- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 15, 2002

COLORADO SPRINGS Former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III said yesterday that his anti-terrorism task force will recommend funneling all intelligence data into a "fusion-intelligence center."
"I think that is going to become law," said Mr. Gilmore, head of a congressional advisory panel on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, also known as the Gilmore Commission.
Speaking at a conference here on post-September 11 safety, Mr. Gilmore also said the commission is leaning in favor of a domestic intelligence-gathering agency similar to the so-called MI-5 in Great Britain.
Like its British model, the agency would have no law enforcement authority but would be charged with gathering intelligence and infiltrating terrorist cells operating at home.
Despite fears of domestic terrorism, however, Mr. Gilmore said he still wasn't convinced that such an agency is necessary. "I'm keeping an open mind, but I'm extremely nervous about it," he said.
His remarks came at a Heritage Foundation seminar "One Year Later: How Much Safer Are We?" that also featured presentations by former CIA Director R. James Woolsey and Gen. Ralph E. Eberhardt, commander of the new U.S. Northern Command.
Most panelists concluded that the nation is indeed more secure since the terrorist attacks, though not as safe as it has to be.
Mr. Gilmore, who has led the anti-terrorism commission for nearly four years, cited better communication within the intelligence community, improved local law enforcement, a more alert private sector and the formation of the Northern Command as steps in the right direction.
But he warned that weaknesses remain, including the slow progress in Congress of the bill to create a Department of Homeland Security, a lack of funding and training for local agencies, and a need for more cooperative intelligence-sharing.
"We have a long, long way to go," Mr. Gilmore warned.
He argued that an intelligence-fusion center would enable law enforcement easier access to crucial terrorist data, eliminate redundant efforts and allow better anti-terrorism coordination.
But he and other panelists hesitated on whether to endorse the MI-5 idea. Its primary advantage would be its lack of law enforcement power, which could encourage the cooperation of informants fearful of the FBI or police.
"The British find they have a better time coordinating intelligence information with MI-5," Mr. Woolsey said.
But he argued that such an agency should be independent of the CIA. "I don't think we want the CIA doing that. We don't want the entity that we send abroad to lie, cheat and steal for us to turn those abilities loose on the United States," Mr. Woolsey said.
Although the MI-5 has won praise for its successes in countering Irish Republican Army attacks, Mr. Gilmore said he remained uncomfortable with the idea of spying on U.S. citizens at home.
"The American people don't like being overseen," he said.
Although the Bush administration has described its counterterrorism efforts as a war on terrorism, Mr. Woolsey said it would be more aptly described as a world war.
Saying that the United States had gone on a "national beach party" in the 1990s, Mr. Woolsey warned that the war against some radical Islamic factions could last for decades.
"We're not in a war on terrorism; we're in World War IV," he said.
With decades of letting such terrorist acts as the bombing of embassies pass with little resistance, the nation had sent a signal to its enemies that "this rich, spoiled, lazy, feckless society won't fight," Mr. Woolsey said.
"But we surprised them in Afghanistan, and I hope we surprise them again."

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