WMD recommendations turn to action-items

November 6th, 2009

Last year, the bi-partisan Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism provided the grave warning that “unless the world community acts decisively and with great urgency, it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013.”  The Commission’s report, World at Risk, emphasized the ease with which a terrorist group could assemble a biological weapon of mass destruction and provided several recommendations to different U.S. sectors to improve the situation. Congress said ‘give us more,’ and took the unprecedented step of asking the Commission to stay on and turn its recommendations into action-items.

To that end, this year’s report, The Clock is Ticking, points out areas in need of urgent attention, and cites specific steps for improvement.  Perhaps the most glaring failure is the lack of funding and leadership our government has provided for vaccine development which would counter not only the effects of a flu like novel H1N1, but also a biological attack.  For example, the report points out that the outgoing Bush Administration requested $969 million in additional funding for HHS’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), but did not include it in the stimulus package.  The Obama Administration’s request for BARDA in FY 2010 was only $305 million, which the Commission finds “insufficient by a factor of ten.”

The Clock is Ticking is an interim report, to be followed by a full report card.  Grades are due out in January 2010.

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