PDD 62: Counterterrorism Policy Prior to 9/11

According to a newly declassified White House policy directive, counterterrorism policy has yielded “an increased rate of renditions, apprehensions, and convictions of terrorists,” as well as “a significant expansion of counterterrorism legislative authorities” and “a large increase in counterterrorism funding.”

But that White House directive — Presidential Policy Directive 62, Protection Against Unconventional Threats to the Homeland and Americans Overseas — was issued by President Bill Clinton, and dates from May 22, 1998.

Even the title of the directive, with its early use of the oddly dissonant term “homeland” to refer to the United States, suggests a greater continuity of government policy before and after 9/11 than may be generally recognized.

According to an unclassified White House fact sheet published at the time, “This Directive creates a new and more systematic approach to fighting the terrorist threat of the next century.  It reinforces the mission of the many U.S. agencies charged with roles in defeating terrorism; it also codifies and clarifies their activities in the wide range of U.S. counter-terrorism programs, from apprehension and prosecution of terrorists to increasing transportation security, enhancing response capabilities and protecting the computer-based systems that lie at the heart of America’s economy.”

The text of the Directive remained classified until March of this year, when it was declassified by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (thanks to an unidentified requester). It was made available through the Clinton presidential library.