"They haven't fully come to grasp with it."
*LISTEN TO EXCERPTS OF PHONE INTERVIEW ABOVE*
Former U.S. Senator Jim Talent said President Obama's administration is behind the curve on the threat of bioterrorism, which he considers a bigger challenge to the United States than nuclear proliferation.
The findings came in a new report by the bipartisan Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, in which Talent serves as vice-chair.
"What we've seen in the last several administrations is they come in without really recognizing the bio threat and then they sort of learn over time. We don't have time for that kind of learning curve," Talent warned in an interview with The Notebook Wednesday.
The Commission report cited a range of problems and Talent said they mostly boiled down to lacking experienced members in government and a basic organizational structure that could adequately deal with a bioterror attack.
USA Today summarizes the report's findings HERE.
Talent noted that the Obama administration currently has no senior official dedicated to bioterrorism and criticized a lack of funding for such countermeasures like stockpiling vaccines and distribution planning, if such an attack were to occur.
"They don't have the right people. They're not funding at the level that makes anything close to sense given the urgency of the threat," Talent said.
Talent said bioterrorism is a bigger potential problem than nuclear because "it's easier to weaponize and easier to stockpile." He said a bioterror attack in an American city could net a similar result to a nuclear attack.
The progress report is available at www.preventwmd.gov. The Commission will release a more formal report card in January 2010.