Saturday, May 9, 2015

HR 2200 Introduced – CBRN Intelligence

A week ago Rep. McSally introduced HR 2200, the CBRN Intelligence and Information Sharing Act of 2015. The bill would require the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (OIA) to take specific actions with regard to intelligence about chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats (CBRN).

The bill would add a new section to Subtitle A of title II of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 121 et seq.) entitled: “Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Intelligence and Information Sharing”. It would require the OIA to {new §210G(a)}:

∙ Support homeland security-focused intelligence analysis of terrorist actors, their claims, and their plans to conduct attacks involving chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials against the Nation;
∙ Support homeland security-focused intelligence analysis of global infectious disease, public health, food, agricultural, and veterinary issues;
∙ Support homeland security-focused risk analysis and risk assessments of the homeland security hazards described in paragraphs (1) and (2) by providing relevant quantitative and non-quantitative threat information;
∙ Leverage existing and emerging homeland security intelligence capabilities and structures to enhance prevention, protection, response, and recovery efforts with respect to a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attack; and
∙ Share information and provide tailored analytical support on these threats to State, local, and tribal authorities as well as other national biosecurity and biodefense stakeholders;

The bill also amends §201(d)(8) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 121(d)(8)) by adding tribal entities to the agencies to which the OIA disseminates information.

There are no provisions included in the bill for additional funding or manpower to support the requirements added by the bill.

Moving Forward

Rep. McSally is the Chair of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications of the House Homeland Security Committee. Her co-sponsors include Rep. McCaul (R,TX), the Committee Chair and Rep. Thompson (D,MS), the Ranking Member of the Committee. I suspect that this bill will move through the Committee relatively quickly and I see no issues that would raise any organized opposition on the floor of the House where it will probably be considered under suspension of the Rules. The bill would probably be picked up for consideration in the Senate under the unanimous consent process. This bill has a very good chance of getting to the President this year.


While there is nothing here to draw any significant opposition, I do see one thing wrong with the bill. The information sharing requirements in §210G(a)(5) of the bill do not specifically mention sharing information with private sector entities beyond ‘other national biosecurity and biodefense stakeholders’. This reflects the Homeland Security Committee’s long held concern about bio-attacks well above any concerns about the other attack modes included in CBRN.

From my point of view it would seem that information about attack capabilities and intentions using industrial chemicals as WMD should be higher than legitimate concerns about bio-based WMD attacks. Industrial chemicals are much easier to obtain and weaponize than are bio-based weapons. But even if you take into account the black swan potential of a bio-based attack to rate that as a higher consequence concern, completely ignoring of the need to share the chemical, radiological and nuclear information required to be considered by this bill is very shortsighted.

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