- U.S. Foresaw Terror Threats in 1970s
By FRANK BASS and RANDY HERSCHAFT, Associated Press Writers
WASHINGTON - Top government officials worry about the possibility of radioactive "dirty bombs" being detonated in large cities. Airlines, scared of losing business, protest that new security measures will bankrupt them. Civil liberties groups fear a focus upon Arab-Americans and Arab travelers will erode basic freedoms.
Sounds familiar? It should. It is the present, and also the past — more than three decades ago, according to declassified documents obtained by The Associated Press.
"Unless governments take basic precautions, we will continue to stand at the edge of an awful abyss," Robert Kupperman, chief scientist for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, wrote in a 1977 report. It summarized nearly five years of work by the Cabinet Committee to Combat Terrorism, a high-level government panel created to draft plans protecting the nation from attacks.
President Nixon created the group in September 1972 after Palestinian commandos slaughtered 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games.
- It involved players as diverse as Henry Kissinger and George H.W. Bush to a young Rudolph Giuliani.
"It is vital that we take every possible action ourselves and in concert with other nations designed to assure against acts of terrorism," Nixon wrote in asking Secretary of State William Rogers to oversee the task force.
"It is equally important that we be prepared to act quickly and effectively in the event that, despite all efforts at prevention, an act of terrorism occurs involving the United States, either at home or abroad."
The full panel met only once, in October 1972, to organize, but its experts gathered twice a month over nearly five years to identify threats and debate solutions, the memos show.( Collapse )