News / USA

Obama to Unveil New Plan to Fight Bioterrorism

Multimedia

Audio
Meredith Buel

U.S. President Barack Obama will use his State of the Union address Wednesday to unveil a new plan for a better and quicker response to bioterrorism and other threats to public health.  The announcement comes just hours after the release of a report critical of the U.S. government's ability to prepare for and respond to bioterrorist attacks. 

White House spokesman Nick Shapiro told VOA Mr. Obama will use his State of the Union address to launch a new initiative to protect Americans from bioterrorism and respond faster to such threats.

The spokesman says President Obama will call on key U.S. government leaders to re-design the country's medical production system to provide rapid and reliable countermeasures to bioterrorism attacks.

The administration's announcement follows the release of a report Tuesday that says the government is failing to protect the American public from several urgent terrorist threats, especially bioterrorism.

The report, from the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, says the United States is "woefully behind" in its capability to rapidly produce vaccines and medications to counter a bioterrorist attack.

The chairman of the commission, former U.S. Senator Bob Graham, had this grim prediction.

"It is more likely than not under the current circumstances and without decisive and urgent commitment that there will be a weapon of mass destruction used by a terrorist organization someplace on earth between now and the end of 2013," he said.

Graham says it is well within al-Qaida's capabilities to obtain and use biological weapons, which he says are easier to acquire than other weapons of mass destruction.

He says the nation must be prepared for such an attack.

"Al-Qaida will no doubt look to where it can accomplish its objectives, chaos, mass panic, high level of deaths and it will use those weapons against those targets that it considers to be least well prepared," he said.

Appearing with Graham was Carie Lemack, representing the families of those killed in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Lemack, whose mother was a passenger on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, says the threat of another massive attack remains.

"Sadly the threat is still there," she said. "We know that bin Laden has a fatwa to kill four million Americans.  We know that he has claimed to be looking for a nuclear bomb.  He had a tape recently released that says he is still out there and the threat is still incredibly real."

White House spokesman Nick Shapiro says President Obama late last year signed an Executive Order to improve the government's capability to distribute countermeasures for a large-scale biological attack.

The plan involves using the U.S. Postal Service to deliver antibiotics or other medicine to American households. 
 

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid