Brooks Holds Hearing on Bioterrorism Threat
As Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications, Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN5) held the first in a series of hearings earlier this week aiming to raise awareness regarding the threat of bioterrorism.
"The bipartisan Weapons of Mass Destruction Center released a Bio-Response Report Card in October 2011, which evaluated our nation's response capabilities for a bioterrorism attack,” Brooks said. “Sadly, the majority of the grades were D’s or F’s. The experts at this important hearing provided sobering testimony that while some progress has been made in this area, the WMD Center's assessment of our capabilities is still accurate."
Testimony was supplied by:
- Dr. Robert Kadlec, former Special Assistant and Senior Director for Biodefense Policy for President George W. Bush.
- Dr. Tom Inglesby, CEO and Director, University of Pittsburg Medical Center, Center for Health Security.
- Dr. Leonard Cole, Director, Program on Terror Medicine and Security, Department of Emergency Medicine, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
Subcommittee members and witnesses discussed the Anthrax attacks of 2001 that killed five people and sickened more than 20 others.
"It has been nearly 13 years since the 2001 anthrax attacks,” Brooks said. “These coordinated and deadly attacks brought government offices and national media outlets to a standstill. Unfortunately, these attacks have receded from too many people's memories. The threat of bioterrorism remains and we must renew and improve efforts to protect our citizens from potential attacks.”
Members of the subcommittee expressed bipartisan concern over lackluster efforts between federal agencies to coordinate preparation and prevention efforts. The White House has not charged a federal official with ensuring agencies like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are sharing information and planning together.
During her opening statement, Congresswoman Brooks also spoke about ongoing efforts to ensure DHS dollars are being spent in an efficient and accountable manner.
“At the request of Ranking Member Payne and myself, as well as the Chairman and Ranking member of the full Committee, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is conducting a review of the National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC) to determine whether the NBIC is working to its potential, whether it’s providing value to Federal participants, and whether it continues to be worthy of our vital security dollars,” Brooks said. “The Subcommittee is also continuing its oversight of the BioWatch Program, the Office of Health Affairs’ flagship program designed to detect aerosolized bioterror agents.”
To watch the full opening statement, click here.