16 February 2004

New York Preparing for WMD Attacks

New York Preparing for WMD Attacks:

'We're thinking about the unthinkable "

Sunday, Feb. 15, 2004 01:44 p.m. EST

"We're thinking about the unthinkable — what a few years ago was the unthinkable," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly says as the New York Police Department works with city health officials, federal authorities and other agencies preparing for a possible attack with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

According to a report in the New York Times, some features of the program that some national security and law enforcement officials describe as unrivaled among American cities are the following:

# Training and drilling special units to board cruise ships from helicopters and piers and begun reviewing floor plans of most large Midtown theaters, conducting exercises inside.

# Working on a pilot program that they hope will ultimately allow testing the air across the city for biological agents.

# Fashioning a citywide plan to get antibiotics or vaccine to every resident after a widespread attack with biological weapons.

# Conducting a drill with the city's medical examiner's office to prepare for a chemical weapons attack that would litter the streets with contaminated bodies.

# Beginning chemical and biological training for entire units, with the goal of having 10,000 officers ready in time for the Republican National Convention,

# Preparing a plan to house and feed thousands of police officers, in some cases in schools, to help keep them working in the aftermath of a catastrophic attack.

# Continuing the use of more than 700 personal radiation detectors for more than a year to identify unusual radioactive materials, checking trucks on the street and cars and garages around the city, among other areas.

# Working on a plan to distribute atropine anti-nerve agent auto-injectors to all city police units to enable them to respond more quickly to a chemical weapons attack.

# Changing the city's health code to allow the city to detain anyone health officials suspect of having being exposed to a deadly infectious pathogen.

"They are trying to do what Washington is supposed to be doing, but isn't," said a former national security official in the Clinton and the second Bush administrations, Richard A. Clarke.

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