Wednesday, September 27, 2006

AN AGROTERROR SIDESLIDE SHOW: Don't forget to visit the Protect-Our-Food vendor expo!

The second annual International Symposium on Agroterrorism in Kansas City this week serves a couple of functions. One is to allow a segment of the bioterror-is-coming lobby to run through its usual warnings and predictions. The second is to increase opportunity for commerce and profit in the war on terror.

Regarding the symposium, the FBI brightly says: "A Protect-Our-Food Expo will also be available, assembling vendors from a variety of disciplines to share information and promote relevant products and services."

And the vendor expo would not be best served if there weren't declarations coming from the presenters, declarations which indicate goods and services are needed, like cameras, more locks, various gadgets, security assessors, etc.

For example, Peter Chalk, a not-biologist or farmer or person even slightly trained in a hard sciencepolitical scientist at RAND, quoted on vulnerability to agroterror, for the Dow Jones newswire, in US Animal Production Vulnerable to Attack: "There also is a widespread lack of security and surveillance in place at [farms], [Chalk] said. Many simple items like locks and gates are lacking."

And animals on farms are packed together, which increases their stress, increasing their vulnerability to agroterrorism:

"The close confinement practices of U.S. agriculture in livestock production not only increases the contact animals have with each other, but it is thought to increase stress levels among the animals, which by itself increases disease susceptibility, Chalk said."

The FBI's symposium site also helpfully includes presentations from last year's confab, so DD decided to have a look and sample some of the best for you. And when DD says best, it means best in the sense of parts of presentations in which the alleged experts are caught clowning, phoning it in with material that is either stupid, deceptive or designed to indoctrinate a simple-minded audience with the idea that agroterror is inevitable and easy.

First off, parts of a colorful slide show put on by Jerry Jax, Associate Vice Provost for Research Compliance at Kansas State University.

This is a picture of the terrorist weapon known as the "anti-cow gravity bomb."

What does anthrax have to do with agroterror? Good question. It furnishes an opportunity for scary quotes.

What does the ricin-loaded umbrella that was used to assassinate Georgi Markov in 1978 have to do with agroterrorism? Perhaps al Qaeda is planning to use them to inject potatoes or apples with ricin pellets!

It's always good to remind the audience, in case they've fallen asleep from boredom, that agroterror is "#1 . . . nothing but Bad News."

Here's what the presenter didn't show in his slide. It's the most interesting part, too.

From a common college textbook, "Fundamentals of Microbiology" by I. Edward Alcamo:

"Perhaps the most famous and controversial use of [Serratia marcescens] was the US Army's 'Operation Sea-spray,' conducted in 1951 and 1952. To study wind currents that might carry biological weapons, scientists filled balloons with cultures of [the organism] and burst them over the ocean near San Francisco . . . Shortly thereafter, doctors at close by Stanford Hospital noted an unusual outbreak outbreak of pneumonia and urinary tract infections among hospital patients. They isolated Serratia in some of these cases, but could not establish the source . . . Serratia pneumonia is accompanied by patches of bronchopneumonia, and in some cases, substantial tissue destruction in the lungs . . . In addition, it is a widespread agent of urinary tract disease."


Although this Jax slide is a mysterious bit of Photoshopped gibber, given that the President is a teetotaler, it could have used a better caption, like: "If only I still had Saddam to accuse of supporting bioterror, I could go back to drinking beer at the ranch."

Another slide show on-line at the FBI's agroterror symposium site is that of Joseph Annelli, Director of Emergency Programs, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), USDA. It was entitled "Agricultural Threats -- Livestock and Crops" which seems a bit clumsy, leaving the reader to puzzle over whether or not livestock and crops actually are threats to agriculture.

The presentation's message was similar to Jerry Jax's, often using the same colors and styles.

Good thing that's "Unclassified/For Official Use Only."

Annelli also tried to build a case for an al Qaeda capability in agroterrorism. However, since the evidence of capability is nil, what one can only display is a desire of some kind. To this end, "documents" -- and the term must be very broady applied -- found in Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban, were presented.

Documents, in this case, meant some Arabic [?] scribble on a sheet from a legal pad, more scribble on a partially burned piece of paper and a pamphlet from a model helicopter flight simulator computer game called AeroChopper. Lame!

[Note: An alert reader points out the legal pad notes may not even by in Arabic. The slide was such that it was difficult to magnify.]

Looks dangerous!


Blogger P. Curtin said...

Any chance of a closer look at that legal pad? If it's Arabic script it's leaning the wrong way...
like, as in, written by a westerner.
Just askin'


10:52 AM  
Blogger George Smith said...

Good point. It may not even be Arabic. It was impossible for me to make it any larger or legible from the slide I had to work from. But you're welcome to take a whack at the original. Follow the link to the "presentations" and click on Anelli's slide show. It is near the end of his presentation and unlabelled.

10:56 AM  
Blogger George Smith said...

Here's the URL:

Annelli slide show.

It's #36.

11:02 AM  

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