Blue Ribbon Study Panel Recognizes National Security Strategy, Calls for Comprehensive Approach

Press Release | Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense | December 21, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 21, 2017) - Senator Joseph Lieberman and Governor Tom Ridge, the co-chairs of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, today addressed the newly updated U.S. National Security Strategy and the emphasis it places on combatting biological threats to the country. “With the release of the National Security Strategy, the Administration is sending a strong message to our enemies that America takes the biological threat seriously,” said Sen. Lieberman and Gov. Ridge.

Recognizing threats to public health security in the National Security Strategy is an important step in setting the tone for federal efforts. “Efforts to control and eliminate outbreaks wherever they occur throughout the world drive innovation, improve health care and public health emergency response – and make for better national policy,” said Sen. Lieberman. But these three areas do not characterize the entire U.S. biodefense enterprise. Other elements of biodefense are addressed elsewhere in this strategy, including under the heading of defense against weapons of mass destruction. “The biodefense enterprise spans prevention, deterrence, preparedness, detection, response, attribution, recovery, and mitigation,” added Sen. Lieberman. “These apply to biological threats also, and are neither unique to, nor more important than for, chemical, radiological, nuclear, explosive, or cyber threats.”

“Seeing different elements of U.S. biodefense addressed throughout the National Security Strategy is important,” added Gov. Ridge. “Our government needs to overcome bureaucratic inertia and move more quickly to defend America than the terrorists and nation states that are pursuing biological weapons now. The next step is to issue the National Biodefense Strategy – called for by our Panel and Congress – and its implementation plan. We look forward to the Administration releasing both and soon.”

Drawing upon his experience having dealt with biological threats while in the White House and serving as Secretary of Homeland Security, Gov. Ridge said difficulties can ensue when various policy documents address the same threat from different angles. “We need a strategy that takes all of this guidance – including this new National Security Strategy – and makes what we are going to do about the biological threat and how we are going to do it clear to all levels of government and the private sector.”

About the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense

The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense was established in 2014 to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the state of U.S. biodefense efforts, and to issue recommendations to foster change. The Panel’s 2015 report, A National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reform Needed to Optimize Efforts, identified capability gaps and recommended changes to U.S. policy and law to strengthen national biodefense while optimizing resource investments. The Panel continues to assess biodefense challenges and to urge reform. Former Senator Joe Lieberman and former Governor Tom Ridge co-chair the Panel, and are joined by former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former Representative Jim Greenwood, and the Honorable Ken Wainstein. Hudson Institute is the Panel’s fiscal sponsor.