Early this year, news reports were filled with anthrax stories. Someone was mailing weapons grade anthrax to numerous people and four had died. Iraq haters appeared on talk shows to proclaim Iraq must be the source. Scaremongers filled the airwaves warning that we must spend billions of dollars to prevent a coming plague. Suddenly, the hysteria and news coverage disappeared, and few Americans know why. What happened is the New York Times and Washington Post reported that FBI tests concluded the anthrax strain was from the US Army's Dugway Proving Grounds. Evidently, biowarfare experiments continue there despite government assurances that all work was halted in the early 1970s. A quiet FBI investigation began following theories of disgruntled employees or a sinister bureaucrat hoping to boost funding. Dr. Barbara Rosenberg suspects a cover-up is underway to hide the size of the nation's secret biowarfare program; read: Analysis of the Anthrax Attacks. Unfortunately, most Americans rely on television news for information, which has refused to cover this Bioscam story.
Few people realize that chemical and biological weapons are nearly as difficult to produce as nuclear weapons. You must have the expert skills (not just info from the Internet), access to restricted chemicals, expensive facilities to produce substantial agents, and a method of distribution. The last part is most difficult because bio weapons are living organisms which quickly die when exposed to sunlight or cool temperatures. In addition, the filters of large air conditioning systems will trap airborne particles, and chlorinated water supplies inactivate toxins within 20 minutes. The Japanese terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo spent millions of dollars and years of effort to make sarin nerve gas, which it released on five Tokyo subway trains in 1995. That effort killed just 12 people; a guy with a sword could have killed more. Palestinian terrorists have tried almost everything, and the best weapon they've found are basic explosives.
To catch anthrax, a person must deeply inhale hundreds of particles. If treated with common antibiotics within a few days, most people fully recover. The only serious incurable disease is smallpox, which was eliminated from Earth 20 years ago, except for a research repository in the US and another in Russia. The US refuses to destroy its remaining strain despite urgings from scientists, and Russia has said it would do so only if the US agrees. However, smallpox is not contagious until after the infected person is ill for several days and becomes bedridden. So even if another Dugway terrorist manages to infect some people, an outbreak could be immediately contained in our era of instant communications. All of these facts are well known, and detailed articles have been published in many mainstream magazines like the respected Economist (October 6, 2001). Even Fox news exposed this: Bioterror Boondoggle.
Bio and Chemical attacks are also unlikely since terrorists seek to destroy objects as well as people. Knocking down the World Trade Center was just as important as killing the people inside. The most likely terrorist weapon are the thousands of tanker trucks filled with gasoline cruising the streets of America at this moment. To deter hijackers, the government should immediately install a device in the cab of each hazardous material and fuel truck which starts beeping whenever it surpasses 10 mph, e.g. whenever it begins to move after stopping. The driver then has 30 seconds to punch in his four-digit PIN code or the engine shuts off and an alarm sounds. This will also foil truck thefts and sometimes stop drunk truck drivers. This system is not foolproof, but will provide far better protection than the six billion dollars of bioscams proposed in the President's budget.
We all know that almost 3000 people died in the 9-11 attacks, and four died from anthrax. However, since the 9-11 attacks 190,000 Americans have died from smoking related illnesses, 30,000 from flu related illnesses, 20,000 from auto accidents, 7000 from AIDS, and 3300 from prescription related errors. Clearly, Americans are threaten by far more dangerous events than terrorism. If President Bush wants to protect Americans, he should declare a war on disease, or at least auto accidents, and certainly "prescription drug errors". One Bush proposal is to spend billions of dollars to prepare all hospitals for the remote chance they may need to treat victims of biological and chemical attacks.
Congressman Barney Franks remarked that most our nation's hospitals can't handle the routine casualties of Friday nights. He said that we could save thousands of lives a year simply by improving our nation's emergency rooms, which are overwhelmed since federal law requires them to treat everyone. The poor have discovered that America already has universal health insurance. If you feel ill, or suffer any injury, just go to an emergency room and demand care. This has caused many small hospitals to close their emergency rooms, forcing working Americans with money and insurance to suffer and die waiting for their turn at larger and often distant hospitals. Most emergency rooms no longer have a full range of outside specialists "on call" since doctors have tired of rushing to hospitals only to find they will not be paid for treating the uninsured.
Despite these realities, the Bush administration has proposed tripling spending on biowarfare prevention, rewarding the perpetrator of the anthrax mailings. Killing people with biological or chemical weapons is complex, expensive, difficult, and therefore unlikely. If Bush wants to protect Americans and save lives immediately, he should propose that the federal government reimburse emergency rooms for providing federally mandated health care, or at least for treating the eight million illegal aliens which are here because of federal incompetence. Ironically, reimbursing emergency rooms will allow hundreds to reopen to improve care should any form of terrorism occur. Meanwhile, they will save thousands of lives each year from the real emergencies Americans face each day.
Carlton Meyer editorG2mil@Gmail.com
G2mil editorials may be freely distributed without permission
April 2002 Articles
have been returned to the Members Library
Letters - comments from G2mil readers
A True Mountain Division - the US Army has none
Marine Corps Aviation Must Change - still stuck in post-Vietnam deployment patterns
The Old But Effective RPG-7 - promises to haunt the battlefields of tomorrow
Naval Firepower Modernization - the solutions are simple
Maintaining Hygiene and Morale - include essential personal items with rations
The Fighting Next Time - transformation is dead
Previous G2mil - March 2002 issue
Transforming the US Navy - the second in a series
Library Tour - visit G2mil's library
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All material in G2mil Copyright 2002 G2mil, patents pending on some items. Links to the index page (www.G2mil.com) are encouraged, other page names change often.