Calif to create terror headquartersgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
Tuesday, 25 September 2001 19:40 (ET)
Calif to create terror headquarters By CHRIS RIZO
SACRAMENTO, Calif. Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Amid mounting concerns that the West Coast could be scene to the next terrorist attack on the United States, California's governor launched the creation of a statewide anti-terrorism center Tuesday, designed to thwart potential threats to the Golden State.
"Yes, we're in a heightened state of alert... we've been warned that California is a logical place for another terrorist attack, and yes, we're taking every precaution possible to preclude that from happening," Gov. Gray Davis told reporters.
Charged with linking the state's internal defense systems, the Democratic governor said California's new Anti-Terrorism Information Center will be an anti-terrorist nerve center, coordinating efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
"This center will be a powerful weapon in the war to protect our people and property from the enemies of freedom," Davis said.
The governor's announcement comes two weeks after hijackers commandeered four commercial jetliners, crashing two into New York's mammoth World Trade Center and a third into the Pentagon, killing thousands the morning of Sept. 11. A fourth jet crashed outside of Pennsylvania.
"The terrorist attack on the East Coast has changed our world forever," Davis said. "Now, the highest responsibility officials have is to protect Californians from future acts of terrorism."
Although Davis would not comment on any possible terrorist activities in California, he said state officials have been "advised many times" that the state is a likely target and should be prepared for a potential terrorist strike.
Davis explained that officials are keenly aware of the possible dangers to the state's water supply and power grid and have already taken precautions to fortify those and other vulnerable targets.
"We have deployed virtually all of our resources to protect the people and the vital assets of this state," he said.
The anti-terrorism center, designed to collect and disseminate information to a cadre of local law enforcement groups, will be lead by a 14-member advisory council, chaired by Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca. Calling the center a "critical element" in the protection of Californians, Baca said the lack of a clearly identifiable enemy underscores the need for an inclusive forum so that local law enforcement agencies can track terrorist activity, without having to rely on federal officials to relay often-valuable case information.
According to federal investigators, many of the accused terrorists implicated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, lived in the United States for years before they lashed out, in what has become the bloodiest assault to ever take place on American soil.
But, as government officials work to protect the state, privacy rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, say officials should be careful not to trample the rights of people in their quest to weed out suspected terrorist groups.
Davis and the state's Attorney General Bill Lockyer, said the center will put the state's 100,000 peace officers on the right foot, making their police work "faster and smarter," while safeguarding "constitutionally guaranteed civil rights and protections."
"Good technology, accurate information and good sense will mean a lot in the coming fight," Lockyer said.
-- Copyright 2001 by United Press International.
-- Martin Thompson (email@example.com), September 25, 2001