US Gets Mostly 'D' Grades on Bio Attack Readiness

Wednesday, 12 Oct 2011 11:13 PM

By Paul Scicchitano

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The United States gets mostly “D” grades in a new report on the nation’s preparedness to withstand a large-scale biological attack or deadly disease outbreak.

Citing the “report card” from the Bipartisan WMD Terrorism Research Center, The Hill also reported that terrorists now have greater access to biological weapons because of scientific advances in biotechnology during the past decade.

“A thinking enemy, armed with biological weapons, could change the very nature of America — our economy, our government, and even our social structure,” says former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., who heads the center along with former Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo. “America does not yet have adequate bio-response capability to meet fundamental expectations during a large-scale biological event.”

The report measured various categories of threats, including detection and diagnosis, attribution, communication, the availability of a medical countermeasure, medical management, and environmental cleanup.

Although the United States also earned a “C” grade for communication in the event of a large-scale biological attack with an epidemic number of illnesses or deaths affecting one or more cities, it improved significantly in its ability to respond to a small-scale attack.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., described the findings as “disturbing.” King is pushing for Congress to approve the Homeland Security Authorization Act of 2012, which he says will address some of the findings.

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