Former Sen. Talent supports the WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2011

Former Senator Jim Talent (R-Missouri) recently spoke to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security Hearing about his support for the WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2011.

Talent asked that his testimony be considered a joint statement with former Senator Bob Graham (D-Florida), on behalf of the Bipartisan WMD Terrorism Research Center, better known as the WMD Center, according to

The WMD Center supports the WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2011, but notes that moving the bill through Congress’ various committees and subcommittees fully intact remains a challenge.

“The WMD Center is not in the business of assigning grades to specific pieces of legislation; however, if we were in that business, this carefully-crafted, comprehensive bill would receive high marks,” Talent said, reports. “If all articles within this legislation were to become law, it would represent progress for America’s biodefense capabilities.”

Talent, though positive about the new legislation, remained cautious about the long-term future of America’s biodefense policy.

“While we enthusiastically support this legislation, we also must ask, is it enough?” Talent said.

Talent singled out the re-establishment of the position of Special Assistant to the President for Biodefense as an example of the bill’s positive direction, with an added note of concern over what still needs to be accomplished.

“While the WMD Center fully supports your call to re-establish the position of Special Assistant to the President for Biodefense, we understand that doing so will not fix all the deficiencies in leadership and organizational structure for America’s biodefense enterprise,” Talent said.

With the WMD Center’s first major project, a report card focused on America’s capability to respond to a large-scale biological event, scheduled for completion in mid-October, Talent also took the opportunity to explain how the center is conducting its research and what it expects to achieve.

“It will consist of three parts: a review of the threat, an assessment of America’s current capabilities to effectively respond to act of bioterrorism, and recommendations that will set us on the course to reach our goal: removing bioterrorism from the category of WMD,” Talent said. “While we will never be able to remove nuclear weapons from the category of WMD, it is within our power to remove bioterrorism from the category.”

Because select agents are ubiquitous in nature and rapid advances in biotechnology have given non-state actors the capability to produce sophisticated bioweapons, Talent said that the major role of a national biodefense strategy should be preparedness.

Talent, the WMD Center’s vice-chairman, and Graham, the WMD Center’s chairman, founded the organization along with Colonel Randy Larsen, USAF (ret.), at the conclusion of the Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism in 2010.