The recent political rupture between Russia and the U.S. only makes matters worse, said Lee Hamilton, the former Indiana Democratic congressman who helped lead the 9/11 Commission and now chairs the independent group's latest study.
Efforts to reduce access to nuclear technology and bomb-making materials have slowed, thousands of U.S. chemical plants remain unprotected, and the U.S. government continues to oppose strengthening an international treaty to prevent bioterrorism, according to the report produced by the bipartisan Partnership for a Secure America.
The group includes leaders of the disbanded 9/11 Commission, the bipartisan panel that investigated government missteps before the 2001 terror attacks on the United States.
"The threat of a new, major terrorist attack on the United States is still very real," concludes the report to be released Wednesday, the same day a congressional commission will hold a hearing in New York on nuclear and biological terrorism threats.
"A nuclear, chemical or biological weapon in the hands of terrorists remains the single greatest threat to our nation. While progress has been made in securing these weapons and materials, we are still dangerously vulnerable," the report said. House Democrats also blasted Bush policy in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia as damaging to national security. U.S. efforts to combat terrorists in Pakistan have suffered because of "unyielding support for a military dictator"; Iraq has drained resources from the fight in Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia continues to serve "as a major source of terrorist activity."