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(en) Daybreak #3 - The myth of Bio-terrorism

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://free.freespeech.org/mn/daybreak!/article21.html)
Date Tue, 26 Nov 2002 06:03:41 -0500 (EST)


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For the last few weeks the media's been shocking us with
alarming images and warnings about the dangers posed by
bio-terrorism. Bio- terrorism is a horrifying word, it brings up
images of clouds of poison gas and horrible scabby mutant people,
but how much of a threat does it really constitute?

Instead of informing viewers about the realistic dangers of bio-
terrorism the media has manipulated and sensationalized our fears
for the benefit of both theirs and Bush's "New War." The thing
that you will never hear on the news is that, while bio-terrorism
might be a scary word, it's hardly a realistic mass threat.

Watching the news or reading the paper I feel like every letter I
open is going to be filled with powdery death, but the fact is only 3
letters have been found and out of the thousands of people
exposed to the anthrax spores, thankfully only 12 have gotten the
disease. There's little doubt that these few letters have created
hysteria and sadly resulted in a small number of deaths, but
there's no question among experts that Anthrax is not the threat
that it's being made out to be in the media. As Dr Simon Whitby
of Bradford University says: "the general view [among experts] is
that most terror groups do not have the technical expertise or
resources to carry out a biological attack." Considering that
someone, whether it was religious fundamentalists or white
supremacists as the FBI is speculating, was able to pull off 3
envelopes in the last 2 months it seems likely that that's the extent
of their resources considering how expensive and precarious the
process of creating anthrax is. In addition this is the anthrax that
people must be physically exposed to rather then the much more
effective and volatile airborne form that only governments like the
US and Britain have, at the cost of billions of dollars, been able to
successfully develop.

In addition anthrax, because of its properties is not a realistic
weapon against large numbers of people. In order to do that you
would need to first produce significant quantities by using
expensive, dangerous, and complicated procedures. Dr Whitby
suggests that, "they would also need to develop a mechanism to
disperse this strain of the organism in sufficient quantities in an
aerosolized cloud of lung- retention-sized particles."  Experts
caution that this is probably beyond the scope of terrorist
organizations. Even reporters realize that this is being hyped out of
it's real size, Tom Abate, Bio- technology reporter for the San
Fransisco Times noted that."As far as anthrax, and most of these
biological agents, they have to be kept alive. If they go out into the
air they die unless they're protected." This would require a high
level of biotechnology and is probably only within the scopes of
governments. Which is why a worldwide treaty against chemical
weapons was attempted in the last few years but the United States
England and Israel refused to sign it, making war even more of a
horrifying threat.

The second type of bio-terrorism that's being talked about is
smallpox. Older people will have a scar from the smallpox
vaccinations that were commonplace in the US until about 1972.
The reason that vaccinations were discontinued was because it
was no longer necessary, smallpox was declared eradicated
worldwide by the World Health Organization in the 1970's. The
only known stores of smallpox reside in the hands of the US and
Russian governments. Smallpox can not be manufactured or
found in nature. However, supposing that a store of anthrax were
to be found, maybe sold by a trigger-happy American military, to
what benefit would it be to release it in the United States? We
know that smallpox would eventually work its way back to the
third world where the medical facilities are less complete even
then American ones, and wipe out a good portion of their people
also. It doesn't make sense to kill 3 of your own people for every
one of the enemy.

So why is this misinformation still being passed around?
Undoubtedly the media lazily regurgitates itself rather then
looking for credible sources but that doesn't fully explain the
constant fear mongering and saturation coverage they've treated
us too. The first reason comes in the usual vein of OJ, Clinton's
blowjob, and other big spectacular scandals that feed the media's
profit. But in addition, it seems that much of their information
comes directly from military authorities and the purpose of an
irrational hysteria would seem to play multiple purposes for them.
It firstly draws attention away from civilian death and suffering in
the war, and reaffirms that all our enemies are evil. Second it
makes Americans feel personally threatened, it makes us want to
kill the bastards putting us and our children at risk giving the
politicians proxy to do whatever they want. Third, it covers up
their internal repression. The fact that 1,100 Arab-Americans are
being detained without being charged, the fact that law
enforcement has dramatically increased repression and its
constant assault on civil liberties in the new "Anti-terrorism bill."
Pretty much all this silly hype, well important to be aware and
prepared for, covers up what's really happening and gives
politicians credence to act however they want in our names.


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