Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
TOPOFF News Conference
May 12, 2003

Good morning.

The TOPOFF 2 exercise today and tomorrow will be a significant step for Seattle, for our state, and for America.

TOPOFF 2 will test the integration of local, state and federal response plans, procedures and capabilities. The test scenarios we’ll be responding to are a bio-terrorism event originating in Chicago, and a radioactive “dirty bomb”—in Seattle.

There will also be a TOPOFF Cyber Exercise. This exercise will examine the integration of governmental actions in a large-scale cyber attack. Decision-makers and staff will have an opportunity to identify and resolve critical issues that may arise when network computer and telecommunication systems are significantly disrupted.

The exercise will test local, state and federal response plans, procedures and capabilities in response to a widespread attempt to disrupt computer networks and associated business and communications functions.

The cyber exercise is a real first.

It is the first time an interactive computer simulation has been used in public government to simulate complex cyber scenarios, requiring real-time interaction between local, state, federal and international government agencies.

Several hundred Washington state agency first responders and emergency managers will participate in TOPOFF 2 today and tomorrow. These will include the Washington Army National Guard, the Emergency Management Division of the Washington Military Department, the Washington State Patrol, and the departments of Information Services, Health, Agriculture, Ecology, and Transportation.

We’ve done a lot of planning and preparation for this exercise. Washington State, King County, the city of Seattle and federal agencies have been preparing for more than a year. Last fall, the preparations expanded to include Pierce County.

The exercise is as inclusive as possible. The government of Canada and its provinces of British Columbia and Ontario will be involved. Seattle-area private sector partners and the American Red Cross will also be participating.

Let me emphasize that there is currently no specific, credible threat of terrorism in Washington. But the time to test is before such threats arise. This exercise will examine the combined emergency response and recovery actions of local, state and federal agencies. We’re performing this exercise to be better prepared. But prudent preparation is not a sign that we face any new or heightened threat of terrorism.

This is not a pass/fail exercise. The actions of local and state emergency responders will be tracked and documented. The exercise report will focus on best practices and procedures based on the results of the exercise.

We expect to learn a lot and apply what we learn to make our state more secure. It will help us improve our emergency response systems, and improve our ability to protect our state from both natural and man-made hazards.

TOPOFF 2 is the latest step as we continue to work in partnership with local, state and federal authorities to keep our state safe and secure.

Thank you.

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