By CNN's Jim Barnett
The United States remains largely unprepared for a large-scale bioterrorism attack or deadly disease outbreak, according to the WMD Terrorism Research Center.
The finding are in a report card released Wednesday, which gave the country 15 failing grades in categories ranging from detection to medical countermeasures.
The report card gave 15 F's,15 D's and no A's in its assessment of current bio-defense capabilities in the United States.
The bipartisan center, headed by former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida, and former Sen. Jim Talent, R-Missouri, did find improvements since the 9-11 2001 attacks, but its analysis suggests the nation's readiness to respond to various levels of biological disasters remains a work in progress.
In a news release accompanying the report card, the Center said, "In the past decade the United States government has spent more than $65 billion on bio-defense, and yet it has done so without an end-to-end, strategic assessment of the nation's bio-response capabilities."
The bio-response report card gave the United States failing grades when it came to detection, medical countermeasures, dispensing, medical management and environmental clean-up in a contagious large scale and global crisis.
"America does not yet have adequate bio-response capability to meet fundamental expectations during a large-scale biological event," said Graham.
However, the report card suggests the country's ability to detect a small-scale attack and effectively communicate about it is improving. The Center gave the United States largely B's and C's in the category of communication.
One of the big concerns facing the United States is how quickly the country might react if terrorists launched an attack with biological weapons. "I think they'd have a psychological effect and potentially a huge effect in terms of human life," said Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, in a recent CNN interview.
Federal funding for public health departments dropped 15 percent in the last year and despite improved collaboration, hospitals still have limited capability to ramp up personnel and beds.
"Most major hospitals in this country are operating at 80, 90, 95 percent capacity on any given day, and I would think they would be sorely challenged to deal with hundreds, much less thousands or tens of thousands of casualties. And a circus tent in a parking lot is not going to make up the difference," said Dr. Arthur Kellerman with the RAND Corporation.
The report points out "advances in biotechnology have now enabled a small team of individuals with college-level training to create biological weapons."
The WMD Center recommends the United States needs to focus on improving response capabilities. The report card cites among its priorities leadership that sets clear priorities, mobilizing response planning and investment in science.
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Let's shout it from the rooftops so our enemies can see our weak spots and head straight for them! Geez!
This really is not something new to anyone who has any experience in lab work. I am more worried about rogue scientists cooking up something funny in their basement in their grand delusional dream of apocalypse.
We'll never be prepared. What country could be prepared for bio-terrorism? By the time we know what's going on, millions of people could be exposed. No country can handle that level of medical triage.
I mean, they only spent $65 billion. What kind of results are you expecting when you just throw chump change at the problem? Sheesh.
Whoever did that streak on the BA plate really screwed up. Most of the people in my senior undergrad microbio lab class can streak better than that >.<
Those look like single cell colonies in the center of the plate, meaning this is a good streak.
I wouldn't call just a few single cell colonies a good streak.
Let me guess. These guys are JUST the people to contract with the government to show us how we should prepare for a bio-attack.
Articles like this seem more like a subliminal warning than anything else.
My question is- who the heck even passes these 'tests'? show me a country that meets or surpasses these standards? what are we comparing to? What are we measuring? once we can understand that maybe these tests might mean something.
The super secret terrorism folks are trying to find reasons to keep their jobs. We need some leaders with balls to disassemble the horrible collection of secret security agencies created since 9/11
What else is new, our country doesn’t seem to be prepared for anything.
this is retarted.......the gov. really needs to put the money where it counts
Question: Why would they use bioterrorism on us if it would COME BACK AND AFFECT THEM? Would their goal be to extinct the human race?
Who are "they". Where are "they"? Terrorists don't wear uniforms, don't have national allegiances. The people behind 9-11 were a small group that moved from country to country. We got bogged down in two places for a decade now while they moved to the hills and then Africa. How do you propose to "return fire" to terrorist attackers?
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I'd like to see this group tackle the problem of how to keep health care costs from going up even more while building our capacity for bio-defense. I feel this is a case of over-simplifying an issue.
Bioterrorism is nothing compared to the danger of multiple-resistant bacteria created by giving antibiotics to cattle.
Thank you for pointing out a much more realistic problem in this country. Forget the terrorists, we'll bring about our own doom if we keep using antibiotics like they're a never-ending supply of magic voodoo that can be abused till the end of time. Brilliant plan to use antibiotics for animals that aren't even sick.
The fear machine is at it again!
Yep – more fear and propaganda. Scare the heck out of the public so the government can justify spending money we don't have on additional security resources that try to lure the public into a false sense of security. Nobody is ready for bio-terrorism.
Agreed that no one is ready to protect themselves. The question is – is anyone ready to do the attacking? That's both easier and cheaper. Responders don't set the time table, attackers do.
Gotta love these publically released reports with giant neon arrows saying "Here is a viable terrorism strategy." Morons.
We fail on EMP weapon preparedness, too. Read "One Second After" ... a work of fiction, but very realistic.
Whatever. Just like Bush trying to find an excuse to invade Iraq with WMD. Now, what? Iran? Giddety! NO!
I really hope Obama doesn't get bullies into another war....
But look at it this way! Diplomats and flunkies for oppressive, woman-hating, america-bombing regimes like the Saudi government are safe on our soil! So our war on terror money was plainly spent on all the right things!
Then why in the @#$% do you report this then? Isn't that like a nude woman running around a bunch of prison convicts who have not seen a woman for years? Don't you think that isn't that asking for somethig bad to happen? Between Hollywood and CNN they give the terrorists fodder for years on how to f with the USA.
its true tho why do we advertise are weeknesses
Don't you think they know already? It's just regular citizens who are kept in the dark. No sense scaring the sheeple. If something does happen, government as another great crisis to grab some liberties.