The White House Briefing Room

January 22, 1999



                           THE WHITE HOUSE

                    Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                        January 22, 1999     


                    National Academy of Sciences
                         Washington. D.C.    			     
	     MR. BERGER:  Good morning to all of you and welcome.  
Let me thank you all for coming.  Let me acknowledge in particular 
Dr. Bruce Alberts, President of the National Academy of Sciences; Dr. 
William Wulf, President of the National Academy of Engineering; and 
Dr. Kenneth Shine, President of the National Academy of Medicine.  
	     We are here to discuss emerging threats to America's 
security as we reach a new century.  How do we respond to the threat 
of terrorists around the world, turning from bullets and bombs to 
even more insidious and potent weapons?  What if they and the rogue 
states that sponsor them try to attack the critical computer systems 
that drive our society?  What if they seek to use chemical, 
biological, even nuclear weapons?  The United States must deal with 
these emerging threats now, so that the instruments of prevention 
develop at least as rapidly as the instruments of disruption.
	     Today we are confronting these challenges with an 
extraordinary team of dedicated professionals across our government 
-- with law enforcement efforts headed by Attorney General Reno and 
FBI Director Freeh; with strong diplomacy backed by a strong defense 
under Secretary of State Albright and Secretary of Defense Cohen; 
with better intelligence under the direction of Director Tenet; and 
determined efforts to contain weapons proliferation under Energy 
Secretary Richardson; with emergency management under FEMA Director 
Witt; private industry cooperation directed by Secretary Daley; and 
aviation security under Transportation Secretary Slater; and with 
public health and management and medical research guided by Health 
and Human Services Secretary Shalala -- who probably did not think 
she was going to be part of the national security team when she 
became Secretary of HHS.
	     And since last spring, with the efforts of the 
President's National Coordinator for Security Infrastructure 
Protection and Counterterrorism, Richard Clarke, who is working to 
make all these pieces fit together in a united effort.  And most of 
all, we have a President who, from the outset of his administration, 
has put the task of meeting new security threats at the very 
forefront of our national security strategy -- a President who has 
driven all of us to seek out the best minds and ask the important 
questions as we prepare for the future.
	     Today the President will announce new initiatives to 
combat these emerging threats.  But before the President addresses 
us, I want to present two important representatives of the private 
sector.  The involvement of the private sector in these efforts, from 
top researchers at our universities to industry leaders, together 
with the participation of state and local governments, is absolutely 
critical if we are to succeed.  
	     We're pleased to be joined today by Jamie Gorelick, who 

will discuss the danger that our critical infrastructures are 
becoming vulnerable to computer and other forms of attack, the cyber 
threat.  She is Vice Chair of Fannie Mae, the nation's largest funder 
for home mortgages.  She is also the former co-chair of the Advisory 
Committee of the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure 
Protection.  And we in the administration know her well from her 
extraordinarily able tenure as Deputy Attorney General and General 
Counsel of the Department of Defense.
	     But first we will hear from Dr. Joshua Lederberg, a 
geneticist and President Emeritus of the Rockefeller University in 
New York.  Dr. Lederberg won the Nobel Prize in Medicine at age 33 -- 
which, I suppose, not only makes me a failure -- (laughter) -- but 
only gives my children a few years.  (Laughter.)  At least the 
President can say that he was governor by the time he was 33.  
(Laughter and applause.)
	     Dr. Lederberg has been a frequent advisor to our 
government on the threat of biological weapons, and he was a key 
participant in a roundtable on this issue that the President convened 
last spring.
	     Dr. Lederberg.  (Applause.)
	     DR. LEDERBERG:  Mr. President, distinguished officers of 
government, scientific colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.  For over 
half a century I've had the joy and excitement of research on the 
microbial world, its evolution, the conspiracies it harbors, and its 
ambiguous competition with the human species.  
	     There have been many occasions in this very hall to 
share news of profound scientific discoveries which not only broaden 
our conceptual understanding of ourselves and our biological extended 
family in the living world, but gave us ever sharper tools to deal 
with pestilence and decay.  
	     But throughout that time, I've been imbued with the fear 
that, just as happened with physics and chemistry, that great 
advances in medicine would be turned into engines of war.  That fear 
has been compounded by the deterioration of civil order that might 
otherwise restrain the use of weapons of mass destruction, and by the 
ease with which nature already provides the germs of disease that 
might be used as weapons.  
	     In fact, the very triumph of the democratic world's 
military technology with guided missiles and dominance of the 
battlefield drives the agents of disorder to ever more subversive 
means of attack and inspires new scales of terrorism, grand and 
	     We have made great progress, diplomatically and in 
international law, with the prohibitions against biological and 
chemical weapons, though there is some way to go in their 
enforcement.  However, our civilian populations have, until now, been 
almost undefended against bioterrorism, in an era where political 
disorder weakens the system of deterrence that had been our main 
shield throughout the Cold War.		     
	     The reconstruction of bio-defenses must be regarded as a 
branch of public health and it is equally necessary to deal with 
cyclic renewals of historic national plagues as much as with those 
borne of malice.
	     So it has been extremely gratifying that during the past 
months and year these concerns, voiced so persuasively by many of my 
colleagues here at the Academy and the Institute of 
Medicine, have reached the attention of the highest levels of 
government, and action plans have been embodied in numerous executive 
orders and in the budgetary proposals that the 

President will discuss this morning.  
	     Thank you, and here's Jamie Gorelick.  (Applause.)
	     MS. GORELICK:  Mr. President, distinguished guests.  Ten 
years ago I would not have put cyber terrorism at the top of the 
threats to our national security.  But the landscape has changed.  
Given how well-armed we are, as Josh said, as a nation, but how 
reliant we are on computers in our everyday business and private 
lives, our nation's cyber systems become a tremendous target.
	     Today a small group of technically sophisticated people 
with nothing more than off-the-shelf computer equipment can get into, 
can disrupt the computers and the Internet connections on which our 
finance, telecommunications, power, water systems, emergency service 
systems all depend.
	     Is this speculation?  No, it is not.  In exercise 
eligible receiver, our Defense Department conducted a war game using 
this technique and came to just that conclusion.  And terrorists, 
organized crime, drug cartels, as well as nation states are either 
creating cybertech capabilities or are talking about using them.  I 
believe that cyberspace is the next battlefield for this nation.
	     Now, cyber terrorism may be a new issue to many 
Americans, but it's not new to me and it's not new to this 
administration.  In 1995, our Attorney General asked me to chair a 
critical infrastructure working group that brought together Justice 
and Defense and the intelligence community to begin to address what 
we saw as a new and emerging threat.  The President then appointed a 
commission on critical infrastructure protection whose advisory board 
I co-chaired.
	     In response to his commission's work, last year the 
President signed two directives -- to strengthen U.S. readiness to 
meet unconventional threats to our nation, and to protect our 
critical infrastructures.  He appointed a national coordinator, Dick 
Clarke, to review and handle and coordinate security infrastructure 
protection and counterterrorism, and a national plan is under 
development to ensure that America can defend itself in cyberspace.
	     Now, as part of that national plan I hope that we can 
see action in a number of areas, three of which I see as particularly 
pressing.  The first, both the public and private sectors need to be 
aware of the problem and the security measures that can be taken to 
address it.  I'd like to see the private sector work with the federal 
government to make sure that we have enough people who are trained in 
computer security, which we do not now have.  
	     Second, we need to encourage ways for the government and 
the private sector to share information on cyber intrusions and on 
new techniques for preventing those intrusions, and responding to 
them.  A government-chartered, privately-run center could do this, 
and also help develop standards for use in both industry and 
government.  This will complement the government's obligation to 
ensure that we have the ability to respond as a nation to any attack.
	     Third, the companies that manage and assess risk for 
private sector clients, like insurance companies and accounting 
firms, need to focus on the risk that American businesses face from 
cyber attacks.  I'd like to see the widespread use of cyber security 
best practices and standards as a tool of good business 
management for every business.  
	     I want to thank the President for his appreciation of 
the threat and his commitment of resources to address it.  And I will 
urge the business community to respond in kind.  This President has 
always been sensitive to the promise of the Information Age, what it 
can mean to students, what it can mean to families, to a world drawn 
closer in many ways by the speed of communication.  At the same time, 
he knows that that promise comes with a price, and the price is 
vigilance, because so much is at stake.
	     We're grateful for his leadership both in promoting the 
cyber world and in protecting it.
	     Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor and my personal 
privilege to present to you the President of the United States.