Gilmore Commission Briefs Vice President Dick Cheney

On May 24, 2001, the leadership of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction (also known as the "Gilmore Commission") briefed Vice President Cheney and several of his senior staff on the work of the commission. RAND provided research, analytical, and logistical support to the commission under contract with the Department of Defense. On May 8, President Bush had asked Vice President Cheney "to oversee the development of a coordinated national effort" to address the "potential use of a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapon in the United States" (Statement by the President, May 8, 2001).

RAND project director Michael Wermuth accompanied commission chairman James S. Gilmore, III, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and vice chairman James S. Clapper, Jr. (Lt. Gen., USAF, Ret.) to the hour-and-a-half long meeting in the Vice President's West Wing office.

During the meeting, the Vice President was provided details of the terrorism threat assessment compiled by panel members and RAND analysts Bruce Hoffman, Bill Rosenau, and Peter Chalk (contained in the commission's first report to the President and the Congress, December 1999), and on the specific policy recommendations contained in the commission's second report (December 2000), including:

  • Developing a comprehensive strategy for combating terrorism that is truly national in scope--not just federal--which takes into account the requirements of state and local response entities and which encompasses deterrence, prevention, preparedness, and response against foreign and domestic threats;
  • Establishing a structure within the Executive Office of the President, which will have programmatic and budget oversight of the activities for combating terrorism in more than 40 federal agencies, and the responsibility for working with states and localities for a coordinated national effort;
  • Creating a process in the U.S. Congress for better coordination among the various committees that have jurisdiction over terrorism programs;
  • Implementing several functional improvements in intelligence; information sharing; planning, coordination, and operations among federal, state, and local agencies; training, equipment, and exercise programs; public health and medical capabilities; research and development; national standards; and cyber security.

The briefing summarized the thoughtful deliberations of the commission and provided an opportunity to present the Vice President with the significant research and analysis accomplished by various RAND research staff.

The commission will submit its third and final report to the President and the Congress in December of this year.