Justice Department ‘totally unprepared’ to respond to WMD attack, inspector general report finds

For once, the FBI got it right, according to its arch-nemesis, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine.

Typically, the FBI is on the receiving end of Fine’s blistering critiques, but on the issue of responding to a potential terrorist weapons of mass destruction attack in the U.S., the G-men fared unusually well. Not so with the rest of DOJ, Fine concluded in a report issued Tuesday.

“The Department is not fully prepared to provide a coordinated response to a WMD incident,” the inspector general concluded.

New York first responders hold a multi-agency field drill exercise to evaluate the city's response to a Weapons of Mass Destruction attack.

New York first responders hold a multi-agency field drill exercise to evaluate the city's response to a Weapons of Mass Destruction attack.

In the feds’ defense, however, bear in mind that the primary mission of the Justice Department is not responding to a terror attack; it’s preventing any attacks from happening here. Or, as Fine’s staff put it, “This report examines the preparations of the Department to carry out an operational response but does not examine preparedness to prevent a WMD incident.”

Turns out the FBI – which has a WMD Directorate in charge of its programs — isn’t even supposed to be in charge in the event of a WMD attack. The beleaguered Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is the lead agency coordinating law enforcement’s response to a catastrophic attack.

But ATF is in the midst of trying to justify its existence to the Obama administration, frustrated agents say. They haven’t even had a politically-appointed director in four years to lead the force and go to bat for them at the White House, Main Justice and on Capitol Hill. And they don’t have many key slots filled to oversee the response to a spectacular WMD strike.

“The Department and ATF have not made personnel assignments to manage these activities, and ATF has not developed a catalog of law enforcement resources — people and equipment — available to be deployed in the event of a WMD incident,” the IG report said.

However, the report did credit ATF’s scrappy Washington field office (WFO) for having plans in place and personnel at the ready. But Fine added that most other federal law enforcement agencies in the capital had no clue ATF’s WFO would be in charge if a mushroom cloud, anthrax contagion or sarin gas envelop D.C.

source: nydailynews.com

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