Lawmakers Demand Information on Reported Administration Change in WMD Policy
WASHINGTON – A bipartisan and bicameral coalition of lawmakers is pressing the Department of Homeland Security for answers after a Los Angeles Times report claims the White House has quietly scaled back programs intended to prevent terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction.
In an article published in July, the Los Angeles Times reported the Trump administration has unwound or dramatically cutback numerous programs created in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to help detect and avoid incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.
The alleged changes implemented by the Department of Homeland Security occurred without prior review of how they would affect national security.
Relying on information from more than 30 current and former Homeland Security officials, the Times said the changes in policy and staffing have put U.S. citizens at higher risk for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks.
A Homeland Security spokeswoman told the newspaper the actions described were merely the restructuring of some programs “to better address threats, remove bureaucratic redundancy, and fully align with the president’s National Security Strategy.”
On Friday, U.S. Senators Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., ranking member and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Representatives Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Mike Rogers, R-Ala, chairman and ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, urged DHS to address concerns that abrupt changes to key counterterrorism programs could put national security at risk.
In a letter to the department, the lawmakers said the Los Angeles Times’ reporting “raises serious concerns that the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office may be struggling with its mission, which is to plan for, detect, and protect against the importation and use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials in the United States and to protect against an attack using such materials.”
The Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office’s mission is to protect against the use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons. The training, coordination, and detection programs CWMD manages are a key component of protecting homeland security.
Since 2017, there have been chemical attacks in Malaysia and Syria, a thwarted chemical attack in Australia, and extremists have threatened the use of chemical and biological weapons against the West.
The Los Angeles Times report and a recent GAO report indicate CWMD may not be fulfilling its mission to safeguard against these types of attacks due to decisions made by the Administration to curtail the office’s programs.
The text of the letter is available here. The lawmakers have requested a response by Sept. 19.
In The News
WASHINGTON — The Homeland Security Department warned that U.S. officials and buildings face a heightened risk of attack in the coming weeks due to violent domestic extremists angry over issues including Joe Biden’s victory as president and coronavirus restrictions. “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s acting head of the Department of Homeland Security abruptly resigned Monday, leaving the post ahead of schedule as the nation faces a heightened terrorism threat from extremists seeking to reverse the election. The announcement by acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf... Read More
WASHINGTON – Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan measure increasing funding to the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative to help combat corruption and illicit drug trafficking between the United States and Caribbean nations. Introduced by Reps. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., and Francis Rooney, R-Fla.,... Read More
WASHINGTON -- State and federal election officials advocated for aggressive measures to prevent foreign influence and voter fraud in the Nov. 3 election during a congressional hearing Tuesday. They also denied President Donald Trump’s assertions that a big increase in mail-in voting to protect voters from... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Four weeks ahead of Election Day, senior national security officials provided fresh assurances about the integrity of the elections in a video message Tuesday, putting them at odds with President Donald Trump’s efforts to discredit the vote. “I'm here to tell you that... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity agency have issued a series of advisories in recent weeks aimed at warning voters about problems that could surface in the election — as well as steps Americans can take to counter the foreign... Read More