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US Still Highly Vulnerable to Attacks, says Report


The leaders of an independent task force that recently concluded a review of U.S. security in the wake of last year's terrorist attacks says the country remains highly vulnerable.

The report by a group of former top U.S. officials warned that energy systems and food and water supplies are vulnerable to sabotage, biological attack or contamination.

If steps are not taken to heighten security, the report's authors warn, a future terrorist attack could lead to even more casualties than the 3,000 deaths in the September 11 attacks last year on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Former U.S. Senator Gary Hart co-chaired the task force that prepared the report. Appearing Sunday on the ABC television program This Week, Senator Hart said the country must take action. "This country is unacceptably vulnerable. The president needs to focus the attention of all Americans on those vulnerabilities, [and] call on congressional leaders and business leaders and the American people to step up and protect this country," Mr. Hart said.

Also appearing on This Week was former U.S. Senator Warren Rudman, who co-chaired the task force with Senator Hart. Senator Rudman said he remains most concerned about the safety of U.S. seaports. "Ninety to 95 percent of our trade comes in containers. We're spending a huge amount of money in airport security. And the great threat is probably not airports. It's probably the [sea] ports," Senator Rudman said.

The report said local police authorities have virtually no access to intelligence reports and cited lack of coordination among police and fire departments.

Mr. Hart and Mr. Rudman chaired a similar panel, which warned in January 2001 of the possibility of a catastrophic terrorist attack, eight months before the attacks on September 11, 2001.

The latest panel was commissioned by the Council on Foreign Relations and included former top security and foreign policy officials.

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