In-Depth: Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to require the Dept. of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) to conduct analysis of terrorist capabilities related to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) materials, as well as threats to the homeland from global infectious disease:
"Combatting the threat of terrorism takes an international, national, and most importantly, local approach. This legislation will ensure that government entities correctly share information and communicate to keep our communities safe and prosperous."
Last Congress, then-Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) introduced this bill to address the "very real" threat to the U.S. from terrorist organizations. McSally said, "Countering this threat and mitigating the risk requires continuous sharing and analysis of intelligence."
This bill has one cosponsor, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), in the current session of Congress. Last Congress, it passed by the House on a 420-2 vote with the support of three Republican cosponsors, but didn't receive a Senate vote.
Of Note: The threat of terrorist attacks involving the use of biological or chemical weapons has been a concern for U.S. national security strategists for years.
America suffered its largest biological terror attack in 1984, when a series of deliberate salmonella poisonings infected more than 750 people in Oregon. In the aftermath of September 11th there were several anthrax attacks that killed five people. More recently, it was discovered that ISIS has been attempting to weaponize the bubonic plague for use in terror attacks.
A New York Times article revealed that between 2004 and 2011, U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq located stockpiles of chemical weapons, some of which were located in areas ISIS now controls. ISIS is alleged to have used chemical weapons against the Kurds in Iraq and Syria.
Radiological attacks are not likely to cause a large number of casualties, but could incite mass panic and cause lingering damage to local economies, while also requiring an expensive decontamination process. This is in stark contrast to nuclear attacks -- which could result in mass casualties, cause many billions of dollars in damage, and require an even more extensive decontamination effort than a radiological attack.
Media:Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user John Stennis)