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Homeland Security

Washington File

12 June 2003

Senate Majority Leader Says Globalization Raises Bioterrorism Risk

(Senator Bill Frist's June 11 remarks to Senate) (420)
By Stephen La Rocque
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Republican of
Tennessee) says he believes the United States will ultimately be
victorious in its fight against terrorism but cautions that
globalization has brought the threat of biological terrorism closer to
U.S. shores.
In remarks on the Senate floor June 11, Frist reflected on how exotic
diseases have made their way to the United States and into the news.
Frist, who is a doctor, noted how several years ago "people did not
know what West Nile virus was," and how "several months ago we did not
know what SARS was, and several days ago we did not know what
monkeypox was."
Some health officials believe that the outbreak of monkeypox may be
"the tip of a growing problem of infectious diseases being brought
into the country through the importation of exotic animals," he added.
Globalization "has brought us much closer to the threat of natural
disease as well as disease used potentially as an instrument of
terror," Frist said.
The lawmaker predicted the United States will continue to see emerging
infections appear.
"Equally alarming is this whole arena of bioterrorism, the use of
microbes, viruses, bacteria ... as biological weapons to threaten
others," he said.
Frist noted that the Senate itself has been attacked with anthrax.
The Senate has the task of responding to and preparing for both
naturally occurring infections and any attempt by terrorists "to use
these biological agents as weapons of mass destruction," according to
Frist.
The Senate leader said that President Bush "has set the United States,
with the help of our allies, along a proper course to ultimately win
the war on terror."
"We have disrupted terrorist networks," frozen their financial assets,
removed terrorist leaders, and arrested more than 3,000 individual
terrorists worldwide, he said.
"We have toppled two of the world's most notorious terrorist regimes
in Afghanistan and Iraq with decisive victories," the senator added.
Frist stressed that the United States and its allies "must not allow
other countries to pursue biological weapons programs."
"We know the risk of smallpox," he said. "We know one gram of
botulinum toxin, if aerosolized, has the potential for taking the
lives of a million and a half people."
Frist urged fellow lawmakers to take "our enemies seriously," for
through globalization, "they are closer than ever."
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
http://usinfo.state.gov)



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