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Microbiologists wanting

Critics call biothreat analysis at new Homeland Security department dysfunctional

Ted Agres(tedagres@lycos.com)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—the sprawling federal agency charged with protecting the nation from terrorist threats—employs only one microbiology intelligence analyst and plans to add only a few more to its Office of Information Analysis later this year. Calling the situation "dysfunctional" and "unacceptable," some members of Congress are urging President Bush to take immediate remedial action.

The DHS information analysis office "is not remotely close to having the tools it needs to meet its critical mandate," stated Rep. Jim Turner (D-Texas), ranking member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, in a June 9 letter to Bush. "The Office of Information Analysis has hired one microbiologist to analyze the totality of the threat to the homeland posed by bioterrorism, and even at full strength, will have only two or three more individuals for this mission."

In addition, DHS officials were "completely unprepared" to provide a current bioterrorism...

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