Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mentally and emotionally stable

"Individuals will be mentally alert, mentally and emotionally stable, trustworthy, physically competent....."

This is part of the US army regulation covering scientists working on bioweapons. (Actually bioweapon 'defence' since the US doesn't work on bioweapons).

Unfortunately it appears that this modest list of conditions - which, let's face it, isn't that different to the characteristics you might look for in a date - is too much for the workers at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). In 2007 the deputy commander for safety wrote:
'The possibility of losing talented and well-trained researchers to other facilities.... with less stringent programs.... may impact the ability of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to provide research personnel to combat biological agent use.'

This is all coming to light now because of the case of Bruce Ivins, accused of killing five people in the anthrax attacks of October 2001. Regardless of how fishy you think the whole thing smells a big question needs to be answered - how can we prevent our own bioweapon 'defence' labs from being the source of bioweapon attacks? There have been a few articles along this line but we need a much bigger debate on this and whether the huge expansion in 'biodefence' facilities will cause a greater risk than the risk of a terrorist or other bioweapon attack they seek to prevent.

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