Report: Bioterrorism safeguards lagging

Oct. 21, 2009 at 11:20 AM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- While the Obama administration is working to curtail nuclear threats, it has failed to address bioterrorism threats, a congressional commission reports.

The bipartisan Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction said the lapse in biosecurity policy by the White House has left the country vulnerable, USA Today reported Wednesday.

The commission was to present its report Wednesday, but USA Today obtained a copy before its official release.

The panel warned that anthrax spores released by a crop-duster could "kill more Americans than died in World War II," USA Today reported.

The economic impact of such a release could exceed $1.8 trillion, the report said.

The government's efforts "have not kept pace with the increasing capabilities and agility of those who would do harm to the United States," the report said. "The consequences of ignoring these warnings could be dire."

Protecting the United States against deadly weapons is among President Barack Obama's "top national security priorities," White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said.

Shapiro says the government is spending $3.5 billion to protect against the H1N1 flu and is evaluating broader "all-hazards" spending.

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