Tuesday, January 9, 2007

United States Coordinator of Preventing WMD Proliferation, Terrorism, AIDS, Genocide and Smoking

To further explore the mild outrage currently being experience by individuals, such as J. Sigger and myself, I want to highlight the really disturbing portion of H.R. 1. Sections 1241 through 1257 of H.R. 1 create a U.S. Coordinator for the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism and a corresponding commission of the same title. I am distrubed by the notion that our elected representatives believe the resources, expertise and programs required to prevent WMD proliferation and terrorism are even remotely related. Sure, there is that hypothetical nexus between WMD and terrorism that President Bush loves to wax poetic about, but attacking this one point of failure doesn't seem very practical. What about non-WMD terrorism or non-terrorist proliferation? Since my stupid-sense was tingling, I decided to look at the resolution's actual language: SEC. 1241. OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES COORDINATOR FOR THE PREVENTION OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION PROLIFERATION AND TERRORISM. (a) Establishment- There is established within the Executive Office of the President an office to be known as the `Office of the United States Coordinator for the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism' (in this subtitle referred to as the `Office'). [snip] (c) Duties- The responsibilities of the Coordinator shall include the following:
(1) Serving as the advisor to the President on all matters relating to the prevention of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation and terrorism. (2) Formulating a comprehensive and well-coordinated United States strategy and policies for preventing WMD proliferation and terrorism, including--

(A) measurable milestones and targets to which departments and agencies can be held accountable;

(B) identification of gaps, duplication, and other inefficiencies in existing activities, initiatives, and programs and the steps necessary to overcome these obstacles;

(C) plans for preserving the nuclear security investment the United States has made in Russia, the former Soviet Union, and other countries;

(D) prioritized plans to accelerate, strengthen, and expand the scope of existing initiatives and programs, which include identification of vulnerable sites and material and the corresponding actions necessary to eliminate such vulnerabilities;

(E) new and innovative initiatives and programs to address emerging challenges and strengthen United States capabilities, including programs to attract and retain top scientists and engineers and strengthen the capabilities of United States national laboratories;

(F) plans to coordinate United States activities, initiatives, and programs relating to the prevention of WMD proliferation and terrorism, including those of the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Department of State, and Department of Homeland Security, and including the Proliferation Security Initiative, the G-8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism;

(G) plans to strengthen United States commitments to international regimes and significantly improve cooperation with other countries relating to the prevention of WMD proliferation and terrorism, with particular emphasis on work with the international community to develop laws and an international legal regime with universal jurisdiction to enable any state in the world to interdict and prosecute smugglers of WMD material, as recommended by the 9/11 Commission; and

(H) identification of actions necessary to implement the recommendations of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism established under subtitle E of this title.

Does anyone else see a pattern here? Namely, the strategic inclusion of the phase "and terrorism" after the word proliferation? The coordinator is responsible for coordinating all of the federal government's nonproliferation activities and gets to attend some posh G-8 meetings. He or she will even get figure out ways to keep our bored nuclear weapons complex packed full of brains. His or her connection to domestic or international counterterrorism activities, on the other hand, will be nonexistent. The notion of terrorism seems like a window-dressing. The same myopia is applied to the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism: SEC. 1254. RESPONSIBILITIES. (a) In General- The Commission shall address--
(1) the roles, missions, and structure of all relevant government departments, agencies, and other actors, including the Office of the United States Coordinator for the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism established under subtitle D of this title; (2) inter-agency coordination; (3) United States commitments to international regimes and cooperation with other countries; and (4) the threat of weapons of mass destruction proliferation and terrorism to the United States and its interests and allies, including the threat posed by black-market networks, and the effectiveness of the responses by the United States and the international community to such threats.
(b) Follow-on Baker-Cutler Report- The Commission shall also reassess, and where necessary update and expand on, the conclusions and recommendations of the report titled `A Report Card on the Department of Energy's Nonproliferation Programs with Russia' of January 2001 (also known as the `Baker-Cutler Report') and implementation of such recommendations. If the government is having so much trouble coordinating its nonproliferation programs and translating the vagaries of its 'combating WMD' mission in action, why not focus this coordinator and commission entirely on nonproliferation issues? Why put unnecessary blinders of 'and terrorism' on an otherwise potentially effacious idea? But then again, maybe I'm just crazy...

1 comment:

J. said...

Here here! Us crazy guys have to stick together! Very well articulated. I was too lazy to look up the actual language, but I'm not surprised by the wording. Disappointed, yes, surprised, no.