Graham, Talent: U.S. should do more to prevent terrorist attack

Published 23 December 2008

The leaders of the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism say that the incoming administration must do more, much more, to prevent a terrorist attack on the United States

Bob Graham is a former governor and U.S. senator from Florida, and chairman of the congressionally established Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism. Jim Talent is a former U.S. senator from Missouri, and is vice chairman of the commission (for more on the commission and its report, see 2 December 2008 HS Daily Wire).

Graham and Talent write that the U.S. margin of safety is shrinking, not growing. In fact, “on the current trajectory, we believe it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction — probably biological rather than nuclear — will be used somewhere in the world by the end of 2013,” they write.

To prevent this eventuality, they urge President-elect Barack Obama and Congress to do more, much more, along these lines:

Focus on bioterrorism. The united States must raise the priority of the most likely form of attack — bioterrorism — by mobilizing the life sciences community to develop protocols that prevent misuse of scientific research; tightening oversight of U.S. high-containment laboratories and the security of those around the world; improving U.S. response time in the event of an attack; and educating the American people in order to prevent panic. “We must lead the international community in the development of an action plan for universal adherence to and compliance with the anemic 36-year-old Biological Weapons Convention.”

Revamp U.S. policy toward Pakistan. The most senior U.S. intelligence officials continue to warn that the next terrorist attack on the United States or an ally is likely to originate from Pakistan. The U.S.“government must step up its efforts to remove terrorist safe havens, secure nuclear and biological materials in Pakistan, counter and defeat extremist ideology, and constrain the budding nuclear-arms race in Asia.”

Reinvigorate the nuclear nonproliferation agenda. North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon, and Iran has been rapidly developing capabilities that will enable it to build nuclear weapons. “We must be resolute in our intention to stop these dangerous programs, strengthening the International Atomic Energy Agency with more authority and resources, while continuing vigorous efforts to stop nuclear trafficking.”

The writers conclude: “our report does not sugarcoat the threat. The world is at risk. But we are not helpless. Our recommendations, if promptly and decisively adopted, can increase the margin of safety for New York, America and the world.”