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New Report Gives US Anti-Terrorism Efforts Barely-Passing Grade

09 September 2008

A new report gives barely-passing grades in assessing U.S. efforts to prevent nuclear, chemical and biological terrorism.  VOA's Michael Bowman reports, the authors include leading members of the former 9/11 Commission, which investigated the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

In a report to be released Wednesday, the Washington-based Partnership for a Secure America says the nation's efforts to prevent terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction are lacking.  Using the U.S. academic grading system, where an "A" is the highest mark and an "F" denotes failure, PSA gives an overall "C" grade to the U.S. government.

"We should be doing better than this," said Matt Rojansky, the group's executive director. "There has been some progress, and we want to recognize that.  But we are still at a point where we believe that out efforts to prevent a WMD attack are insufficient."

In none of the categories analyzed does PSA award an "A".  The highest grade to be found in the report is a "B", given to U.S. efforts to detect nuclear and chemical weapons, and to limit global access to biological agents.  Although no failing grades are given in any category, U.S. efforts to coordinate and sustain anti-nuclear efforts receive the lowest possible marks short of an "F".

Rojansky says the aim of the report is to spur action, particularly from the next U.S. administration.

"We need to bring some pressure to bear on Congress and the president to bring more coordination and a better strategic architecture to these programs across the board: nuclear, chemical and biological," he said. "Certainly part of our goal with this report is to give the next administration at least a basis to know in an objective, bipartisan way where we stand right now versus where we were several years ago, so that when the next administration comes in they can be fully forward-looking and devote energy to solving these problems."

Rojansky says he fears that, as memories of the 9/11 terrorist attacks fade from America's daily consciousness, complacency about the all-too-real threats still facing the nation will set in.

As for specific recommendations, in the short term, Rojansky says the United States should redouble efforts to reach out to the international community, and reassert America's commitment to international treaties and conventions.  Longer term, he advocates rebuilding U.S. relations with nations such as Russia, where materials and expertise coveted by terrorists can be found.

Lead authors of the PSA report will present their full findings in a news conference coinciding with the formal release of the document Wednesday.

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