Lawmakers make strides in WMD fight

Bipartisan legislation was introduced last week that lawmakers hope will implement recommendations made by the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission.

The legislation, entitled H.R. 5498, the WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2010, was introduced by Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey and Republican Rep. Peter King of New York, the ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee.

H.R. 5498, reports, is designed to help the U.S. prevent, deter, detect and respond to an attack by a weapon of mass destruction.

“The WMD Commission has offered the sobering finding that a WMD attack is ‘likely’ to occur somewhere in the world by 2013,” King said, reports. “Public reports from former intelligence community officials indicate that Al Qaeda is seeking to acquire or develop WMDs, which they surely would seek to use against the U.S. This legislation will enhance America’s capabilities to protect American lives from such a WMD attack.”

The newly proposed legislation calls for increased bio-security efforts at national laboratories and stronger international measures to prevent biological terrorism like global pathogen surveillance. The bill also calls for federal emergency workers to increase their ability prevent or respond to an attack.

“The WMD Commission has told us that almost nine years after 9/11 we still do not have a comprehensive national strategy to counter the grave threat that weapons of mass destruction pose to our nation,” Pascrell said, reports. “The WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2010 we introduced today is in fact an extensive blueprint to address the greatest catastrophic risk we face and we are dedicated to getting it implemented.”

In January 2010, the WMD Commission issued a “report card” that gave mixed grades for the government’s efforts to secure the nation against the threat of weapons of mass destruction. The government received three “F” grades for failing to effectively prepare the United States for a biological attack, failing to implement retention and recruiting programs for national security experts, and failing to reform congressional oversight to better address intelligence and homeland security.