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The National Journal analyses the nation's preparedness in dealing with potential terrorist threats at the local level. "The federal government has spent the past five years in a race to help local governments prepare for a chemical attack by terrorists," the Journal reported. After the sarin gas attack in Tokoyo and the Oklahoma City bombing, preparedness has become a growing concern as chermical weapons become easier to produce.
The 1995 sarin gas attack that killed 12 people and injured 5,000 others on a Tokyo subway alerted U.S. officials to the potential for biological and chemical terrorism on U.S. soil. In 1996, Congress passed the Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 1996, which authorized spending billions to prepare local officials for attacks and to create specialized military response teams. Now, five years after the law was passed, Green writes, pork-barrel politics has prevented the anti-terrorism effort from fulfilling its duties. "The billions of dollars spent to prepare for an attack has only created an expensive and uncoordinated mess...In the end, more than 40 agencies, overseen by a dozen congressional committees, received a role in the nation's terrorism defense plan. The waste was enormous...The (law) spawned 90 different programs for the single purpose of training local officials. Today they compete just to find clients." After 3 years and $137 million, the U.S. Army National Guard team that was designated to respond to terrorist attacks, has not yet been certified by the Defense Department as ready for duty.
TBS investigates the "invisible terrorism" -- chemical and biological weapons. The investigation finds that materials are easily smuggled and are extremely dangerous. TBS looks at measures being taken to combat chemical terrorism and questions what authorities can do to protect the public. (December 1, 1996)