Page 3

1

Federal Office Buildings and the Threat of Terrorism

TERRORISM

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines terrorism as “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” (FBI, 1984). Within the FBI, terrorism is described as either domestic or international depending on the origin, base, and objectives of the terrorist organization. The Committee on the Protection of Federal Facilities Against Terrorism accepts this definition and, for purposes of this study, has limited its attention to terrorist attacks or the threat of terrorism within the United States, its territories, and its protectorates.

Terrorist Activity in the United States

The FBI indicated to the committee that terrorist activity in the United States today is considered low—both statistically and in terms of media attention—compared with terrorist activity in the early 1980s. In 1986 there were 17 domestic U.S. terrorist incidents. Of the 17 incidents in 1986, 10 involved bombings against buildings (9 of the 10 bombings were in Puerto Rico,



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 3
Page 3 1 Federal Office Buildings and the Threat of Terrorism TERRORISM The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines terrorism as “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” (FBI, 1984). Within the FBI, terrorism is described as either domestic or international depending on the origin, base, and objectives of the terrorist organization. The Committee on the Protection of Federal Facilities Against Terrorism accepts this definition and, for purposes of this study, has limited its attention to terrorist attacks or the threat of terrorism within the United States, its territories, and its protectorates. Terrorist Activity in the United States The FBI indicated to the committee that terrorist activity in the United States today is considered low—both statistically and in terms of media attention—compared with terrorist activity in the early 1980s. In 1986 there were 17 domestic U.S. terrorist incidents. Of the 17 incidents in 1986, 10 involved bombings against buildings (9 of the 10 bombings were in Puerto Rico,

OCR for page 3
Page 4and 8 of these 9 were against federal facilities.) The number of international incidents—incidents with foreign involvement— that occurred in the United States in 1986 was low, with no bombings. However, in 1986 the level of anxiety and concern about terrorism was high within the government and the public at large, especially after the April 1986 raid on Libya by U.S. armed forces in retaliation for the bombing of a Berlin nightclub. After review of the statistical evidence of terrorist activities against domestic federal facilities over the past several years, the committee observed that terrorist activities in this country exhibit a peak and valley pattern. The committee agreed that to base its findings and advice on the recent dearth of terrorist activities in this country would not be a wise course of action. However, the committee did learn that terrorist acts around the world are getting more violent and are claiming more lives, for example, incidents of suicidal truck bombs in the Middle East or embassy bombings. Therefore, the committee concluded that the consequences of even a single act of terrorism against an occupied federal building are significant enough to warrant action. The committee also concluded that some anti-terrorist measures could be reversible or temporary, and should therefore be reviewed periodically. The committee has phrased its advice in these terms. FOCUS OF THE COMMITTEE'S EFFORTS The original charge to the committee included developing recommendations for security-related design criteria for new federal facilities, as well as procedures for enhancing the security of existing facilities. At its first meeting in March 1987, the committee heard presentations from federal liaison representatives (see committee list, page iv) that led the committee to conclude that the greatest need for advice concerned how to improve security in the great number of existing federal office buildings in the United States. The committee confined its focus to existing federal office buildings or similar types of structures that house U.S. government workers and that have requirements for public access. For example, a government supply warehouse is outside the scope of the committee's effort because it has limited, if any, public access and its primary function is not to house government workers.

OCR for page 3
Page 5However, an administrative building connected to or nearby the warehouse is covered. Military bases and other secure facilities are outside the scope of this report, except in cases of public access on a military base, such as a visitors center. However, the committee believes that the information in this report probably has a bearing on security of all structures. The committee and staff maintained close association with a similar effort being undertaken by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) that is evaluating anti-terrorism measures for mass transit facilities and U.S. federal courthouses. * * The GAO study focuses on anti-terrorism measures for selected domestic infrastructure components. It was requested by Congress through the Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights of the House Committee on the Judiciary. The subcommittee is interested in how agencies have responded to the threat of domestic terrorism against the nation's infrastructure. The GAO study focuses on mass transit systems and federal courthouses, and will provide information on anti-terrorism policies, assessments of vulnerabilitles and risks, protective measures and their potential impact on civil liberties, and evaluations of implemented measures. The report from this study will be available late in 1988. While the focus of the committee's work is on the protection of federal office buildings, the primary consideration in protecting these buildings is to safeguard the people who work in or use the facility. Of secondary importance is the protection of information, often invaluable and irreplaceable, that might be contained in the building. The protection of the persons, information and the building itself requires a set of strategies that would include: 1. Temporary protective measures that are added to the building for a limited period of time when there is reason to believe that an attack might take place. For example, increased security forces might be added or certain doors may be barricaded in times of high threat levels. 2. Permanent protective measures that would be added if there is any reason to believe that the building might at some time be a target or if the threat is of a continuous nature. These measures could include relatively simple actions such as the protection of the entrance through placement of bollards or planters to more complex efforts such as redirecting roads away from the building. Permanent measures could also be added to a building at the time

OCR for page 3
Page 6major additions or renovations are made. This could include reinforced construction or the installation of major detection and warning devices for any tampering to HVAC or electrical systems. The committee recognizes that the protection of high-visibility figures, such as through the use of body guards and armored vehicles, and the protection of valuable or sensitive information, such as classified documents, should receive equal attention from those responsible for overall security planning. This report, however, concentrates on the protection of the physical structure, the federal office building, in order to safeguard the lives of persons and the information with which they work. NOTE Federal Bureau of Investigation. 1984. FBI Analysis of Terrorist Incidents and Terrorist-Related Activities in the United States.