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Biological weapons development in the US
Biowarfare Research: Lifting the Lid on America's "28 Days Later"

The dystopian British sci-fi film 28 Days Later opens with animal rights activists breaking into the Cambridge Primate Research facility to free chimpanzees used in a secret weapons program.

Terrified by the intrusion, a scientist warns the raiders that the chimps are infected with a genetically-modified pathogen. Ignoring his admonition, the chimps are let loose from their cages and immediately attack everyone in sight, unleashing a plague of unimaginable proportions.

Despite the film's fanciful scenario (with animal rights' campaigners clearly focused in the cross-hairs) this grim, cautionary tale does contain a kernel of truth. While marauding gangs of flesh-eating zombies haven't invaded our cities, a subtler threat looms on the horizon.

The sixth anniversary of the murder of British bioweapons expert Dr. David Kelly on July 17, 2003, lifted the lid on more than government lies that smoothed the way for the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq; it exposed the shadowy world of germ warfare research in Britain and the United States.

Along with the 2001 anthrax attacks in America that murdered five people and exposed some 10,000 others to a weaponized form of the bacteria, Kelly's death under highly questionable circumstances focused attention on the West's bioweapons establishment. For a fleeting instant, all eyes were trained on an international network of medical researchers, corporate grifters and Pentagon weaponeers busy as proverbial bees experimenting with deadly microorganisms.

And then as they say, things went dark; as more bodies piled up, cases were "closed" and the money kept on flowing...

An Expansive Bioweapons-Industrial Complex

The production of biological weapons were ostensibly banned when the United States signed the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1975. However, the absence of any formal verification regime limited, some would argue purposely so, the effectiveness of the treaty from the get-go.

Indeed, a giant loop hole in the BWC allows for the production of "small quantities" of pestilential agents "for medical and defensive purposes." Note however, it is is not the production of said agents that are prohibited as such but rather, their transformation into "weapons, equipment or means of delivery ... for hostile purposes or in armed conflict."

And with the September 11 and anthrax attacks as a pretext, the United States embarked on a systematic and reckless program to expand research into the creation of prohibited weapons systems. Along with renewed interest in these dodgy projects, now euphemistically dubbed "biodefense" to avoid breaching the BWC, came a huge increase in funding as new facilities are built and older ones "upgraded." A May 2009 report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) estimates that overall government spending has "increased from $690 million in FY2001 to $5.4 billion in FY2008."

According to the Washington D.C.-based Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation since the 2001 terrorist attacks "the U.S. government has spent or allocated nearly $50 billion among 11 federal departments and agencies to address the threat of biological weapons. For Fiscal Year 2009 (FY2009), the Bush Administration proposes an additional $8.97 billion in bioweapons-related spending, approximately $2.5 billion (39%) more than the amount that Congress appropriated for FY2008."

The bulk of these funds according to the Center have gone to the Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA ($31.5 billion), the Defense Department ($11.8 billion), Department of Homeland Security ($3.3 billion) and Project BioShield ($5.5 billion).

Yet according to numerous studies, deadly pathogens are far more likely to spread like wildfire as the result of a laboratory accident than an attack by germ-wielding terrorists. As I write, labs with Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) and Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) facilities are sprouting up like poisonous mushrooms across the United States.

A BSL-3 lab designation means that a facility is equipped to handle indigenous or exotic agents that may cause serious or potentially lethal disease after inhalation. Examples of substances handled by a BSL-3 lab include tuberculosis, anthrax, West Nile virus, SARS, salmonella, and yellow fever.

On the other hand, a BSL-4 lab handles the most deadly pathogens known to humankind; in other words, aerosol-transmitted infectious agents that cause fatal diseases for which no known treatments are available. Examples of substances handled by a BSL-4 lab include: Marburg virus, Ebola virus, Lassa fever and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever.

CRS researchers reported that "Non-federal entities have also expanded or constructed additional high-containment laboratories. In addition to the threat of bioterrorism, an increasing awareness of the threat posed by emerging and re-emerging diseases has led to the proliferation of high-containment laboratories internationally, as the technologies used are widely available."

Shockingly, CRS was unable to determine the exact number of BSL-3 laboratories currently operating in America. However Congress' research arm said that "the total amount of planned or existent BSL-4 space in the United States has increased by an estimated twelve-fold since 2004."

Much of this work, conveniently, is being contracted out to private corporations with little or no effective oversight. Among the more prominent firms to have received the federal government's largesse for BSL-3 and BSL-4 work according to CRS, one finds the "Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, Battelle Memorial Institute, Southern Research Institute, and others." Indeed, much can be hidden here, including outsourced secret weapons research, under the rubric of "proprietary information" and "intellectual property" of course!

During 2007 hearings before Congress' Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, committee Chairman Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) said:

These BSL–3 and 4 labs are the facilities where research is conducted on highly infectious viruses and bacteria that can cause injury or death. Some of the world's most exotic and most dangerous diseases are handled at BSL–3 and 4 labs, including anthrax, foot-and-mouth disease and Ebola fever. The accidental or deliberate release of some of the biological agents handled at these labs could have catastrophic consequences. Yet, as we will hear from the Government Accountability Office, GAO, no single Government agency has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the safety and securing of these high-containment labs. However, GAO states there is a major expansion of the number of BSL laboratories is occurring both in United States and abroad but the full extent of that expansion is unknown. ("Germs, Viruses and Secrets: The Silent Proliferation of Bio-Laboratories in the United States," Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives, October 4, 2007, Serial No. 110-70, pp. 1-2)
The hearings revealed that no one "in the Federal Government even knows for sure how many of these labs there are in the United States, much less what research they are doing or whether they are safe and secure." Neither "safe" nor "secure" such facilities however, are highly profitable.

During 2007 alone, some 100 "incidents" were reported; however, "there are indications that the actual number of incidents may be much higher," according to Rep. Stupak. Reporting guidelines are so lax that dangerous pathogens such as hantavirus, SARS and dengue fever "are not on the select agent list" nor are there requirements "that the theft, loss or release of these agents ... be reported to Federal officials."

According to Edward Hammond, director of the now-defunct Sunshine Project, some 20,000 people working at more than 400 sites in the U.S. conduct research on organisms that can be used as bioweapons. This represents a tenfold increase in employment at such facilities since the 2001 anthrax attacks.

Using the Freedom of Information Act to pry data from the federal government, Hammond obtained records from a score of university biosafety committees. What he discovered was disturbing to say the least. Plague, anthrax, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, brucellosis and Q fever; these are some of the deadly pathogens that escaped containment through poor safety practices and resulted in the inadvertent sickening of lab workers.

Scientists have warned for years that the more people who handle these toxic substances, the higher the probability that mishaps will occur. Among the more well-publicized incidents, Hammond reported the following:

* Texas A&M University: workers were exposed to Q fever when it escaped containment;
* University of New Mexico: one worker was jabbed with an anthrax-laden needle while another was stuck with a syringe filled with an undisclosed, genetically altered microbe;
* University of Ohio Medical Center: workers are exposed to and infected with Valley Fever;
* University of Chicago: a syringe puncture of a lab worker with an undisclosed substance that required heavy containment, most likely anthrax or plague;
* University of California at Berkeley: workers handled the air-borne toxin Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever without containment. It had been mislabeled as "harmless".
More recently, Global Security Newswire reported in June that an inventory at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Md., "found nearly 10,000 more vials of potentially lethal pathogens than were known to be stored at the site."

Claiming that there are "multiple layers of security," Ft. Detrick's deputy commander Col. Mark Kortepeter said it was "extremely unlikely" that any of the center's samples had been smuggled out. "Unlikely," but not impossible.

Amongst the 9,200 extra samples uncovered during the inventory were "bacterial agents that cause plague, anthrax and tularemia; Venezuelan, Eastern and Western equine encephalitis viruses; Rift valley fever virus; Junin virus; Ebola virus; and botulinum neurotoxins." So much for a "culture of safety"!

Any one of these pathogens should they escape or made to "disappear," could be transformed into a doomsday weapon.

Designer Genes, Designer Weapons

In Emerging Technologies: Genetic Engineering and Biological Weapons, researcher Edward Hammond described how "Genetic engineering can contribute to offensive BW programs in a variety of ways. With genetic manipulation, classical biowarfare agents such as anthrax or plague may be made more efficient weapons. Barriers to access to agents such as smallpox, Ebola or the Spanish flu are being lowered by genetic and genomic techniques."

No longer the province of science fiction, recombinant DNA research is being exploited by enterprising corporate grifters for decidedly sinister purposes. Hammond writes that while "access to highly virulent agents and strains is increasingly regulated and restricted," with lethal toxins such as the smallpox virus "eradicated outside the laboratory more than 20 years ago ... it is only a question of time before the artificial synthesis of agents or agent combinations becomes possible."

The available evidence suggests such work, alarmingly, is advancing at a rapid rate.

In 2002, poliovirus was synthesized by a research team at the University of New York in Stony Brook. Hammond writes that "researchers built poliovirus 'from scratch' through chemical synthesis. Starting with the gene sequence of the agent, which is available online, the researchers synthesized virus sequences in the lab and ordered other tailor-made DNA sequences from a commercial source. They then combined them to form the full polio genome. In a last step, the DNA-sequence was brought to life by adding a chemical cocktail that initiated the production of a living, pathogenic virus. The experiment was funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)."

While poliovirus is not "well suited" as a bioweapon, "the experiment exemplifies possibilities that generate real problems if similar techniques become applicable to agents such as smallpox." Hammond averred that in 2002 "such a technique was demonstrated." Indeed, "the full sequences of at least two different smallpox strains are available in the internet, and most recently a new internet site dedicated to poxvirus genomic sequences has been launched."

As frightening as the potential for genetically engineering smallpox as a bioweapon, U.S. researchers, led by a Pentagon pathologist "recently began to genetically reconstruct" the dangerous influenza strain responsible for the 1918-1919 pandemic. "In one experiment" Hammond informs us, "a partially reconstructed 1918 virus killed mice, while virus constructs with genes from a contemporary flu virus had hardly any effect." During the 1918-1919 outbreak some 40 million people died in the global pandemic.

Hammond reports that a sample of lung tissue from a 21-year-old soldier who died in 1918 at Ft. Jackson in South Carolina "yielded what the Army researchers were looking for: intact pieces of viral RNA that could be analysed and sequenced. In a first publication in 1997, nine short fragments of Spanish flu viral RNA were revealed. Due to the rough tissue preparation procedure in 1918, no living virus or complete viral RNA sequences were recovered."

But far from inhibiting Pentagon researchers, biowarfare proponents were jumping for joy when Army scientists recovered intact pieces of viral RNA that were then subsequently pulled apart and analyzed. By 2002 according to Hammond, "four of the eight viral RNA segments had been completely sequenced, including the two segments that are considered to be of greatest importance for the virulence of the virus."

Which leads to a queasy sense that perhaps the current outbreak of the H1N1 strain of swine flu may be the result of some mad experiment gone awry. Adrian Gibbs, a prominent Australian scientist who collaborated on research that led to the development of the Tamiflu drug, told Bloomberg News "the new strain may have accidentally evolved in eggs scientists use to grow viruses and drugmakers use to make vaccines. Gibbs said he came to his conclusion as part of an effort to trace the virus's origins by analyzing its genetic blueprint."

"The sooner we get to grips with where it's come from, the safer things might become," Gibbs told Bloomberg. "'It could be a mistake' that occurred at a vaccine production facility or the virus could have jumped from a pig to another mammal or a bird before reaching humans, he said."

Gibbs is no crank and his claims, at least initially, were taken seriously by the World Health Organization (WHO). Kenji Fukada, WHO's assistant director-general of health security and environment said the agency is reviewing Gibbs' report. On the other hand, the American Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta dismissed the findings, deciding there is "no evidence" to support the scientist's conclusions.

His research is considered credible and the scientist said his analysis is supported by other researchers, including Richard Webby, a virologist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis who found "the new strain is the product of two distinct lineages of influenza that have circulated among swine in North America and Europe for more than a decade."

Gibbs told the financial publication he saw no evidence that "the swine-derived virus was a deliberate, man-made product." The researcher said, "I don't think it could be a malignant thing. It's much more likely that some random thing has put these two viruses together."

Fukada later said that Gibbs' proposition "didn't fit the evidence." The WHO official added that the organization will need to review Gibbs' research article when it is published, but he indicated that "it is unlikely to change the experts' conclusions."

Perhaps Gibbs is wrong and his findings will be relegated to the sidelines. Having said that however, the danger that H1N1 or some derivative might be weaponized cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Indeed, the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine was so-alarmed by the prospect that in 2003 they commented, "the possibility for genetic engineering and aerosol transmission [of influenza] suggests an enormous potential for bioterrorism." Unsaid, of course, was the gravest threat posed by such dark research may be state terrorism, more specifically, American state terrorism.

Plum Island

If past is prologue, it might be an instructive exercise to take a short detour down memory lane.

One spooky facility that played a key role in America's Cold War bioweapons programs is the 840-acre Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC). Under the nominal control of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Plum Island shared close ties with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Md.

According to a series of striking reports by researcher Mark Sanborne, Plum Island's "spiritual godfather" was none other than one Dr. Erich Traub, "a Nazi scientist with a fascinating history." Traub spent the pre-war years as a scientific fellow at the Rockefeller Institute in Princeton, N.J., "studying bacteriology and virology, while still finding time to hang out at Camp Sigfried, headquarters of the American Nazi movement in Yaphank, Long Island, 30 miles west of Plum Island."

Citing evidence uncovered by researcher by Michael Christopher Carroll in his exposé Lab 257, when war broke out, Traub returned to Germany and became the head of Insel Riems, the Nazi state's secret biological warfare research facility located on an island in the Baltic Sea. A fanatical Nazi, Traub tested germ and viral sprays over the occupied Soviet Union "while reporting directly to Heinrich Himmler."

With a CV such as this one would have expected Traub to have landed in prison or at the end of a rope. Think again!

After the war Traub worked briefly for the Soviets before escaping into the embrace of Operation Paperclip, Washington's covert employment program for useful Nazi scientists. As Werner von Braun was to rockets, Traub was to germs: He promptly went to work for the Naval Medical Research Institute and gave operational advice to the CIA and the biowarriors at Fort Detrick. Indeed, his detailed description of his work at Insel Riems probably helped inspire the selection of Plum Island by the Army: both the German and U.S. facilities were situated on islands where the prevailing winds blew (mostly) out to sea. (Mark Sanborne, "'Bionoia' Part 3: The Mystery of Plum Island: Nazis, Ticks and Weapons of Mass Infection," World War 4 Report, No. 121, May 1, 2006)
But that's all in the past, right? Well, not entirely...

Carroll builds a compelling case that the 1975 outbreak and subsequent pandemic spread of Lyme Disease, a tick-borne pathogen first identified in Old Lyme, Connecticut "just 10 miles across Long Island Sound from Plum Island," may have originated when a secret bioweapons experiment went awry.

Since its 1975 appearance nearly 300,000 cases have been reported in 49 states, although given its mimetic abilities and confusing, multi-symptom manifestations, the CDC estimates that only one in 10 cases are recognized as such, which means potentially some three million Americans may have been infected by the pathogen.

Indeed, what makes Lyme the perfect cover as a bioweapon is its capacity as "a devious, multi-systemic, inflammatory syndrome that mimics other illnesses by encompassing a range of afflictions, including chronic and crippling pain and fatigue that untreated can spread to organs and the central nervous system, causing depression, palsy, memory loss, psychosis, and even encephalitis and death," Sanborne grimly informs us.

Why then, would America's biowarriors concern themselves with a disease that "incapacitates but rarely kills" its victims? According to Sanborne, "the logic is brutally simple." Drawing an analogy between how a wounded soldier puts greater stress on an army than a dead one, "gradually sickening a population places greater economic and social stress on a society than simply killing a limited number of people with a more direct and virulent attack."

And if such a disease can be transmitted via a natural vector like ticks or mosquitoes that already possess built-in plausible deniability so to speak "and can confuse medical authorities by presenting a broad array of symptoms that mimic other conditions (Bb, like its more famous relative syphilis, has been called the 'Great Imitator'), then so much the better," Sanborne wrote.

Carroll discovered during his research that entomologist Dr. Richard Endris and African swine fever team leader Dr. William Hess, traveled to Cameroon and other parts of Africa on "tick-hunting safaris." By the time the pair had finished their collection, they had reared "over 200,000 hard and soft ticks of multiple species."

Lab containment practices were cited as "unsafe" by outside consultants who "strongly recommended" the construction of a "modern, approved insectory be undertaken for future research." (emphasis in original) The pair were fired in 1988 and the tick colony destroyed, but the question remains: were the ticks already out of the bag?

There is also evidence that Plum Island researchers experimented with more than ticks. Carroll averred,

Dr. Endris also conducted experiments with sand flies on Plum Island in 1987 to test transmission of leishmaniasis, a bacterial ailment that if left untreated, has a human mortality rate of almost 100 percent. It is characterized by irregular bouts of fever, substantial weight loss, and swelling of the spleen and liver. The work was performed under contract for Fort Detrick, and serves as another example of a deadly germ warfare agent worked on at Plum Island for the Army, with no public knowledge or public safety precautions taken. (Michael Christopher Carroll, Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Germ Laboratory, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005, p. 24)
Like other parts of America's bioweapons-industrial complex, disease outbreaks and subsequent cover-ups go hand in hand. The New York Times reported in 2004 that "the highly contagious foot and mouth virus had briefly spread within the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in two previously undisclosed incidents earlier this summer."

Fear not, lab spokesperson Donald W. Tighe told the paper "the virus had remained within the laboratory's sealed biocontainment area. He said there had been no risk to humans or animals inside or outside the laboratory." An investigation "is continuing." Alarmingly, in 1991, Hurricane Bob knocked out power on the island for several hours and disabled the air pressure systems that contained the viruses. At the time, lab spokespersons assured the public "they were safe."

Plans are afoot to close the facility. Global Security Newswire reported in February that the Department of Homeland Security is planning a new, $450 million facility to be built on the Kansas State University campus.

However, The New York Times revealed that "additional costs" would bring the total to about $630 million." The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBADF) would have "safety built into every square inch," DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano assured critics.

Coming to a City Near You!

Despite lax oversight and a veritable $50 billion ocean of cash washing over universities, corporations and the military, since 2002 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has spent billions on the construction of new BSL-3 and BSL-4 facilities. More are planned, including those already under construction in major U.S. cities.

One Boston resident, alarmed by the prospect that Boston University Medical Center officials were building "a biological defense laboratory in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods" told the Los Angeles Times, "We heard anthrax and Roxbury-South End," she recalled. "Then we heard Ebola. The last thing we heard was bubonic plague. We looked at each other and said, 'No way are they bringing that ... into our community.'"

Seven years later, the $198-million lab complex stands completed between an apartment building and a flower market. But state and federal lawsuits by anxious residents, backed by skeptical scientists, have blocked the opening until late next year at the earliest.

The battle marks the first major setback in the vast growth since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks of labs authorized to research the world's most dangerous diseases. It also underscores a growing debate over the safety and security of such labs--and whether so many are needed. (Bob Drogin, "Biodefense Labs Make Bad Neighbors, Residents Say," Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2009)
Working class Boston residents aren't the only people alarmed by the explosive growth of such facilities.

According to a 2008 University of California budget document the Board of Regents recommended the allocation of $3,998,000 for a project to renovate and "upgrade" the existing laboratory facility "for programs that require Bio-safety Level 3 (BSL3) containment" on the U.C. Davis campus.

With students and workers reeling under draconian state budget cuts, out-of-control fee hikes and mass layoffs, why would the State of California waste nearly $4 million for such a facility? "The BSL3 space is needed" we are informed, "for research programs utilizing infectious and pathogenic organisms." Indeed, "the facility would be designed to accommodate research studies involving in-vitro experimentation utilizing infected avian, murine, arthropod hosts, and the development of genetic markers for a wide range of disease agents that require BSL3 containment."

But as with most of America's bioweapons-industrial complex, illicit and illegal research is carried out with little or no oversight.

The antinuclear Bay Area watchdog group Tri-Valley CAREs (TVC), has been monitoring and protesting the expansion of America's nuclear weapons complex for decades, with a particular focus on the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

An ubiquitous "public-private partner" of the U.S. national security state, LLNL is a "limited liability corporation" comprised of five partners: the University of California, Bechtel, BWX Technologies, Washington Group International and Battelle--all heavy-hitters in the biotech, construction, defense, energy, nuclear and security worlds.

According to TVC, the group obtained government documents as a result of Freedom of Information Act litigation demonstrating that LLNL had violated federal regulations and had carried out "restricted experiments" that were discovered by the Centers of Disease Control inspection in August 2005. CDC, the Department of Energy and LLNL covered up the inspector's report.

Restricted experiments are experiments utilizing recombinant DNA that involve the deliberate transfer of a drug resistance trait to select agents that are not known to acquire the trait naturally. Select agents, which include anthrax and plague, are biological agents and toxins having the potential to pose a severe threat to public health and safety.

Because of the dangers involved in transferring drug resistance to select agents, restricted experiments require approval from the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Livermore Lab did not have that approval, but ran the experiments anyway. ("Livermore Lab Caught Conducting Illegal Restricted Bio-Experiments," Tri-Valley CAREs, Press Release, May 26, 2009)
According to the watchdog group, the experiments were carried out by the lab at the same time of the accidental release of anthrax in August-September 2005. Five individuals were exposed to the deadly pathogen and a $450,000 fine was levied against the facility. TVC noted that "the relevant details of the 2005 anthrax accident were kept from the public at the time, just as happened with the illegal experiments that are coming to light today."

LLNL has opened a BSL-3 facility and is planning to experiment with pathogens that can be used as offensive weapons. Activities contemplated include, "aerosolizing (spraying) pathogens such as plague, tularemia and Q fever, in addition to anthrax. Moreover, government documents disclose that planned experiments in the BSL-3 include genetic modification and potentially novel manipulation of viruses, prions and other agents."

What of LLNL's close partner, Battelle Memorial? According to a blurb on their web site, the firm's national security brief includes what they euphemistically call "vaccine and therapeutic product development." Battelle "specialists" at their Aberdeen, Maryland research facility (adjacent to USAMRIID's Ft. Detrick bioweapons complex) "study aerosolized microorganisms that may be possibly used in terrorist attacks."

Indeed, Ft, Detrick is currently undergoing the largest expansion in its history. Investigative journalists Bob Coen and Eric Nadler revealed in Dead Silence: Fear and Terror on the Anthrax Trail that the recently-opened "National Biodefense Analysis Countermeasures Center ... contains heavily guarded and hermetically sealed chambers in which scientists will simulate terrorist attacks and use lethal germs and toxins."

Coen and Nadler aver, "this, remember, is the facility that officialdom claims was the source of the only significant germ war attack on US soil." Conveniently enough, "Battelle has the $250 million contract to manage the operation."

But the journalists uncovered more, much more than insipid government pronouncements on "biodefense." During a interview with constitutional law scholar Francis Boyle, a University of Illinois professor and acknowledged expert on the Biological Weapons Convention, Boyle told the investigative sleuths that the "Pentagon is ready to wage anthrax war."

"Look at the Department of Defense's Chemical and Biological Defense Program Report to Congress, April 2007, page 22, Table 2-5. Information Systems Modernization Strategy, Mid FY09-13," Boyle told Coen and Nadler.

"Here you find a study" Boyle asserted, that estimates the "human effects from a 5,000 weapon worldwide strike; to predict fatalities and incapacitation, both initial and delayed and to accommodate population moves including area evacuations or sheltering in place. Now how does that strike you?"

Sounds like business as usual!
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Magda - very good article, thanks.

The thread below is also worth considering in the context of the long-standing biological warfare programme which has never stopped. In fact, it's probably larger now than it's ever been - all justified under the "defensive" rubric.

Note that BW insider Dr Garth Nicolson, in the fictionalized-for-legal reasons account, knew of testing of hi-tech germ warfare agents on Americans in the Texas prison system in the 1980s/90s:

Quote:The book describes how Dr. Garth Nicolson and his wife Nancy discovered that weaponized mycoplasma and other biological agents were being tested on prisoners in the Texas prison system in the mid 1990s and long before. At the same time they found that 40% of Gulf War Illness patients were infected with Mycoplasma fermentans incognitus, a microorganism which was patented by the U.S. Army in 1991.

Following these discoveries, the Nicolsons endured numerous attempts on their lives. Six of the Nicolsons' scientific colleagues were murdered, including Dr. Fred Conrad (Colonel,USAF, retired), Dr. Garth Nicolson's boss at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston . Fifteen minutes after Dr. Conrad told Dr. Nicolson that he was preparing to blow the whistle on illegal biological warfare testing at MD Anderson, he was shot six times in the back of the head by an assassin in his office.

Despite being a fully endowed department head and a world renowned scientist with over 550 articles in peer reviewed medical journals, Dr. Nicolson was forced to leave MD Anderson. This was only one of the American universities involved in secretly developing and testing biological weapons, in contravention of U.S. law. In 1996 he moved to Huntington Beach California and established a non-profit research organisation, the Institute for Molecular Medicine. To date, he has used his expertise to diagnose these infections in a wide range of chronic illness patients and to develop treatment protocols, most of which can be found on the website.

The Nicolsons found that the patented mycoplasma fermentans incognitus contained the HIV envelope gene, gp-120. This indicated that it had been modified in the laboratory to make it more pathogenic
"It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...."
"Proverbs for Paranoids 4: You hide, They seek."
"They are in Love. Fuck the War."

Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

"Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta."
The last words of the last Inka, Tupac Amaru, led to the gallows by men of god & dogs of war
Government virus expert paid £116k by swine flu vaccine manufacturers 27 Jul 2009

A scientist who advises the Government on swine flu is a paid director of a drugs firm making hundreds of millions of pounds from the pandemic. Professor Sir Roy Anderson sits on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), a 20-strong task force drawing up the action plan for the virus. Yet he also holds a £116,000-a-year post on the board of GlaxoSmithKline, the company selling swine flu vaccines and anti-virals to the NHS. Sir Roy was appointed to Sage to 'provide cross-government scientific advice regarding the outbreak of swine flu'. He was one of the first UK experts to call the outbreak a pandemic... The West London-based drugs giant has had to defend itself from allegations of profiteering from swine flu after posting profits of £2.1billion in the last three months.
Holy cow! (or chicken, or pig, or primate)
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
Breaking:Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has swine flu 30 Aug 2009 Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has been diagnosed with swine flu, his spokesman says, days after attending a regional summit. The leader was being treated at his residence and was continuing to work, the spokesman said. Mr Uribe returned on Saturday from a summit in Argentina attended by leaders from across South America.
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
So, there is a God. Divine justice. What is worrying is that he (or something else) has probably infected the whole room of people including other Central and South American leaders as he has just returned from the Summit. I wonder who else will succumb and if that is the point?
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Long article,but worth reading!
The Truth About The Anthrax Attacks
By Barry Kissin
November 15, 2009 "Truth Jihad" -- On September 16 and 17, 2008, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees respectively, conducted “Amerithrax oversight” hearings consisting of questioning FBI Director Robert Mueller. Despite widespread concern about the integrity of Amerithrax, the colloquy during these hearings was largely feeble. Congressman Nadler did manage to ask the $64,000 question. journalist Glen Greenwald recounted this as follows:
“Nadler asked one of the most central questions in the anthrax case: he pointed out that the facilities that (unlike Ft. Detrick) actually have the equipment and personnel to prepare dry, silica-coated anthrax are the U.S. Army's Dugway Proving Ground and the Battelle Corporation, the private CIA contractor that conducts substantial research into highly complex strains of anthrax. Nadler asked how the FBI had eliminated those institutions as the culprits behind the attack. After invoking generalities to assure Nadler that the FBI had traced the anthrax back to Ivins' vial (which didn’t answer the question), Mueller's response was this: I don't know the answers to those questions as to how we eliminated Dugway and Battelle. I'll have to get back to you at some point.
“Nadler then pleaded: please try to get back to us with the answer quickly. Mueller replied: ‘Oh, absolutely Congressman.’”
Shortly thereafter, Nadler’s question was put into writing and sent to the FBI with other questions from the House Judiciary Committee. Nadler’s question read:
“How, on what basis, and using what evidence did the FBI conclude that none of the laboratories it investigated were in any way the sources of the powder used in the 2001 anthrax attacks, except the U.S. Army Laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland? Please include in your answer why laboratories that have publicly identified as having the equipment and personnel to make anthrax powder, such as the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Grounds in Dugway, Utah and the Battelle Memorial Institute in Jefferson, Ohio, were excluded as possible sources.”
Seven months went by before the FBI responded. Its response read:
“Initially, the spores contained in the envelopes could only be identified as Bacillus Anthracis (Anthrax). They were then sent to an expert, who “strain typed” the spores as Ames. Once the strain type was identified, the FBI began to look at what facilities had access to the Ames strain. At the same time, science experts began to develop the ability to identify morphological variances contained in the mailed anthrax. Over the next six years, new scientific developments allowed experts from the FBI Laboratory and other nationally recognized scientific experts to advance microbial science. This advancement allowed the FBI to positively link specific morphs found in the mailed anthrax to morphs in a single flask at USAMRIID. Using records associated with the flask, the FBI was able to track the transfer of sub samples from the flask located at USAMRIID to two other facilities. Using various methods, the FBI investigated the two facilities that received samples from the parent flask and eliminated individuals from those facilities as suspects because, even if a laboratory facility had the equipment and personnel to make anthrax powder, this powder would not match the spores in the mailed envelopes if that lab had never received a transfer of anthrax from the parent flask.” (Emphasis added).
On its face, the FBI’s response is absurd. The response literally says that after identifying “two facilities” that received samples of anthrax from the USAMRIID (Bruce Ivins’) flask, these facilities were excluded as possible sources of the attack anthrax because they “never received” anthrax from said flask.
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
Buckminster Fuller
Obama reaffirms Bush opposition to verifying stockpiles of anthrax, smallpox --In 2001, the Bush administration abruptly withdrew from lengthy negotiations to create a verification regimen. 09 Dec 2009 The Obama administration plans to announce a new policy on Wednesday to curb the spread of biological weapons, but it will reaffirm the Bush regime’s opposition to an international regimen for verifying stockpiles of anthrax, smallpox and other agents. The policy, to be disclosed in a speech in Geneva by the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, Ellen O. Tauscher, will focus on increasing health security to reduce the impact of outbreaks of infectious disease, whether natural or man-made, administration officials said Tuesday. The United States, these officials said, will pledge to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention, a 1975 treaty barring the development, production and stockpiling of biological and toxin weapons. But Ms. Tauscher will declare that the Obama administration does not support efforts to create a mechanism for monitoring compliance with the treaty because, a senior administration official said, supplies of biological weapons are "too difficult to verify."
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
Obama’s Biodefense Strategy is a Lot Like Bush’s

[Image: 4173665151_faf93e2e40_b.jpg]
On Tuesday, Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher was in Geneva at the Biological Weapons Convention talks. Her primary purpose was to announce President Obama’s long-expected “National Security for Countering Biological Threats.”
Given the president’s predilection for arms control issues (like his “no nukes” speech in Prague), many people expected that this new strategy would address the past administration’s refusal to negotiate on a verification regime for the treaty. And they were right… in a sense.
The first clue that something was wrong was when Ms. Tauscher (pictured) decided to use language that most people associated with bioterrorist alarmists such as Dr. Tara O’Toole and former Senators Graham and Talent. “President Obama fully recognizes that a major biological weapons attack on one of the world’s major cities could cause as much death and economic and psychological damage as a nuclear attack could,” she said. Wow! Holey overstatement, Batman! Then she told the convention attendees that the U.S. government “would not seek to revive negotiations on a verification protocol to the Convention.”
Needless to say, this was not received well. Swedish Ambassador Magnus Hellgren, representing the 27-nation European Union, commented “Our long-term goal is to develop mechanisms to verify compliance with this convention.” Most are disappointed in the language, which doesn’t appear to be significantly different than the previous administration.
So what happened? Sources tell this reporter that the National Security Council had some Bush administration holdovers in charge of editing the National Strategy and preparing Ms. Tauscher’s script, and these individuals basically bulldozed the final draft through Defense and State officials with very little interagency input and with a very short suspense. There were no significant changes in her speech, either, despite attempts to soften the heavy Bush administration-type language.
Comments from Dr. Amy Smithson and Dr. Jonathan Tucker, both of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, as well as Dr. Marie Chevrier, Chairperson of the Biological Weapons Prevention Project, can be found here.
[Photo: U.S. Mission Geneva]
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
Letting the Beast Out of the (Corporatist) Bottle: Obama Channels Bush on Bioweapons

by Tom Burghardt / December 19th, 2009
The Obama administration’s recent declaration on bioweapons would simply be another run-of-the-mill example of our “change” president’s duplicity were it not such an unmitigated disaster.
Recapitulating sinister Cold War practices that informed American ruling class consensus when it came to secretly toying with nature’s most deadly pathogens, (a) because they could, (b) because it was, and is, highly profitable and © because they got with it, the profound failure by the administration to rein-in out-of-control corporate grifters, militarists and scientists thirsting after an endless flow of taxpayer dollars, have put us all on a potential glide path towards the abyss.
Since the roll-out of the Obama product-line January 21, on issues ranging from war and peace to economic justice and from civil liberties to healthcare, the “change” team exhibit the same callous disregard for disarmament proposals that characterized their Bushist predecessors in the Oval Office.
Nowhere is this reality so transparently delineated than by the administration’s continuing efforts to derail plans to revitalize the moribund Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), rejecting binding verification protocols that would finally give the 1972 treaty teeth.
“Strengthening” the BWC: Killing it with Kindness
From her perch as U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Ellen Tauscher, a former Democratic congresswoman from the San Francisco Bay Area (in other words, a feckless “liberal” who spent her career paying lip-service to the antiwar sentiments of her constituents–and then voting in favor of every blood-soaked imperialist adventure undertaken by the Bush regime) rejected international monitoring of military and pharmaceutical sites that might employ research for illicit purposes, e.g., the fabrication of banned biological weapons.
“The Obama administration will not seek to revive negotiations on a verification protocol to the convention,” Tauscher told delegates December 9 at the annual meeting of the States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva.
The position outlined last week by the administration eerily follows in the footsteps of the previous government. In 2001, there was broad support internationally for revitalizing the BWC draft Protocol; a long, circuitous process undertaken back in 1991.
But during these earlier negotiations, the U.S. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) released a position paper opposing the routine inspection of laboratories and other research facilities on the grounds of safeguarding “confidential business information,” a position they have reiterated today.
This, along with U.S. Defense Department opposition killed the deal after the American delegation, under instructions from arch neocon John Bolton who then held Tauscher’s brief, argued that an international inspections regime would put U.S. “national security” at “risk” by allowing spot checks of suspected U.S. weapons sites.
Revealing a warmer and fuzzier, though no less obstructionist side than blustery Bolton, the Undersecretary mounted a charm offensive in Geneva, touting the National Security Council’s (NSC) “National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats” as a major transformation of the U.S. position. It wasn’t. Tauscher told delegates: “The United States intends to implement this [NSC] strategy through renewed cooperation and more thorough consultations with our international counterparts in order to prevent the misuse and abuse of science while working together to strengthen health security around the world.”
However, not a single word in the 23-page NSC document addresses the vital issue of verification. Indeed, while no-holds-barred inspections of nuclear weapons’ facilities undergird international treaties governing the destruction of warheads and missiles, thus ensuring compliance with treaty obligations by states, when it comes to biological weapons the “National Strategy” skirts the question entirely. Why?
While the United States claims that it will “advance policies and practices that establish and reinforce norms against the misuse of the knowledge and capabilities that arise from the life sciences while encouraging their free and open availability for peaceful and beneficial use,” a call to “develop and employ complementary and multi-layered systems for influencing, identifying, inhibiting, and interdicting biological threats” does nothing to constrain state or corporate actors from exploiting the life sciences for nefarious ends, to wit, work with dual use select agents that can be diverted into surreptitious weapons’ programs.
This is crucial. While the document asserts that America’s “relationships with the United Nations, international organizations, foreign governments, and the private sector are critical to the success of our efforts” the fact is, the “private sector” and the secret state’s own Defense Department are dead-set against any initiative that give international arms’ control monitors access to their facilities.
Claiming that the United States “has carefully reviewed previous efforts to develop a verification protocol,” the administration has “determined that a legally binding protocol would not achieve meaningful verification or greater security.”
Echoing Tauscher and the NSC’s lame reasoning, Barry Kellman, president of the International Security and Biopolicy Institute told The Hill he “agreed,” and told the publication “that given the rapid evolution of the biological market, technologies that once could only be made in a laboratory can now be made anywhere, so it would be impossible to verify that a country is holding true to the convention protocols.”
Really? Perhaps then, Mr. Kellman would care to enlighten us as to which select agent was used in the first and to date, only, bioterrorist attack of the 21st century, and where pray tell it might have come from.
Editing Out the Secret State: The 2001 Anthrax Attacks
As has generally been accepted by scientific experts and as The Baltimore Sun revealed back in 2001, “for nearly a decade, U.S. Army scientists at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah have made small quantities of weapons-grade anthrax that is virtually identical to the powdery spores used in the [October 2001] mail attacks.”
Investigative journalist Scott Shane disclosed that Dugway’s Life Sciences Division “made hundreds of kilograms of anthrax for bombs designed to kill enemy troops over hundreds of square miles” during the Cold War.
Indeed, the “extraordinary concentration” of the finely-milled powdered anthrax mailed to the media and members of Congress was “in the range of 1 trillion spores per gram” which “meant that the letter could have contained 200 million times the average dose necessary to kill a person.”
Researchers at Northern Arizona University determined that “the genetic fingerprint of the mailed anthrax is indistinguishable from that of the Ames ‘reference strain,’ which is the strain used most often at Fort Detrick and Dugway, according to a scientist familiar with the genetic work,” the Sun reported.
Years later, former Ft. Detrick deputy commander Richard Spertzel told investigative journalists Bob Coen and Eric Nadler that “the material that was in the Daschle/Leahy letter was “1.5 to 3 microns in particle size” and characterized the refinement “as super sophisticated … phenomenal.” When investigators attempted to examine samples under a microscope, “it readily floated off the slides.”
In other words, the “genetic fingerprint” and “extraordinary concentration” of the weaponized anthrax used in the attack would require a team of individuals, and not a proverbial “lone nut” to produce a biotoxin possessing such exquisitely lethal characteristics. The inescapable conclusion is that the anthrax used to murder five people, sicken dozens of others and terrorize the rest of us, could only have come from a state program or one operating under contract to a government agency.
Could the deadly biotoxin have been diverted from a U.S. defense facility or corporate lab by a group of “black box” scientists operating under the radar for their own nefarious ends, i.e. strengthening the state’s repressive hand within the social-political context of the 9/11 attacks? It is certainly possible and cannot be ruled out.
As I previously reported, Global Security Newswire (GSN) disclosed in June that “a recently completed inventory at a major U.S. Army biodefense facility found nearly 10,000 more vials of potentially lethal pathogens than were known to be stored at the [Ft. Detrick] site.”
According to reporter Martin Matishak, the 9,220 samples discovered “included the bacterial agents that cause plague, anthrax and tularemia; Venezuelan, Eastern and Western equine encephalitis viruses; Rift valley fever virus; Junin virus; Ebola virus; and botulinum neurotoxins.”
While Ft. Detrick’s deputy commander Col. Mark Kortepeter claimed there are “multiple layers of security” and that “a lot of buffers [would] prevent anyone who shouldn’t be in the laboratory from getting in in the first place and then preventing them taking something out with them,” this dodges the question of whether someone who was authorized to be inside Ft. Detrick or any of the other 400 U.S. facilities that have Biosafety Level-3 or Biosafety Level-4 laboratories, could smuggle out deadly toxic substances.
The New York Times reported December 9, that Tauscher rejects a strict regulatory regimen that would monitor state bioweapons research and development because of the “regulatory burdens that verification would place on the American pharmaceutical industry and on the military’s bio-defense research activities.”
Given the available facts surrounding the 2001 anthrax terrorist incident and the FBI’s subsequent cover-up, Tauscher’s fear of “regulatory burdens” on the “pharmaceutical industry” and the state’s own “bio-defense research activities” are certainly misplaced and should be viewed with suspicion.
Big Pharma and Congress: Best Friends Forever!
While journalists and researchers have explored ethically-challenged relationships amongst former Defense Department officials and the weapons’ industry, most recently by USA Today, and have described the oft-cited revolving door as entrée to an exclusive and highly lucrative good ‘ol boys club; call it a Beltway version of a retirement village for Pentagon clock-punchers.
Inquiring minds can’t help but wonder: does the same clubby atmosphere pervade, and inform, the policy decisions made by denizens of the Bioweapons-Industrial-Complex? Let’s take a look!
Take the Alliance for Biosecurity, a Big Pharma lobby shop aligned with the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), as a starting point. Self-described as “a collaboration among the Center for Biosecurity and 13 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies,” one “whose mission is to work in the public interest to improve prevention and treatment of severe infectious diseases–particularly those diseases that present global security challenges,” one discovers that similar relationships between academia, industry and government abound.
Since Antifascist Calling first reported on Alliance efforts to increase state funding of biotechnology and “biodefense” research in August, all references to the Alliance for Biosecurity have been scrubbed from UPMC’s web site. Indeed, all traces of the lobby shop’s activities, including group policy statements and testimony before relevant congressional committees have simply vanished.
But why, pray tell, would they take evasive action in the first place? And more importantly, what do they have to hide? As it turns out, quite a lot.
According to The Washington Times, when the Center for Biosecurity’s director, Dr. Tara O’Toole, was nominated for her current post as Undersecretary of Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security, she had “served as a key adviser for a lobbying group funded by the pharmaceutical industry that has asked the government to spend more money for anthrax vaccines and biodefense research.”
Reporter Tim McElhatton disclosed that O’Toole “never reported her involvement with the lobbying group called the Alliance for Biosecurity in a recent government ethics filing.” The Washington Times further reported that the Alliance “has spent more than $500,000 lobbying Congress and federal agencies–including Homeland Security–since 2005, congressional records show.”
“In written testimony to Congress” according to McElhatton, “Dr. O’Toole said the alliance was ‘created to protect the Center for Biosecurity’s status as an honest broker between the biopharma companies and the U.S. government’.” As is well known, $500,000 buys much in the way of “honesty” in the halls of Congress!
In an October 31 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “signed by Dr. O’Toole and two other alliance officials, the group called on Congress to include more than $900 million for the ‘advanced development of medical countermeasures’ to be administered by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.”
The Washington Times revealed that the letter was also “signed by the chief executive officer of member company PharmAthene, David Wright, who was one of the two first co-chairmen for the alliance after its creation in 2005.”
McElhatton reported that according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing “Mr. Wright’s company has a big financial interest in securing work from the authority,” and that “PharmAthene has been trying to win a contract administered by the authority to supply 25 million doses of an anthrax vaccine to the national stockpile.”
According to a press release, the firm announced that PharmAthene “will participate in and present data at the HHS Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise (PHEMCE) workshop and BARDA Industry Day taking place in Washington, DC Dec. 2-4, 2009.”
Indeed, the PHEMCE work shop “will bring together public and private sector stakeholders for a dynamic dialogue on the current state of medical countermeasure preparedness, PHEMCE initiatives in the past year, and plans for moving forward to enhance national capabilities to respond to a public health emergency.”
When “moving forward” entails the expenditure of nearly one billion dollars for “countermeasure preparedness,” one can be sure that companies on the make will be all ears!
Former Bushist Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, averred that the PHEMCE workshop “is very timely given the WMD Commission’s conclusion that terrorists are much more likely to attack America with a biological weapon than a nuclear weapon.”
Despite the fact that weapons’ experts have not reached a consensus on the Commission’s alarmist report, given the extreme difficulty faced by “terrorists” to fabricate biotoxins into an effective weapon, Thompson claims, “now that our national experts have made this warning clear, we need to take the immediate steps necessary to protect against potential biological attacks against the U.S. homeland. In particular, we need to move forward efforts to build and stockpile appropriate biological countermeasures, such as next-generation anthrax vaccines, recombinant influenza vaccines, and novel antivirals.”
Among the “experts” consulted by the WMD Commission were none other than Dr. O’Toole’s Center for Biosecurity who have called for the expenditure of some $3.4 billion annually on “countermeasure development to reach 90 percent chance of success defending the country against bioterrorism threats.”
Nowhere however, in the PharmAthene press release is it disclosed that the former HHS Secretary has a proprietary interest in securing federal dollars allegedly to “enhance national capabilities” to better respond “to a public health emergency.” Currently, Thompson is the President of Logistics Health, Inc., a firm that does extensive business with the U.S. Department of Defense for what it euphemistically calls “military readiness.”
Craig Holman, the legislative director of the watchdog group Public Citizen, said that O’Toole’s lack of transparency “definitely and clearly runs counter to the intent of the law.”
What was the response by Senate Democrats, quick to denounce the “culture of corruption” of their coconspirators across the aisle? According to The New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “slammed Republicans for slowing down, and in some cases, blocking the confirmation of nominees for various posts in the Obama administration.”
Neither Reid, nor for that matter the Times, breathed a word about O’Toole’s obvious conflict of interest and cosy relationships with biodefense firms she would presumably oversee from her perch at DHS.
Instead, we are lavished with empty rhetoric from Reid who told the Times: “‘For that position, [DHS Undersecretary] President Obama nominated an expert in combating both pandemics and bioterror attacks,’ Mr. Reid said, adding: ‘Imagine that: Americans are bracing against a flu epidemic here at home and threats of terrorism from abroad, the President nominated someone highly experienced in both of those areas, and Republicans are saying no’.”
Despite revelations of serious ethical breaches, O’Toole was confirmed by the Senate November 4.
The Ties that Bind (And Pay Handsomely!)
The close proximity of O’Toole, the Center for Biosecurity and now, the Department of Homeland Security to Alliance members such as Bavarian Nordic; Cangene Corporation; DOR BioPharma, Inc.; DynPort Vaccine Company LLC; Elusys Therapeutics, Inc.; Emergent BioSolutions; Hematech, Inc.; Human Genome Sciences, Inc.; NanoViricides, Inc.; Pfizer Inc.; PharmAthene; Siga Technologies, Inc.; Unither Virology LLC, , as well as associate Alliance member, the spooky, CIA-connected Battelle Memorial Institute, might just help explain the Obama administration’s opposition to strengthening the BWC.
According to the Center for Responsive Politic’s database, the Alliance for Biosecurity have contributed some $600,000 to congressional grifters since 2005 through the Philadelphia law firm Drinker, Biddle & Reath.
While chump change when it comes to assuring that the best congresspeople money can buy stay “on-message,” OpenSecrets reports that since 1990, Big Pharma and their allies in the health products industry have spent a whopping $177,030,005 on “influence and lobbying.” Breaking down the numbers, the watchdog group avers that the bulk of contributions have benefited Republicans ($111,405,078 or 63%) vs. Democrats ($65,056,643 or 37%).
In The Washington Times piece cited above, ethics groups have said that the Alliance’s set-up “is an example of what critics call “stealth lobbying,” in which like-minded companies form a loosely knit compact and spend lots of money lobbying the government. The arrangement is legal, but it exposes loopholes that prevent the public from finding out how much money each company pays and whether one business exerts more control over the others.”
Alliance legal counsel Anita Cicero told the paper, “the group is complying with all applicable federal laws” and that the group “does not generate income, does not have a bank account and does not owe taxes.” She told the paper the organization “was formed so companies, academic institutions and the government” could work together to “accelerate the development of therapeutic and vaccine countermeasures.”
“Countermeasures” that markedly add to the corporatist bottom line.
As Antifascist Calling previously reported, the National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB), chock-a-block with industry insiders and academic shills, posted an August 11 notice buried in the Federal Register.
Rescued from oblivion by the whistleblowing intelligence and security web site Cryptome, we were informed that NBSB’s “Market & Sustainability Work Group” seek to hand over even more cash to industry partners.
Seeking public comment on the group’s working document, “Inventory of Issues Constraining or Enabling Industry Involvement in Medical Countermeasure Efforts,” NBSB is seeking to further “streamline” the Food and Drug Administration’s already lax review process in a move meant to further “incentivize” industry by “increased federal funding for advanced development, in the form of cost-reimbursement contracts and rewarding private-capital investments with milestone payments at procurement.”
Under NBSB’s proposal, the drug industry stands to grab “reimbursement of development costs + 15%, with return-on-working-capital at 22%, and cost-of-money-for-capital at 15%.”
If said corporate patriots swing into action during a national emergency, then “compensation if commercial product(s) during emergencies (e.g., lost sales, market share, delayed licensing” are fully paid by the federal government. Talk about a robust “public-private partnership” in action!
But wait, there’s more!
GSN reported in October that Alliance member Human Genome Sciences Inc. had earned $160 million from the federal government for sales of its ABthrax vaccine, despite a Food and Drug Administration report that stated although the product performed better than a placebo (!) “it is still unknown how well these models and results predict efficacy in humans.” Despite these equivocal findings, “Washington has placed an order for 65,000 doses of ABthrax for the country’s emergency medicines reserve.”
Now that’s what I call a streamlined review process!
Earlier in October, GSN disclosed that Alliance member Emergent BioSolutions won $4.9 million in funding from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, “for the development of a new anthrax vaccine that could require only two doses to provide protection.”
As investigative journalists and filmmakers Bob Coen and Eric Nadler revealed in Anthrax War and a companion book, Dead Silence: Fear and Terror on the Anthrax Trail, Emergent BioSolutions has a very interesting pedigree indeed.
When the State of Michigan auctioned off the Michigan Biological Products Institute (MBPI) in 1998, standing in the wings with a check for $24 million were Lebanese financiers Ibrahim El-Hibri and son Fuad, “an international telecom magnate” according to Coen and Nadler. During this period, the firm the El-Hibri’s had founded after scooping-up MBPI for a song, BioPort, “held the exclusive contract to provide the U.S. government with the anthrax vaccine, and that in addition to the physical plant, the Michigan sale included $130 million in contracts with the Department of Defense.”
During their investigation, Coen and Nadler learned “that the El-Hibris had participated in the privatization of portions of the United Kingdom’s leading biodefense facility, Porton Down, a decade earlier” and that “with the acquisition of the Michigan plant, the family had planted stakes in the only two leading anthrax vaccine producers in the West.” What makes this particularly troubling according to Coen and Nadler, is the fact that the “El-Hibri’s did not have science backgrounds or biotech business experience before the Porton takeover–but were clearly canny investors.”
Alarmingly, “the troubling fact [was] that the sale of MBPI to BioPort had transferred control of a sensitive government program to a network of companies, one of which was headquartered in the Dutch Caribbean.”
Indeed, “Fuad El-Hibri himself informed Congress in 1999 that the controlling shareholder in BioPort–Intervac LLC–was partly owned by I and F Holdings NV, a Netherlands Antilles investment company owned by his father.”
None of this troubled Congress in the least since, as Coen and Nadler relate “no one on the House Committee on Government Reform asked him if El-Hibri senior had any partners in I and F Holdings.” These disturbing facts led the investigative journalists to wonder: “Who actually owned the largest anthrax vaccine manufacturing plant in the West, if not the world? Who really knew.”
Fast forward a decade and according to GSN BioPort, now Emergent BioSolutions, “is the producer of BioThrax, the only vaccine licensed by the Food and Drug Administration for the prevention of anthrax disease. The company is also developing other anthrax treatments and countermeasures against diseases such as botulism and hepatitis B.” Funds for developing the vaccine were provided “through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.”
Last month, GSN revealed that Alliance member, Danish firm Bavarian Nordic will receive some $40 million for a freeze-dried version of the firm’s Imvamune vaccine for smallpox. GSN reported that “Bavarian Nordic has received $680 million in contracts for Imvamune from the U.S. government. Washington has ordered 20 million doses of the vaccine in its liquid-frozen form and has the option of buying another 60 million,” according to a company press release.
This, despite the fact that smallpox has disappeared as an international public health threat. However as the Sunshine Project’s Edward Hammond revealed in Emerging Technologies: Genetic Engineering and Biological Weapons, when a U.S. research team at the State University of New York in Stony Brook synthesized poliovirus “from scratch,” the responsible bioresearch community were alarmed.
Hammond commented that “the experiment exemplifies possibilities that generate real problems if similar techniques become applicable to agents such as smallpox. Today it is unlikely (though not completely impossible) that countries apart from Russia and the USA have access to smallpox virus. This is the basis of the current threat assessments with regard to smallpox, which rate the likelihood of a smallpox attack very low. Should it become possible in a few years to build smallpox virus in the laboratory, the situation would be turned upside down. The relative security that can be assumed today (at least for most countries in the world) will evaporate.”
Since Hammond’s piece first appeared in 2003, is it plausible that synthetic smallpox could have been ginned-up in a top secret U.S. research facility, hence contingency planning by secret state officials to have a freeze-dried, hence longer-lived vaccine on hand? We don’t know.
Examining only the three above-named firms, OpenSecrets reports that since 2000, Human Genome Sciences has expended some $24 million since 2002 for lobbying; Emergent BioSolutions has spent some $10.9 on lobbying efforts since 2003, and Bavarian Nordic has spent some $21.7 lobbying Congress since 2002.
Given the enormous outlay of taxpayer largesse to firms that have profited handily under the Project BioShield Act of 2004, a grotesque piece of Bushist legislative flotsam, and the nearly $60 billion dollars reported by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation spent on so-called biodefense by the federal government, one can only conclude that lobbying activities by Big Pharma is an investment well-spent!
Keep in mind too, that the expenditure of federal dollars for Project BioShield and related programs do not include black budget allocations concealed by the CIA and Pentagon under a welter of above top secret Special Access Programs, a subject that Antifascist Calling will explore in future reports.
As the Sunshine Project’s Edward Hammond has warned: “Rapid developments in biotechnology, genetics and genomics pose a variety of environmental, ethical, political, and social questions. And because they open up tremendous new possibilities for biological warfare, these technological developments have grave implications for peace and security.”
We must view the Obama administration’s cynical opposition to strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention because of the “regulatory burdens that verification would place on the American pharmaceutical industry and on the military’s bio-defense research activities” as a dire international public health emergency, one which University of Illinois constitutional law professor Francis Boyle, the author of the 1989 Bioweapons Anti-Terrorism Act, has called “a catastrophe waiting to happen.”
We proceed blindly along this path at our own peril.
Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, an independent research and media group of writers, scholars, journalists and activists based in Montreal, his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily and Pacific Free Press. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press. Read other articles by Tom, or visit Tom's website.
This article was posted on Saturday, December 19th, 2009 at 9:01am and is filed under Anti-war, Capitalism, Corruption, Democrats, Health/Medical, Military/Militarism, Obama, Science/Tech, Terrorism.
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"

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