Robert H. Kupperman, 71; an early voice on risk of terrorism

From Times Wire Reports

Robert H. Kupperman, an analyst who more than 30 years ago began raising the specter of possible terrorist attacks inside the United States, has died. He was 71.

Kupperman died Friday of complications from Parkinson's disease, which he had been battling since 1990, at his home in Washington, D.C., said his daughter, Tamara Kupperman Thorp, a White House producer for NBC News.

From 1975, when he became chief scientist for the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Kupperman voiced concerns about the nation's vulnerability to terrorist attack.

"Unless governments take basic precautions, we will continue to stand at the edge of an awful abyss," Kupperman wrote in a 1977 report that summarized nearly five years of work by the Cabinet Committee to Combat Terrorism.

President Nixon created the high-level government panel in September 1972 after Palestinian commandos slaughtered 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games. Its members included Henry Kissinger, George H.W. Bush and Rudolph Giuliani.

After leaving the government in 1979, Kupperman was associated with the private Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

In an opinion piece written with journalist Jeff Kamen and published in the Los Angeles Times in 1989, four years before the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Centers in New York City, Kupperman observed that, "Because it is an error to view international terrorism as less than a profound problem, contingency planning worthy of real warfare must start."

He offered several suggestions, one of which was to "engage in frequent, realistic crisis management exercises at the operational and planning levels of government.... When our country is subjected to a major terrorist attack, there will be no time to invent effective policies and procedures."

And he encouraged the government to be candid with the U.S. public on the looming dangers of terrorism: "Tell the people about the real domestic and international risks attendant to an effective counterterrorism program and the risks of not having one."

Born in New York City on May 12, 1935, Kupperman earned a bachelor's degree and a doctorate at New York University.

Having trained in mathematical analysis, he was a senior researcher at Caltech and worked at Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica before settling in the Washington area, where he worked for think tanks between stints of government service. He also taught at New York University and the University of Maryland.

He wrote or co-wrote several books, including "Final Warning: Averting Disaster in the New Age of Terrorism" (1989), which he wrote with Kamen.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife, Barbara Norris Kupperman; and a sister, Ina Brown of Bradenton, Fla.

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