Senate Judiciary subcommittee to discuss nation's bioterror response ability

After a Justice Department report called the U.S. government’s ability to respond to an attack by weapons of mass destruction, including a bioterror attack, inadequate, a Senate Judiciary subcommittee will convene to assess the problem.

The Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland security will meet on August 4, with senior Justice Department and Homeland Security officials testifying, The Hill reports.

The subcommittee will pay particular attention to the May 2010 report by Glenn Fine, the inspector general of the Justice Department. The Fine report raised serious questions about the government's response capability in the face of a WMD attack. Fine will also testify at the subcommittee hearing.

“The Department of Justice as a whole…has not implemented adequate WMD response plans,” the Fine report said. “As a result, the department is not fully prepared to provide a coordinated response to a WMD incident.”

The intelligence lapses surrounding the attempted bombings in Times Square and on Northwest Flight 253, plus the Fort Hood shooting incident, have increased the matter’s urgency to some members of Congress.

There have been several other recent negative reports about the government’s WMD preparedness, including one this year from a blue-ribbon commission that gave the White House a failing grade.

In January of this year, the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism gave the Obama administration poor marks in implementing preventative measures outlined in a December 2008 report.

The report noted three major failing areas - the recruitment and training of new national security experts, effective preparation for a biological attack and congressional oversight on intelligence and national security.

Col. Randall Larsen, USAF retired, the committee’s executive director, will testify before the subcommittee.

“We gave America, as a whole, an ‘F,’” Larsen told The Hill.