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Learning from the anthrax attacks
What the FBI’s theory says about the real bioterrorism threat
 

“The lesson of the anthrax letters isn't that we're in danger of a bioweapons attack from terrorists,” said Wendy Orent in the Los Angeles Times. The man the FBI says was responsible for the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks was part of a U.S. biodefense program that has grown so vast that it constitutes a threat itself. “We have met the enemy—and it is us."

If the FBI is right about Ivins, said Randall J. Larsen in The Wall Street Journal, we’re in trouble. Investigators believe that the government vaccine researcher, who commited suicide after learning he would be arrested, alone was responsible for the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks. If the technology has advanced to the point where it no longer takes a team of scientists to make a sophisticated bioweapon, the world has reached a frightening “watershed.”

That makes it all the more urgent to “find out what went wrong and how to keep it from happening again,” said Elisa D. Harris in The New York Times. Then we can concentrate on doing a better job at focusing our biodefense research. “To defend against bioweapons, we need not more but better research efforts. The probability that biological weapons will be used against Americans is low, but the consequences of such an attack could be devastating.”

 

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