Sunday, November 23, 2008

Self (inflicted) defense can up risk / Balt. Examiner

Op-Ed, 11/23/08

Two clear facts shine from the clouded mystery of anthrax attacks on America and our government’s tenuous claim seven years later of closing the case with the suicide of a suspect.

Fact No. 1: Government warnings about anthrax being a weapon of mass destruction were false. Somebody dispersed the most lethal strain our tax dollars can produce — weapons-grade or near enough — via the U.S. Postal Service, exposing tens of millions of people, yet managed to infect 22. Five died. But from anthrax vaccination, at least 21 died and thousands reported a wide range of illnesses.

Fact No. 2: If FBI accusations against their prime suspect in the 2001 attack are true, it means billions of dollars taxpayers invested on the premise of prevention actually increased the risk.

When senior biodefense researcher Bruce Ivins died from an overdose of Tylenol 3 after being identified as sole suspect, our central
government declared the crime solved.

However, co-workers at the U.S. Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick say the actions attributed to Ivins over the time the government claims are scientifically impossible.

This is going to be another never-healing wound in America’s body of unsolved mysteries.

But mystery should not distract us from the truth. Our government’s response to bioweapons is raising the danger level from them.

Think it through, citizens. The very vaccination program intended to thwart anthrax apparently sickened and killed more people than an actual mass attack.

After the 2001 attack, our government hurled $41 billion at bioterror with no real coordination or study. High-level labs multiplied threefold. A dozen agencies exponentially increased the number of facilities and workers handling pathogens. Now we have more than 15,000 potential Bruce Ivins.

Meanwhile, our leaders provided no adequate increase in oversight, coordination, training, security, surveillance, testing, background checks or psychological screening.

Statistically, something going horribly wrong now approaches sure thing. That is not just a threat to residents of Frederick, Bethesda and other communities. It is, as the spread of anthrax spores proved, a threat to the whole world.

We learned in 2001 the actual danger from anthrax was lower than vaccine.

But these biohazard labs grow a lot more dangerous pathogens than anthrax. The next one to get out could kill millions.

President Bush must immediately halt programs until we can impose coordinated oversight, then assess security and capacity needs.

We must not let self-defense become self-inflicted catastrophe.


Link to GAO reports

http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-108T High-Containment Biosafety Laboratories
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-333R Issues Associated with Expansion

5 comments:

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

If Bush had only realized in 2001 he could have bailed out a bank or two on Wall Street with the money. Still, as part of his total portfolio of mismanagement and indifference it will make an interesting exhibit at a presidential library or two or three, possibly funded from those who launched the attack.

Anonymous said...

The FBI "released" their documents today. As you and I know, this is nothing special as they release what they want ordinary citizens to know.

http://www.rawhub.com/node/2214

Anonymous said...

Meryl, did you see that the Hatfill search warrant info has been released?

http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?StoryID=83179

daedalus2u said...

My take on all the incriminating stuff on Hatfill is that it simply confirms that he was deliberately set-up by the real perpetrators. That limits who the real perpetrators could be to those who knew that stuff about Hatfill.

Rawsnacks said...

I'm not sure I follow Fact No. 1: Government warnings about anthrax being a weapon of mass destruction were false. Somebody dispersed the most lethal strain our tax dollars can produce — weapons-grade or near enough — via the U.S. Postal Service, exposing tens of millions of people, yet managed to infect 22. Five died. But from anthrax vaccination, at least 21 died and thousands reported a wide range of illnesses.

a) the anthrax was not dispersed - it was mailed in containers ("we have this anthrax" "are you afraid?")
b) it was not made to be lethal - it was resistant to antibiotics ("take penacilin now")
c) the vaccine quality has nothing to do with whether or not anthrax is a strategic weapon ("you can not stop us")