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New Terror Task Force

Federal officials Tuesday presented a new plan to deal with major terrorist attacks, reports CBS News Correspondent Howard Arenstein.

Vice President Dick Cheney said in an interview with CNN television that President George W. Bush is creating an office within the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate the government's response to any biological, chemical or nuclear attack.

"The threat to the continental United States and our infrastructure is changing and evolving and we need to look at this whole area oftentimes referred to as homeland defense," said the vice president.

He will lead a new task force on these new threats, which he described as "a hand-carried nuclear weapon, or biological or chemical agent."

Together with FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh, Cheney's task force will "figure out how we best respond to that kind of disaster of major proportions that in effect would be manmade or man-caused," Cheney said.

The National Security Council will review his final report.

At a Senate hearing Tuesday, administration officials told Congress that combating terrorism has grown more difficult because of new technology and growing economic connections between nations.

"Terrorism is a part of the dark side of globalization," Secretary of State Colin Powell said. "It is a part of doing business in the world, business we as Americans are not going to stop doing."

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Powell and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill were the leadoff witnesses as the Senate began three days of hearings into how well the federal government was coordinating its efforts to battle terrorism. Allbaugh was scheduled to testify later Tuesday.

"Just fertilizer with the rights mixtures and things that are available on the Internet can create havoc in our country," O'Neill said.

Several senators expressed unhappiness that not enough is being done in the face of growing threats.

"There must be better organization at the federal, state and local level," said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. "It is critical that we address issues of civil liberties, agency jurisdiction, public education, industry privacy concerns and community medical capablities."

Concerns in Congress were raised last year when a training exercise to gauge capabilities to respond to a terrorist detonation of a weapon of mass destruction found that Cincinnati's hospitals, police and other services were woefully unprepared for such an attack.

Powell told the joint hearing of members of the Senate Armed Services, Appropriations and Intelligence committees that the State Department was seeking increased money to boost security at U.S. embassies but that the United States should never give in to terrorism.

"If we adopted this hunkered-down attitude, behind our concrete and our barbed wire, the terrorists would have achieved a kind of victory," Powell said. "At the end of the day, what America is to the world is not only what we say or do, it is who we are. And we are not helmeted giants huddling in our bunkers awaiting the enemy."

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