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Office to fight terror formed

Borrowing a page from the White House's agenda, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. reinforced his administration's commitment to anti-terrorism efforts yesterday by forming a Governor's Office of Homeland Security.

The governor tapped Dennis R. Schrader, a former Howard County councilman and county executive candidate, to run the office, created through an executive order signed by Ehrlich at a State House ceremony.

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Ehrlich said he hopes to make Maryland a leader in such efforts and that the development indicated his administration's emphasis on anti-terrorism measures. The office will provide greater coordination among federal, state and local officials, he said, although its budget and specific functions are unclear.

"There is no other option but complete victory in this war," Ehrlich said.

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"They hate us," the governor said, speaking of extremists plotting attacks on U.S. soil. "They hate the West. They hate capitalism. They hate democracy. They hate freedom."

Ehrlich has in the past praised the efforts of his security advisers and said that state and local agencies were working well together, but he said yesterday that more cooperation is needed. The office, he said, would provide a central location for seeking funds and setting policy.

The governor also announced the formation of a "state-of-the-art" analysis center to collect and review Maryland data on terrorism attacks. The center, to be launched with $1.3 million in federal funds, will be at Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County and is an offshoot of an anti-terrorism task force convened by the U.S. attorney's office after Sept. 11, 2001.

The governor said anti-terrorism responsibilities weigh more heavily on him as chief executive than he expected, noting that a day in February when he elevated the state's threat level from yellow to orange made an impression that rivaled that of 9/11.

"It is a day I'll never forget," the governor said. "It all was brought home to me in quite a different way."

The Ehrlich administration is looking to streamline state agencies and cut hundreds of millions of dollars from their budgets.

The governor's office could not provide concrete estimates yesterday of how much the new office would cost or how much Schrader or the office's deputy director, Thomas J. Lockwood, would be paid. But Ehrlich said most of the state's security costs would be covered by federal funds.

The office would have three employees, officials said, and would serve as liaison to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It would also coordinate security needs among local and state health, police and public safety departments.

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"Our local communities are looking to us for leadership as they struggle to respond to this elusive threat," he said yesterday. "We've got to create a culture of readiness."

Schrader, 50, has worked for the University of Maryland Medical System since 1987. Most recently, he was vice president of project planning and development. He has 23 years of experience as a Navy Civil Engineer Corps officer.

A Republican, he is a former Howard County councilman and was a nominee for county executive in 1998, losing to James N. Robey. Schrader is married to state Sen. Sandra B. Schrader.

Lockwood, 43, has been the governor's homeland security adviser since the January inauguration.

Schrader pledged yesterday that the new office would be held accountable "for our objectives and our outcomes."

"We're going to prioritize, and we are going to set measurable goals," he said.

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Other officials conceded that it could be difficult to track how the office performs because of the need for confidentiality and the difficulty in knowing when at tacks had been thwarted.

"You may not know," said state police Superintendent Edward T. Norris. "You may not see a lot of the things it accomplishes."

Ehrlich said, "Proving a negative is difficult to do. How do you quantify success in this area?"


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