Bracing for Armageddon?The Science and Politics of Bioterrorism in America

Bracing for Armageddon?The Science and Politics of Bioterrorism in America

William R Clark

Print publication date: 2008

ISBN: 9780195336214

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Abstract

Over the past two decades, an enormous effort has been mounted by numerous federal and state agencies to prepare America to defend against the possibility of a catastrophic bioterrorist attack. This effort jumped ahead at warp speed following the horrendous World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks of September, 2001, followed by the postal anthrax scares a few weeks later that killed five people. By the end of 2008, the US will have spent nearly fifty billion dollars upgrading almost every conceivable aspect of our ability to respond defensively to a bioterrorism attack. How likely is it that America will experience a future bioterrorist attack that could bring this country to its knees? What would it take to mount such an attack? Who could do it, and what weapons would they use? How would bioterrorism compare with the damage America would suffer from other forms of terrorism, or from a natural biocatastrophe like avian influenza? No nation has infinite resources, and we must accept that we may never be able to make ourselves completely safe from every threat we face. We will have to make rational assessments of those threats we can identify, and apportion our resources as intelligently as we can to deal with them. This book looks at the scientific, political, legal and social facets of bioterrorism that can guide us as we attempt to bring this particular threat into a realistic perspective for the 21st century.