Clinton Ups Counterterrorism Effort
NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) _ Warning of threats ranging from computer viruses to alleged plots of Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden, President Clinton ordered tighter surveillance along the U.S-Canadian border Wednesday as part of a $300 million expansion of the nation’s counterterrorism efforts.
The money is in addition to the $9 billion that the United States already spends in a year for anti-terrorism, the president said. ``It sounds like a lot of money,″ Clinton said. ``When you see the evidence of what we’re up against, I think you will support it.″
The president spoke at the commencement exercises of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, addressing about 5,000 people outdoors under sunny skies at Cadet Memorial Field. Gusts of wind blowing off the Thames River almost blew away the president’s notes as he presented degrees to 184 newly commissioned ensigns.
Clinton said the very openness of America’s borders and technology ``makes us vulnerable in new ways.″ He cited the Love Bug virus that spread from the Philippines through millions of computers worldwide, causing billions of dollars of damage.
``The central reality of our time,″ he said, ``is that the advent of globalization and the revolution in information technology have magnified both the creative and the destructive potential of every individual, tribe and nation on our planet.″ The world also faces threats such as AIDS and other diseases, he said.
The new anti-terrorism measures will include installation of high resolution day and night camera technology on the U.S.-Canadian border, along with other secure communication and advanced monitoring equipment, the White House said.
Other measures include:
_Increasing the number of Justice Department prosecutors and legal staff to support the prosecution of terrorists. Fifteen positions will be added.
_Expanding from 26 to 37 the number of Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which combine the assets of the FBI, Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Customs Service, Secret Service and state and local law enforcement agencies.
_Strengthening the immigration service’s forensic capabilities to detect fraudulent travel documents.
_Intensifying efforts to track and analyze the financing of terrorist organizations and expanding the Treasury Department’s office of foreign asset control.
``In responding to terrorist threats,″ Clinton told the academy graduates, ``our own strategy should be identical to your motto: semper paratus. Always ready.″
Jordan’s ambassador to the United States, Marwan Muasher, was on hand to swear in a Jordanian cadet, Nour Kabariti.
Clinton took the occasion to thank Jordan for its help in quashing ``a plot to place large bombs at locations where Americans might gather on New Year’s Eve″ as the world welcomed the millennium, recounting incidents that received worldwide attention at the time.
``We learned the plot was linked to terrorist camps in Afghanistan and the organization created by Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for the 1998 bombings at our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, which cost the lives of Americans and hundreds of Africans,″ Clinton said.
Shortly after the plan was uncovered, Clinton recalled, a Customs agent in Seattle found bomb-making materials being smuggled into the United States, ``the same material used by bin Laden in other places.″
Bin Laden, a Saudi exile believed to be in Afghanistan, is among 17 people charged in a federal indictment with conspiracy to kill Americans in the embassy bombing cases. Six are in custody in the United States and three overseas.
In the alleged bomb smuggling, Ahmed Ressam, 32, was arrested Dec. 14 after driving his rented car off a ferry from Victoria, British Columbia, at Port Angeles, Wash. Prosecutors allege Ressam was at the center of a plot, involving a handful of other Algerian nationals in New York and Canada, to set off bombs in the United States.
Ressam has pleaded innocent to nine charges, including possessing and transporting explosives with the intent to cause damage or injury.
Clinton spoke at the academy under a tradition that the commander in chief delivers the commencement speech at one of the military service academies each year. Clinton said it was a nostalgic occasion since the Coast Guard address was the last he would give in his presidency.
After his speech, Clinton played golf at Stanwich Club, a private club in Greenwich, Conn.
He also was to speak at a Democratic National Committee fund-raiser in Greenwich expected to raise $500,000.
On the Net: Clinton’s remarks: http://www.whitehouse.gov/library/PressReleases.cgi?date0&briefing4