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Public Statements

National Bombing Prevention Act of 2009

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 549, the National Bombing Prevention Act of 2009, and am pleased that the House has moved quickly early in the 111th Congress to act on this important legislation. On January 15, 2009, I introduced H.R. 549, which authorizes the Office of Bombing Prevention within the Department of Homeland Security. In the previous Congress, the full House passed similar legislation by bipartisan voice vote on June 18, 2008.

The Office of Bombing Prevention will provide much needed analysis and coordination of our Nation's bomb-prevention capacity. This will inform State and local governments on how to best protect our citizens from the threat posed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The terrorist attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan; the attacks in London in 2007 and 2005; the Madrid bombings in 2004; and the countless other bombing attacks around the world serve as reminders that terrorist organizations utilize IEDs to target civilians and military personnel.

Within the United States, we have been subject to our own share of explosive attacks, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombings; the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing; the Centennial Olympic Park bombing; and others. State and local bomb squads across the country have formed and trained to respond to these types of threats. But at the national level, there is no analysis of our nationwide capability to respond to explosive threats, or to identify where gaps exist in training, equipment, and personnel against a national baseline. The Office authorized by this bill gives us that ability.

This analysis will also assist State and local officials in applying for homeland security grants to fill these gaps. Further, the bill requires the Office to continue to share information with State and local officials and promote IED security awareness. This information is distributed through a secure website, known as ``TRIPwire,'' which provides to appropriate law enforcement officials access to current IED tactics, techniques and procedures--updated in light of new events and as terrorists change their methods. ``TRIPwire'' includes analysis and reports by experts making it a ``one-stop shop'' for actionable information.

Information sharing with law enforcement is only one part of preventing an IED attack within the United States. Another key component of the Office of Bombing Prevention authorized in this bill is the establishment of an awareness program for the public regarding the threat of IEDs. This program will educate merchants, for example, on types of materials that are explosive pre-cursors, so that sellers can watch for, and recognize, suspicious purchases.

Recognizing that our military has developed invaluable expertise in recognizing and countering IEDs, this legislation instructs the Secretary of Homeland Security to work closely with the Department of Defense to leverage lessons learned by our troops in combat. Adapting appropriate tactics and technology from overseas will improve the capability of our first responders here at home.

The Office of Bombing Prevention has been in existence at the Department of Homeland Security since 2005, but has not yet been authorized by statute. The continued need for the Office of Bombing Prevention is clear. While there are many Federal agencies that bring expertise and roles to countering an explosive threat, this Office provides a unique role to assist and assess State, local, and tribal capability.

By supporting H.R. 549, we take another step in upholding our responsibility to protect the lives and livelihood of American citizens. I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this bill.

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