Justice Department Unprepared for Attack, Inspector General Report Says

The U.S. Justice Department isn’t prepared to respond to an attack on the U.S. involving weapons of mass destruction, according to a report by the department’s inspector general.

The department hasn’t put in place adequate response plans and didn’t assign one entity or person to oversee the response should an attack occur, according to the report, released today.

The Justice Department is supposed to ensure public safety and security in the event an attack overwhelms state and local law enforcement, the report said. A bipartisan U.S. commission found in 2008 that, without a concerted effort to prevent an attack using weapons of mass destruction, or WMD, such an assault likely would occur somewhere in the world by 2013.

Weapons of mass destruction include devices intended to cause death and injury by releasing toxic chemicals, biological agents or radioactive materials.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is the only Justice Department agency that has a specific plan and provides training on response to such an attack, according to the report.

The Justice Department agrees that it needs to do more to “formally and centrally coordinate emergency response activities of all appropriate department components,” wrote James Baker, an associate deputy attorney general, in a letter responding to the inspector general’s findings. The department will respond quickly to the inspector general’s recommendations, Baker wrote.

To contact the reporter on this story: Justin Blum in Washington at jblum4@bloomberg.net

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