Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Weekly News Conference: Operation Liberty Shield
March 19, 2003
Thank you for joining us today.
With me this morning are Major General Frank Scoggins, Deputy Director of our state’s Military Department, and Chief Ronal Serpas of the Washington State Patrol.
This has been a tense and sobering week for our nation and for our state.
With war imminent our thoughts are with the men and women serving in our nation’s armed forces. We pray that this is a short war with minimum casualties to all sides. We are profoundly humbled by the courage and willingness of our members of the armed forces in this country and, indeed, the world.
Our hearts go out to the families waiting for them here at home. God be with all of them
Here in Washington, we remain vigilant in keeping our emergency preparedness levels high and our citizens protected.
The nation is now at a higher alert level – “orange.”
We are taking all appropriate measures based on our protocols.
At this time, from the F.B.I to other classified intelligence, we have no information on any threats specific to Washington State.
But we are prepared to deal with any potential threats to our state.
We have increased the frequency of communication and coordination with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Next to me, you see our new video conferencing unit, the PolyComm Viewstation.
This is a standard video conferencing unit.
One of these units has been supplied to every governor in the country by the Department of Homeland Security.
This equipment will enable me to teleconference with FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security and other governors around the country.
Like every state, we are working with the federal Department of Homeland Security to complete an infrastructure assessment applying specific criteria.
This information will help us identify and heighten protection for specific vulnerabilities.
The FBI in our state has four times the number of agents assigned to terrorism in our state than before September 11.
Those agents are standing by, prepared to establish a 24/7 command post in the event of hostilities.
Our National Guard, State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies will continue to work closely with the FBI.
We will continue to work with law enforcement authorities at all levels.
We will work in close partnership to assess specific risks and any threats to our critical infrastructures.
Should it prove necessary, we will determine appropriate levels of additional protection and security.
The National Guard has not been activated at this point.
But the Guard stands ready—ready to assist as needed to supplement state and local efforts.
Across state government, we are prepared.
We are increasing building security at state offices.
We have activated the state’s Emergency Operations Center. It is now on 24-hour operations, seven days a week.
The Center will be used to coordinate information, and to coordinate the efforts of local, state and federal agencies.
You will be seeing tighter security at Washington borders, ports, public transit stations and airports.
Food security is already being carefully protected, and that activity will continue.
We continue to train Department of Agriculture food safety officers for any terrorist’s actions.
The Department of Information Services is working to increase the prominence of “Emergency Resources” pages on Access Washington.
This will give citizens easy and immediate access to information on disaster preparedness for many types of emergencies
In the event of a war or terrorist incident on Washington soils, Ecology will send key managers to the state Emergency Operations Center at Camp Murray.
There they will help manage spill/haz-mat responders, dam-safety inspectors, and other vital Ecology issues.
Ecology is also standing by to assist the Coast Guard, helping to inspect oil tankers and cargo ships.
We ask our citizens and our businesses to continue normal activities.
Cooperate with authorities.
We are all a part of our statewide homeland security partnership.
I call on all Washington citizens to support these efforts.
The strongest force we have in keeping our state safe and secure is the power of many eyes and ears.
Let’s unite in this critical cause.
And now I would like to introduce Major General Frank Scoggins, Deputy Director of the Military Department.
We will continue to work in partnership with local, state and federal authorities to keep our state safe and secure.
Let’s remember that our greatest homeland security defense is a watchful citizenry.
The power of many eyes and many ears all across our state will keep our state secure.