Monday, July 14, 2008

Washington Times commentaries push awareness of the bioweapons threat

The Washington Times company certainly played up the WMD issue this weekend. It ran a commentary by Claude Salhani (editor of the Middle East Times) titled “Will terrorists go nuclear” in its Sunday print edition (on p B5), at its online website, and on its “The World and I” site, which it advised readers of (including me, as I signed up) by email Saturday night. The links are this (World an I) or this (Times). The short of it is that, in the view of the columnist and perhaps the Times, bio is the most dangerous WMD of all.

While in the Army and in stateside barracks with little to do, I wrote a novel manuscript called “The Proles” (some of it did wind up in my first book, the portion on stripmining) and in one sequence I imagined a “Commie” attack on a college campus (this predates Kent State). There was one line that got cackles from all the guys in the barracks TV room. “It was botulism, of course.” The biggest laugh came from another soldier who had a Berkeley doctorate in Biochemistry and called himself “Rado Suhl”. There was indeed a bit of “Rolling Stone” atmosphere in those barracks. Salhani proposes a scary scenario that could be implemented with the botulinum bacillus and resulting toxin. (It’s rather like the scenario in my 1969 manuscript.) There are many such possibilities involving a “typhoid Mary.” In 2002, British filmmaker Daniel Percival made “Smallpox: Silent Weapon” for Fox and gave cable viewers a horrific scenario. I won’t repeat the details of Salhani’s scenario on a public blog, but I hardly think it “gives people ideas.” I think it tells us what we have to be on guard for.

“The World and I” is a thick, expensive monthly with many detailed and well illustrated articles about culture around the world, generally from a conservative perspective but with some degree of balance. It is published by the Washington Times and has been around since the late 1980s.

None of this should minimize the important writings by Graham Allsion, Sam Nunn, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative as discussed here in earlier postings.

Nor should we discount the remote possibility that some evidence of bio WMD's may show up in Iraq some day, even if we haven't found them. I wonder if Saddam Hussein could have shipped them out, through Syria, before playing possum and coming to his capitulation.

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