Monday, November 3, 2008

Bioterrorism’s Deadly Math

From Judith Miller, let go from the NY Times for her poorly sourced, Iraq war drumbeat articles, who is now at Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, writing in their City Journal (reprinted by a long and valuable piece on the biodefense enterprise that has developed since 9/11. It includes the following:
Moreover, while there is no doubt that Ivins had psychological problems that ultimately prompted his suicide, his attorney and family say that being subjected to such intense federal scrutiny was also partly to blame. And those who worked most closely with the eccentric scientist at Fort Detrick have openly challenged the bureau’s claim that Ivins was the perpetrator. Critics have called for more congressional hearings and even an independent commission to examine the entire Amerithrax investigation. In any event, the controversy over the case highlights the continuing difficulty of “attribution”—identifying the source of an attack so that its sponsors can be punished and future strikes deterred—even in an age of sophisticated bioforensics.


Anonymous said...

I read Miller's phrase -- "In any event" -- as the equivalent of "Whatever."

Anonymous said...

This article by Judith Miller is largely a nightmare. Besides writing for the City Journal that this article appears in, Judith Miller also now works for Fox News. Judith Miller was and remains a neo-con mouthpiece. But Judith Miller is far from the only one ignoring that according to our own government, the only bio-attack in our history came from within our own “bio-defense” program. This does not stop her or practically anyone else from going along with massively expanding this program as some kind of solution.

Nevertheless, this article, interpreted properly, establishes the following fact: We are at the point at which the complexity of our essential domestic infrastructure and the widespread availability of technologies of destruction make the achievement of security by physical means virtually impossible. Since I do not expect anyone to take my word for it, I will occupy the balance of this comment with pithy quotations from some of our favorite generals.

“It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear.” - General Douglas MacArthur
“[Preparations for] war is a racket.” – General Smedley Butler
“How far can you go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without?” - Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Controlled, universal disarmament is the imperative of our time. The demand for it by the hundreds of millions whose chief concern is the long future of themselves and their children will, I hope, become so universal and so insistent that no man, no government anywhere, can withstand it.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower

daedalus2u said...

I agree, the “obvious” solution to not enough points of delivery and not enough health care providers is to increase the number of health care providers. Those health care providers need to be educated, trained and kept in practice. They could be kept in practice giving childhood vaccinations, monitoring children’s health, monitoring the health of the millions upon millions of uninsured. Then when there is a “real crisis”, there is a much larger surge capacity because there are now many more health care providers.

The first sign of a “real” bioterrorist attack will be sick people showing up at an emergency room. Cut the waiting time in emergency rooms and you have cut the time to identifying a bioterrorist attack. Reduce the threshold for people going to an emergency room (because it is cheaper), and you have cut the time to identify a bioterrorist attack too. Increase the population that is willing to go to an emergency room (because it isn’t out of pocket) and you have reduced the time to identify a bioterrorist attack.

Why aren’t these being done? Because it would cut into the profits of private insurance based health care.