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Study says U.S. is vulnerable to attack

An independent group cites nuclear, chemical and biological risks.

September 09, 2008|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The United States remains "dangerously vulnerable" to chemical, biological and nuclear attacks seven years after 9/11, a forthcoming independent study concludes.

The recent political rupture between Russia and the U.S. only makes matters worse, said Lee H. Hamilton, the former Democratic congressman from Indiana who helped lead the 9/11 Commission and now chairs the independent group's latest study.

Efforts to reduce access to nuclear technology and bomb-making materials have slowed, thousands of U.S. chemical plants remain unprotected, and the U.S. government continues to oppose strengthening an international treaty to prevent bioterrorism, according to the report produced by the bipartisan Partnership for a Secure America.

The group includes leaders of the disbanded 9/11 Commission, the bipartisan panel that investigated government missteps that occurred before the 2001 terrorist attacks.

"The threat of a new, major terrorist attack on the United States is still very real," concludes the report to be released Wednesday, the same day a congressional commission will hold a hearing in New York on nuclear and biological terrorism threats.

"A nuclear, chemical or biological weapon in the hands of terrorists remains the single greatest threat to our nation. While progress has been made in securing these weapons and materials, we are still dangerously vulnerable," the report said.

The study did credit the Bush administration with progress in a number of areas, including port security, reduction of military chemical stockpiles, and increased funding for securing nuclear weapons sites in Russia.

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