Critical Infrastructures: What Makes an Infrastructure Critical?
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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The Bush Administrations proposal for establishing a Department of Homeland Security includes a function whose responsibilities include the coordination of policies and actions to protect the nations critical infrastructure. However, the proposal did not specify criteria for how to determine criticality or which infrastructures should be considered critical. Over the last few years, a number of documents concerned with critical infrastructure protection have offered general definitions for critical infrastructures and have provided short lists of which infrastructures should be included. None of these lists or definitions would be considered definitive. The criteria for determining what might be a critical infrastructure, and which infrastructures thus qualify, have expanded over time. Critical infrastructures were originally considered to be those whose prolonged disruptions could cause significant military and economic dislocation. Critical infrastructures now include national monuments e.g. Washington Monument, where an attack might cause a large loss of life or adversely affect the nations morale. They also include the chemical industry. While there may be some debate about why the chemical industry was not on earlier lists that considered only military and economic security, it seems to be included now primarily because individual chemical plants could be sources of materials that could be used for a weapon of mass destruction, or whose operations could be disrupted in a way that would significantly threaten the safety of surrounding communities.
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Civil Defense