Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, July 31, 2006

Get Ready for Another Round of Criticism

The Guardian (republished at the Common Dreams website) is reporting today that the U.S. is building a Germ Warfare Center in Maryland. The stated purpose of the Center is to prepare for a possible biological attack by running Red Team scenarios. They say it is defensive in nature. However, it is a violation of the rather windy titled Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction signed in 1972.

Ok, I understand the stated intent of the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center, which will be managed by the Department of Homeland Security. I understand that we do have to prepare for such an event as a possible bioterror event. But it makes me squeamish because I have to wonder what else such a facility might get into.

I think that not only have we in this country allowed terrorism to change our system of government, we are allowing it alter much of the international law that has been established since 1945. We are now being told that we have change Geneva Conventions, the UCMJ, and now, perhaps biological weapons provisions. Will such a facility spark a new type of race, this time an biological weapons arms race?


Anonymous said...

Scary stuff. In today's world, goverments need to be prepared for this stuff. However, the great potential for abuse requires oversight. Such oversight has been lacking under Republican domination and so abuses have been myriad. Vote Democrat in 2006! 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Dr. Strangelove said...

I have a couple of issues with the Guardian article. First, the Guardian article asserts the NBACC, "will have to produce and stockpile the world's most lethal bacteria and viruses." I emphasized the word stockpile. This is the word I take issue with. Assuredly they will require samples, but there is no reason to believe they would produce them in quantity.

Second, I do not agree that the NBACC is a violation of the bioweapons convention. The Guardian quotes only a portion of the key article, omitting precious context. Thanks to USWest's link, I had a look at it. Here is Article I:

"Each State Party to this Convention undertakes never in any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain: (1) Microbial or other biological agents, or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes; (2) Weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict."

The NBACC would produce biological agents in types and quantities that are justified for prophylactic and protective purposes. Only if they produced these viruses in unnecessary quantity would they be in violation of the treaty--which makes me suspicious of the Guardian's fudge on using the word "stockpile."

While USWest is right to feel squeamish and wonder "what else" they might do at such a center, the answer is, of course, vigilance and oversight. And I must agree with RbR that the Bush administration will never permit adequate oversight. But I believe this research has been going on in scattered facilities. Greater progress as well as greater oversight may be easier when the possible offenders are consolidated on a single campus.