Domestic Emergency Support Team, United States
Up to the time of its transfer to the newly created Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Domestic Emergency Support Team (DEST) was the smallest—or, at least, the most obscure—of the Justice Department offices dedicated to national security and intelligence. It was created under Presidential Decision Directive 39 (PDD 39), "U.S. Policy on Counterterrorism," signed by President William J. Clinton on June 21, 1995. That document called for a "rapidly deployable interagency emergency support team" to assist the State Department in situations of emergency involving U.S. citizens on foreign soil, as well as for a DEST to operate in domestic incidents under the direction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
According to PDD 39, "The DEST shall consist only of those agencies needed to respond to the specific requirements of the incident," indicating that DEST is not so much an office unto itself as it is a coordinating agency. Its function is not only to respond to terrorist incidents; in July 2002, for instance, DEST went on call in response to flooding in Texas. However, President George W. Bush made clear its place in the post-September 11, 2001, security environment by including DEST in the Homeland Security Act, which he sent to Capitol Hill on June 18,2002. Title V, "Emergency Preparedness and Response," established the position of under secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response, whose duties would include oversight of DEST. DEST was one of several agencies transferred from Justice to DHS when that department began functioning in March 2003.
█ FURTHER READING:
Reiss, Tom. "Now Will We Heed the Biological Threat?" New York Times. (February 21, 1998): 11.