- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 6, 2001

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday called President Bush's planned missile defense plan "myopic," arguing that the threat from terrorists armed with anthrax, smallpox and other germs is far greater than the peril of nuclear-tipped missiles.
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, issued the warning at the first in a series of hearings called to emphasize national security threats.
"We do not have enough money for everything" and the United States "must prioritize" which threats are of greater importance, Mr. Biden said.
"In my view, the threat from anonymously delivered biological weapons and from emerging infectious diseases simply dwarfs the threat that we will be attacked by a Third World [missile] with a return address."
Former Sen. Sam Nunn, Georgia Democrat, who now heads the Nuclear Threat Initiative sponsored by CNN founder Ted Turner, told the committee of a "war game" called "Dark Winter" in which he recently participated.
He played the U.S. president in the exercise, held at Andrews Air Force Base, in a scenario that simulated National Security Council meetings following the release of smallpox by terrorists in several U.S. cities.
In the simulation, about 3,000 people initially were infected because the vaccinations most Americans received as children had worn off.
Every 10 days to two weeks, the number of people infected would increase tenfold, he said. While health care workers and doctors were immunized immediately, on day six of the game, the United States had run out of vaccine.
Among the conclusions in the nightmare scenario:
Not enough vaccine is available.
Top officials are not prepared to deal with this type of crisis.
The public infrastructure is inadequate and health care workers are not adequately trained.
"We were out of vaccine. We were discussing martial law. Interstate commerce was eroding rapidly. The members of our simulated NSC, as well as state and local officials, were desperate," Mr. Nunn said.
He added that if the biological agent were anthrax, it would have required a completely different medical and official response for which the United States was similarly unprepared.
"Biological terrorism is one of our greatest national security threats. … Our lack of preparation is a real emergency," he said.
James Woolsey, while agreeing with Mr. Nunn's assessment, said U.S. laws have made it too hard for the intelligence community to obtain the information it needs to head off such threats.
He said the FBI and CIA are prohibited from dealing with human rights violators and individuals with violent pasts, precisely the type of people who join terrorist groups. In the end, intelligence agencies will know all about the local church and chamber of commerce, but little about clandestine terror cells, he said.
Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, said the United States should not have to make the choice between safety from nuclear missiles and safety from biological warfare.
"We must avoid false choices … that some of these threats are more likely than others," he said. "When it comes to America's security, we must be prepared to deal with all threats."


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