[Note: A transcript of this meeting is unavailable. The discussion is summarized below.]
November 6, 2001
Jonathan B. Tucker, Speaker
Daniel Fox, Presider
On November 6th, the CFR/Milbank Memorial Fund RT on Health & Foreign Policy held a session entitled, Bioterrorism: Threat & Response, with Jonathan B. Tucker/Dir., Chemical & Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program, Monterey Institute of International Studies. Since Jordans wife decided to have their baby that evening, Dan Fox presided.
Dr Tucker began the meeting by recognizing that terrorists may threaten or attempt to use a biological of chemical weapon against the United States. A number of factors are increasing the risk of a large-scale biological attack. Although small, independent terrorist groups would encounter difficulties acquiring the technical and financial resources to execute a large-scale terrorist attack, a hostile state sponsor could provide terrorists with the necessary expertise and specialized dissemination equipment. Disturbingly, terrorist groups have already aggressively recruited Japanese, Russian, and South African biological and chemical weapons experts. Even in the face of US deterrent threats, a rogue sate or terrorist group that believed that it could carry out an attack without attribution might be tempted to do so particularly in the heat of crisis.
State public health and medical communities stand directly on the front lines of combating against biological warfare. Response effectiveness will depend on the preparedness of State and local public health system. Unfortunately, there is insufficient funding for hospitals, laboratories, clinics, information networks, and other necessary elements to ensure an effective public health response in the event of a bioterrorism attack.
Combating bioterrorism through immediate first response and a reliable medical and public health infrastructure depends upon a sustained Federal, State, and local resource commitment. Dr. Tucker recommended that targeted block grants be administered to states and localities to strengthen the public health infrastructure He also emphasized that the various elements of the public health system at the local, state and federal levels should be integrated. Secure and reliable channels of communication networks should be established between local, state, and federal public health officials. Additionally, to remedy this situation it is necessary for the intelligence community to aggressively recruit more individuals with advanced training in microbiology, infectious disease, and epidemiology to work as intelligence analysts.