The News-Post’s editorial on Dec. 1 thankfully treats safety at Fort Detrick as important subject matter. I wish we could enforce this editorial’s expectation that Detrick be “as transparent as possible.” The recent breaches of containment (by deadly pathogens) are not the first at USAMRIID, nor are the problems with decontamination and disposal of hazardous waste, nor is the faulty inventory. CDC calls the latest a “systematic failure.”
We manage to find out about some safety lapses at Detrick — on this occasion, owing to the efforts of our local newspaper. But all the newspaper can do is “hope” (see related News-Post editorial on Aug. 14) “expect” and “encourage” transparency and more attention to safety. This chronic situation can only be rectified politically.
One simple improvement would be to drastically reduce Detrick’s public relations staff (whose function is to cover up rather than inform) and replace them with safety monitors. But this is one of many situations in our country that also require something more complex, namely the subordination of our military to the needs and interests of the citizenry, especially in neighboring communities.
Meanwhile, we are at the point at which the “national security” basis for secrecy is mostly about keeping information from Americans, thus undermining our protection, and has nothing to do with defending anyone.
Please recall that according to our government’s crafted account, the only bio-attack in our history came out of USAMRIID. The anthrax weapons of 2001 were produced at USAMRIID and distributed (mailed) by a scientist at USAMRIID.