Michigan Leaders Briefed on State Response to September 11 Attacks; Highlight Tough Penalties for Those Who Make False Terrorist Threats

Contact: Susan Shafer (517) 335-6397

October 17, 2001

As acting governor, Lt. Governor Dick Posthumus convened a meeting of state leaders today for an in depth briefing on Michigan's response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Attendees included Attorney General Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of State Candice Miller, the Michigan Supreme Court, bipartisan legislative leaders, state department directors and other top state officials.

Lt. Governor Dick Posthumus

"Michigan citizens can be confident that law enforcement, emergency management and public health officials and other experts at all levels of government are working closely to coordinate our response," said Lt. Governor Posthumus. "Years of planning and preparation is reflected in our ability to act quickly and protect the people of Michigan from acts of terrorism."

For example, Posthumus cited the fact that Michigan has had an anti-terrorism task force in place since 1996 and that the state has already had its anti-terror strategy approved by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Following the briefing, Lt. Governor Posthumus announced a number of additional steps, including:

  • a process for legislative proposals to strengthen Michigan statutes regarding penalties for terrorist acts;
  • reopening the Michigan State Police Emergency Operations Center on Thursday to facilitate the sharing of informing and to monitor threats; and,
  • at the request of U.S. Customs Service last week, increasing the National Guard border patrol at Sault Ste. Marie, Port Huron and Detroit.

Posthumus and Granholm also warned Michigan residents that making false terrorist threats is a serious crime and that offenders would be vigorously prosecuted. The pair vowed to work closely with the state legislature to make the penalties even tougher and to give law enforcement the strongest tools possible to keep Michigan safe.

"It is a crime to threaten people or to mail talcum powder, or sugar, or anything else as a false threat," said Attorney General Granholm. "You will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law — if you make a threat, even a false one, we will use every ounce of our energy to put you in prison and seek reimbursement."

Attorney General Jennifer Granholm and Secretary of State Candice Miller

Granholm noted that currently, if property damage or an associated injury, such as a heart attack, occurs as the result of the delivery of biological, chemical or radioactive substance, the penalty could be as high as 25 years in prison. If an individual dies as a result, the punishment could be life in prison. Similarly, making a false report that someone has been exposed to a biological, chemical, or radiological substance or device could be subject to four years imprison-ment and a fine of $2,000 and costs associated with responding to the report.

Secretary of State Candice Miller said, "The idea of terrorists having access to hazardous materials has prompted us to call for criminal background checks on all CDL hazmat applicants and for a change in the law that currently allows illegal aliens to be issued driver licenses. If you're not in the country legally it makes no sense that the government should sanction you to drive."

In the meeting, state leaders were briefed on:

  • the Michigan Emergency Management Act and Plan (Michigan State Police);
  • Michigan's Terrorism Assessment and Anti-Terror Strategy (MSP);
  • specific state responses to the terrorist attacks on September 11 (MSP);
  • bio-terrorism preparedness (Department of Community Health);
  • National Guard activities (Department of Military and Veterans Affairs);
  • state building security and mail security (Department of Management and Budget); and,
  • driver licensing processes, including those affecting commercial drivers with hazmat endorsements and illegal aliens (Secretary of State).

The meeting concluded with an update from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Additional questions and answers are available at www.michigan.gov.

Conclusion of the meeting