Press Release


Homeland Security Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on WMD Terrorism

Media Contact: (202) 226-8417

Washington, D.C. – The Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, chaired by Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), will hold a hearing entitled “WMD Terrorism: Assessing the Continued Homeland Threat” tomorrow at 10 a.m. in Room 210 Cannon House Office Building.

In December 2008, the bipartisan Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism (WMD Commission) determined that WMD terrorism is a continuing and serious threat to the homeland.  At the request of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, the Aspen Institute’s Homeland Security Group’s WMD Working Group has conducted an examination of the current terrorist threat associated with these weapons; U.S. readiness to address the threat; and proposals to strengthen preparedness.

At tomorrow’s hearing, the Aspen Institute will release the findings of this examination in a report entitled “WMD Terrorism: An Update on the Recommendations of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism,” providing Committee Members expert testimony on the threat of WMD terrorism today.

Meehan said: “Only weeks after the attacks of 9/11, a nationwide anthrax attack sickened 22 people and took five lives.  According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the economic impacts of what became known as the ‘Amerithrax’ case ultimately exceeded $1 billion.  Had the public health response been delayed, or had the attack been the first wave of a sustained campaign by a terrorist group or hostile nation state, tens of thousands could have been killed.

“Now, four years after the Congressionally-mandated Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism (“WMD Commission”) released its sobering assessment of the gravity of the WMD threat, the time is ripe for re-analysis to ensure that resources are being targeted wisely.  Al-Qaeda leaders continue to push for the development and deployment of biological weapons. Syria, Iran, and Pakistan all possess active WMD programs that could be leveraged by a hostile government or fall into the hands of terrorist groups.  And rapid advances in biotechnology in the last few years could be leveraged for malicious intent as easily as for their beneficial uses.

“Since 9/11, a host of government agencies and non-governmental organizations have worked diligently on issues related to WMD terrorism, and in many ways our readiness has improved.  But the threat remains.  The Aspen Institute’s WMD Working Group has assessed that WMD terrorism is a continuing and serious threat to the U.S. homeland.  At this hearing, we will hear from the Aspen Institute on where we are and where we need to go.  I look forward to receiving testimony from noted experts about the threat, risks, and what steps are necessary to continue to keep us safe.”

What:                 Subcommittee Hearing: WMD Terrorism: Assessing the Continued Homeland Threat

When:                 10 a.m., Thursday, November 15, 2012

Where:                210 Cannon House Office Building

**Live video feed available HERE.

Opening statements, witness testimony, and the live video feed will be available online HERE

Witness List:

Dr. Leonard A. Cole
Program on Terror Medicine and Security
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Testifying on behalf of The Aspen Institute

Mr. Randall J. Larsen
Chief Executive Officer
The WMD Center



**Please Note: the hearing will be held in 210 Cannon House Office Building