- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2001

A national strategy to combat terrorism should not compromise the Bill of Rights, members of a presidentially appointed counterterrorism panel said yesterday.
"Americans must never be asked to give up a single solitary right that they have under the Constitution," said Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III, who has chaired the advisory panel since its creation in April 1999. He said the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 have accelerated efforts to produce the panel's third and final report.
Although the document is not due until December, it will be released to members of Congress early next month as members consider a raft of counterterrorism proposals.
"We're not trying to set up some superintelligence agency," Mr. Gilmore said. He and other panel members see the role of the new Office of Homeland Security as a planning and coordination agency. Its primary duties would include budgetary oversight, with little emphasis on investigation, interdiction and apprehension of terrorists.
Mr. Gilmore said state and local authorities should work with federal law enforcement agencies to respond to any threats. "If that's overwhelmed you, bring in the [National] Guard or the military as a last resort," Mr. Gilmore said.
The meeting was held at the Rand Corp. headquarters just blocks away from the soot-stained western wall of the Pentagon, where terrorists flew an American Airlines jet into the building.
The 17-member panel was also directly touched by similar terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. Member Raymond Downey, the New York City Fire Department's commander of special operations, died when he was struck by falling debris as the twin towers collapsed.
Members of the panel contend those events have not altered the final recommendations they will make to the White House.
"Some of the things we've been saying now for two years are still very relevant," said Michael A. Wermuth, a Rand senior policy analyst. Creation of a national anti-terrorism office was included in the panel's second report, released last December.
"There's going to be reaction in this country, and we want to ensure that it's well-timed and appropriately focused," said panel member George Foresman, deputy state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

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