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Lieberman Decries Gaps in Bioterror Preparedness

Budget cuts, poor coordination and a lack of attention from high-ranking federal health officials have “left America still too vulnerable to a possible bioterror attack,” Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) wrote yesterday in a scathing iteration of gaps in the nation’s preparedness. Two years after Congress passed legislation outlining specific steps for preventing, detecting and responding to terrorist incidents, Lieberman said the Bush administration “has not come close to complying with the basic requirements and goals” of the measure. Specifically, he said, key staff positions have gone unfilled, public health laboratories are poorly equipped, mandatory progress reports have not been filed, hospitals do not have the beds or equipment to handle mass casualties, and there remains confusion over the roles and responsibilities of various local, state and federal agencies. And the National Preparedness Plan “is merely a listing of bioterrorism-related activities” underway, Lieberman wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. Full Story

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