When it comes to observing US and international laws, treaties and norms, the Bush administration is a serial offender. Since 2001, it's:
In November 2001, Michel Chossudovsky used this title for his Global Research.ca article. It was when "an impressive military arsenal of aircraft carriers and gun-boats" was building up in the Persian Gulf in preparation for "a major bombing operation....against Iraq" at a future designated time.
Back home, the administration used the 2001 anthrax attacks as "justification for extending the 'campaign against international terrorism' to Iraq....Washington singled out Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Syria and Libya of violating the international treaty banning weapons of germ warfare."
At the same time, ample evidence "confirms that the US has built an extensive arsenal of biological weapons (in blatant violation) of international laws and covenants." It was enlarged in the 1980s and 1990s but significantly expanded under George Bush on the pretext of being strictly "defensive" and to "curb the use of germ warfare by 'rogue states.' "
On October 29, 2002, the London Guardian reported that "Respected scientists on both sides of the Atlantic warned that the US is (illegally) developing a new generation of weapons that undermine and possibly violate international treaties on biological and chemical warfare" - ironically at the same time it accused Iraq of these same type violations.
University of Bradford international security professor Malcolm Dando and University of California microbiology lecturer Mark Wheelis accused the Bush administration of "encouraging a breakdown in arms control" treaties by secretly conducting these programs. Dando said they include:
In February 2008, the Sunshine Project suspended operations, but its website is still accessible. It was an NGO dedicated to banning and "avert(ing) the dangers of" bioweapons. In 2001, it accused the Bush administration of advancing "a plan to undermine international controls on biological weapons."
On May 8, 2002, it issued a press release titled "US Armed Forces Push for Offensive Biological Weapons Development - genetically engineered microbes that attack items such as fuel, plastics and asphalt" in violation of international law. The proposals date from 1997 and involve the (Washington, DC) Naval Research Laboratory and the (Brooks Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas) Armstrong Laboratory. They come at a time when the US rejected "legally-binding" UN inspections of "suspected" facilities producing weapons "explicitly for offense."
Additional documents have been suppressed and those known "are probably only the tip of the iceberg....The National Academies are also concealing related documents. After the Sunshine Project requested copies....on March 12, 2002, (they) placed a 'security hold' on the public file" without explanation. "The research proposed by the Air Force and Navy raises serious legal questions. Under the (1989) US Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act, development of biological weapons, including those that attack materials, is subject to federal criminal and civil penalties." It also prohibits development, acquisition and stockpiling of agents intended as bioweapons.
On May 21, 2004, AP reported that arms control advocates warned the Bush administration that "proposed research for a new (Fort Detrick) Homeland Security center may violate an international ban on biological weapons and encourage other countries to follow." Experts said proposals for the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) flout bioweapons prohibitions by crossing the line between "defensive" research and banned weapons development.
On July 31, 2007 the London Guardian reported that the US is "Building (a) Treaty-Breaching Germ War Defence Centre" near Washington, DC" - NBACC. It's to be completed in 2008 and will be a "vast germ warfare laboratory intended to help protect the US against an attack with biological weapons, but critics say the laboratory's work will violate international law and its extreme secrecy will exacerbate a biological arms race (by) accelerat(ing) work on similar facilities around the world."
It will house "heavily guarded and hermetically sealed chambers....to produce and stockpile the world's most lethal bacteria and viruses" - forbidden by the 1972 BWC and 1989 US Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act. The Fort Detrick facility will be used for the new 160,000 square foot lab, and it's authorization coincided with the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people, and along with 9/11, unleashed everything that followed.
DHS calls Fort Detrick the home of "The National Interagency Biodefense Campus." Besides NBACC, other agencies there include:
DHS says USAMRIID "conduct(s) basic and applied research on biological threats (to provide) cutting-edge medical research for the warfighter against biological threats." International law and bioweapons expert, Francis Boyle, disagrees. He says the "program constitutes clear violations of the international (1972 BWC) arms control treaty....ratified by the United States in 1975." He also cites BWC's preamble that states in part:
"....Parties to this Convention (are) Determined to act with a view to achieving effective progress towards general and complete disarmament, including the prohibition and elimination of all types of weapons of mass destruction, and convinced that the prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of chemical and bacteriological (biological) weapons and their elimination, through effective measures, will facilitate the achievement of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control...." The BWC goes on to say that use of these weapons are so "repugnant to the conscience of mankind....that no effort should be spared to minimize this risk."
In Boyle's view, Fort Detrick's NBACC and USAMRIID heighten risks because their work involves: "acquiring, growing, modifying, storing, packaging and dispersing classical, emerging and genetically engineered pathogens." This work is an "unmistakable hallmark of an offensive weapons program" in violation of the 1989 Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act that he authored. Even worse according to Edward Hammond, former director of the Sunshine Project: Recreating the deadly 1918 "Spanish flu" germ that killed an estimated 40 million worldwide (or other dangerous pathogens) increases "the possibility of (a) man-made disaster, either accidental or deliberate....for the entire world." If a single viral particle or cell escapes or is unleashed, an enormous outbreak may result with potentially catastrophic consequences.
The Fort Detrick plan derives from a Bush Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD-10) written April 28, 2004. It states: "Among our many initiatives we are continuing to develop more forward-looking analyses, to include Red Teaming efforts, to understand new scientific trends that may be exploited by our adversaries to develop biological weapons and to help position intelligence collectors ahead of the problem." Boyle calls it "a smoking gun" aimed at the BWC.
"Red Teaming means that we actually have people out there on a Red Team plotting, planning, scheming and conspiring how to use biowarfare" and sooner or later will unleash it using living organisms for military purposes. They may be viral, bacterial, fungal, or other forms that can spread over a vast terrain by wind, water, insect, animal, or humans, according to Jeremy Rifkin, author of "The Biotech Century." Rifkin also asserts it's "impossible to distinguish between defensive and offensive research in the field," and given this administration's penchant for lying and secrecy, other nations will be justifiably suspicious.
The Bush administration proceeded anyway. Since 9/11, it spent or allocated around $50 billion on bioweapons development through 11 federal departments and agencies, including DOD and DHS. For FY 2009, it wants an additional $8.1 billion or $2.5 billion more than in FY2008. It calls its program preventive and defensive and cites Project BioShield as an example. It became law in July 2004 as a 10 year program to develop countermeasures to biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) agents. It was, in fact, a gift to companies like Gilead Sciences, the company Donald Rumsfeld led as chairman from 1997 to 2001 (and remains a major shareholder) until he left to become George Bush's Defense Secretary.
It would have also required every American to be vaccinated under the Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2005. It passed the Senate but not the House and would have, under a public emergency, allowed experimental or approved drugs to be used with insufficient knowledge of their safety - in violation of the Nuremburg Code on medical experimentation. It also would have immunized companies from liability and denied those harmed the right to sue.
According to the Sunshine Project, "scores of US universities and biotechnology companies (since 2001) have benefitted handsomely from billions of dollars in 'biodefense' cash. Across the country, 'biodefense' labs are sprouting up like weeds. The unrelenting spigot of federal money (has) thousands of scientists and technicians" doing bioweapons research on some of the deadliest pathogens. But the problem is much greater than that:
The Sunshine Project believes about 400 private bioweapons labs now operate around the country with no public disclosure of their activities - and plenty of reasons to worry Francis Boyle that the Bush administration is up to mischief. It "sabotaged the Verification Protocol for the BWC (and) fully intend(s) to (engage in) research, development and testing of illegal and criminal offensive biowarfare programs." That prospect should frighten everyone.
Reporter Sherwood Ross for sure. He calls the administration's project "the costliest, most grandiose research scheme ever attempted (with) germ warfare capability....going forward under President Bush and in defiance of" US and international laws. Far worse, where once "germ warfare was an isolated happenstance, (today's efforts elevate it) to an instrument of (deadly and loathsome) policy.
On February 21, 2008, the Sidney Morning Herald reported that the Bush administration rejected claims made by Indonesian Health Minister, Siti Fadilah Supari, in her book titled: "It Is Time for the World to Change! God's Hand Behind Bird Flu Virus." She questions whether the US is using bird flu samples collected from developing nations to develop biological weapons, not new vaccines as claimed.
On July 20, 2008, the Jakarta Post reported: "If there were a "National Darling Award" contest....Supari would probably win it. (Her) supporters praise her as a great third world heroine who dares challenge the global structure of injustice and inequality perpetrated by powerful states (like the US) and networks of international institutions. Most of the praise is based on opinions" from her new book mentioned above.
She claims the US is transferring virus samples to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It's one of two US nuclear weapons labs that will operate new biological research facilities capable of researching and developing dangerous pathogens in violation of the BWC and US Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989. California-based Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is the other one. On January 25, it began operating a new Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) lab. In August, Los Alamos is scheduled to complete a federally mandated environmental study for a similar lab to begin operations shortly thereafter. Given the Bush administration's penchant for secrecy, Supari's accusations may be justified.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) establishes biosafety classifications. BLS-4 ones, like for Ebola, are the most dangerous, in part, because no known cures exist. Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore currently operate BLS-2 labs. They'll now have BLS-3 ones to study infectious agents able to cause serious or fatal illnesses if inhaled. But there's no way to know if both labs, Fort Detrick, others like the former Edgewood Arsenal (now the Edgewood Area at the Aberdeen Proving Ground), Oak Ridge Ridge National Laboratory, and still more we don't know about will secretly research any type pathogens, including the most dangerous ones, for any purpose - offense or defense.
What is known is that government labs will study pathogens posing serious public health and safety threats. Ones like anthrax, botulism, brucellosis, plague, Rickettsia, tularemia, Avian influenza, H5N1 (the recent strain reported and called the most dangerous), and valley fever plus whatever others are planned but kept secret.
Most important is this. These labs conduct weapons research, so they'll likely focus on bioweapons and not follow BWC "prophylactic, protective, or other peaceful purposes" guidelines. For example, vaccines and potential biological weapons defenses may, in fact, be for offense. Distinguishing between the two is impossible so other nations and figures like Supari are suspicious.
They're not comforted by Lawrence Livermore's Lynda Seaver. On February 12, she told Arms Control Today that the US is "a signatory to the Biowarfare Convention and does not conduct bioweapons research." She also said most work there will be unclassified. On February 15, however, a CDC spokesperson suggested otherwise and informed Arms Control Today that Lawrence Livermore security restrictions are tight as they are at Los Alamos, Fort Detrick and other US weapons research facilities. They bar transparency and place strict limits on sharing select agents research to prevent other nations from knowing it exists or its purpose.
Further, later this year DHS will complete construction of the new Fort Detrick lab (NBACC), and a new $500 million animal research facility is planned. Both will have BLS-3 and 4 capabilities. They'll work on the most dangerous known pathogens and conduct controversial type threat assessment research - to develop and produce new biological weapons and develop defenses against them. Once again, differentiating between offense and defense is impossible, and given their penchant for deception and secrecy, no one takes Bush administration officials at their word nor should they.
Boyle drafted the 1989 Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act and covers it in his 2006 book. It's now codified in Title 18 of the US Code, sections 175 - 178 and was the implementing legislation for the landmark 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).
MIT molecular biology professor Jonathan King wrote this about the book in its forward:
It "outlines how and why the United States government initiated, sustained and then dramatically expanded an illegal biological arms buildup....Boyle reveals how the new (multi-) billion-dollar US Chemical and Biological Defense Program has been reoriented (endorsing "first strike" CBW use in war) to accord with the Neo-Conservative pre-emptive strike agenda - this time by (illegal) biological and chemical warfare." This "represent(s) a significant emerging danger to our population (and) threaten(s) international relations among nations." These programs "are always called defensive (but) with biological weapons, defensive and offensive programs overlap almost completely."
"Boyle (also) sheds new light on the motives for the (2001) anthrax attacks, the media black hole of silence (about them), and why the FBI may never apprehended the perpetrators of this seminal crime of the 21st century." They killed five people, injured 17 others, and temporarily shut down Congress, the Supreme Court, and other federal operations. Army scientist Dr. Steven Hatfill was unfairly implicated as a "person of interest" but was never charged. He sued the Justice Department and in June was awarded $2.8 million and a $150,000 annuity for violating his privacy, leaking false and inflammatory information, costing him his job and reputation, and blasting his name all over the media for days. It was the beginning of the frightening events that followed.
Boyle is currently a leading proponent of an effort to impeach George Bush, Dick Cheney and other high-level administration figures for their crimes of war, against humanity and other grievous violations of domestic and international law. In his "Biowarfare and Terrorism," he sounds an alarm about the administration's bioweapons program and what it means for humanity. He fears "a catastrophic biowarfare or bioterrorist incident or accident (is) a statistical certainty." It highlights enormous new risks plus other frightening ones like the possibility of nuclear war and catastrophic fallout from it. That, permanent wars, a potential Andromeda Strain, police state justice, and destroying the republic are but five among other threats since the advent of George Bush and his roguish team.
In "Biowarfare and Terrorism," Boyle addresses the bioweapons threat as an expert on the subject and gives readers an historical perspective. He asserts that the US government dramatically expanded an illegal biological arms development, production, and buildup that endangers all humanity with its potential. It's part of an extremist agenda for unchallengeable power and right to unleash "proactive" wars with the most aggressive weapons in its arsensal - nuclear, chemical, biological, others, space-based ones, and new ones in development.
Since WW II, America has actively developed, tested, and used terror weapons, including biological ones. Even after Nixon ended the nation's biowarfare programs, they never stopped. The CIA remained active through a loophole in the law, then the Reagan administration reactivated what Nixon slowed down. It acted much like the current regime with many of the same officials espousing similar extremist views - that America must exploit its technological superiority and not let laws, norms, or the greater good deter them.
The Bush administration raised the stakes and threatens all humanity. Boyle believes it used 9/11 and the anthrax attacks to stampede Congress and the public into aggressive wars and a menu of repressive laws. He also thinks the FBI knows who's behind the anthrax attacks: criminal US government elements planning a police state and another frightening enterprise - to fight and win a future biowar. A possible nuclear one as well. Boyle sounds the alarm about what may lie ahead and its potential consequences.
In October 2003, the National Academy of Sciences did as well. It warned about the "misuse of tools, technology, or knowledge base of (bioweapons) research for offensive military or terrorist purposes." That's the present risk. It makes everyone unwitting subjects of a recklessly endangering experiment.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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