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U.S. Army To Ramp Up Anthrax Purchasing 436

Posted by Zonk
from the i-prefer-books-on-my-birthday dept.
An anonymous reader writes "New Scientist reports that the U.S. Army wants to purchase a large supply of an anthrax strain." From the article: "A series of contracts have been uncovered that relate to the US army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. They ask companies to tender for the production of bulk quantities of a non-virulent strain of anthrax, and for equipment to produce significant volumes of other biological agents ... Although the Sterne strain is not thought to be harmful to humans and is used for vaccination, the contracts have caused major concern. 'It raises a serious question over how the US is going to demonstrate its compliance with obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention if it brings these tanks online,'"
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U.S. Army To Ramp Up Anthrax Purchasing

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  • Yep (Score:5, Funny)

    by krist0 (313699) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @05:48AM (#13643453) Homepage Journal
    how did the US know Saddam had those WMDs?

    They have the receipt
    • Re:Yep (Score:5, Funny)

      by adolfojp (730818) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @06:07AM (#13643508)
      You mean like these? ;-) http://www.whitehouse.org/news/2003/061303.asp [whitehouse.org]
  • BTWC site (Score:5, Informative)

    by HasBean (526982) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @05:49AM (#13643455)
    FYI: the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention has a website [opbw.org].
  • Fearmongering? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aoreias (721149) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @05:52AM (#13643465)
    The whole argument just smacks of fearmongering, and throws the word anthrax around as much as possible. They're not creating a biological weapons lab, just procuring enough to probably use for threat assessment of biological weapon dispersion. This is something I'd actually expect a sane government to do, and not be surprised about.

    It's not going to be used for weaponry, and the US has enough nuclear firepower to not need biological weaponry, which are much more unpredictable in effect, and less reliable.

    Bad journalism, coming straight from NewScientist.

    • by Knome_fan (898727)
      "The whole argument just smacks of fearmongering, and throws the word anthrax around as much as possible."

      As this is about anthrax, I have a hard time seeing how they could have avoided using this word.

      "They're not creating a biological weapons lab, just procuring enough to probably use for threat assessment of biological weapon dispersion."

      First off, nobody claimed they wanted to build biological weapons with this stuff, so your whole point simply amounts to a strawman arument.
      Second, it is amazing that yo
      • Re:No! (Score:2, Insightful)

        by h4rm0ny (722443)

        This isn't so much a problem because people think the US will do this, but because the US has signed international treaties that might be in conflict with what the US military is doing.

        I don't disagree with your general point, but the above sentence stood out. I think most citizens of the US think the rest of the World sees them the same way that they see themselves, but this isn't the case. Much of the World [i]does[/i] think the US is capable of deploying biological weapons. They see a nation that has
        • They see a nation that has previously sold chemical weapons to others to use,

          Cite?

          Precursors and dual-use technology are not the same thing as chemical weapons. The same thing applies to bacterial cultures and biological weapons.

          • hey see a nation that has previously sold chemical weapons to others to use,

            Cite?

            Precursors and dual-use technology are not the same thing as chemical weapons. The same thing applies to bacterial cultures and biological weapons.

            USA sold chemical/bacteriological weapons and technology to Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war. You might have noticed that such weapons was used, including on Iraqi civil population by Saddam himself.

            Go search http://www.zmag.org/ [zmag.org] for articles about this.

          • Precursors and dual-use technology are not the same thing as chemical weapons.

            Yeah sure. And giving homicidal maniacs detonators, fuses, C4 and assembly instructions is not the same as giving them bombs.

            Weasel.
        • Re:No! (Score:2, Informative)

          by bondsbw (888959)
          They see a nation that has previously sold chemical weapons to others to use, that has previously dropped not one but two nuclear bombs on concentrated population centres and sees none of the idealism of the invasion of Iraq that the US populace has been sold (it's about "freedom and democracy"), but only the US claiming the oil supply for themselves.

          I love the stupidity of the argument that the US is just in it for the oil. Not saying you claimed the argument, but you're right, most of the world and h
          • Re:No! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@hotmail.cOPENBSDom minus bsd> on Sunday September 25, 2005 @08:27AM (#13643856) Journal
            This is very inconsistent with the claim, "we went in it for the oil."

            It's entirely consistent. The people behind the war didn't start it to reduce fuel costs for ordinary Americans. They started it to control the production of oil in order to increase their own wealth.

            It's about oil producers. They don't give a rats arse about oil consumers. Look at the price gouging that's happening right now.
          • Re:No! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by h4rm0ny (722443) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @09:27AM (#13644140) Journal

            Gas prices have more than doubled since the US declared an end to major conflict in Iraq, mirroring trends in the world economy. This is very inconsistent with the claim, "we went in it for the oil."

            You're right to note that I wasn't arguing that the US went in for oil, but that the world percieves it that way. I've already picked up one Troll mod, but I'm glad someone read my post correctly.

            However, I don't think what I've quoted above is evidence that the US didn't go in for the sake of oil. Firstly, lets agree that the US has seized control of the oil. The first things the US army did when ground troops went in was to secure the oil facilities. Likewise, major US oil companies are setting up in Iraq and there is a system of reparations in place under which Iraq must pay for damages caused ("you made us invade, now compensate us!"). Naturally Iraq will be paying this in oil. The figures are in the hundreds of billions of dollars worth.

            It's also worth considering for whose benefit the US seized the oil. Not primarily for the US public, but for the corporations. It's hard to deny that US oil companies have made a killing out of this. It's also worth trying to isolate the factors that affect the oil price. You picked a date just after hurricane Katarina that disrupted major oil production facilities off your East coast and jacked up prices by upto $0.70 - quite a lot of the rise you quote.

            Secondly, there is a strategic aim in capturing Iraq's oil, which is that it denies the same oil to others (China). It also provides a land route for an oil pipeline to the Eastern European oil-fields, allowing the US to get access to that oil supply and deny it to others (China) as well.

            Finally, we shouldn't ascribe competence where it isn't due. A failure does not indicate that no attempt was made. The US is currently up to its neck in shit in Iraq right now and I'd swear this isn't what they intended to happen. Nevertheless, the clearest motivation for the US invasion was oil, with sending a warning to the muslim world and distracting people at home from domestic problems tied for second place.

            IMHO, naturally.
    • just procuring enough to probably use for threat assessment of biological weapon dispersion.

      I found this a little hard to believe - surely something more...inert then anthrax would be better to test dispersal with? Even if this particular strain is not harmful to humans, I can't imagine the USA wants to threaten its own cattle economy? [cattletoday.info]

      It's not going to be used for weaponry, and the US has enough nuclear firepower to not need biological weaponry, which are much more unpredictable in effect, and less reliabl
    • Re:Fearmongering? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by n54 (807502) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @06:42AM (#13643601) Homepage Journal

      You're spot on. The NewScientist angle is no surprise really, at least not to me and I've been reading NewScientist on and off for years - they often pay lip-service to the less rational segments of society/university culture in Britain to boost their circulation.

      What else can one call a "news report" that says:
      "Although the Sterne strain is not thought to be harmful to humans and is used for vaccination"
      but still avoids mentioning the fact that anthrax has to be militarized to be classified as a biological weapon and then goes on to cry wolf even though it should be clearly selfcontradictionary to even a casual reader? They're obviously playing on the fact that most of their readers don't have a clue about anthrax as naturally occuring in the soil (and who in their right mind would classify the soil itself as a biological weapon? Doing so would be as bizarre as the "news"...). Or maybe they're betting on most of those readers willfully ignoring this if they are aware of it in order to revel in their already firmly established selfgratifying world-view.

      Sunshine Project http://www.sunshine-project.org/ [sunshine-project.org] is just another typical activist organisation and not someone exactly brimming with scientific credibility (they're an NGO who find scientists that support them just like any other halfassed activist group like Greenpeace).

      I bet 95% of all slashdotters will gobble this "news" up without much further thought (lest this post prevents that).

      Not that NewScientist is a real scientific journal, it's just a popular science rag, but this is the same reasons society needs something better to replace the often ambiguous claims to being "a peer-reviewed journal/publication" or in general those words that have sadly lost any meaning beyond their buzzword value like "integrity" and "independent".

      No matter the kind or size of media we need to know who those "peers" are (and not just the final link but all the way into the news source) and how and what they were thinking to make any such system have any real credibility (no more hiding behind anonymous facades or dubious groups). In short: we need truly responsible transparent journalism to replace what has become a putrid wound festering with personal political bias, plain corruption and lack of understanding and knowledge be it scientific or otherwise. Otherwise the noise-to-signal ratio will simply always remain so high as to make it all irrelevant to any intelligent reader.

    • "The whole argument just smacks of fearmongering, and throws the word anthrax around as much as possible."

      Well, y'know, the article's about anthrax. And nobody forced the US government to buy it. And even if they're only using it for testing decontimination procedures, why would anthrax be better than any other similar (but not so politically insensitive) organism?

      "They're not creating a biological weapons lab, just procuring enough to probably use for threat assessment of biological weapon dispersion. Th
    • The whole argument just smacks of fearmongering, and throws the word anthrax around as much as possible. They're not creating a biological weapons lab, just procuring enough to probably use for threat assessment of biological weapon dispersion. This is something I'd actually expect a sane government to do, and not be surprised about.

      If there is anyone here that does not trust the Bush administration, it's me, and even I agree with this statement.

      The main reason I'm not all that worried about the US develo

  • Meh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by adolfojp (730818)
    As always, who can police the police.
  • Makes sense. (Score:2, Redundant)

    by tpgp (48001)
    After all - the army lost a lot of anthrax [washingtonpost.com] four years ago. [fbi.gov]

    Gotta replace it - never know when it'll come in handy!
  • by core (3330) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @06:03AM (#13643498) Homepage
    I guess, while non-lethal, it might keep the immune system of 'insurgents' busy.. Ever tried to operate a rocket launcher shortly after getting vaccinated?

    --
    Smash hit ball matching game for mac & pc: Atlantis
    http://www.funpause.com/ [funpause.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Iraq, North Korea, Iran, etc... all of them are demonised for even thinking about developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. There's outrage if they hint that it's okay to have them.

    On the other hand, the USA, which is the only country to ever use nuclear bombs against another country (civilians, no less), who has invaded two countries in the past few years, who is the only western nation to not ratify the treaty that agrees not to send kids into battle, who don't believe their prisoners of w

    • Not that I disagree with you on being critical about the US, but:

      "Iraq, North Korea, Iran, etc... all of them are demonised for even thinking about developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. There's outrage if they hint that it's okay to have them."

      And it's good that there is outrage and there should be outrage. Maybe I misunderand you, but are you trying to imply that because the US might to bad things it would only be fair if those states you mentioned were also allowed to do bad things? Serious
      • by chefren (17219) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @07:15AM (#13643668)
        The logic is the reverse: If its NOT ok for these other nations, why is it ok for the US?
  • Looks legit to me. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chris_sawtell (10326) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @06:29AM (#13643569) Journal
    They could just want all that anthrax strain, which is used for vaccinations, to do just that. Vaccinate all the armed forces people first and then the whole of the US population. It is realistically possible that for just once this is on the straight. Now, as my previous postings show, I'm not Uncle Sam's lover, but don't ascribe to malice ...
  • Think vaccine (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jeffs72 (711141) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @06:34AM (#13643577) Journal
    It's a violation of the USA's own weapons policy to mass produce, or use in the field of war under any circumstances, biological agents. As a retired NBC weapons/decon grunt, I can tell you that you'd have rank and file desertions if a unit was ordered to deploy a bioweapon. Indoctrination at the private level and above preaches against the use of biological agents over and over.

    What the DoD is doing here is making some anthrax vaccine, because we're out. We used a lot of it with our second Iraq deployment, and the fear is very real that someone will use an anthrax weapon in a terrorist attack. The army wants to get some vaccine, and start making their own so they aren't reliant on outside contractors to produce it. It's always been a weak point in our policy I think to rely upon civilan companies to produce vaccines for biological agents (and checmical for that matter).

    A crop duster full of anthrax would cause some serious mayhem in the US, or anywhere else for that matter, think about it.

    • I don't even have to read the article to see the summary stating its for vaccines. However, there is your response, though unlike the many here jumping to conclusions in ignorance of the goal of vaccines, you response also contains error, perhaps more serious.

      First off, if your first sentence was true, then why the hell did the US have and probably still does (regardless of the claims of having distroyed them) stock piles of anthrax not only in the US but abroad, if it wasn't intended for use in the field?
      • by aaronl (43811)
        "What the World Wants" is irrelevant. That is exactly what you're non-sensically bitching about. The US has authority over only the US, and the government trying to extend itself over othre countries is a massive problem. So you're saying that the US should extend itself over other countries, but just with money instead of military force? No, the US cannot, and should not, solve the world's problems. The US shouldn't be a member of *any* organization that has any authority over their sovereignity; it w
  • Who cares about this anthrax that isn't supposed to be harmful with all of the DU that is.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depleted_uranium_ammu nition [wikipedia.org]
  • typical /. article (Score:2, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550)
    FUD
    FUD
    FUD
    FUD
    anthrax!
    FUD
    FUD
    USA sucks
    FUD

    Let's see if we can explain this.
    The US is concerned about terrorists or rogue states using bioweapons.
    How do you work on any defenses against bioweapons? You need to develop systems, vaccines, and procedures. Would you develop these entirely by theorizing? To some degree, that's inevitable. But whatever you CAN test, say against a NON LETHAL VARIANT OF THE BIOWEAPON YOU FEAR for example, you probably would.

    Nah, that's too reasonable and doesn't engender enough irra
  • While I'll be the first to admit that the US operates covertly no too many situations to count, or at least does not publically announce everything, it is always difficult to have a big-picture understanding of something if you are either not looking for the truth (but only what you want to see) or you do not have access to the other pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to understand what the real picture is.

    Within the last year, the Army has reinstated [military.com] the Anthrax [dcmilitary.com] inoculation [army.mil] policy and has re-started their ef

  • I'm afraid (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Elixon (832904)
    I don't belive Americans. They scared me very often in recent years. They have full mouth of words like "peace" and see what they do... I think that they have the potential to be very dangerous for the rest of the world. American paranoia plus strong military potential is a real threat. I hope that there are still wise people in the USA who have influence on their "global policy"... I hope for the good of all of us.
  • US Criticism (Score:3, Informative)

    by MrSteveSD (801820) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @11:59AM (#13644988)
    I'm sick and tired of people criticising the US. I'm mean, what have they done that's so bad?

    [Heckler]- Well they toppled democracies in Chile, Iran, Guatemala, and other countries.

    Ok, but apart from those misunderstandings.

    [Heckler]- Well apart from toppling democracies they have supported and continue to support brutal dictatorships around the world. These include Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Saudi Arabia, Suharto in Indonesia (hundreds of thousands were Slaughtered). Most recently of course is Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan who likes to have demonstrators mown down with machine guns.

    Yeah, ok maybe there were some mistakes made. But apart from toppling democracies and supporting dictatorships, what has the US ever done? I mean, what about the Kurds, we've really helped them out haven't we?

    [Heckler] - Yes they're in a strong position now. Let's just hope they forget US support for Saddam while he was gassing them. And lets hope they never realise that the US massively stepped up military aid to Turkey and looked the other way while they were bombing the Kurds.

    Ok, but apart from toppling democracies, supporting dictatorships and screwing the Kurds, what is the US so guilty of? [Heckler] - Well how about the support for terrorist acts against Cuba, and other countries? For example, Luis Posada Carriles, a CIA agent was behind the bombing of a Cuban Airliner in 1976. The US refused to extradite him.Then there was the Cuban hotel bombings in 1997, also involving Luis Posada Carriles. And what about those poor Cuban pigs? CIA-Backed anti-Castro terrorists introduced swine fever into Cuba in 1971. This economic sabotage resulted in the slaughter of 500,000 pigs.

    Hold on. Cuba is a special situation. It's a dictatorship, so we're just trying to topple it and bring freedom to the Cubans.

    [Heckler] - Ok, forget Cuba. We must not forget the 1985 Beirut car bombing. That was a CIA-backed attempt to assassinate Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah. They missed him but killed 85 civilians. Lets also not forget the support for terrorism in Nicaragua. It got so intense that the World Court made a decision in 1986 against the US, ordering it to terminate the unlawful use of force and illegal economic warfare.

    Alright, alright, but apart from toppling democracies, supporting dictatorships, screwing the Kurds and supporting terrorism, what has the US ever done?

    [Heckler] - Well lets not forget about the vast numbers of civilians killed by US military action. A well-researched article in the Lancet concluded that around 100,000 Iraqis have died since the war started, mostly as a result of "coalition" air strikes. Lets also not forget the several million civilians bombed to death in Vietnam. They weren't all bombed of course, we mustn't forget the My Lai massacre [wikipedia.org].

    We also must not forget the thousands killed during the invasion of Panama in 1989, who's purpose was to removed another CIA-backed dictator, Manuel Noriega.


    Okay okay. We've made some past mistakes. But now we're setting it all right in Iraq.

    Yes. That's exactly what I thought when I watched footage [indymedia.org.uk] of a US helicopter slice several farmers apart while one of the pilots says "He's wounded. Hit him!". Or the F16 footage [fromtheinside.us] showing a crowd of civilians (not fighters as has been claimed) being bombed while the pilot says "Aw, dude!".

    We'll you obviously just hate freedom!
  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @12:16PM (#13645090)
    No doubt.

That does not compute.

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