Surely one of the biggest lessons of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is the old Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared.”
On something terribly important, we aren’t.
That something is bioterrorism, what retired Air Force Col. Randall Larsen said is inevitable in this country, and inevitable because of these reasons:
First, the natural pathogens that can do us serious damage are easy to get. Second, it does not require a Ph.D. in organic chemistry or any other field to know how to use them to deadly effect. Third, smuggling them into the country is no big deal.
Fourth, there are a whole lot of terrorists out there who want to kill us.
Check out reports about groundwork, and what do you find? First comes the assessment from the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation, a group that has Larsen as its executive director. In January, it said in so many words that President Barack Obama should put on his dunce cap and face the wall. He had done next to nothing on the issue. Obama said he would and he started, and it seems some progress is being made.
But not as much as is needed. Another report arrived the other day from the inspector general of the Justice Department. When there is a WMD attack and all civic hell breaks loose, this evaluation said, hell will stay loose, doing as it pleases, at least as far as the federal government is concerned. There’s no significant program to restrain it.
Then you get to other concerns, such as a refusal to vaccinate against smallpox until an attack makes it too late to vaccinate.
Larsen himself is far removed from hysteria. He preaches calm, that terror is the worst possible answer to terrorism.</p>
I agree, even as I look at this oil spill and note the prevaricating excuses of an administration that quite consciously decided to let regulatory laxity rule the day and then said it takes forever to change bureaucratic culture.
Listen up, White House. You do not have to quiver in fear or shout and scream, but you do need to execute some basics to make sure that this marvelous country does not perish in the face of WMD. What none of us will abide after a disaster is excuses about how long it takes to invigorate a lax bureaucracy.
Examiner columnist Jay Ambrose is a former Washington opinion writer and editor of two dailies. He can be reached at Speaktojay@aol.com.