TERRORISM LAW & POLICY
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BIOTERRORISM: LEGAL ISSUES
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  • Whoever knowingly develops, produces, stockpiles, transfers, acquires, retains, or possesses any biological agent, toxin, or delivery system for use as a weapon, or knowingly assists a foreign state or any organization to do so, or attempts, threatens, or conspires to do the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both.

    U.S. Code Title 18, sec. 175

  • A person who, without lawful authority, uses, threatens, or attempts or conspires to use, a weapon of mass destruction... including any biological agent, toxin, or vector...against any person within the United States, and the results of such use affect interstate or foreign commerce or, in the case of a threat, attempt, or conspiracy, would have affected interstate or foreign commerce; or...against any property that is owned, leased or used by the United States or by any department or agency of the United States, whether the property is within or outside of the United States, shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life, and if death results, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

    U.S. Code Title 18, sec. 2332(a)

  • ...[A]ll disease germs or scabs, and all other natural or artificial articles, compositions, or material which may kill or injure another, or injure the mails or other property, whether or not sealed as first-class matter, are nonmailable matter and shall not be conveyed in the mails...Whoever knowingly deposits for mailing or delivery, or knowingly causes to be delivered by mail, according to the direction thereon or at any place to which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed, anything declared nonmailable by this section, whether or not transmitted in accordance with the rules and regulations authorized to be prescribed by the Postal Service, with intent to kill or injure another, or injure the mails or other property, shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both. Whoever is convicted of any crime prohibited by this section, which has resulted in the death of any person, shall be subject also to the death penalty or to imprisonment for life.

    U.S. Code Title 18, sec. 1716

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Overviews
Federal Law
    U.S. Code

  • Biological Weapons - Title 18, Part I, Chapter 10

  • Control and Elimination of Chemical and Biological Weapons - Title 22, Chapter 65

  • Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction - Title 50, Chapter 40

  • Quarantine and Inspection - Title 42, Chapter 6A, Subchapter II, Part G


    Executive Orders

  • Executive Order 12735: Chemical and Biological Weapons Proliferation (George H.W. Bush, November 16, 1990)


    Sentencing Guidelines
    [amendments to US Sentencing Commission Sentencing Guidelines taking effect November 1, 2001]

  • NUCLEAR, BIOLOGICAL, AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS AND MATERIALS, AND OTHER WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION

    ...§2M6.1. Unlawful Production, Development, Acquisition, Stockpiling, Alteration, Use, Transfer, or Possession of Nuclear Material, Weapons, or Facilities, Biological Agents, Toxins, or Delivery Systems, Chemical Weapons, or Other Weapons of Mass Destruction; Attempt or Conspiracy

    (a) Base Offense Level (Apply the Greatest):
    (1) 42, if the offense was committed with intent (A) to injure the United States;
    or (B) to aid a foreign nation or a foreign terrorist organization; (2) 28, if subsections (a)(1) and (a)(3) do not apply; or
    (3) 20, if the offense (A) involved a threat to use a nuclear weapon, nuclear material, or nuclear by-product material, a chemical weapon, a biological agent, toxin, or delivery system, or a weapon of mass destruction; but (B) did not involve any conduct evidencing an intent or ability to carry out the threat.

    (b) Specific Offense Characteristics
    (1) If (A) subsection (a)(2) or (a)(3) applies; and (B) the offense involved a threat to use, or otherwise involved (i) a select biological agent; (ii) a listed precursor or a listed toxic chemical; (iii) nuclear material or nuclear byproduct material; or (iv) a weapon of mass destruction that contains any agent, precursor, toxic chemical, or material referred to in subdivision (i), (ii), or (iii), increase by 2 levels.
    (2) If (A) subsection (a)(2) applies; and (B)(i) any victim died or sustained permanent or life-threatening bodily injury, increase by 4 levels; (ii) any victim sustained serious bodily injury, increase by 2 levels; or (iii) the degree of injury is between that specified in subdivisions (i) and (ii), increase by 3 levels.
    (3) If (A) subsection (a)(2) or (a)(3) applies; and (B) the offense resulted in (i) substantial disruption of public, governmental, or business functions or services; or (ii) a substantial expenditure of funds to clean up, decontaminate, or otherwise respond to the offense, increase by 4 levels.

    (c) Cross References
    (1) If the offense resulted in death, apply §2A1.1 (First Degree Murder) if the death was caused intentionally or knowingly, or §2A1.2 (Second Degree Murder) otherwise, if the resulting offense level is greater than that determined above.
    (2) If the offense was tantamount to attempted murder, apply §2A2.1 (Assault with Intent to Commit Murder; Attempted Murder), if the resulting offense level is greater than that determined above.

    (d) Special Instruction
    (1) If the defendant is convicted of a single count involving (A) conduct that resulted in the death or permanent, life-threatening, or serious bodily injury of more than one victim, or (B) conduct tantamount to the attempted murder of more than one victim, Chapter Three, Part D (Multiple Counts) shall be applied as if such conduct in respect to each victim had been contained in a separate count of conviction.

    Commentary

    Statutory Provisions: 18 U.S.C. §§ 175, 229, 831, 842(p)(2), 2332a (only with respect to weapons of mass destruction as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2332a(c)(2)(B), (C), and (D), but including any biological agent, toxin, or vector); 42 U.S.C. §§ 2077(b), 2122, 2131. For additional statutory provision(s), see Appendix A (Statutory Index).

    Application Notes:

    1. Definitions.—For purposes of this guideline:
    "Biological agent" has the meaning given that term in 18 U.S.C. § 178(1).
    "Chemical weapon" has the meaning given that term in 18 U.S.C. § 229F(1).
    "Foreign terrorist organization" (A) means an organization that engages in terrorist activity that threatens the security of a national of the United States or the national security of the United States; and (B) includes an organization designated by the Secretary of State as a foreign terrorist organization pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. § 1219).
    "National of the United States" has the meaning given that term in section 101(a)(22) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(22)).
    "Listed precursor or a listed toxic chemical" means a precursor or a toxic chemical, respectively, listed in Schedule I of the Annex on Chemicals to the Chemical Weapons Convention. See 18 U.S.C. § 229F(6)(B), (8)(B). "Precursor" has the meaning given that term in 18 U.S.C. § 229F(6)(A).
    "Toxic chemical" has the meaning given that term in 18 U.S.C. § 229F(8)(A).
    "Nuclear byproduct material" has the meaning given that term in 18 U.S.C. § 831(f)(2).
    "Nuclear material" has the meaning given that term in 18 U.S.C. § 831(f)(1).
    "Select biological agent" means a biological agent or toxin identified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services on the select agent list established pursuant to section 511(d) of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, Pub. L. 104–132. See 42 C.F.R. part 72.
    "Toxin" has the meaning given that term in 18 U.S.C. § 178(2).
    "Vector" has the meaning given that term in 18 U.S.C. § 178(4).
    "Weapon of mass destruction" has the meaning given that term in 18 U.S.C. § 2332a(c)(2)(B), (C), and (D).

    2. Threat Cases.—Subsection (a)(3) applies in cases that involved a threat to use a weapon, agent, or material covered by this guideline but that did not involve any conduct evidencing an intent or ability to carry out the threat. For example, subsection (a)(3) would apply in a case in which the defendant threatened to contaminate an area with anthrax and also dispersed into the area a substance that appeared to be anthrax but that the defendant knew to be harmless talcum powder. In such a case, the dispersal of talcum powder does not evidence an intent on the defendant’s part to carry out the threat. In contrast, subsection (a)(3) would not apply in a case in which the defendant threatened to contaminate an area with anthrax and also dispersed into the area a substance that the defendant believed to be anthrax but that in fact was harmless talcum powder. In such a case, the dispersal of talcum powder was conduct evidencing an intent to carry out the threat because of the defendant’s belief that the talcum powder was anthrax.
    Subsection (a)(3) shall not apply in any case involving both a threat to use any weapon, agent, or material covered by this guideline and the possession of that weapon, agent, or material. In such a case, possession of the weapon, agent, or material is conduct evidencing an intent to use that weapon, agent, or material.

    3. Application of Special Instruction.—Subsection (d) applies in any case in which the defendant is convicted of a single count involving (A) the death or permanent, life-threatening, or serious bodily injury of more than one victim, or (B) conduct tantamount to the attempted murder of more than one victim, regardless of whether the offense level is determined under this guideline or under another guideline in Chapter Two (Offense Conduct) by use of a cross reference under subsection (c).


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