Combating Terrorism: Observations on the Threat of Chemical and Biological Terrorism, Statement of Henry L. Hinton, Jr., Assistant Comptroller General, National Security and International Affairs Division, Testimony before the Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs, and International Relations, Committee on Government Reform, House of Representatives   [open pdf - 315KB]

Without substantial backing from a state sponsors, most terrorists would have to overcome significant technical and other hurdles to produce and release chemical and biological weapons capable of killing or injuring large numbers of people. According to experts GAO consulted, except for toxic industrial chemicals, such as chlorine, specialized knowledge is needed in the manufacturing process and in improvising an effective delivery system for most chemical and nearly all biological weapons. Moreover, some of the components of chemical agents and highly infective strains of biological agents are difficult to obtain. Finally, terrorists would face other obstacles in carrying out a successful attack, from unfavorable weather conditions to personal safety risks. The President's fiscal year 2000 budget proposes $10 billion for counterterrorism programs--an increase of more than $3 billion over the amount requested for fiscal year 1999. To determine whether the government is spending enough on counterterrorism and spending this money on the most appropriate programs, policymakers need the best estimates of the specific threats facing the United States. The intelligence community has recently produced estimates of terrorist threats from abroad involving chemical and biological weapons. GAO recommends that the FBI prepare comparable estimates for domestic threats.

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