HomeDOCUMENTSCommittee Reports2003 Annual Session143 CC 03 E - CIVIL PROTECTION, A GENERAL OVERVIEW
143 CC 03 E - CIVIL PROTECTION, A GENERAL OVERVIEW
General Rapporteur - rapporteur général :
Verena WOHLLEBEN (Germany – Allemagne)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. ASSESSING SOME OF THE THREATS
A. RADIOLOGICAL, CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL THREATS
a. Radiological agents
b. Chemical agents
c. Biological agents
II. POLICY APPROACHES TO RCB TERRORISM
a. Adequate intelligence
b. Interagency co-ordination
d. Self-policing by companies
B. EMERGENCY RESPONSE AND CONSEQUENCE MANAGEMENT PLANNING
a. Improve detection and identification devices
b. Upgrade co-ordination of national emergency response planning with local authorities
c. Stockpile medical supplies and improve epidemiological surveillance and vaccines
III. ASSESSING CIVIL PROTECTION IN THE UNITED STATES, THE UNITED KINDGOM, KINGDOM, FRANCE AND GERMANY
A. THE UNITED STATES
B. THE UNITED KINGDOM
IV. THE ROLE OF NATO AND THE EU
A. THE NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION
B. THE EUROPEAN UNION
"Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do."
1. The world following the September 11 2001 attacks on New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania is now widely recognised to be complex, tough, deeply divided, instantly televised and emotionally labile. If there proves to be a silver lining to these terrible events, it may be that they revealed the ability of terrorist groups to wreak havoc and exposed the multiple threats - unsuspected or neglected until then - now weighing on the populations. It may be that they restored proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to its place at the top of the global security agenda and added a sense of urgency to controlling their continuing spread, while highlighting the pressing need to respond to the consequences of attacks involving chemical or biological, let alone nuclear, weapons.
2. The sophisticated quality of the anthrax used in the letters sent to various American newspapers and TV broadcasters, as well as to Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy in the fall of 2001, suggests that the bio-terrorism menace especially has reached a new level previously viewed by many analysts as possible, but unlikely. Recent events create a sense of urgency: a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report submitted to Congress in December 2002 showed that al-Qaeda's research into biological warfare in Afghanistan was more advanced than previously estimated; deadly toxi ricin was seized in a North London flat in January 2003; and the United States launched "Operation Iraqi Freedom" in late March 2003 because of Iraq's suspected chemical and biological rearmament. This is without mentioning the new infectious - and especially challenging - disease SARS (Severe Acute Rrespiratory Syndrome), which emerged in mid-November 2002 in Guangdong Province, China; which subsequently spread around the world along international air travel routes; and still remained poorly understood at the time of updating this draft report.
3. In the light of all these developments, your Rapporteur deems it important to devote this draft report to an assessment of civil protection, i.e. civil emergency response planning, in our Western societies. In a first summary chapter, she will thus make a brief account of some of the threats facing our countries, including radiological, chemical and biological (RCB) agents, which have become a major focus of counter-terrorism efforts. She will then look at the main policy approaches to RCB terrorism. In a third phase, she will examine the current civil protection policies and trends in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, before analysing in a very brief final chapter the role played in the field by NATO and the EU.
I. ASSESSING SOME OF THE THREATS
4. Radiological, chemical and biological agents have become a focus of counter-terrorism efforts, as they possess a number of characteristics that would seem to make them attractive to terrorists. On the other hand, nuclear weapons, the most deadly weapons ever invented, are the most difficult ones to manufacture or acquire, nuclear engineering, laboratories and an experimental site - as well as protection by a State - being necessary for a certain period of time (see Lothar Ibrügger's report Technology and Terrorism - A Post-September 11 Assessment [AV 200 STC/MT (02) 4 rev. 1], adopted in November 2002 in Istanbul). In a second small sub-chapter, your Rapporteur will look at "agro-terrorism", an area that has been given little attention so far and continues to exist as a glaring exception to the wide-ranging emphasis put on critical infrastructure protection.
A. RADIOLOGICAL, CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL THREATS
5. It is believed that even a very small quantity of an RCB agent, when dispersed via the air-handling system of a large public building, for instance, may produce as many casualties as a large truck full of conventional explosives, making the acquisition, storage and transport of a powerful weapon more feasible. Although not as easy to make as some have indicated, serviceable RCB weapons are within the intellectual, financial and technological reach of many groups and individuals.
a. Radiological agents
6. Radiological weapons pose a serious danger. These are weapons which use conventional explosives such as dynamite to disperse radioactive materials, including the highly radioactive waste material from nuclear power reactors or other non-weapon, medical or industrial sources (radiotherapy, radiography or industrial irradiators). The so-called "dirty bomb", which was the subject of extensive media coverage in 2002, is the best-known example.
7. These weapons may be attractive for terrorists owing to the relative ease of their acquisition, use and contamination potential. An act involving the dispersal of radioactive materials would indeed contaminate a wide area, preventing or inhibiting the treatment of casualties, exposing many people unhurt in the initial explosion to injury and death from radioactivity, and rendering large areas uninhabitable pending sizeable removal and cleansing operations (see Joseph Cirincione with Jon B. Wolfsthal and Miriam Rajkumar, Deadly Arsenals - Tracking Weapons of Mass Destruction, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2002).
8. In the past, radiological weapons were generally considered an unlikely threat because of the high individual risks connected with their manufacture and delivery. Today's assessment is rather different, however, terrorists being willing to sacrifice their own lives to carry out an attack.
b. Chemical agents
9. Chemical weapons are lethal human-made substances that can be disseminated as gases, liquids or solids by an explosive munition or an aerosol device. While there are thousands of chemicals that in certain doses may result in morbidity or mortality for humans, relatively few chemical agents have been "weaponised" for military use. They are often classified by the site or nature of their effects on humans, in four categories: blood gases (e.g. hydrogen cyanide); choking agents (e.g. chlorine, phosgene); blister agents (e.g. mustard gas, lewisite) and nerve agents (e.g. sarin, VX), many of which are not well known by civilian hazardous materials technicians and other emergency responders, medical personnel or law enforcement officials. Even common industrial chemicals may be difficult to identify without specialised equipment when they are encountered in an unfamiliar context.
10. Throughout the 20th century, approximately 70 different chemical substances were used and stockpiled as chemical warfare agents, with immense quantities being produced by the United States and the Soviet Union during World War II and the Cold War. While the disposal of US and Russian chemical weapons began in 1985 and 1987 respectively, the reduction of Russia's chemical weapon arsenal has been stalled in recent years by financial difficulties.
11. Delegates will remember that the 1996 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) started a process of "de-proliferation" whereby most countries declared their holdings - if any - and began eliminating their arsenals and production facilities. The CWC requires all nations possessing chemical weapons (officially, India, Russia, South Korea and the US) to destroy them in a safe and environmentally friendly manner no later than ten years after the treaty entered into force, or by the end of April 2007, unless special extensions are granted. Russia's insufficient financial resources make complete elimination of its stockpile - the largest declared one (44,000 tons) - by 2007 impossible. According to news reports, it has budgeted US$174 million for disposing of chemical weapons in 2003, about the same as 2002 and far less than what officials had hoped for (see AP wire, 22 January 2003). While it has officially requested the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to extend the deadline to 2012, some US threat assessments suggest that Russia has not divulged the full extent of its chemical weapon capabilities, and speculation has emerged over the covert Russian development of a new generation of nerve agents, capable of penetrating sophisticated gear and protection devices (see Joseph Cirincione, with Jon B. Wolfsthal and Miriam Rajkumar, Deadly Arsenals - Tracking Weapons of Mass Destruction, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2002, pp. 12 & 51).
12. Currently, no non-state actor or sub-state group is known to possess chemical weapons. The Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo (Aum Supreme Truth) did successfully produce significant amounts of sarin gas, however. In 1994, it allegedly released a nerve agent in a residential area of Matsumoto, Honshu Island, and struck again with sarin in 1995 on the Tokyo underground, killing 12 and injuring more than 5,500. The fact that these chemical agents were produced by the cult in their own production facility, in a relatively short period of time, and with substantial resources they nevertheless found easy to acquire, illustrates the ease with which such an organisation can perpetuate such acts. All the more so, as in many countries, despite the CWC, there is no regulation to control the acquisition of small - but sufficient for terrorists - quantities of chemical weapons ingredients.
13. To many, the September 11 attacks have raised a new worry: that terrorists may not have to actually produce chemical agents to cause mass casualties. An accident at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, in 1987 released a cloud of chlorine gas that killed an estimated 5,000 people and injured thousands more. Intentional destruction or sabotage at chemical plants, or involving trucks or trains transporting hazardous agents, could turn industrial facilities into chemical weapons.
c. Biological agents
14. Biological weapons (BW), that is, weapons that intentionally use living organisms to kill, are second only to nuclear weapons in terms of their potential to cause mass casualties. Biological agents with adverse effects on human health can be grouped in four categories: viruses (e.g. smallpox, Ebola); bacteria (e.g. anthrax, plague); fungi; and toxins generated by living entities (e.g. ricin, botulinum toxin).
15. The distinguishing feature of biological agents other than toxins is their ability to propagate: exposure to an extremely small amount can lead to an overwhelming infection, with the victim becoming a source of infection for additional victims. Incubation takes time, however. The effects of viruses, bacteria and fungi may not become apparent until days or weeks after the initial exposure, so there may be no obvious temporal or geographical concentration of victims to help medical personnel arrive at a diagnosis and make law enforcement personnel suspect a crime. Diagnosis of the illness in individual patients will also be rendered more difficult because most of the agents considered as likely threats are rarely seen in Western countries and the initial symptoms that they produce (fever, headache, general malaise) are also characteristic of those produced by many common diseases. As difficult as it was to contain the spread of anthrax spores in the United States in the fall of 2001, the fact that the spore-filled letters announced the presence of anthrax actually made the diagnosis and response far easier than if, for example, the perpetrator had covertly introduced spores into the air-handling system of a sports arena or airport. The victims in that case would have dispersed, perhaps very widely, by the time they became ill, and many might have died before an accurate diagnosis could have been made (see US National Academies, Preparing for Terrorism: Tools for Evaluating the Metropolitan Medical Response System Program, 2002, p. 21).
16. As in the case of chemicals, terrorists have a large number of potentially harmful biological agents from which to choose - the World Health Organisation (WHO) lists 50 viruses, bacteria and toxins most likely to be used for biological warfare. The level of expertise required to acquire a biological warfare capability remains unclear, however. Some argue that while agent production is not technically difficult, combining a stable biological agent with an effective dissemination device requires sophisticated know-how - agent survival is a prerequisite for infection, and biological warfare agents are vulnerable to environmental conditions, including desiccation, humidity and oxidation. Delegates will remember that Aum Shinrikyo carried out its Tokyo underground attack with sarin because it had been unsuccessful in producing virulent strains of anthrax and botulinum toxin, despite sustained and well-funded efforts. Others contend that developing a crude biological weapon requires only a modest level of expertise, recent advances in biology and biotechnology - as well as access to the Internet - having increased the availability of dual-use equipment and the number of individuals with the knowledge necessary for biological weapon production.
17. Specialists are concerned, inter alia, about the possible theft of smallpox virus samples. The only repositories for this highly contagious disease, eradicated in 1977 thanks to a WHO-co-ordinated global vaccination campaign, are in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta) and in Russia (State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology, Novosibirsk). Other facilities in Russia may hold it, however (see Scientific American, referred to in Lothar Ibrügger's report, Technology and Terrorism - A Post-September 11 Assessment [AV 200 STC/MT (02) 4 rev. 1], par. 37).
18. The full extent of the Soviet Union BW programme is still being uncovered. Though official disclosure of the programme occurred in 1992 - i.e. 20 years after the Soviet Union had signed the Biological Weapons Convention (BCW) -, concerns about the extent of Russia's deactivation of the Soviet complex persist, while the questionable security at BW storage sites and layoffs or underemployment of scientists have amplified fears over the diversion of biological agents and technical expertise. When the BCW originally entered into force in 1975, four countries were thought to have biological weapons: China, South Africa, the Soviet Union and the US. In early 2002, some twelve nations were suspected of pursuing biological warfare programmes (China, Egypt, India, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria - and Russia. See Joseph Cirincione, with Jon B. Wolfsthal and Miriam Rajkumar, Deadly Arsenals - Tracking Weapons of Mass Destruction, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2002).
19. In a report sent to Congress on 7 January 2003, the CIA noted that the threat from terrorists using RCB agents appeared to be rising. All the more so, as the 2001 anthrax attacks could attract imitators, and terrorists' motivations have moved from the traditionally political (see, e.g., the small Missouri fascist group "Order of the Rising Sun", which was caught cultivating a large amount of typhus bacilli in the 1970s, or the extreme left-wing Baader-Meinhof gang, which, in 1982 in a Paris laboratory, was found to have a significant amount of Clostridium botulinum, the organism that produces botulinum toxin) to the fanatically religious or marginally revengeful.
20. While governments should develop a shared approach and be prepared to shape an effective response to all of these threats, to many the most urgent question is to understand the current nature of the bio-terrorist menace. In this regard, experts seem to agree that low-tech bio-terrorism such as food poisoning requires limited technical expertise and could be conducted by a relatively large number of terrorist groups. One will recall in particular the first successful terrorist incident using biological agents that occurred in 1984, in The Dalles, Oregon, when, aiming at influencing the outcome of local elections, the Rajneeshee cult disseminated salmonella bacteria in salad bars and sickened 751 people.
21. Many countries, especially in Northern America and Western Europe, have made substantial investments in improving their ability to detect, prevent and respond to terrorist threats and incidents. However, as exemplified in the US General Accounting Office report of 20 September 2001 and as highlighted in an ensuing Senate testimony by Peter Chalk, Policy Analyst at RAND (Terrorism, Infrastructure Protection and the US Food and Agricultural Sector, 10 October 2001), the premeditated introduction of a disease, either against livestock or in the food chain, is often overlooked by the authorities.
22. The agriculture sector, which is one of the largest employers in the United States, constitutes one-sixth of the nation's gross domestic product. Cattle and dairy farmers alone earn between US$50 billion and US$54 billion a year through meat and milk sales, while roughly US$50 billion is raised every year through agricultural exports. These figures represent only a fraction of the total value of agriculture to the country, as they do not take into account allied services and industries such as suppliers, transporters, distributors and restaurant chains.
23. Thus, the downstream effect of any deliberate act of sabotage or destruction would be enormous and could easily extend beyond the immediate agricultural community to impact, ultimately, on the ordinary citizen. Even the threat of attack could jeopardise consumer confidence, disrupt commodity markets and wreak economic havoc. A successful act of agro-terrorism would also serve to undermine confidence in and support for the government and could provoke social instability and mass panic. The outbreak of a large-scale zoonotic disease would almost certainly necessitate the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of animals - which would be sure to generate widespread opposition from farmers, animal rights groups and possibly even the public (see the mad cow disaster in the 1990s in Britain and France; and the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease in Britain, which forced the government to slaughter and burn approximately four million animals) -, while unleashing a public health scare, the dimensions of which could be further exacerbated by the epidemiological difficulty of determining the pathogen's type, source and transmission mode (see the 1999 West Nile virus outbreak in New York).
II. POLICY APPROACHES TO RCB TERRORISM
24. If the vulnerability of our industrialised societies to radiological, chemical and biological terrorism is a frightening reality for which there are no easy technical fixes, your Rapporteur is of the strong opinion that policymakers should neither throw up their hands in despair nor adopt an attitude of complacency, but rather should pursue adequate and sustained measures to contribute to containing the menace. Much like a nuclear reactor accident (see Chernobyl in 1986), an RCB incident, fortuitous or provoked, is a "low probability, high consequence event" that warrants careful government planning and preparation. In the case of the 1995 Tokyo underground incident, for instance, improved intelligence, surveillance and early police intervention against Aum Shinrikyo could have helped prevent or mitigate the attack. The same is true, of course, of the September 11 events, although they were of a different nature.
25. Your Rapporteur wishes to point out that while limits and constraints ought to be accepted in managing our vulnerabilities to RCB terrorism, proportionate attention should also be devoted to preserving our freedoms and civil liberties.
26. To your Rapporteur, an effective counter-terrorism strategy combines two complementary and global approaches, which she will now discuss: prevention; and emergency response and consequence management planning. For technological tools to fight RCB threats as well as for relevant non-proliferation regimes and other multilateral efforts, delegates will refer to the report by Lothar Ibrügger, Science and Technology Committee, Technology and Terrorism - A Post-September 11 Assessment [AV 200 STC/MT (02) 4 rev. 1].
27. The ability to prevent terrorist attacks before they occur presupposes the ability to detect such activities at an early stage. Policy options that support a strategy of prevention include, inter alia: adequate intelligence; interagency co-ordination; training; and self-policing by companies. To your Rapporteur, these are part of a holistic approach to civil protection.
a. Adequate intelligence
28. Of the several levels of government response to an RCB threat - in fact, to any terrorist threat -, the first is adequate intelligence. This is indeed vital in order to understand whether, where and when, the radiological, chemical or biological option is a serious threat.
29. Before the Tokyo underground attack, the US government knew little about Aum Shinrikyo, despite the cult's worldwide efforts to acquire CB agent precursors and production equipment through a network of legitimate and front companies. During Senate hearings in November 1995, senior counter-terrorism officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense (DoD) admitted that they had focused their intelligence-gathering efforts on state-sponsored terrorists or those with a political agenda, and thus had not targeted Aum Shinrikyo prior to the attack. Of even greater consequence than the lapses of overseas intelligence communities, the behaviour of Japanese law enforcement authorities was not, for its part, fully understood until recently. One reason for their reluctance to pursue the cult more actively was apparently that it was a religious group, and that matters of religious freedom were/are taken very seriously in Japan.
b. Interagency co-ordination
30. Your Rapporteur wishes to point out that the intelligence problem is not fixed simply by gathering information on a wider group of organisations, including religious cults, survivalist militias and the marginally revengeful. Sound analysis is also of the essence, which requires effective government interagency co-ordination.
31. Since the issue of terrorism is multidimensional, involving aspects of technology, national security, intelligence, law enforcement and public health, it cuts across the interests of several executive departments or ministries, and agencies. In the United States, as a result, federal officials have addressed the problem in a piecemeal manner and produced a somewhat scattered response plan. All the more so, as under US law the FBI is restricted to tracking international terrorist groups on American territory, while the CIA has the lead role in monitoring their activities overseas. Since these two agencies are said not to be prone to sharing information freely, the consequence may be a major disconnection between domestic and foreign intelligence collection on key terrorist organisations. In the absence of effective co-ordination, this division of labour has become dangerous.
32. In this regard, the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which was proposed in June 2002 by President George W. Bush following news stories about how the FBI and CIA had mishandled crucial information in the months preceding the September 11 attacks, aims to transform the "confusing patchwork" of more than 100 government agencies with overlapping responsibilities into one single, effective and responsive body. Approved by Congress in November 2002, the DHS came into existence on 24 January 2003, with Tom Ridge confirmed as its Secretary, and started work on 1 March 2003. It will bring together 22 different federal agencies and programmes and link their disparate databases, agency-specific technologies and incompatible communications systems. The planned reorganisation will be examined in greater detail in Chapter III. At this stage, suffice it to say that, for the first time, the US will have a central clearing house for assessing the vulnerabilities of, and threats to, Americans at home.
33. In addition, on 1 May 2003 President Bush launched a new Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC), which is designed to be one central location where all domestically- and foreign-generated terrorist threat intelligence is gathered, assessed and co-ordinated. The Center will not have operational or data collection capabilities per se. It will be composed of elements of the FBI, the CIA, the DoD and the DHS; will integrate information from the local, state and federal levels as well as from the private sector; and will circulate the information to the appropriate government agency. It should be noted, however, that because TTIC Director John O. Brennan reports to CIA Director George Tenet, the new Center is perceived by many as just another CIA operation, which could deny the TTIC the independence it needs to succeed.
34. Generally speaking, if your Rapporteur welcomes these moves, she believes that it is also especially vital to continue to promote international co-operation and intergovernmental exchanges of counter-terrorism intelligence. Reference will be made here to the General Report by Volker Kröning Fight against Terrorism: Achievements and Questions [AV 172 CC (02) 9 rev. 1] that was adopted in November 2002 in Istanbul, and in which co-operation between the European Union and the United States was pointed to (see, e.g., the first co-operation agreement covering strategic and technical information exchange that was signed in December 2001 between Europol and the US, and, since then, the agreement allowing personal data to be exchanged between both parties that was signed in December 2002). Whether useful exchanges of information take place on a bilateral basis, or through multilateral arrangements between several countries, it is your Rapporteur's strong opinion that real advantages may accrue from proper sharing of intelligence on terrorist groups, their motivations and activities.
35. A particular advantage of international discussions would be the incorporation of different views on the training of first responders (police, firemen, public health systems). Many have been struck by a media image from Tokyo, in which, responding to the sarin attack, a protected medical technician was accompanied by an unprotected policeman. In the United States, despite several years of acknowledging that better training, equipment and field co-ordination is needed, a recent National Research Council report found that the country is still ill-prepared to cope with an RCB attack. The Council found in particular poor co-ordination between various local, state and federal government bodies, as well as "enormous vulnerabilities" in the public health system's ability to react to a biological weapons assault (see "Guarding the Homefront", Jane's Defence Weekly, 11 September 2002). In France, preparedness of the entire community of "first responders" is largely insufficient: training in technological hazards is very limited and reserved to "specialised" professional firemen only, while RCB training is not provided; as to preparedness of local healthcare organisations including hospitals, it is described as "totally inadequate" (see Livre blanc du Haut Comité français pour la défense civile (HCFDC) - 20 ans, 20 constats et propositions, January 2003).
36. On the whole, maintaining capabilities and awareness of the contents of written plans through live or table-top exercises is considered critical to sustaining RCB readiness over time. It is indeed reasonable to assume that responders and organisations that have conducted some sort of exercise are likely to be better prepared than those that have not. Besides, the US Departments of State and Justice have commenced planning and execution of domestic preparedness exercises. A five-day US$16 million DHS drill mandated by Congress - Top Officials 2 (TopOff 2) - was held in mid-May 2003 in the Chicago and Seattle metropolitan areas, which also included Canadian participation. An attack of pneumonic plague was simulated in Chicago, while a mock terrorist "dirty bomb" blasted an urban neighbourhood in Seattle; a series of cyber security scenarios also tested the local and state response in the event. Although the DHS would not comment on the details, among the issues brought to light were: problems with local co-ordination and transmission of information in a timely manner; the need for multilingual and multicultural communication of vital information to residents of any metropolitan area; and the strain on hospital bed capacity and isolation rooms. Overall, the drill, in which national command authorities and senior officials took part, provided valuable information to guide future planning, and highlighted the importance of having decision-makers become fully involved over the long term.
37. This last point is especially relevant to your Rapporteur. It is indeed noteworthy that political responsibility at all levels seems to have been diluted in a certain number of countries, at a time when RCB threats require strong personal involvement and increased partnership. While it is crucial to lay the foundations of fruitful consultation and co-ordination between all international diplomatic actors, likewise it is essential to promote decision-makers' sustained participation at home. This is without mentioning empowerment of citizens and the civil society, whose roles in a mass-casualty crisis situation would undoubtedly be of primary importance (see, e.g., awareness campaigns and training at school).
d. Self-policing by companies
38. In the last instance, your Rapporteur believes that efforts should be pursued to further educate chemical companies and biological suppliers about the threat of CB terrorism and to urge them to police themselves more effectively. Delegates will remember, for example, that many of America's most vulnerable targets, such as chemical factories, are privately owned and guarded. Loose security at such facilities could provide terrorists with the materials they need for an attack (the Environmental Protection Agency says that daily, there are 6 accidents in the US involving hazardous materials related to chemical terrorism - see "Guarding the Homefront", Jane's Defence Weekly, 11 September 2002), while carelessness at a biological laboratory could give them access to dangerous pathogens. Concern is rising over publicly owned facilities too. In May 2003, US Senator Jim Inhofe (Republican) introduced two bills (S. 1039 - Wastewater Treatment Works Act - and S. 1046 - Nuclear Infrastructure Security Act), for security measures at treatment facilities that use hazardous industrial chemicals and at nuclear power plants designated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. At the time of updating this draft report, both bills were at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
39. Some remark also that companies are not required to investigate the bona fides of prospective customers, and once an export license has been approved, they are under no obligation to verify the declared end-use of a dual-capability product (see Aum Shinrikyo). To these observers, a self-policing system for industry, in which suppliers of CB precursors and production equipment assume at least partial responsibility for preventing the misuse of these products, would be more desirable than adding yet another layer of government regulation. While your Rapporteur wonders whether such a system could actually be implemented in all of our countries, she supports international agreement on the industrial management and circulation of dangerous, dual-use substances. In particular, she acknowledges the roles played by the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, which both seek to impede the proliferation of CB precursors and equipment that could assist in the production of chemical and biological weapons. In the same although quite indirect vein, she supports the control and tracing of small arms and light weapons, whose illicit trafficking and proliferation constitute serious security threats.
40. Similarly, more effective agro-security, surveillance and emergency response at food processors and packing plants should be instituted, especially those at the smaller end of the scale. Immediate measures that could be usefully initiated include, inter alia, enhanced site security, increased background checks on seasonal employees (admittedly, very difficult to accomplish) and the development of clearly documented, well-rehearsed product recall plans.
B. EMERGENCY RESPONSE AND CONSEQUENCE MANAGEMENT PLANNING
41. Although a strategy of prevention would aim to uncover and take action against terrorists before they strike, Aum Shinrikyo, September 11 and the anthrax-filled letters have shown that there is no sure-fire way of preventing such attacks. Measures must therefore also be increased to mitigate the effects of an RCB incident should it occur, and decision-makers be prepared for the unthinkable in terms of health and medical consequences. Because loss of life is the paramount concern, the immediate and initial focus must be on the capacity of first responders to save lives.
42. Delegates will remember in this regard that the public health consequences of a chemical weapons attack would depend on its location, the type of agent employed, the delivery system, and the prevailing atmospheric conditions. An insidious characteristic of chemical weapons that differentiates them from conventional explosives is the risk of secondary exposure from buildings and people contaminated with a persistent agent, which could claim additional casualties up to several hours after the initial attack. To prevent such a multiplier effect, victims and buildings would have to be monitored and promptly decontaminated, greatly increasing the number of people needed to manage the disaster. As mentioned in Chapter I, a covert biological weapons attack would be even harder to manage medically because of its delayed effects.
43. Thus, an effective RCB counter-terrorism strategy must include the capability for rapid emergency response. Special requirements associated with the medical response to RCB incidents include: 1) rapid identification of the toxic or infectious agents, and quick diagnosis of localised outbreaks of disease so that natural events can be swiftly distinguished from man-made ones; 2) tracking of the agent cloud to identify contaminated and safe areas; 3) establishment of initial holding areas to decontaminate victims prior to the treatment, where medical personnel would work in full protective gear; 4) standardisation of treatment, including medical equipment and drugs; 5) acquisition of supplies and procedures for the prompt administration of anti-microbial therapy to a large number of casualties; 6) rapid triage of victims according to severity of injury, followed by matching of seriously ill patients to appropriate tertiary care facilities (e.g. quarantine); and 7) decontamination of people, buildings and equipment.
44. This is without mentioning another vital - yet largely overlooked - component of any effective civil protection policy: the public's mental health. The psychological damage caused by September 11 and the anthrax-tainted letters (depression, anxiety, agoraphobia) not only mirrored the physical destruction, but also showed how important it is to devise rapid-response strategies to care for the public's mental health (see the American proposal to create a mental health reserve corps made up of retired or part-time professionals who could contribute their expertise on an emergency basis).
45. In light of all this, your Rapporteur believes that a capability for emergency response and consequence management should entail, inter alia, the following - quite obvious - policy options:
a. Improve detection and identification devices
46. Although field detection systems should be capable of identifying CB agents in close to "real time" with a low probability of false negatives or false positives, this goal apparently remains somewhat elusive. Admittedly, the US Sandia laboratory has developed a commercially available chemical agent detector, programmed to detect common nerve agents as well as choking and blister gas. However, current biological weapons detectors are much less effective, being incapable of warning individuals before they receive a lethal dose of a biological agent. Governments should therefore continue to increase funding for research and development of improved detection and identification devices, and encourage joint efforts in this field.
47. The military may be particularly helpful in addressing this urgent priority. The US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's (DARPA) Tissue Based Biosensors Program is currently pursuing the idea of a "laboratory on a chip" that would quickly identify even small amounts of a biological substance in the air (e.g. in the air outflow system of a large building, shopping area, stadium, or transportation junction), thereby enabling authorities to disseminate information, treatment and possibly even identify the attackers (see Lothar Ibrügger's report, Technology and Terrorism - A Post-September 11 Assessment [AV 200 STC/MT (02) 4 rev. 1], par. 58).
b. Upgrade co-ordination of national emergency response planning with local authorities
48. Delegates will remember, as an example, that in the United States, there has been apparently little co-ordination between the federal and local levels, and that clear lines of command are only just emerging. Part of the problem has derived from statutory restrictions on agency powers. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been responsible for advising states and localities on emergency planning, but has had no real authority to dictate such planning activities or their content.
49. The new Department of Homeland Security should solve the problem and be charged with preparing the country for a WMD attack - from setting a comprehensive national civil protection policy and establishing preparedness guidelines to assisting first responders and promoting a fully interoperable communications system. At the time of updating this draft report, FEMA had been incorporated into the DHS. However, sufficient resources and organisational capabilities will determine whether DHS provides local emergency response teams with the co-ordination and equipment they so urgently require.
c. Stockpile medical supplies and improve epidemiological surveillance and vaccines
50. Governments should continue to purchase and stockpile CB defensive materials at major medical centres (e.g. antidotes against chemical agents, antibiotics and antisera). Logistical procedures should be exercised so that the proper antidotes, together with the means to deliver them to large numbers of people, are pre-positioned at strategic locations and could be transported rapidly to the scene of a CB attack. And items of prospective equipment developed for the military, such as antidote auto-injectors, could be modified to make them suitable for civilian use.
51. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) manage a national pharmaceutical stockpile, which is spread around 12 sites to ensure that emergency medical supplies can be rushed to anywhere in America within seven hours. The stockpile also has a "virtual" component, consisting of arrangements with manufacturers to boost production of particular drugs at short notice. The contents of the stockpile, and the tests which the surveillance network can perform, are dependent on research. It is noteworthy that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has received the largest budget increase to ever go to one of the institutes. With its US$1.75 billion budget for 2003, the Institute plans to spend US$521.1m building new laboratories secure enough to house the most dangerous pathogens. Basic research, including genomic sequencing of agents, will consume US$440.6m; another US$591.9m will go to the discovery and development of drugs, vaccines and diagnosis techniques.
52. In November 2001, the DHHS announced a contract to produce 155m doses of smallpox vaccine. Delivery, expected beginning of 2003, would raise the national stockpile to 286m (enough for every American citizen). In mid-December 2002, the White House further announced the start of a programme to vaccinate up to 11m people. 500,000 soldiers would be given smallpox jabs immediately, and another 500,000 hospital and medical emergency workers in the new year. Activity has revived in most other countries, especially in those that are likely terrorist targets - and which are keeping policy secret (France, in particular). In Britain, the government plans to vaccinate emergency workers and to stockpile a lot of vaccines. In Germany, the Federal Government has asked the states to buy vaccines for every resident. To start with, it has acquired about 35m doses (enough for nearly half of the population); another 15 to 20m were due to be delivered by the end of February 2003.
53. Your Rapporteur wishes to point out, however, that creating a drug shield against chemical and biological weapons may be a formidable challenge. Vaccine production is expensive and time-consuming, and the limited application of bio-defence vaccines to public healthcare has tended to act as a disincentive to private sector involvement. In addition, drug firms have been deterred by concerns of exposure to the threat of legal action on safety grounds, particularly because vaccines against biological agents - which do not exist naturally - can only be tested on animals, not humans (see the possible health side-effects of smallpox vaccine). Finally, smallpox is only one of many CB weapons that might be unleashed. It is noteworthy that 19 scourges, for which there are no reliable counter-measures, have been listed. Merely preventing, diagnosing or treating these could require 100 new products - and the number could soar if diseases are genetically engineered to resist existing treatments.
III. ASSESSING CIVIL PROTECTION IN THE UNITED STATES, THE UNITED KINGDOM, FRANCE AND GERMANY
54. Having taken stock of some of today's threats as well as of policy approaches to radiological, chemical and biological terrorism, your Rapporteur deems it useful to make a brief general account of civil protection in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. As delegates will understand, such an account is motivated not only by the dreadful September 11 attacks, whose shock-wave continues to echo around the world, but also by Britain's experience with years of IRA domestic terrorism, and by France's handling of GIA bombings, of the December 1999 storm, the September 2001 AZF blast in Toulouse and the 2003 forest fires in the South. Germany, on its part, was a "safe haven" for most of the terrorists involved in the September 11 events and has had to cope with severe floods over the past few years, including in the summer of 2002. In so doing, your Rapporteur is confident that one could benefit from examining the lessons others have learned from their own struggles to save lives.
A. THE UNITED STATES
55. Emergency response and health care services are primarily a local responsibility in the US. The entire community of first responders totals over one million firefighters (of which approximately 750,000 are volunteers), an estimated 556,000 local police representatives, some 291,000 Sheriffs' offices employees and over 155,000 nationally registered emergency medical technicians. These figures may appear reasonable, but as suggested above, the magnitude and character of recent events have called into question the readiness of the nation's local and state emergency response and health and medical personnel to effectively face the next incident, to correctly identify hazards as they occur, and to mitigate damage to persons and property.
56. Pointing to the "less than reassuring" response to the anthrax-laced letters, two 2002 studies by RAND have shown that only a small fraction of the actual response organisations within the cities and towns have emergency response plans that address moderately-sized CB attacks (see Ronald D. Fricker, Jr., Jerry O. Jacobson and Lois M. Davis, Measuring and Evaluating Local Preparedness for a Chemical or Biological Terrorist Attack; and Lois M. Davis and Janice C. Blanchard, Are Local Health Responders Ready for Biological and Chemical Terrorism?). In late June 2003, an analysis conducted by the Council on Foreign Relations-sponsored Task Force on Emergency Responders further revealed that it is impossible to know precisely what is needed and how much it would cost; that the United States "may be spending only one third of what is required to adequately provide for America's emergency responders"; and that "funding for [the latter] has been sidetracked and stalled due to a politicized appropriations process, the slow distribution of funds by federal agencies, and bureaucratic red tape at all levels of government" (see Warren B. Rudman, Richard A. Clarke and Jamie F. Metzl, Emergency Responders: Drastically Underfunded, Dangerously Unprepared).
57. On average, fire departments across the country have only enough radios to equip half the firefighters on a shift, and breathing apparatuses for only one third; police departments do not have the protective gear to safely secure a site following a WMD attack; and public health labs in most states lack basic equipment and expertise to adequately respond to a chemical or biological incident. While large organisations in metropolitan counties are more likely to be prepared than little ones - which, in itself, may reflect a fair distribution of preparedness -, many public health providers and hospitals are unaware of what type of capabilities or surge capacity may be required. They do not have plans for communicating with emergency responders, other health providers or the public; are unfamiliar with the incident command system that is used (confusion continues to exist between health and medical professionals and other emergency responders over which has what authority and who is in charge of what, resulting in delays, duplication of effort and communication breakdowns); and do not fully understand what role law enforcement may play in the response to or the investigation of such incidents.
58. To help tackle the situation, a bio-terrorism-preparedness bill passed in the aftermath of the anthrax letters allocated US$1.1 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services, with most of that going to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the rest to the Health Resources and Services Administration, which oversees hospitals around the country. The money would go towards the regional laboratory system and the CDC's Health Alert Network that allows doctors to communicate news of isolated cases to epidemiologists. Technicians would be trained to recognise unfamiliar pathogens, while hospitals and clinics would be given reference cards listing unusual symptoms and what precautions to take when they appear. In January 2002, DHHS Secretary Tommy Thompson announced the release of the first instalment of US$240m to, inter alia, create regional hospital response plans for a biological attack; expand the Metropolitan Medical Response System to 25 new cities; and develop emergency plans for the distribution of stockpiles of medical supplies. The remaining amount will be awarded to each state following the receipt and validation of state plans for responding to bio-terrorist incidents and other outbreaks of infectious disease and for strengthening core public health capacities. Under this arrangement, states will have wide leeway in determining how best to improve their public health capacity and response preparedness.
59. In late January 2003, the Bush Administration began deploying a nationwide network of environmental monitors designed to detect airborne anthrax, smallpox and other biological agents within 24 hours after their release. Called Bio-Watch, the bio-surveillance network will use many of the Environmental Protection Agency's 3,000 air-quality monitoring stations throughout the country - starting with seven locations in New York City - to detect aerosolised attacks over large population centres. Moreover, in his 2003 State of the Union address President Bush proposed Project BioShield, which would provide federal health officials with the authority to research, buy, stockpile and distribute vaccines and antidotes necessary to protect against bio-terrorism pathogens without Congressional approval. Project BioShield would release an estimated US$6 billion over the next decade to allow the National Institutes of Health to initiate and expedite new research activities into antidotes for smallpox, anthrax, and botulism and would guarantee pharmaceutical companies a buyer for new products produced by them under the terms of Project BioShield. The plan also authorises the Food and Drug Administration to more widely distribute unapproved medications during a CB attack and to recommend the use of experimental drugs in certain extreme circumstances. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labour and Pensions unanimously passed the Project Bioshield legislation (Senate bill S. 15) in spring 2003, which was awaiting action in the full Senate at the time of updating this draft report.
60. However, as hinted at above, drug firms are very leery of producing politically sensitive products. In the aftermath of the anthrax scare of late 2001, the government threatened to invalidate Bayer's patent on its Cipro antibiotic unless prices were slashed. To many, big pharmaceutical companies would seek to develop and make new products only if the government were able to offer risk-adjusted returns at least equal to those they currently earn. In March 2003, the Biological, Chemical and Radiological Weapons Countermeasures Research Act (Senate bill S. 666, probably the first of many attempts to establish a basis for public-private co-operation) was introduced by Senators Joseph Lieberman (Democrat) and Orrin Hatch (Republican) to offer tax incentives, protection of patents and limited liability for any firm working on RCB counter-measures. Its prospects would be uncertain, though.
61. Concerning the new Department of Homeland Security, delegates will remember that in terms of both the number of federal employees and the range of missions involved, it constitutes the most far-reaching restructuring of the federal government since the advent of the Cold War. It should have an annual turnover of US$37 billion (in 2002 dollars) and some 170,000 employees, making it the third-largest bureaucracy after the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Huge agencies will beseized from other departments - the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (39,500 employees) from Justice, the Coast Guard (43,600) from Transportation, the Customs (21,700) from the Treasury. Other independent entities like the FEMA (5,100) have been gobbled up whole. The DHS will consist of four divisions: Border and Transportation Security; Emergency Preparedness and Response; Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Countermeasures; and Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection. The Secret Service - from the Treasury - will become a free-standing part that should report directly to Secretary Ridge.
62. To some, the lead agency approach has clear advantages. Assigning responsibility to a single agency provides a focal point in a diffuse landscape of interests and capabilities, thereby enhancing accountability. And empowering the DHS with direct budgetary authority and political responsibility should make it a major player in the overall homeland security effort (see Ivo H. Daalder and I. M. Destler, Behind America's Front Lines: Organizing to Protect the Homeland, The Brookings Institution, 2002). To many others, however, vesting a lot of administrative discretion in one person - who can delegate authority back to its constituent parts as he sees fit and has the power to take 5% of the budget of any one part of the DHS and move it around - may be risky.
63. Besides, the DHS could face five additional challenges that may cost it more support. First, the transition: while the new department is supposed to be up and running a year after the President signs the bill, the managerial challenges are said to be immense (inheritance of numerous incompatible management and personnel systems; poor morale in some agencies, which is only likely to get worse as workers worry about what reorganisation means for their tasks and job security). Second, sporadic shortages of money: if proposed spending on homeland security has roughly doubled since September 11, there are still significant shortfalls in funding (for instance for port security and first responders). Third, intelligence co-ordination with TTIC: when Congress passed the Homeland Security Act in November 2002, it envisioned the new, 1,000-person Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Division as an intelligence collection centre that would have the ability to conduct ambitious analysis and data fusion from all disparate Intelligence Community sources. Since President Bush established TTIC in May 2003 to fulfil this very role, the exact purpose of the DHS's intelligence assets is unclear, a problem exacerbated by the slow pace of its construction. Appeals have been made for Homeland Security Secretary Ridge to more clearly define the purpose of his intelligence arm, so that it can co-ordinate not compete with TTIC. Fourth, civil liberties: even in its pre-MI5 (UK's Security Service) incarnation, the Department of Homeland Security is likely to come into conflict with civil libertarians. And fifth, danger of distraction: there is a danger that in stating its priority to be the defence against terrorist attacks, the Department will shift emphasis away from other aspects of civil protection which are still the responsibility of its various component agencies (from maritime search and rescue to earthquake response, floods, hurricanes and wildfires). Such aspects could easily be marginalised and downgraded, setting the stage for a political backlash if they have substantial political constituencies. Hence, finding the right balance could be a particular problem for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and could reinforce the feeling of the DHS being "a top-down reform at a time when the most useful form of protection comes from the bottom up" (see The Economist, 23 November 2002).
64. As to the military's participation in homeland security, it is governed in part by the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act that outlines the troops' role in domestic affairs and is generally interpreted to prohibit federal military forces from "policing the American people". Although there has of yet been no formal review of the Act, steps taken by the Bush Administration since September 11 have highlighted a potentially greater place for the military in homeland defence. In April 2002, the DoD created the Northern Command (NorthCom) to backstop civilian response efforts in consequence management operations, when ordered by the president or the defence secretary. However, while the armed forces possess superior expertise in several relevant areas such as NRCB detection and response and cyber security, they are not trained to deal with emergency situations at home - and are one third smaller than they were in 1990. State governors thus envisage the National Guard providing assistance (communications or logistics) to civilian agencies and putting greater emphasis on training and equipment tailored to perform homeland security functions.
B. THE UNITED KINGDOM
65. Over three decades of IRA domestic terrorism meant that the United Kingdom has had a pre-existing civil protection structure, has sharpened co-operation between the intelligence services and police, and heightened public sensitivity to suspicious-looking packages. A coincidental wave of major incidents - the threat of the Millennium Bug, severe flooding in 2000, as well as the fuel crisis and foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001 - prompted a review of emergency planning in England and Wales and encouraged moves to improve the resilience of the government's crisis management system. If some believe that these experiences led to the creation of a robust and flexible civil protection scheme prior to the September 11 events, the House of Commons Defence Committee's findings of summer 2002 tended toward the view that this apparent expertise had encouraged a false sense of confidence, and an inclination to underestimate the real dangers to which the country may be exposed (see Defence Committee, Defence and Security in the UK, 24 July 2002).
66. In November 2002, a report from the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed the National Health Service's (NHS) "unsatisfactory" readiness specifically with respect to NRCB incidents. In London alone, one-third of casualty departments were described as ill-prepared for handling a "dirty bomb", as were many ambulances. While improvements have been reported in capacity (in particular, personal protective gear and decontamination facilities), much would remain to be done. This, along with other shortcomings in emergency planning (such as training and testing of plans), would mean that a hazardous incident on a large scale would challenge the NHS in the capital city (see NAO, Facing the Challenge: NHS Emergency Planning in England, 13 November 2002).
66. The discovery of a makeshift ricin-producing laboratory in Wood Green, North London, in early 2003 confirmed that while the intelligence services and police were primed for pre-emption, the authorities' ability to cope with the aftermath of an attack would seem to be less good. Following the NAO report, the Department of Health (DH) instituted a review procedure for all trusts in England against specific audit criteria. Preliminary analysis of the outcome of this audit was completed in March 2003 and showed lack of experience in dealing with NRCB incidents, despite good progress being made to meet such threats through education and training initiatives (e.g., (table-top) exercises and "training the trainer" courses).
67. The discovery of a makeshift ricin-producing laboratory in Wood Green, North London, in early 2003 confirmed that while the intelligence services and police were primed for pre-emption, the authorities' ability to cope with the aftermath of an attack would seem to be less good. Following the NAO report, the Department of Health (DH) instituted a review procedure for all trusts in England against specific audit criteria. Preliminary analysis of the outcome of this audit was completed in March 2003 and showed lack of experience in dealing with NRCB incidents, despite good progress being made to meet such threats through education and training initiatives (e.g., (table-top) exercises - see the mock chemical attack on a subway train in the heart of London on 7 September 2003 - and "training the trainer" courses).
68. A major development in the DH's work has been the creation of the Health Protection Agency (HPA, 1 April 2003), which has brought together specialist advice and support to provide an integrated approach to health protection and emergency preparedness. As of 1 April 2004, the Agency will be able to carry out a wider range of functions as a non-departmental public body. The HPA's current responsibilities include, inter alia: defining health emergency planning work programmes, milestones and performance standards, as well as interacting with professional bodies; supporting the government by providing technical advice on the consequence management of incidents and the development of health emergency planning policies; and responsibility for the functions previously performed by the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS), the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB), the National Focus for Chemical Incidents (NFCI), and the Centre for Applied Microbiology and Research (CAMR), to provide a unified approach to dealing with complex or interrelated major incidents.
69. Concerning central co-ordination and direction, the government concluded that it was correct for the Home Secretary to remain in overall Ministerial control of domestic security, but that a Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator should be appointed to support him in this work and bring the intelligence, security and consequence management elements together. Sir David Omand was appointed Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator in July 2002. Since then - in response to the criticisms of the House of Commons Defence Committee -, both the Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS, in the Cabinet Office) and the committee system it operates (i.e. the Ministerial policy committee; and supporting committee of officials) have been restructured. The CCS co-ordinates government responsibilities for dealing with emergencies and disasters (see its three new divisions: Assessments; Operations; and Policy); in addition, the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR) and the Civil Contingencies Committee (CCC) co-ordinate response to terrorist and non-terrorist incidents respectively.
70. Meanwhile, a new piece of legislation in public safety has entered the parliamentary pipeline. Launched in mid-June 2003 for consultation, the Civil Contingencies Bill aims to "deliver a coherent statutory and regulatory framework for dealing with all forms of disruptive challenge to modern society, including those arising from terrorist attack". Its programme proposes, inter alia, to clarify responsibilities at every point, create a system of standard-setting and auditing, and ensure that existing and new measures are properly resourced. Policy proposals were due to be published at the time of updating this draft report.
71. More surprising than gaps in government preparations is slackness in the private sector. In August 2002, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) estimated that 30-40% of firms in the City, mostly small or medium-sized ones, had no evacuation plans in place. The FSA itself has created a "bunker" within walking distance of its Canary Wharf headquarters, where it has links to big banks; it claims it can be up and running there within an hour of an attack.
72. Finally, the UK does not have a paramilitary devoted to the homeland defence role. It has, h, , o, wever, announced its intention to create a special unit drawn from the Territorial Army to deal with homeland defence emergencies. Called the Civil Contingency Reaction Force, the units will receive specialised training. The Home Office will remain the UK's overall co-ordinating body for anti-terrorism measures, but the military units could be "available within a few hours" to provide support to civilian authorities. Plans allow for putting 500 Volunteer Reserves in each region, giving a total of some 6,000 Volunteer Reserves on standby in case of a major incident. The full quota was to be available first semester 2003.
73. In France, GIA terrorism, the 1999 Mont Blanc tunnel fire (which killed 39 people) and ensuing December storm (which killed 88), as well as the 2001 flooding in the Somme and subsequent September explosion at the AZF factory, Toulouse (which killed 31 and injured over 2,000), have all demonstrated the importance of improving the preparedness and co-ordination of local and national actors concerned with crisis response.
74. Responsibility for civil protection - mayor in the municipality, State representative in the department (prefect), State representative in the district (district prefect), Minister of the Interior and Prime Minister - is set forth in the Municipal Code and Law of 22 July 1987. Civil protection is primarily under the authority of the Minister of the Interior, with the Directorate of Defence and Public Safety (DDSC) preparing and mobilising the national response structure and local rescue services. Within the DDSC, the Inter-ministerial Operational Centre (COGIC) ensures round-the-clock monitoring of large-scale rescue operations and co-ordinates the use of resources - public and private, local and national - in the event of a major incident. The COGIC relies, inter alia, on seven defence zones with their Inter-regional Centres (Paris, Lille, Rennes, Bordeaux, Marseilles, Lyons and Metz) and four Operational Logistics Establishments (ESOL), which provide logistical and material support in the event of an emergency. The prefect is responsible for ensuring prevention, as well as the distribution of aid and rescue. Relief schemes to combat major risks and disasters, known as the ORSEC emergency plans, can be set in motion by the prefect, who will simultaneously inform the district prefect and central department of the defence zone, as well as the Ministry of the Interior.
75. With regard to first responders, there are 12,700 fire stations regrouping 240,000 firefighters in France, 15% of which are professionals and 85% volunteers, although the proportion of professionals is higher in the larger cities. Their role has diversified in recent years due to the evolution of the risks presented to them. For historical reasons, the Paris Fire Brigade - which is also present at Kourou space centre in French Guyana - and the Marseilles Fire Battalion are raised from the Army and Navy. Medical Emergency Services (SAMU) and Emergency and Intensive Care Services (SMUR) are organised on a regional basis. Concerned primarily with pre-hospital care, the SAMU and SMUR have at their disposal both light and heavy vehicles (the latter with treatment equipment) and helicopters. Recourse is made to private means of assistance as well, including, among others, the Red Cross (30,000 first aiders), the National Federation for Civil Protection, amateur radio operators, potholers, and security agents in key industrial areas (petrol, nuclear and aviation). 130,000 police officers and 97,000 gendarmes are also trained to respond to major incidents, promote public order and provide territorial security as well as personal protection; other actors with more specialist competencies include mine-clearing units and airborne forces.
76. This is without mentioning the Intervention and Guidance Units for Civil Protection (UIISC - 1,500 soldiers), whose role is seen as reinforcing local authorities in cases of grave accidents and extreme emergencies (prevention of forest fires, study of new techniques in emergency response, and support for personnel within the DDSC and Inter-regional Centres). Even in cases in which troops were engaged in military operations abroad, the UIISC would retain the same number of personnel for domestic defence. After September 11, armed military personnel joined the police in guarding skyscraper buildings and other "at-risk" locations, and forces have been deployed under the "Vigipirate" operation to guard key sites and hubs such as railway stations, subways and public buildings. The Army established anti-aircraft batteries around nuclear power plants and other critical infrastructure, and the "Piratox" (in case of a chemical attack) and "Piratome" (in case of a nuclear attack or incident) plans have been upgraded.
77. Concerning the 21 September 2001 Toulouse blast, while the almost immediate setting up of a local operational centre was crucial to the co-ordination between SAMU doctors, general medical practitioners, firefighters and UIISC soldiers, a public enquiry launched in the days following the explosion revealed a certain number of acute problems. Pointed to, in particular, were low security; the importance of a greater role of industry in distributing precise information on the potential hazards and the necessity to inform the public; and the lack of sufficient training in preventing and responding to a chemical incident. Although pre-existing emergency plans were activated, equipment such as breathing apparatus for the firefighters were also found to be inadequate for the scale of the incident. Besides, there were delays in the establishment and communication of a list of those seriously injured.
78. Comments along these lines have been made by the Haut Comité français pour la défense civile (see Livre Blanc du Haut Comité français pour la défense civile (HCFDC) - 20 ans, 20 constats et propositions, January 2003). It has called attention to the lack of preparedness specifically with respect to NRCB challenges, including the quasi-absence of resources and specialised training for everyone, of decision-makers' long-term involvement at all levels, and of vertical as well as inter-ministerial co-ordination (see, in particular, between the Ministries of the Interior, of Defence, of Industry, and of Ecology and Sustainable Development). Admittedly, as was announced in June 2002, a national training centre for first responders is to be created in Cambrai, Northern France; NRCB training courses should start in October 2003; and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy indicated in early July 2003 that a bill on civil security modernisation would be presented to the government in the autumn. However, unlike the US or Britain, France is yet to consider moving the various government bodies under the authority of a single central civil protection agency. While the French approach avoids the problems associated with a major bureaucratic upheaval, it precludes the ultimate development of a streamlined and powerful agency whose sole raison d'être is civil protection. By maintaining the inter-agency structure, France runs the risk of making civil protection the interest of multiple agencies, but the priority of none.
79. Finally, its location in continental Europe makes inter-governmental co-operation an absolute necessity. The Mont Blanc tunnel fire was tackled by over 100 firefighters from France, Italy and Switzerland, demonstrating the importance of communication and co-ordination between first responders in Europe. The explosion at the AZF factory has prompted initiatives, led by the WHO, to improve European collaboration on chemical threats. Experts are increasingly recognising that such threats require close planning and integration on a national and international level.
80. Last, in Germany disaster management is governed by the 1949 Basic Law, which essentially assigns administrative responsibility for civil protection in peacetime to the state (Länder) authorities in the sixteen states of the Republic, and the protection of the population in wartime to the Federal Government. The Federal Government thus complements the civil protection organised by the Länder. It is called upon to provide special technical assistance and manpower in areas such as fire-fighting and NRCB protection, and to complement the resources of the Länder by financing, inter alia, protective gear and civil protection training. The Federal Government only steps in to help when asked, however, and has no authority to operate on its own, i.e. no power to assume command.
81. Indeed, under the terms of the Basic Law the head of the district (Kreis) administration is responsible for assistance. They have an emergency staff made up of officials from the regional administration; the municipal, regional and volunteer fire brigades; the Federal Technical Support Service (THW); as well as private relief organisations operating on a national scale. Professional firefighters - stationed in cities of over 100,000 inhabitants - total around 27,000; volunteers approximately 1,3 million; and industrial firemen 37,000. The THW totals around 74,000, with 850 professionals. As to relief organisations, they include: the Good Samaritans (some 7,200 active members in 1999); St. John's Ambulance Services (about 24,000); the Maltese Order (31,000); the German rescue service (145,000); and the Red Cross (305,000), all of whom are involved in medical and care services. Volunteers are active in all areas of the system, forming the backbone of Germany's crisis management personnel.
82. Since September 11, weaknesses in emergency planning and preparedness (see, inter alia, co-ordination problems in and between Länder, the lack of NRCB training for first responders; and the lack of health services infrastructure for mass casualties) have been discussed more openly, with experts and officials calling into question this strict, two-tier disaster management division. The flooding of the Elbe and Danube rivers in Central Europe in the summer of 2002 have only added to the process of changing course, restructuring and finding more appropriate responses.
83. Since then, a "New Strategy for Protecting the Population of Germany" has been agreed upon between the Federal Government and the Länder, which provides for the joint management of risk scenarios and loss events that are exceptional and of national importance, such as: natural disasters, including severe storms and flooding; major rail, road, air and water transportation accidents; major industrial accidents (nuclear power or chemical plants, biotech industry); widespread outbreak of disease (epidemics, etc.); and international terrorism. The Strategy calls for better integration of existing resources at the local, state and federal levels and for more efficient co-ordination between state and federal agencies.
84. The Co-ordination Centre for Large-Scale Emergencies and Hazards will have a pivotal role in this regard. Described by Interior Minister Otto Schily as a "joint command, control and contact centre", it will constantly monitor and evaluate the national and international civil security situation; will serve as a permanent centre for resource management, primarily directing the deployment of volunteers but also keeping track of and distributing material aid; and will co-ordinate offers of assistance, including from international and supranational organisations (see "A New Strategy for Protecting the Population of Germany", presentation at the German-American Workshop on Co-operation in Fighting Chemical and Biological Weapons Terrorism, Washington, DC, 3-4 February 2003).
85. More specifically, the Strategy includes: 1) a network linking the different information systems together in a joint German emergency preparedness information system (deNIS), whose primary task is to integrate, process and make available information needed to manage major disasters and carry out international relief operations; 2) a new concept for warning the public using the Federation's satellite-protected communications system, which has been operating since October 2001, and which can send public emergency announcements via radio and television within seconds; and 3) the expansion of the federal Academy for Crisis Management, Emergency Planning and Civil Protection (AkNZ, in Ahrweiler) into a forum for international scientific exchange and a centre for basic and advanced training in dealing with NCB hazards.
86. Since September 11, the Federal Government has increased research funding in the area of civil protection and chemical and biological response. The Länder have been provided with a total of 367 state-of-the-art NCB detection vehicles that can take samples of biological hazards and detect, measure and record radiological and chemical contamination. As indicated above, the Federal Government has also acquired 35 million doses of smallpox vaccine, with Chancellor Schröder and the heads of the state governments agreeing to bring this to a total of 100 million doses. A 3-phase plan to combat smallpox attacks has been developed, and the establishment of emergency inoculation centres as well as plans for special anti-NCB task forces discussed.
87. Finally, the Federal Government has taken the increased significance of civil protection into account at the organisational level as well, by setting up a new Federal Office for Civil Protection and Emergency Response. Like the US Department of Homeland Security, though not quite on the same scale, this new agency will gather all the relevant tasks together and serve as the central office for civil security preparedness.
88. As to the armed forces, while they can provide "official assistance" at the request of the Länder in case of natural disasters and major accidents, the extent of this assistance is yet to be clearly defined. Since the September 11 events, the Christlich Demokratische Union (CDU) Party has been pressing for changes in the Basic Law, which would allow domestic deployment of the armed forces for protection purposes against terrorist attacks. However, this initiative has been criticised for lack of specificity. In November 2002, a co-operation agreement between the civilian and military authorities was reached, under which civilian and military disaster relief units would undergo joint training at the AkNZ. In December 2002, the Federal and Länder interior ministers further agreed that the military should make its crisis management and NRCB knowledge as well as its resources available to the Länder.
IV. THE ROLE OF NATO AND THE EU
89. Having taken stock of civil protection mechanisms in the US, the UK, France and Germany, in this final chapter your Rapporteur believes it useful to make a very brief account of the civil emergency planning initiatives developed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union. Such an account is motivated in part by the disaster assistance request that Portugal sent to NATO and the EU in early August 2003, to fight the forest fires affecting the entire central region of the country.
A. THE NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION
90. Delegates will remember that civil protection and disaster relief fall under NATO's Civil Emergency Planning (CEP) organisation. The latter consists of: the Senior Civil Emergency Planning Committee (SCEPC), which reports directly to the North Atlantic Council; nine Planning Boards and Committees (PB&Cs), which are supervised by SCEPC and are responsible for actual work within their areas of expertise (transportation, supply, communications, and protection of civil populations); and the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Co-ordination Centre (EADRCC), which was created in 1998 in co-operation with the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) and is headed by the Director of Civil Emergency Planning.
91. Among PB&Cs, the Civil Protection Committee (CPC) acts as the Alliance's focal point for pre-disaster planning and post-disaster analysis in NATO and Partner countries; it also deals with procedures for managing refugee flows/population movements that might result from a crisis, and for providing shelter and mass care. Disaster response per se is dealt with by the EADRCC, which co-ordinates NATO and Partner nations' responses to natural, technological or humanitarian disasters occurring in the Euro-Atlantic area. The multinational Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Unit (EADRU) can be deployed in case of a major disaster upon request from the stricken country or in support of a relevant international organisation.
92. After September 11, the North Atlantic Council tasked the EADRCC to stand ready to also react to major incidents involving radiological, chemical or biological agents. This additional role has since become the focus of EADRCC's activity. A Civil Emergency Planning Action Plan listing over 50 action items was adopted by the Senior Civil Emergency Planning Committee in November 2001, which Heads of State and government of the Alliance committed to at Prague in November 2002.
93. Devised with the involvement of Partner countries and intended for implementation across the Euro-Atlantic area, the Action Plan aims to enhance civil-military co-operation; encourage to the maximum extent possible an integrated civil-military response; and improve interoperability between partners through the formulation of common minimum standards in equipment, planning, training and procedures. An inventory of national capabilities and assets has been carried out, which includes points of contact; medical experts; warning, detection, decontamination and protective equipment; as well as laboratories and specialised hospitals. These could be made available upon request to assist a stricken country. While the inventory has already proved to be a useful tool during the EADRCC operation in support of Turkey, which was seeking assistance in light of a possible RCB and refugee threat from Iraq, the operation also showed that more work needed to be done, including in terms of release procedures for material in capital cities.
94. In line with these new priorities, the EADRCC's exercise programme has increasingly been taking into account RCB threats to the population. While Exercise Ferghana, held in Uzbekistan in April 2003, focused on fire-fighting, search and rescue, Exercise Dacia, planned for October 2003 in Romania, will deal with the consequences of a dirty-bomb terrorist attack. The CEP, together with the WHO, is also exploring possibilities for table-top exercises in late 2004, to focus on the bio-terrorist menace. At the time of updating this draft report, no further information was available.
B. THE EUROPEAN UNION
95. As for the European Union, it is responsible for protection of the population under art. 3(1)(par. U) of the EC Treaty. Following September 11, the European Council in Ghent (19 October 2001) mandated the Commission and Council to draft an EU civil protection programme to improve co-operation between Member States in preparedness, detection and intervention to reduce the consequences of NRCB threats to the territory of the Union. The programme was set out in two Communications issued by the Commission on 28 November 2001 (Civil Protection - State of preventive alert against possible emergencies) and 11 June 2002 (Civil Protection - Progress made in implementing the programme for preparedness for possible emergencies). These make clear how the various services and networks responsible for civil protection, health protection and research expertise within the Commission have been brought under one heading, so as to have "a common platform to co-ordinate the Community's optimum response to all types of emergencies". The programme was approved by the Commission and Council on 20 December 2002.
96. A Civil Protection Mechanism (CPM), whose creation had been proposed by the Commission in September 2000, was adopted by the Council on 23 October 2001 and entered into force on 1 January 2002. On-site intervention teams, experts and other equipment can promptly be dispatched via its 24-hour Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), which performs the role of a clearing house, collating data on human resources, expertise, serums and vaccines in participating countries and processing any necessary language translations. The advantage of the Mechanism, over the system of bilateral requests for assistance, is its provision for a more consolidated and therefore theoretically quicker and more precise response in the event of an attack or a disaster.
97. The first full-scale field exercise to test the Union's ability to respond to a radiological or chemical attack - EURATOX 2002 - was carried out in October 2002 in Canjuers, Southern France. While the availability of intensive care beds, transportation, and the specialist teams were quickly ascertained via the Monitoring Information Centre, a number of technical problems were highlighted at crucial moments (shortage of fax machines, interrupted and delayed communications, lack of gas masks for interpreters). Besides, Member State capacities remain under the ultimate direction of their own governments. The Commission has no ability to oblige Member States to use the Civil Protection Mechanism, whose success and impact depends on the voluntary participation of Member States. In real life situations, retaining the habit of bilaterally requesting assistance, whilst choosing to use the Mechanism in a piecemeal fashion, might be a source of increased confusion, not better co-ordination.
98. Since the September 11 crisis, the Commission has also been working to develop interfaces between the Civil Protection Mechanism and the health sector. A Health Security Committee (HSC) comprised of high-level representatives of the Member States was set up on 26 October 2001, and an action programme of co-operation on preparedness and response to chemical and biological agent threats (BICHAT) agreed to in December 2001. Implemented since May 2002, BICHAT aims to set up a mechanism for information exchange, consultation and co-ordination for the handling of health-related issues related to CB attacks; create an EU-wide capability for the timely detection and identification of chemical and biological agents that might be used in attacks; establish a medicines stock and a stand-by facility for making medicines; and draw up rules and disseminate guidance on facing-up to attacks from the health point of view.
99. Despite the progress achieved - a rapid alert system has been operational since June 2002 to allow prompt transmission of alerts and exchange of information between the Member States and the Commission -, a Communication issued by the Commission in June 2003 stresses that further efforts are needed in the following areas: rapid detection of dissemination and immediate transmission of messages raising alarm; co-ordination of preparation and responses of Member States; pharmaceutical arsenal and laboratory capacity; and the implementation of the EU's programme on health security (see Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on Co-operation in the European Union on Preparedness and Response to Biological and Chemical Agent Attacks (Health Security), 2 June 2003, COM(2003) 320 final).
100. In early July 2003, the Italian Presidency announced that "highest priority" would be given to the "effective application" of the programme to improve co-operation in the EU for preventing and limiting the consequences of NRCB terrorist threats. The setting up of an Expert Group for the detection, warning and intervention against such attacks should be promoted, while prevention and information to the public, as well as mobilisation of greater scientific and technical resources, could receive a further boost from the insertion in the Treaties of a special article on collaboration in civil protection, to be drawn up within the context of the Convention and the Intergovernmental Conference.
101. At this stage, it seems to your Rapporteur that beyond NATO and the EU's initiatives, the multiplicity of organisations likely to accommodate dialogue on civil protection (UN, OSCE, etc.) clouds international co-operation and generates a profusion of texts and decisions the bulk of which is strictly declaratory. Besides, co-operation is jeopardised by the lack of human and financial resources. NATO could thus very well remain an element of comfort for those States that are not very anxious to develop autonomous means of civil protection action.
102. If your Rapporteur believes that the overriding need is for the Americans and Europeans to develop a shared and holistic approach to civil protection, on a purely national level she agrees with Dr Paul Cornish that "the best policy approach is one that can recognise when plans should be rewritten, however hurriedly, and can adapt to new and unanticipated situations. Because society's vulnerability is so complete, and because vulnerability is the terrorist's principal weapon, the challenge to policy-makers is also to manage, rather than exclude vulnerability, and to reassure public opinion that enough has been done [and enough money has been poured in] to reduce risk to manageable proportions" and plug those significant gaps of co-ordination between national, state and local response operations (see "Homeland Defence - UK Style", Defence Review, 7 August 2002).