×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Putting Biotech Threats In Context

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the terrorists-will-make-your-elbows-melt dept.

Biotech 117

Lasrick writes "This article starts with an interesting anecdote: 'In 1998, President Bill Clinton read a novel about biological warfare that deeply disturbed him. In fact, the story reportedly kept him up all night. It’s one of the reasons that Clinton became personally invested in protecting the United States from bioterrorism threats. The book was The Cobra Event (Preston, 1998), a sci-fi thriller by journalist and novelist Richard Preston that told of a mad scientist who brewed a lethal, genetically engineered virus in his New York City apartment. Preston’s tale highlighted the potential ease with which individuals or small groups with access to advanced bioweapons capabilities could launch attacks on major US cities.1 After reading The Cobra Event, Clinton called several advisory meetings and ordered classified assessments and simulation exercises to examine the threat depicted in the story. As a result of these deliberations, by the end of his administration Clinton had increased funding for biodefense preparedness efforts fourfold, to more than $400 million per year.' The article goes on to describe the two trajectories of bioweapons threats, and puts them both in perspective. It may or may not calm everyone who's ever spent a sleepless night after reading one of the many bioterrorism novels"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

117 comments

More affordable than ever. (3, Insightful)

starworks5 (139327) | about a year ago | (#42735997)

I remember seeing a used PCM multiplier online for $10k, and thinking what a powerful piece of machinery that was, especially given this [slashdot.org] was done in 5 mutations. It makes it sort of scary to think that all that steps in the way of Armageddon, is a disgruntled scientist and about $20k worth of lab equipment and supplies.

Re:More affordable than ever. (-1, Flamebait)

Diana Kua (2828383) | about a year ago | (#42736209)

PCM multiplier is best option and equipment is easily affordable.... http://x.co/sfEV [x.co]

Re:More affordable than ever. (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about a year ago | (#42737391)

I'm worried, not because this is possible, but because we may react in a way which spends a lot of money for very little protection. Not unlike gun control or airport security.

To quote another bit of sci-fi, "Life finds a way." And that quote isn't to mean that things are going to get out of control, but the simple nature of 'life' is that it is dead simple to engineer/develop bioweapons. Perhaps not The Stand levels of bioweapons, but you don't need to 'breed' a particularly difficult strain of influenza to kill thousands of people.

Of course, this goes back to a point I've made many times in the past: Life is deadly, and there are so many ways that things are trying/going to kill you that people happily delude themselves into believeing they don't exist.

IMO the only thing preventing these things, is a lack of motivation, not a lack of capability. Consider the DC Sniper, there is NOTHING that can be done to prevent something like that from happening again. It doesn't even take two people to pull off, just one person, moderately cautious, with access to the most basic of firearms, and the intent to cause harm.

Sadly, if it happens again, we will see another round of 'must do something' go through our government, and we will be less free, with the same risk.

WTF? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42736005)

No comments yet?
How the hell am i supposed to spend my lunch break? I read other articles and comments already!

Re:WTF? (2)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#42736497)

No comments yet?
How the hell am i supposed to spend my lunch break? I read other articles and comments already!

If you have spare time, I'd appreciate a digest of the RTFA: I tried reading it, my (sole) neuron got curly with the effort and I skipped to the end where I read:

This work was supported by grants from the United Kingdom’s Economic and Social Research Council and from the US National Science Foundation.

Yay, that's a factoid I could grasp.

A lot of worry for nothing (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year ago | (#42736045)

When AQ is on the ropes, they will no doubt attack with a bio-weapon. Why? Because it is SO easy and cheap to make. In addition, it will be difficult to trace back to them. And if done right, they can provide immunity for themselves FIRST. My bet is that they will do avian flu. Trivial to come up thanks to all of the chicken growers in Asia. And then to 'weaponize' is very easy (i.e. make it easy to target humans).

And the reason why I saw nothing to worry about is that this will be coming. Not much that you can do except have vaccines and update your medical staff.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42736099)

You've been watching too many Hollywood movies.

There are so many problems with trying to use bioweapons, you could write a whole series of books on it.
Vaccines are not that easy to develop, especially for something that makes a 'viable' bioweapon.
Just look at HIV. It would make a lousy bioweapon, but it still kills, and with millions upon millions spent on trying to develop a vaccine, they still don't have one that works reliably for human.
And of course, there is no method to target such bioweapons. Sure you can control where it's released, but once that's done, it goes anywhere it wants to.

If you seriously want to worry about bioweapons in this century, you better start worrying about nanotech turning the world into grey goo as well. They have about the same probabilities.

Maybe after centuries worth of man hours and hundreds of billions spent in R&D, it might become a viable threat. Of course, terrorist organizations don't have that kind of time, funding, or foresight much less actual R&D divisions, so they aren't the threat in those fields. Now governments are a different story, but not by much, and for pretty much the same reason.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | about a year ago | (#42736233)

A bioweapon doesn't need to kill. It can also be used to harrass.

Step 1: Develop a new, strain of the flu. It it's very virulent, so much the better.
Step 2: Develop a vaccine for your strain, just in case.
Step 3: Vaccinate your people and spread your flu in the target area.

The result: The target area will have to deal with a flu outbreak, reducing their productivity (how much depends on how many people catch it). Since you are already vaccincated you don't have to worry much about it coming back to you. It might mutate enough to bypass your vaccine on the way back, of course.

If you do it right you could make the target area have a different flu outbreak every year. Perhaps some or most of these can be transmissible to livestock. If you're lucky you can make them as nervous about, say, birds as the USA currently are about airplanes and foreigners. You won't end civilization but you will cost them a bit of money through lost productivity, security expenses etc. If that bit of money is more than what you invested to cook up and spread your flu strain you win.

Why wage a war of destruction when 20k$ in equipment and a guy with a biochem degree are sufficient to constantly harrass them and potentially hurt their economy? Make it part of a larget harrassment plan and you might even raise panic levels. Hell, just imagine what the media would do if they heard that AQ successfully deployed a "weaponized" flu strain in the USA.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (2)

flyneye (84093) | about a year ago | (#42736299)

Develop a strain of Bacteria that causes chronic flatulence.
THAT is harassment.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (2)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about a year ago | (#42736419)

Develop a strain of Bacteria that causes chronic flatulence.
THAT is harassment.

... or the solution to our dependence on fossil fuels.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

flyneye (84093) | about a year ago | (#42744639)

Well, why don't we fit cow butts with a hose,compressor and tank? This should satisfy the greenies who believe in global warming and provide fuel.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about a year ago | (#42737063)

Why wage a war of destruction when 20k$ in equipment and a guy with a biochem degree are sufficient to constantly harrass them and potentially hurt their economy? Make it part of a larget harrassment plan and you might even raise panic levels. Hell, just imagine what the media would do if they heard that AQ successfully deployed a "weaponized" flu strain in the USA.

Well, put this in perspective; we (the USA) have gone to war over *supposed* weapons of mass destruction, and certainly if someone were successfully brewing virulent, unique strains of influenza that would qualify as an *actual* WMD (and be relatively easy to detect and trace) they would bring the wrath of a vengeful god down on their heads.

It's not clear why so many people assume bio weapons are hard to uniquely identify; we are pretty awesome at genomics these days, we would have no problem figuring out how/why a new strain of flu got into circulation without advanced warning (studies are already done annually to determine what vaccines to manufacture) and start pinpointing and black-bagging anyone with the resources to make it, until we find the culprit. They would be summarily gitmo'd for the rest of their life, while their supporters were either directly or financially mutilated. Is that enough deterrent? Probably not, but then again it hasn't happened and supposedly this has been "Easy" since 1998...

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | about a year ago | (#42738251)

I was going to argument that a well-hidden (or mobile) bio lab with a few fake ones in various countries could piss off said countries when the USA want to conduct "police actions" there... but the real kicker is the one you delivered yourself: The whole "we'll just invade that country while insisting it's not an act of war" and "we'll just capture someone and put them in a camp where we pretend the Geneva Conventions don't apply to them" attitudes are already making the USA look bad. Provoking more of that is exactly what the terrorists want.

Also, "that nation has WMDs" is no longer very credible coming from the USA thanks to the Iraq War. You'd have to present independently verified evidence to avoid accusations of this being yet another justification for a unprovoked war. Just bringing it up would be controversial.

Let's say the USA figure out that this flu strain was developed in some backwater part of Brunei. Will they wait for the local authorities to look into things or will they just send a drone to bomb the place? What if they can't exactly tell where to drop the bombs? If the USA aren't careful they're going to end up with yet another controversial war on their hands... and "careful" just doesn't seem to be in the States' vocabulary these days.

All in all, 20 grand seems like a steal for the potential to plunge the States into another Iraq War or to at least have them piss off yet another country.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42736283)

Plan to reduce Bio and other terrorism threat.
1. Pull troops out of Mideast.
2.Nuke, Nuke Nuke(Include the Emirates)
3 Declare conquest
4. Turn glowing countries over to China in payment for National Debt.
(They can re-tap the wells in about 50 years or so using expendible Chinese, not in short supply)
Now we have a much safer world and can probably de-commission Nukes worldwide, having killed two birds w/one stone and reduced any actual threat to the world at large. Guess Allah couldn't help them.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year ago | (#42737219)

Vaccines are not that easy to develop, especially for something that makes a 'viable' bioweapon.

Of course that's not an issue to Muzzie outfits like Al Quaida, if they die as well its a bonus.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (2)

TheLink (130905) | about a year ago | (#42737543)

If you want to infect very many AND kill a high percentage of the infected you'd have to design the virus to be mostly symptom-free (or at least symptoms that are tolerable) but still reasonably infectious/contagious and then only killing people a month or more later.

Many of the noticeable symptoms are what makes a virus more contagious - coughing, sneezing, body fluids leaking everywhere. If the virus starts by quickly making a victim bleed from every orifice and then killing within a day or two it may be good for a Hollywood movie but that stops the disease from spreading that far. Countries will notice, quarantines would be enforced worldwide and you only need to lockdown for a week or two at most till the disease burned itself out.

Whereas if the virus could quietly infect people for month(s) and then only suddenly kill them, then everyone has a big problem...

FWIW if _everyone_ quarantined themselves when they just started to sniffle, instead of going to work (e.g. living in a country with no paid sick leave) then many diseases would evolve to be milder.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

jafac (1449) | about a year ago | (#42743605)

Tons of "mind-control" pathogens to work with.
Toxoplasmosis parasite comes to mind.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year ago | (#42740187)

Actually, no. I do not watch movies on this. I did this work back in the 80s for the DOD and CDC. So, I very likely have a little bit more knowledge than an AC on here.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42736175)

It won't happen.

A vaccine implies you have a virus that won't mutate. And if you want it to be a weapon, then it will have to mutate, in which case the first vaccine won't work. To make that happen, you would need a virus that would mutate very fast, really really fast. Then, it would have to withstand outside conditions long enough to be transmitted. Next and final step, would be to get it to kill it's host, which even HIV doesn't do very well.

Second problem, the most important target, would be the USA. Right? Well, they have one ace up their sleeve. The most incredible biodiversity on the planet. To put it simply, if there's a virus wreaking havock in the USA, then in the rest of the world, entire populations would be completely wiped out.

Third. Terrorism is never about territory issues, religion, freedom or other "trivial" things like that. It's always about money. Money. Money.

PS in all books that imply some kind of doomsday by a bioweapon, most bad guys rely on having an island far away from the rest of the world.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42736275)

It won't happen.

A vaccine implies you have a virus that won't mutate. And if you want it to be a weapon, then it will have to mutate, in which case the first vaccine won't work. To make that happen, you would need a virus that would mutate very fast, really really fast. Then, it would have to withstand outside conditions long enough to be transmitted. Next and final step, would be to get it to kill it's host, which even HIV doesn't do very well.

Second problem, the most important target, would be the USA. Right? Well, they have one ace up their sleeve. The most incredible biodiversity on the planet. To put it simply, if there's a virus wreaking havock in the USA, then in the rest of the world, entire populations would be completely wiped out.

Third. Terrorism is never about territory issues, religion, freedom or other "trivial" things like that. It's always about money. Money. Money.

PS in all books that imply some kind of doomsday by a bioweapon, most bad guys rely on having an island far away from the rest of the world.

Well, except for those books that hardly anyone ever writes about that involve suicidal maniacs hell bent on destroying the world and taking themselves with it.

No one uses a slow-rolling virus like HIV as a bio-weapon. No, we're talking shit like ebola mutated to where it can be carried airborne, released somewhere like an international airport, and kill millions in days, not years. Or perhaps even worse our disgruntled laid-off bio-chemist who's gone mad might just be a die-hard Resident Evil fan, and badly wants to unleash their version of the t-virus on the population, just for "fun". Remember not every homicidal maniac or suicide bomber is "all about money" (they're expecting a much larger payment in the form of 72 virgins)

You should probably read Prestons works these government actions were based on. Those Nancy Drew bio-stories you've been reading are a bit too clean-cut for today's world.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about a year ago | (#42736477)

Terrorism is about power You're also mistaken that terrorists are rational. Where was there an inviolate law invoked that stated that only rational people would be terrorists? If you take a look, most of those executing terrorism type attacks appear to be quite irrational, with a complete disregard for compassion, reason, and life itself.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42740701)

One of the first mistakes you can make is thinking that terrorists are irrational. They are far from it. They are extremely logical at what they are doing. However, it does not mean that I agree with what they are up to.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year ago | (#42736747)

In addition, it will be difficult to trace back to them.

Which makes it useless for every terror organization I am aware of. The whole point of executing a terror attack is to make some population afraid of those who carry it out. In particular, making that population fear the terror organization enough to overcome that population's unwillingness to follow the terrorist organization's political agenda. If you don't know who launched the attack, you don't know who to appease to prevent another such attack.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year ago | (#42737493)

It would be trivial to make it traceable if you wanted to, so that's completely irrelevant.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year ago | (#42737987)

If you can choose to make it traceable or non-traceable, that means that you can also lay a false trail.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year ago | (#42738545)

Which is irrelevant to the "problem" of not being able to "prove you did it".

If it is completely untraceable then you send the CIA or NSA or CNN or whomever an encrypted description of what you are going to do (you better make sure that encryption is solid of course). Then you do it. Then you send them the decryption key. They now know that you at least knew of the plot and when two dozen organizations claim responsibility your claim has a lot more weight.

Or you just have one of your guys release the stuff and own up once the infection has been noticed (don't want to give them early warning for quarantining and so on). Tell them the details and let them find the abandoned lab. Again your specific claims of responsibility have far more weight than the dozen claims with no more than "it was us!".

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

Endovior (2450520) | about a year ago | (#42738245)

Not at all. It's easy enough to release a video claiming responsibility; as you pointed out, that kind of thing is what provides credibility to the organization.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42737091)

I'm a lot more worried about being governed by a man who makes his decisions based on works of fiction than I am of the threat of bioterrorism.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year ago | (#42737555)

So only things which have already happened should be considered?

Note that it wasn't "Hey I read this book in which X happened, how can we spend huge amounts of money to combat that?". It was "Hey I read this book in which X happened, can you guys see if that's actually a valid threat?".

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42737967)

Not at all. Things should be considered based on research studies that take into account the likelihood of things happening and how severe the damage will actually be. They should not be considered based on how scary an author of fiction is able to portray.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#42746537)

This is why Clinton organized simulations and war games modeling bioterror attacks. I highly recommend 'Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War' by Judith Miller. The only book that I have ever read in my life that gave me nightmares. They found that an anthrax attack was similar to a chemical weapon attack. People exposed get sick and may die, but it doesn't spread to any extent beyond those exposed. Anthrax is easy to make, if you can brew beer you can grow anthrax, but it's only a localized danger.

Tens of thousands of illegals work in our food preparation industry, and business interests have spent the last three decades reducing inspections by the Dept. of Ag and the FDA. Salmonella, phisteria and botulism are harder to grow than anthrax, but still don't need any special equipment or unreasonable amount of training. Even an utter idiot like Ma Anand Sheena could do it. A single person working in a Tyson chicken processing plant could contaminate several thousand carcasses a day, probably undetected until days after they hit the market.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year ago | (#42740725)

And yet, how many in government make decisions based on the bible, torah, or Quoran? reagan made regular decisions based on what he thought the bible wanted. Same with W.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

moeinvt (851793) | about a year ago | (#42737215)

"if done right, they can provide immunity for themselves FIRST"

I don't really believe in AQ, but in general, Islamic terrorists don't have an overwhelming interest in self-preservation when it comes to carrying out their attacks.

I read an article in "Nature" last year about the flu viruses. It's certainly not "trivial" to create a strain of the virus that would allow human to human transmission. "Weaponizing" a virus or bacteria is harder than hell. You can't just put it in an aerosol can or make a missile containing egg whites. If terrorists were going to weaponize a virus, they would infect a few members and have them fly around in commercial aircraft.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42739515)

"Islamic terrorists don't have an overwhelming interest in self-preservation"

The foot soldiers might not, but I don't think you'll find the leaders of such groups too willing to expose themselves to the danger of a plague class virus/bacteria. If they thought they could insulate themselves and their followers from it they may use a bio weapon, but most of them have a decent level of education and would realize that doing so was virtually impossible. Sadly a charismatic leader duping a bunch of hapless religious zealots into blindly following them is hardly a trait limited to Islamic Fundamentalists.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year ago | (#42741021)

Actually, it IS trivial to create a bio-weapon out of avian flu. Basically, wait until somebody in Indonesia (large muslim population) catches it. And about 6-12 a year do so. Then get a small sample of the bug from that person. That is the hardest part. Once you have that, go back to Pakistan, inject it into several of the followers with compatible blood type. Basically, you now have a living incubator (for a short time) which replaces the need for growing cells. You can inject other flu strains in there as well. At this time, introduce a number of followers to care for these ppl. Wait until one of them comes down with the flu. If they live, they have the wrong strain. If they die, well, you have a cross-bred strain that was transmitted via air. Simply test it by having others introduced with it and then making sure that they catch it.

You may lose anywhere from 6-12 ppl, BUT, these are all ppl happy to die to get to their 72 virgins (I am still trying to figure out what the women get). At that point, pull the serum, spin off the cells and you simply send the samples along with say 12-50 volunteers happy to die. Run them through cities at the same time. They will spread it quickly. However, it will take a while before the medical community realizes what they have.

BTW, todays commercial aircraft is not the way to transmit it. They turn over the air faster than a regular room. Send them to basket ball games, movies, malls, schools, etc. Horrible HVAC. Sniffles, etc will be seen as normal. Do this during Xmas time and you have loads of ppl who NEED to shop.

BTW, this is the same mechanism that is used for any bug which has multiple strains. Flu is simply the easiest. And with Avian being so deadly, but taking so long to show up, it has the potential to shut down our society.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42740993)

One can strike first.

Better to die or to kill?

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

jafac (1449) | about a year ago | (#42743593)

No.

The people they want to "free" are the ones who are going to suffer from a biowar attack the most. (people living in poor conditions in poor countries). Those are the ones who are most at risk of catching an infection, and least likely to get expensive life-saving treatments.

However - Anthrax is a fairly likely biowar method, because it's pretty well-known (though it's difficult to weaponize and deploy) - reasonably easy to handle and treat accidental exposures, and while it is devastating and terrifying, it does not tend to spread like viral plagues. It behaves more like a persistent environmental contaminant.

If a large scale anthrax attack were ever staged, to the point where industrialized nations were strained to provide enough antibiotics, I think that could be a big terrorism tipping-point.

(IIRC: The Soviets had a plan to nuke Western cities, then spread Anthrax afterwards, so that the survivors who were struggling with radiation sickness, with weakened immune systems, and no medical infrastructure, would be quickly dispatched. The problem with this, of course, is you're not going to be able to settle or repopulate those areas with your own people - like - EVER. Radiation AND Anthrax spores? Worst than plowing salt into the earth.)

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year ago | (#42743669)

It will not be anthrax. Harder to produce, easy to trace, and not as easy to spead. OTOH, avian flu is ideal.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#42746633)

Anthrax doesn't need to be 'weaponized' to be effective. Quantity can take the place of quality, and it's pretty easy to grow. A slurry of anthrax mixed into mop water and spread around the floor of a subway station or mall will create plenty of spores naturally as it dries, which will be stirred up by foot traffic. That was why the grunts went into Iraq with full bio-gear, they were worried that the retreating Iraqi army would spray the road behind them.

After the fall of the Soviet Union the Pentagon was amazed to find that the Kremlin had never bothered to develop plans for occupying and administering a conquered United States. They had enough trouble just keeping eastern Europe in line, they knew there was no way they could ever deal with a territory as huge as the US.

Re:A lot of worry for nothing (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#42745381)

They don't need to develop anything new, nor 'weaponize' anything. All they need is to infect some poor illiterate farmer from Nowhereland with Ebola or pneumonic plague, get him a tourist visa, put him on a plane just as he gets contagious, and tell him that his new employer will find him on the subway platform at Grand Central Station (NYC), Red Square Station (Moscow), El Solar station (Madrid), Trafalgar Square station (London), or wherever you want to target. As he stands there, unable to ask questions of passersby in his own language, not knowing anyone or anywhere to go, desperately waiting for hours for someone who will never show up, he'll infect hundreds or thousands of people before transit police move him out of the station, where he'll mill about aimlessly infecting more people. Worse yet, send multiple people to multiple cities simultaneously.

And then wait while the chaos unfolds.

The Clinton Administration modeled the release of pneumonic plague at a symphony concert in Boulder, CO, together with the Dept. of Health for Colorado and several neighboring states, and the results were horrifying. Within days the healthcare system in Colorado collapsed, and neighboring states were only days behind. Within a week hundreds were dead, thousands were sick, and the infection had spread as far away as Singapore. That was when he ramrodded the huge bioterror preparation funding through Congress, the exercise had scared the crap out of him and his cabinet. Of course the Shrub mAdministration cancelled most of it when they came into power.

Preston's Other Works - Related (4, Informative)

ciurana (2603) | about a year ago | (#42736105)

Related: Richard Preston also wrote the non-fiction book The Hot Zone, where he discusses Ebola, Marburg, and other hot viruses in detail (and it's perhaps the first mass media coverage they received), as well as how the CDC operates to identify, contain, and otherwise deal with hot viruses.

The Cobra Event was OKi for fiction, but rather meh compared to works by Follett or Crichton (RIP), that may be shakier on the science but way more entertaining. However, in my opinion, Preston's non-fiction, documentary accounts in The Hot Zone and in The Demon in the Freezer are way, way, way scarier. Highly recommended.

Trivia: Richard Preston is the only civilian, non-physician/doctor of any kind, who's been recognized for his work by the Centers of Disease Control.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Hot-Zone-Terrifying-Story/dp/0385495226/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_z/177-7970503-1396814 [amazon.com]
http://www.amazon.com/The-Demon-Freezer-True-Story/dp/0345466632/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y/177-7970503-1396814 [amazon.com]

Cheers!

Re:Preston's Other Works - Related (1)

Lorens (597774) | about a year ago | (#42736203)

Should've read The Stand by Stephen King too, at least the first half which is basically scientific worst-case what-if fiction. The second half is Stephen King-typical paranormal fiction.

Re:Preston's Other Works - Related (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#42736347)

When reading The Stand you really start to notice just how much people cough,sneeze and sniffle.

Re:Preston's Other Works - Related (1)

ciurana (2603) | about a year ago | (#42736385)

Awesome -- I'll add it to my reading list. Thanks for the recommendation!

Cheers,

E

Re:Preston's Other Works - Related (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42742741)

"The second half is Stephen King-typical paranormal fiction"

If its anything like the mini-series I get your drift. It was pretty entertaining at first but it got worse as the series progressed, at the end, when God reached down from heaven and set off the nuke to kill all of the "bad people" I was simultaneously laughing my head off wondering WTF just happened.

Re:Preston's Other Works - Related (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42746383)

"...simultaneously laughing my head off wondering WTF just happened.

Didn't you know Stephen King votes Democrats?

Re:Preston's Other Works - Related (1)

Zedrick (764028) | about a year ago | (#42736539)

> However, in my opinion, Preston's non-fiction, documentary accounts in The Hot Zone
> and in The Demon in the Freezer are way, way, way scarier. Highly recommended.

Agreed. I actually started reading the Hot Zone two days ago. It's a struggle getting past the first chapters (just reached the introduction of the army veterinarian) since it's so disgusting.

But that's what I was looking for. Seems like a good book.

Re:Preston's Other Works - Related (1)

PPalmgren (1009823) | about a year ago | (#42737349)

Its made its way into schools, which is nice, because its one of those books that is very entertaining but also very enlightening and informative. Its a really good peice of work and is really informative to those of us who haven't had to deal with epidemics in our lifetime.

Re:Preston's Other Works - Related (1)

dpilot (134227) | about a year ago | (#42736737)

The book that started me down the path that ended in a career in engineering was, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", by Verne, which I read the summer after second grade.

When my daughter was in fifth grade we read "The Hot Zone" together. She's in the last semester of her Masters, and is planning to start her PhD in the fall, in the biological sciences.

Re:Preston's Other Works - Related (1)

ciurana (2603) | about a year ago | (#42740219)

dpilot,

Thanks for your comment - as an infant's parent and just figuring out my way on this parenthood thing I found your story very inspiring.

2001: Space Odyssey was the one that let me to get a computer engineering degree. Let's see what happens with the Little One when he's old enough to understand stories.

Self serving, cutesy post: 10-month old kid watched Star Wars with me the other night. The whole thing. Without blinking. Is this some kind of omen?

http://is.gd/3hR7RF [is.gd]

Cheers and best wishes!

Re:Preston's Other Works - Related (1)

dpilot (134227) | about a year ago | (#42740921)

Have fun. Sometimes that's hard to remember, in the early years.

The other telling activity with my daughter was in the Fall of first grade, when she was building villages and roads out in the yard for the wooly bear caterpillars. On "take your daughter to work day" she would hang out around the microscope.

She's working in aquatic macro-invertebrates.

Re:Preston's Other Works - Related (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42746727)

When I was about four I had made a small cemetery complete with tiny twig grave markers where any dead bugs I found were buried (wasps, bumblebees, anything), it was under a pine tree along a small path off to the side of my grandparents house.

Childhood birthday presents include a microscope and chemistry set, lego and books. Lots of interesting doodads.

Now I'm nearly forty, isolated, and chronically ill with nothing much to live for, barely able to take care of rudimentary daily necessities like eating food and with no way of taking care of my parents. Recently I've realized I've always been sort of a retarded loser even in my small personal accomplishments and also perhaps that I'm actually a deeply evil person and not the good, kind, patient, and considerate one I always thought I were.

But I'm doing fine. According to others I'm supposed to be a winner (by birth-place if nothing else). Fortunate, intelligent, and strong. Since I'm white I'm also supposed to receive so many automatic favours that I implicitly get for free without ever having deserved them and I haven't (at least not yet) been attacked or raped or blinded or harassed or threatened by imported non-whites like so many others.

Sorry to rain on your parade, not sure if there's a lesson in there, maybe not.

Re:Preston's Other Works - Related (1)

dpilot (134227) | about a year ago | (#42746041)

One other thought... Your kids will find their own paths. My daughter is into the sciences, my son is working on becoming a history teacher - even though he has always watched science fiction with me.

When both kids were younger and we were having a rough time controlling the scatalogical humor at dinner time, my wife would say, "The Kennedy's discussed politics at the dinner table!" Fast-forward a few years and dinners can be quit civil with sophisticated discourse - or not. But there capable of it, and at other times we can all share in the humor.

Re:Preston's Other Works - Related (1)

jafac (1449) | about a year ago | (#42743651)

For me, it was "The Andromeda Strain".

Book? WAY better than the movie.
(then. .. I actually got to work at Vandenberg Air Force Base. . . :)

Re:Preston's Other Works - Related (1)

john.r.strohm (586791) | about a year ago | (#42739073)

To me, "The Cobra Event" reads and feels like it started out to be another nonfiction book, similar to "The Hot Zone". I got the distinct feeling that someone said something to the author that gave him the screaming willies and he decided it would be safer all around to make it look like fiction.

In the afterword, he points out that every item he described in the book was real, although some of them had different names.

Moulder was right (3, Interesting)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about a year ago | (#42736131)

There has already been real-life testing of biological attacks. The ones we know about took place in the 50s and 60s. The US Navy released bacteria in a cloud off the coast of San Francisco to see what would happen. The bacteria they released was "mostly harmless" but killed some people with compromised immune systems. Some other government scientists spread bacteria around the NY subway system to see what would happen. Was hushed up for 20 years and sounds like trooferism but it really happened: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/general-article/weapon-secret-testing/ [pbs.org]

Re:Moulder was right (3, Informative)

JWSmythe (446288) | about a year ago | (#42736231)

According to Wikipedia, the US interest in bioweapons started around 1918. [wikipedia.org] They've been used on and off throughout history [wikipedia.org]

Being prepared for such a threat isn't such a bad idea. We've gone far beyond that.

Re:Moulder was right (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about a year ago | (#42736561)

According to Wikipedia, the US interest in bioweapons started around 1918.

An interesting coincidence given that the world has just been subjected to the deadliest viral pandemic in history [wikipedia.org], no?

It killed between 50 and 100 million people - 3% to 6% of the world's population at that time [wikipedia.org].

If that happened today, it would kill the equivalent of every living soul in the United States and Mexico. Sobering, huh?

Re:Moulder was right (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#42736717)

Given how bitterly controversial the idea that Americans really ought to have access to boring old routine healthcare is, I wouldn't be optimistic about our level of preparedness...

The turnaround time(even if you crank up your risk tolerance a bit and skip some of the approval steps) from even modestly novel pathogen to treatment/vaccine is on the order of months(something like the flu vaccine is probably the most well-oiled vaccine development and distribution operation, and even there they have to forecast the expected outbreak strain in order to have enough time to produce, distribute, and administer the result), with some diseases proving much tougher to crack.

In the meantime, the main factor determining the mortality rate, aside from the disease itself, will be the ability of your healthcare system to cope under overload conditions, your social infrastructure to cope with a heck of a lot of sick days without cascading failures, and possibly your ability to do very unpopular quarantine related things.

How lucky do you feel?

Re:Moulder was right (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#42737983)

Given how bitterly controversial the idea that Americans really ought to have access to boring old routine healthcare is, I wouldn't be optimistic about our level of preparedness...

Let's consider the flaws in this one sentence. First, if it isn't accessible, then it can't be routine. Second, just because you have to pay for something doesn't mean it's somehow not accessible. And third, there's not a correlation between the quibbling over who pays for personal healthcare and public sanitation/national defense needs. That annual state-paid mammogram isn't going to help you discover or defend against a bioengineered influenza virus.

Re:Moulder was right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42739305)

First, if it isn't accessible, then it can't be routine.

Actually, no. Accessible is about being able to get something if/when you need/want it. Routine is about how often something is done, whether it's to satisfy you or somebody else.

Kings and nobles "routinely" had nice clothes, travel between their numerous mansions, have servants, etc. Those things aren't exactly accessible to everyone.

It's better to argue that just because it's routine, doesn't mean it has to be accessible. Just tell the poor that they aren't entitled to anything, and you aren't gonna pay for them. Much more direct and honest

Re:Moulder was right (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#42739621)

Actually, having to pay for something can make it effectively inaccessible - last time I looked at the bill a single brief doctor visit costs ~$100 in the US (admittedly that number would likely be smaller for someone without insurance). For someone on a tight budget that's easily a month's worth of food they have to give up in order to visit the doc, and that's just the visit - lab work, medication, etc adds more expenses.

In a budding pandemic/bioterrorism scenario that means you have a large portion of the population who avoid going to the doctor until it becomes obviously serious, delaying recognition of the threat and providing a sizable bioreactor for the expanding plague.

Something I don't understand is why the socialized medicine discussion always seems to be divided into "fully for" and "fully against". The vast majority of medical expense is incurred in end-of-life medicine and fighting really serious problems - i.e. it benefits a tiny portion of the potentially productive population. We could socialize just the front-end at a tiny expense to get most of the social benefits - make initial diagnoses cheap/free (basic low-tech medication is already fairly cheap) and you get a major leg up on nipping pandemics in the bud, as well as catching many more serious problems while they're still in the early stages and relatively cheap to cure/mitigate if the patient can raise the money.

Shoot, even most cuts, broken bones, etc are usually pretty cheap to repair, we could probably socialize everything a GP can handle for government pocket change and leave private medical insurance as something that pays for specialists. Much like other forms of insurance you'd them be paying for something you hope never to need, rather than a basic staple of modern life.

Re:Moulder was right (0)

dpilot (134227) | about a year ago | (#42736757)

I would argue that US interest in bioweapons started much earlier, when we gave blankets from smallpox patients to the native Americans.

Re:Moulder was right (2)

jbeaupre (752124) | about a year ago | (#42737041)

By "we", you must mean you are British. http://www.history.org/Foundation/journal/Spring04/warfare.cfm [history.org]

Seems there is quite a bit of evidence that the British used biowarfare on Indians and on the US Army. There doesn't seem to be any evidence of the US Army doing the same. The US Army had good reason not to fool with smallpox.

The British considered it effective because their army was relatively immune (smallpox was a common in childhood), whereas colonists and Indians usually weren't exposed and lacked immunity. So much so that George Washington had to implement an inoculation program to mitigate the effects of smallpox.

Re:Moulder was right (1)

vakuona (788200) | about a year ago | (#42738389)

No, you the colonisers (or rather your ancestors the colonisers - apologies in advance if you are not really descended from them). It's not like they left and let the Indians get on with things. And it's not the worst thing that Americans have done to other Americans either.

Re:Moulder was right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42737071)

Shame on you for using epithets such as trooferism. Propaganda to marginalize certain opinions is a bloody dangerous and slippery slope.

Re:Moulder was right (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#42737811)

Shame on you for using epithets such as trooferism. Propaganda to marginalize certain opinions is a bloody dangerous and slippery slope.

Not sure if you're trying to be sarcastic here, but you make a good point.


If an opinion is truly stupid, it should marginalize itself, without the need for personal and ad hominem attacks.

Re:Moulder was right (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#42738303)

There has already been real-life testing of biological attacks. The ones we know about took place in the 50s and 60s. The US Navy released bacteria in a cloud off the coast of San Francisco to see what would happen. The bacteria they released was "mostly harmless" but killed some people with compromised immune systems. Some other government scientists spread bacteria around the NY subway system to see what would happen. Was hushed up for 20 years and sounds like trooferism but it really happened: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/general-article/weapon-secret-testing/ [pbs.org]

These days, it's easier than ever, and containment is way harder. Take some flu, for example - by the time the host has symptoms, it's been contagious for days. Far too late as infected contagious hosts have all interacted with the public - public transportation (all kinds - planes, trains, automobiles, boats, etc), crowds, etc.

Hell, people have been known to get ill from taking a plane trip (doesn't help that the air is dry which helps the flu spread), and highly contagious diseases often get alerts a few days after the flight (stuff like TB).

In the 50s and 60s? Not so much - travelling was much harder and ocean voyagers were so long that if someone got sick and infected people, you'd know long before the other port was in sight.

These days, one infected person can infect a whole plane which can then infect another country and it spreads very rapidly.

The whole world is literally smaller - it doesn't take long for any pathogen to easily travel around the world.

Sleeplessness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42736181)

Maybe sleeplessness is exponentially related to the number of enemies you have ..

Artificial or all Natural,it's coming (1)

localman57 (1340533) | about a year ago | (#42736253)

It may be bioweapons, or it may just be a natrual event, but I believe we'll have a pandemic that kills billions within my lifetime. I see SARS, avian flu, AIDS, etc popping up, and they all seem like nature's dress rehersals for something bigger. It seems like only a matter of time until we get something that is both highly communicable (air) and highly fatal.

Not if, when. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42736293)

Since we're not asking for stuff that's physically impossible, like time travel bacteria or something, we can be certain that humanity will develop techniques to do pretty much anything in biotech. It's just a matter of getting the right tools and the right knowledge.

Any horror story scenario WILL become possible, but we don't know when, and that is important. It may be that we're a solid 50 years away from weaponised pandemic viruses in garage labs, in which case the world may have changed very substantially and the threat is no longer relevant. Or it may be sooner.

The article only edges around this point. It spends a lot of time waffling about how biotech is hard, but we know that. The point is: at what rate is it getting easier?

We also know there are plenty of low hanging fruit in terms of bioweapons, because nature has done a lot of the hard work for us in many cases. Is it really fair to compare tweaking natural diseases with drug research? In the case of drug research, all the low hanging fruit have been picked long ago.

Re:Not if, when. (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year ago | (#42746541)

Good points. As I see it, the unknowns about human biochemistry and the genetic "code" have been like "security by obscurity" about an encryption algorithm that kept all human safe from intentional plagues (or mind control or suffering or whatever). Now that the obscurity is going away, for whatever well-intentioned reasons about curing illness, all humans are at ever increasing risk from engineered bioweapons. When our computer encryption "code" algorithms or their keys get compromised, we can generally replace the algorithm and/or keys. That is not possible when the human genetic code is fully understood. The risk will only continue to increase in that sense as our understanding of the genetic code increases. There may be ways to manage that risk through mutual security and intrinsic security and recognizing the irony of using post-scarcity technologies from a scarcity-biased world view, but it hard to get people raised in a scarcity-focused-culture to accept them. I discuss that at length here:
http://www.pdfernhout.net/recognizing-irony-is-a-key-to-transcending-militarism.html [pdfernhout.net]
"Biological weapons like genetically-engineered plagues are ironic because they are about using advanced life-altering biotechnology to fight over which old-fashioned humans get to occupy the planet. Why not just use advanced biotech to let people pick their skin color, or to create living arkologies and agricultural abundance for everyone everywhere? ... There is a fundamental mismatch between 21st century reality and 20th century security thinking. Those "security" agencies are using those tools of abundance, cooperation, and sharing mainly from a mindset of scarcity, competition, and secrecy. Given the power of 21st century technology as an amplifier (including as weapons of mass destruction), a scarcity-based approach to using such technology ultimately is just making us all insecure. Such powerful technologies of abundance, designed, organized, and used from a mindset of scarcity could well ironically doom us all whether through military robots, nukes, plagues, propaganda, or whatever else... Or alternatively, as Bucky Fuller and others have suggested, we could use such technologies to build a world that is abundant and secure for all."

As Bucky Fuller said, whether it will Utopia or Oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race to the very end. Fears of bioterrorism have been one of several concerns motivating my efforts towards better information management and collective design software so that communities have some chance of transcending the threat somehow:
http://www.kurtz-fernhout.com/oscomak/fears.htm [kurtz-fernhout.com]
http://pcast.ideascale.com/a/dtd/-The-need-for-FOSS-intelligence-tools-for-sensemaking-etc.-/76207-8319 [ideascale.com]

Another good novel (1)

Dave Emami (237460) | about a year ago | (#42736343)

Another good novel (written when genetic engineering was fairly new) is The White Plague [wikipedia.org], written by Frank Herbert of Dune fame. Basic premise (not really spoilers, since as I recall this is on the book's back cover): an expert molecular biologist, otherwise sane and benevolent, cracks when his wife and daughter are killed in a terrorist attack. He creates a highly contagious virus that is lethal to women but harmless to men, and lets it loose in the countries he considers responsible, so that the men there will share his loss. Then he threatens to do so elsewhere if the rest of the world doesn't send all immigrants from those countries back home and let the plague run its course.

Don't know how plausible it is scientifically, but it's a good read, like all of Herbert's stuff. Well, like all of his stuff before God Emperor of Dune...

Re:Another good novel (1)

coinreturn (617535) | about a year ago | (#42736795)

I thought White Plague was far better than anything Dune.

Re:Another good novel (1)

Dave Emami (237460) | about a year ago | (#42737651)

What I liked especially is that it inverts the usual dynamic of most "some person(s) use something to cause a disaster" stories. For most of them, the initial part of the story involves the antagonists trying to acquire or learn how to create the mechanism to cause the disaster -- a bomb, a plague, nerve gas, friggin' laser beams, whatever -- and the protagonist is trying to stop them from getting/creating the mechanism, and failing that, from using it. Here, we start with someone who already has the necessarily knowledge, who then turns into an antagonist via an external influence.

LMFAO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42736373)

so im supposed to believe that bio-terrorism is what kept slick willie awake at night
hahaHAHAHAHA

'Biodefense' (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#42736629)

While there doesn't seem to be a 100% clear answer on how hard biological weapons actually are to make(nation states have definitely played with them, sometimes just by bottling wild nasties, sometimes by modification or selective breeding, amateurs don't seem to have managed much for the moment), the thing that makes 'biodefense' feel like something of a lost cause is that so much of it is a deeply unsexy(and surprisingly unpopular) mix of public health and infrastructure work.

Sure, somebody has to wear the cool positive-pressure suits and do Tense Movie Science in the biohazard level 4 labs; but if a novel strain of something for which there isn't presently a vaccine pops up, the only relevant question will be along the lines of 'do we have anything resembling the capacity to provide supportive care/any remedies that are available in a mass infection context?' The answer, of course, is 'ha, ha, are you joking? Have you seen the wait times for anything short of serious trauma at your local ER?'

That's the trouble: Barring some sort of technology-indistinguishable-from-magic(an immunological simulation powerful enough to take a pathogen's genetic sequence as input and spit out a vaccine formulation ready to hit production, or something similarly Not Available Now), your main defensive options are comparatively low-tech; but very broad based and probably quite expensive, improvements in healthcare capacity and epidemiological surveillance, combined with lots and lots of basic research in medicine(since a good bioweapon will be at least somewhat novel, you can't really target research against it, so you need to have as much as possible in terms of supportive care, general understanding of strategies for rapidly evaluating and countering novel pathogens, etc, etc.) Unfortunately, that's exactly the sort of plan that would never sell, and, since it involves spending lots of money every year against a threat that may not even show up, makes a great target every time budget time rolls around.

biotech bites back (1)

fonske (1224340) | about a year ago | (#42736865)

Biotech could mean:
1) lethal dose (per kg or ounce of enemy) of bioactive molecule
2) lethal contagious organism
The latter would mean you create a memory (DNA or RNA) as a template for its contagious state.
By nature of the replication mechanism of the memory mutations will occur. Every year we have proof of how effective these mutations are - and how effective the marketing of big pharmaceutical companies are by flooding us with vaccination programs.
It's like digging a hole and the hole getting bigger and bigger (pandemic) until you are bound to fall in it one day or the other.

Maybe I SHOULD be an author (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#42736869)

Amazing how the author of that book actually changed something...too bad other books like 1984, Brave New World and the short story Right to Read get used like a manual for oppression instead.

Re:Maybe I SHOULD be an author (1)

s.petry (762400) | about a year ago | (#42740621)

Similar line of thought: My comment was going to be 'too bad that prick didn't read "1984" or "Brave New World"'. Then again, I'm sure he did read them.

Determinism in geek and tech thinking (1)

anyaristow (1448609) | about a year ago | (#42737405)

If you read nothing else in TFA, read the sections "The technological determinism model" and "The sociotechnical model", and pretend it's written about computer tech, because it applies there, too. I believe we're getting near the end of "the computer revolution", because there is not a sufficient market to fund development at the rate we've seen in the past. I believe Ray Kurzweil will have to fund the singularity himself, because for the endpoint to happen, all points in between here and there have to be funded, and I don't see that happening. I think from a technical needs perspective, we are well into the point of diminishing returns, and the market is starting to reflect that.

We would never do that (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year ago | (#42737407)

"One time at my lab, a petri dish of genetically modified super-virus went missing. That day we made a pinky swear never to admit we crossed Ebola with the common cold."

"Why the hell would you cross Ebola with the common cold?"

"We never did. That would be a terrible, terrible thing."

Weight of the world (1)

cornjones (33009) | about a year ago | (#42737589)

I do like a good thriller novel and they don't really keep me up at night (except the reading part). Mostly b/c i have no involvement in the protection of most of these things. Reading the summary above makes me realize again the weight on any executive office. I can assume somebody is taking care of it. The president/prime minister/whatever realizes this is another thing he is responsible for stopping. No wonder they get grey so fast.

The power of the written word (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | about a year ago | (#42737637)

As another testement to the power of fiction, George Bush read one of Stephen King's books and got $500 million in funding for protection against Plymouth Furies.

Wait, need tamper-proof Snowcats, too! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#42738171)

> "In 1998, President Bill Clinton read a novel about
> biological warfare that deeply disturbed him. In fact,
> the story reportedly kept him up all night."

"Clinton also called for remote-disable devices for vehicles after reading a story about a car, and for fire axes to be on 10-foot chain tethers after reading a story about a guy."

You mean it wasn't all those blowjobs late at... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42739485)

Night in the oval office...

The worst bioweapon (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#42740355)

Make a bunch of clandestine transactions to acquire equipment that could potentially be used to create a bioweapon (even if you don't have any money to actually complete the transactions). Step 2, watch the 'Great Satan' flush billions down the toilet defending against the non-threat.

Bonus points if you get the Great Satan to flush trillions down the toilet invading a country you hate because they think you are there.

Triple bonus score: Get yourself a good 'Oswald' that they can spend years hunting down.

Enforce the law (1)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | about a year ago | (#42741003)

There is a substantial risk of a bioterrorist attack on the US from the Hezbollah operations in Mexico. Whether you believe John McAfee's revelations or not:
http://www.whoismcafee.com/a-clear-and-present-danger/ [whoismcafee.com]
The truth is the scenario he presents is possible entirely plausible.

The solution is to enforce the Federal border control laws. The Feds won't do it. So the Arizona State government took matters into their own hands and created a state law that was similar to the Federal law, but Arizona would be able to enforce it. The Obama Administration took Arizona to court and the state border law cannot be enforced (not that the Obama Administration also took states to court to stop them defending Constitutional rights by enacting anti-Sharia legislation; since Sharia is opposed to all other Constitutional right). The Obama Administration's solution was instead to put up signs warning US citizens to stay away from areas where the narcos and people smugglers operate:
http://thecitysquare.blogspot.com/2010/09/feds-cede-border-to-smugglers-warn.html [blogspot.com] http://thecitysquare.blogspot.com/2010/07/arizona-law-is-working-already.html [blogspot.com] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arizona_v._United_States [wikipedia.org]

Enforcing *existing laws* would do more for border security that some gadgets. Just as drugs come in that border it is easy for ricin or other bioagents to come in. Hezbollah and their Iran backers would just love to have the option to sow terror in the US with a bioattack: in addition to the option they have of two dozen Shahab 3 IRBM missiles they have installed in Venezuela; and will probably upgrade to Shahab 5 missiles with nuclear warheads soon. Don't worry, your President has just appointed Hagel who thinks that talking with the Iranians is best. Yes, they Iranians have already had a decade of talks and more talks will just give them more time to finish their nukes (which they are close to having the capability of making, if they haven't made one already; US intelligence is not sure it can tell the difference).

All this means the US was wrong to oppose Arizona in making a State law that enforced Federal laws that weren't being enforced. It also means that US citizens are in a greater danger than they have ever been before - but their mainstream media is not reporting on this stuff, so the majority of people are still asleep to the threats that are arising.

Before you mod me down or counter-post, please collect your citations that refuse the existence of the signs that warn US citizens because the border has effectively been ceded to narcos; or evidence against the Iranian IRBMs in Venezuela; or evidence against Hezbollah wanting to conduct bio-attacks on US soil. I doubt you'll find objective links. These threats are real - and fortunately the US agencies have been more competent than the jihadis and narcos, so far. Although the ATF "Fast and Furious" scandal does make one wonder - what the hell was the Obama Administration thinking?

Re:Enforce the law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42745973)

You are a paranoid idiot.

Do us all a favor and commit suicide so you are at least in control
of your miserable pathetic destiny.

That explains a lot (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about a year ago | (#42743663)

I'm guessing Clinton read The White Plague at some point too.
It would explain his goal to f*ck every woman he met!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...