Graham and Talent present WMD report card

Former Bob Graham and Jim Talent will presented their latest report card this week detailing how far the nation must go to prepare for what they see as a nearly inevitable biological attack.
While the U.S. has spent more than $60 billion since 2001 to defend against a hypothetical strike using biological weapons, Graham and Talent have long been critical of the county's preparedness and gave the country a failing grade on biodefense preparedness in early 2010. Their 2008 prediction that the nation will likely suffer a biological attack by 2013 pushed legislation in both the Senate and the House to stiffen national defense, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Advances in synthetic biology have led to concerns that terrorist groups could engineer deadly bugs that could kill hundreds of thousands of people. Some experts, however, think that the threat of bioterror as a result of scientific progress is overstated.
"There's so many consultants wandering around Washington explaining that high-school students can do this stuff—which they can, in the sense that a million monkeys can write Shakespeare," Stephen Maurer, a WMD and homeland-security expert at the University of California at Berkeley, said, according to the Wall Street Journal. "Running an R&D program that has a reasonable chance of inflicting mass casualties is a very different proposition."
Lynne Kidder, the president of the WMD Center, said that the focus should be less on trying to prevent an attack with biological weapons and more on vaccines, antibiotics and other medical treatments that can limit casualties.
"You cannot contain all the pathogens, so we have to have the ability to minimize the impact of an attack—and that can have a deterrent effect," Kidder said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
While the U.S. government has stockpiled plenty of countermeasures for threats like smallpox, progress for other threats, including anthrax, have moved slowly and have seen their budget slashed in recent years.