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Koyaanisqatsi Donating Member (126 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 07:47 AM
Original message
Update on Biological alarm in Washington (Salon)
Biological alarm in Washington
Did terrorists attack Washington with a deadly pathogen?

By Mark Benjamin

Oct. 18, 2005

WASHINGTON -- On Sept. 24, 2005, tens of thousands of protesters marched past the White House and flooded the National Mall near 17th Street and Constitution Avenue. They had arrived from all over the country for a day of speeches and concerts to protest the war in Iraq. It may have been the biggest antiwar rally since Vietnam. A light rain fell early in the day and most of the afternoon was cool and overcast.

Unknown to the crowd, biological-weapons sensors, scattered for miles across Washington by the Department of Homeland Security, were quietly doing their work. The machines are designed to detect killer pathogens. Sometime between 10 a.m. on Sept. 24 and 10 a.m. on Sept. 25, six of those machines sucked in trace amounts of deadly bacteria called Francisella tularensis. The government fears it is one of six biological weapons most likely to be used against the United States.

It was an alarming reading. The biological-weapons detection system in Washington had never set off any alarms before. There are more than 150 sensors spread across 30 of the most populated cities in America. But this was the first time that six sensors in any one place had detected a toxin at the same time. The sensors are also located miles from one another, suggesting that the pathogen was airborne and probably not limited to a local environmental source.

William Stanhope, associate director for special projects at the St. Louis University School of Public Health's Institute for Biosecurity, has been closely following scattered government and news reports about the incident. He's convinced it was a botched terrorist attack. "I think we were lucky and the terrorists were not good," he says. "I am stunned that this has not been more of a story."


MUCH more at link: http://www.radionewsamerica.com/index.php?blog=2&p=9445...
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acmavm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 07:51 AM
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1. Terrorists? What kind of terrorists? I mean, we have come to a truly
ugly place in the history of our country when someone like myself can think that maybe it's of the home grown variety that did this. You know, like the anthrax terrorist. But let loose at an anti-war ralley? I don't know, maybe I should be ashamed for what I'm thinking, but then again look at who's in power. What kind of nut cases they are. And how whacked their 'supporters' are.

NO, I doubt that this is the foreign variety of terrorist.
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mmonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 07:55 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. I agree
"NO, I doubt that this is the foreign variety of terrorist."
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EuroObserver Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 08:08 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. Very ugly indeed. Watch out
as the heat builds up on Cheney.
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crispini Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 08:02 AM
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3. Very, very interesting
Edited on Wed Oct-19-05 08:04 AM by crispini
"One sensor, I'd say maybe," says biosecurity expert Stanhope of the dust theory. "Two sensors is a stretch. Six sensors? I'm sorry, you don't have enough money to buy enough martinis to make me believe that it is naturally occurring at six different sites. I don't think you could get me that drunk to believe that."

(snip)
Another possibility is that somebody was testing U.S. biological weapons defenses. How sensitive are the sensors? How quickly and effectively can the government react?

"The Department of Homeland Security would have to consider the possibility that it was neither natural nor an attack, but that it was a testing of the system," says Alan Pearson, a former DHS official, who is now the biological and chemical weapons director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, a nonpartisan organization. "Was somebody trying to see what would happen?"


Testing of the system .... that rings very true to me. I think that's really worth considering. It would explain a lot of things... it fits.

BTW here's the direct link to the Salon story.
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2005/10/18/tularemia /

Recommended -- people need to read this article, the whole thing.
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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 08:13 AM
Response to Reply #3
7. A drill. I can accept that hypothesis. GOOGLE: "Granite Shadow"
See, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/9/23/102830/522

Bush Extends Nat'l State of Emergency - Military in Streets of DC
by leveymg
Fri Sep 23, 2005 at 07:28:30 AM PDT

Don't want to be alarmist about this, but these three simultaneous items together are really jarring.


First, without any discussion or warning, Bush announced Wednesday that he has extended the terrorism-related state of National Emergency he declared after 9/11.


Second, a Washington Post columnist tells us that yesterday was the kickoff of "GRANITE SHADOW", a massive Pentagon exercise simulating the declaration of a martial law in Washington, DC. Military special forces and intelligence officers have, in fact, been deployed in force -- wearing civilian clothes -- in the streets of the capitol.


Third, Bush is going to Colorado Springs on Saturday, HQ of Northern Command (NORCOM), we are told to monitor Hurricane Rita response efforts. NORCOM is the operational headquarters that is simultaneously running the GRANITE SHADOW operation.


Of course, this comes on the eve of the largest anti-war demonstration in DC in 35 years.

More below . . .

SNIP
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Joy Anne Donating Member (830 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 08:10 AM
Response to Original message
5. lots of people sick
I knew one friend who'd been there who was sick for a week or two when she came home. When I passed the Salon article around, I learned of two more.

Somebody ought to be keeping a registry of this.
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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 08:22 AM
Response to Reply #5
8. The incubation period for tularemia is long past. No confirmed cases.
Lots of people get colds, the flu, and viruses. There hasn't been a single case of "Rabbit Fever" reported.

What I think happened is that the military set off these alarms with minute traces (not enough to get anyone sick) very close to the sensors, or simply triggered the system electronically as part of the Granite Shadow exercises. See my post above.

Some of them may even think that the anxiety created among the anti-war marchers is a side-benefit, but that wasn't the main purpose of the exercise.

A dangerous, sick game. But, a game.
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hang a left Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 08:12 AM
Response to Original message
6. I read a post in GD yesterday about a secret drill in DC on that day
I am gonna go try to search for it.
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gauguin57 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 08:31 AM
Response to Original message
9. ... and did whoever released the toxin get the idea from "The West Wing"?
Tularemia was the pathogen that got into the White House (the president knew it was real, the staff thought it was just a drill) on an episode of "The West Wing" two seasons ago.
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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 08:41 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. Missed that one. Well, you know what they say about life imitating TeeVee
Where do you think Pentagon planners get most of their ideas, anyway?

In reality, Dubya was safely tucked away, deep inside a granite mountain in Colorado, being useless. The photos taken that day showed him looking bored and frazzled, and AF officers ignoring him.
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gauguin57 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 09:37 AM
Response to Reply #10
12. It was an episode called No Exit ... from Season 5
They don't say it in the NBC description, but I remember that it WAS tularemia that got into the White House (because I had never heard of it before, and I looked it up after watching the show in spring 2004).

Season 5 Episode 176072
NO EXIT 9/8pm 4/28/04

POSSIBLE CONTAMINATION PUTS WHITE HOUSE IN LOCKDOWN MODE -- AND PROVIDES STRANGE BEDFELLOWS AMONG STRANDED STAFF -- After a black-tie dinner, the President (Martin Sheen) and his staff are locked down inside the White House when a foreign substance is detected inside, forcing an odd coupling of people who are forced to occupy small rooms where they share personal reflections -- and some turn confrontational when Toby (Richard Schiff) accuses Will (Joshua Malina) of backstabbing Bartlet. As the inspection continues, the President, Fiderer (Lily Tomlin) and Charlie (Dule Hill) submit to intense inspection while in other corners, C.J. (Allison Janney) has strong career advice for Donna (Janel Moloney) and Josh (Bradley Whitford) queries security adviser Kate (guest star Mary McCormack, "K Street") on why his joke was deleted from the Chief's speech. John Spencer and Stockard Channing also star. TV-PG




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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 02:38 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. In this case, TeeVee may have imitated some scenario plan
The show strives for a lot of realism, so they probably had some script consultant with a counter-terrorism background specify tularemia as the pathogen.

I've read that Tularemia is often cited as a biowarfare threat.

Anthrax is passe, anyway.
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converted_democrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 08:46 AM
Response to Original message
11. This is nuts..n/t
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 10:23 AM
Response to Original message
13. I recall reading a while back
which means the equipment may actually be much better now, that biological sensors simply weren't very accurate or reliable. So I find such reports as this to be highly suspect.

The other thing the administration likes to make us think is that creating biological weapons is easy, and that it can be done at home with not much special equipment. Not true.

And it's not that easy to spread deadly bacteria around. It's been tried, with a stunning lack of success. Which isn't to say that a governmental agency, which actually has access to sophisticated biological labs and the true ability to spread a deadly toxin, bacteria, whatever, couldn't do it quite well. But it's not going to come from a lone terrorist.

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