Congressional commission says threat of bioterrorism not being addressed

An interim report by the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism states that the United States has failed to address the threat of bioterrorism.

The commission, created by Congress in 2007 and chaired by former Senators Bob Graham and Jim Talent, stated that a bioterror attack worldwide is more likely than not by the end of 2013 in its interim report.

The report also says that lawmakers and the administration have underfunded efforts to aid in the development of vaccines and drugs.

The commission's report also calls for the naming of a high-level National Security Council appointee to improve biodefenses.

Additionally, the commission has criticized President Obama's request for $305 million in 2010 for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, calling that number insufficient by a factor of ten.

A White House spokesman has said that the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has $2 billion available to it next year and $6 billion to develop H1N1 flu countermeasures. The spokesman also said that protecting the American public from WMD threats of any kind, including biological, is among the top national security priorities of the president.

The commission has previously published the report World at Risk in December 2008, which recognized that the U.S. government has not yet fully adapted to the current circumstances of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. That report identified specific actions that should be taken.

Thirteen recommendations were made in World at Risk for Congress and the current administration. Congress has authorized an additional year of work by the commission to aid Congress and the administration in turning the recommendations into actions.