Bioterror Attack “Inevitable” Says US
Vol: 16 Issue: 27 Monday, January 27, 2003
US Secretary of Health and Human Services warned on Sunday night that a bioweapon attack against America was ‘inevitable’. As I type these words, the impact of what that really means is starting to really sink in. A bioweapons attack against America is ‘inevitable’. Hoo-boy!
“There is going to be an attack. Whether it is in western Europe, the US, Africa, Asia or wherever, you have got to anticipate that there is going to be a bioterrorism attack and the only way to defend yourself is by getting prepared,” Thompson told reporters during an interview at the Davos economic summit.
We’ve already been subjected to bioterrorism. Remember the anthrax attacks? It was no picnic wondering if the mailman was delivering junk mail or death in an envelope.
Since then, the US has purchased enough smallpox vaccine for the entire population, stockpiled antibiotics and other drugs at 12 sites within seven hours’ reach of any community, and is seeking new vaccines for botulism, haemorrhagic fever viruses, plague and anthrax.
Thompson said an attack could come in the form of “a bioterrorism agent, a chemical dispersal or a radiological one”. Smallpox was the most devastating threat because of its contagious nature, he said, but poisoning of food with ricin was a great concern.
But with all of that, we aren’t ready. There are plenty of other bioweapons that could be used against us.
The feds have done plenty, including retrofitting environmental monitors in the hope they will provide early warning if smallpox, anthrax or other deadly germs are released into the air.
The system would retrofit many of the 3,000 existing environmental monitoring stations with new filters to detect biological agents, an administration official said Tuesday. The system will go online on Wednesday in New York City and is already operational in Washington DC.
Currently, the EPA’s air monitoring system tracks pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, and lead. According to an EPA database, there are nine monitoring stations in New York City, 13 in Los Angeles County, two in Washington, D.C., and at least five within the city of Chicago.
The system was tested throughout 2002, including at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. But without an attack, whether or not it will work is still academic.
Nightmare scenarios envisioned by bioterrorism experts include a small plane flying above a community, releasing anthrax or other germs over a large gathering of people. Depending on the winds, thousands of people could become ill, yet it could take days to figure out what happened.
Those who argue that we should give the inspections in Iraq more time have yet to explain ‘more time for what?’ We know Iraq has stockpiles of hidden chemical and biological weapons.
A test tube could contain enough nerve agents or biological weapons to wipe out a small city. And we know that the ricin discovered in the UK traces back to a terrorist group operating out of northern Iraq under Saddam’s protection.
And we know that Saddam has used both chemical and biological weapons in the past against Iran during their 1980-88 war and against his own people.
These are not things we suspect, but things that are KNOWN to be true.
What else do we know? We know that these inspections have been going on since 1991, with a four year hiatus when Iraq kicked out the weapons inspectors in 1998. How much ‘more time’ will be enough?
This is a no-brainer. War is hard, nobody wants one, and it means that people are going to die. That is also something that we KNOW. We also know we have no choice. The die is already cast — Saddam is not going to ‘go gently into that good night’ whether the inspectors can win the game of hide and seek now ongoing, or not.
Here’s the only thing still up in the air. Is that war, with its attending hardship, destruction and death, going to play out in Iraq?
Or on Main Street, USA?
Musing Right Along . . .
I apologize for the lateness of your Omega Letter this morning. I picked a lousy time for a vacation — but who knows when there will be a good time? In a few moments, Hans Blix will be giving his report to the United Nations. Gayle and I will be packing up and heading for home in a couple of days. I only wish each of you could have been here with us. But thanks to the magic of email, we’ve been able to share as much of it with you as possible.
I cannot express how grateful we’ve been for your kind indulgence.
You are an amazing group of friends. We love you all.
We are living in perilous times. But don’t be afraid. We serve an awesome God. Pray for our people, our way of life and for God’s will to be done.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not on thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)