testimony, biosecurity, biological weapons, biological agents, terrorism, national security, public health
With the advent of the Anthrax attacks in the fall of 2001, this Nation has been confronted with a serious policy conundrum. On the one hand, we have strengthened programs that encourage the use of our best scientific resources to develop countermeasures to the weaponization of highly dangerous biopathogens. On the other hand, research on those countermeasures requires the use of the very biopathogens we seek to defeat. There have been many mishaps in the handling of those pathogens, which raises the frightening prospect that the research may be as (or more) dangerous than the potential bioterrorist acts themselves. Indeed, the very Anthrax attack that motivated increased research now seems likely to have been the caused by research being conducted in the United States on Anthrax. Leaving aside which researcher evaded security measures of the United States Army at its Ft. Detrick laboratory facility, the forensic evidence appears very strong that an insider accessed Anthrax at that facility to perpetrate the 2001 attacks.
It is the thesis of this testimony, that the Nation can upgrade security measures at those biosafety level (BSL) laboratories that handle the most dangerous pathogens (BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs), so that federal government can develop countermeasures to potential terror attacks without having that research in and of itself pose a threat to national security….
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Testimony before the U.S. Senate, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security. 111th Congress, 1st Session (2009).