RealNews

U.S. Planning Response Tests in Two Cities Next Week

The cities of Chicago and Seattle will be the focus of a $16 million exercise next week to test how well the federal government would deal with simultaneous attacks by terrorists using biological and radiological weapons, the Bush administration said today. The exercise, said to be the largest domestic security drill ever carried out by the federal government, will be played out over five days starting on Monday and involve dozens of federal, state and local emergency-response agencies. In Chicago, emergency-response teams will be asked to pretend that they are dealing with the release of pneumonic plague, a deadly biological agent that is highly contagious. In Seattle, local agencies will be asked to respond to a scenario in which more than 100 people are injured in the explosion of a “dirty bomb,” a weapon created when radiological material is wrapped around common explosives. In Washington, several senior Bush administration officials, led by Tom Ridge, the secretary of homeland security, will try to organize the federal response to the attacks and to track the terrorists. Other senior administration, including President Bush and his chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., will be portrayed by stand-ins. Full Story

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