October 11, 2001 | News Releases on Department of Homeland Security

Heritage Foundation Assembles Homeland Defense Task Force

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2001-The Heritage Foundation today announced the formation of a special task force to develop policies that will help state, local and federal agencies fight terrorism.

Co-chaired by former Reagan administration counter-terrorism chief L. Paul Bremer and former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, the Homeland Defense Task Force will not try to articulate a comprehensive strategy governing all aspects of homeland defense. Rather, Meese said, "we will focus on the obstacles that must be overcome quickly to get the various agencies working together, so they can create and implement a master strategy that will protect the American people, economy and infrastructure from attack."

Task force members will form separate working groups, with each group addressing a key stumbling block to effective homeland defense. Among the issues to be addressed are:

· federal agency organization and federal-state-local policy coordination; · coordination and cooperation between intelligence and law-enforcement communities; · requirements and strategies in counter-terrorist military operations; · vulnerabilities of telecommunications networks, transportation systems and utilities; and · utilization of civil defense against weapons of mass destruction.

Each working group will be composed of a small number of leading experts on that topic. The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis will work closely with each group, providing whatever mathematical models, statistical analyses, or computer mapping may be needed to assist the experts in developing their recommendations.

The two co-chairs have extensive experience in both foreign and domestic security. Meese is currently the Ronald Reagan distinguished fellow in public policy at Heritage and chairman of its Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. In addition to serving as the nation's top law enforcement official under President Reagan, Meese also served on the National Security Council and was chairman of the National Drug Policy Board. Before that, he was director of the Center for Criminal Justice Policy and Management and a law professor at the University of San Diego.

Bremer is chairman of Marsh Crisis Consulting, a company owned by Marsh McLennan, a leading risk and insurance services firm. He joined the private sector after a distinguished career in government, including 23 years with the U.S. Diplomatic Service. After several top-level stints at the State Department, and four years as U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, President Reagan named Bremer his ambassador-at-large for counter-terrorism.

More recently, Bremer chaired the National Commission on Terrorism, whose June 2000 report to President Clinton and Congress recommended steps to improve international counter-terrorist policies. He also serves on the Commission on Catastrophic Terrorism, chaired by Virginia Gov. James Gilmore. That group's recent report focused on reducing the threat of biological, chemical and cyber terrorism.

In announcing formation of the new task force, Heritage Foundation President Edwin Feulner indicated that the group would move quickly, issuing interim policy reports on a variety of topics in a matter of weeks.

"Just as Heritage helped wage the cold war against communism in the 20th century, so we will help fight terrorism in the 21st," Feulner said. "This new task force will act quickly to develop the critical policy recommendations needed to assure that this new war is won and the American way of life preserved."

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