War on Terrorism

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- October 9, 2006

Probe of Anthrax Attacks Casts Shadow on Brothers

“On Nov. 15, 2001, Irshad and Masood Shaikh found themselves standing under the darkest cloud imaginable: The brothers had become suspects in the worst bioterrorism attack in American history. An FBI SWAT team battered down their front door, pointed semiautomatic rifles at Irshad's wife and carried out the first raid on a private home in the federal investigation of the anthrax attacks. Agents in moon suits carted out the Shaikhs' computers, medicines and books and swabbed the television set for anthrax spores. But the FBI had acted on a bad tip. By every account available, agents found no evidence implicating the brothers, who are widely respected public health experts. Since then, the Shaikhs have suffered consequences great and small.” (Washington Post, 07Oct06, Michael Powell)

Despite steady progress, biodefenses still unsettled

“Five years after mailed anthrax killed five people, experts give the nation's biodefenses mixed marks. ‘We're safer than we were in 2001. We've come a long way. But there's still a lot of work to do,’ said Michael Mair of the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The center estimated the government has spent at least $26 billion on detection, vaccines, antibiotics and training since the attacks. The figure doesn't include military research.” (The Star-Ledger, 09Oct06, Kevin Coughlin)

Postal Service adding defenses

“Five years after envelopes filled with deadly anthrax began arriving in the mail, the U.S. Postal Service is still working to protect its workers and customers from biological attacks. In the first frantic days of the crisis, engineer Tom Day was the man tapped to build safeguards into the mail sorting and scanning equipment. Five years and more than $1 billion later, the mail at more than 200 post offices moves through an elaborate biohazard detection system.” [Brief interview with Tom Day available at the link below.] (The Indianapolis Star; 08Oct06; Jennifer Brooks, Gannett News Service)

CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] boss: Change had to be made

“Dr. Julie Gerberding knew that leading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through a major restructuring would be difficult. Change is always hard, she said, and anxiety and resistance are to be expected. Gerberding was tapped to be CDC director in July 2002, in large part because of how well she handled the anthrax crisis. From the beginning, Gerberding was contemplating how to address the organizational weaknesses she said she saw during that crisis. She announced the beginning of a strategic transformation process, called the Futures Initiative, in June 2003. The goal is to break down barriers to scientific collaboration and promote a more holistic approach to improving public health. It's a process Gerberding says is vital to bringing the CDC into the modern era of bioterrorist attacks and pandemic influenza, while continuing to excel in its traditional role of handling outbreaks and devising programs to prevent disease and injuries.” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 08Oct06, Alison Young)

Report: Over 300 U.S. labs handle deadly biological agents

“There are 335 laboratories in the United States registered with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to handle deadly biological agents such as anthrax, anthrax, Ebola and smallpox, the Hartford Courant reported Sunday. Another 75 labs that come under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture are similarly registered with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the newspaper reported. While about a dozen labs were doing active anthrax research before five people were killed in the October, 2001 anthrax attacks, CDC records show that more than 100 university laboratories now report having live anthrax, the Courant reported There are now more than 7,200 scientists or lab workers cleared to work with live anthrax, including the so-called Ames strain used in the October 2001 attacks, the newspaper said. That concerns some scientists. ‘The huge U.S. investment in biodefense research, including dozens of new high-security labs and thousands of additional researchers, has actually made the biosecurity problem worse,’ said Jonathan Tucker, a senior fellow at the Monterey Institute Center for Nonproliferation Studies.” (The Stamford Advocate, 08Oct06, AP) http://www.stamfordadvocate.com

Cost drives Pentagon to review chem demil

“The projected costs of cleaning up the chemical weapons at the Pueblo Chemical Depot and a similar depot in Kentucky have increased significantly above the $3.38 billion Congress has authorized, causing the Pentagon to conduct a mandatory cost review. The Defense Department on Friday notified Sens. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., and Ken Salazar, D-Colo., that the review will not affect the goal of building a water neutralization system to destroy the mustard agent weapons at the Pueblo depot and dealing with any resulting waste on site.” (The Pueblo Chieftain, 07Oct06, Peter Roper)

Saddam lawyer vows to continue trial boycott

“Saddam Hussein's~chief lawyer vowed to continue boycotting his Kurdish genocide trial today to protest the removal of the trial’s first chief judge and the court’s refusal to allow defence lawyers to examine thousands of documents. The trial, Saddam’s second, is scheduled to resume tomorrow in Baghdad after a 12-day break. The chief judge adjourned the hearing to allow the defendants time to persuade their lawyers to return to the courtroom, find new counsel or accept court-appointed lawyers.”
(icWales, 08Oct06)

Police power boost for Indy race

“Gold Coast Indy 300 racegoers will be subject to random searches without reasonable suspicion under wider police powers enacted in response to an al-Qa'ida terrorist plot against the Australian cricket team. Although there have been no specific threats, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said police had asked for special events legislation to be invoked for the Indy event, which starts next week. Police will not be able to detain people without good cause. The widening of police powers follows claims that terrorists who bombed London public transport targets last year were initially instructed to assassinate the Australia and England cricket teams using sarin gas during the Edgbaston Test in Birmingham.” (The Australian, 10Oct06, Tracy Ong and Annabelle McDonald) http://www.theaustralian.news.com

[al] Qaeda targeted England, Australia cricket teams, says terrorists’

“One of Britain's leading newspapers has come out with disclosures that the England and Australian cricket teams for the 2005 Ashes series were targets of al-Qaeda. The paper claimed the July 7 London bombers had originally targeted the cricket teams. The paper, Sunday Times, quoted a friend of a terrorist as saying they were instructed to poison the cricketers with sarin gas. …Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer…were given instructions at a training camp in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in December 2004 to secure jobs as stewards at Edgbaston, the venue for the second Ashes test on 4 August 2005. They were to use the highly toxic nerve gas -- sarin -- in the dressing rooms of the two teams during the match. Hafiz claimed Tanweer had objected to the attack because of his love for the game…” (Earthtimes.org, 09Oct06, Mike Burns) http://www.earthtimes.org/

Research seeks pills for anti-radiation

“Scott Miller spends his days envisioning worst-case scenarios of a nuclear disaster. Then he huddles in his lab at the University of Utah and develops treatments the federal government hopes will protect Americans from the awful consequences of radiation exposure. Now, he and his colleagues are on a fast track to deliver new drugs that help the human body excrete radioactive materials, whether they're inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin. The drugs must be easy to take, available on a wide scale, and, of course, nontoxic themselves. Perhaps most important, they need to be effective against any number of materials an enemy might use in a dirty-bomb attack. ‘The dirty bomb changes things,’ says Miller, who heads the School of Medicine's radiobiology division. ‘If you have a nuclear worker working in a nuclear production plant, you know what they're going to be exposed to. If you have a dirty bomb, golly, that could be a lot of different things.’” (The Salt Lake Tribune, 08Oct06, Ronnie Lynn)

Emergency workers stage casualty drill

“Monroe County's [Pennsylvania] first-ever Mass Casualty Drill, dubbed ‘Monroe Vigilance,’ was staged at the school complex on Chipperfield Drive Saturday morning, including police, fire, EMS, and coroner operations, along with Monroe County's Dispatch Center and Pocono Medical Center. The scenario that was used for Saturday's drill centered on a violent white supremacist/anti-government organization that was bent on the overthrow of the federal government and establishment of a new nation. Raids of several methamphetamine labs resulted in the arrest of their national leader and other high-level operatives. The group supported themselves by selling methamphetamines and bank robberies. All of the labs were heavily fortified and large amounts of weapons were found along with stores of ricin, an extremely toxic chemical.” (Ponono Record, 08Oct06, Keith R. Stevenson)

Vaccine for botulism a step nearer

“British scientists have made a major breakthrough in the quest to develop a single, stable vaccine against the use of botulism as a biological weapon. The researchers have produced a jab that protects against the two most common strains of the botulinum toxins — the most poisonous substances known to man — and are a year away from producing one that is effective against all seven strains. Stable liquid vaccines could eliminate the threat of terrorists using airborne botulism as a biological weapon by the end of this decade.” (Telegraph.co.uk, 09Oct06)

U.S. says it wants sanctions to curb North Korea’s nuclear program and illegal financial activities

“The United States said Monday it will seek U.N. sanctions to curb North Korea's import and export of material that could be used to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction and illicit financial activities. U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said Washington wants a resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which goes beyond the resolution adopted by the council in July after North Korea conducted seven missile tests. He said the U.S. wants to make it tougher for North Korea to produce or export nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and the means to deliver them, and to impose financial sanctions for what the U.S. contends is Pyongyang's counterfeiting and money laundering.” (International Herald tribune, 09Oct06, AP)

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