. At home, we must prepare ourselves for
any attack, from IEDs to weapons of mass destruction … from soft targets like
malls to national icons.
Intelligence suggests that al-Qaeda may have specific tendencies or certain
intentions … both small and large scale … and our efforts must stay directed to
this full range of threats. We must assume that they are assembling, or
resembling, the capabilities they don’t currently have – or those that have been
taken from them. So our plan of action – like theirs – must be even more
deliberate and enduring. And it is.
We have built new tools to help in each of the five strategic areas of
operational emphasis. Our charter runs from maximum domain awareness through
prevention and protection efforts to response and recovery planning. We have
published an all-hazards, all-threats National Response Plan (NRP) and its
sister document, the National Incident Management System (NIMS).
We have dramatically improved our technical ability to share information. Tools
such as the Homeland Security Operations Center, the Homeland Security
Information Network, and the Homeland security Advisory system are steps toward
full capacity and capability. We know the end-state we want to reach and are
methodically designing the path to get there.
We have greatly improved systems to keep track of persons who cross the border,
and we have begun to apply technology to monitor the border where there is no
human presence. We’re operating the US-VISIT program to verify the identity of
travelers and stop criminals and terrorists before they can enter our society.
We’ve signed Smart Border Accords with our neighbors in Canada and Mexico to
help the highly trained customs officers, border agents and Coast Guardsmen who
monitor and patrol our nation’s nearly 7,500 miles of land border and 95,000
miles of coastline and waterways.
We are now requiring unprecedented scrutiny of high-risk travelers and flights
landing in – or flying over – the United States, including requiring biometric
information on visas and passports and agreeing to share passenger data with our
European allies. These are important strides that keep the doors of our country
open to legitimate visitors, but firmly shut to terrorists.
We know that al-Qaeda would like to impact our economy with attacks on our
financial systems, our cyber networks and the vital elements of our global
supply chain. So we’ve taken measures to secure cargo and protect the
infrastructure that supports the free and safe movement of goods, people and
We launched the Container Security Initiative to target and screen high-risk
cargo before it reaches our shores. Today we operate that program alongside our
allies in 34 ports around the world. We are in the process of finalizing – with
the input of all stakeholders – a National Cargo Security Strategy.
We included a special section on cyber security in the newly released National
Response Plan to enhance government-wide collaboration and coordination to
prevent an attack on the backbone of our electronic economy.
And most important, we’ve been careful to consider the economic impacts and the
Privacy implications of any additional security efforts, and worked to ensure
that added protections do not detract from our competitiveness or our way of
In ways large and small…seen and unseen….with advanced technologies and
additional vigilance…with the help of countless agencies and allies at every
level of government, in the private sector and throughout the world – we have
made it harder for terrorists to attack the United States, more difficult for
them to defeat our systems, and reduced large gaps they once saw in our security
As the President has said, we are safer than ever before…but we are still not
safe. This experiment called DHS is astonishing complex. Some dimensions of the
challenge are further along than others. That’s the nature of cultural and
transformational change. I’m proud to hand over a two year old Department with a
solid foundation and a solid sense of direction to our incoming Leadership Team.
I am deeply appreciative of the support, constructive criticism and the
resources that have come our way over the past two years. This Committee’s
continued focus and review must remain our nation’s conscience till we get this
work accomplished. Last night, I spoke to a group of 400 young high school
people in a program geared to encouraging public service. I promised them that
we would do all we could to lighten their burden when it’s their turn on watch.
We can only meet that promise when our national intelligence capability is sound,
inclusive, whole. Anything short of that will be unsatisfactory.
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.