Gilmore Report 1 – Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction
The possibility that terrorists will use “weapons of mass destruction (WMD)”6 in this country to kill and injure Americans, including those responsible for protecting and saving lives, presents a genuine threat to the United States. As we stand on the threshold of the twenty-first century, the stark reality is that the face and character of terrorism are changing and that previous beliefs about the restraint on terrorist use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) devices may be disappearing.
Beyond the potential loss of life and the infliction of wanton casualties, and the structural or environmental damage that might result from such an attack, our civil liberties, our economy, and indeed our democratic ideals could also be threatened. The challenge for the United States is first to deter and, failing that, to be able to
detect and interdict terrorists before they strike. Should an attack occur, we must be confident that local, state, and Federal authorities are well prepared to respond and to address the consequences of the entire spectrum of violent acts.
In recent years, efforts have clearly been focused on more preparations for such attacks. The bombings of the World Trade Center in New York and Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, coupled with the 1995 sarin nerve gas attack in Tokyo and the U.S. embassy bombings this past summer, have heightened American concern and have already prompted an array of responses across all levels of government. At the same time, the country’s seeming inability to develop and implement a clear, comprehensive, and truly integrated national domestic preparedness strategy means that we may still remain fundamentally incapable of responding effectively to a serious terrorist attack.