July 25, 2000
The Administration has long recognized the need for comprehensive and coordinated domestic planning and preparedness against "weapons of mass destruction" terrorism. In 1998, the President issued Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 62, which established an architecture for comprehensive coordination and review of counterterrorism policies and programs. In the course of implementing that PDD, the Administration has put in place an interagency process to review programs, set priorities and strategies, and make funding decisions for terrorism and other high priority national security issues that cross agency lines. This effort has significantly improved terrorism coordination and response capabilities, not just within the Federal Government, but also for State and local governments. However, H.R. 4210 would not advance these efforts; in practice, it would set them back. H.R. 4210 would create another new structure that conflicts with the existing authorities of Executive Branch departments and agencies, and would create confusion rather than improved coordination. Passage of this bill will fracture the foundation of the Federal Government's comprehensive counterterrorism program by requiring that domestic efforts be considered separate and distinct from international counterterrorism policies and programs. Finally, the Administration strongly opposes those provisions of H.R. 4210 that would intrude on the prerogative of the President to decide how to organize his staff.
The Administration understands that the Committee may offer a Manager's amendment. As reported to the Administration, the amendment is an improvement over the original bill. However, the amendment does not adequately address the Administration's concerns or reduce the conflicts with existing Presidential directives regarding terrorism preparedness. As such, the Administration strongly opposes the Manager's amendment as well.