This past week this newspaper’s front pages highlighted our senators’ and congressmen’s efforts to protect Fort Detrick’s National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center from the budgetary chopping block. These representatives are doing their job — their job is to protect jobs.
But back on Nov. 12, 2007, this newspaper’s lead editorial had this to say about the new labs at Detrick then in the planning stages: “These are not just more run-of-the-mill government facilities being planned for Fort Detrick. They’re labs that will be storing and studying deadly pathogens. History has shown that at even the most secure and controlled biological labs, accidents and mishaps occur. Considering what’s at stake and the health and safety concerns that are evident in the community, an independent judicial review of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for these new labs certainly makes sense.”
That judicial review never happened. Instead, our community settled for review by the National Academy of Sciences. In March 2010, the NAS issued its evaluation of the hazard assessments that were repeated practically verbatim in the environmental impact statements for all of the new labs, including NBACC’s. The NAS found the assessments “incomplete,” other than “transparent,” “the EIS failed to provide adequate and credible technical analyses,” “[the EIS] did not assess the potential for a local epidemic,” etc.
Instead of researching bio-weapons, wouldn’t it be better (including safer) to use the advanced expertise of NBACC’s employees and NBACC’s advanced laboratories to develop preventive measures and remedies for the naturally occurring diseases that afflict many millions of human beings — cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, malaria, tuberculosis, cholera?
NBACC is another “national defense” expenditure, though it is funded through the Department of Homeland Security instead of the Department of Defense. The proposed federal budget for “national defense” is already way beyond bloated.
I understand the concern about a bio-weapon attack.
But let me remind you of the fact to be found in our government’s official account of the only bio-attack in our history, namely the anthrax attacks of 2001: These attacks came from our own so-called bio-defense program. Not only that, but these attacks from the inside masqueraded as the work of radical Muslims. That’s the official account, accepted throughout the mainstream.