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U.S. eyes Missouri's security panel model

November 21, 2001
By: Steve Ahern
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The first of four Missouri Security Panel meetings met today to propose ways of safeguarding the state from terrorist attacks. The panel is comprised of state and local officials who have been appointed to assess plans to prevent and respond to terrorism and to make recommendations based on their appraisals.

Federal authorities are considering the panel a model for the nation and will be surveying their performance and recommendations closely.

In a speech that opened the meeting, Gov. Holden said that the events of September 11 changed how we live in America and stressed that increased security is critical to the success of the war against terrorism.

"We are in a fight for our lives," Holden said.

Holden described the process as bottom-up and indicated that no community ought to be minimized.

Holden said that it is too early to project the cost of the operation to the state but indicated that it is a secondary consideration when it comes to ensuring that Missourians are safe.

"Right now cost is not an issue," Holden said. These recommendations will be a part of our lives for decades to come."

Holden announced the formation of the panel on November 9 and appointed retired Army Col. Tim Daniel to head it.

"We understand what the threat is and we're developing coping and hedging strategies to move forward," Daniel said.

Daniel indicated that what makes Missouri an environment on which to model a security panel is that the state has the things that are generally targeted by terrorist groups.

"We have all the elements," Daniel said. "We have two major metropolitian areas, we are a major supplier of food, we have infrastructure and military installation. We are a good match for what the federal government is focusing on to combat terrorism."

Daniel advised that people not jump to conclusions about how much the initiative is going to cost the state.

"It's really too early to put a number on it. I would avoid any knee jerk estimates however," Daniel said.

Daniel considers Missouri's most immediate threat to be the spread of infectious diseases but does not expect any attacks to be carried out on the major population centers and transportation centers around the state

However to address all of these needs, he has selected members to serve on 6 different subcommittes to gather data and develop recommendations to prevent and prepare for attacks. These subcommittees include Health Medical and Environment, Government Operations and Facilities, Transportation, Utilities, Critical Technologies, First Responders and Public Awereness - Public/Private Partnership.

"As we move forward with the initiative, we will discover better ways to make it efficient and to communicate to the citizens that there is a threat," Daniel said.

"There is still a lot of work to do but we will fight them with what we have," Daniel said.