Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Monday, March 25, 2002

ATTORNEY GENERAL'S INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION COMMITTEE ANNOUNCES RECOMMENDATIONS

Group Develops a Model for Fighting Terrorism

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today urged state leaders to create a clearinghouse for monitoring and protecting the state's critical assets from a potential terrorist attack. Cornyn made the request as he and members of his State Infrastructure Protection Advisory Committee (SIPAC) released their final report on strategies aimed at preserving essential government services and forms of commerce.

Cornyn first recognized the need to fight computer crime in 1999 when he created the Internet Bureau. He later began a partnership with the federal government to address threats to critical infrastructure systems, including networks that control water, utilities, energy, transportation, finance and government systems. A critical infrastructure protection conference had been scheduled for September 13, but was delayed following the terrorist attacks in the Northeast.

"The group's mission certainly took on a new sense of importance and urgency, " Cornyn said. "It suddenly became clearer that a cyber attack would be extremely devastating to the health, welfare and safety of millions of Texans."

"We now recognize that our personal safety and economic vibrancy are at great risk," said Bobby Inman, a retired admiral and SIPAC chairman. "Terrorists are more vicious in their attempts to steal or sabotage critical data stored in electronic systems. These computer networks demand the same consideration as any of the other components that make up a homeland security plan."

SIPAC's proposed clearinghouse, the Texas Infrastructure Protection Center (TIPC), would address both cyber and physical threats. It would design and implement information-sharing programs and be the central point of contact for the public and private sectors. The center would operate 24 hours a day and be staffed by government personnel who represent such state agencies as the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Emergency Management, the Department of Information Resources, the Office of Attorney General, and the Texas National Guard. A majority of the funding for the TIPC would come from federal sources.

"The foundation to our success will be the ability to share information," Cornyn added. "Government entities and private companies must be prepared to work together for the common good. We must also accomplish our goals without infringing on civil liberties. There has to be a balance between public safety and the public's confidence in open government."

Cornyn sent the SIPAC report to the governor, key state elected and executive branch officials, and federal-level officials in Washington, D.C.

Note: The complete SIPAC report can be viewed at www.oag.state.tx.us (click on the SIPAC link)

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