WASHINGTON, DC—The Senate Homeland Security Committee has overwhelmingly approved legislation authored by the Committee’s Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME) and Chairman Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) that will that will help make our nation better prepared for the threat of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks. The bipartisan “National Bombing Prevention Act of 2007” will enhance DHS’s ability to better prepare State and local government officials, emergency response providers, and the private sector to deter, detect, prevent, protect against, and respond to terrorist explosive attacks.
An amendment, offered by Senators Collins and Lieberman and adopted by voice vote at the Committee’s business meeting, will ensure that DHS’s activities are properly coordinated with the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, and other agencies with responsibilities to prevent and respond to attacks with these deadly weapons.
During a recent hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff listed IED attacks as a major threat to the U.S. In addition, a recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) identified IEDs as a significant homeland security threat. Commending the leadership of Senators Collins and Lieberman at a recent Capitol Hill press event unveiling the legislation, Secretary Chertoff added, “The weapon of choice for terrorists is bombs.”
During a recent press event on Capitol Hill to unveil the legislation, Secretary Chertoff said, “The weapon of choice for terrorists is bombs.” He commended Senators Collins and Lieberman for their leadership on this issue.
Senator Collins said, “The most likely terror threat around the world and here in the U.S. is that of IEDs. We are also painfully aware that IEDs are the cause of much death and destruction in Iraq. The FBI and DHS tell us that the threat from these devices is not only real, but growing. That is why Senator Lieberman and I authored the bipartisan National Bombing Prevention Act of 2007, which aims to improve our defenses against these deadly weapons. I am pleased the committee has approved this important legislation.”
Senator Lieberman said, “An IED is relatively easy and inexpensive to make and can cause mass casualties, even to armored military personnel,” Lieberman said. “They are a global threat, and the American public is not immune. If the Department of Homeland Security is to plan effectively for future attacks here at home, it must have a cohesive and robust defense against the most likely threat of IEDs.”
The National Bombing Prevention Act has three primary purposes. First, the bill strengthens the Department’s Office of Bombing Prevention (OBP). It authorizes enough funding—$10 million for FY 2008, $25 million for each of FY 2009 and FY 2010—to help the office fulfill its important mission Among other things, the Act designates OBP as the Department’s lead agent for combating terrorist explosive attacks and directs it to promote counter-IED security planning, information sharing, and training programs.
The new resources provided under this bill will enhance OBP’s coordination, outreach, and training programs for state and local law enforcement – improving tactics, providing up-to-date threat analysis, and identifying and eliminating weaknesses in our nation’s defenses against IEDs. These resources will also help fund OBP’s Tripwire program—a secure, online information-sharing network for law enforcement, bomb squads, and other first responders to learn about current terrorist bombing tactics, techniques, and procedures, including IED design and emplacement.
Second, the Act formally directs the President to produce the long-delayed National Strategy for Bombing Prevention and requires periodic updates to that strategy. As terrorist IED technology and tactics evolve, so too must our efforts to deter, detect, prevent, protect against, and respond to them.
Third, the Act promotes more research, development, testing, and evaluation of counter-explosive technologies as well as the transfer of military know-how and technologies, as appropriate, to other Federal, State, and local entities with bombing prevention responsibilities. Given the military’s experience with IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan and the more than $15 billion that it has devoted to developing counter-explosive technology, it is imperative to accelerate the identification, modification, and commercialization of military technologies for domestic use by all levels of government.