Help
 News Home Page
 Nation
 National Security
 Science
 Courts
 Columns
 Search the States
 Special Reports
    America Attacked
 Photo Galleries
 Live Online
 Nation Index
 World
 Metro
 Business
 Washtech
 Sports
 Style
 Education
 Travel
 Health
 Home & Garden
 Opinion
 Weather
 Weekly Sections
 News Digest
 Classifieds
 Print Edition
 Archives
 Site Index

Text: Va. Governor James Gilmore

eMediaMillWorks
eMediaMillWorks
Monday, Sept. 17, 2001

Following is the transcript of Virginia Governor James Gilmore's news conference, with Jack Marsh, attorney and former congressman, on the work of the National Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction.

GILMORE: Well, good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

I am James Gilmore, the governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia and chairman of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, a congressionally--authorized by statute--commission, with respect to terrorism in the United States.

I want to recognize some members of our commission, which are in attendance today. First, Mike Wermuth, the executive director of our panel activities and he is at the RAND Corporation. The RAND Corporation provides all the staff and support for our national authorized commission.

George Foresman, who is the deputy state coordinator for the Department of Emergency Management for the Commonwealth of Virginia, and has been a right hand man to me through this process.

Also, Hubert Williams, the president of the Police Foundation, who has supplied his insight in law enforcement and civil liberties issues for the panel.

To my right, John O. ``Jack'' Marsh, Jr. He is an attorney at law. He is former secretary of the Army, former member of Congress. His expertise, of course, is in interagency coordination, and particularly legal and cyber-terrorism issues.

And also with us today, L. Paul ``Jerry'' Bremer. He is corporate executive and former ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism for the United States Department of State, former chairman of his own National Commission on Terrorism, previously established.

These are the individuals here, who are before you today. We have copies of documentation that are being handed out. In that you will see the additional members of the commission. They are drawn from a broad range of individuals. It is significantly and qualitatively different from any previous commissions that have been established. It contains people from the United States intelligence community, particularly from emergency responders nationwide, people involved previously with special operations of the United States military, state and local law enforcement, very heavy on emergency and local response. Also major components of the health care community of the country--major leaders in the health care community, as a matter of fact--as well as additional people in the federal government also. You'll have a chance to review those biographies.

Ladies and gentlemen, September 11, 2001 is a day that will stand out in the history of the United States and of the world. Individuals who committed these attacks on the people of the United States, in New York and at the Pentagon, located in the state of Virginia, sought a decisive strike, one that was designed to remake the world and the post-Cold War era.

The goal was to prove that the great democracies are not the way of the future. The goal was, in fact, to establish a new future based on tyranny, force, fear, to blot out a love of liberty and freedom, which has been growing consistently since the enlightenment of centuries, in which now the United States stands as the ultimate statement and symbol of that human freedom and liberty across the world; and, therefore, the United States was the country attacked.

Ladies and gentlemen, the people who committed these crimes, with those goals in mind, have failed. They have failed in their attacks. They have not blotted out the United States as the ultimate formation and symbol of liberty. They have not diminished the resolve of the United States. They have not created fear and terror in the United States.

Ladies and gentlemen, we grieve as a civilized people here today for the people who have died as a result of these attacks; any civilized people would grieve. And who have we seen? People in New York at the World Trade Center, stunning loss of life in the nation's largest city. At the Pentagon, here, across the river and in the Washington metropolitan area, located in the state of Virginia, in Northern Virginia. The people who died on the airplanes, totally innocent victims.

As I recall, having read the manifest on the airplanes, there were fathers with little girls on those planes, and those kinds of family issues that are before us. Barbara Olson, who we all knew and loved. She was a personal friend mine. It struck me, very personal.

We lost people who are rescue people, who gave their lives in attempting to help their fellow Americans who were injured. Particularly, we have seen this in New York. We have one or two incidents of serious injury in Virginia at the Pentagon. But in New York, fire people, rescue people were present that day when the buildings collapsed, and many, apparently, have lost their lives. Many were wounded, as well as murdered.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is no moral equivalency here. The United States and its people are the wounded and injured party. We are the ones who are the injured people here in this ongoing battle that seems to be occurring. The United States is not being paid back for something that it has done, because we have done nothing--no injury to anyway--to justify this kind of attack. This is an attack by people who have their own goals and their own motives. They present an evil world view. And after a generation of moral equivocation, we in America know that now there is evil in the world. There is right and wrong, and the United States is clearly in the right in this instance. And we have a right to our indignation and to our American resolve.

Now, for more than two years I've had the privilege of working with experts from across the nation and distinguished panel members, including these gentlemen who are here today, to determine our capabilities to detect, deter, prevent and to respond and to recover from a terrorist attack inside America's borders. Our work is not yet complete, but we intend to make it so in a short time.

Our commission has been a three-year commission. It began to work in the year 1999. In 1999 Congress established this panel; this advisory panel to assess the capabilities for domestic response to terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction. I was asked to chair this panel, whose members include current and former federal, state and local officials, specialists of terrorism, intelligence, the military, law enforcement, emergency management, fire services, medicine and public health.

I'm saddened by the loss of a friend--we believe the loss of a friend--who was a member of our panel; Ray Downey is listed as missing in the city of New York. Ray Downey is the chief of special operations for the New York City Fire Department. He is listed as missing when last Tuesday when the World Trade Center collapsed. Ray was a member of our commission, was there precisely because of his expertise and local response. He was a man of great strength and courage. If, in fact, the worse becomes a reality, we on our panel will all miss him very personally. His family and friends and fellow firefighters will miss him.

As recently as yesterday when I was at the Pentagon in my role as governor of Virginia speaking to local responders, I spoke to the fire people from Fairfax, all of whom knew Ray Downey, because he had helped trained and worked with them.

Ladies and gentlemen, this panel has issued two reports to the president and the Congress. The first, this report was in December of 1999, and the second, this report, was in December of 2000. These are statutory dates for response, which we have adhered to. A few copies of these are still remaining and are available. Mike has them available here today. They have been distributed not only as statutorily required to the president and members of the executive branch, but also to the members of the Congress, the House and the Senate.

In May of this year the vice president asked for an opportunity to meet with our commission. I briefed the vice president, who has been assigned by President Bush to develop the nation's antiterrorist policy.

Ladies and gentlemen, in our first report, we provided a comprehensive assessment--in this report--a comprehensive assessment of the actual threat of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. And we concluded in this report the following: First and foremost, the threat of a terrorist attack on some level inside our borders was inevitable, and the United States must prepare. We also said that the terrorist threat would be more lethal than ever before because the trend toward greater lethality was exactly what was occurring.

There was a great emphasis on our very first report in 1999 on the issue of who is in charge in a response situation. We concluded that the real weapon is not the device or the material involved, but the terrorist delivery capacity and capability and I'm afraid that this point has been borne out by last Tuesday's events.

Our review revealed that efforts to date have been largely reactionary, to a threat not clearly understood. While we should prepare, first and foremost, for the most likely conventional terrorist attack scenario--such as the one we just saw, by the way, this is a conventional attack--we must heed. We must also heed the threat of a more exotic attack by weapons of mass destruction.

We concluded that a clear comprehensive national vision and strategy for large or small events must be developed and put into place, but that such a vision and strategy did not presently exist as of the time of that report. We recognize that a coordinational national strategy could be built upon the well-tested system that already exists for responding to natural and man-made disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, toxic chemical spills and nuclear accidents. A system already exists in this country in order to deal with issues like that and it has wide experience and a long record.

And we stress the paramount importance of preserving our citizens' constitutional rights and civil liberties. We can meet this terrorist threat without trampling the Constitution, here or at home. In fact, the goal of the enemy would be to have us trample our constitutional rights. We don't have to do that and we should never ask the people of the United States to give up their freedoms because of an attack like this.

In sum, we call for a clear and comprehensive national strategy that takes into account the broad range of disaster response experience of state and local first responders: fire, police, health and medical or emergency managers. As we've seen since Tuesday, these are the very people who put their courage, their skill and their lives on the front lines of disaster so that others might live. In the war against terrorism, they are the new infantry, serving on a new kind of battlefield. They deserve our respect and our deep thanks. And ladies and gentlemen, our friend Ray Downey was one of those.

Our second report, this report was issued 15 December in the year 2000. This contained about 50 recommendations, 5 to 10 principle ones, but about 50 total recommendations for improving our nation's preparedness against terrorism. Most importantly, the second report underscored the need for something more than a federal strategy. Now, that's only one component of a national strategy. The distinction here is an important one. The federal government cannot address this threat alone. We need new public and private partnerships. Every state and local community has capabilities, resources, assets, experience and training that must be brought to bear in addressing this threat.

Among our most important recommendations in our second report that we did is the following: First, we call for statutory creation of a new national office for combating terrorism to coordinate national terrorism policy and preparedness in the executive branch, located in the White House. This begins to answer the question that we asked in the first year of who is in charge, at least in the issue of preparation and budget and coordination.

There is an important distinction here. Our proposal is a office located in the White House, under the direct reporting to the president of the United States--not a separate agency, where you begin to pull people together in different conglomerate ways that might be effective or not--but, instead, a central coordination office under the direct authority of the president that does have the authority to deal with the issues of all the agencies of government because they speak directly for the president.

We also placed an emphasis on local emergency management, playing to the strengths that I have heretofore explained to all of you, just a few moments ago, a special emphasis on local response and the use of a typical emergency management operations in each and every one of the states.

In fact, in Virginia, when the attack came this past Tuesday morning, it was the very first call I made to our emergency operations center, which immediately triggers communication with FEMA and begins to put into place the type of standard response that has worked so appropriately in the past and it worked again.

Thirdly, we saw that Congress should create a special committee for combating terrorism. This can either be according to our recommendation a joint committee of senators and congressmen to create a unified legislative view or it could be in each individual House, if that's what they propose to do and it would work best for them. We're not in the business of lecturing to the Congress, but merely offering recommendations. But either one, we believe, would be effective. It should have a direct link to the executive branch's national office for combating terrorism, and it should be the first referral for legislation preparing our nation for terrorist attacks.

Next, we addressed the issue of intelligence-sharing and focused on the fact that it is very typical with the intelligence community to hold information so close it can often not be communicated where it needs to be. This is particularly true of sharing intelligence information with state and local authorities that is unknown, but it could be and should be done. The ability to create a system of need-to-know so that you could put together a national response organization, cleared and on a need-to-know basis could simply be done. It is done now within agencies across the federal government; it can be done by a comprehensive national policy including state and local personnel.

We found our federal intelligence apparatus was lacking critical tools it needs to detect terrorist plots, so we recommended improvements to human intelligence capabilities; such as, for example, rescinding the CIA guidelines on paying foreign informants engaged in terrorist or criminal activity.

Our report observed state and local resources, and believed that they should be included in a coordinated national strategy led by the federal government. Thus, the commission recommended a number of ways to strengthen the nation's first responders; fire, law enforcement, emergency medical services and emergency management. We also called for improvement of health and medical response capabilities and I think everybody is very proud of the hospitals and medical services that have been called into action this past week.

Our report, though, recognizes that hospitals are prepared for the routine, but in the case of high concentration because of a weapon of mass destruction or a catastrophic conventional attack such as we have seen, it might be a difficulty in the future; and, therefore, this must be focused on and the people in our panel on health and public health have been concerned.

And, finally, we have focused a great deal of attention on the use of the Armed Forces, their appropriate role and how they should be used. And it has expressed an extreme reluctance toward the use of the regular military in a response situation, at least on the first instance. Although it is generally accepted that events could occur where the military needs to be engaged, particularly the Guard, nonetheless, we've been cautious about moving to that immediately.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, this commission's work is not complete. We have issued two reports based upon the first two years' work. We have now gone through most of the third year, and we are preparing now another round of recommendations for the Congress and the president.

In light of the terrorist attacks last Tuesday in New York and in Virginia, I have consulted with members of the panel and we have decided to accelerate our time table for the third report to the president and to the Congress so that the information that we have gathered and the information that we need to provide can be done in the most timely way as the president and the Congress are dealing with these issues immediately now. This report was due, in its statutory basis, as are the other reports, in mid-December. We now intend to issue our report much sooner.

In that regard, I am announcing today that our panel will meet next Monday, September 24, at the Arlington headquarters of RAND. Over the past two years most of our meetings have been at RAN. A few of you have, in fact, stepped in and taken a look, peeked into that meeting. We will now go back to the RAND headquarters in Arlington for our last report, although we have also had meetings at the RAND headquarters in California. RAND provides research and support for the panel and they have done a spectacular job as, in fact, their expertise would provide them the ability to do and they have performed magnificently. At this meeting, we will finalize our recommendations and set a new delivery date for the report.

One important aspect of this report and our work so far this year is that we have the results, ladies and gentlemen, of a nationwide survey of first responders and the response rate has been excellent, so that we have a broad-ranging view of what the first responders have told us, so that we can test many of our theories and ideas and recommendations against the real work that is going on in the communities of the United States. So well use this survey, our findings and this tragic experience that we have just faced to combat evil and the enemies that we are now facing.

Handouts, I believe, are available to you today from our press people who are standing by. I believe that you may have some of those already, with the details of our findings and recommendations.

So, ladies and gentlemen, now it is my pleasure to answer any question you may have as will the members of the panel, as necessary. Let's begin here and we'll take a little time.

Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Governor Gilmore, you talked about (OFF-MIKE) in activating an emergency operation center. There's been some question about (OFF-MIKE) emergency (OFF-MIKE) and what used to be the (OFF-MIKE)

GILMORE: Well, I guess even the governor and in my capacity as governor, nor with this panel, do we have any idea about when you trigger that type of national warning. However, I would speculate that they probably understood that the attacks were in New York and in Virginia and that their first answer was to alert authorities across the country and to not, at this point, issue a national alert which, at that point, was unconfirmed. I think that that was set up for a confirmed threat to the people of the United States to inform the people directly during the Cold War.

This was very uncertain as to what the nature of the attack was, but, meanwhile, first responders and authorities and intelligence people had, in fact, been notified to the best of my knowledge.

Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Given the events of last Tuesday, what do you think needs to be put on the floor--prompt your meeting next Tuesday--what issues need immediate attention by your group?

GILMORE: We have already drafted a draft of our final report. It was going through a thorough rework. We had one more meeting planned anyway a little later on in the year to go back over those. But the focus of what we are doing is this: Our first report defined the issues and talked about some of the strategic concerns, but particularly evaluated the threat.

Our second report indicated there was no national strategy, that there was a need for a national strategy, including state and local people, that addressed intelligence issues, addressed many of the health and other concerns. It set out, if you will, a framework.

The third report that the panel is concluding will go into more detail as to more specific recommendations in the following areas: Health and medical. Particularly of concern is about the stockpiling of serums and the ability to create them, as a matter of fact, and weighing and balancing that against the open market system. The ability for hospital people to be into a national network and to be prepared to deal with the catastrophic event as opposed to the daily routine.

A second issue was border security that we will be addressing. The issue, particularly, of containers that come into this country are millions every year. And, of course, issues of border security generally.

Third, the use of the military and how it should, in fact, be utilized and implemented in a catastrophic situation. A special emphasis on cyber-security, which was thoroughly discussed and examined under the leadership of Jack Marsh in the last meeting, which has remarkable implications for communications in the case of a catastrophic event.

And finally, a special emphasis on local and state response, which is the heart of our commission and what differentiates it from so many of the other commissions that have addressed these issues.

I'm going to try to answer each and every question. Let's come here and then here.

Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Governor, with respect to airport security, the findings and recommendations in the first two reports and didn't hear about that in terms of looking into in the third report?

GILMORE: Yes. The goal here of these reports has not been to become so tactical that we begin to tell the federal government or any law enforcement authority what specific security provisions they need to make, in any case. It has, rather, been to identify the threat. It has been to balance off and to weigh the threat of biological, nuclear, chemical or radiological attack and its likelihood versus the highly inevitable and highly probably conventional attack and then to begin to address some of the weaknesses and frailties of our response system in those kinds of issues.

In terms of prevention, we have focused a great deal of attention on the intelligence community, but what we hope to do is, in fact, to spur the fact that now security people will need to think about a myriad of issues. Airport, of course, is very much on people's mind, because that was the method of attack that the terrorists chose. They could have chosen any method of attack and still can choose any method of attack. It might have been airports, it might have been train stations, it might have been hazardous waste. It could have been anything because the terrorist has the advantage. They choose the time and the place and the manner. Therefore, professionals in the security field will have to address a variety and myriad of issues in the coming years.

QUESTION: You said airport security was or was not addressed?

GILMORE: Specifically in our report? Not specifically, because we were talking more strategically within these reports.

QUESTION: Follow up?

GILMORE: Yes, in just a moment.

Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Governor, I wonder if there's a distinction between what you're talking about as far as a response to terrorism and homeland defense, and whether homeland defense is a larger responsibility for the Pentagon that we might also feel a need to be addressed in the wake of this last week?

GILMORE: I'm not sure I understood the question, but in terms of homeland defense, it is clearly our top priority and we have addressed it as such, of course, in our previous reports. And, in fact, I believe that there has been a consensus on virtually every panel that has addressed this issue. There is a distinct difference in approach that these panels have been taking, and we believe we have thought through many of the administrative issues that would permit the government to have its most effective response. And we believe that the methodology that we have talked about, namely a national strategy including state, local and federal people, combined with a national office out of the White House, would enable the best possible response on homeland defense.

But, clearly, the entire essence of what we have done in our reports is to emphasize the importance and necessity of homeland defense and the inevitable attack within our borders.

You had a follow-up?

QUESTION: Yes, I hope this is not beyond the scope of your position, but either a chairman of the commission or as governor of Virginia, would you address the skepticism that verges on cynicism abroad in this plan, especially among former ranking officials in the previous governments in this country, that the kinds of airport security measures being talked about are merely examples of the bureaucratic response and if something needs to be done, let's do it, no matter how stupid and ineffective it is. Like not accepting baggage at curb side.

All the measures that would slow down and perhaps cripple the airline industry give no indication that they addressed anything that happened on Tuesday or is likely to happen.

GILMORE: First of all, let me just confirm one thing; we didn't have a specific discussion about airport, I believe, because there's no point in discussing one particular attack when any million of them might occur. I want to be sure of that--we're talking about an overall umbrella issue that we're talking about here, and particularly with respect to conventional attack. It would not be productive for a national commission to talk about any particular attack that the imagination of any person might create and this was obviously a highly organized and military created attack.

To specifically address your issue, however, with respect to certain cynicism, if you will, I think that it would probably not be wise to suggest that all security measures that have been taken have been ineffective, simply because terrorism has the advantage and is in a position to defeat or circumvent many of those security matters that have been taken.

The fact of the matter is that there has been substantial security in airports and otherwise previously taken. In fact, these people, as we all know, had to resort to knives and box cutters and misinformation and so on like that in order to carry out this very dastardly but thoughtful attack and well-organized attack on their part.

Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Governor, first responders survey that the panel would be considering, spoke a great deal to the amount of training that first responders get for weapons of mass destruction and similar attacks. In light of what's happened, is this panel planning to look at the areas where the first responders get more training as necessary, with recommendations as to funding or programs?

GILMORE: Yes, positively. Throughout out the final report, we have focused our attention on resources, training and exercising. I think each of the panel members here would agree that we have focused a great of attention on the necessity of exercising so that we can begin to identify some of the issues across the nation. And, in fact, if you exercise, you may come up with some of the issues involving airport mighten you? So those are the kinds of the points that we have to emphasize; resources, training and exercising, and it is, in fact, throughout the final draft.

Yes, sir? One quick follow-up and then I'm coming there.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) there are programs mentioned in the first responders survey. Does the panel intend to address any of those specific programs in terms of more funding needed, changes needed in some of the programs?

GILMORE: Yes, positively. And the survey itself, of course, is an appendix as part of the final report which can draw it's own conclusions.

Let's go to you, sir, and then to you, sir.

QUESTION: Can you speak more generally about whether or not the commission is going to address the question of funding of these response systems on a local level, because we're talking about a lot of money; in particular for the (OFF-MIKE) and also for private institutions such as hospitals that are (OFF-MIKE)

GILMORE: Yes. The heart of this report is a--one of the central cores of this report--is that we need to recognize that a great deal of money is expended today in the United States of America, both public and private, which is applicable to the national strategy. Hospitals are buying large private hospitals. They spend enormous amounts of money. But we need to have them included into the national strategy, so that they are prepared to respond under careful planning, bringing in additional physicians and having additional material and resources available to them at the appropriate time.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

GILMORE: No, we're talking about taking into account the fact that private money is already spent, which is applicable to the national strategy. And, in addition to that, there's enormous amounts of public money spent at the state and local level, which is also can be harmonized in, and duck-tailed into the national strategy. And that say, in fact, always been spent, but it needs to be coordinated completely. And that is what we're defining as the difference between the federal strategy and a national strategy.

Yes sir?

QUESTION: What is the risks do you believe of the United States to biological terrorism, chemical weapons terrorism. How prepared is our medical and public health service to meet those kind of threats?

GILMORE: We examined this issue almost in the very first months of our--back in 1999, because our first focus was on nuclear, biological chemical. I believe that most of the members of the panel would concur that biological is probably the most severe we could imagine, and we do believe that there have to be measures taken and our leadership from the health community on our panel has been resolute on the importance of focusing on health care and public health services within the United States to be in a position to respond.

There are specific discussions we're having with respect to serums and vaccines that need to be stockpiled and to be prepared as well. You asked a question, what is the likelihood? Our conclusion on the very first year was that we were not willing to discount or to dismiss weapons of mass destruction attacks on the homeland of the United States.

We believed, in fact, that it was possible that there could be a biological, nuclear, chemical. Therefore, we would not dismiss it, but we entered into an analysis that is as follows. With those types of weapons of mass destruction, they are very high consequence--the highest possible consequence you can imagine--but a low probability. And that was based upon a careful assessment of the delivery systems and the ability of terrorist organizations to in fact deliver those kinds of weapons on the United States.

If you go to state-sponsored terrorism, I would think that the risk would go up. But by and large, in the absence of that, which there isn't much evidence of state-sponsored terrorism giving those kinds of weapons to terrorists. There are sound reasons why governments don't do that. Even people that don't like us very much wouldn't want to do that. So it's not as high probability.

On the other hand, we went immediately to the issue of conventional attacks--the use of explosives or typical weapons, firearms. And I suppose you can include in that the use of conversion of a civilian airplane into a missile, if you will. These are conventional attacks and we concluded that they were highly probable, if not inevitable, and that more attention had to be paid on preparation for those kinds of attacks.

QUESTION: Let me follow up on the question. How prepared is our public health system to meet such an attack, if it came biological or chemical?

GILMORE: Well, we believe that there are improvements that can be made such as, for example, the creation and stockpiling of vaccines. But on the other hand, how do you know what type of biological agent it would be? These are matters that need to be in the hands of the professionals, but it needs to be folded into a part of the national strategy. We believe now our health care system is performing very well and that's been demonstrated in New York and Virginia very, very well, at Walter Reid and other places as well. They're responding very well.

If you go to a mass casualty situation, we believe that further attention is required within the national strategy.

QUESTION: To what extent have you dealt with the religious and spiritual aspects of terrorism, in particular the idea of Jihad or holy war and the role of suicide and its perceived after-effects have on the belief systems of individual terrorists?

GILMORE: We certainly have not delved into the theological on this, other than to recognize that it can be a motivating influence for terrorist organizations and that it can lead to a suicide-type of attack which, in fact, allows the delivery of a conventional weapon despite some of your best security that is possible. This has been contemplated in the discussions that we have had.

As far as trying to address the longstanding policy issues of how you address those concerns in the minds of people elsewhere that might wish to attack us, I think that was beyond the scope of this commission.

QUESTION: I was just wondering, will your next report deal with maintaining American civil liberties? At some point it seems that when you're battling terrorism, privacy issues may come to light, and how do you go about maintaining that America's basic freedoms aren't stepped on in that?

(CROSSTALK)

GILMORE: Let me state the point, and I'll elaborate on it a little bit. It is the consistent position of this commission, that the American people should not and should not be asked to give up civil liberties as Americans. That makes the enemy win. And therefore, our constant in the discussions over the past two years, and even into this third year have been very careful about this issue. We do not believe that the civil liberties of the United States should be impinged in any way. Polling that shows that people are willing to give up civil liberties I find personally very disturbing. We should never ask Americans in any way to diminish their freedoms as Americans.

Now the other issue, of course, is that--I was previously a prosecutor, a local prosecutor, elected prosecutor, and we have of course dealt with issues of prosecution for years with respect to the civil liberties of the United States--the Fourth, Fifth, the Sixth Amendments most particularly. You can take actions that provide proper constitutional safeguards, and continue to do the right thing to protect the people of the United States. There's nothing wrong with doing wiretapping as long as it's reviewed by independent judicial authority. That's just simply one example. So you can harmonize and increase the safety of the people of the United States without asking them to give up their civil liberties. And we feel very strongly about it as a panel.

QUESTION: Given the enormous trillions of dollars in trade on land, air, and sea that come across the board, how can we increase surveillance of containers and trucks coming in without strangling the economy?

GILMORE: It is a very serious issue and one that we have in fact taken up with specificity, and it is part of our final report that we will be issuing. We have already a draft on this issue, and we have addressed it. Do not assume that there are easy answers to this matter. Many containers come into this country uninspected--millions as a matter of fact. So these are substantial issues that will have to be taken up as part of a national strategy, particularly on the issues of water security.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE). What are the risks and what kind of recommendations are looking at in your third report?

GILMORE: (OFF-MIKE) Jack Marsh may wish to address this--or I'll start, Jack, and see if there's anything you wish to add, because he's been our specialist in this field.

There has been substantial concern thoroughly discussed at the last meeting, as a matter of fact, of the potential consequences of a cyber attack. We've devoted a great deal of attention to what would occur if there was a major cyber attack in conjunction with a major conventional attack or weapon of mass destruction--either one. Much of the United States today is highly technological. It operates on computer chips, on high communications, on cell phones, on the Internet, on webs--back and forth, a great deal of communications--communications if disrupted could have a significant impact on the attack itself. And we have been very focused on that and very concerned about that particular issues. And I believe that our final report will in fact have some recommendations with respect to this major concern.

Jack, do you wish to add anything?

MARSH: No, Governor. I think you covered it very well, except I would point out that the conclusion is that with the introduction of all this new technology, the law has failed to keep pace with that technology. The opportunities to disrupt our information systems are very real. There are problems that relate to law enforcement. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which we call FISA, poses certain problems because of the legal restrictions that impact on it in order to carry out the types of surveillance that you have to have of the Internet.

It is necessary to amend the 1934 Communications Act, which would give emergency services dedicated information capabilities.

The Defense Production Act will have to be amended in order to extend the emergency services of the national government. Cyber is a major concern, and sometimes its origins are not local or national, they are global, which raises other questions that relate to enforcement and extradition, but is a broad subject and the commission will address that in the next report.

QUESTION: Governor, the thrust of your work seems to be that a terrorist attack is inevitable (inaudible). Now we had a terrorist attack last week, a surprise attack. If all of your recommendations already made and those contemplated had been in effect, how would the response have been better? What more could have been done?

GILMORE: Well, to begin with you have to understand the perspective of how the Congress asked us to address this. It was considered to be a long three-year process. It was intended to be carefully thought through and very methodical in its approach. And in fact, we did get through the first two reports and all the way through the draft of the third report before this attack, in fact, occurred. The vice president, of course, communicated directly with us also.

What's the short answer? A recognition of the potential response, as we saw in the first report; a recognition that we did not have a national strategy. The response, I might say, which has been a major portion of our discussion, making sure we had a coordinated who's-in-charge, proper response capability--the response, I think, has been magnificent in New York and Virginia; very, very good, as a matter of fact. We want to make sure that if there are more attacks, more frequent attacks or if it goes up in a quantum leap to a weapon of mass destruction that we would have the similar type of successful response we've already had.

However, the other part of our report is that there needs to be a national strategy and it has to include freeing much of our intelligence assets so that they can be even more effective in their prevention. So we did quite a bit of discussion about prevention, at the same time we were really focusing our attention on response.

Much of our work guards against the day that we would have a similar, but even more horrifying attack on the country.

Is this helpful?

QUESTION: But there really isn't anything they could have done better than they actually did if all of your recommendations had been published.

GILMORE: No, I (inaudible) reach that conclusion. I think maybe I'll let you all read the reports and then will reach that conclusion. But certainly, a national strategy in place that directed the issues of response, as well as prevention over a period of years certainly would put this country in a better position than it is in today.

QUESTION: As the governor of Virginia, you must be concerned about the future of National Airport. Is this something you all might be taking a look at?

GILMORE: No. I doubt that that's within the scope of a national terrorism, weapons of mass destruction or local response commission. As governor of Virginia, of course, I'm naturally concerned. The closure of National Airport has a direct impact upon the economy of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Reagan National is in Virginia. And my hope is that certain security measures can be devised and created and put into effect that would reopen the airport. But that's once again--other authorities are going to make that decision as we go along.

I have not heard anybody say at any time that a decision has been made to close the airport on a permanent basis, and I hope that will not be the case.

QUESTION: What would you say to local and state emergency preparedness forces, hospitals, police and fire, to do this week, right now, while your recommendations are still being put together?

GILMORE: I think that they should be doing what they are always doing, except that they are always vigilant and always prepared, and states and localities have been working on emergency plans for a long time. It was the Arlington County Response Plan that was so successfully implemented that very quickly became harmonized into a state response when I declared a state emergency. But look at the success that the locality did in Arlington and the local areas in Northern Virginia, in terms of their response.

They should do what they are doing. And they should be more vigilant, because obviously we're in a very difficult and dangerous time, and they should be preparing. They should not go back, in my judgment, to just back to their routine. They should, in fact, be preparing on a higher basis, and I believe that is in fact occurring in the 50 states.

Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE).

GILMORE: Again, I'll let Secretary Marsh respond in addition to that also. But I might say that as former chairman of the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce, I know for a fact it is very difficult to regulate the Internet, very difficult. It's very difficult to do with taxes, cheerfully, but that same is going to apply. It's going to be very difficult to regulate this because it is a global communications system. But of course, all of our work also is focused on the entire array of communications that could occur by the use of computers and computer chips.

What can we do? I think that that our guidepost here is that it's something that must be at this point thoroughly planned out and prepared.

But I'm going to tell you, this is going to be difficult to do, because this is an international and a global means of communication. It is the ultimate free communication ability in the world today. Again, you come back to that balance again of people's civil liberties, of being able to communicate versus criminal activity. We've already addressed this in the pornography area and balanced that off as a matter of fact, and basically said there is no protected speech in pornography. Well, there's no protected speech in terrorist communication either. So let's see how we can do that without impinging upon the civil liberties of the people of the United States.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Governor Gilmore, what special challenges does the national capital region face, given the multijurisdictional nature of the area? And what is your response to reports this morning that the District of Columbia government apparently was woefully unprepared and uncoordinated in the wake of what happened at the Pentagon last week?

GILMORE: I actually didn't have time this morning to review that report in the newspaper, so I can't comment on that report. But I would say several things. The national capital is of course a target very rich, to be sure. Governor Glendening did call me on the day of the attack to offer any type of assistance and coordination that was necessary at the Pentagon. We in fact have had Maryland rescue people and fire and rescue and emergency services people from Montgomery County at least, if not others, on the scene at the Pentagon.

So in short, what has occurred is that already people of authority have pitched in at the time of a crisis. And fortunately, people were already trained and prepared to deal with an incident of this magnitude, certainly in Virginia.

Again in New York, this is a far greater magnitude of damage and death, but by all reports there is real heroism and success going on in that situation in the state of New York. And I'm very proud of the leadership of Mayor Giuliani and Governor Pataki.

QUESTION: Do you think that coordination between jurisdictions in the D.C. region needs to be reviewed at this point?

GILMORE: I think that--we all believe, I believe, that coordination in the entire United States of America needs to be reviewed, and that is the essence of our report. We have to understand a national strategy. It must include all levels of government. It must answer the questions of who is in authority and who is in charge so that you can be most efficient and effective, particularly against the day that we have something even worse.

QUESTION: Governor, there has been some talk in intelligence circles, anyway, that there's an awful lot of information available on the Internet by government agencies, by corporations, and what not, that could in effect provide targeting intelligence for terrorists--information about critical infrastructure, information about where chemicals are stored, information about the concentration in certain companies. Does that raise any issues?

GILMORE: Yes, it raises an issue of free speech and free operation of information versus the danger that information creates. We don't have an answer to this yet, other than the fact that people who want to be secure, of course, are going to take their independent actions to not put information on the Internet or in an open facility that could create some danger. I think today people are going to be more vigilant about that, and national standards may very well come out of the discussion that we are engaged in this day.

QUESTION: Governor, what issues or problems have you uncovered in the potential use of the military in response to terrorist attacks? What needs to be fixed?

GILMORE: I'm sorry, with respect to the military?

QUESTION: Using the military in response to domestic terrorist attacks.

GILMORE: Sure. We have thoroughly argued this out, not totally unanimously, but we have thought through these issues very, very closely.

The consensus of the commission is that a civilian lead authority needs to be in charge at all times first, and maybe always. We have suggested you use state emergency services people and their systems first; that that will automatically coordinate with FEMA; that federal resources come in thereafter in order to support the state and local response; and that the National Guard certainly can be in fact an augmenter. And finally if it gets bad enough, we would expect the Department of Defense to in fact be engaged in support of the response operations.

But we have expressed great specific caution about the early engagement of regular Army forces in the homeland of the United States, and do not believe that that should be the approach that is taken, certainly at least not initially.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

And another point if I might, your commission if I remember the origins of it, excluded somebody from the American Muslim Public Affairs Council, and (OFF-MIKE).

GILMORE: I'm not aware of anything like that.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

GILMORE: No, I'm not aware of...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

GILMORE: I've never heard of that.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Have you looked into that and how U.S. foreign policy shouldn't use people like that to pursue foreign policy ends (OFF-MIKE).

GILMORE: You're asking a major foreign policy question that's beyond the scope of this commission to be sure. Appropriate people elected and appointed to operate American foreign policy will have to weigh and balance all of that for the best interest of the people of the United States and the ultimate national security, which is the entire goal of foreign policy. To be sure, the goal of this commission has been to address the fact that for whatever consequential reason, there very well may be an attack in the borders of the United States, and we have addressed a proper way to respond.

I see I have not satisfied you.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) You mentioned FEMA a moment ago. During the Iran-Contra hearings, the commission went into executive session when there was a plan to suspend the Constitution, and that was discussed in executive session during the Iran-Contra hearings. Is any plan like that still on the books?

GILMORE: We do not know about anything like that, but I can tell you based upon the discussions we have had, we would summarily reject any type of approach like that.

QUESTION: On the civil liberties question, are there specific security measures that you've heard discussed (OFF-MIKE) that go too far in the direction of (OFF-MIKE)?

GILMORE: No, I don't think I want to suggest evil things.

QUESTION: Are there any that you've heard debated even in the wake of what happened on Tuesday?

GILMORE: No, not yet. And I don't think there should be either. There's no reason why you have to impinge upon the civil liberties of the people of the United States in order to put in protective measures and to address response issues in this country. It can and should be done, but we're Americans. We're the freest people in the world. It is what makes us unique. It is what makes us the beacon of the world, and there is no reason why we should ever surrender that most precious core value that makes us Americans.

Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company