White House Admits Lag in Bioterror Effort
Bush & Co. still don’t have a comprehensive plan to deal with bioterror threats–despite two years of planning and billions in appropriations. The alleged culprit: bureaucratic inertia.
“I can’t help but think we are not prepared if, God forbid, any of these catastrophes were to be visited upon the United States,” says a congresswoman.
The Bush administration acknowledged yesterday that it still lacks a strategic plan for countering bioterror threats two years after Congress created a special program and appropriated billions of dollars for the purpose, and it pledged fresh efforts to speed up and streamline the troubled Project BioShield.
Under sharp questioning on Capitol Hill from members of both parties, the administration conceded many of the criticisms that have been leveled against Project BioShield by the drug and biotechnology industries in recent months. That $5.6 billion program is meant to build an elaborate national stockpile of drugs and other measures to counter biological and radioactive weapons, but corporate executives have complained of delays, bureaucratic inertia, and other problems in the way the program is being run.
“I think what’s lacking in all this is a real sense of urgency,” said Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, a California Democrat representing much of Silicon Valley. “I can’t help but think we are not prepared if, God forbid, any of these catastrophes were to be visited upon the United States.”