Bioterrorism and government incompetence—a recipe for disaster

Bioterrorism and government incompetence—a recipe for disaster

Experts on national security, health, and biotechnology share one message on the threat of bioterrorism-be paranoid.

I have mixed emotions about this message from our bureaucrats. Ever since World War I, we have had dire warnings about external threats to our very existence. We were going to be gassed in WWI, Hitler was going to invade us in WWII, the Soviet Union was going to incinerate us during the Cold War, and now it’s bioterrorism.

“In my judgment, Washington, if not the nation, is past the level of consciousness-raising,” said Richard Falkenrath, an expert in defense preparedness at Harvard University. “Now we are getting down to the serious and much more difficult process of building a [response] system.”

The problem is the “response system” has to be an individual family effort. Government, being the group of incompetent fools that it is, cannot save you from a biological attack any more than it can save you from an attack of dandruff.

A recent $3 million exercise called TOPOFF (for top officials of the U.S. government) showed how things could fall apart. Conducted last May, it was a simulation of simultaneous attacks in Portsmouth (New Hampshire), Denver, and Washington, D.C.

Hospitals were quickly overwhelmed, and there was an immediate paralysis of command. Thousands, maybe tens of thousands, would have died if it had been real. The White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are the only federal offices with the authority to coordinate the myriad of federal, state, and local agencies that would need to be involved in responding to such attacks. This would be a war within a war, as these agencies would go for each other’s throats.

This is a hopeless task at the federal level. The country is simply too large to be managed from Washington. FEMA should be abolished. It has been an abysmal failure in every disaster it has attempted to help. And while we’re at it, let’s abolish the White House. It is a perfect target from the air or from land. The president would be safer in a Motel 6.

In case of an atomic attack, the only thing that will save you is not to be near the target. Vast underground shelters, as they have been built in Moscow, would protect many if there was adequate warning. With Pearl Harbor as an example, it can be said that our government isn’t very good at that.

CDC labs in all 50 states can now test for the six biological agents considered most likely to be used in an attack-plague, tularemia, botulinum toxin, smallpox, Ebola, and anthrax. The only hope for even a partially successful survival program would be for the CDC to turn over all of the technology and hardware to the individual state health authorities, then back out. They don’t need the surgeon general, David Satcher, to tell them what to do. He’s not qualified anyway.

Action to take:

(1) Remember that you are on your own with this one. The only good thing that can come out of a disaster like this is that the survivors will finally realize the government is full of morons who don’t care about your welfare.

(2) Contact the excellent organization, Doctors for Disaster Preparedness, for more information on what you can do to protect your family. Their contact information is as follows:

1601 N. Tucson Blvd. #9
Tucson, AZ 85716
Phone: (520) 325-2680


Reuters, 11/28/01