Ataxia: The Chemical and Biological Terrorism Threat and the US Response

October 09, 2000

Stimson Report 35 

Ataxia is a comprehensive research report that examines the many facets of the unconventional terrorism issue in the United States. The first sections examine the actual threat of terrorism involving chemical and biological weapons, including technical feasibility, statistical trends, and a re-examination of the 1995 Aum Shinrikyo sarin attack in the Tokyo subway system. From there, Ataxia inventories the various federal response assets and training and equipment programs, and airs widespread feedback from the front lines on these federal efforts. Chapter 6, "Metropolis, USA," offers chronological descriptions of local responses that would follow a chemical or biological terrorist attack and shares innovative ideas from local emergency personnel on coordination, plans, tactics, and capabilities for dealing with these type of incidents. Finally, the report concludes with an extensive series of observations and recommendations for policy makers in Washington and beyond.

Authored by Amy Smithson, former director of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Project,and project research associate Leslie-Anne Levy, Ataxia builds on more than 135 interviews with government officials, outside experts, and emergency response personnel from 33 cities. Over 400 print sources are referenced throughout the body of the text. The report also includes 21 explanatory text boxes and 39 diagrams and tables.