Panel releases guidelines for battling terrorism

A congressionally mandated panel that has the ear of the Bush administration and key lawmakers detailed its anti-terrorism recommendations on Monday, offering its thoughts on the use of the military in response to terrorist threats, border security, cybersecurity and the national health and medical networks.

The Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction expedited the release of its third and final report--originally scheduled for December--after the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks in the United States. It expects to forward its recommendations to the White House and Capitol Hill within a "couple of weeks."

In an effort to combat cyber terrorism, the panel--known as the Gilmore Commission after its chairman, Virginia Gov. James Gilmore--recommended that any entity advising the President have "broad representation" from state and local governments and private industries that depend on information security. The panel noted that the advisory group proposed by the Bush administration to examine critical infrastructure includes only senior national security officials.

The Gilmore Commission also recommended the establishment of a government-funded group representing all stakeholders--including law enforcement and private business--to provide cyber-security alerts and functions.

The panel found "major shortcomings" in the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center, RAND project director Michael Wermuth said at the panel's meeting.

The commission also suggested that Congress and the executive branch hold a summit to address what changes in current law will be necessary to address cybersecurity issues. A "cyber court" also should be created for U.S. attorneys, according to the final report.

"This is the best way to be effective while at the same time protect civil rights," Wermuth said, stressing that the panel repeatedly emphasized that national security should not come at the expense of civil rights.

The group recommended the creation of a federally funded consortium for cyber security. Its task would be to develop a plan for testing and evaluating cybersecurity research.

The panel also said the federal government should reestablish the operational capabilities of its effort to combat the Year 2000 computer bug as a way to combat cyberterrorism.

Gilmore said President Bush is "aware" of the report because Vice President Richard Cheney met with the group in May. Gilmore also said Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge--who will head the newly created Office of Homeland Security--told Gilmore on Friday that he "wants very much" to get input from the Gilmore Commission.

The commission also is getting more attention on Capitol Hill.

Gilmore told National Journal's Technology Daily that he spoke with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham, D-Fla., over the weekend, and Graham was "very interested in the entire range and array" of the recommendations.

He said Graham is considering legislation on the issue. So far, Graham is working on legislation that would expand the length of some court orders to a year, and he supports efforts to give law enforcement broader powers to track e-mail and Web-surfing activities.

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