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DoD News Briefing: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen Cohen's keynote address at the Conference on Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and U.S. Strategy at the Georgia Center, Mahler Auditorium, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. The event is part of the Sam Nunn Policy Forum being hosted by the University of Georgia. Secretary Cohen is joined by Sen. Sam Nunn and Sen. Richard G. Lugar.]
Secretary Cohen: Senator Nunn, thank you very much. As Senator Nunn has indicated, he and I have worked for many years together, along with Senator Lugar. The two of these gentlemen I feel are perhaps the most courageous and visionary to have served in the Senate. They were largely responsible, of course, for adopting the so-called Nunn/Lugar legislation.
I'll comment on that later during the course of the morning, but I've had occasion to meet with a number of Russian counterparts, and as we go through various translations of the communications that we're having, the two words they are able to articulate very clearly, they say 'Nunn/Lugar, Nunn/Lugar. So they know exactly what that means, and that means the Cooperative Thre'at Reduction Act that these two gentlemen were indispensable in shepherding through the United States Congress. - Q: Let me ask you specifically about last week's scare here in Washington, and what we might have learned from how prepared we are to deal with that (inaudible), at B'nai Brith.
A: Well, it points out the nature of the threat. It turned out to be a false threat under the circumstances. But as we've learned in the intelligence community, we had something called -- and we have James Woolsey here to perhaps even address this question about phantom moles. The mere fear that there is a mole within an agency can set off a chain reaction and a hunt for that particular mole which can paralyze the agency for weeks and months and years even, in a search. The same thing is true about just the false scare of a threat of using some kind of a chemical weapon or a biological one. There are some reports, for example, that some countries have been trying to construct something like an Ebola Virus, and that would be a very dangerous phenomenon, to say the least. Alvin Toeffler has written about this in terms of some scientists in their laboratories trying to devise certain types of pathogens that would be ethnic specific so that they could just eliminate certain ethnic groups and races; and others are designing some sort of engineering, some sort of insects that can destroy specific crops. Others are engaging even in an eco- type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves.
So there are plenty of ingenious minds out there that are at work finding ways in which they can wreak terror upon other nations. It's real, and that's the reason why we have to intensify our efforts, and that's why this is so important. (US Department of Defense)