Bush issues Biodefense Directive

The Bush administration announced a new directive today designed to better integrate federal efforts to combat bioterrorism threats and clearly assign responsibilities among the participating federal agencies.

"At the president's direction, we have done an end-to-end review of all our bioterrorism efforts, so that we can prioritize both our needs as well as our investments in this critical area," said Tom Ridge, secretary of the Homeland Security Department.

"Under the president's new National Biodefense Directive, all of our bioterrorism projects and programs will fall under a coordinated and focused strategic plan that will help maximize our resources, ensure a common unified effort across all federal agencies and address any deficiency that we discover," he added.

He was joined by Secretary Tommy Thompson of the Department of Health and Human Services and Paul Wolfowitz of the Defense Department's deputy secretary in releasing the unclassified version of the directive, which has 59 specific tasks.

Today's announcement didn't propose any new initiatives. Senior administration officials said, however, current projects or programs

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