Linton F. Brooks Before the Energy and Commerce Committee

Congressional Testimony
Jul 9, 2002

Introduction
Thank you, Mr. Chairman for having me here today. This is an important
topic: the establishment of a new Government Agency that will have sweeping
responsibilities. The new Department of Homeland Security will enable us to
more effectively respond to today’s threats, through a streamlined and dynamic
institution that will greatly enhance our ability to respond quickly, decisively, and
where necessary, before threats against our homeland materialize. We are on
the verge of making history. It’s critical that we get it right.

The Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security
Administration are fully committed to the homeland security mission, and the
successful establishment of the Department of Homeland Security. We
recognize that this will require restructuring and relocation of critical assets now
under the stewardship of the NNSA. We are prepared to support these shifts in
responsibilities, and indeed, to do what is necessary to make any transfer of
responsibilities as smooth and painless as possible.

There is an enormous amount of experience and expertise now residing in
DOE/NNSA that will be vital to the success of the new Department. Our
Technology Research and Engineering assets have been applied to homeland
security problems long before last September; since then, such contributions
became even more focused and accelerated.

We’ve conducted the PROTECT subway demonstration, which will help
provide chemical protection to the U.S. population. We deployed a prototype
biodetection capability at the winter Olympics. We have greatly increased our
work with the U.S. Customs and US Coast Guard with radiation and nuclear
technology – specific technical support that will directly benefit the new
Department. DOE/NNSA is committed to ensuring that its assets can continue to
provide enabling science and technology to support homeland security and
counter-terrorism mission needs.

There are a number of capabilities currently residing in the Department of
Energy that will support or be transferred to the new Department. Today I want to
focus on those relevant to Title III of the legislation – those germane to
technology research and development in support of the Homeland Security
mission.

Before beginning that discussion, let me briefly mention a few things that
the Homeland Security Act does not do. It will not affect our ability to conduct our
principal missions of stockpile stewardship, nuclear nonproliferation, naval
nuclear propulsion, and, just coming to NNSA, emergency response. NNSA will
retain all of its programs and responsibilities that contribute to our ability to
assure the safety, security, and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons
stockpile.

With respect to nuclear nonproliferation, the Administration proposes to
transfer the core of our chemical-biological WMD work and certain nuclear
programs related to the domestic threat. This is largely self-contained work and
primarily supports domestic preparedness programs.

NNSA has unique assets and capabilities, developed primarily from our
work with nuclear weapons and with nonproliferation, that have been applied to
homeland security problems long before last September.

Some of these initiatives have long timelines; Long before 9/11, DOE has
led USG efforts to support “first responders” with our chemical, biological, and
nuclear research programs. We’ve worked closely with the FBI and other
agencies to ensure that cutting edge detection and identification technologies are
available to those that would need them first. And we began this work long
before there was a recognized need to do so – we took the initiative because we
anticipated the requirement. It is as good an example as any of why long-range
research is so critical to the security of this country.

We have aggressively pursued these efforts since last 9/11. But it’s time
for a more focused organization and we are committed to that change and to
continuing to provide enabling science and technology in support of homeland
security and counterterrorism mission needs.

Nonproliferation and Verification Research and Development
The NNSA Nonproliferation and Verification Research and Development
Program conducts applied research, development, testing, and evaluation of
technologies that lead to prototype demonstrations and resultant detection
systems. As such, the program strengthens the U.S. response to current and
projected threats to national security worldwide posed by the proliferation of
nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the diversion of special nuclear
material. The R&D program provides operational organizations with innovative
systems and technologies to satisfy their nonproliferation and counter-terrorism
mission responsibilities. The program’s three main elements are:

  • Nuclear explosion monitoring, which will remain within the Department of
    Energy
  • Chemical and Biological National Security, which will be transferred in its
    entirety to the Department of Homeland Security
  • Proliferation Detection

Proliferation Detection sponsors a high-risk research on detection technologies
that can support both nonproliferation and homeland security. Those elements
that can be disaggregated and identified as supporting homeland security will be
transferred to the new Department. At a minimum, we will transfer our research
and development to counter nuclear smuggling. Where the activity supports both
the homeland security and non-proliferation functions, we will examine
arrangements as joint programs. The Administration’s proposed legislation gives
the President the necessary flexibility to provide for joint operation.

Let me describe those functions that will be transferred, after which I will
return to the subject of long-term coordination.

Major Activities Identified for Transfer
Within, the Nonproliferation and Verification Research and Development
Program, the Chemical and Biological National Security Program and the nuclear
smuggling detection activity fall squarely into the Homeland Security mission and
thus have been designated for transfer in their entirety.

Chemical and Biological National Security Program
The Chemical and Biological National Security Program works to develop
technologies and systems to improve the U.S. capability to prepare for and
respond to domestic chemical and biological threats against civilian populations,
complementing DOD’s focus on the battlefield and military installations. As part
of its primary nuclear science and technology mission, NNSA and the National
Laboratories have developed extensive capabilities in chemistry, biology, and
materials and engineering sciences that form the basis for the NNSA chemical
and biological national security program. We have conducted research on the
biological foundations necessary to establish signatures of biological threat
agents and develop assays certified by the Centers for Disease Control for those
agents, which are applied to develop detectors.

NNSA has conducted demonstration projects of prototype detector
capabilities in partnership with other agencies to support their operational
missions, such as the systems I just mentioned that have been developed and
applied for the Olympics and the Washington Metro, to illustrate possible system
approaches for population protection. We are now working to expand the
number of signatures and assays of biological agents that we can detect with
increased sensitivity, and to improve public health response through the CDC.
The next generation of bio-detectors will detect a much wider range of agents,
which will enable public health agencies to more rapidly treat affected people.

Homeland Security Nuclear Smuggling Activities
The nuclear smuggling component of our proliferation detection program
also squarely fits within homeland security and will be transferred. NNSA and
the National Laboratories have unique insight into nuclear proliferation activities
— the facilities and infrastructure, as well as the observable signatures of nuclear
weapon development activity. We also have the capability to develop technical
solutions for the U.S. government to detect and characterize such proliferation
activities in their early stages. NNSA has worked closely with homeland security
agencies, including U.S. Customs, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Departments of
Transportation and Justice to apply this technical base to detection of nuclear
weapons and materials at U.S. borders. With these agencies, we have
previously conducted demonstrations of radiation detection methods at
international border crossings, including a port, a rail yard, and airport personnel
and baggage handling facilities. With many of these agencies becoming part of
the new Department, it is a good fit for the R&D applications to counter nuclear
smuggling to be transferred to the Department of Homeland Security.

Nuclear Threat Assessment and Trafficking in Nuclear Materials
In addition to the transfer of research and development, Title III of the
proposed legislation provides for the transfer of the Department of Energy’s
Nuclear Assessment Program to the new Department of Homeland Security.
This program provides a national capability to assess accurately and swiftly the
credibility of communicated threats of nuclear terrorism. The Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) leads this unique effort. Since September
1978, the Nuclear Assessment Program has been used to assess the credibility
of over 60 nuclear extortion threats, 25 nuclear reactor threats, 20 non-nuclear
extortion threats and approximately 650 cases involving the reported or
attempted illicit sale of nuclear materials.

When activated, DOE-based threat credibility assessment teams perform
comprehensive technical, operational and behavioral assessments of
communicated nuclear threats at the start of an actual or perceived emergency.
Since communicated nuclear threats are a serious violation of federal law, the
FBI is the lead federal agency. Since the Program’s inception in 1977, the
Nuclear Assessment Program has developed close and working relationships
with its counter-terrorism counterparts in Customs, State, FBI, DIA, CIA, and
others in the nonproliferation community. The Program also provides expert
technical support to law enforcement and others for Special Event Preparedness,
on-scene technical support, and national and international training.

Since 9/11 the Nuclear Assessment Program has performed
approximately 70 assessments involving communicated nuclear threats, reports
of illicit trafficking of nuclear materials, and special analysis reports for law
enforcement and intelligence components. This national asset provided
immeasurable support to all government agencies tasked with separating critical
from non-critical information in the aftermath of 9/11.

Observations
With the transfer of these programmatic responsibilities to the Department
of Homeland Security, it will be critically important that the new Department
assume the leadership to maintain the technical base at the National
Laboratories. Upon this foundation is built our future technical capability. The
multidisciplinary scientific environment of a national laboratory is ideally suited to
pursue high risk, long-term research, in spite of the need to focus on short-term
requirements for homeland security. It is the ability to pursue such research that
makes our national laboratories a national treasure – and a unique asset with
unmatched capabilities. Only through such investment will the scientific and
technical capability exist to meet the needs for innovative solutions to future
homeland security problems.

With respect to the remainder of the proliferation detection program, no
matter how the responsibilities are finally apportioned, the research will be of
value to both departments. For that reason, it is critical that we work together
closely. By so doing, our nonproliferation and homeland security efforts will
continue to benefit from the unparalleled capabilities of the National Laboratories.

I support fully the concept of locating the new Department’s main research
facility at Lawrence Livermore, with satellite centers of excellence located at
other national laboratories. It will create a campus-like environment where
scientists will be dedicated, full-time, to thinking about homeland security, and it
will allow for direct interaction with the expertise that resides at the other DOE
labs as well as other labs throughout the federal government. It’s good for DOE
and it’s good for the Department of Homeland Security.

Conclusion
I want to reiterate in no uncertain terms: The National Nuclear Security
Administration supports fully the transfer of the programs noted in Section 302(2)
of the bill under discussion. The details of what would be included in the
legislative package were worked out directly with my office. These programs are
a natural fit for the Department of Homeland Security, whose primary mission is
the critical task of protecting the United States from catastrophic terrorism.
DOE/NNSA will also work to ensure that its assets can continue to contribute
enabling science and technology in support of DHS mission needs.

Obviously, that is a goal that I am pleased to support wholeheartedly. I
believe that the Administration’s proposed legislation represents a major step
toward its realization.

Thank you, and I look forward to any questions you may have.