Auditors Fault Pentagon Sorting of Biggest Bioweapon Threats

A participant in a Marine Corps-led biodefense drill moves through an Amtrak train in New York City in 2012. Congressional investigators said the Defense Department is not following its own policy to regularly reconsider its list of top biological-weapon threats.
National Journal
May 16, 2014, 10:54 a.m.

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.

What We're Following See More »
CONCERNED ABOUT A PUBLIC SPECTACLE
Mueller Agrees to Testify, but Only in Private
1 days ago
THE LATEST
FEDERAL JUDGE WON'T BLOCK SUBPOENA OF BANK RECORDS
Trump Loses in Court Again
2 days ago
THE LATEST
SAYS HE CAN'T DO IT WHILE INVESTIGATIONS CONTINUE
Trump Pulls the Plug on Infrastructure
2 days ago
THE LATEST
ADMINISTRATION IS 0-FOR-1 ON STONEWALLING THIS WEEK
Parties Go to Court Today Over Trump Banking Records
3 days ago
THE LATEST
ARRIVAL UNDER "EXTREME SECRECY"
Tillerson Talking to House Foreign Affairs
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was spotted entering a congressional office building on Tuesday morning for what a committee aide told The Daily Beast was a meeting with the leaders of the House Foreign Affairs committee and relevant staff about his time working in the Trump administration. ... Tillerson’s arrival at the Capitol was handled with extreme secrecy. No media advisories or press releases were sent out announcing his appearance. And he took a little noticed route into the building in order to avoid being seen by members of the media."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login