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Congress Releases Report on Terrorism

NCJ Number
Police Times Volume: 41 Issue: 4 Dated: October/November/December 2001 Pages: 10-PT,11-PT
Jim Kouri
Date Published
2 pages
This report examines the objectives and recommendations of the National Commission on Terrorism.
The National Commission on Terrorism began its congressionally mandated evaluation of America’s laws, policies, and practices for preventing and punishing terrorism directed at American citizens. After a thorough review, the Commission concludes that, although American strategies and policies are basically on the right track, significant aspects of implementation are seriously deficient. The report concentrated on problem areas and recommended changes. Each of the 10 commissioners approached the issue of terrorism from different perspectives. Throughout the deliberations, investigators remained mindful of several important points: 1) the imperative to find terrorists and prevent their attacks requires energetic use of all legal authorities; 2) terrorist attacks against America threaten more than a tragic loss of individual lives--some terrorist hope to provoke a response that undermines the U.S. Constitutional system; 3) combating terrorism should not be used as a pretext for discrimination against any segment of society; and, 4) American foreign policy must take into account the reasons why people turn to terror. The Commission made a number of recommendations to accomplish these objectives. Priority one was to prevent terrorist attacks. United States intelligence and law enforcement communities must use the full scope of their authority to collect intelligence regarding terrorist plans and methods. Other recommendations included: 1) Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) guidelines adopted in 1995 restricting recruitment of unsavory sources should not apply when recruiting counterterrorism sources; 2) the U.S. Attorney General should ensure that the Federal Bureau of investigation (FBI) is exercising its full authority for investigating suspected terrorist groups; 3) funding for counterterrorism efforts by CIA, National Security Agency (NSA), and FBI must be given higher priority to ensure continuation of important operational activity; 4) the Federal Bureau of Investigation should establish a cadre of report officers to distill and disseminate terrorism related information; 5) Iran and Syria should be kept on the list of state sponsors until they stop supporting terrorism; 6) the President should impose sanctions on countries that are not cooperating fully on counterterrorism; 7) all relevant agencies should use every available means to block or disrupt nongovernmental sources of support for international terrorism; 8) Congress should promptly ratify and implement the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism; 9) where criminal prosecution is not possible, the U.S. Attorney General should vigorously pursue the expulsion of terrorists in the United States; 10) the President should direct the preparation of a manual to guide the implementation of existing legal authority in the event of a catastrophic terrorist threat or attack; 11) the Defense Department must have detailed plans for its role in the event of a catastrophic terrorist attack; 12) senior officials of all government agencies involved in responding to a catastrophic terrorism threat or crisis should be required to participate in national exercises; 13) Congress should make it illegal for anyone not properly certified to possess certain pathogens; 14) the President should establish a comprehensive and coordinated long-term research and development program for catastrophic terrorism; and 15) the Secretary of State should press for an international convention to improve multilateral cooperation on preventing or responding to cyber attacks by terrorists.