Auditors say the Defense Department is not following its own procedures for guarding against “potentially catastrophic” biological strikes.
Pentagon rules require the agency each year to revisit its list of top biological-weapon threats, with an eye to possibly reshuffling the order of agents deemed most dangerous to its military personnel and civilians, the congressional Government Accountability Office said in a report issued on Thursday.
“Yet, [the Defense Department] does not follow its established process for updating its biological threat priorities,” auditors wrote in their assessment.
Failing to regularly weigh the relative risks posed by various weapon candidates, they said, makes it unclear whether the United States is pursuing medical treatments for “the most serious and likely biological threats.”
The Defense Department backed the report’s findings, according to a letter from Andrew Weber, the Pentagon’s assistant secretary for nuclear, chemical, and biological defense programs.
The Pentagon would review its biodefense directives “to ensure they align with current … planning processes,” Weber wrote last week.
GAO auditors described “progress” in related areas, including Defense Department coordination with other federal offices to prepare against biological threats.
The Health and Human Services and Defense departments “have developed interagency agreements and other tools that facilitate communication on the various stages of medical countermeasure development,” auditors wrote.
In addition, the Pentagon has worked with the Homeland Security Department on measures “for identifying biological agents that pose domestic threats and risks,” the report states.
The Defense Department maintains sole responsibility for preparing medical countermeasures for U.S. military personnel.
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The Democratic National Committee issued a formal apology to Bernie Sanders today, after leaked emails showed staffers trying to sabotage his presidential bid. "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email," DNC officials said in the statement. "These comments do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process. The DNC does not—and will not—tolerate disrespectful language exhibited toward our candidates."
The chairman of the DCCC said Debbie Wasserman Schultz won't be getting financial help from the organization this year, even as she faces a well-funded primary challenger. "Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) said the committee’s resources will be spent helping Democrats in tough races rather than those in seats that are strongholds for the party." Executive Director Kelly Ward added, “We never spend money in safe seats."
Debbie Wasserman Schultz has given up her last remaining duty at this week's convention. Now, she's told her hometown newspaper, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, that she will not gavel in the convention today. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will do the honors instead. "I have decided that in the interest of making sure that we can start the Democratic convention on a high note that I am not going to gavel in the convention," Wasserman Schultz said.
Perhaps this talk of unity has been overstated. Addressing a room full of his supporters today, Bernie Sanders heard "sustained boos" when he said he said it was essential that we elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.
The FBI this morning issued a statement saying it is "investigating a cyber intrusion involving the DNC," adding that "a compromise of this nature is something we take very seriously." Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's campaign is suggesting that the hack "was committed by Russia to benefit Donald Trump."