War on Terrorism

Friday, May 15, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- May 15, 2009

New CDC [Center for Disease Control] director was outspoken NYC health chief [Thomas Frieden]
"CDC spokesman Dave Daigle confirmed that Frieden will replace Dr. Julie Gerberding, who headed the Atlanta-based CDC for six turbulent years and who stepped down Jan. 20. Frieden, 48, is no stranger to the agency. He once spent 12 years at the CDC, five of which were working on tuberculosis control in India. [...] Jeff Levi, executive director for Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit public health advocacy organization, called Frieden a 'creative and a strong leader.' 'I think he will help bring CDC to new prominence in a reformed health care system,' Levi said. Critics lambasted Gerberding, accusing her of sacrificing science for politics and carrying the Bush administration agenda on global warming and other issues into the world of scientific research." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution; 15May09; Craig Schneider) http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/news/stories/2009/05/15/cdc_director_frieden.html

A necessary county program faces elimination [Ithaca, NY]
"A recent story in The Journal featured this headline: 'State Budget Unlikely to Gouge County Programs.' However, the truth is a vital program - the Bioterrorism Program - is indeed being not only 'gouged' but completely eliminated; a program that still in its infancy remains a critical part of our county's infrastructure. [...] When I first took the position as Bioterrorism Preparedness Coordinator I remember walking into a program with a lack of centralization. [...] It may not impress many, but it is in large part because of this program the department has been able to beef up our internal disease surveillance systems, our response capabilities and work countless hours on preparedness and incident management." (Ithaca Journal; 15May09; Carol Hill) http://www.theithacajournal.com/article/20090515/VIEWPOINTS02/905150301/1129/A+necessary+county+program+faces+elimination

Ebola [virus] gene theft a shocker [Winnipeg, Manitoba]
"For nearly four months, scientists at Winnipeg's National Microbiology Lab had no idea that a former researcher walked out of the strictly controlled federal facility with 22 vials of stolen biological material -- including vials that contained genes of the lethal Ebola virus. The theft has sparked controversy and serious questions about security protocols at a lab that contains some of the world's deadliest pathogens. [...] Court documents allege U.S. border officials discovered the stolen vials in the researcher's car trunk, hidden inside a glove wrapped in aluminum foil. The affidavit alleges the researcher said he stole the vials on his last day of work at the federal lab at the end of January so he wouldn't have to start his research again." (Winnipeg Free Press; 14May09; Jen Skerritt) http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/ebola-gene-theft-a-shocker-44969902.html

Australian scientist [Adrian Gibbs] suggests Swine flu an accident in the lab [discussion of laboratory security]
"The suggestion by an Australian virologist that the new flu virus, H1N1 or swine flu, could have been the result of a laboratory accident has been dismissed by Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the deputy director general of the World Health Organization [...] But many feel just bringing the idea of laboratory security to the public's attention is important and it is worth remembering that the epidemic of Foot and Mouth disease in Britain in 2001 was eventually traced back to a missing vial from a research laboratory [...] Experts say that event resulted in lab security and regulations being tightened and improved and while Dr. Gibbs' theory is technically plausible, it is very unlikely to have occurred." (Medical News; 14May09) http://www.news-medical.net/news/2009/05/14/Australian-scientist-suggests-Swine-flu-an-accident-in-the-lab.aspx

We shouldn't poison our minds with fear of bioterrorism
"Terrorists attacking our food supply is a nightmare scenario that has been given new life during the recent swine flu outbreak. Although it seems easy to do, understanding why it hasn't happened is important. GR Dalziel, at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, has written a report chronicling every confirmed case of malicious food contamination in the world since 1950: 365 cases in all, plus 126 additional unconfirmed cases. What he found demonstrates the reality of terrorist food attacks. [...] 72% of the food poisonings occurred at the end of the food supply chain [...] Most of these cases resulted in fewer than five casualties [...] What is discussed in terrorist training manuals, and what the CIA is worried about, is the use of contaminated food in targeted assassinations." (Guardian; 14May09; Bruce Schneier) http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/may/14/bruce-schneier-bioterrorism

Chemical waste to be treated here [Pueblo, CO]
"Army representatives said Thursday that waste products from the destruction of chemical weapons will be biologically treated on-site at the Pueblo Chemical Depot. [...] An additional $250 million was added to the 2010 budget, bringing the amount to $545.2 million. [...] The 2017 date is one mandated by Congress for the completion of the project, missing the treaty date with Russia by five years. The United States had based that date on moving the waste, known as hydrolysate, off the depot. But such a move would be problematic if not impossible Reed said, because of individual states blocking the waste from traveling though their boundaries. [...] He [Reed] said the boost in funding and decision to bio-treat the waste in Pueblo accelerated the process by as many as three years, from a 2020 completion estimate." (Pueblo Chieftan; 14May09; Peter Strescino)

Utah gets closer to eliminating huge chemical-weapon stash [Deseret Chemical Depot]
"Utah continues to play its quiet -- though enormous -- role in world arms control, the Utah Solid and Hazardous Waste Board heard Thursday. Martin Gray, who oversees the Department of Environmental Quality group that keeps tabs on the facilities, said the United States and Russia account for 28,000 tons of chemicals weapons. That's a sizable share of the world's total inventory of 31,000 tons of chemical weapons. Despite delays, the United States earlier this month was confirmed to have destroyed about 60 percent of its stockpile. Russia has eliminated 30 percent of its stockpile. [...] About 45 percent of the nation's outdated chemical weapons is being destroyed at the U.S. Army's Dugway Proving Ground and Deseret Chemical Depot in Tooele County." (Salt Lake Tribune; 14May09; Judy Fahys)

Pentagon: KY Weapons Stockpile Will Be Last To Go [Blue Grass Chemical Depot]
"A Pentagon official says a storage site in Kentucky will be the last to start destroying its stockpile of chemical weapons and the last to finish. The updated schedule was announced Thursday by Jean Reed, deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for biological defense and chemical demilitarization. Reed said Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond is now scheduled to begin the destruction of its deadly weapons in 2019 and finish in 2021." (WBKO; 15May09) http://www.wbko.com/news/headlines/45022992.html

Ex-FBI interrogator says harsh methods didn't work [in Jose Padilla Case]
"Ali Soufan, testifying to a Senate panel behind a screen to hide his identity, said his team's non-threatening interrogation approach elicited crucial information from al-Qaida operative Abu Zubaydah, including intelligence on 'dirty bomb' terrorist Jose Padilla. Soufan said his team had to step aside when CIA contractors took over. They began using harsh methods that caused Zubaydah to 'shut down,' Soufan said, and his team had to be recalled [to] get the prisoner talking again. [...] The administration credited waterboarding for Zubaydah's information that led to the capture of Padilla, who received a 17-year, four-month sentence, although prosecutors did not present any dirty-bomb information. Padilla was arrested in May 2002, months before waterboarding was authorized, Soufan said." (Associated Press; 14May09; Larry Margasak)

Kazakhstan to continuing destroying old ICBM launchers [sic]
"The Kazakh Senate yesterday approved an amendment that would extend by seven years an agreement with the United States to destroy ICBM silo launchers left over from Kazakhstan's days as a Soviet republic [...] A Kazakh official yesterday also told senators of ongoing efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring potential radiological 'dirty bomb' material from a Soviet-era nuclear test site, Interfax reported. The government has reinforced physical barriers and plans to deploy 200 additional troops to guard tunnels at the shuttered Semipalatinsk site in eastern Kazakhstan." (Global Security Newswire; 14May09)

Azerbaijan sets authoritative organizations for prevention of nuclear terror [sic] \
"President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev issued an order for setting of authoritative organizations considered by the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, press service of the President told APA. The Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Emergency Situations were determined as the authoritative organizations [...]." (Azeri Press Association; 14May09)

Loose nukes in Pakistan: how real is the risk?
"The doomsday scenario of militants allied to al Qaeda gaining control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal has only a vanishingly small possibility of ever happening. [...] But most analysts say the Taliban is nowhere near able to mount a serious power grab across Pakistan. And even if they seized an area where warheads were stored, the nuclear command system would make it almost impossible to launch one. [...] Mark Fitzpatrick, director of the Non-proliferation and Disarmament Programme at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said the military was 'the one institution that actually works well in Pakistan' and would step in if necessary to prevent the country sliding into chaos." (Reuters; 14May09; Andrew Marshall)

Analysis: Damascus gets what it needs
"In his letter to Congress announcing the renewal of US sanctions on Syria, President Barack Obama was specific regarding the reasons for his decision. Syria, the President said, was 'supporting terrorism, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining US and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq.' [...] On weapons of mass destruction, reports have surfaced in recent days suggesting that the Syrians have constructed a biological weapons facility, on the site of the al-Kibar plutonium reactor destroyed by Israel in 2007. [...] Syria possesses one of the largest and most advanced chemical warfare programs in the Arab world - including chemical warheads for all its major missile systems. It is known to possess a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin, and is in the process of attempting to develop the more powerful VX nerve agent, according to the CIA's bi-annual report on WMD proliferation. Damascus is also thought by western governments to possess a biological warfare development program."
(Jerusalem Post; 13May09; Jonathan Spyer) http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1242212367658&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

Overland Park, Kansas man admits making anthrax [sic] threat
"John Philip Barker, 47, Overland Park, Kan., has pleaded guilty to sending a white powder through the U.S. mails that he claimed was anthrax, U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch said. In his plea, Barker admitted that on June 21, 2008, he used the U.S. mail to send a threatening communication to the Internal Revenue Service in Austin, Texas. [...] Investigators retraced the letter's path to an Automated Postal Center in Shawnee, Kan., where Barker had used a credit card to purchase the postage. They arrested Barker, who said the envelope contained baby powder." (Kansas City Info Zine; 14May09) http://www.infozine.com/news/stories/op/storiesView/sid/35813/

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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