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TBR News August 22, 2019

Aug 22 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. August 22, 2019:

“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.

When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.

I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.

He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.

He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.

His latest business is to re-institute a universal draft in America.

He wants to do this to remove tens of thousands of unemployed young Americans from the streets so they won’t come together and fight him.

Commentary for August 22:”I see the Fat Woman, recently Trump’s press mouthpiece, is going to work for Fox. How surprising! Trump, Chosen by God (or Zuckerberg) to Make America Small Again, Donald is becoming increasingly weird and eventually he wants to be the first American king. That George III beat him to it is way beyond him. If you think I am joking, I am not. He hints at his elevation all over the White House and rumors spread. He wants to buy Greenland to keep the Chinese from buying their minerals and when the Danes gave him the finger, he screamed with rage and Twittered all kinds of disconnected garbage. That most Europeans and Chinese consider him crazier than Boris Johnson escapes him and he is living in a fuzzy dream of trumpets and glory. If he got defeated in the next election, trust me, he would barricade himself in his rebuilt bathroom and call on the pointy-heads with AK47s and long ratty beards to rescue him and take him to the Washington Cathedral where his army of loonies can crown him. Nero got this way before people got tired of him and drove him to suicide.”

 

The Table of Content

  • Urgent Smallpox Warning!-S. Military Digest
  • Smallpox and Bioterrorism – Stanford University
  • ‘I am the Chosen One’: with boasts and insults, Trump sets new benchmark for incoherence –The Guardian
  • Here’s why Trump wants to buy Greenland- CNBC
  • Art of the steal? Trump’s ‘bid’ for Greenland screams American exceptionalism & foul play- RT
  • Another Tiananmen Square in Hong Kong?-DW
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons

 

 

Urgent Smallpox Warning!

Note: This is an official American military digest of a 200+ page study. Many tables, graphs, thirty pages of technical footnotes, bibliographies etc. and support addendum have been deleted for ease of posting. Nothing else has been removed.

A REVIEW OF THE USE OF SMALLPOX AS BIO-TERRORISM

(Issuing Agency and Classification level information are redacted)

May 19, 2019

Given recent disclosures from both domestic and foreign intelligence sources this paper is presented to give a cogent overview of the highly probable domestic (inside the continental United States) use of smallpox as an instrument of terror.

The  President of the United States has ordered all American military personnel to be vaccinated against smallpox and has implemented a voluntary program for vaccinating emergency medical personnel who would likely be the first people to respond in case of a bioterrorist attack. The primary purpose for military vaccination is not because of battlefield concerns of a bioterror outgbrweak but because a large number of military and medical personnel will be required to establish a total quarantine throughout the United States in areas that have ongoing infections or, in the opinion of the Government, are liable to such infections. Currently, the shortage of vaccine has been the primaty reason why the selected members of the American military system have not yet been vaccinated.

The Smallpox Disease

The Disease. An Overview

Smallpox (Variola or Variola vera)

The name ‘smallpox’ is derived from the Latin word for “spotted” and refers to the raised bumps that appear on the face and body of an infected person.

Smallpox is a highly contagious disease unique to humans caused by two virus variants called Variola major and Variola minor. V. major is the more deadly form, with a typical mortality of 20-40 percent of those infected. The other type, V. minor, only kills 1% of its victims. There are two clinical forms of smallpox. Variola major is the severe and most common form of smallpox, with a more extensive rash and higher fever. There are four types of variola major smallpox: ordinary (the most frequent type, accounting for 90% or more of cases); modified (mild and occurring in previously vaccinated persons); flat; and hemorrhagic (both rare and very severe). Historically, variola major has an overall fatality rate of about 30%; however, flat and hemorrhagic smallpox usually are fatal. Variola minor is a less common presentation of smallpox, and a much less severe disease, with death rates historically of 1% or less.

Many survivors are left blind in one or both eyes from corneal ulceration, and persistent skin scarring – pockmarks – is nearly universal. Smallpox was responsible for an estimated 300-500 million deaths in the 20th century. In 1967, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 15 million people contracted the disease and that two million died in that year. There is no specific treatment for smallpox disease, and the only prevention is vaccination.  Except for laboratory stockpiles, the variola virus has been eliminated. The last case of smallpox in the United States was in 1949. The last naturally occurring case in the world was in Somalia in 1977.

The seasonal occurrence of smallpox was similar to that of chickenpox and measles—its incidence was highest during winter and early spring. This pattern was consonant with the observation that the duration of survival of orthopoxviruses in the aerosolized form was inversely proportional to both temperature and humidity. Likewise, when imported cases occurred in Europe, large outbreaks sometimes developed during the winter months, rarely during the summer.

The patient was most infectious from onset of rash through the first 7 to 10 days of rash. As scabs formed, infectivity waned rapidly. Although the scabs contained large amounts of viable virus, epidemiological and laboratory studies indicate that they were not especially infectious, presumably because the virions were bound tightly in the fibrin matrix.

The lesions that first appear in the mouth and pharynx ulcerate quickly because of the absence of a stratum corneum, releasing large amounts of virus into the saliva.Virus titers in saliva are highest during the first week of illness, corresponding with the period during which patients are most infectious. Although the virus in some instances can be detected in swabs taken from the oropharynx as many as 5 to 6 days before the rash develops, transmission does not occur during this period.

Except for the lesions in the skin and mucous membranes and reticulum cell hyperplasia, other organs are seldom involved. Secondary bacterial infection is not common, and death, which usually occurs during the second week of illness, most likely results from the toxemia associated with circulating immune complexes and soluble variola antigens. Encephalitis sometimes ensues that is indistinguishable from the acute perivascular demyelination observed as a complication of infection due to vaccinia, measles, or varicella.

Neutralizing antibodies can be detected by the sixth day of rash and remain at high titers for many years. Hemagglutinin-inhibiting antibodies can be detected on about the sixth day of rash, or about 21 days after infection, and complement-fixing antibodies appear approximately 2 days later. Within 5 years, hemagglutinin-inhibiting antibodies decline to low levels and complement-fixing antibodies rarely persist for longer than 6 months.

Although at least 90% of smallpox cases are clinically characteristic and readily diagnosed in endemic areas, other forms of smallpox are difficult to recognize—hemorrhagic and malignant. Hemorrhagic cases are uniformly fatal and occur among all ages and in both sexes, but pregnant women appear to be unusually susceptible. Illness usually begins with a somewhat shorter incubation period and is characterized by a severely prostrating prodromal illness with high fever and head, back, and abdominal pain. Soon thereafter, a dusky erythema develops, followed by petechiae and frank hemorrhages into the skin and mucous membranes. Death usually occurs by the fifth or sixth day after onset of rash.

In the frequently fatal malignant form, the abrupt onset and prostrating constitutional symptoms are similar. The confluent lesions develop slowly, never progressing to the pustular stage but remaining soft, flattened, and velvety to the touch. The skin has the appearance of a fine-grained, reddish-colored crepe rubber, sometimes with hemorrhages. If the patient survives, the lesions gradually disappear without forming scabs or, in severe cases, large amounts of epidermis might peel away.

The illness associated with variola minor is generally less severe, with fewer constitutional symptoms and a more sparse rash. A milder form of disease is also seen among those who have residual immunity from previous vaccination. In partially immune persons, the rash tends to be atypical and more scant and the evolution of the lesions more rapid.

There is little information about how individuals with different types of immune deficiency responded to natural smallpox infection. Smallpox was eradicated before human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was identified and before suitable techniques became available for measuring cell-mediated immunity. However, it is probable that the underlying cause of some cases of malignant and hemorrhagic smallpox resulted from defective immune responses. Vaccination of immune-deficient persons sometimes resulted in a continually spreading primary lesion, persistent viremia, and secondary viral infection of many organs. One such case is documented to have occurred in a vaccinated soldier who had HIV infection.

Although smallpox has been officially eradicated, there is heightened concern that the variola virus might be used as an agent of bioterrorism. After successful vaccination campaigns, the WHO in 1980 declared the eradication of smallpox, though cultures of the virus are kept by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States. Smallpox vaccination was discontinued in most countries in the 1970s as the risks of vaccination include death (~1 per million), among other serious side effects.

After the 2001 anthrax attacks took place in the United States, concerns about smallpox have resurfaced as a possible agent for bioterrorism. As a result, there has been increased concern about the availability of vaccine stocks

In 1980, the World Health Assembly recommended that all countries cease vaccination. A WHO expert committee recommended that all laboratories destroy their stocks of variola virus or transfer them to 1 of 2 WHO reference laboratories—the Institute of Virus Preparations in Moscow, Russia, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Ga. All countries reported compliance.

Diagnosis

The discovery of a single suspected case of smallpox must be treated as an international health emergency and be brought immediately to the attention of national officials through local and state health authorities.

The majority of smallpox cases present with a characteristic rash that is centrifugal in distribution, ie, most dense on the face and extremities. The lesions appear during a 1- to 2-day period and evolve at the same rate. On any given part of the body, they are generally at the same stage of development. In varicella (chickenpox), the disease most frequently confused with smallpox, new lesions appear in crops every few days and lesions at very different stages of maturation (i.e., vesicles, pustules, and scabs) are found in adjacent areas of skin. Varicella lesions are much more superficial and are almost never found on the palms and soles. The distribution of varicella lesions is centripetal, with a greater concentration of lesions on the trunk than on the face and extremities.

The signs and symptoms of both hemorrhagic and malignant smallpox were such that smallpox was seldom suspected until more typical cases were seen and it was recognized that a smallpox outbreak was in progress. Hemorrhagic cases were most often initially identified as meningococcemia or severe acute leukemia. Malignant cases likewise posed diagnostic problems, most often being mistaken for hemorrhagic chickenpox or prompting surgery because of severe abdominal pain.

Laboratory confirmation of the diagnosis in a smallpox outbreak is important. Specimens should be collected by someone who has recently been vaccinated (or is vaccinated that day) and who wears gloves and a mask. To obtain vesicular or pustular fluid, it is often necessary to open lesions with the blunt edge of a scalpel. The fluid can then be harvested on a cotton swab. Scabs can be picked off with forceps. Specimens should be deposited in a vacutainer tube that should be sealed with adhesive tape at the juncture of stopper and tube. This tube, in turn, should be enclosed in a second durable, watertight container. State or local health department laboratories should immediately be contacted regarding the shipping of specimens. Laboratory examination requires high-containment (BL-4) facilities and should be undertaken only in designated laboratories with the appropriate training and equipment. Once it is established that the epidemic is caused by smallpox virus, clinically typical cases would not require further laboratory confirmation.

Smallpox infection can be rapidly confirmed in the laboratory by electron microscopic examination of vesicular or pustular fluid or scabs. Although all orthopoxviruses exhibit identically appearing brick-shaped virions, history taking and clinical picture readily identify cowpox and vaccinia. Although smallpox and monkeypox virions may be indistinguishable, naturally occurring monkeypox is found only in tropical rain forest areas of Africa. Definitive laboratory identification and characterization of the virus involves growth of the virus in cell culture or on chorioallantoic egg membrane and characterization of strains by use of various biologic assays, including polymerase chain reaction techniques and restriction fragment-length polymorphisms. The latter studies can be completed within a few hours.

A clandestine aerosol release of smallpox, even if it infected only 50 to 100 persons to produce the first generation of cases, would rapidly spread in a now highly susceptible population, expanding by a factor of 10 to 20 times or more with each generation of cases. Between the time of an aerosol release of smallpox virus and diagnosis of the first cases, an interval as long as 2 weeks or more is apt to occur because of the average incubation period of 12 to 14 days and the lapse of several additional days before a rash was sufficiently distinct to suggest the diagnosis of smallpox. By that time, there would be no risk of further environmental exposure from the original aerosol release because the virus is fully inactivated within 2 days.

As soon as the diagnosis of smallpox is made, all individuals in whom smallpox is suspected should be isolated immediately and all household and other face-to-face contacts should be vaccinated and placed under surveillance. Because the widespread dissemination of smallpox virus by aerosol poses a serious threat in hospitals, patients should be isolated in the home or other non-hospital facility whenever possible. Home care for most patients is a reasonable approach, given the fact that little can be done for a patient other than to offer supportive therapy. In the event of an aerosol release of smallpox and a subsequent outbreak, the rationale for vaccinating patients suspected to have smallpox at this time is to ensure that some with a mistaken diagnosis are not placed at risk of acquiring smallpox. Vaccination administered within the first few days after exposure and perhaps as late as 4 days may prevent or significantly ameliorate subsequent illness. An emergency vaccination program is also indicated that would include all health care workers at clinics or hospitals that might receive patients; all other essential disaster response personnel, such as police, firefighters, transit workers, public health staff, and emergency management staff; and mortuary staff who might have to handle bodies. The working group recommends that all such personnel for whom vaccination is not contraindicated should be vaccinated immediately irrespective of prior vaccination status.

Vaccination administered within 4 days of first exposure has been shown to offer some protection against acquiring infection and significant protection against a fatal outcome. Those who have been vaccinated at some time in the past will normally exhibit an accelerated immune response. Thus, it would be prudent, when possible, to assign those who had been previously vaccinated to duties involving close patient contact.

It is important that discretion be used in identifying contacts of patients to ensure, to the extent that is possible, that vaccination and adequate surveillance measures are focused on those at greatest risk. Specifically, it is recommended that contacts be defined as persons who have been in the same household as the infected individual or who have been in face-to-face contact with the patient after the onset of fever. Experience during the smallpox global eradication program showed that patients did not transmit infection until after the prodromal fever had given way to the rash stage of illness.

Isolation of all contacts of exposed patients would be logistically difficult and, in practice, should not be necessary. Because contacts, even if infected, are not contagious until onset of rash, a practical strategy calls for all contacts to have temperatures checked at least once each day, preferably in the evening. Any increase in temperature higher than 38°C (101°F) during the 17-day period following last exposure to the case would suggest the possible development of smallpox and be cause for isolating the patient immediately, preferably at home, until it could be determined clinically and/or by laboratory examination whether the contact had smallpox. All close contacts of the patients should be promptly vaccinated.

Although cooperation by most patients and contacts in observing isolation could be ensured through counseling and persuasion, there may be some for whom forcible quarantine will be required. Some states and cities in the United States, but not all, confer broad discretionary powers on health authorities to ensure the safety of the public’s health and, at one time, this included powers to quarantine. Under epidemic circumstances, this could be an important power to have. Thus, each state and city should review its statutes as part of its preparedness activities.

During the smallpox epidemics in the 1960s and 1970s in Europe, there was considerable public alarm whenever outbreaks occurred and, often, a demand for mass vaccination throughout a very widespread area, even when the vaccination coverage of the population was high. In the United States, where few people now have protective levels of immunity, such levels of concern must be anticipated. However, the US vaccine supply is limited at present; thus, vaccine would have to be carefully conserved and used in conjunction with measures to implement rapid isolation of smallpox patients.

Hospital

In the event of a limited outbreak with few cases, patients should be admitted to the hospital and confined to rooms that are under negative pressure and equipped with high-efficiency particulate air filtration. In larger outbreaks, home isolation and care should be the objective for most patients. However, not all will be able to be so accommodated and, to limit nosocomial infections, authorities should consider the possibility of designating a specific hospital or hospitals for smallpox care. All persons isolated as such and those caring for them should be immediately vaccinated. Employees for whom vaccination is contraindicated should be furloughed.

Standard precautions using gloves, gowns, and masks should be observed. All laundry and waste should be placed in biohazard bags and autoclaved before being laundered or incinerated. A special protocol should be developed for decontaminating rooms after they are vacated by patients

Laboratory examination requires high-containment (BL-4) facilities and should be undertaken only in designated laboratories with the appropriate trained personnel and equipment. Protecting against the explosive spread of virus from the hemorrhagic or malignant case is difficult. Such cases occurring during the course of an outbreak may be detected if staff is alert to the possibility that any severe, acute, prostrating illness must be considered smallpox until proven otherwise.

Patients who die of smallpox should be cremated whenever possible and mortuary workers should be vaccinated

Five groups of persons are ordinarily considered at special risk of smallpox vaccine complications:

(1) persons with eczema or other significant exfoliative skin conditions;

(2) patients with leukemia, lymphoma, or generalized malignancy who are receiving therapy with alkylating agents, antimetabolites, radiation, or large doses of corticosteroids;

(3) patients with HIV infection;

(4) persons with hereditary immune deficiency disorders; and

(5) pregnant women. If persons with contraindications have been in close contact with a smallpox patient or the individual is at risk for occupational reasons, VIG, if available, may be given simultaneously with vaccination in a dose of 0.3 mL/kg of body weight to prevent complications. This does not alter vaccine efficacy. If VIG is not available, vaccine administration may still be warranted, given the far higher risk of an adverse outcome from smallpox infection than from vaccination.

Disease Transmission

Generally, direct and fairly prolonged face-to-face contact, primarily by droplet nuclei or aerosols expelled from the oropharynx of infected persons and by direct contact, is required to spread smallpox from one person to another. Smallpox also can be spread through direct contact with infected bodily fluids or contaminated objects such as bedding or clothing. Rarely, smallpox has been spread by virus carried in the air in enclosed settings such as buildings, buses, and trains. Humans are the only natural hosts of variola. Smallpox is not known to be transmitted by insects or animals. Contaminated clothing or bed linens can also spread the virus. There are no known animal or insect reservoirs or vectors. Natural infection occurs following implantation of the virus on the oropharyngeal or respiratory mucosa.The infectious dose is unknown but is believed to be only a few virions.After the migration of virus to and multiplication in regional lymph nodes, an asymptomatic viremia develops on about the third or fourth day, followed by multiplication of virus in the spleen, bone marrow, and lymph nodes. A secondary viremia begins on about the eighth day and is followed by fever and toxemia. The virus, contained in leukocytes, then localizes in small blood vessels of the dermis and beneath the oral and pharyngeal mucosa and subsequently infects adjacent cells.

At the end of the 12- to 14-day incubation period (range, 7-17 days), the patient typically experiences high fever, malaise, and prostration with headache and backache. Severe abdominal pain and delirium are sometimes present. A maculopapular rash then appears on the mucosa of the mouth and pharynx, face, and forearms, and spreads to the trunk and legs. Within 1 to 2 days, the rash becomes vesicular and, later, pustular. The pustules are characteristically round, tense, and deeply embedded in the dermis; crusts begin to form on about the eighth or ninth day of rash. As the patient recovers, the scabs separate and characteristic pitted scarring gradually develops. The scars are most evident on the face and result from the destruction of sebaceous glands followed by shrinking of granulation tissue and fibrosis.

Historically, the rapidity of smallpox transmission throughout the population was generally slower than for such diseases as measles or chickenpox. Patients spread smallpox primarily to household members and friends; large outbreaks in schools, for example, were uncommon. This finding was accounted for in part by the fact that transmission of smallpox virus did not occur until onset of rash. By then, many patients had been confined to bed because of the high fever and malaise of the prodromal illness. Secondary cases were thus usually restricted to those who came into contact with patients, usually in the household or hospital.

A person with smallpox is sometimes contagious with onset of fever (prodrome phase), but the person becomes most contagious with the onset of rash. At this stage the infected person is usually very sick and not able to move around in the community. The infected person is contagious until the last smallpox scab falls off.

Vaccine

A smallpox outbreak poses difficult public health problems because of the ability of the virus to continue to spread throughout the population unless checked by vaccination and/or isolation of patients and their close contacts.

In the United States, a limited reserve supply of vaccine that was produced by Wyeth Laboratories, Lancaster, Pa, in the 1970s is in storage. This supply was once believed to be sufficient to vaccinate between 6 and 7 million persons. This vaccine, now under the control of the CDC, consists of vaccine virus (New York Board of Health strain) grown on scarified calves. After purification, it was freeze-dried in rubber-stoppered vials that contain sufficient vaccine for at least 50 doses when a bifurcated needle is used. It is stored at -20°C. Although quantities of vaccine have also been retained by a number of other countries, none have reserves large enough to meet more than their own potential emergency needs. WHO has 500,000 doses.

Unfortunately, most of the vaccine stored in the United States that would be available for public vaccination in the event of a BW incident has become totally ineffective due to improper storage methodology.

At the present time, the United States’ national stockpile of smallpox vaccine is inside a walk-in freezer in a warehouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, near the Susquehanna River, at a facility owned by Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories. The vaccine is owned by the federal government and is managed by Wyeth-Ayerst, which is the company that made it, twenty-five to thirty years ago. It is stored in glass vials. The vials contain freeze-dried nuggets of live vaccinia virus. Vaccinia is a mild virus. The vaccine has totally deteriorated. The Food and Drug Administration has put a hold on the smallpox vaccine, and right now no one can use it. The reason for this is that it has been discovered that this ageing vaccine is disintegrating and much of it is no longer effective. High ranking members of the government and many military units ordered vaccinated by order of President Bush in fact do not have any immunity unless they had previous vaccinations.

There are no manufacturers now equipped to produce smallpox vaccine in large quantities. The development and licensure of a tissue cell culture vaccine and the establishment of a new vaccine production facility is estimated to require at least 36 months.  Because of the small amounts of vaccine available, a preventive vaccination program to protect individuals such as emergency and health care personnel is not an option at this time. When additional supplies of vaccine are procured, a decision to undertake preventive vaccination of some portion of the population will have to weigh the relative risk of vaccination complications against the threat of contracting smallpox.

A further deterrent to extensive vaccination is the fact that presently available supplies of vaccinia immune globulin (VIG), also maintained by the CDC, are very limited in quantity. The working group recommends VIG for the treatment of severe cutaneous reactions occurring as a complication of vaccination.Vaccinia immune globulin has also been given along with vaccination to protect those who needed vaccination but who were at risk of experiencing vaccine-related complications. It has been estimated that if 1 million persons were vaccinated, as many as 250 persons would experience adverse reactions of a type that would require administration of VIG .How much VIG would be needed to administer with vaccine to those at risk is unknown.

Smallpox as Bioterrorism Weapon

The deliberate reintroduction of smallpox as an epidemic disease would be an international crime of unprecedented proportions, but it is now regarded as highly probable. Intelligence estimates indicate a 95% chance of a deliberately instigated outbreak of smallpox in the United States within the next calendar year.. An aerosol release of variola virus would disseminate widely, given the considerable stability of the orthopoxviruses in aerosol form and the likelihood that the infectious dose is very small

There is a growing suspicion among experts that the smallpox virus exists unofficially in clandestine biowarfare laboratories in a number of countries around the world. The Central Intelligence Agency has become deeply alarmed about smallpox. Since 2015, a number of leading American biologists and public-health doctors have been given classified national-security briefings on smallpox.

North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan in a test, and the missile fell into the sea. Some knowledgeable observers thought that the missile could have been designed to carry a biologic warhead. If it had carried smallpox and landed in Japan, it could have devastated Japan’s population: Japan has almost no smallpox vaccine on hand and its government seems to have no ability to deal with a biological attack.

The United States government keeps a list of nations and groups that it suspects either have clandestine stocks of smallpox or seem to be trying to buy or steal the virus. The list is classified, and includes China, India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Cuba, and Serbia. The list also includes the terrorist organization of Al Quaida and the Aum Shinrikyo sect of Japan — a quasi-religious group that had Ph.D. biologists as members and a belief that an apocalyptic war will bring them worldwide power. Aum members released nerve gas in the Tokyo subway in 1995, and the group is still active in Japan and in Russia. In any case, the idea that smallpox lives in only two freezers was never anything more than a comfortable fiction. No one knows exactly who has smallpox today, or where they keep the virus, or what they intend to do with it.

Most people today have no immunity to smallpox. The vaccine begins to wear off in many people after ten years. Mass vaccination for smallpox came to a worldwide halt around twenty-five years ago. There is now very little smallpox vaccine on hand in the United States or anywhere else in the world. The World Health Organization once had ten million doses of the vaccine in storage in Geneva, Switzerland, but in 1990 an advisory committee recommended that most of it be destroyed, feeling that smallpox was longer a threat. Nine and a half million doses are assumed to have been cooked in an oven, leaving the W.H.O. with a total supply of half a million doses — one dose of smallpox vaccine for every twelve thousand people on earth. A recent survey by the W.H.O. revealed that there is only one factory in the world that has recently made even a small quantity of the vaccine, and there may be no factory capable of making sizable amounts. The vaccine was discovered in the age of Thomas Jefferson, and making a lot of it would seem simple, but so far the United States government has been unable to get any made at all. Variola virus is now classified as a Biosafety Level 4 hot agent — the most dangerous kind of virus — because it is lethal, airborne, and highly contagious, and is now exotic to the human species, and there is not enough vaccine to stop an outbreak. Experts feel that the appearance of a single case of smallpox anywhere on earth would be a global medical emergency.

If there’s a bioterror event, and someone releases enough smallpox to create a hundred cases – let us say in the Washington D.C. area — it would be a national emergency. The immediate national, and international, demand for vaccine would be beyond all belief. In Yugoslavia in 1972, the outbreak was started by one man, and eighteen million doses of vaccine were needed — one for almost every person in the country.

That first wave after the bioterror event will certainly result in a hundred people infected with smallpox. It takes two weeks after exposure before doctors can diagnose smallpox. Meanwhile, those hundred people will give smallpox to two thousand people. That’s the second wave. Some of those first hundred people will go to other cities — to Washington, to New York, to Chicago and in fact, across the globe. So the second wave will include cases in other American cities, and given the travel patterns, with a certainty in foreign countries. By then, it’ll be too late to treat them, and we’ll lose the second wave. We’ll be well into the third wave — ten to twenty thousand people with smallpox — before we can really start vaccinating people. By then, we’ll begin to pick up so many cases in the Washington area that we won’t be able to track cases, and we’ll just have to vaccinate everybody around Baltimore. At least a hundred million doses of vaccine would be needed in the United States alone to stop a surging outbreak triggered by a hundred initial cases of smallpox from a bioterror event. That much vaccine could be stored in a 25×7 foot building.

Given global air travel patterns it would take about six weeks to create fatal eruptions cases around the world. Dropping an atomic bomb could cause large casualties in a specific area, but the infection of one carrier could cause a global plague of incredible proportions. In the United States alone, it is cautiously estimated that the death toll would easily reach 77,000,000 people with many millions more infected and physically damaged, requiring extensive medical support for a significant period of time.

The principal American biodefense laboratory is the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, or USAMRIID, in Fort Detrick, Maryland — an Army base that nestles against the eastern front of the Appalachian Mountains in the city of Frederick, an hour’s drive northwest of Washington. There is no smallpox at USAMRIID, for only the two W.H.O. repositories are allowed to have it.

Today, smallpox and its protocols could be anywhere in the world. A master seed strain of smallpox could be carried in a person’s pocket.

The Department of Health and Human Services (H.H.S.) has been given the responsibility by the White House for producing a stockpile of smallpox vaccine large enough to protect the American civilian population in case of a bioterror event; originally, the idea was for H.H.S. to consider hiring the military’s contractor, Dynport, to make forty million extra doses, in addition to the three hundred thousand that Dynport was making for the Pentagon. (Any such initiative would require competitive bidding.)

At a series of meetings at H.H.S., a top Dynport executive said that forty million doses could be quite expensive. One scientist asked if a group of knowledgeable people could be drawn together to come up with an estimate of costs. The Dynport man answered, “Yes, we can do a study that will list the questions that need to be asked. It will cost two hundred and forty thousand dollars and will take six weeks.”

Somebody then asked how much it would cost to answer the questions. The Dynport official responded, “That will be a different study. That study will cost two million dollars and will take six months.”

The C.E.O. of Dynport said that the situation is more complicated. The civilian population is very different from the military. There’s an age spread from newborns to the elderly, there’s more compromised immunity, with AIDS, chemotherapy, and organ transplants. And possibly thirty-five per cent of the current American population people have never been vaccinated. This percentage is not reflected in the overall global population which has approximately a 3% overall vaccination history.

Conclusion: There is no effective defense against a global smallpox epidemic other than immediate vaccination. Vaccination is about 97% effective against the contraction of this disease. Unfortunately, much vaccine and the capacity to manufacture it, has greatly diminished and to restart a vaccine program would take so long that the disease would have a catastrophic global effect. It would be very easy for a hostile element to infect a single person without their knowledge and send them into the United States on legitimate business. From this single, unknowing carrier the disease would spread geometrically, not only throughout the United States, where the projected death rate is over 77,000,000 people, but also throughout the world. There have been no realistic estimates of deaths in such crowded locations as Japan, China, India, and Egypt. The projected use of US military units to immediately execute  a national quarantine program would prove ineffectual because of the widespread travel habits of American citizens and the probability that many troops once considered as possessing immunity through vaccination do not possess this immunity due to the deterioratio of stocks of old vaccine. When the public discovers that there is no immunity, no effective treatment and no visible support program, there will very likely be a catastrophic breakdown in domestic confidence followed by the onset of panic and descent into anarchy. The only coherent solution, and this is by no means guaranteed, is to implement an immediate and urgently accelerated vaccine program and to only hope that it will be in place when, and not if, this disease erupts anywhere in the world.

 

Smallpox and Bioterrorism 

by Toyin Ajayi

Stanford Journal of International Relations

Smallpox is the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. It has killed more people throughout history than any other infectious disease, including the bubonic plague. The U.S. population grows more vulnerable to the potential ravages of its effects as time goes by. Yet our most crucial defense against bioterrorism – the public health systemæ has been systematically eroded by decades of under-funding and poor management. In light of the events of September 11, we can be certain that thousands of lives depend on the speed and efficiency with which we address these shortcomings.

Smallpox in History

Smallpox is the most vicious infectious disease to have ever afflicted mankind. For at least three millennia, smallpox infection ravaged human populations, sparing few countries. The mummy of Ramses V (1160 B.C.) exhibits a rash suggestive of smallpox, and Hindu texts from as early as 1000 B.C. describe ointments for its treatment.1 As populations grew and migrated, the disease spread across the globe, killing millions of people and shaping the course of history. In Europe, smallpox killed five reigning monarchs in the eighteenth century alone, and was responsible for the deaths of 200,000 to 600,000 people each year.2

The infection was named Small Pox by an English physician in the late sixteenth century to distinguish it from the Great Poxæ syphilisæ which had reached epidemic proportions in Europe.3 Pox refers to the eruption of pus-filled rashes that characterize smallpox. Symptoms begin with high fever, fatigue, head and back aches, followed in two to three days by the rash. Lesions develop on the face, abdomen, arms and legs, evolving at the same rate all over the body. They become pus-filled, and begin to crust early in the second week of the rash. Scabs eventually develop, leaving permanent scars (pock-marks) on patients who survive.4

Smallpox is caused by the variola virus, which belongs to a genus of viruses known as orthopoxvirus. The word variola originates from the Latin varus, or pimple.5 The severity of variola is related to the virulence of the infecting strains. Variola major and variola minor are the two predominant clinical forms, caused by distinct strains of the virus. The case fatality is about 1% for the minor form and between 15 and 45% for the major.6 The two less common clinical forms are the hemorrhagic and flat-type. Death from smallpox is usually the result of severe toxemia, septic shock or disseminated intravascular coagulation.

In 1796, Edward Jenner, a country doctor in southwestern England administered the first vaccination against smallpox. Common lore held that people who had been exposed to cowpox were immune to smallpox. Based on this observation, Jenner conducted an experiment to test the use of cowpox as a vaccine against smallpox. His first patient was an eight-year-old boy, whom he inoculated with pus from a cowpox lesion on the hand of a dairymaid. Jenner subsequently inoculated the boy with variolous matter taken from the pustule of a person suffering from smallpox. Aside from local inflammation around the site of the inoculation, the boy showed no signs of infection or illness. Jenner published his findings later that year, and by 1801, more than 100,000 people had been vaccinated in England.

The Campaign to Eradicate Smallpox

Despite improvements in the preparation of the vaccine and its rapid widespread use in Europe, smallpox still persisted in many parts of the world a century and a half later. In 1966, the Nineteenth World Health Assembly adopted a resolution proposed by the Soviet Union, and launched an intensive global smallpox eradication program. Its aim was to ensure that 80% of the world’s population was vaccinated within a period of two or three years. Progress was slow in some regions of the world, particularly Africa and Southeast Asia. Finally, in 1977, Somalia became the last country to declare itself smallpox-free.7

In December 1979, the Global Commission for the Certification of Smallpox Eradication verified that smallpox had indeed been globally eradicated. In their report, the Commission recommended the discontinuation of smallpox vaccination, the retention of only two variola stocks worldwide, the maintenance of an international reserve of freeze-dried vaccine under WHO control, and the commitment to thorough investigation of reports of suspected smallpox.8

The remaining stocks of viable variola virus were eventually transferred to reference laboratories in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, and the Research Institute for Viral Preparations in Moscow. Following the collapse of the former Soviet Union and without prior knowledge of the WHO, the Russian collection was transferred to Novosibirsk in central Siberia.9

In its final comments, the Commission addressed the possibility of a deliberate release of smallpox virus into the world, concluding that the possibility of variola virus being deliberately released by an individual group as an act of sabotage or terrorism cannot be excluded. The potential harm of such an act would increase as the immunity of the population waned; in addition to illness and death there would be psychological and possibly socioeconomic damage.10 The Commission therefore stressed the importance of maintaining strong, integrated public health services to respond to such a possibility. It also called for the two smallpox stocks to be destroyed after an undefined sufficient time period, during which research into the genome and virulence of the virus was to be conducted.

Smallpox as a Bioweapon

In accordance with recommendations put forth by the Commission, the United States ceased routine vaccination of most of its population in 1972.11 Today, almost thirty years later, the level of immunity retained by those who were vaccinated is unknown. Dr. D.A. Henderson, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies, estimates that no more than 10 to 15% of the U.S. population today retains immunity to smallpox. Henderson directed the WHOs global smallpox eradication campaign, and was one of the first public health specialists to alert the public to its increasing vulnerability to smallpox and other bioweapons agents.

The CDC recently added its voice to the ongoing debate about the capacity of America’s public health infrastructure to respond to deliberately-introduced biological agents in the civilian population. At a meeting of experts convened by the CDC in June 1999, of all the potential biological weapons identified, smallpox was unanimously determined to pose the greatest threat to the United States.12 This fear stems from recognition of difficulties inherent in diagnosing and rapidly containing a disease that most physicians have never seen. Two natural outbreaks of smallpox that occurred in the 1970s illustrate some of the clinical and epidemiological features of smallpox infection that would make variola virus such an effective bioweapon.

Case 1

In Germany in 1970, smallpox was transmitted in a well-vaccinated population with such speed and efficiency as to raise concern about the possibilities for the dissemination of aerosolized variola.13  The outbreak began with a German electrician returning from Pakistan, who became sick with high fever and diarrhea and was admitted to Meschede Hospital on January 11th, 1970. Suspecting typhoid fever, the doctors put him in isolation in a separate room on the ground floor. The patient had contact with only two nurses over the next three days.

On January 14th, he developed a rash, and on January 16th, doctors confirmed a diagnosis of smallpox. He was immediately rushed to one of Germany’s isolation hospitals, and about 100,000 people who were judged to be at risk were vaccinated. Hospital staff and patients were quarantined for four weeks and vaccinated immediately.

Unfortunately, the patient had developed a cough, a symptom rarely seen with smallpox. His coughing produced a large-volume, small-particle smallpox aerosol similar to what might occur in a terrorist attack. Aerosolized smallpox produces a fine suspension of high-density liquid droplets that are easily inhaled and highly infective. In this instance, 19 cases resulted from exposure in the hospital: four in other rooms on the ground floor, eight on the floor above, and nine on the third floor. Of these, two involved direct contact with the initial patient. The remainder could only have been a result of inhalation of the aerosolized virus. One of the subsequent infections was in a visitor who had spent about 15 minutes in the hospital, and had briefly opened a corridor door thirty feet from the patient’s room, to ask directions. Three of the patients were nurses, one of whom died.

Case 2

The second case was an outbreak in Yugoslavia involving the rare and difficult to identify hemorrhagic-type variola, again among a well-vaccinated population.14 Given that this disease is caused by a distinct strain of the virus which has been isolated and cloned by both American and Russian scientists, the possibilities in terms of a deliberate release of this specific type of variola in a terrorist attack are frightening. Hemorrhagic-type variola eruption occurs in 3% of patients, and is characterized by extensive mucosal hemorrhage and toxemia. This type of smallpox is almost always fatal; patients essentially bleed to death. In most cases, they do not even develop the typical smallpox lesions. This different clinical picture makes hemorrhagic variola very difficult to diagnose in a non-epidemic situation.

Prior to this outbreak, the last smallpox case in Yugoslavia had occurred in 1927. Nevertheless, the country had continued nationwide vaccination to protect against imported cases. In February 1972, a previously vaccinated pilgrim returning from Mecca became ill with an undiagnosed febrile disease. Two weeks later, 11 of his friends and relatives (who had visited with the patient) became ill with high fever and rash. They were unaware of each others illness, and their doctors (few of whom had ever seen a case of smallpox) could not reach a correct diagnosis.

One of the 11 patients, a teacher, quickly became critically ill with the rare hemorrhagic form. He was first given penicillin at a local hospital, but as he became increasingly sick, he was transferred to a dermatology ward in a city hospital, and finally to a critical care unit because he was bleeding profusely and in shock. He died before a definitive diagnosis was made and was buried two days before the initial case of smallpox was recognized.

The first cases were diagnosed four weeks after the first patient became ill. By then, 150 people were already infected; of these, 38 were infected by the teacher. The cases occurred in separate areas of the country, and it was unknown how many undetected cases remained. Health authorities launched a nationwide vaccination campaign. Mass vaccination clinics were held, and checkpoints along roads were established to examine vaccination certificates. All twenty million people in Yugoslavia were re-vaccinated. Ten thousand contacts of cases were quarantined, and neighboring countries closed their borders. The outbreak was finally contained, nine weeks after the first patient became sick. A total of 175 patients contracted smallpox, 35 of whom died.

Our First Defense

As both of these examples suggest, the first public health measure following the diagnosis of a smallpox case will most likely in volve vaccination of several thousand individuals deemed at risk. The vaccine is believed to be effective in preventing smallpox in people who have been exposed to the virus, if administered within 72 hours of exposure.15 Yet, even assuming adequate vaccine coverage of populations, the potential for mass mortality stemming from only one case of smallpox is vast.

In the event of a smallpox outbreak, the size and integrity of the CDCs available vaccine stocks is unclear. The CDC claims that it has approximately 15 million doses available for immediate use.16 Experts like D.A. Henderson believe that, due to damage, poor storage conditions and the passage of time, the amount of useful smallpox vaccine is actually closer to 6 or 7 million doses.17 Moreover, as these stocks have been frozen for twenty years, it is unclear how effectual they remain. In September last year, the CDC negotiated a contract with the British vaccine company OraVax to produce a new smallpox vaccine. Forty million doses were scheduled to be available by 2004, and by 2020, it was planned that sufficient stocks would have been amassed to address an emergency situation.18

Recent events in the United States have had a dramatic impact on plans to combat a potential bioterrorist attack using smallpox. Since September 11th, the threat of bioterrorism has become a painful reality in this country. As of the 21st of November, 2001, ten people in the United States have been diagnosed with bioterrorism-related inhalational anthrax. Of these, four have died.19   These outbreaks of anthrax are clearly the work of a terrorist group. The bacterial spores have been sent in concentrated, highly refined powder form through the regular mail system.20   Fortunately, however, the public health infrastructure has thus far been able to adequately respond to the anthrax release. Anthrax, unlike smallpox, is not contagious. It cannot be transmitted from one person to another.

As a precautionary measure, public health experts have begun to prepare for the release of a more virulent bioweapon, smallpox being the most critical possibility. Tommy G. Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services, has announced that the government has begun negotiations with seven pharmaceutical companies to manufacture additional supplies of the smallpox vaccine. His goal is to acquire 300 million doses of vaccine so that every American can be assured that there is a dose with his or her name on it. At the very soonest, these stocks will be available in February or March, 2002. 21

Yet, as the outbreaks of smallpox in Yugoslavia and Germany illustrated, access to vaccines plays only a small part in any endeavor to successfully contain this disease. Effective diagnostic, communication and administrative systems were central to the eventual control of both outbreaks. Yugoslavia took immediate steps to close its borders and to identify and isolate exposed individuals. In Germany, once a diagnosis of smallpox had been made, the patient was quickly quarantined, a risk assessment conducted, and 100,000 people vaccinated. Many experts today, however, seriously doubt the ability of our current public health system to respond to a bioterrorist attack involving smallpox, even with sufficient vaccine stocks at its disposal. Simply attaining sufficient vaccine will not solve the problem. For example, the vaccine cannot be administered to immunocom-promised individuals. Therefore, pregnant women, HIV positive individuals and people with autoimmune diseases will not benefit from mass vaccination campaigns. Furthermore, the lag time between initial exposure to the smallpox virus and the onset of symptoms can be up to several days, during which time thousands of people run the risk of being secondarily exposed. In addition, terrorist attacks might employ several biological agents in concert with each other, precluding easy identification, and thus defying most public health measures.

Dr. Scott Lillibridge of the CDC expressed his concern over the capability of the U.S. public health system to withstand bioterrorist attacks, stating that these events will exploit vulnerabilities in our public health system. The lack of capacity at the local level means isolates may not be confirmed in a timely manner. Preparedness must include the public health community as a full partner.22 At present, the capacity of the public health system to effectively diagnose, quarantine, and identify smallpox infection is limited, due in large part to an underestimation of the actual threat of bioterrorism.

Until the first envelope containing anthrax was opened, many analysts still doubted the seriousness of the possibility of a bioterrorist attack. Biological warfare was long considered too technically difficult to pose a significant threat to the population of the United States.

Historical Precedents

Indeed, a historical account of bioweaponry did appear to support this view. Of the 415 documented terrorist attempts to use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials in the 20th century, only 33 involved use of biological agents. Of these, none actually succeeded in causing fatalities.23 In 1999, Dr. Jonathan Tucker, director of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Project at the Monterey Institute of International Studies argued that, despite the hype, few terrorist groups possess the scientific-technical resources required for the successful large-scale release of a biological agent.24 However, it is much less clear today whether any technological or scientific barriers to the development of bioweapons still persist.

Terrorist groups worldwide have begun in recent years to obtain alarming levels of technological sophistication and financial capability. Now, it is extremely likely that there are groups with the resources to build and staff large-scale high-tech laboratories and research facilities to further their terrorist aims. The level of refinement of the anthrax used in the recent attacks certainly attests to the technological capacity of terrorists seeking to weaponize biological agents.

The virtual disappearance of thousands of state-employed scientists from the former Soviet Union raises fears about the level of scientific expertise available to terrorist groups with sufficient funding.25 Information emerging from the former Soviet Union certainly raises doubts about the sanctity of the smallpox stocks held in Russia. In addition, defectors to the United States have told of an extensive Soviet biowarfare program that included twenty tons of militarized smallpox, as well as weaponry to aerosolize the virus.26 The former USSR was considered by many to possess more men and women with the intellectual knowledge of how to turn microbes into weapons than any other nation.27

Conclusion: The Dual-Use Model

The events of September 11, 2001 were a painful indication of how truly proximate the possibility of terrorism on American soil remains. Since then, the likelihood of further acts of terrorism has increased. Explicit threats have been made, and few will ever doubt again the seriousness with which terrorists regard their mandate. The recent developments bring to the forefront concerns of national security analysts on the heightening possibility that bioweapons will be further employed in this country.28

As politicians and the press have become increasingly aware of the threat of a terrorist attack using biological agents, so federal spending on the issue of biodefense has increased. The Department of Defense is currently at the center of initiatives to enhance federal capabilities to respond to biological terrorist threats, and to build state and local response capacities.29 However, many public health specialists feel that such an emphasis is both unwarranted and unwise. In light of the anthrax cases, it is now an indisputable fact that the primary responders in the event of bioterrorist attacks will be civilian physicians and healthcare workers. Therefore, funds must be allocated to strengthen the health infrastructures capacity to respond to a deliberate outbreak.

To this end, in the early 1950s, the CDC created the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) with the specific possibility of biological warfare in mind. EIS officers investigate unusual disease out breaks across the country, keeping in mind the possibility of intentional release of biological agents. Although it has yet to uncover an unnatural outbreak, the EIS has proven itself to be a valuable and cost-effective part of the nations public health infrastructure.30   The application of public health measures to both serve as contingency measures in the event of bioterrorist attacks and also to provide practical responses to natural outbreaks has been termed the dual-use model.

This dual-use model has been promoted heavily as the most effective response to a potential terrorist attack. The approach is based on the belief that money spent on improving public health capacities will never be wasted. Committing resources to maintaining effective disease surveillance mechanisms and improving epidemiologic and laboratory capacities nationwide will serve the public health infrastructure well, even in the absence of a bioterrorist attack. In particular, the coordination and communication links between primary health workers and nationwide structures need to be strengthened to minimize response times in the event of an outbreak.

At a time in which natural outbreaks of infectious diseases like West Nile encephalitis, Ebola, BSE and Rift Valley Fever pose very tangible threats to U.S. populations, the capacity of the public health community to respond to such challenges has been systematically eroded.31 Therefore, any efforts to improve the capabilities of the system will be of untold value. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, speaking at the National Academy of Sciences in 1999, echoed these sentiments, observing that these cutting edge efforts will address not only the threat of weapons of mass destruction, but also the equally serious danger of emerging infectious diseases. So we will benefit even if we are successful in avoiding these attacks.32

Polemicists in the public health field go further to argue that the furor generated by fears of bioterrorism has created a valuable opportunity to secure funding for notoriously underfunded public health systems. The very feature that makes the concept of bio-terrorism so frighteningæ its direct impact on civilian organizations and individualsæ will also potentially have profound impacts on the capabilities of the U.S. public health infrastructure. In this way, the threat of bioterrorism may be harnessed to create historic opportunities for the diversion of federal spending away from military defenses towards strengthening broad-based public health capabilities.33

As a potential biological agent, the specter of smallpox looms heavy on the horizon. However, as a tool for the improvement of critical health systems, the memory of smallpox will likely prove immensely effective. Hopefully, smallpox will never again afflict human populations. Yet in its absence, other threats to the health of global populations will invariably persist, challenging the capabilities of public health systems, and demanding swift, effective responses.

Endnotes

1 World Health Organization. The Eradication of Smallpox: Final Report of the Global Commission for the Certification of Smallpox Eradication, Geneva, December 1979. Geneva: World Health Organisation. 1980. p. 16.

2 Harris, D. Fraser. Edward Jenner and Vaccination, in Scientific Monthly. October 1915; Vol. 1, Issue 1. p. 66-85.

3 Harris, p. 66.

4 Behbehani, A.M. The Smallpox Story: Life and Death of an Old Disease, in Microbiology Review. 1983; Vol. 47. p. 455-509.

5 Harris, p. 68.

6 Massung, R.F. et al. Potential Virulence Determinants in Terminal Regions of Variola Smallpox Virus Genome, in Nature. 1993; 336. p. 748-751.

7 WHO, p. 57.

8 WHO, p. 11.

9 Garrett, Laurie. Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health. New York: Hyperion. 2000. p. 488.

10 WHO, p. 62.

11 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smallpox and Bioterrorism. Atlanta: CDC. June, 2001.

12 McCrary, S. Van. Smallpox and Bioterrorism: A Growing Threat, in Health Law and Policy Perspectives; University of Houston Health Law and Policy Institute http://www.law.uh.edu/healthlawperspectives/. posted 3rd August, 1999.

13 Wehrle, P.F., Posch, J., Richter, K.H., Henderson, D.A. An Airborne Outbreak of Smallpox in a German Hospital and its Significance with Respect to Other Recent Outbreaks in Europe, in Bulletin of the World Health Organisation. 1970; Issue 4. p. 669-79.

14 Henderson, D.A. Bioterrorism as a Public Health Threat, in Emerging Infectious Diseases. July-Sept. 1998; Vol. 4, No. 3.

15 Salpeter, Shelley. Bioterrorism: Physician Preparedness. Unpublished, October 2001.

16 CDC, p. 2.

17 Henderson, D.A. Smallpox: Clinical and Epidemiologic Features, in Emerging Infectious Diseases July-Aug. 1999; Vol. 5, No. 4. p. 538.

18 Grauerholz, John. A New Defense for an Old Enemy, in Insight on the News. Nov, 2000; Vol. 16, No. 2. p. 25.

19 Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases (ProMed-mail). Anthrax, humanæ USA. http://www.promedmail.org/pls/promed/promed.searchhtml. showmail?p_filename=20011111.2785& p_year=&p_month=&topic_search=YES. posted 11th November, 2001.

20 Rosenbaum, David E. and Purdum, Todd S. Another Postal Worker Contracts Inhaled Anthrax. The New York Times. October 26, 2001.

21 Bradsher, Keith and Petersen, Melody. Drug Makers Plan Vaccines for Smallpox. The New York Times. October 25, 2001.

22 Lillibridge, Scott. Quoted in Betrayal of Trust. p. 489.

23 Tucker, Jonathan B. Historical Trends Related to Bioterrorism: An Empirical Analysis, in Emerging Infectious Diseases July-Aug. 1999; Vol. 5, No. 4. p. 498-504.

24 Tucker, p. 503.

25 Garrett, p. 514.

26 Alibek, K. and Handelman, S. Biohazard. New York: Random House. 1999. p. 107-122.

27 Garrett, p. 507.

28 Carus, W. Seth. The Threat of Bioterrorism. National Defense University Strategic Forum, Institute for National Strategic Studies September 1997; Number 127.

29 Carus, p. 2.

30 Carus, W. Seth. Biohazard, in The New Republic. Vol 221, Issue 5. p. 14-16.

31 Garrett, p. 481-544.

32 Clinton, W.J. Remarks by the President on keeping America secure for the 21st Century. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., 22nd January, 1999.

33 Guidotti, Tee L. Bioterrorism and the Public Health Response, in American Journal of Preventative Medicine. 2000; Vol. 18, Issue 2.

 

I am the Chosen One’: with boasts and insults, Trump sets new benchmark for incoherence

President outdoes himself in new press conference as he attacks the Danish prime minister, Jewish Democrats and the press

August 21, 2019

by Tom McCarthy

The Guardian

Donald Trump started off precisely on-message.

Strolling to the end of a White House driveway on Wednesday ahead of his departure for a veterans event in Kentucky, the president began speaking while still walking toward a crowd of waiting reporters. “So the economy is doing very, very well,” he said.

With fears of a recession stirring and public confidence in the health of the economy dropping for the first time in Trump’s presidency, it was a sound message to project to a skittish nation. But that was as good as it got.

What followed might have swept away all previous Trumpian benchmarks for incoherence, self-aggrandizement, prevarication and rancor in a presidency that has seemed before to veer loosely along the rails of reason but may never have come quite so close to spectacularly jumping the tracks.

Over an ensuing half-hour rant, Trump trucked in antisemitic tropes, insulted the Danish prime minister, insisted he wasn’t racist, bragged about the performance of his former Apprentice reality show, denied starting a trade war with China, praised Vladimir Putin and told reporters that he, Trump, was the “chosen one” – all within hours of referring to himself as the “King of Israel” and tweeting in all caps: “WHERE IS THE FEDERAL RESERVE?”

Leaving aside those who were left merely gape-jawed, the performance inspired reactions from new expressions of doubt about Trump’s fitness for office to evocations of “the last president I know of who compared himself to the Messiah”.

(That turns out, according to Brookings Institution fellow Benjamin Wittes, to be Andrew Johnson (1865-9), whose articles of impeachment cited his “intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues”.)

After the news conference, the hashtag #25thAmendmentNow was the top trending item on US Twitter, referring to a constitutional proviso by which cabinet members and the vice-president can band together to remove a president deemed unfit.

Soon after the ill-fated driveway news conference got under way, Trump faced a question about his decision to cancel a meeting with Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen, who had rejected a proposal floated by the Trump administration to purchase Greenland as “absurd”.

Calling Frederiksen “nasty” – his preferred insult for women in politics – Trump described his wounded pride at the way his offer had been rejected.

“I thought it was a very not nice way of saying something,” Trump said. “Don’t say ‘What an absurd idea that is’… You don’t talk to the United States that way, at least under me.

“I thought it was not a nice statement, the way she blew me off.”

As Trump continued his attack on Denmark on Twitter from aboard his airplane, the world below struggled with the rest of the wild, wild things he had just said, including an attack on another group: Jews who vote for Democrats.

In response to a news conference Monday by Democratic Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib criticizing their exclusion from Israel, Trump had questioned the “loyalty” of Jews who support Democratic politicians. Accusations of “dual loyalty” have been used in the past in an attempt to undermine and marginalize Jews living outside Israel.

Asked about the “loyalty” charge Wednesday, Trump said: “I have been responsible for a lot of great things for Israel,” mentioning the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem and his opposition to Iran.

“I will tell you this, in my opinion, the Democrats have gone very far away from Israel,” Trump continued. “In my opinion, if you vote for a Democrat you’re being very disloyal to Jewish people, and you’re being very disloyal to Israel. And only weak people would say anything other than that.”

Trump ignored a shouted question about whether Jews in the United States have a right to be simply American – but Trump denied he was employing an antisemitic trope.

“I haven’t heard anybody say that, just the opposite.” Trump said.

Trump then embarked on an increasingly breakneck tour through the hills and valleys of a personal political landscape whose map, if it existed, was private to him, although his route was provisionally signposted by questions shouted by the media.

“We wiped out the Caliphate, 100%, I did it in record time,” he said of the fight against Isis.

“I am the least racist person ever to serve in office, OK? I am the least racist person,” he opined.

And, of course, his journey included a visit to his old favorite stomping ground: reality TV.

“I made a lot of money for NBC with the Apprentice, and I used to like them, but they are so biased,” he said. “You are so obviously biased and that’s why the public doesn’t believe you.”

His dislike for the media was on familiar display.

“The fake news, of which many of you are members, are trying to convince the public to have a recession,” he said. “‘Let’s have a recession!’”

But then – as he discussed his trade war with China – came a new twist as Trump bestowed himself with a new title certain to launch a million Twitter memes.

“This is a trade war that should have taken place years ago… somebody had to do it. I am the Chosen One.”

That last line echoed a tweet the president had sent earlier in the day, in which Trump quoted the conspiracist Wayne Allyn Root, who in the past has said that violence including the murder of a peace activist at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was “probably paid actors & infiltrators hired by Soros”.

“The Jewish people in Israel love him,” Trump quoted Root as saying on Wednesday, “like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God.”

His putative status as the reincarnated Christian savior was not among the many topics Trump touched on Wednesday. At the end of the news conference, Trump walked toward his helicopter and headed for Kentucky.

 

Here’s why Trump wants to buy Greenland

August 21, 2019

by Jordan McDonald

CNBC

President Donald Trump has floated the idea of buying Greenland multiple times. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has called the notion “absurd.”

Yet Trump’s interest in Greenland is just the latest indication of the island’s increasing geopolitical importance. It is even drawing the eye of China.

Greenland’s growing strategic value is linked tightly to new North Atlantic shipping lanes opening up due to melting polar ice caps. Its largely ice-capped land mass is also rich in untapped natural resources.

President Donald Trump has floated the idea of buying Greenland multiple times. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has called the notion “absurd.” It has triggered a diplomatic row of sorts.Yet Trump’s interest in Greenland is just the latest indication of the island’s increasing geopolitical importance. It is even drawing the eye of China.

Greenland’s strategic value is linked tightly to new North Atlantic shipping lanes opening up due to melting polar ice caps. The new lanes have dramatically decreased maritime trade travel times, which generally includes traveling through the Panama or Suez canals to circumnavigate the world.

Greenland, which is home to nearly 58,000 people, is the largest island in the world, and 80% of its 811,000 square miles are ice-capped. The island’s residents are Danish, but they have governed by self-rule since 1979.

Greenland’s largest economic drivers are fishing and tourism, but the island has drawn rising interest due to its vast natural resources, including coal, zinc, copper, iron ore and rare minerals. There have been expeditions to assess the extent of the nation’s resources, but the true quantity is unknown.

China, which is embroiled in a trade battle with the U.S., previously showed interest in developing a “Polar Silk Road” of trade through the North Atlantic shipping lanes. China proposed building new airports and mining facilities on Greenland in 2018, but eventually withdrew its bid.

“If [China were to] have a significant investment in a country that is so strategically important for so many countries, they would have influence there,” said Michael Sfraga, director of the Polar Institute at the Wilson Center.

“If you invest a lot in a small island country, you could have a lot of sway there.”

Denmark has “publicly expressed concern about China’s interest in Greenland,” a Pentagon report warned earlier this year.

“Civilian research could support a strengthened Chinese military presence in the Arctic Ocean, which could include deploying submarines to the region as a deterrent against nuclear attacks,” the report said.

Greenland is also in an advantageous location for the U.S. armed forces. The U.S. and Greenland have had an agreement since World War II to house American military assets on the island.

Thule Air Base, America’s northernmost Air Force base, has operated since 1943 in Greenland and has a ballistic missile early warning system and satellite tracking system.

Trump’s administration is not the first to make an inquiry about buying the island. President Harry Truman expressed desire to acquire the island in 1946 for $100 million in gold, and earlier attempts to buy the island stretch back to 1867.

While the world’s most powerful nations are looking to get a leg up in the North Atlantic and Arctic regions, experts caution that there could be a dire impact on the area.

“There are economic opportunities similar to Greenland across the Arctic,” said Heather A. Conley, senior vice president for Europe, Eurasia and the Arctic at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

The region is home to “some of the largest iron ore and zinc mines in the world,” she said, but “there is a cost to the exploration, a cost to the environment and the people who live in the Arctic and Greenland.”

 

Art of the steal? Trump’s ‘bid’ for Greenland screams American exceptionalism & foul play

August 20, 2019

by Robert Bridge

RT

Describing an effort to buy the world’s largest island as “just another real estate deal,” the US leader shocked the world with a brazenness that underscores everything that is wrong with the US today.

When news broke that the mogul of Manhattan had shown interest in buying Greenland, the story sounded too fantastic to be true. After all, there is very little chance of Greenland becoming a successful golf resort, and despite the ‘Green’ in its name, it will never be confused as desirable beachfront property unless you happen to be a polar bear. To make the story even more fantastic, the potential buyer was not your average developer. Far from it. In fact, he is the commander-in-chief of one of the most powerful militaries on the planet.

“Essentially it’s a large real estate deal. A lot of things can be done. It’s hurting Denmark very badly because they’re losing almost $700 million a year carrying it,” Trump told reporters this week, confirming the wild rumor. “So, they carry it at great loss, and strategically for the United States, it would be nice. And, we’re a big ally of Denmark and we help Denmark, and we protect Denmark.”

Judging by those remarks, it almost sounds as though Trump thinks the Danes owe the United States something, doesn’t it? Like maybe in the shape of a 2,166,086 square kilometer (836,330 square mile) landmass loaded with valuable minerals and resources?

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen responded drily to Trump’s overture, saying: “Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously.” If Frederiksen has been paying attention to the trajectory of US foreign policy of late, she is well aware that sovereignty means little to Washington anymore.

In any case, it’s important to understand that this was not just the massive ego of Donald Trump talking trash. This was the arrogance and effrontery of a global superpower that has lost all sense of decency and direction. The same superpower that ignored a huge outpouring of public opprobrium in 2003 and went ahead and smashed Iraq simply because it could; the same superpower that saw fit to destroy Libya in 2011 because Gaddafi planned to use gold dinars as opposed to paper dollars; the same superpower that encouraged Ukrainians in 2013 to take to the streets against their democratically elected leader, thereby fomenting civil strife that continues today. Ad infinitum the list goes on.

Of course there is a considerable difference between the possibility of buying some ‘real estate’ and outright pulverizing a sovereign state for no good reason. Yet Trump’s speculative interest in Greenland is not only a major insult to the people of Denmark, it carries the strong scent of danger. Indeed, the fact that this is not the first time Washington has shown an interest in owning Greenland should be of no small concern to Copenhagen. That is not to suggest, of course, that the Trump administration would consider a regime change operation anytime soon against Denmark, a fellow NATO member (albeit one that Trump has complained is behind on its membership dues, incidentally). Yet given Washington’s egregious global track record of late, nothing should be considered beyond the pale. After all, we are talking about an ‘exceptional nation here.

Although it is already well known that Harry S. Truman attempted to purchase Greenland in the aftermath of World War II, what is little known is that those efforts never really ceased. In May 2001, for example, National Review political reporter John J. Miller wrote a piece on the strategic importance of Greenland and the importance of the US owning it. To say the opinions expressed are shocking would be an understatement.

Writing at a time when the Bush administration was already considering the idea of withdrawing from the ABM Treaty in order to give Washington the ability to build an early-warning radar system in, yes, Greenland, there was just one nagging little problem according to Miller.

“It’s a shame a piddling little country like Denmark might hold so much sway over such an important national-security decision for the United States,” he wrote. “The Bush administration appears to be approaching the matter with an appropriate amount of diplomatic delicacy. But wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to kowtow to the Danes at all?”

Miller then had a masterstroke of genius, much like Donald Trump today: “Let’s buy Greenland!” To bolster his argument he recalled how the US bought Alaska from the Russians in 1867, and Louisiana from the French in 1803. Then, almost as an afterthought, he wondered about the 60,000 inhabitants of the sprawling landmass, asking how they could be convinced to go along with the deal.

“They acquired home rule in 1979, so these folks probably would have to sign off on the sale in some capacity, too,” Miller surmised. “Maybe we could promise them school choice.” In case anybody missed it that was supposed to be a joke. And probably about as funny as Trump’s indecent proposal this week, which resembled the intrigues of a corporate raider who tosses out some heavy bait and then waits for a bite. Next thing you know quaint and quiet Greenland will be erupting in miniature protests from ‘separatists’ seeking independence from distant Denmark. Stranger things have certainly happened.

At the same time, there are other contributing factors that greatly complicate the picture. First, the Americans – and not necessarily the nicest ones – have already been stationed on the island since the 1950s at Thule Air Base, which operates an early-warning system for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). As already mentioned, this is a very serious real estate from a strategic point of view.

The story gets better. Washington will certainly be looking to beef up its Arctic presence due to proven oil reserves there, which are a source of major competition among eight Arctic coastal states: Canada, Norway, Russia, Denmark (via Greenland), Iceland, Sweden, Finland and the US.

Needless to say, if the US somehow found a way to own Greenland – through hook or by crook – that would give it a much greater piece of the dwindling resource pie. For a businessman like Donald Trump, finding a way to acquire Greenland would certainly be the deal – or steal – of the century. Whether or not the people of Denmark would ever agree to parting with the world’s largest island is highly doubtful. However, when America’s supreme arrogance and exceptionalism are factored in with Trump’s ego, they may not have a choice in the matter.

 

Another Tiananmen Square in Hong Kong?

The protests in Hong Kong are increasingly becoming a thorn in Beijing’s side. How much longer will the Communist Party leadership sit back and watch? Don’t count out China making a rash decision

August 21, 2019

by Alexander Görlach

DW

The conflict between Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China continues to escalate. On Monday, Facebook and Twitter announced they had deleted nearly a thousand Chinese accounts that were spreading false information about the Hong Kong protests. One of these accounts claimed that the protests were being directed by the West. But the state-run Chinese propaganda apparatus did not take into consideration that the social media giants had apparently learned from the US election disaster in 2016, when Russian bots propagated polarizing news in favor of Donald Trump.

The tanks are ready

Last weekend, hundreds of thousands of people took to Hong Kong’s streets for the 10th week in a row to fight for the democracy they were promised by China in 1997 under the slogan “one country, two systems.” The demonstrations have thus far been allowed to take place, but across the border in mainland China, the Communist Party leadership has now positioned its tanks. This is to signal to the people of Hong Kong that the protests, viewed by Beijing as riots, could soon come to an end. Experts are now arguing about whether China will use its weapons or not, and about what the country may have to gain or lose.

These assessments are made on the assumption of rationality, which may be a crucial error. From a rational point of view, it would be disastrous for Beijing to turn to military force again, 30 years after Chinese tanks flattened the demonstrations at Tiananmen Square. Nevertheless, as recently as January of this year, President Xi Jinping clearly threatened Taiwan with annexation under the same motto of “one country, two systems” if the country, considered independent by most of the rest of the world but seen as a renegade province by Beijing, continues to refuse to become part of China, or declares its independence.

Xi doesn’t permit secession

At the Communist Party congress in autumn 2017, Xi stated that he would prevent any regions from seceding from China in any way. At the time, things were relatively quiet in Hong Kong; the 2014 mass protests were over. So what choice does Xi have now that he has already gone so far with his rhetoric? Unlike Taiwan, Hong Kong is geographically a part of China, even if the demonstrators chant “Hong Kong is not China.” Nonetheless, Beijing should go to the trouble of talking to Hong Kong’s citizens and addressing their demands.

Ultimately, “one country, two systems” was never understood the same way by Beijing as it was by the West. The West believed that the longer and more deeply China was involved with international institutions such as the World Trade Organization, the more it would modernize and democratize itself accordingly. Currently, it looks more like Xi can’t wait until the 2047 deadline to have Hong Kong’s special status come to an end. The sooner Hong Kong becomes like China, the better. Since taking office in 2012, Xi has consistently returned his country to the ideological state it was in before the detente that Deng Xiaoping initiated in the wake of the devastation brought by the Mao years and the Cultural Revolution.

The West is not to blame

This point of view makes it easier to understand why China’s media are accusing the West of meddling in Hong Kong. Looking at things from the other side, however, it is clear that where there is a choice between democracy or communist dictatorship in China — in Taiwan and Hong Kong — people choose democracy. This should serve as motivation across the free world to keep strengthening democracy.

For the time being it cannot be ruled out that Beijing will choose to invade Hong Kong and extinguish the special rights that the island was meant to be granted until 2047, despite the economic damage China would suffer as a result. This would be “Tiananmen reloaded” — the return of the tanks that the world had to witness in June 1989.

 

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

August 22, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks. ”

Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas in 1993 when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publication.

 

 

Conversation No. 114

Date: Wednesday, December 1, 1997

Commenced: 11:22 AM CST

Concluded: 11:55 AM PST

RTC: Good morning to you, Gregory. I wanted to have a little talk with you about your books and other matters. Do you have some time now?

GD: Oh, certainly.

RTC: Some people I know of are getting very unhappy with you and your books. The books about Mueller and us. I don’t tell you about some of this but over the past six-eight months I have been contacted, both in person and on the phone, concerning you and your activities. First of all, your detractors have advised me that you are a criminal, a crook, a convict, a dope addict, a mental case, a spy for some foreign country and many other sins of commission. Naturally, I have taken notes and, even more important, I have taken down names and such other information as telephone numbers and, when I can find them, home addresses. And poor Emily has been spoken to about my contacts with you. She has no idea what we talk about and, as is usual with CIA wives, she knows very little about my activities when I was with the Company. Oh yes, a female FBI agent, so sympathetic, came and talked with her about what a thoroughly evil and crazy person you were and warning her to try and keep me away from you. Of course Emily told me all about it and gave me the woman’s card. And two days ago, another wonderful person got in touch with my son, Greg, and told him the same things. The new theme is that old Crowley is getting nuts and perhaps he might be institutionalized for his own good. Greg was horrified because he has mailed boxes of sensitive documents to you in Wisconsin and Greg tends to be somewhat conventional. I think they want to find some nice, discreet way to shut me up. They have given up on you, of course. Kimmel told Bill that you were arrogant, self-important and very dangerous and has warned him to keep away from you.

GD: Yes, well Bill told me my son could get a job with the CIA as you know….

RTC: Of course. And that would be to have him fill in a ten page questionnaire that would let them al know more about you. According to Kimmel, you have used more aliases than the Manhattan phone book. You have at least a dozen passports and have lived in Europe where, they darkly hint, you have somehow fallen into the clutches of the KGB…

GD: Actually, the SVR. Same organization but a different name. A rose by any other name Robert.

RTC: Yes. A thoroughly sinister person. They are so concerned about me that they constantly warn my son and my wife about your evil ways and beg both of them to not only report anything they hear to the really sympathetic agents or former co workers or their wives. And if that fails, perhaps I will fall down the back stairs or on my rare appearances outside this place, be run over by a drunken cab driver while walking in a large shopping mall.

GD: (Laughter) Or how about a dead elephant falling on your head after accidentally being chucked out of an Air America cargo plane on its way to deliver three tons of raw opium to Manhattan drug refiners?  That might happen. I would keep away from doctors, Robert, unless you are really sick and then try to get them to make house calls.

RTC: Yes, I am aware of all of that. Used to do it.

GD: I think something ought to be done about all of this. What about doing the book on Kennedy?

RTC: I’ve thought about that, Gregory, and I ought to warn you about some of the pitfalls. I’ve told you before that we have a wonderful and very effective disinformation branch and they are even now gearing up to try to convince people not to listen to you or read your books. Of course they have to be careful because you have the reputation for savage personal attacks on people who get in your way so right now, they are after the Mueller material but if you get into Kennedy, then you will have a hornet’s nest come down around your ears. Why? Because in order to keep the sheep from getting curious about the wrong things, we set up a wonderful disinformation machine, complete with retired local policemen, librarians of all kinds, professors of philosophy from jerkwater community colleges and former Marine Corps Master Sergeants who were in the quartermaster section and never heard a shot fired in anger.

GD: And don’t forget Wolfe

RTC: Do spare me, Gregory. I just had lunch and reptiles so soon after feeding make me ill. Yes, Wolfe. Typical. A nobody in a nothing position but he can say he is an employee of the National Archives. Sounds impressive but he has nothing to say and can’t access any records you couldn’t get by just going there. He and hundreds of his kind are right in our pocket. That one gets a pat on the head and a pen set but a few others, key information peddlers, get a check on some unknown charity from time to time and perhaps a job for their airhead daughter or son. That’s how it works. We really don’t have to lay out much money on these fools because they come, panting, to us, begging for that pat on the pointy head and the nice pen set. The CIA  buys them by the gross and I think they’re made in China in a slave-labor factory.

GD: (Laughter) Napoleon once said, concerning the Legion of Honor, ‘With such baubles, men are led.’

RTC: It seems to work. Believe me, we have armies of these people on tap and most of them are pathetic creeps, desperate to be recognized for the brilliant thinkers they are not and never could be. But anyway, Gregory, they are now after you and your writing but I have the feeling I ought to have pity on them. As I said, if and when you get into the Kennedy business, you will kick over a hornet’s nest of vicious, stupid and fanatical idiots. And while some of them are ours and part of our disinformation program, the rest are crazies, entirely on their own. But if you, or anyone else, dare to express opinions different from their very own precious ones, they will screech like banshees and gang up on you. One fat old crazy up in Minnesota who teaches philosophy has decided that some powerful organization used sabot shells on Kennedy. They had real used bullets, but them into a case and shot Jack in the melon and the case fell off.

GD: The Germans had sabot artillery shells but I doubt if anyone used these on a 6.5 piece. Did you put him up to such shit?

RTC: No. His uncle is a retired Company man and he is looking for instant fame and fortune.

GD: The uncle? I thought you people were supposed to keep quiet.

RTC: Sorry, the nephew. Whatever. At any rate, beware the questioned cultist and believe me, the Kennedy business has turned into a cult. My God, reading over their psychotic trash gives me acid stomach. Still, they serve a purpose. They sprouted so much underbrush that the real facts will probably never come out. And if you publish even a portion of what I sent you, the howling will begin.

GD: I know how to deal with them, Robert. Make fun of them. Most of them are laughable, pathetic creeps and if you take them seriously, you empower them so the best course is to hold them up to public ridicule. You know, I have a really neat method of dealing with the official creeps and the unofficial ones.

RTC: And…?

GD: Oh yes. And you publish something really awful and then, in the foreword, you praise the slob for all his help with your work. Or, even better, publish something deadly and say they wrote it. I’ll bet this does real wonders for their careers, not to mention their small but vicious circle of friends or family. Imagine some assistant AG writing a piece for some gay newspaper claiming he has come out of the closet and is so proud of it. Or something in defense of pedophilia. Or one fellow I dealt a deadly blow to was supposed to have some awful pictures of Lyndon Larouche in a nut house and was writing a book about it. I got his letterhead, copied it on the notice of the new book and also printed up an envelope. Looked so real, Robert, And when I wrote up the advert, I personally addressed it to about a thousand people, including major newspapers and so on and actually flew to his hometown and mailed the things. For the correct postmark of course.

RTC: (Laughter) And what happened?

GD: Actually? His car was set on fire. Someone broke all the big windows in his store. Someone sent him boxes of decaying and smelly animal insides. His business collapsed, his wife left him and he eventually checked into a cheap motel and offed himself with a bottle of sleeping pills. Now the shit is up with Jesus, playing gin rummy with the angels.

RTC: Do you really believe that?

GD: Oh, I know he’s dead but about the angels, no, I don’t believe there are such entities. Once the lights go out, I don’t think there is an upwards path you take, bathed in glorious light and at the top stand your entire long-dead family, waving and smiling at you.  I wonder how they might look, Robert. Clothed in shining glory? Rotting flesh dripping from grinning skulls? Looking like they never did alive  with bigger tits, a smaller nose, really clear skin instead of looking like someone put out a fire on their face with an icepick, and not walking on their hands and knees?

RTC: Have you ever discussed such negative sentiments with a priest?

GD: Robert, of course not. I’m hedging my bets. No, I know about the congregation of Kennedy nuts and it might be fun to plant my number ten shoe in their number one size scrotum. But the women are worse than the men…that is if there is much of a gender difference. You people have so many nutless wonders working for you.  The women have hairy bowed legs, bad teeth, sagging breasts and hate everyone but their pet Budgie, Mr. Tweety. They get rabid over the stupidest things and shriek with rage if you make fun of their sacred and supportive icons. And the men are mostly prissy busybodies who are laboring under the total misapprehension that are really somebody in particular. Which, of course, they aren’t. Probably a lot of vegetarians represented there with a few dozen Scientologists, Christian Scientists and Jesus freaks thrown in the mix to offset the thick of neck and tiny of brain. And in the men, the brain isn’t the only tiny thing. Jesus, if it weren’t for the common turkey baster, half these shrimp dicks could never father pinhead children. And don’t  knock pinhead children, either. You can give them haircuts in a pencil sharpener and save so much money. And when they get older and housebroken, why your people can recruit them. Put them in charge of the Havana office. Or was that the Sterling Chemical people? I think so.

RTC: Now, it isn’t that bad, Gregory. You know that.

GD: I don’t. Actually, it’s worse. I started out in life, Robert, trusting people and believing everyone was a gentleman or a lady. Of course I had the opportunity of growing up in the second richest community in the country. The children of senators, heads of business empires and the like were my school friends. I was taught manners as a child and always used them. But then, as I got out into the world, I discovered, to my horror, that Jonathan Swift was right and the Yahoos ruled. Oh yes, read ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and discover the world. You take care of the weak and persecuted and destroy the vicious and predatory. Physically or by other means. I detest pedophiles because they ruin the lives of relatively innocent little children and creeps who do that should be publicly castrated with those dull scissors we got in kindergarten and then burned alive. No, you would have never recognized me as a child. I was a very well-behaved, educated person and nice to know, at least reading over my childhood school reports. Ah, but now, I am known as Lord Satan by the boobery, the idiots and the syphilitic cretins that infest this otherwise pleasant planet. And mark this, Robert. Too many people, too little food. And the water will run out and the ice of the world will melt, the oceans rise and Boston will be nothing but a wet dream. I really do hope, Robert, that these catastrophes happen in my life so I can have something to enjoy besides my books and music. There are intelligent, decent people here but they are lost in the jungle of knuckle-draggers.

RTC: Something awful must have happened to you at some point in your life to have given you such a really ugly view of the world.

GD: I think that goes without saying. I told Heini Mueller once that I always pay back my enemies and the flip side of that is that if people leave me alone, why let them go their shambling way to the knackers without any assistance or encouragement from me. Mueller was a good man, Robert, and you knew him. Not many people like that around and probably never were. You see, they outnumber us by a ratio of about a thousand to one. Is that why you like to talk to me, Lord Satan, chief evildoer and disrespecter of vested authority?

RTC: Yes, there aren’t too many like you around, Gregory. Some would say Thank God, like Kimmel, but I enjoy your attitudes and I must say I agree with them, at least mostly.

GD: And I have a perverse sense of humor, Robert. Very perverse. A live-in girlfriend used to pilfer my shampoo and put the empty bottle back on the shelf. I then got angry because when I wanted shampoo, there was only an empty bottle, I filled it with hair remover and she later used it and had to wear a wig for months and when she wasn’t, her short hair made her look like a bull dyke.

RTC: (Laughter) An object of terror.

GD: An object of shame and derision, Robert. Did I ever tell you about the great fake fingerprint game?

RTC: Perhaps you might have, Gregory, but my memory is not what it used to be.

GD: I was at a gun show once and someone had a sheaf of old FBI fingerprint cards from the ‘30s. Bank robbers, car thieves and the rest. I bought about twenty of them for a dollar apiece. Then I had zincs made for me by my print shop…

RTC: Zincs?

GD: Well a reverse negative that is etched in zinc and you use it for rubber stamps. Anyway, I had a number of zincs of the fingerprints of terrible anti-social people so I went to a shop that dealt in theatrical things and bought a bottle of liquid latex and some spirit gum. I painted the latex into the zinc and hey! Presto! I had a perfect copy of the felonious fingerprint. Take a pair of rubber surgeon’s gloves, cut out the new print, use the spirit gum to put it down onto the glove in the right place and then you have the makings of a huge joke. Imagine, if you will, doing something very anti-social and even downright evil and wearing these gloves. Touch every surface in sight. Ah, later the prints are lifted and sent off to the FBI for identification. Wonderful. Some technician screams ‘a fifteen pointer…”

RTC: A what?

GD: Fifteen points are fifteen points of identification, Robert. Can’t go any higher unless the perp’s severed hand was found in the woman’s snatch. Anyway, they run these wonderfully clear prints through the system. Amazement, two weeks later, to discover they belonged to Ronald Mung, convicted bank robber and serial flasher. No question at all. One problem. Herr Mung has been dead since the second Roosevelt administration. Confusion rampant. I never hear about this but I have a good imagination. Are they going out to Holy Cross boneyard and dig Mung up and charge him with aggravated mopery? Serial bicycle-seat sniffing? What? Issue a warrant for a very dead man?

RTC: Of course not. The Bureau would never talk about it and tell the local cops that they could not make any kind of identification but they would keep the prints on record. Phoebe never makes mistakes. Tell me, Gregory, did you ever tell Kimmel about this?

GD: Of course. I like my fun.

RTC: I can imagine his response.

GD: Yes, it doesn’t take a Republican to figure that one out. Just another example of my anti-social and mentally disturbed behavior. These people have absolutely no sense of humor and when they get an idea in their heads,  that is if, they cling to it like a mama monkey with a dead baby. No imagination, Robert, no sense of humor. And if it isn’t in the little book, it can’t have happened.

RTC: (Laughter) I can just hear the stink when the prints of a long dead car thief show up in some unexpected place. They would never know what to do.

GD: No, if it isn’t in your book, the little book they all carry for guidance and instruction, it can’t exist and if it can’t exist, it doesn’t.

RTC: Did you really do that business with the fingerprints?

GD: Oh, a number of times, Robert, but we don’t need to burden you with useless details.

 

(Concluded at 11:55 AM PST

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

 

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Ben Scripture

Benjamin Scripture is a creationist with a PhD in Biochemistry (he is sometimes presented as having a PhD in biology, which is different). Since he has a PhD, he was eligible to sign the Discovery Institute’s silly petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism, but calling Scripture a “scientist” would be, shall we say, a bit of a stretch, and his dissent from Darwinism is not remotely scientific. He is nevertheless teaching biology and biochemistry at Grace College and Manchester College, dark and angry fundamentalist Bible schools that wouldn’t welcome real biology in their classrooms anyways.

Hardly a bigshot in the creationist movement, Scripture nevertheless gives talks and participates in “debates” on creation and creationism. Indeed, he even appears to have his own radio show, “Scripture on Creation”, where he e.g. rejects the results of radiometric dating, recommends Expelled, points to evidence of dinosaurs being described in the Bible (the behemoth – it is likely to be a dinosaur since “what animal alive today fits this description?” ) and discusses the layout of the Ark. He is, however, perhaps most notable for his inability to distinguish random rocks from fossilized brains.

Diagnosis: A reasonably minor character, but Scripture is making his own, small contribution to the erosion of trust and truth as generally recognized values in today’s society.

Tamara Scott

Tamara Scott is the Iowa state director for Concerned Women for America, whose mission is to “protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens,” and member of the Republican National Committee. In addition, Scott has promulgated bigotry and delusion on radio and cable TV shows since 1998, and currently hosts the weekly online show “Tamara Scott Live”. She was also Michele Bachmann’s Iowa campaign co-chairperson for Bachmann’s 2012 presidential campaign, and has been involved in organizing political prayer rallies.

Anti-gay activism

Scott is, unsurprisingly, most notable for her persistent opposition to gay rights and marriage equality, and she has alleged that the legalization of gay marriage hurt Iowa’s economy: “It costs you, the taxpayer, as high as $280 billion a year for fragmented families, that’s according to the Family Research Council.” Now, the Family Research Council is hardly a reliable source for anything but hate, but even assuming their figures one might reasonably wonder how encouraging more people to marry would lead to “fragmented families”. Scott is apparently also concerned that marriage equality will pave the way for man-Eiffel Tower marriage. It is perhaps telling that she doesn’t even dimly recognize the significance of consent.

Scott has also argued that it is ironic for feminists to be in favor of gay marriage; after all, feminists want equality, and it is by banning same-sex marriage one ensures an equal number of men and women were married. “So my laugh is, why wouldn’t you want equality in a marriage?” continued Scott. We suspect that there are aspects of feminist thought (the thoughtpart, for instance) that Scott hasn’t yet quite grasped. She also said she couldn’t support civil unions either because that would lend state support of “the act” that “God has not condoned” and thus violate her religious freedom to remain unaware of gay couple having sex: “I can’t condone what he’s condemned, […] So to ask or to force American citizens to condone something that’s against their deeply held religious convictions is wrong. So whether you call it marriage or you call it a civil union, you’re still asking your fellow citizens to embrace something that goes against their First Amendment religious protections.” This is not how the First Amendment works.

Among things Scott asks listeners to ponder are questions like: “If homosexuality is something to be celebrated by the left, by Hollywood, then why does it need all of these protections? And if it needs these protections, then why do we promote it as an everyday lifestyle and a regular choice for our youth?” (she doesn’t really want you to ponder it) and “if homosexuality is truly just something that happens, then why, one, do we have to recruit it in our kindergarten through college-level educational system and, if it’s just an everyday thing, why does it need all these special protections in the civil rights?” She did make it clear for “all those haters out there” that she was just “asking the question”, though.

Religion, race and politics

Scott is in general firmly opposed to the separation of church and state (it is “nowhere” in the Constitution, according to Scott, though we have already sort of established that Scott has some difficulties understanding the Consitution). Indeed, Scott does not only think that state-sponsored school prayers should be reinstated, but that we need to repent the decision to end them in order to get back on God’s good side. Apparently, not allowing state-sponsored school prayers has led to “assault, rape, murder”. To back up her claims, Scott cites “studies” done by David Barton, a source that is systematically less reliable on matters of fact than the Deepak Chopra quote generator. (In reality, the rates of violent crime and sexual assault have plummeted over the last two decades, of course; and this is certainly not the only time Scott has relied on questionable sources.) She also suggested that instead of passing a “horrible” anti-bullying bill currently being considered in the state legislature, Iowa should just return Christian prayer to schools.

Later she doubled down on her claims, and argued that removing forced prayer from public schools decades ago led to plummeting test scores, increased violence, more parents divorcing, everything in Ferguson, riots, Antifa, and the Resistance. She then accused critics of lying by quoting her verbatim.

In 2015 she weighed in on the Charleston church shooting claiming that the tragedy was “being hijacked to a racial issue.” According to Scott, the shooting in a black church by a gunman with white supremacist views who explicitly stated his desire to start a race war wasn’t as much a “racial issue” as an attack on religion (it is “being made into more of a racial issue than it was”). Scott then accused critics of the Confederate flag of turning a symbol of “fun” into something divisive.

Scott is of course also opposed to immigration, and has pointed out that “we have no idea what’s coming through our borders, but I would say biblically it’s not a Christian nation when you entice people to do wrong;” she has apparently realized that it is good to give reasons for her claims, but has clearly not figured out how it works or what reasons are. She did, however, warn us that child refugees may be “highly trained warriors”. Elsewhere, she has claimed that lenience toward undocumented immigrants would be a betrayal of the founding fathers, because “we put blood on the line to get the liberty we have, so we can’t allow others not to do the same in their country or we bring those wars here.”

Anti-vaccine views

Given the level of density at play, it should perhaps come as little surprise that Scott is also an antivaxxer. According to Scott, antivaxxers are unfairly demonized: disease outbreaks in school do not happen because people don’t get their kids vaccinated but because the “socialist” schools make kids share pencils and have become places where students are now “facing each other”. Apparently Trump’s antivaccine views are just one more reason to vote for him, as Scott sees things.

On Trump

Scott has criticized fellow Christians for not being sufficiently supportive or forgiving of Trump: “Let’s not be judgmental ourselves. Maybe God’s called someone to a camp for various reasons;” indeed critics of Trump are being judgmental and “not very loving” when they criticize Trump, for “only God” knows the candidate’s heart “and God has allowed what has taken place this far.” This sentiment only applies to rightwing politicians of course; as Jesus taught us that forgiveness is a partisan matter. Note also, Scott points out, that Trump promised that “he’ll end the war on Christianity”; Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, “created the war on Christianity,” which is a surprising claim even for someone who stands out for their lunacy among the religious right. At one point she also suggested that Obama in 2016 was trying to bring in massive amounts of refugees to the US to help sway the election. “Am I suggesting that they’ll be voting?” said Scott. “I’m not saying that.”

Diagnosis: Even we will have to admit to being impressed by Scott’s ability to stand out from her associates; even by the standards of wingnut lunatics Scott’s level of deranged confusions are rather exceptional. She does enjoy a modicum of popularity and influence, and remember: she is a member of the RNC.

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