Gilmore Commission

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The Gilmore Commission is the informal name for the Congressionally-appointed Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction[1], chaired by former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III.

Between 1999 and 2003, the seventeen-member Gilmore Commission assessed America's domestic capabilities at the Federal, State, and local levels for responding to terrorist attacks in the U.S. involving weapons of mass destruction. The Commission released five reports during its tenure and made 164 recommendations, with 146 adopted by Congress and various government agencies.[2]

The Gilmore Commission Advisory Panel was established by the RAND Corporation's National Defense Research Institute (a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC)), as the result of a contract between the Institute and the Secretary of Defense.

Recommendations to Guarantee Civil Liberties

In its fifth and final report, released in 2003, the Commission called on the George W. Bush administration to craft a clear national homeland security strategy, and also recommended the creation of "an independent, bipartisan oversight board to provide counsel on homeland security efforts that may impact civil liberties, even if such impacts are unintended. The commission says the board is needed because of the potential chilling effect of government monitoring conducted in the name of homeland security."[2]

“There will never be a 100 percent guarantee of security for our people, the economy, and our society,” Gilmore writes in the report’s cover letter. “We must resist the urge to seek total security—it is not achievable and drains our attention from those things that can be accomplished.”[2]

The report expresses concern about protecting freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution, which could be violated by government’s increased reliance on sophisticated technology that has vast potential to invade personal privacy. [2]

See also:

  • Terror Panel Seeks Civil Liberties Board, AP, December 14, 2003: "President Bush should appoint an advisory board to assess how new anti-terrorism measures such as the Patriot Act have affected Americans' civil liberties, a new report by a federal terrorism commission ... Gilmore, a Republican, also expresses concern that the Bush administration has failed to develop a comprehensive, forward-looking strategy to combat terrorism more than two years after the 2001 terrorist attacks. .. Details of the report, to be released Monday, were first reported by Time magazine on its Web site Saturday [December 13, 2003]."
  • Terrorism and Liberty, New York Times Op-Ed, December 23, 2003: "After four years of work, a federal commission on terrorism issued its final report last week. The report was unremarkable except for one recommendation that shone brightly through the usual thicket of bureaucratic prose. Aggressive antiterrorism policies, the report suggested, when combined with increasingly sophisticated surveillance technologies, could have a 'chilling effect' on the right to privacy and other fundamental civil liberties. To prevent that from happening, the commission recommended that the White House establish a bipartisan panel to review how constitutional guarantees would be affected by all new laws and regulations aimed at enhancing national security."

Criticism of George W. Bush's public-private cybersecurity partnerships

In 2002, the Gilmore Commission criticized the Bush administration's "incessant focus on public/private partnerships to improve cybersecurity an inadequate solution for the job at hand."[3]

The 2002 report faulted the Bush administration's draft cybersecurity plan because it "relies on private sector willingness to take certain security measures and bear their costs, and chooses not to use government's power to legislate, regulate or otherwise require certain actions."

"So far pure public/private partnerships and market forces are not acting ... to protect the cybercommunity," it said. "There is a belief [on the commission] that there needs to be an entirely different commission focusing on the issue of critical infrastructure."


"The Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Attorney General, the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has entered into a contract with the National Defense Research Institute (NDRI), a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) at the RAND Corporation, to establish the Advisory Panel in accordance with Section 1405 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999, Public Law 105-261 (H.R. 3616, 105th Congress, 2nd Session) (October 17, 1998)."

Reports and Other Documents

Contact details

Hilary Peck
RAND Corporation
1200 South Hayes Street
Arlington, VA 22202-5050
Phone: 703 413-1100, Ext. 5683
Fax: 703 413-8111
Email: wmdpanel AT

Related SourceWatch Resources


  1. [Gilmore Commission page, RAND National Security Response Institute, accessed September 7, 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Gilmore Commission Calls for Improved Homeland Security Strategy", December 15, 2003 press release, GlobalSecurity.Org, accessed September 7, 2010.
  3. Gilmore Commission Critical of Bush Cybersecurity Plan, December 17, 2002, Computerworld, accessed September 7, 2010.