During the largest terrorism drill in U.S. history last year, the FBI and U.S. Coast Guard got into a tussle off the Connecticut shore over how each agency’s tactical assault team would be involved in the boarding of a hijacked ferry, the Hartford Courant reports. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General issued a report yesterday that detailed the disagreement between agencies during the massive TOPOFF exercise. “In our judgment, unless such differences over roles and authorities are resolved, the response to a maritime incident could be confused and potentially disastrous,” said the report
A year ago, federal, state and local agencies converged on New London, Ct., to respond to a massive simulated terrorism attack. While much of the focus was on a chemical weapons explosion on the waterfront, the Coast Guard and FBI also responded to a mock hijacking of a 200-foot ferry in Long Island Sound. Both federal agencies are responsible for fighting terrorists. Both agencies have authority in such a maritime incident. Both agencies have tactical assault teams. The FBI’s position: The Coast Guard couldn’t take part in the boarding because it is “very limited” when its boarding teams face an armed enemy. The Coast Guard’s take: The FBI was guarding its counter-terrorism turf.