Anthrax Anyone? Trump’s Proposal to Close the Biodefense Lab




bacillus anthracis


Today, it was reported that Trump will withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change, just as he twittered the made-up word “covfefe” to keep the internet entertained.  As I’ve noted before, Trump conducts a full scale attack 24/7 on civility and common sense.  Inevitably, to focus on one horror is to neglect another.  This is as he intends and necessarily dilutes the opposition that confronts him.  Where indeed do we focus?  On the evidence being gathered by Mike Farb (see @mikefarb1 on twitter) that Russian and Right-Wing cyber attacks on voting machines flipped the electoral results in key states?  Or on Kushner’s secret communications with the Russians – espionage and treason by anyone’s reasoned standards?  On Trump’s effort to deprive millions of health care?  On the attack on public education and on the press?  All the while, in very concrete ways that do not get the attention of the national media – Trump and Bannon are carrying out a campaign to dismantle the federal infrastructure, a campaign that reaches down into our states and cities.

Here’s an example, from the Frederick News Post in Frederick, Maryland, editorializing in A travesty and a tragedy on the Trump budget proposal to close the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center that was created after the 9/11 anthrax attacks to allow rapid response to bio-chemical attacks.  From the editorial:

“Since 2010, Frederick has been home to the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) lab at Ft. Detrick. The lab has attracted some of the most brilliant scientists in the country and the world, who are all working every day to protect this country from all manner of biology-involved crime and from a bioterror attack.”

“…The federal government decided to build the lab after the anthrax attacks of 2001, when dozens of smaller labs around the country had to work for years to help investigate those crimes. Now, the Ft. Detrick lab can analyze such evidence in hours or days.

The scientists at the lab handle some of the world’s most dangerous agents, including Ebola and anthrax, and conduct research on pathogens for which no vaccine or treatment exists, according to its website. About 180 people work in the facility, with $21 million in annual salary and benefits and $4.5 million in annual subcontracting spending. The contract for the lab is estimated to be worth $480 million over 10 years.”

“…if this lab were to close and its staff to be dispersed — the nation would lose a scientific treasure that would be difficult if not impossible to replace. These scientists, the best and the brightest in their fields, are giving the nation hard facts about the dangers posed by biological threat agents and plausible terrorist attacks.”

The Trump proposal to close the Biodefense Lab is par for the course for the Trump administration with its war on science and education.  But as the anthrax scare showed, biological attacks are favored by the very terrorists from whom we have the most to fear and they can be carried out without conventional weapons or access to protected infrastructure.  I can’t think of a proposal that would set our population more at risk than to eliminate the biodefense programs that provide the necessary analysis and response.  Just when you think Trump can’t go lower, he lowers the bar and surprises us all.



One thought on “Anthrax Anyone? Trump’s Proposal to Close the Biodefense Lab

  1. Thank you for highlighting this proposed budget cut that aims to disband the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center. Trump is doing so much and so fast to dismantle all aspects of the government that support science and common sense that it is difficult to even know what is happening. Please continue to focus our attention on Trump’s actions and true intentions. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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