Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Committee Report Filed on WMD Bill

Last week the House Homeland Security Committee submitted their report on HR 2356, the WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2011. None of the information presented in the report deal with the threat of chemical weapon attacks based upon terrorist attacks on chemical facilities that could release huge volumes of toxic inhalation hazard chemicals in or near large metropolitan areas.

Leadership Delays

While there continues to be bipartisan support for this limited WMD legislation, the leadership of the House continues to put road blocks in the way of the consideration of this bill. First the Committee leadership took over four months to complete action on their report, guaranteeing that floor action could not take place on the floor of the House before the election.
The three other Committees to which this bill was referred {Committees on Energy and Commerce, Transportation and Infrastructure, Foreign Affairs, and Intelligence (Permanent Select)} have not taken action on the bill. The House leadership extended their deadlines to consider the bill until November 30th, 2012. If that were not enough to ensure that no action will be taken on this bill during this session, an additional Committee (House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology) was added to the list of Committees to which the bill was referred.

Ignores Industrial Chemical Weapons

I have long maintained that this bill spends too much time concentrating on potential bioweapons, weapons that have as yet not been employed by nation-states, much less terrorists. These potential weapons should certainly be addressed, but ignoring the much easier to employ class of WMD, industrial chemicals, makes little or no sense.
While the CFATS program does address a security at a fraction of the potential facilities holding large quantities of industrial chemicals that could be used as improvised chemical munitions a large number of such facilities have been exempted from the strict security standards of that program. More importantly, however, the CFATS program ignores the emergency response and post-incident clean up requirements that are addressed in this bill for potential bioweapons.
Perhaps the 113th Congress will be able to more appropriately address the potential problems of the whole range of potential weapons of mass destruction and prioritize the efforts of that program based upon the likelihood of the employment of the various types of weapons.

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