FBI Director Comey discusses WMD response efforts

FBI Director James Comey outlined the national approach for preventing and responding to threats from weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on May 21 at a Senate Committee on the Judiciary oversight hearing.

Comey described the role of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate (WMDD), which the FBI created to integrate different disciplines under a unified command structure. The WMDD utilizes counterterrorism, intelligence, counterintelligence and technology specialists to investigate WMD threats and incidents.

"Using this integrated approach, the directorate leads WMD policy development, planning, and response to ensure its efforts result in a comprehensive response capability that fuses investigative and technical information with intelligence to effectively resolve WMD threats," Comey said.

The WMDD, along with the Counterintelligence Division, form the FBI's Counterproliferation Center (CPC). The CPC has been responsible for the arrests of approximately 65 suspects since its inception in 2011.

"Along with these arrests, the CPC has increased its operational tempo to collect valuable intelligence on proliferation networks," Comey said.

The staff devoted to WMD investigation includes FBI Headquarters personnel, 56 field coordinators and two assistant legal attaches. The FBI also conducts outreach and liaison efforts with the private sector, academia and other non-governmental partners.

Comey also detailed the FBI's forward-deployed evidence response efforts, which work in conjunction with local officials and WMD experts to respond to incidents involving hazardous materials.