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Is the Pentagon Prepared?

Germ & Chemical War Threats

By John Long

gasmask.jpg - 5.21 KWhile military bigwigs continue to fear the benign presence of openly gay men and lesbians in their midst, it appears they've been sitting idly by while truly deadly threats to American civilians go unremarked. True defense requires the cooperation of all citizens. But military "intelligence" units spend their energies—as they did recently in the case of a decorated veteran suspect-- chasing "fairies".

Meanwhile, the Republicans, in cahoots with powerful profiteers in the armaments industries, are trying to revive an expensive and long-discredited military defense system that was touted on Ronald Reagan's 80s watch as the Strategic Defense Initiative, a missile defense scheme.

Critics labeled this questionable initiative "Star Wars." Its purpose would be to provide a nationwide shield that would deter incoming missiles from rogue countries. Recently GOP Congressmen, in their bid to scare Americans into granting greater military spending, have used nuclear developments in Pakistan and India as a springboard to revive the Star Wars research programs, costing astronomical billions.

One problem with Star Wars, as was pointed out in the 80s, is that it can be tested only if there is an all-out war. Until such a time, no one knows whether or not it will work. Many experts have concluded that it will not. This is why it was long ago shelved.

Current threats seem not to be coming from Southeast Asia, but from resentful loners who—for political reasons-- slip across the U.S. border harboring hopes to kill Americans en masse. Just such a man—who'd previously been arrested three times-- was apprehended only two weeks ago after U.S. Border guards had mistakenly allowed him entry.

In West Virginia, also less than two weeks ago, 50,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate were stolen. Only 4,000 pounds of this same substance was used to blow up the federal building in Oklahoma. There have been other attacks on public buildings. The U.S. Capitol Building, for example. And, a bomb-laden vehicle crashed through the doors of an Indiana courthouse approximately a week ago, but fortunately failed to detonate.

pentagon.gif - 44.99 KA military-preparedness question arises: Is the Pentagon ready to deal with terrorism and mass killings on home soil? The answer is no. Although the White House recently boasted it had begun to address the threat of germ warfare, for example, that boast is proving empty.

Long outlawed by international tribunals, germ warfare has become the choice weapon of lunatics like Saddam Hussein. Germ bombs are not costly, are easier to hide and they could be quietly detonated in any metropolitan area. Residents would remain unaware of such a detonation until their bodies gave them tardy warning signals as they writhed in the painful throes of death.

No Star Wars defense system could stop a grudge-laden non-citizen (or government-hating U.S. militiamen) from stealing more ammonium nitrate or bringing killer-germ bombs into the country. All any terrorist would have to do would be to rent another truck, transporting mass-destruction and grisly horror to a theatre near you.

"Mass killings define the modern era," according to a number of 20th Century scholars. On May 22, President Clinton announced with fanfare that the U.S. was stockpiling vaccines at relevant sites across the country, vaccines that would protect civilians against germ warfare.

Unfortunately, the President's plan is, just like U.S. borders, full of gaping holes. Rushed into action in the wake of germ warfare threats from abroad—especially from Iraq—the White House plan is faltering because the vaccines fail to protect against anthrax or small-pox, popular germ warfare ingredients.

A small number of scientific minds put together the Clinton administration's germ warfare defense initiative. As with the 80s Star Wars initiative, their planning has now been found wanting. The scientists did not think to make inquiries at the nation's major drug manufacturers as to time-tables they might expect in the production of the vaccines. The drug industry, they failed to note, has its own schedules as well as a need for testing to assure military buyers that the vaccines work.

No company is making germ warfare vaccines—nor will any soon be making them—to prepare for possible attacks. Some officials are calling for a switch from vaccines to antibiotics, medicines they say cover a wider array of germ-laden threats. Nobody as yet, however, knows how either the vaccines or the antibiotics will be stored or distributed during an attack.

© 1997-98 BEI