It is ironic that law enforcement agencies on the front line of the battle against terrorism were struggling with a 30-year-old computer system, former US President Bill Clinton said yesterday.
Speaking at the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT 2002) in Adelaide, Clinton said the computer system wasn't connected to other agencies and the ramifications of poor government IT procedures really hit home after the terrorist attacks of September 11.
During his term as US President, Clinton said the FBI was still able to thwart a terrorist attack at the LA airport, bombings during the 2000 New Year celebrations and planned attacks on four flights to the Philippines despite the 30-year-old system.
"The required infrastructure wasn't in place, which is why terrorists living in the US were not identified; warnings about unusual behaviour from flight schools were written down at the FBI central office but not logged on to a computer and there was no cross checking," Clinton said.
As a result, Clinton said, the US Government is seriously committed to updating its IT and using modern technology as a means of fighting terrorism.
The theme of Clinton's keynote address to the 1800 delegates attending the WCIT was "more partners, fewer terrorists", and how IT is central to world economic growth, which if used effectively can bridge the digital divide between rich and poor nations.
IT has bought global interdependence to the fore, Clinton said, but integration is required to ensure these divisions do not become greater.
He said countries with a high rate of Internet connection need to reach out to poorer nations using modern technology to ensure these countries do not become enclaves for terrorists.