Posted: 10/23/2001 2:58:26 PM EDT
Of Course It Was Weaponized
Monday, Oct. 22, 2001
Tom Ridge has made his first pronouncement as chief of Homeland Security.
He told America this week that the anthrax being delivered courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service was not "weaponized" anthrax.
Ridge's words may have been meant to reassure people. It had the opposite effect on me.
Ridge joined a chorus of media talking heads and experts informing us that the anthrax attacks pose little risk and that the organism is definitely not "weaponized" anthrax.
I called Dr. Byron Weeks, a former Air Force doctor and retired colonel who has studied infectious diseases and bio warfare for decades.
"Yes, of course it was weaponized anthrax. There's no question," Dr. Weeks told me matter-of-factly.
"Weaponized" simply means that a biological agent is processed so that it can be easily delivered to harm or kill humans.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman said on "Meet the Press" Sunday morning that this was not ordinary, natural anthrax, but a kind that had been "significantly refined."
A homegrown version of anthrax would have yielded a wet form, Dr. Weeks told me. It would be gooey and sticky, hard to inflict upon humans.
But the anthrax popping up around the country is, indeed, highly processed "dry" anthrax. It's weaponized anthrax and intended to kill.
Weeks notes the mail is not the best form of delivery of weaponized anthrax.
The best way to infect many people is by aerosolizing the powder. The terrorists chose not to deliver it this way. Not this time.
But don't be deceived by the constant media drumbeat to hide or muffle problems. "The spores used here were very virulent," Weeks told me.
He noted that the simple opening of one letter in Sen. Daschle's office exposed 31 people. This is no small feat!
One or more of the envelopes was so packed full of spores that some leaked out, exposing postal workers.
We know on Sunday that one postal employee contracted inhalation anthrax and has full-blown symptoms.
Gov. Ridge, did this postal worker acquire "non-weaponized" anthrax?
Even former CIA Director James Woolsey appeared on CNN this weekend and admitted the anthrax had been processed and was "weaponized to some extent."
If our leadership continually tells us mistruths and downplays things that demand significant truth and attention, they don't reduce panic; they increase it.
The American public is not dumb.
When Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said last month that he had everything under control and that the stockpile of antibiotics for 2 million cases was more than enough for the present crisis, people like you and me found it hard to believe. Weeks later Thompson had to reverse himself.
So he ordered up more antibiotics and says there is now enough for 10 million cases. So much for his original claims.
[I might add that before Thompson's announcement, Dr. Weeks told me -- and NewsMax reported -- that the current stockpile was not enough, that if there was a major outbreak, the stockpile would not even be distributed because the political elites would need it for themselves and the military.]