Senator Collins: America Still Vulnerable to Bioterrorist Attacks

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) today said that while the U.S. Postal Service responded promptly to the latest anthrax incident in Washington, D.C., it shows that America is still vulnerable to bioterrorist attacks. The U.S. Postal Service closed 11 facilities on Thursday when it detected the possible presence of anthrax at one location.

“The postal service took appropriate steps by shutting down certain facilities to safeguard employees,” said Senator Collins, whose committee has jurisdiction over the postal service and the Department of Homeland Security. “Unfortunately, this incident also shows how vulnerable we still are to bioterrorist attacks. Now more than ever, it is essential that we work to fill the gaps in our nation’s defense and surveillance systems against bioterrorism.

“I am also concerned about the workers who have been displaced by this latest incident, and pray that they continue to test negative for anthrax. My hope is that the postal service will be able to find the source of anthrax quickly so that they will be able to get back to business as usual,” said Senator Collins.

On November 19, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing to assess the vulnerability of America’s food and agricultural infrastructure, the effects of an attack, and the existing and needed prevention and response capabilities. This threat may be more than hypothetical. It is known that some of the Sept. 11 hijackers had a specific interest in crop-duster aircraft that could be used to disseminate aerosols of plant and animal pathogens.