The emergency was declared earlier this month by the Department of Health and Human Services, and will last until 2015. Whether it will protect public health is debatable, but it will certainly protect makers of faulty anthrax vaccines.
The act is supposed to be invoked when the Secretary of Homeland Security has determined "that there is a domestic emergency, or a significant potential for a domestic emergency, involving a heightened risk of attack with a specified biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear agent or agents."
But as Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff explains, none of these conditions are met: there's neither emergency nor heightened risk of attack nor "credible information indicating an imminent threat of an attack." But that doesn't matter. "These findings are not necessary to make a determination," Chertoff wrote. It's enough that anthrax was declared a threat four years ago, and that "were the government to determine in the future that there is a heightened risk of an anthrax attack ... that determination would almost certainly result in a domestic emergency."
In other words, there could be an emergency someday — so we might as well declare an emergency now.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Excerpts from Wired Blog:
Posted by Meryl Nass, M.D. at 9:49 PM