WMD commission criticizes administration on bioterrorism

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The United States is failing to address the threat of bioterrorism, according to leaders of a bipartisan panel that warns that an attack worldwide is more likely than not by the end of 2013.

The Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, created by Congress in 2007, said in an interim report Wednesday that the administration and lawmakers have underfunded efforts to develop vaccines and drugs and have not named a high-level National Security Council appointee to improve biodefenses.

"The clock is ticking," said former senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), the commission's chairman.

The task force criticized President Obama for requesting $305 million in 2010 for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which it called "insufficient by a factor of 10."

White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said that BARDA has $2 billion available next year and $6 billion to develop H1N1 flu countermeasures.

"Protecting the American people from WMD threats -- whether nuclear, biological, or chemical -- is among the president's top national security priorities," he said.

-- Spencer S. Hsu


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