Atlantic Council Braces for Opportunities of Potential Bioterror Attack

By Raul Diego

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Less than a month away from the one-year anniversary of the pandemic’s official declaration, policy wonks at the Atlantic Council together with former and current government officials are dissecting the “lessons” of the Covid-19 epidemic to advise the Biden administration on the steps to take in order to avert the next disaster.

Following a report by the Atlantic Council’s “Forward Defense” program housed within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security published in October, a panel comprised of the report’s author Franklin D. Kramer and others, including former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Jane Holl Lute and Jaclyn Levy, Director of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), discussed Kramer’s “key findings” and how these should influence White House policy moving forward.

Right from the top, Atlantic Council Vice President and Director of the Scowcroft Center, Barry Pavel introduced the proceedings by establishing that the American “homeland” is “a theater increasingly under threat,” which is facing a broad “spectrum of non-kinetic risks to U.S. critical infrastructure and national security, such as cyberattacks, industrial espionage [and] potentially bioweapons.”

The last point squares with Bill Gates’ prediction that the most imminent threat to the U.S. will come in the form of a bioterrorist attack – a topic he most recently broached during an interview with “Veritasium” in early February. “Somebody who wants to cause damage could engineer a virus,” Gates warned, adding that “the cost, the chance of running into [such a virus] is more than just the naturally-caused epidemics like the current one.”

Gates has been spreading the idea of a bioterrorist attack since 2017 when he revealed to a group of Redditors that he was “concerned about biological tools that could be used by a bioterrorist.” He also told The Telegraph that same year that engineering a new strain of the flu would be “relatively easy.”

Despite buttressing his image as a supervillain in popular Internet culture, such warnings did not originate with Gates and have been fueling the rise of the biosecurity state in the U.S. since the late 1960s, when the father of bioterrorist plots Joshua Lederberg and his cohorts in government were sounding the alarm over Soviet bioweapons and imminent bioterror attacks that called for more robust policies, laws, and new federal agencies to deal with the purported threat.

Not out of nowhere

Those efforts yielded significant changes, culminating in the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, which produced the first comprehensive policy directive to address these questions on a legislative level through the National Blueprint for Biodefense in 2015 and the establishment of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, co-chaired by former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former Senator Joe Lieberman.

In September of last year, the Commission announced the creation of the Apollo Program for Biodefense. As its name suggests, the promoters of the biosecurity state want to liken their renewed zeal to space missions by tackling the challenges “with the same ambition and ingenuity that put the first human on the moon in 1969,” in the words of co-chair Ridge.

Just this past January, the Commission published the program’s first report, subtitled “Winning the Race Against Biological Threats,” which closely aligns with the thrust of the Atlantic Council’s approach to its policy recommendations for the Biden administration, and uses the COVID-19 pandemic as the jumping-off point to push for things like a “national pathogen surveillance and forecasting center” and the full implementation of the 2015 Study Panel’s recommendations.

Pavel, who is also the Director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, echoed the sentiment by exhorting Biden to adopt what the think tank is calling strategies of “resilience” to safeguard the “health, economic and security sectors” of the United States, warning that “if the U.S. is to avoid and mitigate major systems shocks like Covid-19 in the future, the President will need to prioritize and expand its focus on resilience in the early days of this administration.”

They’re all in it together

The Forward Defense panel discussion centered on the requirements for a national strategy based on the findings of the October report, which the author summarized in the following five points: First, to “undertake major research and development programs”; second, to “enhance public health”; third, to use artificial intelligence “to predict epidemiological trends”; fourth was the development of “a national pandemic plan and, finally “prepare US biodefense for bioterrorism threats.”

Jaclyn Levy from the IDSA referred to the progress made in these matters over the years, conceding that “the U.S. government [had] developed already prior to 2020 a number of pandemic preparedness programs and resources. But, operationalizing them during the pandemic proved to be a challenge.” She further expressed her belief that “federal coordination and federal support are absolutely critical to mounting a successful response [to biological threats],” and going as far as attributing the spread of Covid-19 to “the lack of a coordinated, centralized testing strategy funded by federal dollars.”

Levy was also keen on expanding the collection of genomic data from the population, extolling the efforts to advance “precision medicine” through public-private partnerships like the All of Us Research Program which set out to collect and sequence the genomes of one million people “stored in a biobank, which is housed by the Mayo Clinic,” as well as other “true sort of public-private partnership[s]” with Google and it’s parent company Alphabet, cautioning against turning away from such endeavors over potential privacy concerns.

Franklin Kramer followed that with his own stamp of approval, stating that “with the right incentive… we really can bring the private sector and the innovation capacities, both in the United States and with allies and partners to work on these issues,” proposing that institutions like Fauci’s NIAID approach Congress with a five or ten-year plan, similar to how the Pentagon does to procure funding for public-private partnerships in regards to these programs.

The final piece

In 2008, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated the seed funding for the creation of the IDSA’s Center for Global Health Policy (CGHP), which bills itself as “a trusted leader in shaping and advancing international and national policies and investments in global HIV, TB, health security and antimicrobial resistance.”

Through the CGHP, IDSA is a regular “non-state” participant in World Health Organization executive board meetings and is a strong advocate for global immunization campaigns, which along with the vaccine development and surveillance, remains one of the top priorities of the Gates Foundation.

In a section titled “Lessons From The Pandemic— Underprioritizing Resilience” from his report, Kramer highlights the GAVI foundation – a Gates initiative – as an example of how the private sector was better prepared for a pandemic than most governments were, quoting from the organization’s own website describing it as “an elegant solution to encourage manufacturers to lower vaccine prices for the poorest countries in return for long-term, high-volume and predictable demand from those countries.”

It seems that as the COVID-19 pandemic approaches its first year anniversary, all of the previously scattered tactics and methods employed to deliver a true biosecurity state are consolidating. The only thing missing is the military defense component, which is the principal focus of the Scowcroft Center. Conveniently, Bill Gates’ bioterror prediction could put that final piece into place.

A Foretaste of the Horror of Biological Warfare

By Eric Margolis

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The world is getting sick from the spreading COVID-19 virus. North Americans and Europeans are now as horrified as Chinese by the invisible killer that has put their hospitals under siege.

They are also getting a grim foretaste of what biological warfare would be like. Those not cowering in terror in their homes would likely be amazed to learn that some of their governments are still churning out highly toxic chemical and biological agents in hidden factories.

But surely our lily white democracies don’t stoop to making poison gas and germs?

Back in 1990-91, I was based in Baghdad covering the first of the Gulf Wars. The US was threatening to attack Iraq for daring to invade oil-rich Kuwait, which used to be part of Iraq until ‘detached’ by the British Empire. At the same time, the eight-year Iran-Iraq War had just ended in a bloody stalemate. The US and Britain had pressed Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to invade Iran, seize its oil wealthy and overthrow the Islamic government in Tehran.

Facing a US-British invasion, Saddam Hussein ordered all foreigners in Iraq rounded up and confined to tourist hotels. Among the foreigners, I discovered four British scientific technicians who had been sent, or ‘seconded,’ to a newly built biowarfare chemical complex south of Baghdad at Salman Pak. They were then trucked to Baghdad as hostages against a US attack.

I managed to slip into the compound that held them and talked for hours over mugs of tea. The British tech team told me they had been secretly sent to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq by Britain’s Ministry of Defense and Britain’s MI6 Secret Intelligence Service to help Iraq’s military develop and deploy biological weapons for use against numerically superior Iranian forces on the Central Front, Al-Faw Peninsula, and again Kurdish rebels in the north.

The bio weapons included Anthrax, botulism, Q fever and tularemia that attacks the eyes, throat, skin and lymph nodes. Salman Pak also produced quantities of nerve and mustard gasses used against Iranian infantry formations.

Most raw materials for the germ and gas came from Europe. Feeder stocks for the germ/poison gas weapons came from the main UC chemical warfare plans at Ft. Detrick, Maryland.

A popular joke among western journalists in Baghdad went, ‘of course Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. We have the delivery receipts.’

The times Iraq deployed its chemical/bio weapons against Iran, the results were nightmarish: blinded soldiers choking to death, unable to unable to breathe; soldiers with their skin peeling off; dead mothers holding babies in their arms. Many of these attacks were targeted by US satellites positioned over Iraq. US Air Force officers worked closely with their military counterparts Iraq.

To this day, there remain tens of thousands of maimed, blinded, crippled Iraqi soldiers. It was Iraq’s version of World War I, cheerfully financed by the US, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Iraq’s once thriving economy is mostly in ruins. US and British bombing even destroyed most of Iraq’s sewage systems, water reserves, hospitals and bridges. Contaminated water alone killed 500,000 Iraqi children, according to the UN, a price ‘worth paying’ said US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The moral of this terrible story, and the current worldwide epidemic, is to immediately ban all chemical and biological weapons everywhere. Destroy all chem/bio warfare plants everywhere, including the US, Russa, China, India and Israel.

The COVID-19 virus is merely a taste of what a real biological war would be like. Many around the world who bear us ill cannot help but take notice how the world’s richest, mightiest nation can be brought to its knees by some invisible bugs.

When President Trump fulminates against China over COVID-19, he should be advised that the anthrax and other germ weapons used against Iraq in 1990 originated at Fort Detrick, just 50 miles NW of the White House, a mere one hour drive if traffic is not too heavy.

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