War on Terrorism

Monday, February 09, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- February 9, 2009

Homeland, State [Department], and HHS [Health and Human Services] would receive less under revised stimulus plan
“A proposal to trim a Senate stimulus package to $780 billion would cut nearly $1.7 billion in programs involving national security for the Health and Human Services, State and Homeland Security departments. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., spearheaded the effort to cut roughly $108 billion from the Senate version of the legislation. The proposal unveiled Feb. 6 would hit security-related public-health programs the hardest, stripping about $870 million from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the agency within HHS charged with developing medical countermeasures for pandemic flu and likely bioterrorism agents.” (CQ Politics; 07Feb09; Matthew M. Johnson)

2 Mice carrying plague disappear from New Jersey Lab, FBI says no public health risk

“The frozen remains of two mice injected with the organism that causes plague have not been accounted for seven weeks after being discovered missing at a University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey facility in Newark, the university said Friday. […] Dr. David Perlin, director of the research institute, said the experiment was part of a National Institutes of Health bioterrorism program to test a vaccine for plague. The infectious disease often caused by bites from rodent fleas is of interest to researchers because of its potential for use by bioterrorists.” (Fox News; 07Feb09; Source: Associated Press) http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,489595,00.html

Mass vaccination test involving Caddo [LA] to wrap up soon
“An initiative designed to test school systems' ability to mass vaccinate students in the event of a public health emergency is in its final stages in three key areas of Louisiana, including Caddo. […] The demonstration has allowed [Louisiana’s department of] Health and Hospitals to observe how the schools would manage their own mass distribution of immunizations using school nurses and flu vaccine dosages provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A report on the results of the project is expected later this month. […] The ability to mass distribute vaccines or other types of medicines prepares the state for large disease outbreaks and other health emergencies, including bioterrorism events and a pandemic flu.” (Shreveport Times; 07Feb09; Source: Associated Press) http://www.shreveporttimes.com/article/20090207/NEWS01/902070340/1060

U.S. Army lab freezes research on dangerous pathogens
“The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) has suspended research activities involving biological select agents and toxins. Army officials took the step on Friday after discovering apparent problems with the system of accounting for high-risk microbes and biomaterials at the Fort Detrick, Maryland, facility. The lab has been under intense scrutiny since August, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) named former USAMRIID researcher Bruce Ivins as the perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax letter attacks. […] Officials have begun a complete inventory of all select agents and toxins at the facility. All experiments using select agents will remain suspended until the accounting is finished, which could take several weeks.” (Science Magazine; 07Feb09; Yudhijit Bhattacharjee) http://blogs.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2009/02/us-army-lab-fre-1.html

JH [Johns Hopkins University] offers free software tool for large-scale disaster planning
“A team of Johns Hopkins experts is offering a free Web-based tool it developed to predict the impact on individual hospitals of a flu epidemic, bioterrorist attack, flood or plane crash, accounting for such elements as numbers of victims, germ-carrying wind patterns, available medical resources, bacterial incubation periods and bomb size. […] Called EMCAPS, for Electronic Mass Casualty Assessment & Planning Scenarios, the software program is believed to be the first that generates the anticipated outcomes of disaster-planning scenarios developed by the Department of Homeland Security. […] The program can be downloaded from the CEPAR Web site, www.hopkins-cepar.org.” (Johns Hopkins Gazette; 09Feb09; Gary

Nerve agent may be missing [UT]
“Is the Army missing some nerve gas? Pentagon auditors concede that is a remote possibility because of discrepancies in records between how much chemical weapons agent was initially stored and how much of it was later destroyed at Utah's Deseret Chemical Depot and other bases nationwide. But officials believe all the nerve agent in question was destroyed, according to a partially censored U.S. Army Audit Agency report obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Auditors list in it several reasons that could have caused apparent-but-unreal variances in those records. But auditors concluded, ‘The (Army Chemical Materials) Agency didn't have complete assurance that amounts recorded in the system were accurate, which increased its chances for heightened levels of program scrutiny by federal, state and international organizations that have a vested interest in the elimination of chemical weapons.’ Such words can cause shivers among Utahns who remember such things as the death of thousands of sheep in Skull Valley in 1968 that were blamed on nerve gas tests that went awry […].” (Deseret News; 08Feb09; Lee Davidson) http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,705283634,00.html

FBI investigates DC letter with powder, dead fish
“FBI officials say they are investigating reports of a letter containing white powder and a dead fish that was sent to a Department of Homeland Security employee in Washington. FBI Washington Field Office spokeswoman Katherine Schweit says authorities were called Friday to a downtown Washington office building on Vermont Avenue. She says the letter was addressed to a homeland security worker at that location. The Department of Homeland Security has offices in the building.” (Associated Press; 06Feb09) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29055468/

Boston Police Department seeks public's help identifying Symphony Hall anthrax suspect.
“The Boston Police Department is seeking help from the public in identifying a suspect who placed a cardboard tube labeled ‘Anthrax: Beware’ outside Boston’s Symphony Hall on Friday, February 6, 2009. Surveillance footage shot in the area of Boston’s Symphony Hall shows a white male suspect leaving the bag and a cardboard tube beside the building. […] An investigation ensued and the area of Boston’s Symphony Hall was cordoned off. It was ultimately determined that the cardboard tube […] was empty, posing no threat to public safety.” (The Examiner; 07Feb09; Source: Associated Press; Mia Carter) http://www.examiner.com/x-3083-Boston-Crime-Examiner~y2009m2d7-Boston-Police-Department-seeks-publics-help-identifying-Symphony-Hall-anthrax-suspect

CNS ChemBio-WMD 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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