Tuesday, August 29, 2006

DOCTORS STRANGEBUG & ACID-THROWER: Official testimony from 1995

Bill Patrick, the United States' dark guru of biowarfare, was in the news recently.

"Although liquid bombs are in the news these days, a possibly more harmful weapon could become a reality within the next few years," wrote a Louisiana newspaper.

"William Patrick III, who has more than 50-years experience in biological warfare, said dissemination is the main hurdle left to perfecting biological warfare. The biological agents are out there, Patrick said Wednesday at the Fourth Annual Instructor Professional Development Conference sponsored by the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training at LSU. The only thing lacking is getting those agents to a target. But some governments and terrorists are working on that process, said Patrick . . . "

One can question the utility of Bill Patrick, other than as a teller of scarey stories, at any professional development conference on biomedical research and training.

After all, what does Bill Patrick offer? Think a moment. How good for the nation is professional development and training in the making of germ weapons?

If one wants to violate the Biological Weapons Convention, an arms control treaty the US is signatory to, then Bill Patrick would be the perfect choice to drag out of retirement.

But Patrick was known prior to the Amerithrax mailings as one of the primary voices from the bioterror-is-coming lobby. Journalists, particularly those at the New York Times, loved his tales of how easy it was to cause microbial mayhem. Always bragging about making wonderful infectious powders for the US military, one would have thought Patrick was a scientist on a par with those who worked in the Manhattan Project.

Not quite.

Quoting from the blog a few months back:

No longer did [Bill Patrick] tell tales of how good his microbial preparations had been. Newspaper articles on him flying about the country to deliver seminars on bioterror, one -- for example, in Hollywood, for an audience of the well-to-do and reported in the Los Angeles Times, stopped. His rambles to reporters on how easy it was to dispense powders of . . . death over Maryland and the capitol were silenced . . .

In a review of Judith Miller's book, Germs, for which Patrick was a primary source, I wrote:

On Sunday, October 14, Judith Miller of The New York Times wrote of her personal anthrax scare, "As I washed my hands and tried to dust off the powder that clung to my pants and shoes, I thought about what Bill Patrick, my friend and bioweapons mentor had told me . . . "

We should all be so lucky to have as friend and "bioweapons mentor" someone who, according to Miller's book, Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War, infected "volunteers" with Q fever microbes to see what dosages were effective in producing illness, a man who was "overjoyed" when a field test on animals went south and people who weren't supposed to get sick did, because it proved his team of sorcerer's apprentices were producing "a product that was very, very good." The reader is informed that everyone survived. That made it all right?

In a better world, a Bill Patrick would have been given the bum's rush a long time ago . . .

For the most part, Bill Patrick has been given the bum's rush since 9/11. This is a good thing. No cornucopia of lurid quotes about his splendidly made powders of death crept into the Lousiana newsmedia.

To get the flavor of Bill Patrick, it's useful to see what he actually had to say when speaking to a crowd on bioterror.

The following quotes come from a conference on biological and chemical terror preparedness, held back in 1995, in Maryland. (Thanks to RMS for pointing it out.)

Patrick's comments start on his scenarios to attack the World Trade Center with germs. Keep in mind, this is well before Osama bin Laden and the hijackers made a monkey out of his claims about the utility of biological weapons, as compared to jetliners.

"The size of the building is also very important," said Patrick. "The World Trade Center, a heck of a big building, contains 10 billion liters of air, huge building. We are going to grow bacillum toxin in garbage cans and we are going to assume that we get good growth of the toxin.

". . .Already you can see that this is getting out of hand. We are going to disseminate this amount of material in a 2-gallon garden sprayer. Can you imagine spraying 264 gallons by means of a garden sprayer in a building intake?

"It does not make any sense.

"Anyway, using the number of human doses we have available, it did not work. You got 0.00002 human doses per liter of air so you would have to be in that building for several years before you could accumulate that level of dose.

"Why did botulinum toxin fail? We all know that botulinum toxin is the most toxic substance known to mankind. It is highly effective when you go around shooting into the gut or giving it by the oral route, but it is significantly less effective by the aerosol route. Let me give you an example. It takes 1,500 mouse gut doses to give you one mouse aerosol dose, over three logs difference. You see that limits the effectiveness of botulinum toxin on an open-air target.

"We are going to attack the World Trade Center with the old U.S. spray-dried botulinum toxin. Notice that our concentration is much higher, that we have a very small particle size; the dose per man is the same. This time we are going to use a disseminator, the ADC fire extinguisher using C02. It makes a beautiful disseminator. You get about 40 percent of your material up as an aerosol, and it only takes one kilogram. That is what we are going to disseminate, one kilogram, and I can hide one kilogram on my person and not be obvious. If people are in the building for one minute, they do not, of course, get sufficient material, but if they are in the building for 20 minutes, we reach our first LD 50. Of course, most people are in the building where they work for more than 20 minutes."

Don't be flustered by the jargon and figures. It's just standard Patrick boasting.

You should be scratching your head right now, asking the question: "What the heck does this have to do with defense or preparation against bioterrorism?"

Almost nothing.

It's simply Bill Patrick going on about how he could fatally sicken people in the WTC with his products from the US's old Cold War bioweapons arsenal.

It's entirely about Bill Patrick and his bioweaponeering talent back in the days when he was employed by the military.

"In this next situation, we are going to attack the World Trade Center with crude tularemia; francisella tularensis," continues Patrick.

"I want to use 1,000 blood auger plates that you can buy practically anywhere: hospital supply houses, for instance. I can scrape 1,000 of these plates in 2 hours without a problem. I am going to scrape with a cotton swap so that I get confluent growth. In about 36 hours I am going to wash off the material that has grown there. I am going to wash it off with saline. If the terrorist is wise he is going to add a little sugar to maintain isotensity of the cell wall, cell membrane. I am going to Waring-blend this mixture and then I am going to filter it through cheese cloth.

"I am going to use a garden sprayer to disseminate the material. The critical point here, in addition to the agent, is that the garden sprayer has got to develop 90 psi; if it is less than that, you can forget it.

"One thousand plates with this little scheme will yield 5 liters of product or 1.32 gallons of material. Trust me on this. The agent concentration is not like a sophisticated production facility, but we have five times 108 of these cells per milliliter. The dose for man is a very conservative 50 cells; I could as easily have used 10 cells if it is fresh material. The garden sprayer has a 2-gallon capacity, 90 psi, one split orifice. I am going to disseminate at the rate of 1 gallon per 10 minutes, and I am going to use a very low disseminating efficiency because
garden sprayers are not very efficient. I am going to get 0.001 percent of the material that I have. Attacking the World Trade Center with your good friend tularemia!"

". . . Finally, I believe that a dedicated terrorist group can produce crude BW agents with simple procedures, with readily available equipment. I think they can jerry rig disseminating devices from equipment that can be purchased from a local hardware store. They can infect and kill large numbers of people in confined areas like buildings. The Pennsylvania Turnpike tunnel was a very interesting study, classified, of course. The subway systems in New York, Chicago, and Washington. They will certainly produce panic and hysteria."

If you read Patrick's entire presentation in the original, along with the rest of those from the old bioterror-is-coming lobby, the audience doesn't quite get Bill Patrick. A couple venture to say, logically, that if everything is possible just as he says it is, there's nothing anyone can do. The terrorists will strike, lots of people will get sick and die, and emergency services will be crushed.

Just get lots of body bags and quicklime.

Of course, Bill Patrick doesn't have an answer to any of it. At least, not any good ones. It was only ever his job to convince people that bioweapons capabilities as developed by clandestine national programs, like his, could now be assumed to be within reach of small terrorist groups.

The testimony included in this long .pdf (link at the foot of this article) include words from members of the it's-easy-to-mount-a-chemical attack lobby, too.

Consider Army expert Fred Sidell. Chemical attack -- mass acid-throwing -- is easy for Fred. All the information is on the Internet. You can make poison gas in your home. All you need is one book, Silent Death, by an author called "Uncle Fester."

"It is great reading if you enjoy this kind of thing," says Sidell. "I read it in one sitting; it was great. There are a lot of different types of processes here for how to make chemical agent materials. There is also some basic toxin materials in here as well, on how to make ricin and other things. Other books out there are The Anarchist's Cookbook, the Poisoners Handbook and the Poor Man's Atomic Bomb. As someone just mentioned, there is a lot on the Internet. So it is not even difficult for the bad guy to figure out . . ."

Dick Destiny blog has written quite a bit about these books. See here on The Poisoners Handbook. And I deal with the infamous Silent Death here and here.

What these books are and were good for is mention by the chemical and bioterrorism lobby as evidence that anyone can make weapons of mass destruction in their kitchen. It's not important that anyone know what is actually in such books. It is only important that the myths being spun about them are believed.

Knowing that, the one way to view such testimony as Sidell's, is with contempt.

Those in attendance or transcribing are being told stories of substantial distortion and exaggeration to scare them into a frame of mind that accepts the idea that exotic terror weapons can be assembled from materials in your house, simply by following scribbles found on the Internet or in thin, error-filled tomes, put together by dodgy small publishers.

Make a chlorine weapon in your bathroom, says Sidell.

"If you want to check out chlorine, take some household ammonia and some household bleach, lock yourself in the bathroom, turn off the ventilator fan, and put it in a bucket. Shake it up and let it sit a little. What you will produce is chlorine gas. You will see green gas come off the mixture and it will burn out your larynx."

Such clowning and showing off! Yes, yes, sir, mothers told us never to mix ammonia and bleach or you might see spots and stars before your eyes, but it's not a weapon of terror.

Sidell also goes onto mention how terrorists could spray people with malathion or some other insecticide. He mentions teaching FBI agents about the terror danger. No recognition that illegals and immigrant farm workers in California get sprayed with insecticide when they're in the fields and that the state compiles statistics on it.

Remember, all this was delivered in 1995 in a seminar called "Responding to the Consequences of Biological and Chemical Terrorism" at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD. It's not so much about responding or training responders as it is about the lecturers telling people how easy it is to create a variety of terror weapons and plans.

Shameful, don't you think? Here's the ugly thing.


Post a Comment

<< Home