- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III said yesterday the likelihood of terrorists using chemical or biological warfare against Americans is unlikely but that state and federal governments still should be prepared for such attacks.
The Republican governor, who heads a three-year, congressionally chartered commission on terrorism, said he believes non-state-sponsored terrorist groups, like the ones headed by Osama bin Laden, don't have access to lethal chemicals like anthrax and mustard gas.
But, Mr. Gilmore said, state and local emergency teams and hospitals should stockpile vaccines or antidotes and develop ways to effectively distribute medications in response to such attacks.
"We're not willing to discount that such an attack can occur, and we believe measures have to be taken to deal with it," said Mr. Gilmore, who is chairman of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction. The commission has been studying the changing threats to U.S. security and the kinds of responses the nation will have to make.
"Such an attack has a high consequence, but not a high probability," Mr. Gilmore said.
The governor made the comments yesterday morning at the National Press Club in the District, where he renewed the panel's call for a national strategy to prevent or respond to terrorist attacks like those that struck Washington and New York a week ago today.
Because of the attacks, the panel will move up the release of its third and final report, which was scheduled to be issued in mid-December.
That report includes specific recommendations on border security and the use of the military and the nation's medical systems during terrorist attacks. The panel suggests that the military should never head a domestic terrorism investigation but only lend support to a civilian agency in charge.
The panel is expected to meet Monday to review the report's final draft and set a new release date.
Mr. Gilmore said the third report will include recommendations based on the experiences of "first responders" after last week's attacks. "These are the very people who put themselves on the front lines on this new kind of battlefield."
A national strategy, instead of the federal plan currently in place, would give local police and fire departments and emergency medical personnel more say in planning and executing responses to terrorist attacks, Mr. Gilmore said.
The strategy would be built on the existing network for responding to natural and man-made disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, toxic chemical spills and nuclear accidents.
"The federal government cannot address this threat alone," Mr. Gilmore said.
The panel was created in 1999, a year after the bomb attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. It is supported by the Rand Corp. in Arlington.
The panel has compiled two earlier reports, each listing recommendations for improving the country's preparedness against terrorism. Both reports included warnings that a terrorist attack inside the United States was "inevitable" and "more lethal."
The panel issued both reports to the president and Congress. Mr. Gilmore said yesterday Congress has reviewed the panel's recommendations but has not yet implemented any of them. Both reports are available at Rand's Web site (www.rand.org).
"Our efforts to date have been largely reactionary, to a threat not clearly understood," Mr. Gilmore said. "We must heed the threat of a more exotic attack by weapons of mass destruction."
However, Mr. Gilmore warned that any security policies should not take away the rights of Americans
"Americans should not be asked to give up any liberties," he said. "That makes the enemies win. You can take proper action, without asking people to give up their freedoms."

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