War on Terrorism

Friday, January 29, 2010

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, January 29, 2010

Questions raised as to guilt of Bruce Ivins in 2001 anthrax attacks

“[...] Edward Epstein has claimed that Bruce Ivins, long thought to be the source of the 2001 American anthrax attacks, was not guilty. Epstein notes that the anthrax used in the attacks had silicon in it, which was used in the 1960s to weaponize anthrax. [...] Ivins, Epstein says, would not have had the skills or the means to siliconize anthrax spores, a process he says would have required highly specialized equipment that was not available in Ivins’ Fort Detrick lab or anywhere on the facility.” (Bio Prep Watch; 29Jan10; Tina Redlup, Source: Wall Street Journal) http://www.bioprepwatch.com/news/211800

Border drill prepares responders in case of disease outbreak at Olympics [WA]

“Emergency responders are gathering in the city of Blaine to prepare for the possibility of a disease outbreak at the winter Olympics that could cause a flood of people trying to cross the border from Canada back into the U.S. Thursday’s drill will happen in a parking lot at the Port of Blaine, where a large tent will be set up and volunteers will be provided with an infection detection handbook. [...] [Marcus] Deyerin [Whatcom County Health Department] said in such an event, officials would want to prevent people from stopping at restaurants as they traveled down Interstate 5, making people sick, and also avoid many people bombarding one hospital.” (News-Tribune, WA; 26Jan10) http://www.thenewstribune.com/updates/story/1037940.html

Sonic tweezers could be the future of bioterror analysis

“When a potential anthrax mix [sic] is placed inside the sonotweezers, an ultrasonic force field will be generated onto the sample by an array of piezoelectric transducers. Differences in compressibility and density would then allow security officials to detect anthrax. The researchers developing the sonotweezers received a $6.4 million grant from the U.K. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to complete research into the device by 2013.’The different compressibility of powder relative to the cell means the force is different so you are able to differentiate them,’ Bruce Drinkwater, professor of ultrasonics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Bristol [...].” (Bio Prep Watch; 28Jan10; Nick Rees)


President speaks of new bioterror[ism] initiative in State of the Union

“In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama promised to take steps to ensure that a faster [response] is ensured against the threat of bio-terrorism. ‘We are launching a new initiative that will give us the capacity to respond faster and more effectively to bio-terrorism or an infectious disease – a plan that will counter threats at home, and strengthen public health abroad,’ Obama said. No further details of the initiative were offered during the speech, though the White House did issue a statement saying that medical contingency plans would be redesigned [...] The announcement comes on the heels of a bipartisan panel’s warning that sufficient action has not been taken by the government to respond to the threat of a biological attack. The White House has strongly disagreed with the assessment.” (Bio Prep Watch; 29Jan10; Rita Uplend)


Oregon land swap would preserve Rajneeshee land

“Thousands of acres of Central Oregon land once occupied by the infamous Rajneeshpuram commune would be protected under legislation introduced Thursday by Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. The Cathedral Rock and Horse Heaven Wilderness Act would preserve almost 16,500 acres of land as wilderness. About half of it would come from a proposed land swap between the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and a nondenominational Christian organization that runs a summer camp at the former ranch once controlled by followers of Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. [...] After taking over the Antelope City Council, some leaders of the commune plotted to take over the local county government in 1984, spiking a salad bar in The Dalles with salmonella in an effort to incapacitate non-Rajneeshee voters. The act of bioterrorism sickened 750 people but did not unseat the government. The cult collapsed the following year, and the land eventually became Young Life’s Washington Family Ranch, which attracts 700 teenage campers each week during the summer.” (Seattle Times; 28Jan10; Steven Dubois, AP) http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2010922144_landswap29.html

U.S. still unprepared for major biological terrorist attack, report says

“More than eight years after the deadly 2001 anthrax [spore laced envelope] attacks, the United States is still unprepared to respond to the threat of large-scale bioterrorism, a congressionally appointed commission said Tuesday in a report that gave the government mixed grades overall for how it has protected Americans from weapons of mass destruction. The report, which measured the government’s performance in 17 key areas, gave the White House and Congress ‘F’ grades for not building a rapid-response capability for dealing with disease outbreaks from bioterrorism, or providing adequate oversight of security and intelligence agencies. [...] The WMD panel cited the government’s faltering response to the swine flu epidemic as evidence of a lack of preparedness for a large-scale crisis, adding that the blame for the failures is shared by various administrations and branches of government.” (Washington Post; 26Jan10; Joby Warrick and Anne E. Kornblut) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/26/AR2010012601265.html

Alameda County, BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] team up in simulation for health emergency [Oakland, CA]

“Commuters traveling through downtown Oakland on BART today will have a chance to receive a free H1N1 flu shot while also helping to test the county’s emergency readiness plan in case of a health crisis. The Alameda County Public Health Department and BART are teaming for what is thought to be a first of its kind real-time, mass vaccination on a regional transit system. The event will be held beginning at 3 p.m. at the City Center-12th Street station in Oakland. The mass vaccination serves two purposes. First, it will help health officials evaluate their ability to coordinate a scaled emergency response for a public health crisis that requires medical treatment of the general public, such as mass vaccination against pandemic. Second, it will serve as a means to dispense free swine flu shots to those who have yet to receive one through their medical provider or other means.” (Oakland Tribune; 26Jan10; Chris Metinko)


Officials fear toxic ingredient in Botox [Botulinum toxin] could become terrorist tool

“Last year, [Ken] Coleman and fellow researcher Raymond Zilinskas set out to test whether militant groups could easily exploit the counterfeit Botox network to obtain materials for a bioterrorism attack. In a project sponsored by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, [the] two scientists found that a biologist with a master’s degree and $2,000 worth of equipment could easily make a gram of pure toxin, an amount equal to the weight of a small paper clip but enough, in theory, to kill thousands of people. Obtaining the most lethal strain of the bacterium might have posed a significant hurdle for would-be terrorists in the recent past. But today, the prospect of tapping into the multibillion-dollar market for anti-wrinkle drugs has spawned an underground network of suppliers and distributors who do most of their transactions online, the researchers found.” (Washington Post; 26Jan10; Joby Warrick) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/24/AR2010012403013.html

New blister agent leak discovered at Umatilla [chemical] depot [OR]

“Minute amounts of mustard blister agent vapor were discovered yesterday within a storage structure at the Umatilla Chemical Depot in Oregon, the Tri-City, Wash., Herald reported [...] A passive filtration system prevented the vapor from escaping the igloo, which is now being enhanced with an active system. [...] Mustard storage containers are being thawed out to ready them for incineration. This can result in vapor leakage [...].” (Global Security Newswire; 27Jan10) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100128_7079.php

Last two U.S. chemical weapons disposal sites funded at $550M

“Funding for preparation of the last two U.S. installations set to begin destruction of their chemical weapon stockpiles received a significant boost in the fiscal 2010 budget -- roughly 30 percent over last year’s allowance [...] The major appropriations hike comes as Washington looks to demonstrate to the international community that it is maintaining a good faith effort to finish destroying its chemical arsenal soon as possible, even if there is no chance of meeting the Chemical Weapons Convention deadline of April 2012. The Defense Department’s Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program received $550 million in fiscal 2010, which began on Oct. 1 of last year. Funding was fully set only last month.” (Global Security Newswire; 26Jan10; Rachel Oswald) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100126_6522.php

Umatilla chemical depot resumes disposal operations [OR]

“The burning of mustard agent was permitted to resume after more restrictive limits were established on the amount of organic salts allowed in bulk containers going through the incinerator. The cap was set in order to comply with air quality regulations and to prevent potentially unsafe emissions from the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility; it is expected to prolong chemical disarmament work at the depot. The Oregon Environmental Quality Department on Friday gave its approval to an initial permit for a trial burn that limits the amount of salt permitted to 435 pounds, agency Chemical Demilitarization Program official Rich Duval said. [...] The mustard agent effort will be the last chemical weapons elimination campaign at Umatilla. It is set to be finished within one to two years [...].” (Global Security Newswire; 27Jan10) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100126_9090.php

Iraq’s ‘Chemical Ali’ [Ali Hassan al-Majid] hanged for 1988 gas attack

“Even in Saddam Hussein’s ruthless regime, ‘Chemical Ali’ stood apart, notable for his role in gassing 5,000 people in a Kurdish village -- the deadliest chemical weapons attack ever against civilians. Ali Hassan al-Majid was hanged Monday, leaving a notorious legacy that stamped Saddam’s regime as capable of unimaginable cruelty and brought unsettling questions about Iraq’s stockpiles of poison gas and whether it could unleash them again. [...] Al-Majid, 68, was executed about a week after he received his fourth death sentence since facing Iraqi courts after the fall of Saddam. He was one of the last high-profile members of the former Sunni-led regime still on trial in Iraq.” (National Public Radio; 25Jan10; Source: AP)


New chamber built to simulate battlefield for chemical agent sensor tests [MD]

“A first-of-its-kind chamber has been developed by Applied Physics Laboratory [at Johns Hopkins University] engineers to test, under realistic battlefield conditions, the viability of sensors designed to detect chemical warfare agents. The Defense Department’s Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense asked APL in 2006 to design and build the chamber, which will be used to evaluate technologies and systems to aid in the detection, protection against and decontamination of chemical warfare agents. [...] The chamber’s realistic testing conditions will allow APL to test how quickly its military detectors can pick up trace level amounts of chemical warfare agents.” (Bio Prep Watch; 26Jan10; Paul Tinder)


Britain finally waves farewell to radioactive waste from abroad

“A cargo of highly radioactive nuclear waste set sail for Japan last night, after a breakthrough agreement that will cut Britain’s stockpile of high-level waste by almost 40 per cent over the next decade. After years of planning, a programme to repatriate all 925 tonnes of foreign atomic waste from Britain to Japan and four other countries began yesterday. Under heavy security, 28 steel canisters of waste, each weighing half a tonne but sheathed in 100-tonne steel flasks, were moved by rail from the Sellafield plant in west Cumbria, where they have been held in temporary storage since the 1990s, to the port at Barrow-in-Furness. There they were loaded on to the Pacific Sandpiper, a custom-built, double-hulled ship that will be protected by armed guards throughout the six to eight-week sea journey to the Far East. [...] About 5,000 steel canisters of this material, direct exposure to which would kill a human being instantly, are held at Sellafield. Most are the product of Britain’s domestic civil nuclear power programme. The repatriation effort will cut Britain’s stockpile of high-level nuclear waste by about 37 per cent.” (Times Online; 21Jan10; Robin Pagnamenta) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6995925.ece

Kenya to host workshop on implementing Security Council Resolution 1540

“A regional workshop to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 2 to 4 February will aim to promote the building of national- and regional-level capacity to advance full implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004). [...] Invited to participate in the event will be officials from the Governments of Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Tunisia and Uganda. Representatives of international, regional and subregional organizations have also been invited. A representative of the Security Council’s 1540 Committee and its experts will also attend the workshop. The Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1540 on 28 April 2004, under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, obliging all States to refrain from providing any form of support to non-State actors attempting to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and the means for their delivery.” (United Nations; 15Jan10; Gabriele Kraatz-wadsack) http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2010/dc3207.doc.htm

Secret war on to stop dirty bomb terror[ist] attack on UK

“A secret war is underway to stop terrorists smuggling deadly ‘dirty bombs’ into Britain. Hi-tech machines have been installed at major ports to detect materials that could be used to build the devices, reports The Sun. Government security supremo Lord Alan West disclosed the covert operation to the tabloid. He also revealed there will be a big rise in the use of dogs to sniff out explosives. [...] ‘We have put in a whole range of measures to stop them but cannot be complacent. We have to be vigilant. We have looked much more closely at chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials which could be used to make dirty bombs and how we can stop them being brought in,’ he said.” (Daily India; 18Jan10) http://www.dailyindia.com/show/355207.php

Homeland security research initiatives to be discussed at DHS University Network Summit

“The Department of Homeland Security’s research arm, the Science & Technology Directorate (DHS S&T), invites you to the fourth annual DHS University Network Summit sponsored by S&T’s Office of University Programs, March 10-12 at the Renaissance Hotel, 999 Ninth Street NW, Washington, D.C. Registration is free but space is limited. [...] There will be over 30 discussion panels on specific focus areas, including disaster preparedness, infrastructure protection, emergency response, and natural hazards mitigation. These panels highlight the collaborative efforts among the thirteen DHS Centers of Excellence and their over 200 academic partners in support of the DHS S&T mission.” (News-medical; 29Jan10) http://www.news-medical.net/news/20100129/Homeland-security-research-initiatives-to-be-discussed-at-DHS-University-Network-Summit.aspx

Federalizing security contactors might make our country safer

“It should be a no-brainer to declare certain duties ‘inherently governmental’ work that is restricted to federal employees, rather than outside contractors. Guarding Uncle Sam’s nuclear goodies would seem to fall squarely in that category. But a draft Government Accountability Office report shows just how difficult converting contract workers to federal employees can be and provides a lesson for the Obama administration, which is considering plans to bring some outside jobs back into the government. The report examines the complex situation involving security at six Energy Department sites with ‘special nuclear material.’ The sites themselves are run by outside contractors [...] The potential for sabotage cannot be ignored.” (Washington Post; 29Jan10; Joe Davidson) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/28/AR2010012804005.html

Cooperative Threat Reduction program to expand mission

“Language in the fiscal 2010 defense authorization law enables the Nunn-Lugar program to take financial support from foreign governments and other international entities. In addition, the legislation permits the Defense Department to spend as much as one-tenth of the program’s budget on unanticipated nonproliferation operations. ‘Malefactors in the world want to use weapons of mass destruction to terrorize American citizens, harm our soldiers deployed around the world and attack our partner countries. Proliferation of WMD remains the No. 1 national security threat facing the United States and the international community,’ Lugar said in a statement. ‘In 2009, the Nunn-Lugar program continued to make us safer by achieving meaningful progress in the destruction and dismantlement of massive Soviet weapons systems and the facilities that developed them. There is much more work to do in combating biological, nuclear, and chemical threats through Nunn-Lugar cooperative threat reduction and the global expansion of the Nunn-Lugar program,’ he said in the release.” (Global Security Newswire; 28Jan10) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100128_7901.php

[Al] Qaida itching to use WMDs against US

“Al-Qaida has not abandoned its goal of attacking the United States with a chemical, biological or even nuclear weapon, according to a new report by a former senior CIA official. The report by Rolf Mowatt-Larssen released on Monday by Harvard University portrays al-Qaida’s leaders as determined and patient, willing to wait for years to acquire the kinds of weapons that could inflict widespread casualties. [...] ‘If Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants had been interested in... small-scale attacks, there is little doubt they could have done so now,’ he writes. Mowatt-Larssen, a 23-year CIA veteran, led the agency’s internal task force on al-Qaida and weapons of mass destruction after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and later was named director of intelligence and counter-intelligence for the energy department.” (Times Of India; 27Jan10) http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Qaida-itching-to-use-WMDs-against-US/articleshow/5502813.cms

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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