A blue-ribbon task force has bluntly warned that the U.S. is "dangerously unprepared" for a terrorist attack, saying it probably would mean more casualties than the Sept. 11, 2001 attack.

The report, released Oct. 25 by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, says the possibility of war with Iraq and that Saddam Hussein may threaten to use weapons of mass destruction in the U.S. make the need for homeland security action more urgent.

The panel, chaired by former Senators Gary Hart and Warren Rudman, says priorities for transportation security should be changed to focus on maritime and surface modes, where they say "the vulnerabilities are greater and the stakes are higher."

Energy is another weak spot, according to the report. It asserts, "The homeland infrastructure for refining and distribution energy...remains largely unprotected to sabotage." The task force recommendations include funding vulnerability assessments to be done in six months and "a stockpile of modular backup components" to restore service if there is an attack.

The group also recommends an "Omnibus Anti-Red Tape Law," to allow public and private sector security task force members to share classified data and an exemption from federal antitrust regulations for those who take part in such task forces.

The task force also included former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairmen William J. Crowe and John W. Vessey; former Secretaries of State Warren Christopher and George Shultz and other leaders of business, science and law.