Report: Justice Department Unprepared for WMD Strike

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Justice Department has failed to put together an adequate plan for responding to an attack involving weapons of mass destruction, the agency's inspector general said Tuesday.

In a new report, the IG said the department does not assign a single entity or individual responsible for managing responses to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.

The report said no specific WMD event operational response plan exists at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; or the U.S. Marshals Service. None of those three Justice Department components provides training for responding to a WMD incident or regularly participates in WMD response exercises, the report said.

"We found the response planning among all the components, including the FBI, to be inconsistent and not well coordinated," Inspector General Glenn Fine said.

Only the FBI has taken adequate steps to prepare a response to a potential WMD strike, the IG said.

The Justice Department agreed that it should do more to coordinate emergency response activities.

"Preventing terrorist attacks, including WMD attacks, is the department's highest priority," the deputy attorney general's office wrote in a letter to the IG.

The deputy attorney general's office said it has given the FBI lead responsibility to prevent WMD attacks in the United States and in responding to WMD attacks, should they occur.

"We also agree that the FBI is not the only department entity responsible for addressing WMD attacks, and that the entire department must be prepared to respond effectively to a WMD attack or any other emergency event should one occur," the letter to the IG added.

A person in the deputy attorney general's office will be designated to oversee the department's emergency response activities and a committee representing various department components will ensure that all issues are dealt with promptly, the deputy attorney general's office said in the letter.