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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Panel to discuss whether ports are ready for terrorist plots, natural disasters

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

First major discussion at international port security conference at URI

KINGSTON, R.I. – August 16, 2006 – An international expert on catastrophic terrorism and transportation security who says the United States is failing to protect its citizens will moderate the opening panel of a two-day global conference at the University of Rhode Island.

Stephen E. Flynn, author of the best-selling book, America the Vulnerable: How Our Government is Failing to Protect Us From Terrorism, will join other transportation security specialists for the discussion “Risks, Vulnerabilities, and Readiness: The Challenges,” Monday, Sept. 25 from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the Memorial Union Ballroom. A new book by Flynn, The Edge of Disaster: Catastrophic Storms, Terror and American Recklessness, will be published in the fall.

The other panelists will be Rear Admiral Brian Salerno, director of inspections and compliance with the U.S. Coast Guard; Professor Jeffrey Norwitz, special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and professor at the Naval War College in Rhode Island; J. Ashley Roach, who works in the Office of the Legal Adviser for the U.S. Department of State and a retired Navy captain; and Beth Ann Rooney, manager of port security for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The discussion is part of the International Conference on National Security, Natural Disasters, Logistics and Transportation: Assessing the Risks and Responses, Monday, Sept. 25 through Tuesday, Sept. 26, presented by the Global U8 Consortium.

Flynn is the first Jeanne J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and he served as director and principal author for the independent task force report, “America: Still Unprepared—Still in Danger.”

Flynn ranks among the world’s most widely cited experts on homeland security and trade and transportation issues. Since Sept. 11, 2001, he has provided testimony 17 times on Capitol Hill and has testified before the Canadian House of Commons and the Canadian Senate. He has appeared as a guest commentator on Meet the Press, Nightline, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, CNN and he has been a frequent contributor to the prestigious journal Foreign Affairs.

He spent 20 years as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, served in the White House Military Office during the George H.W. Bush administration, and was director for global issues on the National Security Council staff during the Clinton administration.

Rear Adm. Salerno oversees the Coast Guard offices of vessels activities, port and facility activities, investigation analysis, and traveling inspectors, as well as the National Maritime Center and the National Vessel Documentation Center. Prior to taking over as director, he served as deputy director, during which he established and coordinated policies and priorities for inspection and compliance field missions.

Salerno has served in numerous capacities at Coast Guard marine safety offices for the past 20 years, most recently as marine safety advisor to the Panama Canal Authority and commander of the marine safety office in Boston. He has degrees from Stonehill College, the U.S. Army War College, and Johns Hopkins University, and his personal military decorations include the Legion of Merit, two Meritorious Service Medals, two Coast Guard Commendation Medals and the Coast Guard Achievement Medal.

Special Agent Norwitz has been a frequent speaker at URI about international terrorism as part of its Forensic Science Seminar Series. A former member of the Army Military Police Corps whose duties included the security of nuclear weapons, he joined the civilian ranks of the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service in 1985.

In 1994, Norwitz was awarded the Navy’s Meritorious Civilian Service Medal for a highly classified intelligence effort effecting national security. He received a second medal for his intelligence and counterterrorism accomplishments during Operation Desert Fox in 1998. In 2001, Norwitz graduated from the senior officer course at the Naval War College and received a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies. He then joined the Naval War College faculty where he is a professor of national security decision marking in addition to developing courses in counterintelligence and counterterrorism.

Roach, a retired member of the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, has worked in the Office of the Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State, since 1988, responsible for the law of the sea, the law of naval warfare, and maritime law enforcement. He is the chief U.S. negotiator for bilateral and multilateral maritime law enforcement agreements, including Proliferation Security Initiative ship boarding agreements.

He holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the George Washington University National Law Center, and is an honors graduate of the Command and Staff course of the U.S. Naval War College. He was on active duty with the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the United States Navy from 1964 through 1992 in various military justice, staff, educational and international law assignments in the United States, Japan and Scotland.

As the manager of port security for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Beth Ann Rooney is responsible for implementing and managing a comprehensive port security program to avoid and/or minimize losses associated with natural or manmade disasters or criminal activity. Rooney works with local stakeholders and federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to develop initiatives to address the areas of awareness, prevention, protection, response and recovery, port security grants, demonstrations of new technology, and the preparation of security plans and vulnerability assessments. Actively involved in legislative and regulatory processes, she has often been called upon to testify before Congress regarding port and maritime security.

Rooney chairs the Port of New York and New Jersey’s Area Maritime Security Committee, is a member of the American Association of Port Authorities’ Port Security Task Force and serves on the advisory boards for a number of academic port security centers. She is a graduate of the State University of New York Maritime College with a bachelor’s degree in marine transportation, a master’s degree in international transportation management and qualifications as a Third Mate.

The conference is being held in conjunction with a meeting of the president’s Council of the Global U8 Consortium, eight universities from Asia, Australia, Europe and the United States that addresses issues faced by the global community. URI and the University of Washington are the only members from the United States.

To register for the conference, go to