NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Needed: Better Preparation for Terrorism

December 12, 2000

Chemistry professor and terrorism expert Eric R. Taylor contends that the U.S. is not well prepared for a domestic act of terrorism.

Taylor argues that although the nation spends tens of billions of dollars annually on preparation programs, the federal government has failed to take advantage of existing emergency management structures. He also observes that officials have failed to educate the public about how to respond to a domestic nuclear, biological or chemical attack.

  • When the federal government set up its Domestic Preparedness Program in 1997, it targeted only cities for training, and then only halfway, leaving personnel in more than 50 percent of the major U.S. population centers. unprepared for such an attack.
  • State and regional structures such as the State Emergency Management agencies and National Guard units have been largely bypassed by the program.
  • Those agencies already have experience in coordinating responses to terrorism and hazardous materials disasters.

Source: Eric R. Taylor, "Are We Prepared for Terrorism Using Weapons of Mass Destruction?" Policy Analysis No. 387, Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001; (800) 767-1241.

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