From the September 2000 Idaho Observer:

RAND analyst admits Defense Secretary fits profile of domestic terrorist?

“Astute observation” begs question: “Who are the real terrorists?”

COEUR D'ALENE -- RAND Washington, D.C. Office Director Dr. Bruce Hoffman, theological terrorism researcher David Brannon of RAND and international security specialist Peter Chalk, also with RAND, spoke at a one-day seminar entitled, “Understanding What Terrorism Means to Rural Idaho.” The seminar, held at the Kootenai County Administration Building here August 24, 2000, was hosted by the State of Idaho Military Division Bureau of Disaster Services (BDS). According to BDS official Fred Heywood who welcomed the 50 city and county employees and law enforcement officers from all over north Idaho, the seminar was being held to “put into proper perspective” the threats posed by various types of domestic terrorism.

Almost immediately after being introduced Dr. Hoffman stated that, though he, Chalk and Brannon work for RAND, one of the world's most influential international affairs think tanks, all three of them were speaking for themselves and were not representing RAND at the seminar.

Dr. Hoffman opened the seminar by giving an overview of what he referred to as, “the changing face of terrorism,” and attempted to explain the meaning of terrorism through distinctions rather than definitions. As part of an on-going slide presentation Dr. Hoffman provided the audience with definitions of terrorism. The FBI definition of terrorism is, “.the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

The Department of Defense's definition of terrorism, as presented by Dr. Hoffman, is: “.the calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or try to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious or ideological.”

“All acts of terrorism are politically motivated,” Dr. Hoffman stated.

Though terrorists have always been “politically radical,” they are “operationally conservative,” explained Dr. Hoffman. Since most terrorists have limited resources they must carefully plan and carry out acts of terrorism with maximum impact.

Terrorists have traditionally used acts of terrorism to gain attention and sympathy for their causes. Dr. Hoffman stated that only 12 terrorist incidents in the last 9,000 have killed more than 100 people.

Traditionally, terrorists have announced their intentions in advance of an attack or have publicly claimed responsibility for an attack after it has occurred because their main objective is publicity. Most of the 12 incidents mentioned are recent and nobody has stepped forward to claim responsibility for them.

Dr. Hoffman referenced the OK City bombing and Timothy McVeigh several times as exemplary of modern terrorism. He also used the 1995 Aum nerve gas attack in a Tokyo subway and the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, to illustrate the “changing face of terrorism.” Dr. Hoffman admitted that “conspiracy theories” abound in the absence of credible claims of responsibility for terrorist attacks. He also said that he and his colleagues at RAND anticipated incorrectly that an era of copycat bombings would follow in the wake of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City which killed 168 people.

According to Dr. Hoffman, the new face of terrorism is more murderous and “calls into question the most basic assumptions” regarding terrorists: That they are “fundamentally rational” and interested in publicity -- not killing innocent people.

Cohen chem/bio attack scenario sparks anti-terrorism growth industry

The threat of chemical or biological attack by domestic terrorists is not as great as the American public has been lead to believe, Dr. Hoffman stated. Conditions must be perfect for biological weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to be effective. The sheer volume of chemical agents that would be needed to effect a massive terrorist attack diminish the likelihood that chemicals will be weapons of choice among modern terrorists. Dr. Hoffman stated that chemical and biological attack scenarios proposed by Defense Secretary William Cohen and political intrigue author Tom Clancy are not based in reality.

Since Defense Secretary William Cohen held up a five-pound bag of sugar in 1997 and said that a similar amount of anthrax released in the air above the nation's capitol would kill approximately 300,000 people, anti-terrorism has become one of the nation's fastest growing industries.

  • The number of FBI agents assigned to counter terrorism has grown from 550 in 1993 to nearly 1,500 today.

  • According to Chalk, a native of Australia, the U.S. devoted $89 million to WMD preparedness in 1998.

  • The Clinton administration has requested that $566 million be budgeted for WMD preparedness for 2001.

  • Last November President Clinton proposed a $10 billion anti-terrorism package, which is up from the anti-terrorism budget of $6.5 billion in 1998.

  • Since Cohen instilled the fear of chemical and/or biological attack into the collective mind of the American public in 1997, WMD preparedness spending alone will have increased by 536 percent since 1998 if the Clinton administration gets its $10 billion anti-terrorism package approved.

“Why would Cohen, who has access to all chemical/biological weapons intelligence data, including that disseminated by RAND, scare the public with the imminence of a chemical/biological threat? Is he not mirroring the intent of 'terrorists' to leave a specific impression on a gullible public,” asked Don Harkins of The Idaho Observer.

Chalk gave a thoughtful and lengthy answer to Harkins' question. Chalk explained that Cohen's public announcement was undoubtedly prompted by lobbyists who used the Clinton cabinet member as political leverage to fund their anti-terrorism programs and research.

“Earlier today Dr. Hoffman stated that 'all terrorist acts are politically motivated.' What you just described to me is that Cohen's threat of imminent chemical or biological attack was politically motivated. How, then, is Defense Secretary Cohen's behavior different from what you guys have described as that of a domestic terrorist?” Harkins asked.

With a smile that seemed to say, “touchet,” Chalk said, “Your observation is very astute.”

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