War on Terrorism

Friday, March 13, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- March 13, 2009

Obama to tap [New York City Health Department Chief Margaret] Hamburg to run FDA [Food and Drug Administration]
“President Barack Obama is set to nominate former New York City health chief Margaret Hamburg as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration […]. Hamburg, if confirmed by the Senate, will take over an agency stung by a deadly salmonella outbreak and a series of drug safety problems over the past several years. A public health and bioterrorism expert, Hamburg ran New York's health department from 1991 to 1997, and also served as an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President Clinton.” (Reuters; 12Mar09; Lisa Richwine)

Military intelligence-anthrax [sic] inquiry bill reintroduced
“Last week, [U.S. Rep. Rush] Holt [D-NJ] reintroduced his bill to create a commission to investigate the [2001 b. anthracis] attacks. The commission would investigate both the mailings and the federal government's investigation of them. In particular, it would examine to what extent federal investigators followed credible leads and identified potential mailers. The commission would have to produce a report on its investigation and recommendations for preventing future bioterrorism attacks within 18 months. Holt introduced the same bill last year, but Congress took no action on it.” (Frederick News Post; 12Mar09; Justin Palk)

It’s just a drill…[smallpox] outbreak planned for Ogle County [OR]
“An emergency drill next week will focus on preparing first responders to deal with an outbreak of an infectious disease. A smallpox outbreak will be the scenario March 19 when the Ogle County [OR] Health Department conducts a county-wide emergency preparedness exercise. Health department administrator Doreen O'Brien said the all-day exercise is multi-faceted and will involve agencies from all over the county. ‘This drill will pretend we have a smallpox outbreak in Ogle County,’ she said March 9. ‘We will focus on treating first responders so they can treat the general public.’” (Ogle County News; 12Mar09; Vinde Wells)

Winnowing down the bio threats
“Not long before he left office, President George W. Bush established a review board to study the way the government guards, studies and categorizes biological agents that could be used in a terrorist attack. […] But one outcome of the heightened vigilance is the government’s list of ‘select agents’ has gotten a bit long. It now includes 80 naturally occurring pathogens […]. Experts who study biosecurity are wondering whether the Obama administration will attempt to cut down the select-agent list, or at least try to categorize the threats. Such a move would fit with President Obama’s dictum of having a transparent government and potentially reduce the number of classified government experiments that critics suspect violate international biological weapons treaties.” (CQ Politics; 12Mar09; Adriel Bettleheim)

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency [DARPA] awards $12 Million to Fraunhofer CMB and iBioPharma for accelerated manufacture of biopharmaceuticals
“iBioPharma Inc. announced yesterday that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded $12 million in Phase II funding to a team comprising Fraunhofer USA Center for Molecular Biotechnology (CMB) and iBioPharma for an accelerated manufacture of pharmaceuticals program (AMP). […] The objective of the AMP program is to develop novel biological expression platforms capable of producing life-saving medical countermeasures quickly enough to be effective against rapidly emerging biological threat agents, such as pandemic flu and anthrax biological weapons.” (Financial News USA; 12Mar09; Source: iBioPharma) http://www.financialnewsusa.com/news/defense-advanced-research

Southeastern [NC] responders prepare for disaster
“Hundreds of emergency workers from across Southeastern North Carolina practiced responding to a disaster on Wednesday. They used a scripted scenario to prepare for an actual widespread emergency. In the mock scenario, thousands of victims were exposed to anthrax [sic] during a downtown Wilmington festival. Emergency responders practiced processing victims and providing them with medical aid. […] [They] will take what they've learned and adjust their response plans.” (News 14; 11Mar09; Julie Wilmington)

Kettering University [MI] research could help protect troops from chemical warfare
“The Pentagon's investment in Flint [MI] is paying off. Millions of dollars of research at Kettering University for the U.S. Department of Defense could help better protect troops from chemical warfare. Kettering students and researchers are making headway on the Chemical Agent Fate project, which will help the military assess the dangers of chemical contaminants and is so far worth more than $5 million. The 3-year-old project is in its second phase and has made significant advances on the spread of invisible but deadly chemical contaminants and how the military can better evaluate conditions in contaminated environments.” (Flint Journal; 12Mar09; Beata Mostafavi) http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2009/03/kettering_university_research.html

[Commentary by Jim Kouri]: Domestic Nuclear Detection Office should improve planning
“The US Congress asked the Government Accountability Office to examine [the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office] DNDO's progress in developing programs to address critical gaps in preventing nuclear smuggling domestically, its role in supporting other agencies' efforts to combat nuclear smuggling overseas, and the amount budgeted […] for programs that constitute the global nuclear detection strategy. […] DNDO has made some progress […]. However, DNDO is still in the early stages of program development, and has not clearly developed long term plans, with costs and time frames, for achieving its goal of closing these gaps by expanding radiological and nuclear detection capabilities.” (Post Chronicle; 11Mar09; Jim Kouri) http://www.postchronicle.com/commentary/article_212214480.shtml

[British] intelligence agencies were concerned about Iraq WMD dossier, emails reveal
“British intelligence agencies were concerned that the government's notorious dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction exaggerated the threat, secret emails have revealed.
The dossier claimed that Saddam could launch a nuclear strike against the West in 45 minutes. The emails show officials complained the document suggested Saddam Hussein's biological warfare programme was more advanced than they actually believed was the case. The officials also complained of ‘iffy drafting’ and mocked the claims made about Iraq's nuclear programme, ironically suggesting Dr Frankenstein could have been recruited by Baghdad.” (Telegraph; 12Mar09; Rosa Prince) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/4979309/Intelligence-agencies-were-concerned-about-Iraq-WMD-dossier-emails-reveal.html

Five years after it halted weapons programs, Libya sees the U.S. as ungrateful
“When Libya gave up its nuclear and chemical weapons programs in late 2003, President George W. Bush pointed to the decision as a victory in Washington’s so-called war on terror and as a potential model for pressing Iran and North Korea to give up their weapons programs, too. […] But now Libyan officials say they are dissatisfied with the way the deal worked out, insisting that the United States has done too little to reward Libya’s concessions. Officials here say they believe that Libya’s limited payoff undermines the credibility of the United States as it presses other nations to abandon weapons programs.” (New York Times; 11Mar09; Michael Slackman)

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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