|National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC). Both NIH and DHS have already entered into contracts worth $750 million with the same private company for the management and operation of these facilities – the name of that company is Battelle. DHS is also entrusted with constructing the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), a 500,000 square foot facility, which will have within its walls more BSL-4 laboratory space than three times the total amount of BSL-4 space in the entire country as of 2004. BSL-4 is designed for the specific purpose of working with germs for which there is neither vaccine nor cure. All indications are that DHS will be contracting with Battelle to manage and operate this facility as well.
In 2006, the Washington Post afforded a rare glimpse of the true nature of DHS’s NBACC. NBACC will be central to our secret offensive biowarfare program.
Washington Post, July 30, 2006
“The Secretive Fight Against Bioterror” by Joby Warrick:
“On the grounds of a military base an hour's drive from the capital, the Bush administration is building a massive biodefense laboratory unlike any seen since biological weapons were banned 34 years ago . . .
“In an unusual arrangement, the building itself will be classified as highly restricted space, from the reception desk to the lab benches to the cages where animals are kept. Few federal facilities, including nuclear labs, operate with such stealth. It is this opacity that some arms-control experts say has become a defining characteristic of U.S. biodefense policy as carried out by the Department of Homeland Security, NBACC's creator . . .
“When it opens in two years, the NBACC lab will house an impressive collection of deadly germs and teams of scientists in full-body ‘spacesuits’ to work with them. It will also have large aerosol-test chambers where animals will be exposed to deadly microbes. But the lab's most controversial feature may be its secrecy …
“[C]ritics of NBACC fear that excessive secrecy could actually increase the risk of bioterrorism. That would happen, they say, if the lab fosters ill-designed experiments conducted without proper scrutiny or if its work fuels suspicions that could lead other countries to pursue secret biological research.
“The few public documents that describe NBACC's research mission have done little to quiet those fears. A computer slide show prepared by the center's directors in 2004 offers a to-do list that suggests the lab will be making and testing small amounts of weaponized microbes and, perhaps, genetically engineered viruses and bacteria. It also calls for ‘red team’ exercises that simulate attacks by hostile groups.
“NBACC's close ties to the U.S. intelligence community have also caused concern among the agency's critics. The CIA has assigned advisers to the lab, including at least one member of the ‘Z-Division,’ an elite group jointly operated with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that specializes in analyzing and duplicating weapons systems of potential adversaries, officials familiar with the program confirm. . . .
“‘If we saw others doing this kind of research, we would view it as an infringement of the bioweapons treaty,’ said Milton Leitenberg, a senior research scholar and weapons expert at the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy. ‘You can't go around the world yelling about Iranian and North Korean programs -- about which we know very little -- when we've got all this going on.’ …
“NBACC is intended to be the chief U.S. biological research institution engaged in something called ‘science-based threat assessment.’ It seeks to quantitatively answer one of the most difficult questions in biodefense: What's the worst that can happen?
“To truly answer that question, there is little choice, current and former NBACC officials say: Researchers have to make real biological weapons.
“‘De facto, we are going to make biowarfare pathogens at NBACC in order to study them,’ said Penrose ‘Parney’ Albright, former Homeland Security assistant secretary for science and technology.”
Various Congressional committees have conducted hearings about the massive proliferation of high-security bio-laboratories being built across the country. On October 4, 2007, Time Magazine reported: “Congress held the first of a series of planned hearings on the recent -- and some might say reckless -- proliferation of high-security bio-laboratories in the U.S.” During the first such hearings, Keith Rhodes, chief technologist of the GAO, testified: “High-risk labs have health risks for individual lab workers as well as the surrounding community . . . [E]ven labs within sophisticated biological research programs, including those most extensively regulated, have had and will continue to have safety failures."
In answer to the question, “has the research they've conducted made us any safer today than we were six years ago, just after 9/11,” Rhodes testified: “[Given] that there is so much that is unknown at the moment, I would have to say we are at greater risk, because as the number [of bio-labs in this country] increases, the risk increases.” This describes classic American national security policy. At huge expense, we are creating defenses that themselves pose more risk than the threat they supposedly address. Elsewhere, the GAO has reported that the threat of bioterror has yet to be properly assessed, and that there is very little evidence that has been collected pertaining to the nature and magnitude of said threat.
Only massive delusion can explain how in all of the hearings and conferences pertaining to the proliferation of high-security bio-labs, no one except the GAO appears to be seriously questioning the need for, the rationale behind this proliferation. The multitude of government-sponsored advisory panels practically all appear to begin with the assumption that this proliferation is essential to national security.
Only massive delusion can explain how we could accept that the necessary response to the anthrax attacks of 2001, the only bioattack in our history, is to recklessly expand the program that itself generated that attack.
Barry J.C. Kissin, Esq.
148 West Patrick Street
Frederick, MD 21701