WASHINGTON – Soon after taking office, the next president will get some advice about how to prevent a nuclear attack on the U.S., researched and written by top experts on weapons of mass destruction.
Over the next six months, a congressionally mandated commission will look at the government's myriad WMD programs to counter nuclear, biological and chemical arms capable of killing great numbers of people and make recommendations on how to coordinate them. The commission was created by a 2007 law in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Commission members, announced Friday, include former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., and former Rep. Tim Roemer, D-Ind., who was a member of the 9/11 commission, set up by Congress to investigate events leading up to the attacks and the government's response. The bipartisan panel made 41 recommendations, including to improve counterproliferation programs, information-sharing among federal agencies and emergency response communications and to create a director of national intelligence and a national counterterrorism center.
Graham, who will be chairman of the WMD commission, said most of the focus will be on nuclear and biological weapons, because those have the greatest potential to kill many people. Graham has already met with the heads of agencies with counterproliferation programs, including the departments of Defense, Energy, Homeland Security and State. The commission has been promised access to whatever information they need, he said.
"We see as our principle audience the new administration and the new Congress," Graham said in an interview.
In a statement Friday, Roemer said, "Far too many WMD components remain unsecured around the world, at a time when the threat from terrorists and extremist groups continues to grow."
The WMD report is due in mid-November.
"The greatest danger of another catastrophic attack in the United States will materialize if the world's most dangerous terrorists acquire the world's most dangerous weapons," according to the 9/11 report, published in 2004.
The other commission members are:
—Graham Allison, former senior Defense Department official with expertise on Russia and the former Soviet Union .
—Robin Cleveland, former senior adviser at the World Bank.
—Stephen Rademaker, former head of the State Department's International Security and Nonproliferation unit.
—Henry Sokolksi, former Defense Department nonproliferation expert.
—Wendy Sherman, a North Korea policy expert and counselor to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
—Former Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo.
—Richard Verma, former senior policy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.