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Saturday, January 22nd, 2022

Rep. Swallwell introduces bills to improve intelligence gathering and response for biological threats

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With a pair of new bills this week, United States Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) sought to improve the federal government’s capabilities to investigate the origins of diseases and respond accordingly, as well as to guarantee analysis and action from its intelligence community.

“Knowledge is power during a pandemic,” Swalwell said. “We must ensure the government and intelligence community can leverage all their resources to streamline disease intelligence and identify the origin of any new biological threat. When a new disease threatens national security, the White House must be certain that it has reliable data and intelligence on the disease’s origin –where it emerged and whether it occurred naturally, was the result of an accidental release, or was intentionally released by an adversary — so the United States can adequately respond.”

Swallwell’s concerns manifested as the Biological Intelligence Organization and Attribution (BIO Attribution) Act (H.R. 5406) and the Biological Intelligence Oversight Report (BIO Reporting) Act (H.R. 5405). The Bio Attribution Act would require development of a plan for an interagency biodefense task force to support disease attribution efforts. Separately, the BIO Reporting Act orders the National Intelligence Director to report biennially on biodefense activities and duties among the intelligence community.

Taken together, the bills seek to utilize the collective resources of the federal government to streamline disease intelligence and make it easier — and more possible — to identify the source of biological threats.