Stevens supports governor's homeland security initiative

Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Sen. Ted Stevens is supporting Gov. Tony Knowles' initiative to prepare Alaska for a possible terrorist attack and will work to find federal money for it.

''The governor is right to look ahead and plan for security,'' Stevens said Tuesday during a news conference at his Anchorage office.

Stevens, R-Alaska, said he didn't think Alaska was any more attractive as a target for terrorists than other states. But he said Alaska's military bases and huge cargo business at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport are reasons for concern.

Stevens wants better cargo screening at the airport.

''Clearly we need better protection,'' he said.

The senator declined to say whether he supported everything in Knowles' $100 million homeland defense plan.

The governor's initiative calls for creating an Alaska Office of Homeland Security to be led by Major Gen. Phillip Oates, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The office will coordinate state efforts with federal and local agencies.

When Knowles announced the plan this month, he estimated that it would cost $43 million in state funds, $40 million in federal funds and $16 million in other funds over the next 18 months.

Stevens said it was too soon to know how much federal money would be available for the plan.

Stevens said he supports selling war bonds to help pay for the war against terrorism and the worsening economic downturn since the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The Treasury Department announced last week it was going to issue war bonds to help pay for the war and relief efforts. It will be the first time since World War II that war bonds have been issued.

''We still have to have a viable economy to fight a war,'' Stevens said.

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