Archive for July, 2008


Updated 081408

Thanks to Stephen Lendman for making this valuable imformation available to us.

An aside note: After you finish reading Stephen’s piece, If you want to see how this article ties into the NBAF, click here for a FLETC, Power Point presentation. Pay close attention to slide 11, “Integrated Project Team” and then view the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center NBACC Powerpoint presentation. It leaves little to the imagination what the true mission is of the proposed NBAF.

Moreover, the NBAF Feasibility Study (obtained by Russ Kick goverment  watchdog,  founder of The Memory Hole through a FOIA request) indicates the NBAF will have a  “SCIF” conference room See Pages 242 and 243.

Consider this from Athens FAQ :  “SCIF stands for “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilty”. The government defines Sensitive Compartmented Information as “Classified information concerning or derived from intelligence sources, methods, or analytical processes, which is required to be handled exclusively within formal control systems established by the Director of Central Intelligence.” Newbold’s Biometric Dictionary for Military and Industry tells us “Moreover, programs handled under the SCI paradigm are normally not acknowledged by the US government.”

Any questions? Yeah I know I couldn’t sleep either.

The Bush Administration’s Secret Biowarfare Agenda – by Stephen Lendman

When it comes to observing US and international laws, treaties and norms, the Bush administration is a serial offender. Since 2001, it’s:

— spurned efforts for nuclear disarmament to advance its weapons program and retain current stockpiles;

— renounced the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and asserted the right to develop and test new weapons;

— abandoned the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) because it expressly forbids the development, testing and deployment of missile defenses like its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and other programs;

— refuses to adopt a proposed Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) that would prohibit further weapons-grade uranium and plutonium production and prevent new nuclear weapons to be added to present stockpiles – already dangerously too high;

— spends more on the military than the rest of the world combined plus multi-billions off-the-books, for secret programs, and for agencies like the CIA;

— advocates preventive, preemptive and “proactive” wars globally with first-strike nuclear and other weapons under the nihilistic doctrines of “anticipatory self-defense” and remaking the world to be like America;

— rescinded and subverted the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) to illegally develop new biowarfare weapons; in November 1969 and February 1970, Richard Nixon issued National Security Decision Memoranda (NSDM) 35 and 44; they renounced the use of lethal and other types of biological warfare and ordered existing weapons stockpiles destroyed, save for small amounts for research – a huge exploitable loophole; the Reagan and Clinton administrations took advantage; GHW Bush to a lesser degree;

— GW Bush went further by renouncingthe US Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 that prohibits “the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons….;” on May 22, 1990, GHW Bush signed it into law to complete the 1972 Convention’s implementation; what the father and Nixon established, GW Bush rendered null and void; “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”is his central policy document for unchallengeable US hegemony; among other provisions, it illegally advocates advanced forms of biowarfare that can target specific genotypes – the genetic constitution of individual organisms.

A Brief Modern History of Biowarfare

— the Hague Convention of 1907 bans chemical weapons;

— WW I use of poison gas causes 100,000 deaths and 900,000 injuries;

— Britain uses poison gas against Iraqis in the 1920s; as Secretary of State for War in 1919, Winston Churchill advocates it in a secret memo stating: “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes;”

— the 1928 Geneva Protocol prohibits gas and bacteriological warfare;

— in 1931, Dr. Cornelius Rhoads infects human subjects with cancer cells – under the auspices of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Investigations; Rhoads later conducts radiation exposure experiments on American soldiers and civilian hospital patients;

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Well this should come as no surprise. Raleigh with the aid of a contractor, the engineering firm Arcadis reviewed the NBAF Draft Environment Impact Statement and determined that it did not adequately address Raleigh’s concerns. I’m sure the term Nimby will be hurled at the Raleigh city staff and the city council next.

Thing is, if you read the document (which I have) there is no way one could be assured this facility does not come with risk as well as some legimate future environmental concerns. Specifically SGWASA’s ability to handle future wastewater volume as well as treatment of the NBAF Effluent. This would be crucial if the NBAF used a disposal method such as alkaline hydrolysis (tissue digester). But we don’t know because the waste disposal method, one would expect to see in the DEIS has yet to be decided. 

If you would like to read or download Raleigh’s list of questions you can do so here.

Consider this from David Bracken, Staff Writer – The News and Observer

Concerned about protecting Raleigh’s drinking water, city staff members issued a report this afternoon recommending the City Council oppose a proposal to locate a federal defense lab in Butner.

The recommendation comes after city’s public utilities department determined that the Department of Homeland Security had failed to respond to critical questions that Raleigh had formally submitted to federal officials in September 2007.

Most of those questions related to the fact that the Butner site is located within the Falls Lake water supply watershed. Falls Lake is the sole source of drinking water for Raleigh and six other Wake County towns.

City Manager Russell Allen will present the report to the City Council at its meeting on Tuesday.

Raleigh worked with the engineering firm Arcadis to come up with the list of questions and comments that it earlier submitted to Homeland Security.

Today’s recommendation came after city staff and Arcadis reviewed a draft of an Environmental Impact Statement that Homeland Security officials are preparing for the Butner site. The draft did not adequately address Raleigh’s concerns, the staff determined.

For Immediate Release: 

Clean Water for NC Calls for DHS to Withdraw NBAF Proposal for All Sites

Flawed Assumptions About Risk, Errors and Inadequate Environmental Assessment

            You have to give ‘em credit. The Dept. of Homeland Security has been constructing the foundation of its own failure to convince the public and officials that the NBAF can or should be sited at any mainland site, says Hope Taylor, executive director of Clean Water for NC.

 

            Ultimately, the final EIS must address not only the question of which location Homeland Security considers best for the NBAF, but whether the facility should be built at all. Taylor, who is also a small dairy goat farmer only a few miles from the proposed Butner site, emphasizes, “DHS must realize at this point that the whole concept of this lab must be revisited. The consequences of the accident scenarios are so catastrophic that I can’t imagine any public official is going to be reassured that the proposed facility’s benefits outweigh its risks.”

 

            And it’s not just Foot and Mouth Disease, the highly transmissible pathogen that DHS wants to move to a mainland research setting after years of being banished to the off shore Plum Island animal disease lab. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement does acknowledge the “moderate” risk of a significant impact if a release occurs, and gives scenarios for both Foot and Mouth (for which it estimates under $4 billion in losses, significantly less than actually occurred in the UK following a release), and Rift Valley Fever (saying that losses could go as high as $50 billion, because RFV is transmissible to humans). The DEIS tends to minimize the risks, and assumes that organisms would be destroyed by the kind of fire or explosion that would destroy the containment structures for higher level biohazards. In fact, a pressure wave from any explosion could carry live organisms outside the range of a fire and leave the surrounding wildlife, livestock and residents vulnerable.

 

“If it was a proposal for a chemical factory in this location, there’d be no question”, it just wouldn’t happen,” exclaimed Dean Najouks, the Neuse River Foundation’s, Upper Neuse RiverKeeper.  “Why are we even talking about studying some of the world’s deadliest diseases right upstream from a water supply for over 400,000 people?” The concern for potential contamination of Falls Lake caused the Raleigh City Council to vote to oppose the NC site at Butner.

 

Such concerns are further deepened by the lack of regulatory credibility of state water quality regulators to limit releases of organisms from potentially inadequately treated water from the wastewater treatment plant where NBAF wastes would be piped, a wastewater plant that has a significant history of not holding industries accountable for their waste violations, and the lack of Clean Water Act standards for these disease organisms.

 

The DEIS is peppered with embarrassing errors from an agency about which most Americans are already skeptical after its mishandling of disasters and post 9/11 security precautions. The document states that “$51 billion” in tax revenues would come to North Carolina during the construction phase (we think they meant $51 million), and refers to ‘2.2 cars per day” on Rt. 75 (probably off by at least 2 of orders of magnitude), a major two-lane artery between Durham and Granville Counties. While dismissing the environmental impacts at various sites as “moderate” or “minor,” the report repeatedly refers to the “benefits” of the facility to local wildlife and livestock as “significant,” an extremely ironic twist, as one method of preventing the spread of diseases at a mainland site is destruction of wildlife around the facility, as has been done at Plum Island on occasion.

 

The issues most commonly raised by members and contacts of Clean Water for NC about the proposed NBAF facility have been:

1) impacts on water quality and new diseases introduced to the area, requiring impossible perfection of construction, maintenance and operations to prevent a release;

2) lack of transparency and public accountability for the facility’s operations;

3) the vulnerability of hospitalized and imprisoned residents, complete inability to evacuate or manage a quarantine of them;

4) excessive or ineffective security, downright paranoia and incompetence of DHS and its contractors, including possible paramilitary bullying of local population and;

5) the misleading portrayal of the facility as being a substantial economic benefit to the area, when most permanent employees would not be locally hired and there would not be a saleable product, so the facility’s economic productivity would always be dependent on uncertain federal funding.

 

Hope Taylor, Executive Director

Clean Water for NC

Just minutes ago, the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Rove in contempt. Looks like the Send Rove to Jail campaign paid off.

From the AP

A House panel Wednesday voted to cite former top White House aide Karl Rove for contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena to answer questions about the dismissals of several federal prosecutors as its Senate counterpart explored punishments for an array of alleged past and present Bush administration misdeeds.

Voting 20-14 along party lines, the House Judiciary Committee said that Rove had broke the law by failing to appear at a July 10 hearing on allegations of White House influence over the Justice Department, including whether Rove encouraged prosecutions against Democrats such as former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

The committee decision is only a recommendation, and it was unclear whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., would allow a final vote. Rove has denied any involvement with Justice decisions, and the White House has said Congress has no authority to compel testimony from current and former advisers.

It’s time to get off our butts and stop this environmental nightmare once and for all. Tomorrow is your last chance to go toe to toe with DHS in person. You know you want to show them the love, right? Seriously this is the last meeting before site selection is made in October, however the comment period does not end until August 25. On June 20th 2008, a very flawed Draft Environment Impact Statement was released on the proposed sites. The meeting tomorrow is part of the NEPA process DHS must obey. Good thing, because the DEIS itself fell short of the “hard look” required by NEPA law. Consider this from Lisa Sorg of Indy Weekly.

There is a lot more we don’t know about. The DEIS lays out, in gory detail, how an outbreak could occur, whom the diseases would affect, and their symptoms. The document estimates the economic costs—in the billions, counting agricultural losses and human health care expenses—and possible methods to rein in an outbreak.

Yet the report, on the basis of which citizens and government officials are expected to form an opinion, is short on many important specifics.

For example, the DEIS doesn’t detail standard procedures to deal with an outbreak, stating only that the protocol would be “publicly accepted” before the lab opens.

“We would do public outreach so folks would understand why they don’t need to panic,” Verrico said. “What things they need to do to keep themselves and their livestock safe.”

Nor does the DEIS pinpoint how the lab would dispose of infected animal carcasses used in experiments. (However, it does forecast the impacts, such as additional air emissions, from disposal methods.) Incineration and tissue digestion—essentially, liquefying the remains using chemicals—could be used “in combination,” Verrico said. However, in the 1980s, Granville County activists, including some current lab opponents, successfully beat back a proposed hazardous waste incinerator; it is unlikely that another would pass muster.

While the lab would be responsible for sterilizing and pretreating its wastewater, questions also linger about South Granville Water and Sewer Authority’s ability to handle an additional 25 million gallons per year. The DEIS does not mention SGWASA’s fines or violations as possible drawbacks, even though since 2003, the state’s Division of Water Quality fined the authority $27,000 for discharging polluted wastewater into the already-polluted Knap of Reeds Creek. The creek flows into Falls Lake, Raleigh’s primary drinking water source. SGWASA would be charged with monitoring NBAF’s compliance with wastewater standards, something the authority has failed to consistently do with its other industrial customers.

Go to nobio.org and get the details concerning tomorrow’s meeting. There will be two sessions. I have it on good authority that a rally will take place in the evening so this is something you don’t want to miss. You know the consorts will be out in force so if you are serious about your community be there, and plan to comment. 

On July 24th members of GNAT went to Washington D.C. to present their citizen’s petition to DHS. Joining them were Kathy Prescott and Grady Thrasher of Athens FAQ, a non-profit in Athens Georgia trying to stop the NBAF from being sited in their community. GNAT deserves all of our support now more than ever. Let’s make sure this is the last visit DHS has to make to Butner, North Carolina, shall we. See you there.

Press release from Chuck Stires, candidate for NC Senate representing
Granville, Vance, Warren and Franklin Counties:

Chuck Stires reaffirms his challenge of the benefit of the biolab in Butner

“As a family man, small business owner and long time resident of this area, I have a deep appreciation of the lifestyle offered by the suburbs that are growing around the Triangle area,” said Chuck Stires, candidate for the NC senate representing Vance, Warren, Franklin and Granville Counties. “Some counties around the Triangle are realizing tremendous residential growth and the associated economic development that provides jobs and opportunities for the citizens and taxpayers.

As I stated back in February, it is my belief that the construction of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) will not prove to be the long-term attractant to further economic growth that Granville County desperately needs.”

“My opponent, Doug Berger, enthusiastically endorsed and supported the NBAF,” Stires went on. “It is only very recently, in an election year, amidst the obvious growing concern of many voters in the region that Doug Berger is now questioning his own support.” “An elected official must have the vision to clearly see and understand the long term legislative and governmental needs of the community,” Stires said. “An elected representative of the people must not jump on and off issues as the short-term winds of politics appear to shift.”

Chuck Stires knows that prisons, landfills, waste treatment, mental health facilities, and military bases are examples of the kinds of facilities that are necessary in support of growing metropolitan areas. They are the kinds of facilities that offer some initial economic benefit, but can stifle the necessary residential and commercial economic growth that is long lasting and deep-rooted, providing the foundation for further growth in surrounding communities.

“As the Triangle area grew, these facilities were identified as necessities, but they consumed large areas of valuable property, and would be considered a deterrent to residential and commercial growth if they were too close to residences, schools, businesses and natural resources. So, at the time, nearby, but still very rural, Granville County appeared to be the best option to house these facilities,” Stires continued. “The needs of growing surrounding counties should have been recognized by the officials who made these decisions years ago. But that kind of short-term thinking has to stop. The negative reaction of so many in this community should be seen as a glaring indicator of the kind of reaction potential new homeowners and commercial developers will have if still one more potentially off-putting facility is built in Granville County.”

“The lure of an initial influx of cash and job opportunities during the biolab’s construction will fade,” Stires said. “But the long-term reality of its impact on property values and residential and commercial growth will be realized for years thereafter.”

“As I stated months ago, early in the debate on the NBAF, a position I still hold today. I do not believe the construction of the NBAF is in the best long-term interests of the citizens and property owners of Granville County and this region.”

In June, the Department of Homeland Security released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement regarding six potential sites for a new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), including the Umstead Research Farm in Butner. You can find it at www.dhs.gov /xres/labs/gc_ 1187734676776. shtm.

The report is a comedy of terrors.

The “Biological Hazard/Accident/Threat/Risk Model” used by Homeland Security rated the overall risk posed by placing the facility in Butner as “moderate,” the same as four other locations, with a fifth rated “low” risk.

The conclusion is far from reassuring, though, because Homeland Security did not fully consider two factors unique to the Butner site: unexploded ordnance and the presence nearby of more than 6,500 patients and prison inmates who could neither be evacuated nor protected in the event of an accident or terrorist attack.

The most stringent precautions imaginable are called for at the NBAF, which (as the report states) will be “appropriate for handling exotic pathogens that pose a high risk of life-threatening disease in animals and humans through the aerosol route and for which there is no known vaccine or therapy.”

Homeland Security tried to be reassuring about the unexploded ordnance. The scattered artillery, mortar and bazooka shells are a legacy of World War II when the 249-acre proposed site was part of a 40,000-acre combat training facility. “Recent investigations indicate the potential for unexploded ordnance is low, although institutional controls still remain on the site. Training for construction workers may be required … .”

But the danger is not limited to the construction workers. After work on the site is completed, undiscovered shells would remain nearby, available to potential terrorists.

Use of this ordnance in an attack on the proposed lab is not a scenario considered by Homeland Security. However unlikely it is (ordnance becomes unstable over time, so those attempting to dig up and transport a shell might unwittingly become suicide bombers), we must not forget that on Sept. 10, 2001, it seemed preposterous that 19 men armed with box-cutters would change the world — or that we would need a Department of Homeland Security to protect us from such attacks.

In another attempt at reassurance, the possibility of accidents is acknowledged. “There are very few scenarios that would result in animal or human disease, the exceptions being an over-pressure event resulting in loss of containment and a facility fire, both of which present a moderate risk … for distances close to the release.”

The site-specific risk analysis informs, “Within 3 km [kilometers] of the proposed site are significant areas of industrial and residential development,” and adds, “Numerous species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects … inhabit the area around the proposed site.”

You have to look elsewhere in the report to find that the C.A. Dillon Youth Development Center, home to 125 juveniles, borders the Umstead Research Farm, and the new 432-bed Central Regional Hospital is also within the 3-kilometer radius.

Omitted altogether from the 1,005-page report are these other Butner institutions and inhabitants: 4,287 inmates locked up inside the Federal Correctional Complex, including patients in the Federal Medical Center; Polk Correctional Institution, with a capacity of 1,012 inmates; Umstead Correctional Center, with a capacity of 114; the Murdoch Developmental Center, home to as many as 575 persons with developmental disabilities, and Our Children’s Place, a prison scheduled to open in 2009 for mothers, pregnant inmates and their children.

Likewise, while there is consideration of local livestock, none is given to the thousands of state and federal employees staffing these institutions.

Because “atmospheric modeling indicates that downwind transport is a credible scenario given a sufficiently large release of pathogens,” in the event of such an “event,” those not incarcerated or incapacitated could choose to evacuate.

But Homeland Security offers no plans for evacuating or protecting those living or working within Butner’s institutions, no standby convoy capable of moving more than 6,500 patients and inmates, not even a stash of duct tape to seal out airborne viruses emanating from the NBAF.

Describing the site as “surrounded primarily by agricultural activities and forests” while ignoring thousands of vulnerable persons nearby is not just bad “modeling,” it is unconscionable.

Durham’s opponents of the Butner site, whose protests might otherwise be dismissed as standard not-in-my-backyard responses, might find that their most persuasive argument is “Not in their backyard!”

(You may submit comments on the NBAF Draft Environmental Impact Statement online at www.dhs.gov/nbaf. Click on Public Involvement.)

Durham resident John Schwade is a psychologist at a state prison.

Interview with Edward Hammond, Director of the U.S. Office of The Sunshine Project, an organization focusing on oversight of research involving biological weapons agents.

Source: John Hood – Carolina Journal

I don’t have a strong opinion yet about the merits of a proposed federal biodefense lab in Granville County. The hotly debated project, which would primarily conduct research into animal diseases, would clearly serve a legitimate public purpose (gathering data with defense and public-health implications) and have ancillary economic benefits for the region and North Carolina as a whole. But opponents of the project are also raising some legitimate questions about public safety and local land-use effects.

Like I said, I haven’t made up my mind about the project itself. What I do have a strong opinion about, however, is the recent decision of the Golden LEAF Foundation to spend $262,248 in public funds to promote the project and respond to its critics. The decision smells.

John Merritt, a former Easley administration aide with whom I rarely agree, is on the Golden LEAF board and opposed the plan to grant the funds to the N.C. Biotechnology Center, which will in turn spend them on advertising and public relations. After getting outvoted by fellow board members, Merritt summed up the problem well: the grant is obviously for political advocacy, not economic development. “Does Golden LEAF really want to get into this role?” he asked. “I think we’re making a big mistake.”

Remember that Golden LEAF is not really a private philanthropy. Its board is appointed by politicians, and it spends money from the national tobacco settlement – money that should by rights have flowed into the state’s treasury, based on the original theory of the case that the perfidy of Big Tobacco forced taxpayers to finance treatment of smoking-related illness through Medicaid and the state employee health plan. These are public dollars, appropriated by government appointees, but outside of the formal state budget process.

In recent years, both state and local officials have become increasingly comfortable with evading restrictions on publicly funded lobbying and campaigning. Most recently, a number of counties sought to spend taxpayer dollars to benefit referendum campaigns for local bonds and tax hikes. In cases where the real-estate transfer tax was on the ballot, for example, local officials complained that the North Carolina Realtors Association was willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars advocating a voter rejection of the tax, but no private donors stepped up to fund large-scale advertising in favor of the tax. They concluded that finding some way to use taxpayer dollars as a substitute was therefore justified.

It was flawed logic. When individuals, businesses, or private associations expend dollars to advocate a particular cause or belief, they are using only resources acquired through voluntary exchange. By creating a valuable good or service to sell, they earned the right to dispose of those resources as they see fit. Government funds are in a totally different category. They are taken forcibly from those who earned them. It’s legitimate to tax as long as the proceeds are used to finance core public services, services that protect individual rights or can’t be delivered through voluntary means.

Doing a sales job on a biodefense lab for Granville County hardly qualifies as a core public service.

The more I learned about the interests behind the sales job, the worse the Golden LEAF decision looked. For one thing, the public and private institutions behind the pro-lab coalition include the likes of Merck, the EPA, major agribusiness associations, and large swaths of state government. These organizations already spend millions of dollars getting their messages out via public speeches, press shops, websites, and lobbyists. It strains credulity to suggest that without $262,248 from Golden LEAF, they were powerless to rebut the awesome public-relations power of the anti-lab coalition, with the apt acronym of GNAT, run by activists and local residents.

Moreover, everyone involved in the debate seems to agree that North Carolina State University would benefit, in the form of grants and research opportunities, if the federal lab locates in the state. So why did two key members of the Golden LEAF board, Thomas Bunn and Lawrence Davenport, think it was okay to cast votes for the grant despite their strong ties to N.C. State? Bunn, the current Golden LEAF Chairman, is on the university’s board of visitors. Davenport, the controversial former chairman, is on the NCSU board of trustees and has made personal use of Golden LEAF funds in the past.

The foundation’s grant to the Biotech Center to advocate approval of the Granville County lab doesn’t just smell. It stinks.

Hood is president of the John Locke Foundation.

Diplomacy, negotiation and education are the first and foremost lines of effective defense chosen by community leaders and organizations to prevent the siting of a facility such as the proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. While these methods are a necessary part of the process, both proponents and opponents are likely to agree that communities that do not exhibit a strong grassroots voice and visible presence are more likely to be chosen to become the home for a facility such as NBAF.

This is especially so when the chosen site would easily accommodate one or more landfills, which are known to leak, one or more incinerators, which are known to release toxins into the air and a germ lab that would stress already stressed regional water supplies and negatively impact other community and environmental concerns.

For 11 months we have covered Granville County and other areas with “Nobio” signs. We’ve stood up with them held high at public hearings, community forums and many other events, rallies and protests. We’ve put them on our vehicles and our horses, in our windows, on our persons and in our yards.

On July 29, at Butner-Stem Middle School, from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., we have another chance to come together as a county and region to visibly and audibly show the Department of Homeland Security and proponents of NBAF that we are still opposed to the siting of this facility near Butner.

So grab the signs out of your yards or make one. Put on your ribbons, buttons and T-shirts. Bring your children, family, neighbors and friends and come to one or both sessions of the Environmental Impact Statement Public Hearing. Now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of those who live in the 50 mile radius that could become the NBAF sacrifice zone. We need to ask Homeland Security and NBAF proponents “What part of no don’t you understand?”

Elaine Whitefield

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