1998-10-16 - IP: Silent Weapon of Mass Destruction

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From: “Vladimir Z. Nuri” <vznuri@netcom.com>
To: cypherpunks@cyberpass.net
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Message ID: <199810162207.PAA10003@netcom13.netcom.com>
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UTC Datetime: 1998-10-16 22:33:29 UTC
Raw Date: Sat, 17 Oct 1998 06:33:29 +0800

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From: "Vladimir Z. Nuri" <vznuri@netcom.com>
Date: Sat, 17 Oct 1998 06:33:29 +0800
To: cypherpunks@cyberpass.net
Subject: IP: Silent Weapon of Mass Destruction
Message-ID: <199810162207.PAA10003@netcom13.netcom.com>
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From: believer@telepath.com
Subject: IP: Silent Weapon of Mass Destruction
Date: Fri, 16 Oct 1998 11:25:31 -0500
To: believer@telepath.com

Source:  Washington Times

The silent weapon

 By Richard Grenier

There is a certain logic to it, I suppose. Two nuclear
 explosions in Japan half a century ago, with great blasts,
 great noise, mushroom clouds, many dead. It terrified America
 and much of the world and, except for military circles, little
 thought was given to the estimated million American soldiers
 who might have given their lives if they'd tried to storm Japan
 without the nuclear bombs' aid.

But that's the way it goes. A historical event surrounded by
 great theatrical effects makes a really big impression. But what
 if the next weapon of mass destruction is silent, gives no
 warning, is not preceded by a pyrotechnic blast, but takes
 effect more slowly, leaving hospitals swamped, and millions in
 great American cities with hideously blistered faces dying in the

The doctors sent to succor them also die the same painful
 and unsightly deaths. For biological weapons now have the
 potential to wipe out cities, states and even entire national
 populations if positioned in the air, water supply or food
 supply. The food supply would progressively be shipped to
 various parts of the country, ultimately killing millions of people.
 And all, except for the groans of the dying, could be done in
 relative silence, with only the piles of dead in the streets to bear
 witness as in the Plague Years of the Middle Ages.

As pointed out by former Secretary of Defense William
 Perry, most biological agents are sensitive to heat, and
 ready-to-eat foods are the most likely vehicles for mass
 contamination. So eat up your Quick Burger and fries with
 confidence that death will soon follow. Food processing plants
 and water purification facilities also provide tempting targets.

Microorganisms, it should be noted, are a very inexpensive
 way to exterminate entire populations. Above all, many
 microorganisms can be cheaply grown, each having its own
 unique uses. As stressed by Carl Yaeger of Utah Valley State
 College and Steven Fustero, IACSP Director of Operations,
 this is a great advantage in deciding the effect wished to be
 brought about on the section of the population at which the
 attack is directed. Since the organisms are capable of rapid
 reproduction, only a small amount is required to infect a very
 large area.

But possibly more interesting than the large area to be
 infected is the selectivity. With the development of biochemistry
 and genetic engineering, it might be possible to target ethnic
 groups -- which, once it is announced to the general public,
 should do wonders for the harmony of America's various ethnic
 and racial groupings. Judging by some recent events, there are
 not a few extremist groups in the United States that would give
 little thought to wiping out thousands of "undesirables." This
 kind of germ weapon would be highly prized in the hands of
 terrorist groups, and in the hands of these terrorists could well
 be more lethal than tactical nuclear weapons.

A terrorist can accomplish his agenda in many ways with
 biological weapons. Terrorists are creative and use varying
 tactics, as is spelled out in Yonah Alexander's book
 "International Terrorism." The book gives an alarming list of
 different styles of terrorism in different parts of the world.
 Contributing to the problem is the easy availability of
 information for anyone who would mix up a bag of anything
 toxic from recipes readily accessible on the internet.

As Fred Reed points out in his essay "Publishing Do It
 Yourself Munitions Books Increases the Risk of Terrorism,"
 much of this information is not that hard to get. Even nerve gas
 has a patent that makes the formula public. Biological weapons
 do not have a single, unique effect. Human beings along with
 other animals are constantly being attacked by disease-causing
 bacteria and viruses.

Biological weapons, for the most part, create the same
 effects as any of the wide variety of naturally occurring
 diseases, which makes tracking them down so baffling. These
 artificial agents could be used merely to weaken the targeted
 population, to intimidate it with no intention of inflicting wide
 scale casualties, or simply to wipe it out. The options are many.

Biological agents can also be selective in another way, as
 they could be used to target crops and cattle or to start an
 epidemic of a highly dangerous disease such as smallpox.
 Furthermore, if an agent were released in the proper way, it
 could be months before anyone even knew how the epidemic
 had started. And there are many other advantages of using
 biological weapons. Terrorists do not necessarily need or want
 a weapon of mass destruction. A simpler biological weapon
 might be more controllable and kill enough people to suit the
 terrorists' purposes.

Still another advantage could be secrecy and concealment.
 Limited attacks could be carried out secretly before open
 "hostilities" even began. As you can see, a whole new age of
 warfare is beginning. According to an excellent PBS "Frontline"
 documentary aired this week, the Soviet Union, even under
 Mikhail Gorbachev, had already broken an international
 agreement restricting chemical and biological weapons.

But given the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the
 subsequent chaos into which Russia has since been plunged,
 where are those Russian weapons now? Perhaps, wherever
 they are -- and this is an uneasy thought -- they could be
 prepared to kill millions by being disseminated in the air by
 cans of hair spray. But most Americans don't want to think
 about this. 

Copyright (c) 1998 News World Communications, Inc.
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