Ashcroft: Help disrupt terror nets

Attorney General John Ashcroft called on the business community today to help dismantle potential terrorist threats facing the United States.

"We recognize that citizens and private businesses have information, knowledge and capabilities that can help in the war against terrorism. We also recognize that information sharing is a two-way street," Ashcroft said.

The attorney general spoke at a symposium for law enforcement and private industry sponsored by the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Veridian Corp., an information solutions company based in Arlington, Va., that works with the Pentagon and intelligence agencies.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Ashcroft said information sharing has become a critical component of the law enforcement arsenal. And there is a growing need to expand information-sharing networks.

"We know that integrated efforts and teamwork are critical to protecting our nation from another devastating attack," he said. "We have seen the benefits of information sharing between the law enforcement and intelligence communities."

During the Cold War, he said, President Reagan welcomed observations of the Soviet economy made by Americans who conducted business in the Soviet Union.

"More than 80 percent of our nation's critical infrastructure is owned and controlled by the private sector. Private efforts and corporate security must be a part of our nation's campaign to detect, disrupt and dismantle networks of terror," Ashcroft said.

Many businesses already are improving security and developing intelligence networks, but they also are crying out for better information from the federal government.

Robert Bryden, vice president of corporate security at FedEx Corp., told the symposium that FedEx has distributed radiation detection devices to its overseas facilities because it does not want to allow a weapon of mass destruction into the United States.

Although corporate America is several steps ahead of the federal government in protecting its infrastructures, "we will have to find a way to get classified information to first responders and corporations," Bryden said.

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