Combating Terrorism:

Federal Agencies' Efforts to Implement National Policy and Strategy

NSIAD-97-254: Published: Sep 26, 1997. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed U.S. efforts to combat terrorism, focusing on federal agencies' programs and activities to: (1) prevent and deter terrorism; (2) respond to terrorist threats and incidents; and (3) manage the consequences of a terrorist act, especially involving weapons of mass destruction.

GAO noted that: (1) under sponsorship of the National Security Council (NSC), various interagency groups have been formed to coordinate the efforts of the more than 40 federal agencies, bureaus, and offices that combat terrorism; (2) the intelligence community also has an Interagency Intelligence Committee on Terrorism; (3) these interagency groups and committees meet to coordinate policy, plan interagency activities, share intelligence and other information, and coordinate responses to certain crises; (4) many programs and activities have been developed or used to carry out the three elements of the U.S. strategy for combatting terrorism; (5) key federal efforts to prevent and deter terrorist acts include gathering, sharing, and disseminating intelligence information on terrorist threats and keeping foreign terrorists and materials from entering the United States; (6) federal efforts to respond to terrorist incidents and to manage the consequences of terrorist incidents include designating lead agencies for crisis response, establishing interagency quick-reaction support teams, creating special operating teams or units, developing contingency plans, and conducting interagency or single agency training and exercises; (7) for both crisis management and consequence management, federal efforts include special teams and units to deal with weapons of mass destruction, whether they are nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons; and (8) federal agencies are also involved in programs to assess the capabilities of state and local jurisdictions to immediately respond to and manage the consequences of domestic terrorist incidents involving weapons of mass destruction and provide them training and assistance.

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