St. Louis Public Radio News
6:03 pm
Tue January 26, 2010

Talent says U.S. not ready for biological attack

St. Louis, MO – A congressionally mandated panel says the United States isn't ready for a biological terrorist attack.

The Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction
Proliferation and Terrorism gives the Obama administration a failing grade for its efforts to prepare for and respond to a biological attack, such as the release of deadly viruses or bacteria.

The commission's vice-chairman, former Missouri Senator Jim Talent, says the U-S government is not where it needs to be.

"We don't have in place the mechanisms which will tell us an attack has occurred. We don't have plans for surge capabilities. We don't have stockpiles. There's just not enough being done on a consistent and urgent basis."

Talent says no one in the Obama administration has taken the lead for protecting the country against bioterrorism.

"It isn't that there isn't a desire to do this. It's just that the way we've set this up, it just constantly gets pushed to a lower priority. And that's what's so frustrating," Talent said.

The White House says President Obama intends to announce a new plan during his State of the Union Address to more quickly respond to bioterrorism attacks and public health threats.