Lack of anthrax preparedness exposes America to serious harm ISSUE: Ex-CIA chief warns about preparedness
(South Florida Sun-Sentinel) It’s disconcerting to hear people in the know issuing warnings that the nation’s anti-terrorism defenses are still lacking.
This time, it’s former CIA Director James Woolsey voicing concerns that America is “very poorly prepared” to counter another anthrax attack. This isn’t hyperventilating, or a what-if scenario, folks.
This is an already-happened-before thing.
Americans should not have to be reminded of those scary days in the fall of 2001. In the weeks after the devastating Sept. 11 attacks, someone, or some people, unleashed a string of attacks using a deadly potion of powdered anthrax.
Five people were killed, including tabloid photo editor Paul Stevens, the first to die after the poison permeated American Media Inc.’s entire headquarters in Boca Raton. No arrests or charges were ever made, and surprisingly little has been said by federal officials about the seemingly stagnant investigation.
That alone is disconcerting. But now, six years later, Woolsey said little attention is being paid to the biological threat against the home front.
The warning is another reminder that some Americans have become complacent, while others allowed bitter political divisions, including a chasm over the Iraq war, to distract us from the ongoing terrorist threat. There are people who mean this country harm, and there are ways for them to get to us.
Besides the potential for loss of life, a biological attack could also lead to huge economic losses. In the 2001 attack, when anthrax was detected in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., that facility remained closed for five months and required the spending of millions of dollars in decontamination efforts.
The nation needs to refocus on ways to counter the terrorism threat. Not just in terms of thwarting efforts to do harm, but also in preparing vaccines and other remedies to respond quickly and effectively if, heaven forbid, we are struck again.
BOTTOM LINE: America needs to fight terrorists, but it also must prepare to respond to an attack.
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