Public Law No. 109-417
Passed: December 19, 2006
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Public Law No. 109-417
- July 8, 2010
“A rich literature already exists on the history and capabilities of biological weapons. In addition, the security studies community has begun to pay increased attention to the threat posed by these weapons. Few attempts have been made, however, to apply theories from the field of security studies to assess the broader international security implications of biological weapons. The article examines the major characteristics of pathogens as weapons and the security implications of biological weapons in four key areas of concern for international security: proliferation, deterrence, civil-military relations, and threat assessment.”
- June 29, 2011
Planning for Exercises of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Forensic Capabilities
A forensic capability to help identify perpetrators and exclude innocent people should be an integral part of a strategy against terrorist attacks. Exercises have been conducted to increase our preparedness and response capabilities to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) terrorist attacks. However, incorporating forensic components into these exercises has been deficient. CBRN investigations rely on forensic results, so the need to integrate a forensic component and forensics experts into comprehensive exercises is paramount. This article provides guidance for planning and executing exercises at local, state, federal, and international levels that test the effectiveness of forensic capabilities for CBRN threats. The guidelines presented here apply both to situations where forensics is only a component of a more general exercise and where forensics is the primary focus of the exercise.
- February 22, 2012
Plum Island Animal Disease Center – DHS and USDA Are Successfully Coordinating Current Work, but Long-Term Plans Are Being Assessed
The livestock industry, which contributes over $100 billion annually to the national economy, is vulnerable to foreign animal diseases that, if introduced in the United States, could cause severe economic losses. To protect against such losses, critical research and diagnostic activities are conducted at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) was responsible for Plum Island until June 2003, when provisions of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 transferred the facility to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Under an interagency agreement, USDA continues to work on foreign animal diseases at the island. GAO examined (1) DHS and USDA coordination of research and diagnostic activities, (2) changes in research and diagnostic priorities since the transfer, and (3) long-term objectives of joint activities at Plum Island.
- March 12, 2012
Plum Island Animal Disease Center – DHS Has Made Significant Progress Implementing Security Recommendations, but Several Recommendations Remain Open
For many years, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) owned and operated the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, located on an island in the Long Island Sound off the coast of New York. Scientists at Plum Island, often with the assistance of scientists from other countries, diagnose the pathogens that cause foreign animal diseases and then conduct research to, among other things, develop vaccines to protect against them. Some of the pathogens maintained at Plum Island, such as foot-and-mouth disease, are highly contagious to livestock and could cause catastrophic economic losses in the agricultural sector if they are released outside the facility. Other pathogens known to have been maintained at Plum Island could also cause illness and death in humans. For these reasons, USDA conducts its work on Plum Island within a sealed biocontainment area that has special safety features designed to contain the pathogens. After the terrorist attacks on the United States, new laws and regulations required officials at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center to further restrict access to the pathogens in order to protect animal health and, thereby, also help reduce the possibility of bioterrorism. In addition, Plum Island and its assets and liabilities were transferred from USDA to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
- March 12, 2012