Thursday, February 05, 2009

PREDATOR STATE SECURITY: Someone with a basic degree in biology could cause a threat to public health

"The problem is, as experts have testified before this subcommittee before, someone with a basic degree in biology could cause a threat to public health," claimed James R. Langevin, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity and Science & Technology midway through last year. (See the full testimony at FAS's Secrecy Project here.)

Make no mistake, Mr. Langevin and his congressional colleagues are not your friends. They are not servants of the people. If someone in this pack were actually interested in the good of their citizens, they would have stood up and demanded Langevin be beaten bloody with a stick for making such an intelligence-insulting statement.

Yet such claims are the language of commerce in the predator state security system.

One simply cannot have funding diverted from public coffers into useless or self-serving projects unless one works a script designed to evoke fear, to get people to abandon common sense and critical thinking for the belief that one person with a bachelor's degree in biology could seriously threaten the health of the entire country.

Keep in mind this committee hearing was held just around the time Americans were getting a good dose of contaminated drugs (some life-threatening) and foods passing through the FDA because the Bush administration had strangled its funding prior to public outcry.

"If you paid attention to even a few of the congressional hearings this year in which Democrats begged, cajoled and bullied a reluctant FDA to accept more money for overseas inspections, you could be forgiven for wondering what galaxy you were in during a press call by the administration last night to unveil a new, improved FDA budget proposal," reported the Wall Street Journal about half a year ago.

"During the hastily announced call, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt and FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach thanked the president, the administration, and each other for pushing for an additional $275 million for the agency, which has been under constant attack in Congress this year because of the disaster with contaminated heparin from China," continued the newspaper "For the first time, they said in plain, direct language that the agency needs more money than the president requested this year ... Recall that during testy House and Senate hearings, FDA officials, including von Eschenbach, resisted saying they needed a dime more than President Bush has proposed in his FY 2009 budget ... Why all the pussyfooting? The Bush administration’s Office of Management and Budget instituted a rule–see Section 22 of the snoozily named Circular A-11– forbidding government employees from criticizing or disagreeing with the president’s budget, and saying so to Congress. That’s why the FDA balked, and then daintily nosed towards asking for, but not actually asking for, more money this year."

Fast forward to today: "Lawmakers are looking into the national salmonella outbreak and vowing to press for stronger food safety laws and more money for inspections (through FDA)," reported AP, another half year having gone by.

Eight people have died from salmonella infections brought on by tainted peanuts. That's three more deaths than the anthrax mailings caused.

Our predator state takes us all for fools. Anthrax mailings brought about an immediate explosion in government funding to the private sector for defense against bioterrorism. Deaths by poisoning from bad heparin, lousy food or contaminated peanuts brings on hand-wringing, but admonishment that relief for real problems can't come too fast because, well, that costs money and the US is in a big downturn.

"But it remains unclear whether Congress can deliver major improvements in food safety this year, given the press of critical issues such as the shaky economy and a ballooning federal deficit," reports AP, so wisely.

"Congress is a slow-moving beast," adds another sage.

To reiterate: Massively distributed food poisoning is bad. But, still, let's not be hasty in building up the federal agency charged with nipping it in the bud because that would cost more money in 2009. We must act responsibly.

Which brings us back to the probing testimony from "IMPLEMENTING THE BIOSURVEILLANCE REQUIREMENTS OF THE 9/11 ACT."

If you've taken the time to read through it you've noticed it's not about anything productive. It's about how a large amount of effort and money has been poured into sensors and intelligence-sharing groups around Washington, DC, all for the sake of detecting terrorism by disease. And while a great deal of it is secret, it is known that the sensors don't work.

Readers care about public health. Good health is a part of personal security. People are keenly interested in whether or not they will receive adequate health care if they are thrown out of work. They don't care about disease plume sensor networks and bioterror intelligence-interpreting centers around DC. Instead, they wonder whether they will receive adequate or reasonable care even if they have a health plan. They would like the quality of mercy to not be so strained after experiencing it as regularly being so.

Take your host.

For the last five years, DD has had a chronic auto-immune disease in his hands, one which causes the skin around the knuckles of both to regularly crack open and bleed. It's not life-threatening but it is painful and it's obvious. As a result, my left hand often looks like a scabby claw.

A steroid drug controls it but DD's health plan won't pay for the drug. His illness is not catastrophic enough and the drug is considered cheap.

But it's not really cheap.

And after initial consultation with a doctor, it has become pointless to ask for additional help because the doctor is only interested in repeated visits, visits in which the same disease is seen and diagnosis rendered. And the health plan will not pay for that, either.

So, like many people in USA 2009, one makes the decision to endure it because there is simply no other practical option. One gets used to a certain amount of pain and disfigurement.

Imagine how distasteful it is, then, to read the testimony of congressmen pretending to defend the country from bioterror attacks which they claim could kill thousands!

"The Nation continues to face the risk of a major biological event that could cause catastrophic loss of human life, severe economic damages, and significant harm to our Nation's critical infrastructures and key resources," claims Robert Hooks, a deput assistant for weapons of mass destruction and biodefense at the Dept. of Homeland Security.

Man-made diseases which could kill thousands AND destroy bridges, railroads and hospitals!

In the face of the daunting task to make sure everyone has adequate and reasonable health case in this country, that's a pretty damn antagonizing thing to say!

The purpose of the hearing was not to improve public health but to make sure attention and funding continues to be paid to Project Biowatch and the National Biosurveillance Integration Center. And to grant an opportunity for a sales pitch.

To that end, a man whose company is directly tied to the health of the National Biosurveillance Integration Center was brought before the congressional committee to lead a cheer for his firm.

"My name is Dr. James Wilson, Chief Scientist and Chief Technical Officer of Veratect Corporation, a privately funded company with offices in Seattle, Chicago and Alexandria, Virginia," the man told the committee. "Empowering a world at risk," goes its motto. "Veratect looks to solve world health crisis," claims one venture capital p.r. blog.

And then Wilson went into a long exposition, one which can only described as extravagant bragging, informing his audience that Veratect had helped solve health problems all over the world -- from Ebola in Africa to the great tsunami -- and that it was about to help bring in a revolution in medical affairs.

"We stand at the threshold of a new era in public health, where we can detect and perhaps anticipate public health crises and disasters through Veratect's groundbreaking methodology and global partnerships," proclaimed Wilson.

"I have three closing comments that speak to where we go from here," Wilson told the congressional committee.

These all involved recommending the wider use of his firm through the Department of Homeland Security.

"Veratect provides a superset of capabilities, resources and global relationships with private and non-profit organizations that can be of the greatest value to [National Biosurveillance Integration Center] in meeting its mission," added the salesman.

"I would like to thank the visionaries in the Federal Government and Congress who supported the research and development that led us to this point ..." Wilson concluded.

And DD would like to thank the US health care system for helping to make sure his fingers always hurt and look like raw meat. It's not like it'll kill me.



Related:

Lethal heparin -- betrayed by American company, Baxter, which loses control of its supply chain for sake of extended profits.

Kidney stones, courtesy of Chinese-made melamine.

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