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Rep. Meehan wants better sharing of intelligence on weapons of mass destruction

Rep. Patrick Meehan

The House on July 22 passed a bill, H.R. 1542, the WMD Intelligence and Information Sharing Act of 2013, which aims to establish weapons of mass destruction intelligence and information sharing functions within the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at DHS and to require dissemination of information analyzed by DHS to other entities with responsibilities relating to homeland security.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s subcommittee on cybersecurity, infrastructure protection and security technologies.

“The legislation provides important guidance for disseminating WMD -- that's weapons of mass destruction -- intelligence information at the Department of Homeland Security,” said Rep. Meehan, on the House floor on July 22. “Weapons of mass destruction are considered for the purposes of this act to be chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons.”

The bill would try to accomplish four goals: (1) support homeland security-focused intelligence analysis of terrorist actors, their claims, and their plans to conduct attacks involving chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials against the nation and of global infectious disease, public health, food, agricultural, and veterinary issues; (2) support homeland security-focused risk analysis and risk assessments of such homeland security hazards by providing relevant quantitative and non-quantitative threat information; (3) leverage homeland security intelligence capabilities and structures to enhance prevention, protection, response, and recovery efforts with respect to a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attack; and (4) share information and provide tailored analytical support on these threats to state, local, and tribal authorities as well as other national biosecurity and biodefense stakeholders.

Meehan thanked the bill’s cosponsors, Rep. Michael McCaul, the full homeland security committee’s chairman; a former chairman, Rep. Peter King (R-NY); Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY); and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA).

“We must be doing more to assure that local and State law enforcement are privy to intelligence that could stop an attack,” Meehan continued. “In fact, the potential for homegrown radicalization has increased, and therefore the need for law enforcement and Federal authorities to work together has increased all the more. I think we're all aware of the tragic circumstances of the attack in Boston that occurred all too recently.”

The measure was also supported by Rep. Bennie Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the full homeland security committee, and a former chairman of that panel.

“The potentially devastating nature of WMD attacks has come into greater focus in recent months,” said Thompson, n the House floor. “In particular, there's evidence that chemical weapons were used in the Syrian civil war. Worries persist that in the chaos of this war, dangerous chemical agents could fall into the hands of terrorists or other rogue operators. The prospect that biological and nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands is also very concerning.”

The bill was approved by a vote of 388 to 3 in the House. Currently, no similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate.



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