Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council - ATAC
The Eastern District of Texas' overriding goal is to protect the United States of America against the threat of terrorism. This goal will be accomplished by meeting the following objectives:
- Prevent, disrupt and defeat terrorist operations before they occur
- Develop and implement the full range of resources available to investigate terrorist incidents
- Bring their perpetrators to justice
- Vigorously prosecute those who have committed, or intend to commit terrorist acts in the United States.
All of the Eastern District's anti-terrorism efforts are designed to prevent terrorism, prosecute terrorists and lessen the district's vulnerabilities to domestic and foreign threats to our national security.
ANTI-TERRORISM ADVISORY COUNCIL
One of the centerpieces of the districts efforts is the formation of the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council. The district's Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council (ATAC) is made up of over two hundred law enforcement/fire service first responders, emergency management officials, civil infrastructure (oil/chemical security), State and Federal law enforcement officials, local political leaders and critical infrastructure representatives.
OBJECTIVE OF THE ATAC
All of the ATAC's efforts are designed to lessen the vulnerabilities identified within the district's infrastructure and to vigorously prevent terrorist activity.
ATAC meetings are held to address specific concerns in the district, disseminate information and provide training, as well as accomplish district wide goals, which include:
PORT SECURITY INITIATIVE
The port complex of Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange consists of over 70 miles of waterway and serves as the fourth largest port in the United States in export tonnage. The port complex serves over twenty chemical and oil refineries and the Nation's largest strategic petroleum reserve. Approximately twenty percent of America's gasoline is produced in this region. Critical to our national interests is the Navy Sealift Command and the Military Traffic Management Command stationed at the Port of Beaumont. The United States Navy and the United States Army utilize the Port of Beaumont to ship military hardware overseas. During times of war, the Port of Beaumont is the principal transshipment point the the Army's overseas operation. In fact the Ports of Beaumont and Port Arthur lead the nation in the amount of military exports in support of "Operation Iraqi Freedom."
The initiative consists of a group of Federal, State and local officials who work in conjunction with port officials. The working group's primary objective is to improve security for our port facilities and to assist the United States Coast Guard in developing the area's port security plan in case of an attack or threat thereof. The ATAC participates in tabletop exercises regarding hypothetical crisis related to large military build-outs from our port facilities, as well as attacks on our refineries or strategic waterways. Problems and issues are addressed and taken under consideration for future port security activity.
The ATAC membership conducts meetings whenever a situation arises in order to share information among ATAC members. This approach may include a certain component of the ATAC (a communicated threat to the oil industry may necessitate a called meeting between law enforcement and our oil/chemical industry representatives) or the ATAC as a whole, whatever the specified situation might require. For example, the ATAC convened to review issues related to the the pending military buildout that occurred prior to "Operation Iraqi Freedom." ATAC members were able to discuss how such a large operation would affect the region and what preparations would be needed during the event.
The ATAC also regularly meets to share trends and general information concerning terrorist threats. At these meetings ATAC members often provide status reports of initiatives or recent crisis preparation plans, and the Beaumont-based Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) provides a status report of local investigative activity. Further, these meetings often feature a training component which complements the information sharing aspect of the meeting.
Recently, the United States Attorney's Offices' for both the Eastern District of Texas and Northern District of Texas have joined with the FBI (Dallas Division) to hold quarterly ATAC meetings in the north Texas region. These meetings are attended by upper echelon officials of Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The purpose of these meetings is to disseminate generalized terrorism information updates on North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force (NTJTTF) activity with the ATAC members, many of whom donate manpower from local agencies to the NTJTTF.