Is HSD unprepared for biodefense?
The Homeland Security Department “is not constructed properly” to counter biological terrorism, said Dr. Tara O’Toole, director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies. Biodefense, she said, “matters more than just about anything else because the number of potential weapons is growing exponentially.” O’Toole, a former Energy Department assistant secretary for environmental safety and health, spoke today at a Washington Post Co. briefing. She said national policy-makers fail to understand the dangers from the prodigious pace of widely disseminated bioscience research. Stuck in a cold-war mind-set, they don’t understand that terrorists can easily synthesize deadly viruses and weaponize anthrax spores in undetectable ways. There are thousands of individuals with these skills, she said, and there are no technical barriers to manufacturing bioweapons, despite the FBI’s statements in the wake of the anthrax attacks in the fall of 2001 that it would take the resources of a nation-state to make them. Full Story