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Only 10% of Imports Checked

The 2001 anthrax event, which resulted in 5 deaths and more than 20 illnesses, was the “worst case of bioterrorism in U.S. history” thus far, Homeland Security reports that the 2001 anthrax attack that killed 5 people and left 20 more with serious illnesses was the worst case of bioterrorism the US as experienced to date. Then when you take into consideration the current geo-political climate, the threat of another more severe event happening becomes more relevant. Add to that the revelation that “only 7 to 10% of the cargo that enters US ports are scanned for illegal drugs or chemicals.” The chances of another bioterrorism threat grow exponentially. Now more then ever, first responders need to be properly prepared with the most reliable and trustworthy technologies the current marketplace as to offer. AdVnt Biotechnologies prides itself on being the leading provider of first responder’s Hand Held Assays. Our products are specifically designed with the Professional Emergency Response Team in mind. From proactive real-time training kits to reliable real-time on the job test results in less then 10 minutes, the AdVnt first response line of products including Badd, Attack and Prostrips are ready to go into affirmative defensive action 24/7.

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Bomb hidden in body in Saudi attack "invisible" to normal detection

Re-printed from Homeland Security Newswire

A terrorist in Saudi Arabia tried to kill the Saudi antiterror chief by carrying explosives inside his body; experts say there are “tremendous implications for airport security with the potential of making it even more complicated to get on to your plane”

HSNW wrote two weeks ago about a terrorist using explosives concealed inside his body who blew himself up on receipt of a mobile phone signal (9 September 2009). The terrorist passed through several checks undetected. The attack has security experts very worried that this method is likely to become a real threat.

The intention was to kill a Saudi prince, who happened to be the chief of antiterrorism operations in Saudi Arabia in a complex plot involving the terrorist gaining access to the target by pretending to defect.

An important point to glean from this unbelievable attempted murder/suicide has got to be that the enemy we are battling in this war will resort to anything to martyr themselves for the cause. Do any of us in the west really think that our way of life is not in jeopardy? (Oh yeah, I forgot, we are no longer involved in that conflict, therefore a majority of Americans are being lulled into a false sense of security.)

We better believe that any weapons of mass destruction these zealots come upon will be used against the most innocent among us. Thus the need for preventative measures throughout our communities. We at AdVnt BioTechnologies feel that our biological agent detection devices are just what the doctor orders for simple, fast and accurate screening devices that can be properly operated by any twelve year old. I know, my twelve year old, Jake has proven it time and time again.

If you want to be prepared for the inevitable bioweapons event to come our way, then visit AdVnt’s website and see what it will take for you to become a viable bio-sensor for your community, neighborhood and family.

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BIOTERRORISM AND THE FUTURE OF OUR FOOD SUPPLY.

(Editor’s note re-printed from Homeland Security Newswire)

The state of public health and biodefense

Published 7 September 2009

There are two bookends to U.S. concern with bioterror attacks on the United States: the fall 2001 anthrax-by-mail attacks, and the December 2007 report by a blue-ribbon commission, headed by former senators Bob Graham of Florida and Jim Talent of Missouri, asserting that of all the weapons of mass destruction, terrorists would likely use biological weapons against the United States because these weapons are easier to produce and deliver than nuclear weapons, and much deadlier than chemical weapons.

The Bush administration did not wait for the commission’s report to allocate $5 billion to its BioShield project, which distributes money to companies engaged in research and development of vaccines and treatments to counter bioterror attacks.

The interest in food safety is a more recent phenomenon, reflecting growing worries about the side effects of globalization. More and more food items – and ingredients used in food items — are imported into the United States. Trouble is, many of the countries from which these items are imported have much lower health and safety standards than the United States does – and often, even if health and safety measures are on the books, endemic corruption in many of these countries guarantees that these standards are not enforced.

What exacerbated the problem was the Bush administration’s cuts in the budget of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), making the agency’s already difficult inspection task nearly impossible. These two conflicting trends – a steady increase in the importation of food and food ingredients into the United States, and a steady decline since 2001 in the budget and inspection personnel of the FDA – combined to create an explosion of food recalls in 2007 and 2008, prompting Congress to consider much tougher food inspection regime, but also prompting the industry and individual companies to formulate their own tougher policies of health and safety standards.

Just as the growing awareness of bioterrorism has been beneficial to many biotechnology companies – especially start ups – so has the awareness of the need for more effective food safety regime. Thus, according to BCC research, the U.S. food safety testing market value increased from $2.0 billion in 2006 to about $2.1 billion in 2007, and it should reach $2.8 billion by 2012, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.8 percent. The growth rate reflects demand for pathogen testing, where implementation of standard hygiene practices and a stringent regulatory environment has slowed the incidence of microbial infections.

The research form says that the potency of toxins should propel testing for contaminants from a $78 million market in 2007 to a $135 million market in 2012, a CAGR of 11.6 percent.

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Terrorism is simply a different point-of-view. 300,000 dead American's is our problem.

Anthrax looks to be a terrorist’s best friend. Yet our current national circumstances seems to be preoccupying all of us that there are other, more important, worries for the USA in our short-term future.

Well, I don’t know what a real terrorist thinks about anthrax, but I can share with you what the progressive elite of Kuwait are willing to lecture in public. Please click the link to view.

After viewing that video, I am trying to visualize myself entertaining ideas of western democracies establishing friendly relations with the radicals of the Islamic world.

While watching the inflammatory rhetoric of the speaker remembering that this is not a Jihadists from Iran but a professor from Kuwait – a country with every reason to be grateful to the USA for liberating it from the tyranny of Saddam Husseins invasion. That would be Desert Storm in the early 90′s. I can only say, WOW. I guess being prepared makes some sense, ya think?

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

It’s been pretty evident that swarming the enemy with technology, saturating the theater of engagement, overwhelming their “in-play” strategies has been somewhat effective.

For CBRNe targets, two of the keys are to saturate our living and working areas with efficient, effective and affordable screening devices for wide area bio-sensor coverage and being vigilant daily.

I believe that Advnt Biotechnologies has created and patented just such a product. That would be our ProStrips Rapid Screening System™. Truly an affordable, efficient, effective product that can actually detect anthrax at less than an infectious dose, in less than 15 minutes, for less than $70.00 USD.

The best way to discourage a specific attack requires the deployment model to include easy and early detection with prompt and appropriate treatment.

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Is Al Qaeda Seeking Weapons of Mass Destruction?

By Dr. Neil Livingstone.

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM DomesticPreparedness.com

SPRING 2009

Reports surfaced in early January that approximately forty Al Qaeda members in Algeria died from plague after the deadly bacteria escaped from a surreptitious laboratory where they were attempting to weaponize the disease. Although there has been no official confirmation that that is exactly what happened, it is clear that something out of the ordinary did occur in Algeria at that time, and the reports are part of a mounting body of evidence, both circumstantial and confirmed, that Al Qaeda is attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction – most likely, in this situation, a bio weapon.

It has long been an article of faith that the United States and its allies would get an early warning – through an accidental release or an outbreak of some unusual disease – about the possible misuse of bio agents. Accidental releases are not common, but they have occurred a number of times in the past – most notably in 1979 in the region around a Soviet biological weapons facility in Sverdlovsk, where there was an accidental anthrax release that killed 68 people. The Soviets, of course, denied not only that anthrax had caused the fatalities but also that the facility was engaged in the production of biological weapons – in contravention of the Biological Weapons Convention. The incident remained a matter of controversy during the Reagan administration, but after the fall of the Soviet Union the Russians ultimately acknowledged what happened.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the U.S. intelligence community found substantial evidence, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, that Al Qaeda was indeed working on acquiring biological weapons – and, according to the 9/11 Commission, the effort was more advanced than previously believed. Although Al Qaeda had investigated the possible use of other dangerous agents, including plague and even ebola, its more immediate goal seemed to be to create a fully stable and weaponized strain of anthrax.

Ebola, however, is a hemorrhagic fever and one of the deadliest diseases in the world – also one of the most contagious. The good news is that there is no known incidence of it being successfully weaponized, and many experts believe that, because it outruns its hosts so quickly, it also dissipates quickly and therefore does not expand beyond a certain critical mass. The Japanese Am Shinrikyo cult – which carried out the 1995 Tokyo subway attack using Sarin (a G Series nerve agent) – tried to acquire an ebola culture but ultimately gave up and moved onto more conventional bio agents.
Weaponized anthrax also represents a formidable scientific challenge, so it is not surprising that Al Qaeda may have focused on plague – most likely bubonic plague, which was known as the “Black Death” in the Middle Ages, is considerably easier to develop, and can be created in a modest laboratory with commercially available equipment. Plague is still a problem in Africa, so it would not have been too difficult for Al Qaeda to have acquired a sample culture. Plague also would require less scientific expertise than trying to create weaponized anthrax or smallpox.

In that context, it should be remembered that Ayman al-Zawahiri (Al Qaeda’s number-two man after Osama bin Laden) is not only a trained medical doctor with a master’s degree in surgery, but also the son of a pharmacologist and a chemistry professor. In addition, he is known to have had an interest in biowarfare – and, interestingly, spent time in Russia in the 1990s. According to the former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, al-Zawahiri received training from the FSB, the successor organization to the KGB, and was the FSB’s principal connection to Al Qaeda. Litvinenko, of course, became internationally famous, belatedly, when he was murdered by a dose of plononium-210, an extremely rare and costly radiological agent that, it is believed, had been slipped into his food in a Soho sushi restaurant in London.

Plague is disseminated via a “vector,” most commonly an infected flea carried by a rat, which is known as the reservoir host. Traditionally, the best way of controlling the plague has been the creation and implementation of effective rodent-management programs. Largely for that reason, most Western countries are believed to be – thanks to their modern hygiene standards and medical facilities – far less at risk from plague than are the so-called “lesser developed” countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
In addition to hard drives, floppy discs, and material gleaned from interrogations, the United States has accumulated a great deal of evidence related to Al Qaeda’s continuing, and apparently increasing, interest not only in bio weapons, but also in chemical and radiological weapons (especially RDDs, better known as Radiological Dispersion Devices – i.e., “dirty bombs”). Among the more substantive evidence confirming this theory are some NBC (nuclear, biological, and chemical) protective suits seized by British police during a raid on a Finsbury Park mosque in 2003. In addition, Jordanian authorities claimed to have thwarted a major chemical attack in 2004, and there have been credible reports that Abu Musab Zarqawi, Al Qaeda’s late leader in Iraq, had managed to acquire or develop ricin, one of the three deadliest substances on earth (the others being plutonium and botulinal toxin).

Although difficult to deliver to a widely dispersed group of human targets, ricin, a derivative of the lowly castor bean, is an excellent assassination weapon and may have been used by the Soviets to murder several heads of state and other leading Third World politicians. Another telling clue is that Al Qaeda in Iraq hired two chemists in 2004 and tasked them with trying to develop crude chemical and biological weapons. Fortunately, U.S. Marines discovered their laboratory (in Falluja) before any weapons had been manufactured. The Marines did find materials, however, that could have been used to make hydrogen cyanide. Other U.S. troops discovered caged dogs and other animals that they believed were going to be used by Al Qaeda as “guinea pigs” to test either chemical or biological weapons.
Jihadists believe that Muslims have a religious duty to wage an “offensive jihad” against infidels, and there seems to have been no lessening of Muslim antipathy toward the West in recent years. Many observers believe, in fact, that the threat of a Jihadist attack employing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) is growing rather than receding, despite the recent presidential election in the United States and the dramatic growth of homeland-security precautions against terrorism. Former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) said even prior to 9/11 that the possibility of a terrorist WMD attack against the United States is no longer a question of “if” but “when” such an attack might occur.

Nunn’s statement was echoed by former Vice President Dick Cheney in an interview two weeks after leaving office. According to Cheney, there is a “high probability” of a nuclear or biological attack against the United States within the next few years. That chilling possibility is backed up by a study cited by Gary Ackerman, research director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, in which respondents indicated that they believe there is a thirty percent probability of a WMD attack against the United States within the next five years.

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UK Reports: WMD Terror Strike on Major City ‘More Realistic’

May 2009

Terrorists attacking a major city with nuclear or biological weapons is “more realistic” than ever, British officials warned as they lifted the secrecy from six years of counter-terrorism efforts.

Called “Contest,” the U.K. anti-terror strategy contends that new technologies and lawless nations boost the odds of a WMD attack leading to massive death and destruction.

Titled “Pursue, Protect, Prevent, Prepare: The United Kingdom’s Strategy for Countering International Terrorism,” the 176-page report presents an updated British strategy for combating terrorism.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith describes Contest as “one of the most comprehensive and wide-ranging approaches to tackling terrorism anywhere in the world.”

Dr. Marvin Cetron, the futurist and founder of Forecasting International, a firm that advises U.S. counter-terrorism agencies, reports that British authorities have every reason to be concerned.

“The terrorists are getting better qualified, more technically trained people as we’ve seen in Britain,” Cetron says. “And they’re trying to get the capability. They’re still working on getting nuclear fissionable material. That’s a low probability, but it is a high-impact event.”

Since 2001, the report reveals, British authorities have thwarted over a dozen terrorist attacks. One measure of officials’ concern: U.K authorities have trained and equipped over 7,000 police officers to respond to WMD incidents. They have also built facilities for mass decontamination’s, should a WMD attack occur.

“Contemporary terrorist organizations aspire to use chemical, biological, radiological and even nuclear weapons,” the report states. “Changing technology and the theft and smuggling of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) materials make this aspiration more realistic than it may have been in the recent past.”

A letter from Prime Minister Gordon Brown accompanying the Contest report states: “This new form of terrorism is different in scale and nature from the terrorist threats we have had to deal with in recent decades. It is intent on inflicting mass casualties without warning, motivated by a violent extremist ideology, and exploits modern travel and communications to spread through a loose and dangerous global network.”

One question counter-terror experts will no doubt be asking: Why after six years is the British government lifting the veil of secrecy over its counter-terrorism strategy and assessments?

Smith said the government seeks to “provide the people of the UK and our partners overseas with as full and as open an account as possible of why and how we are tackling this threat.”

The new report lists four main terror threats facing the U.K., all of them linked to al Qaida:

  • The current al-Qaida organization.
  • Al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist organizations.
  • “Self-starting” terror groups, or individuals, seeking to emulate an al-Qaida style attack.
  • Groups unaffiliated with al-Qaida, that, broadly speaking, have a similar agenda.According to the report, al-Qaida is under such intense pressure around the globe that it is unlikely to survive in its current form, and will likely splinter into many smaller groups. But like a hydra that sprouts multiple cells for each one killed, U.K. counterintelligence predicts the evolution of many smaller organizations — sharing a similar ideology and working toward goals similar to al-Qaida’s.The report attributes the growing danger in part to development of technologies that enable small cells of violent fundamentalists to communicate and plan.Cetron agrees that al-Qaida is breaking into smaller parts, and concurs that in many ways this complicates matters.“Al-Qaida is finding out they can do better with small groups, people who are raised in the country itself, not people who are coming from Islamic lands.” Such “home-grown” terrorists are better able to fit in, and can move freely among the local population, Cetron says.

    Also highlighting the very real danger of terrorists using WMD was the July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate stating that al-Qaida “will continue to try to acquire and employ chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear material in attacks, and would not hesitate to use them if it develops what it deems is sufficient capability.”

    The British report cites several factors it says contribute to an unprecedented level of danger from a WMD terrorist attack:

  • Unresolved regional disputes in Afghanistan, Palestine, Bosnia, Chechnya, Lebanon, and Kashmir.
  • Extremists associated with al-Qaida who tout violence as the “religious duty” of all Muslims.
  • Radicalization, or the recruitment of disaffected citizens who join terrorist groups to carry out attacks.
  • The phenomenon of failed states, which is expected to continue indefinitely.
  • The evolution of technologies “which facilitate terrorist propaganda, communications, and terrorist organizations.” Innovations by terrorists quickly spread around the globe.As an example of how terrorists are learning from other terrorists, the Contest report cites the evolution of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which were employed with brutal effect against American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.The report states IED technology “evolved rapidly in a series of conflicts over the past 15 years,” adding, “Al-Qaida, its affiliates, and groups inspired by al-Qaida have demonstrated intent to experiment with novel explosives to maximize their capabilities and, in some cases, to deliberately circumvent protective security measures.”Cetron also reports the United Kingdom is No. 1 on al-Qaida’s list of targets. “It is the prime target. France is next, Europe in general is third, and the United States is fourth on that list.”The reason England is more vulnerable? I say, consider this: They have many people, in country, who are trained and angry. This is facilitated by the zealous nature of the far left liberal version/ideology of diversity, over-the-top tolerance and political correctness which will, in the end, be the undoing of western civilizations as our enemies understand how to take advantage of this soft underbelly of our freedoms and play us like a fine Stradivarius violin. Their only chance at victory is to steal technology, use it against us and divide us on political arguments that polarize our politicans. They will need our unwitting assistance.

    Non the less, we say be prepared for the potential of a biological attak in your community. Visit Advnt.org to see how!

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    New York City's Failed Bio-Threat Project Costs Tax Payers Millions.

    Faulty gadgets foiling city’s bio-threat project

    Wednesday, May 13th 2009,

    A pilot program to detect biological threats had to be scrapped because the new experimental gizmos didn’t work, officials acknowledge.

    The high-tech monitors were supposed to take air samples and analyze them automatically, compared to conventional monitors where samples are sent to a lab. Federal sources said five of the six monitors started registering odd anthrax signals, even though no agent was present.

    The faulty signals started in December. The main engineering firm tried unsuccessfully to fix and clean the machines.

    The NYPD shut them down at the end of March. The risk of false positives and the possibility of a panic was behind the move, a police spokesman acknowledged.

    The malfunctioning prototypes, along with conventional air monitors, were installed four years ago as part of a $120 million federal BioWatch program.

    The plan is to fix the problematic devices and get them back online in six months.

    In the mean time, we at Advnt Biotechnologies recommend that maybe considering a fool proof bio-agent detection system that costs less than $70.00 USD and is a DHS ” Approved Product For Homeland Security” under the “SAFETY ACT OF 2002” might make cents! (I know, “sense” might be asking too much, but when you print money just because you have the ink and paper, oh well)

    Certificate Of Conformance

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    The World's Finest Five-Agent BioAgent Screening Device.

    Universal Detection Technology (UNDT.OB), a developer of monitoring technologies, including bioterrorism detection devices, announced that the company is working with the U.S. Department of Commerce to promote its anthrax and other bioterrorism detection equipment in China. Universal Detection Technology is a reseller of handheld assays used for detection of five bioterrorism agents, radiation detection systems and antimicrobial products.

    The company’s five-agent bioterrorism detection kits have been extensively used by first responders and private industries throughout the United States. In fact, testing by the U.S. Department of Defense shows that the kits demonstrate no cross-reactivity or false positives with commonly encountered “white powders.”

    Universal Detection Technology is now listed as a featured U.S. exporter on Commercial Service’s China website. Jacques Tizabi, Universal Detection Technology’s chairman and chief executive officer, stated, “We were suppliers of both radiological and biological weapon detection equipment for the Beijing Olympics and the Department of Commerce listing gives us the opportunity to further penetrate the Chinese market.”

    See the special hand-held devices sold by UDT to their valued customers at AdVnt‘s website.

    Thanks to you UDT, one of Advnt’s valued resellers.

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    What a coincidence!!! Murtha and the Biowarfare business?

    Murtha’s Nephew Got Defense Contracts

    Millions in Work Came Without Competition

    The headquarters of Murtech, in a low-slung, bland building in a Glen Burnie business park, has its blinds drawn tight and few signs of life. On several days of visits, a handful of cars sit in the parking lot, and no trucks arrive at the 10 loading bays at the back of the building.

    Yet last year, Murtech received $4 million in Pentagon work, all of it without competition, for a variety of warehousing and engineering services. With its long corridor of sparsely occupied offices and an unmanned reception area, Murtech’s most striking feature is its owner — Robert C. Murtha Jr., 49. He is the nephew of Rep. John P. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has significant sway over the Defense Department’s spending as chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

    Robert Murtha said he is not at liberty to discuss in detail what his company does, but for four years it has subsisted on defense contracts, according to records and interviews. He said Murtech’s 17 employees “provide necessary logistical support” to Pentagon testing programs that focus on detecting chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, “and that’s about as far as I feel comfortable going.” Giving more details could provide important clues to terrorist plotters, he said.

    Murtha said he does not advertise being the nephew of John Murtha and considers it “unfortunate” that some will unfairly assume Murtech received its federal contracts because of his uncle’s influence at the Pentagon.

    Coincidently, over the years, John Murtha has proudly claimed credit for using his Appropriations Committee seat to steer hundreds of millions in Pentagon work to companies in his district, many of them fledgling enterprises run by campaign contributors. His influence also may be seen in the military improvements at the Johnstown airport that bears his name. The little-used commuter airport doubles as a wartime preparedness facility for the Pentagon after $30 million in improvements.

    Murtha’s power has had beneficial effects within his family. His brother, Robert C. “Kit” Murtha, built a longtime lobbying practice around clients seeking defense funds through the Appropriations Committee and became one of the top members of KSA, a lobbying firm whose contractor clients often received multimillion-dollar earmarks directed through the committee chairman.

    Robert C. Murtha Jr. of Murtech is Kit Murtha’s son. He also is a former Marine who once served as a presidential security officer and aide to the president for White House functions. He worked for eight years for ACS, a defense and information technology contractor. When Lockheed purchased ACS in 2004, he started several companies, including Murtech, which he registered as a defense contracting firm.

    Murtech received its contracts primarily from the Army Space and Missile Defense Command in Huntsville, Ala., which has been generous to companies in John Murtha’s district and enjoys a close relationship with the congressman through a mutual interest in breast cancer research. The Army command has won at least $200 million a year in federal funding for the cancer research, of which Rep. Murtha is a stalwart supporter. In a program called Missiles to Mammograms the command has collaborated with a contractor in Murtha’s district, Windber Medical Center, in a multimillion-dollar project to explore using missile-tracking technology to detect breast cancer.

    The command awarded its first storage contract to Murtech without competitive bidding, paying $1.4 million a year. Robert Murtha Jr. says the no-bid arrangement was “the government’s choice” and occurred because the government “got itself in a bind.” A contract with SA Scientific of San Antonio was about to lapse, and the command needed Murtech, then serving as a subcontractor to the Texas company, to store materials for the military’s Critical Reagents Program. The program produces lab materials that can be used in handheld devices and sensors to detect the presence of biological toxins.

    “We were uniquely qualified because we had already been doing that work,” Murtha said.

    I find this simply amazing and adequate proof that despite all the laws, rules and regulations to discourage graft and corruption at the federal level, there are ways to circumvent these laws that apparently are just for the rest of us!

    When will enough be enough?

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    ADVNT'S BIOTERROR SCREENING DEVICES WOULD SAVE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS EVERY YEAR

    Cost of bioterror false alarms, anthrax hoaxes rises

    Published 11 March 2009

    The U.S. government has spent more than $50 billion since the 2001 anthrax attacks to beef up U.S. defenses against biological attacks; there has not been another attack so far, but the cost of hoaxes and false alarms is rising steeply

    In the seven years since the fall 2001 anthrax attacks alleged to have been carried out by Bruce Ivins (see “Scientists Reveal How Culprit in 2001 Anthrax Attacks Was Found, 27 February 2009 HS Daily Wire), U.S. government agencies have spent more than $50 billion to beef up biological defenses.

    Seattle Times‘s Bob Drogin writes that no other anthrax attacks have occurred, but a flood of hoaxes and false alarms have raised the cost considerably through lost work, evacuations, decontamination efforts, first responders’ time, and the emotional distress of the victims.

    This, experts say, is often the hoaxsters’ goal. “It’s easy, it’s cheap and very few perpetrators get caught,” said Leonard Cole, a political scientist at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, who studies bioterrorism. “People do it for a sense of power.” Among the recent targets:

    • Nearly all 50 governors’ offices
    • About 100 U.S. embassies
    • 52 banks
    • Ticket booths at Disneyland
    • Mormon temples in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles
    • Town halls in Batavia, Ohio, and Ellenville, New York
    • A funeral home and a day-care center in Ocala, Florida
    • A sheriff’s office in Eagle, Colorado
    • Homes in Ely River, New Mexico

    The FBI has investigated about 1,000 such “white-powder events” as possible terrorist threats since the start of 2007, spokesman Richard Kolko said. The bureau responds if a letter contains a written threat or is mailed to a federal official. In one recent case, emergency crews cleared and sealed a DHS office in Washington, D.C., after a senior official, who had received a package at home containing white powder and a dead fish, brought it to work for inspection. The contents proved harmless, a spokeswoman said.

    Drogin writes that the FBI is trying to figure out who mailed about 150 letters late last year that contained powder and threatening notes. The envelopes were sent from the Dallas area to U.S. embassies abroad and most governors. One letter was addressed to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who left office two years ago. When it arrived in Boston, someone marked “return to sender” on the envelope and popped it back in the mail. The return address was the FBI office in El Paso, Texas.

    White powder spilled out when an FBI clerk there opened it on 12 February. Officials emptied the Federal Justice Center, sending more than 300 FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, and other law-enforcement personnel home. The powder was baking soda, said Mark White, an FBI spokesman in Dallas.

    The Justice Department was able to bring criminal charges in two other high-profile cases. Richard Goyette, 47, pleaded not guilty last Thursday in Amarillo, Texas, to charges of mailing 65 threatening letters to banks and other financial institutions in October. The envelopes contained white powder and a warning the recipient would die within ten days. In the second case, a federal grand jury in Sacramento, California, indicted Marc Keyser, 66, in November for allegedly mailing 120 hoax letters to newspapers, a member of Congress, a McDonald’s, a Starbucks and other targets.

    In the past two fiscal years, records show, U.S. postal inspectors responded to more than 5,800 reports of letters and packages containing suspicious substances. Only a few-dozen cases have resulted in arrests.

    Drogin notes that scientists disagree over whether the nation is more vulnerable to an anthrax attack today than it was in 2001. The U.S. Postal Service in 2003 installed devices to check for airborne pathogens or poisons at the nation’s 271 mail-processing and distribution centers. They have yet to detect a threat, said Peter Rendina, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

    Some experts fear that the boom in biodefense spending carries a danger. They worry that a tenfold increase in laboratories authorized to work with dangerous bio-agents increases the risk of leaks. The current figures:

    • There are 14 BSL-4 labs in the United States (6 already in operation; 3 completed but not yet operational; 5 under construction)
    • 15,000 U.S. scientists are authorized to work with deadly pathogens
    • More than 7,200 scientists are approved to work with anthrax

    These critics say that by vastly increasing the number of researchers and labs authorized to handle deadly substances, the government has made the United States more vulnerable to bioterror attacks (see “Anti-bioterror Programs May Make U.S. More Vulnerable,” 14 November 2008 HS Daily Wire).

    Let’s face the fact that the threat of biological attack is now a part of everyday life in America, so why not be prepared to quickly identify credible threats from the hoax. We at AdVnt believe it just makes credible sense to be prepared today.