War on Terrorism

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- February 4, 2008

Cuts to HHS [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] Could Leave Americans' Health in Critical Condition, TFAH [Trust for America's Health] Says; New Poll Shows Americans Believe Disease Prevention is Key to Reducing Healthcare Costs
“Trust for America's Health warns that the proposed 7 percent cut to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the president's fiscal year 2009 budget could harm the health of Americans. Under the proposal, the budget for CDC would fall to a six year low for discretionary funding. [The budget cuts] $136.7 million from funds for state and local bioterrorism and emergency public health preparedness and $61.9 million from hospital emergency preparedness programs. The Administration has cut these programs over the past five years, reducing the funding level by one-third. A recent report by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) found cuts have adversely impacted local preparedness.” (PR Newswire, 04Feb08)

Opening of BU [
Boston University] biolab to be delayed
“The opening of a
Boston University laboratory designed to study the world's deadliest germs will be delayed several months or longer, according to documents filed this week in federal court. BU administrators overseeing the Biosafety Level-4 lab, the centerpiece of a larger federally sponsored project, had predicted that the facility would be operating by the fall. But the National Institutes of Health said in this week's court filing that it now anticipates that an ongoing environmental review of the lab will take longer than expected and won't be completed until ‘on or before April 30, 2009.’ (The Boston Globe, 01Feb08, Stephen Smith)

$47 million added to budget to destroy depot weapons
“The Department of Defense has added $47 million to the federal budget for the destruction of chemical weapons at Bluegrass
Army Depot in Richmond, according to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell's office. In a statement, McConnell said that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had agreed to increase funding for the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternative program, from $351 million to $398 million, in the fiscal year 2009 budget. In the statement, McConnell said he asked Gates in December to increase the funding level for weapons destruction. ‘I am pleased that Secretary Gates agreed with me about the importance of increasing funding for chemical weapons disposal,’ McConnell said in the statement. ‘His decision to provide nearly $50 million more in his budget request for the ACWA program will help ensure that the chemical weapons stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot are not only disposed of safely but also more quickly.’ (Lexington Herald-Leader, 04Feb08)

Chemical Weapon Time Bomb Ticks in the Baltic Sea
“For almost 50 years chemical weapons from two World Wars have been lying at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Authorities deny they are a danger, but environmentalists are calling for their removal and proper disposal. In 1961, life-threatening chemical weapons left over from
World War I and World War II, were dumped in the Baltic Sea just eight kilometers (five miles) from the shoreline of the German town of L├╝beck. Over the past 47 years bottles containing 20,000 liters (5,283 gallons) of chloric gas, laughing gas and other poisonous chemicals have been pushed around by underwater currents at the bottom of the sea, making the exact current location of the bottles anyone's guess.” (Deutsche Welle, 01Feb08) http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,3102728,00.html

Ohio professor's portable gadget would detect chemical weapons
“An Ohio University chemistry professor is working on a handheld device for sniffing out chemical weapons hidden on airline passengers. Glen Jackson says his portable mass spectrometer will give faster and more accurate results than the chemical screening technology now being used at most U.S. airports. Jackson is getting a more than half-million dollar federal grant to help him develop the device and show off his work to high school students and college undergraduates […].” (Akron Beacon Journal, 04Feb08)

U.S. and Vietnam take steps to contain Agent Orange contamination at old U.S. air base
“More than three decades after the
Vietnam War, the United States and Vietnam have just completed temporary steps to contain dioxin contamination at a former U.S. air base in Danang. But the U.S. government, as well as U.S. foundations and corporations, should contribute more money to clean up the site permanently, members of a joint U.S.-Vietnamese working group on Agent Orange said Friday. It will cost at least US$14 million to remove dioxin from the site, one of several Agent Orange ‘hot spots’ in Vietnam, said the panel members, who are experts on the environmental, health and political consequences of the herbicide.” (Yahoo! News Malaysia; 02Feb08; Ben Stocking, AP) http://malaysia.news.yahoo.com/ap/20080201/tap-as-gen-vietnam-us-agent-orange-9a7ed42.html

Securing the cities is no easy task
“[…] At an estimated cost of $90 million, the Securing the Cities program absorbs a small fraction of the Bush administration's overall national
security and counter-proliferation expenditures. But critics have raised questions about its value, noting its rapid growth in the absence of a specific threat of urban nuclear terrorism, as well as the program's technical challenges and operational limitations. […] The office that oversees Securing the Cities was created in 2006 with the support of Vice President Cheney, and its $485 million 2008 budget is the largest part of the DHS [U.S. Department of Homeland Security]'s shrinking research portfolio, which includes aviation security, explosives and bio-defense. But its efforts have hit turbulence. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in October delayed the deployment of as much as 1,400 advanced spectroscopic portal radiation detectors as part of a $1.2 billion program announced in July 2006 to screen trucks, cars and cargo containers at border crossings and ports. Congress withheld funds this year to buy the $377,000 machines amid concerns about the DHS's cost-benefit analysis used to justify their development.” (Washington Post, 04Feb08, Spencer S. Hsu) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020202220.html

UT [University of Texas] Southwestern ricin researchers chafe at security crackdown
“Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas have spent years and millions of dollars building vaccines and cancer treatments with ricin, a toxin so lethal that an amount the size of a grain of salt can kill a person. But as federal oversight of deadly agents has increased dramatically since the 9/11 attacks, so have concerns about the university's research program. For nearly five years, and as recently as August, some safety inspectors and
law enforcement officials have worried that the ricin stockpile isn't secure enough. And internal e-mails and safety records depict a research program caught in the struggle between science and security – where some of the nation's most prominent scientists have chafed at new safety demands and the inspectors who reviewed their labs.” (The Dallas Morning News, 03Feb08, Emily Ramshaw) http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/healthscience/stories/020308dntexricin.3c17426.html

Qaeda said to focus on acquiring WMDs
“After a US airstrike leveled a small compound in Pakistan's lawless tribal regions in January 2006, President Pervez Musharraf and his intelligence officials announced that several senior Al Qaeda operatives had been killed, and that the top prize was an elusive Egyptian who was believed to be one of the network's top explosives specialists as well as a senior researcher and instructor in chemical weapons. But current and former US intelligence officials now believe that the Egyptian, Abu Khabab Masri, is alive and well - and is in charge of resurrecting Al Qaeda's program to develop or obtain weapons of mass destruction.” (Los Angeles Times, 04Feb08, Josh Meyer) http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-khabab3feb03,0,5365070.story

Terrorism News is prepared by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in order to bring timely and focused information to researchers and policymakers interested in the fields of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons nonproliferation and WMD terrorism

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