This is a story too good not to share. Bioterrorism remains a priority for US security experts, even the terrible experts that leave sensitive documents on planes for the minimum wage cleaners to find.
Back in early 2018, a scientist working in the Biowatch division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) brought some sensitive documents on board the plane with him.
They were marked “Important for National Security” and were (obviously) of a sensitive nature.
The guy left them in the back pocket of the seat when he left the plane. A CNN reporter grabbed the documents and ended up reporting on it.
The documents discussed the measures against an anthrax attack at the Superbowl. The United States DHS has been active in their countering potential bioterror attacks by using a program they call “Biowatch“. They recognize the potential risk of bioterrorism, especially as a means of a weapon of mass destruction:
BioWatch is managed by the DHS Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office. [Editors note: So not a “biohazard department”, anymore. Now it’s a WMD]
A bioterrorist attack against the United States is a constant threat with potentially devastating consequences, including mass casualties, economic instability, and damage to critical infrastructure. Established in 2003, the DHS BioWatch Program provides early warning of a bioterrorist attack in more than 30 major metropolitan areas across the country. This early warning helps decision makers plan an effective, coordinated, and rapid response.
Curious about how it works? Here’s the description:
The BioWatch Program provides air-monitoring, analysis, notification procedures, and risk assessment to 30+ jurisdictions. This program can substantially minimize the catastrophic impact of a biological attack.
BioWatch involves a large network of stakeholders from public health, emergency management, law enforcement, laboratory, scientific, and environmental health organizations around the country who collaborate to detect and prepare a coordinated response to a bioterrorism attack.
Bioterrorism Remains a Priority for Certain U.S. Security Experts
Sadly, it appears the largest focus is on easily identifiable bioterror agents such as Anthrax instead of other risks such as development of man-made agents, CRISPR, or the bubonic plague in California.
Additionally, the program only focuses on certain metro areas, so any small-scale testing of dangerous bio-weapons would fall under the radar. This information shouldn’t be public. Anyone with malicious intent could just move outside of a metro area for testing purposes. I’m sure they’re not reporting all of their locations, but even reporting 30 is foolish in my opinion.
Sadly, given the current state of technology and the mass availability of potential biohazard agents, I’m not sure what more they could be doing. But it is nice to know they are taking the risks seriously in certain departments in the government. Even if the scientists just leave sensitive documents everywhere.
That is, if these were not left on the plane specifically for that purpose of being found and reported.
It is also interesting to know they are monitoring large events, such as the Superbowl, during their biohazard monitoring. It makes you wonder what else they are doing covertly during massive events such as the Superbowl. I bet the expense gone into those is insane and involves a lot of black money.
The further we go the more the risk of bioterrorism rises. The Pentagon is considering insects for bioterror weaponization. North Korea has been sending scientists abroad and gathering equipment for biological terror agents. Nothing is truly stopping a genetically targeted bioweapon. Two scientists in Canada publically released a paper providing a recipe detailing exactly how to make smallpox.
The US also lifted a ban recently that prohibited scientists from making (altering or creating) more virulent strains of of viruses and bacteria.
So while we have a Biowatch program, it is increasingly appearing weak in the face of the ever-rising threat. The scientists and experts at the DHS may be taking it seriously, but I’m not sure if the rest of the government is even listening.