Thursday, November 10, 2011

Secret reports: With security spotty, many had access to anthrax /McClatchy

A McClatchy piece I thought was duplicative, but there is more meat than I realized at first glance:
... The existing security procedures _ described in two long-secret reports _ were so lax they would have allowed any researcher, aide or temporary worker to walk out of the Army bio-weapons lab at Fort Detrick, Md, with a few drops of anthrax _ starter germs that could grow the trillions of spores used to fill anthrax-laced letters sent to Congress and the media.
The two reports, which have not been made public for more than nine years, describe a haphazard system in which personnel lists included dozens of former employees, where new hires were allowed to work with deadly germs before background checks were done and where stocks of anthrax and other pathogens weren’t adequately controlled.

... Marked “for official use only,” the two reports were completed in 2002. One was conducted by a seven-member team from Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M. The other was by auditors for the Army’s inspector general’s office.

... The Sandia report emphasized that terrorists had obtained germs from research labs before. It cited a February 2001 National Defense University study that found 11 cases in which terrorists or other “non-state operatives” had acquired biological agents from “legitimate culture collections,” including three research or medical laboratories.

... The report said no rules governed movement of germ specimens from one building to another, for example, and that a test tube containing some of Ivins’ spores was left for weeks in a refrigerator in a second building.
... the examiners said, there was little way to detect diversions from flasks of germs, because a “malevolent” worker could grow more of the pathogen or find other ways to conceal the removal of a small amount....

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