by Michael J. Ainscough
Gathering Biological Warfare Storm'
The history of warfare and the history of disease are unquestionably
Throughout the history of warfare, disease and
non-battle injury have accounted for more deaths and loss of combat
capability than from actual battle in war itself. The most striking
example is the great influenza pandemic during World War I that
killed 20 million people or more worldwide in 1918.1
Although this was a naturally occurring
event, what if a country could create a biological agent that could
yield the same catastrophic loss of life on the enemy? That, in
essence, is the potential effect of applying genetic engineering2
for biological warfare (BW) or
Today, we face not only natural diseases (including emerging
infectious diseases), but also threats of BW or BT, possibly with
genetically engineered agents, that may resist known therapies. In
simple terms, genetic engineering is the process of human
intervention to transfer functional genes (DNA) between two
In the BW/BT context, it is the manipulation
of genes to create new pathogenic characteristics (increased
survivability, infectivity, virulence, drug resistance, etc).
Organisms with altered characteristics are the “next generation”
In this century, it is widely predicted that advances in biology and
biotechnology will revolutionize society and life as we know it. At
the same time, the “black biology” of biotechnology which can be
used to create biological weapons, will be one of the gravest
threats we will face.
In this era when cloning and “designer genes” are topics of the
evening news, much has been written about biowarfare and
bioterrorism resulting from genetically altered microbes, and it is
often difficult to discern fact from fiction.
This paper has two purposes:
The first part consolidates
accounts of genetic engineering from sources close to the
former Soviet Union’s BW program.
The remainder of the paper
discusses near-term future capabilities of genetic
engineering and biological warfare from an American
The “next generation” of biological
weapons made possible through genetic engineering will be asymmetric
weapons par excellence.
Soviet Union’s Biological Warfare Program
Despite signing the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention
(BWC), it is now certain that the former Soviet Union (FSU)
continued a clandestine and illegal offensive biological weapons
program until at least the early 1990s.
Biopreparat (a huge
military program with civilian cover) was organized to develop
and weaponize biological agents for BW.3
It employed approximately half of
the Soviet Union’s 60,000 workers in more than 18 BW facilities,
and in the 1980s had an annual budget equivalent to tens of
millions of U.S. dollars.4 Unlike the American
offensive BW program (1942-69) that worked primarily with
organisms that were not contagious in humans (e.g., anthrax and
tularemia), the Soviet BW research and development program also
sought out the most contagious and lethal bacteria (e.g.,
plague) and viruses (e.g., smallpox) known to man.5
Because Biopreparat and other Soviet BW research facilities
operated under the highest security classification of “Special
Importance” (higher than Top Secret), the U.S. intelligence
community did not even know it existed until 1989 when a top
ranking scientist from the BW program defected to the United
From his extensive debrief, and
subsequent collaboration by two other defectors from the
program, we now know detailed information on the genetic
engineering successes and other advances in Russian
microbiology. Obviously much of the data remains classified, but
the three defectors’ accounts have been documented to some
extent in various unclassified books and articles.
This paper discusses their
In October 1989, Dr.
Vladimir Pasechnik, the first primary
source from inside the Soviet program, defected to England.7
A top Soviet microbiologist and Director of the Institute for
Ultra Pure Biological Preparations in Biopreparat, he described
the extensive organization of biological research and production
facilities in the program.
In addition to confirming that the Soviet Union had an offensive
BW program in violation of the 1972 BWC, he disclosed that the
Soviets had an,
“extensive genetic engineering program aimed at
developing new kinds of biological weapons against which the
West would be defenseless.” 8
His institute’s top priority was to
increase the lethality of plague and tularemia, and at the same
time make them more resistant to antibiotics and temperature
extremes. By introducing specially engineered plasmids 9
into successive generations of tularemia cultures, the strain
became resistant to all known Western antibiotics.
The dried, powdery super-plague
became the Soviet weapon of choice (20 tons in stock at all
times) and was loaded on various munitions. The use of BW had
been integrated into Soviet special war plans for a range of
tactical operations where they would have been delivered using
spray tanks and cluster bombs and strategic operations where
intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and strategic
bombers would have carried plague, anthrax, or smallpox.10
Pasechnik also detailed work on perfecting other new strains of
bacteria and viruses that would aerosolize well for use in
weapons.11 After 30 years of experimentation, Soviet scientists
had solved the problems of fragile microbe survival in major
atmospheric pressure changes and temperature extremes during
missile flight by fitting BW rockets with astronaut cabin-like
They solved the “destruction on
explosion” problem by selecting the hardiest strains and
calculating the required redundant quantity needed based on
explosive testing done in Biopreparat and other BW research
In summary, Pasechnik had disclosed that the Soviets
had genetically engineered
bacteria and viruses
weaponized the microbes in a
loaded them onto various
integrated BW into their
doctrine and had specific plans for use of BW 12
In the spring of 1992, a
lower-level bench scientist who had worked on plague research in
Pasechnik’s lab also defected to the United Kingdom.13
He has remained undercover and is referred to by code-name
He fully corroborated Pasechnik’s
previous account, and then updated the British on Soviet BW work
in the 30-month interval from Pasechnik’s departure to that of
President Mikhail Gorbachev had ordered the
termination of biological offensive programs in 1990, and
despite the fact that President Boris Yeltsen had also announced
(by televised address to the Russian people and in a personal
commitment to President Bush) termination of the program,
research on new forms of plague had secretly continued.14
“Temple Fortune” stated that, in addition to being even more
resistant to multiple antibiotics, the improved super-plague
would be non-virulent in its stored form, but could be easily
converted into a deadly antibiotic-resistant form when needed
for weaponization.15 The genes that cause plague
virulence are located on a plasmid.
What he was describing was a binary
biological weapon, where benign bacterial plague cells would be
mixed with virulence-enhancing plasmids immediately before
loading on a weapon, and the transformation would take place in
a small bioreactor on the weapon itself.16
In late 1992, shortly after “Temple Fortune’s” defection, Dr.
Kanatjan Alibekov became the third defector from the Russian BW
program.17 As the Deputy Director (number-two man) of
Biopreparat and an infectious disease physician/epidemiologist,
he was the highest ranking defector ever from the program. (Dr.
Alibekov anglicized his name and now goes by Ken Alibek.)
In 1999, Alibek published Biohazard,
a first-hand detailed account of his experiences. Alibek
disclosed a virtual encyclopedia of intimate details on
Biopreparat from the top down: personnel and facilities, history
of the offensive research, medical and microbiological
discoveries, special production methods, weaponization
techniques, aerosol testing, Russian BW defensive innovations,
prior deceptions and secret plans, and the future direction of
Alibek confided that Soviet biologists in the 1960s and 1970s
were already interested in using genetics and gene manipulation
to produce BW agents. In 1973, President Leonid Brezhnev
established the “Enzyme” program to modernize the BW program and
develop genetically altered pathogens.19
Early in his career, Alibek had been
in charge of developing Biopreparat’s first vaccine-resistant
Later, by 1986, his team had
also tripled the potency of the “battle strain” of anthrax
(Strain 836).21 He was the first to weaponize
glanders, and supervised the first Soviet tests with the Marburg
virus (an Ebola-like virus).22
Alibek disclosed that by 1992 the Russians possessed a grand
total of fifty-two different biological agents or combination of
agents, including deadly Marburg, Ebola, and smallpox viruses,
that could be weaponized. The most infectious and easiest to
manufacture and transport microbes were labeled “battle
The favorite “battle strains” were
anthrax (Strain 836), Pasechnik’s super-plague, and a special
Russian strain of tularemia (Schu-4). By 1991, Alibek stated
that Russian scientists had “improved” all three of these so
that they could overcome all immune systems and current medical
In May 1998, Alibek testified before
the U.S. Congress:
It is important to note that, in
the Soviet’s view, the best biological agents were those for
which there was no prevention and no cure. For those agents
for which vaccines or treatment existed – such as plague,
which can be treated with antibiotics – antibiotic-resistant
or immunosuppressive variants were to be developed.25
Although Biopreparat had worked with
a highly virulent, rapidly infectious “battle strain” of
smallpox (India-1) since 1959, they began research in 1987 to
develop an even more virulent smallpox weapon, and tested it in
In his book
Biohazard, Alibek wrote about using plasmids to
increase virulence or antibiotic resistance in bacteria.27
This corroborated Pasechnik’s and “Temple Fortune’s” prior
statements. He also discussed transfer of a gene for myelin
toxin to Yersinia pestis (plague bacteria), however this agent
was reportedly not yet weaponized. He said that a new
Moscow-based company named Bioeffekt Ltd. had offered, by mail
order, three strains of tularemia produced by “technology
unknown outside Russia” (i.e., genetically engineered strains).
Most astounding of all, Alibek revealed that genetic engineering
research was underway to create entirely new life forms.28
The goal of hybrid “chimera” viruses was to insert genes from
one virus into another to create an even more lethal virus.
Alibek stated that the Russians had
created the first chimera virus from inserting DNA from
Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus into vaccinia virus
(genetic structure almost identical to the smallpox virus).29
Chimeras, of VEE, Ebola, and Marburg genes inserted into the
actual smallpox virus, were in the research phase when he left
Near the end of his book, Alibek talks about how biotechnical
knowledge was shared with other countries.30
For many years the Russians taught
“genetic engineering and
molecular biology for scientists from Eastern Europe, Cuba,
Libya, India, Iran, Iraq, and other countries.”
In fact, Cuba had set up a
pharmaceutical company near Havana and was producing interferon
from a genetically altered bacteria that contained an inserted
Yeltsen and Sverdlovsk
In 1979, an accidental release of anthrax spores from the BW
facility at Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinberg, Russia) killed at
least 66 people.
In 1998, a DNA sequencing study done
on preserved samples from eleven victims revealed the
simultaneous presence of up to four distinct genetic variants of
Bacillus anthracis. These findings indicate that at least some
level of engineering of military anthrax had taken place,
because only one strain would likely be found after a natural
outbreak.31 The Soviet Union at the time denied the
existence of a military program and the official in charge of
the province where the incident occurred was none other than
More than a decade later, after becoming President of Russia,
Boris Yeltsen visited Britain in 1992.
In a public speech, discussing
biological warfare research, he stated that the Russians “had
undertaken research on the influence of various substances on
human genes.” Yeltsen’s statements substantiated the existence
of a previous Soviet genetic engineering research program.32
Yeltsen, as Russia’s President,
later issued a public decree outlawing the entire Russian BW
research and production program.
In 1995, Russian scientists presented a study at a conference in
Britain that they later published in the British medical journal
Vaccine in December 1997.33
They reported that they had
successfully transferred genes from Bacillus cereus into
Bacillus anthracis cultures, making the anthrax resistant to
Russian anthrax vaccine (at least in hamsters). This raised the
obvious question about effectiveness of the American anthrax
vaccine. American agencies sought to obtain a sample of the more
potent Russian anthrax strain.34
Unable to do so, in early 2001 the
Pentagon made plans to duplicate the Russian work and
genetically engineer its own modified strain for biodefense
Biological-type weapons have been used many times in history.
Humanity’s ancient enemies are,
after all, microbes.36
What is new today is the tailored development of more contagious
and lethal pathogens and the increasing number of states and
terrorist groups that may have access to the knowledge or
cultures of them.37
The above accounts from Russians
knowledgeable about their BW programs indicate active research
and success in genetic engineering, chimera agents, and binary
biologicals. From public record accounts, we know that the
former Soviet Union (FSU) used genetic engineering techniques in
their massive offensive BW program.38
Because the FSU classified its offensive BW program as “Special
Importance” (higher than Top Secret), it is clear that they
considered BW missiles to be as valuable as their nuclear
missiles.39 Because of the protective military
secrecy, it is plausible that even many top ranking
Soviet/Russian officials did not know the full extent and
details of the offensive program nor have control over it.40
This Mafia-like secrecy may explain
Gorbachev’s and Yeltsen’s confusions, hesitancies, and
contradictions when talking to the West about treaty violations.41
Incredibly, Pasechnik claimed that he had never been told about
the existence of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and
learned of it first from his British debriefers.42
Indeed, despite Yeltsen’s decree to
dismantle the FSU’s offensive BW program, many intelligence
analysts suspect that it is still viable, hidden deep in the
military structure which is reluctant to surrender their BW
Major General John Parker, the former Commander, U.S. Army
Medical Research and Materiel Command, acknowledged that,
“bioterrorists could just re-engineer diseases such as anthrax
to negate the effect of existing vaccines.” 44
Some western intelligence experts
believe a Russian genetic engineering program such as Alibek
described is still in its infancy.45 The pace of
recent discoveries in molecular biology makes it imperative to
contemplate new BW threats.46 Advances in “the dark
side” of biotechnology predict a future of antibiotic-resistant
bacteria, vaccine-resistant viruses, and the creation of
completely new pathogens (chimeras).47
The expertise and technology to
create lethal new strains of viruses and bacteria are available
at most major universities around the world. Some American
scientists predict that we have some 20 years before genetic
engineering will effectively make current biological defenses
completely ineffective and obsolete against BW attacks. Science
fiction may become science fact within two decades.48
The threat of a war with ICBM exchange with Russia has been
greatly reduced in recent years. However, as nuclear and BW
missiles were decommissioned and Biopreparat and portions of the
rest of the BW scientific infrastructure were dismantled, many
Russian scientists were suddenly unemployed.
There is concern that knowledge of
genetic engineering, or even cultures of highly infectious
agents (sold, stolen, or smuggled), may have been transmitted to
“nations of concern” or terrorist organizations. If true, such
leaks, combined with the ease of flow of technology and
information around the world, would result in a proliferation of
capability that makes biological weapons use increasingly likely
in major theater wars, smaller scale contingencies, and
A biological weapon consists of both the biological agent and
its means of delivery. Growing microbes is easier than their
weaponization or dissemination.
As Larry Johnson, former
deputy director of the State Department’s Office of
“producing these weapons
requires infrastructure and expertise more sophisticated
than a lab coat and a garage.” 50
However, terrorists may attempt to
recruit former biological weapons researchers to obtain
information on weaponization techniques. Well-funded terrorist
organizations might be able to buy the Russian scientists they
need. A small subset of terrorist groups is likely to possess
the technical know-how needed to carry out an effective
Unless they are able to buy
knowledge or microbe cultures from large programs such as the
former Soviet BW program, it is unlikely, though not impossible,
that small terrorist units would have access to or produce
genetically engineered biologicals.
Bioterrorism and Biowarfare
Revolutions in Medicine and Military Affairs
The techniques of genetic engineering began to be developed in the
1970s.52 In the 1980s, genetic engineering was already a
global multibillion-dollar industry.53 In the last decade
of the 20th century, the knowledge of molecular biology increased
The recent revolution in molecular
biology may have incidentally unleashed a new threat to mankind, in
the form of genetically engineered pathogens, which could be used to
develop many new offensive biological weapons. The same
biotechnology that has promised to save lives by treatment of many
human diseases, also has a dark side that could be misused for the
development of deadly bioweapons. The future of this “black biology”
is the subject of the remainder of this chapter.
The revolution in molecular biology and biotechnology can be
considered as a potential Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA).
Andrew F. Krepinevich noted 10 RMAs in the history of warfare.54
Four elements are required for a RMA: technological advancement,
incorporation of this new technology into military systems, military
operational innovation, and organizational adaptation in a way that
fundamentally alters the character and conduct of conflict.
The Gulf War has been seen as
introducing the space/information warfare RMA. From the
technological advances in biotechnology, biowarfare with genetically
engineered pathogens may constitute a future such RMA. The Russians
have integrated BW into their doctrine, but fortunately there is no
present evidence that they have had any occasion to practice it in
the past few decades.
Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper, USMC (Ret.), former commanding
general, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, asserts that we
are at the front end of strategic change and that there are
currently multiple RMAs in progress.55 It is difficult to
assess their impact and meaning while they are still works in
progress. Indeed, only time can prove that a technological
innovation will contribute to a RMA.
It may take 20 or 30 years until we
fully understand their significance. It is currently believed by
some that the next true major threats to our national security are
in information and biological warfare.56
We are arguably farther along in the
information warfare RMA than a biowarfare RMA. Ironically, genetic
engineering is becoming routine and commonplace while weaponization
of biologicals is currently a less developed art. However, the
recent spate of anthrax-laced letters sent through the mail
communicates the message that terrorists can be very creative in
their delivery methods.57
Whether or not biotechnology contributes to a future RMA, it
certainly is revolutionizing medicine. The human genome has been
Gene therapy, which will allow the replacement or repair
of faulty genes, promises to be the Holy Grail of modern medicine.58
The techniques of molecular genetics, genome sequencing, and gene
splicing therapy have dual-use potential.
Paradoxically, the same
biotechnology for developing a new drug or new vaccine may be used
to develop more virulent bioweapons.
The same science that can be used to
save lives may also used to take lives. The rise of biotechnology
knowledge presently parallels an increase in the willingness of
terrorists to inflict mass casualties and increased devastation.59
Following the historical pattern of interaction between warfare and
disease, these two relatively new phenomena of unprecedented
biotechnology and terrorists willing to inflict mass casualties will
very likely intersect in history.
The anthrax attacks in the United States
September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the twin
towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon likely are
previews of coming events.
Richard Preston’s 1997 novel
The Cobra Event was a fictional
scenario of bioterrorism with a genetically engineered supervirus.60
President Clinton’s reading of this novel sensitized him to the
He looked more deeply into the BW/BT
threat and subsequently issued two Presidential Decision Directives
to address national security deficiencies related to biological and
chemical terrorism and warfare.61 In the wake of the
September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon, and the multiple anthrax-tainted letters subsequently sent
to national legislators, the Governor of New York, and news media
Bush established the
Homeland Security Council to
coordinate a national effort of some 40 diverse agencies and
organizations that were already involved in homeland security.
Because we do not know what new diseases will arise, we must always
be prepared for the unexpected.62
The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta is the nation’s lead agency for disease
epidemics and tracks naturally occurring emerging infectious
diseases worldwide. The CDC has traveled all over the world and
investigated outbreaks of Ebola hemorrhagic fever, Marburg virus,
hantavirus, and other emerging diseases.63
These were challenging natural outbreaks
of pathogens that had not been previously known to man. An outbreak
of a biologically engineered pathogen might create a similar
situation and may have an even greater disease potential (contagion
and mortality) than recently discovered naturally emerging diseases.
The epidemiological investigations of these emerging infectious
diseases and other outbreaks serve as templates for responses to
future biowarfare and bioterrorist events.
Natural versus Biologically Engineered Pathogens
In late 2001, anthrax spores in letters mailed through the U.S.
Postal Service resulted in more terror than actual morbidity.
three months following the anthrax letter attacks, five people died
of inhalational anthrax and a total of 18 others had contracted some
form of the disease.64 Over 50,000 people took
broad-spectrum antibiotics, and many more people purchased
antibiotics for future prophylaxis.
“Anthrax anxiety” was reported on the
Hundreds of thousands of the “worried
well” deluged the medical care system.
Yet, as bad as anthrax-by-mail was, an outbreak of a biologically
engineered pathogen could be potentially even more devastating.
Although highly lethal, the anthrax of September 2001 was determined
to be a well-known strain and it was not contagious (spread from
person to person). Although anthrax spores are highly stable and can
remain viable for years, compared to other pathogens a relatively
large number of organisms is required to cause illness.65
These facts may explain why
investigators found traces of anthrax spores in many office
buildings and post offices, but only a few people actually
contracted the disease. Furthermore, if evidence of an anthrax
attack is determined (as was the case just after September 11),
people can be screened for exposure and/or treated with antibiotics
that are highly effective if taken before symptoms begin. There is
also an FDA-approved vaccine for anthrax.
Genetically engineered pathogens would likely prove to be a more
difficult challenge than the 2001 anthrax attacks. Most likely they
would be novel in characteristics with either higher transmissivity,
communicability, or antibiotic resistance. Such “tailoring” of
classical pathogens could make them harder to detect, diagnose, and
treat. In effect, they would be more militarily useful.66
Obviously, a vaccine would not be
available for a novel pathogen. Biological warfare expert Steven
Block outlines other qualitative differences and attributes possibly
expected from genetically engineered pathogens. They could be made
safer to handle, easier to distribute, capable of ethnic
specificity, or be made to cause higher morbidity or mortality
The entire DNA sequence of the smallpox genome is known, and some
scientists fear that it has already been genetically manipulated.68
Although the only authorized
laboratories in the world for smallpox are the CDC in Atlanta and
the Russian State Research Center for Virology and Biotechnology in Koltsovo, it is believed that cultures may exist elsewhere in the
FSU and possibly have been transferred to other nations of concern
or to non-state organizations.69
Ken Alibek described in his book
Biohazard that the FSU was working on genetic modifications of
smallpox in 1992.70 Because it was eradicated from the
world’s population in 1980, any release of even the original form of
the disease would affect millions of people and constitute an
epidemic of worldwide concern.
Certainly, a biologically “improved”
strain of smallpox would be ominous.
Biological Weapons Capabilities
The Office of the Secretary of Defense has identified countries that
maintain various levels of offensive biological warfare capabilities
or research facilities. This list includes Russia, China, Iraq,
Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya, India, and Pakistan.
The Henry L.
Stimson Center also lists Egypt, Israel, and Taiwan as countries of
“proliferation concern.” 71 Also, the Al Qaeda network reportedly
sought to buy biological agents.
Most developed nations maintain some level of defensive capability
against biological warfare and bioterrorism. This typically includes
deployment military mission-oriented protective posture (MOPP) gear
and civilian hazardous material (HAZMAT) responder “space suits.”
Also important are vaccines and
antibiotics stockpiled against the BW/BT threats. The United States
Department of Defense maintains a defensive capability. In 1969,
President Nixon issued an executive order to unilaterally and
unconditionally renounce biological weapons. Our program was
terminated and stockpiles were destroyed.72
The closure of our offensive program has
had a serious and limiting effect on our ability to develop medical
defensive measures, such as our capability to develop appropriate
vaccines, antibiotics, and other treatments.73
As our adversaries look for “asymmetric”
biological weapons are always a consideration.
Bellicose national leaders and
terrorists, allured by the potentially deadly power of biological
weapons, persevere in seeking to acquire them. Yet, curiously, when
biological weapons have been employed in battle, they have proven
relatively ineffectual. They have been undependable and
Because they have been difficult to
deploy reliably, their military value has been marginal.76
Stabilizing biological agents and
deploying them, either overtly with sophisticated weaponry or
covertly without endangering the perpetrator or friendly forces,77
requires expertise not widely held. Possibly, with the capabilities
of biological engineering and a new generation of weapons, this may
Nation-state and non-state actors obviously have differing
capabilities, requirements, and expectations for biological weapons.
Whereas military troops often train to
operate in chemical and biological environments, vulnerable civilian
populations do not have either the protective equipment or defensive
training for a biological attack, and would therefore be the most
likely target in a bioterrorist attack. It is increasingly likely
that non-state terrorists will use biological attacks as appears to
be the case of the anthrax mail attacks following the September 11th
attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center towers.78
In the event of an attack with a genetically engineered pathogen, it
would likely require some time to sort out whether we were
confronting simply a naturally occurring event or one triggered by
those with a sinister motive.79
Identification of the cause may be
delayed. Initially, there may not be a high index of suspicion. The
disease may not be recognizable if it takes the initial form of a
familiar complex of symptoms. Most physicians have never seen
patients with anthrax or smallpox, and few have had training to
diagnose the most likely bioterrorism pathogens.
For example, one of the U.S. postal
workers who died of anthrax in late 2001 was diagnosed as having a
harmless viral syndrome and released from a physician’s care. In the
initial stages of an investigation, it might be difficult to
determine if the outbreak is a naturally occurring event, an act of
terrorism, or an act of war.
For example, the first inhalational
anthrax victim in Florida in late 2001 was initially thought to have
been infected from natural exposure because he was an outdoorsman.
It may be difficult for investigators to determine the source of the
pathogen or the mechanism of exposure. It took some time before
anthrax spores from letters were connected to the first anthrax
cases. At the time of this writing, the perpetrator of the events in
the United States and the source of the anthrax remain unknown.
A terrorist attack with a biologically engineered agent may unfold
unlike any previous event. The pathogen may be released
clandestinely so there will be a delay between exposure and onset of
symptoms. Days to weeks later, when people do develop symptoms, they
could immediately start spreading contagious diseases. By that time,
many people will likely be hundreds of miles away from where they
were originally exposed, possibly at multiple international sites.
Acutely ill victims may present
themselves in large numbers to emergency rooms and other medical
In this scenario, medical professionals would
be “on the front lines” of the attack. If the pathogen was highly
contagious, medics would then become secondarily infected.
Unsuspecting hospitals would become contaminated and soon
This would necessitate the quarantine of
a large number of people, with the situation exacerbated by the
declining numbers of medical care givers.
The media would contribute
to public anxiety. Civil disorder and chaos may ensue. We have very
little experience in coping with such an epidemic. Advanced warning
of an impending specific bioterrorist incident, especially with a
genetically engineered BW agent, will be extremely rare—similar to
an emerging disease outbreak.
Unless we happen to have excellent
intelligence, we can only be prepared to respond after the fact.80
Six Paths to Enhance
At about the same time The Cobra Event became popular in 1997, the
United States Department of Defense released
and Response, which identified trends in biological warfare
capabilities. These included the increasing use of genetically
engineered vectors and the growing understanding of both infectious
disease mechanisms and the immune defense system.81
An annex to Proliferation: Threat and
“the current level of sophistication of BW is
comparatively low, but there is enormous potential—based on advances
in modern molecular biology, fermentation, and drug delivery
technology—for making sophisticated weapons." 82
Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review (September 2001)
also recognizes that,
“the biotechnology revolution holds the
potential for increasing threats of biological warfare.” 83
Also in 1997, a group of academic scientists met to discuss “the
threat posed by the development and use of biological agents.”
This JASON Group 84 provides
technical advice to the U.S. government and “facilitates the
contributions of scientists to problems of national security and
public benefit.” Their meeting concentrated on the near-term future
threat of biological warfare, specifically on genetically engineered
pathogens and weapons.
The JASON Group that met in 1997 grouped potential genetically
engineered pathogens into six broad groups of potential futuristic
The biotechnology exists today for some of these possibilities.
Indeed, some genetically engineered agents may have already been
produced and stockpiled.
Binary Biological Weapons
Analogous to a binary chemical
weapon, this is a two-component system consisting of
innocuous parts that are mixed immediately prior to use to
form the pathogen.
This process occurs frequently
in nature. Many pathogenic bacteria contain multiple
plasmids (small circular extrachromosomal DNA fragments)
that code for virulence or other special functions. The
virulence of anthrax, plague, dysentery, and other diseases
is enhanced by these plasmids.
What occurs naturally in nature
can be artificially conducted with basic biotechnology
techniques in the laboratory. Virulent plasmids can be
transferred among different kinds of bacteria and often
across species barriers.
To produce a binary biological weapon, a host bacteria and a
virulent plasmid could be independently isolated and
produced in the required quantities. Just before the
bioweapon was deployed, the two components would be mixed
together. The transformation of the host organism back into
a pathogen could conceivably take place after a weapon is
triggered and during transport/flight.
“Temple Fortune” indicated that
scientists in the FSU had mastered this technique.
Human Genome Project has
decoded the alphabet of life and provided a human molecular
Likewise, the complete genome
sequences are now known for 599 viruses, 205 naturally
occurring plasmids, 31 bacteria, one fungus, two animals,
and one plant.89 Many of these genomes have been
published in unclassified journals and on the internet. To
the bioweaponeer these are essentially blueprints that would
enable him to make microorganisms more harmful.90
Now that the codes are known, it
seems only a matter of time until microbiologists develop
synthetic genes, synthetic viruses, or even complete new
organisms. Some of these could be specifically produced for
biological warfare or terrorism purposes.
Perhaps the most obvious way to increase the effectiveness
of any biological warfare pathogen is to render it resistant
to antibiotics or antiviral agents. Some bacteria naturally
develop resistance to antibiotics fairly quickly. Many
antibiotic resistance genes have been identified. The best
known of these is the gene that codes for
the enzyme that defeats the action of penicillin. Such genes
could be activated or introduced into other pathogens.
Entire viruses may similarly be created, analogous to the
natural mutation of the influenza virus. A new strain of
influenza could be created by induced hybridization of viral
strains, simply swapping out variant or synthetic genes.
Slightly altering a common virus like influenza to make it
deadlier might be easier than manipulating more rare or
biologically complicated pathogens.
For a bioweaponeer, the databases of increasing numbers of
microbial genomes provide a virtual “parts list” of
potentially useful genes for a genetic “erector set” to
design and produce a new organism. It is possible to pick
and choose the most lethal characteristics.91
Some think it may be possible to
create an entirely new organism from scratch. Some animal
viruses are so small that their entire genome could be
stitched together, at least in principle, from
machine-synthesized fragments using current technology.
Mycoplasma, an organism that causes pneumonia in humans, has
the smallest known bacterial genome.92
Genetic analyses of strains of
mycoplasma indicate that only 265 to 350 genes are essential
under laboratory growth conditions. Thus, it may be possible
to create an entirely synthetic “minimal genome” 93
organism in the near future. If a streamlined cell of this
type were available, it would be an attractive template to
build a bioweapon.94
As stated previously about viruses, although it may be
possible to create life artificially from a set of component
parts, this would probably be beyond the sophistication of
most bioterrorists. It would be extremely difficult to
engineer all of the desired “attributes” into a single
pathogen and still have an organism that transmitted
effectively and predictably.
It would be much more likely
that an existing pathogen would be subtly genetically
modified to be more difficult to detect, more virulent, or
more resistant to drugs, all within the capabilities of
Gene Therapy as a Weapon
Gene therapy will revolutionize
the treatment of human genetic diseases. The goal is to
effect a permanent change in the genetic composition of a
person by repairing or replacing a faulty gene. Genes have
already been spliced into bacteria to produce “human”
insulin in large quantities.97
The eventual goal is to splice a
gene that codes for the production of insulin into human
pancreatic tissue to cure diabetes. Similar research is
progressing on adding in the missing gene to prevent the
symptoms of cystic fibrosis. However, the same technology
could be subverted to insert pathogenic genes.
There are two general classes of gene therapy: germ-cell
line (reproductive) and somatic cell line (therapeutic).
Changes in DNA in germ cells would be inherited by future
generations. Changes in DNA of somatic cells would affect
only the individual and could not be passed on to
descendants. Manipulation of somatic cells is subject to
less ethical scrutiny than manipulation of germ cells.
This concept has already been used to alter the immunity of
animals. The vaccinia virus (a poxvirus used to make
immunization against smallpox) has been used as a vector to
insert genes in mammalian cells. This genetically engineered
virus has been used successfully to produce an oral vaccine
to prevent rabies in wildlife.
Research for similar gene splicing in humans continues for
possible vectors to carry the replacement genes to their
targets.98 As has been done for animals, there is
potential for human “vaccination” against certain diseases,
or as a targeted delivery capability for therapeutic drugs
or cytotoxic effects.99
One class of experimental vectors is the retroviruses which
permanently integrate themselves into human chromosomes.100
HIV, which causes AIDS, is a retrovirus. So it should not be
hard to understand that gene therapy might have sinister
A viral vector has already produced a lethal strain of
mousepox virus.101 The genetically manipulated
virus completely suppressed the cell-mediated response (the
arm of the immune system that combats viral infections) of
the lab mice.102 Even mice previously vaccinated
against the natural mousepox virus died within days of
exposure to the super virus.
Mousepox (which does not infect
humans) and smallpox are related viruses. If smallpox were
to be similarly genetically manipulated, our current vaccine
may not protect against it. These vectors are not yet very
efficient in introducing genes into tissue cells. But if a
medical technique is perfected, similar vectors might
eventually be used to insert harmful genes into an
cloning tissues and embryos continue to
advance. Reproductive (germ-cell) cloning aims to implant a
cloned embryo into a woman’s uterus leading to the birth of
a cloned baby. Therapeutic (somatic cell) cloning aims to
use genes from a person’s own cells to generate healthy
tissue to treat a disease. For example, such cloning could
be used to grow pancreatic cells to produce insulin to treat
diabetes, or to grow nerve cells to repair damaged spinal
Already sheep, mice, swine, and cattle have been cloned.
However, success (defined as births of live animals) rates
are low.105 Initial cloning work with human
embryos to produce omnipotent stem cells has been reported.106
Theoretically, the stem cells could in turn grow into
virtually any cell type and serve as replacement tissue in
diseases like diabetes.107 Researchers have also
used a virus to insert a jellyfish gene into a rhesus monkey
egg and produced the first genetically altered primate.108
The use of embryos and germ
cells has raised many ethical questions.
The concept of a stealth virus
is a cryptic viral infection that covertly enters human
cells (genomes) and then remains dormant for an extended
However, a signal by an external stimulus could later
trigger the virus to activate and cause disease.
This mechanism, in fact, occurs
fairly commonly in nature. For example, many humans carry
herpes virus which can activate to cause oral or genital
lesions. Similarly, varicella virus will sometimes
reactivate in the form of herpes zoster (shingles) in some
people who had chicken pox earlier in life. However, the
vast majority of viruses do not cause disease.
As a biological weapon, a stealth virus could clandestinely
infect the genome of a population. Later, the virus could be
activated in the targeted population, or a threat of
activation could be used as blackmail.
Oncogenes are segments of DNA that, when switched on, can
initiate wild cellular growth and misbehavior—the hallmarks
of cancer. Some viruses have segments of DNA that can mimic
oncogenes and directly, or perhaps through bioregulators or
host genes, cause cancer.
These changes may take years for
clinical effect, but the concept may still be considered by
As previously stated, the vast
majority of viruses do not cause disease. In nature, animal
viruses tend to have narrow, well-defined host ranges.
Unlike bacteria, viruses often infect only one or just a few
When a virus has a primary
reservoir in an animal species, but is transmissible to
humans, it is called a zoonotic disease. Animal viruses tend
to have a natural animal reservoir where they reside and
cause little or no damage.
Examples of reservoirs include
birds for the West Nile Virus, water fowl for Eastern equine
encephalitis and rodents for hantavirus. The bat is thought
to be the reservoir for Ebola virus, and the chimpanzee is
thought to have been the original reservoir for the HIV
virus that causes AIDS.
When viruses “jump species” they
may occasionally cause significant disease. These examples
illustrate that manageable infectious agents can be
transformed naturally into organisms with markedly increased
When this happens naturally, the process results in an
emerging disease. If it were to be induced by man, it would
be bioterrorism. In the laboratory of inspired, determined
and well-funded bioterrorists, an animal virus may be
genetically modified and developed specifically to infect
Emerging diseases could have
serious implications for biological warfare or terrorism
Our understanding of cellular
and molecular biology has advanced nearly to the point where
it might be possible to propose the symptoms of a
hypothetical disease and then design or create the pathogen
to produce the desired disease complex.
Designer diseases may work by
turning off the immune system, by inducing specific cells to
multiply and divide rapidly (like cancer), or possibly by
causing the opposite effect, such as initiating programmed
cell death (apotosis). This futuristic biotechnology would
clearly indicate an order-of-magnitude advancement in
offensive biological warfare or terrorism capability.114
The concepts and mechanisms of the six classes of biological
innovations that could be weaponized, as outlined by
JASON Group and discussed above, have some overlap. These
classes were meant to identify a spectrum of conceivable
bioterrorist threats based on current or near-future
biotechnological capabilities. They were not meant to be
all-inclusive or mutually exclusive of possibilities.115
Another authority on biological warfare, Malcolm Dando
asserts that benign microorganisms might be genetically
engineered to produce BW toxins, bioregulator compounds, or
Pathogens may also be
genetically manipulated to enhance their aerosol or
environmental stability, or defeat current identification,
detection, and diagnostic capabilities.
Science Can Improve Biodefense
Biological warfare and bioterrorism are multifactorial problems that
will require multifactorial solutions.
We need our best critical thinkers and
biological researchers to solve this constantly evolving problem.
Fortunately, the same advances in genomic biotechnologies that can
be used to create bioweapons can also be used to set up
countermeasures against them.
There are six areas where biotechnology
will likely make significant contributions:
Understanding the human
The Human Genome Project will
have a profound influence on the pace of molecular biology
research and help solve the most mysterious and complex of
life’s processes. New biotechnology should allow the
analysis of the full cascade of events that occur in a human
cell following the infection with a pathogen or the uptake
of a toxin molecule.
Circumstances that cause
individual susceptibility to infectious diseases will become
clear. Currently, the functions of nearly half of all human
genes are unknown. Functional genomics studies should
elucidate these unknowns and enable design of possible new
strategies for prevention and treatment in the form of
vaccines and anti-microbial drugs.
There have been reports of biological agents to target
specific ethnic groups.118 Although “biological
ethnic cleansing” is a theoretical possibility, most experts
are skeptical of this potential.119 Analysis of
the human genome sequence to date has failed to reveal any
polymorphisms120 that can be used to absolutely
define racial groups.
Several studies have shown that
genetic variation in human populations is low relative to
other species and most diversity exists within, rather than
between, ethnic groups.
Boosting the immune system
The complete sequencing of the
human genome also provides a new starting point for better
understanding of, and potential manipulation of, the human
immune system. This has a tremendous potential against
After years of effort in the FSU to genetically engineer
pathogens for biological warfare, Dr. Ken Alibek is now
working to protect against the use of biological agents. He
is researching mechanisms to boost the immune system to
defend the body against infectious diseases. One of his
initial projects is conducting cellular research that could
lead to protection against anthrax.
Similar immunological research
in other labs has great promise to heighten the general
human immune response to microbial attack in an effort to
move beyond the “one bug-one drug” historical approach.
Understanding viral and
The genome projects for various
microorganisms will explain why pathogens have the
characteristics of virulence or drug resistance. A “minimal
genome” was discussed previously in this paper.
Creating a minimal genome would
be an important milestone in genetic engineering as it would
prove the capability to create organisms simply from the
blueprint of their genomes. This research may provide
insight into the very origins of life, bacterial evolution,
and understanding the cellular processes of more complex
Bacteria may also be modified to produce bioregulators
E. coli has been genetically
engineered to produce commercial quantities of interferon,123
a natural protein that has antiviral activity against a
variety of viruses. Xoma Corporation has patented a
bactericidal/permeability-increasing (BPI) protein made from
recombinant DNA (genes inserted into DNA sequences)
technology that reverses the resistance of some bacteria to
some widely used antibiotics.
The search is on for other
bioactive proteins that can affect the human response to
detection and identification techniques and equipment
Biotechnologists need to
continually develop more definitive, rapid, and automated
detection equipment, regardless of whether or not bacteria
have been genetically engineered.
The capability to compare
genomes using DNA assays is already possible. It is
reasonable to contemplate a DNA microchip that could
identify the most important human pathogens by deciphering
bacterial and viral genomes.
This detector could provide information on the full genetic
complement of any BW agent even if it contained genes or
plasmids from other species, had unusual virulence or
antibiotic-resistance properties, or was a synthetic
organism built from component genes. The ability to quickly
identify and characterize a potential BW agent with a single
test will greatly reduce the delays in current detection
Geneticists deciphered the genome of the anthrax bacteria
contained in the terrorist letters after September 11, 2001.
DNA tests confirmed that the anthrax in every letter was the
Ames strain.125 Forensic scientists also looked
for human DNA that might be inside the letters. The
information was used for both the criminal investigation
(gene clues that might help track back to the perpetrator or
origin of the culture) and for further medical research for
diagnosis and treatment.126
Gene sequencing techniques
(molecular fingerprinting) for anthrax and other microbes
will undoubtedly contribute to future forensics and
Vaccines stimulate humoral128
immunity, the production of specific antibodies for specific
The availability of many pathogen genome
sequences has already led to development advances in new
vaccines for some meningitis and pneumonia bacteria.
Researchers have genetically engineered viruses in an
attempt to create novel vaccines that would stimulate
immunity against multiple diseases with a single treatment.129
A California laboratory, Maxygen,
is combining proteins from related pathogens in hope of
developing vaccines that could provide broad protection.130
Several other laboratories also have initiated
genome-enabled efforts investigating ways to boost
cell-mediated immunity against those pathogens for which it
might be most effective.
As yet, this approach has not
been as successful as the development of vaccines but, as a
result of genome sequencing, having knowledge of all
available antigens has been enormously valuable.
New antibiotics and antiviral
Advances in microbial genomics
hold great promise in the design of new anti-microbial
Current antibiotics target three processes in
From deciphered genome
information, any other protein essential for cell viability
is a possible target for a new class of antibiotics.
Although the first such antibiotics may be “silver bullets”
for a specific infectious agent, the information gained may
lead to broad-spectrum anti-microbial agents.
If the 1950s were the golden age of antibiotics, we are now
in the early years of the age of antivirals.132
With viral genomes decoded, scientists will soon decipher
how viruses cause disease, and which stage of the
disease-producing process might be vulnerable to
Insights gleaned from the human
genome and viral genomes have opened the way to development
of whole new classes of antiviral drugs.
Genetically engineered pathogens constitute the “next generation” of
biological warfare agents. Evidence indicates that the Russians have
genetically engineered biological warfare agents.
original debriefings were so shocking that some military and
intelligence personnel preferred to believe that he was
As his statements about genetic
engineering and FSU capabilities began to be substantiated, however,
the reality began to sink in. Such genetic innovations obviously
enhance adversarial offensive biological warfare effectiveness and
complicate our defensive capability. Because we cannot know with
certainty the specifics of these agents (lethality, communicability,
and antibiotic resistance), it is imperative that we prepare for the
Two quotes come to mind.
George Orwell said, “Life is a race
between education and catastrophe.”
Gene Kranz said,
“Failure is not an option.”
Although biologically engineered weapons may currently be less of a
concern than their naturally occurring counterparts, the threat they
pose can only increase as technology develops.134
We are only in the
initial stages of a revolution in biotechnology.135 Historically,
the available state-of-the-art biotechnology has been used in
offensive BW programs (i.e., FSU applied the technology of the 1970s
Biotechnology is the ultimate
double-edged sword. Once knowledge is attained, there is no going
back.136 As is the case with most powerful technologies,
they can be employed for good or evil.137 We must proceed
with caution when developing new life-forms.138 As new
organisms are introduced into our delicate bio-equilibrium, we
cannot fully predict all potential consequences to the biosphere.
The same technology that is used to
benefit mankind may paradoxically pose a threat to our military
forces and civilian populations either by accident or by sinister
forces. It is possible today to genetically engineer microorganisms
for specific positive medical and industrial purposes. It is
likewise possible to genetically engineer pathogens for biological
warfare purposes. It seems likely that such weapons will be used in
our lifetimes. Inevitably, sometime, somewhere, someone seems bound
to try something with genetically engineered pathogens.139
If they are ever released, they will pose an ominous challenge for
medical care and governmental response.
The use of biological warfare agents on the battlefield against the
United States has been restrained in recent history. There have been
many declarations and conventions to attempt to define international
norms and to regulate the use of biological weapons. In the end, the
law of war is somewhat of an oxymoron.140 Several
signatories of the 1972 BWC, including Iraq and the former Soviet
Union, have participated in activities outlawed by the convention.141
These events demonstrate the
ineffectiveness of the convention as the sole means for eradicating
biological weapons and preventing further proliferation. Ultimately,
the most effective deterrent to their use has turned out to be fear
of retaliation.142 During the Gulf War, it is believed
that Iraq was deterred from using biologicals and chemicals because
Saddam Hussein feared nuclear or otherwise overwhelming retaliation.143
We cannot be sure that future enemies
will be so intimidated. Certainly, non-state terrorists actors will
not be deterred as easily.
Biotechnology has made it possible to
inflict mass casualties using only small scale special operations
that can evade detection in attempt to avoid retribution. In
asymmetric warfare, biological weapons are seen as a “great
The probability of a terrorist use of a genetically engineered
biological agent on a given city is very low, but the consequence of
such an event would obviously be very high.144 With maximum
casualties the likely goal, metropolitan areas are at the highest
This dilemma is the challenge of local
communities, which are sensitive to the need for preparedness, but
have finite resources. Local communities must have a plan and
sufficient medical and public health resources accessible to sustain
a response for up to 24 hours.
A robust federal assistance would be
made available promptly, but it would not be immediate. Currently,
dozens of federal entities fiercely compete for the missions and
money associated with the unconventional terrorism response.146
The Homeland Security Council is charged to coordinate a more
efficient network of disaster response capability.147
At present, all military and civilian
populations throughout the world are vulnerable to a BW attack.148
We remain grossly ill-prepared to respond to an epidemic caused by a
novel genetically engineered biological agent.
The 20th century was dominated by physics, but recent breakthroughs
indicate that the next 100 years likely will be “the Biological
There are those who say:
“the First World War was chemical;
the Second World War was nuclear; and that the Third World War –
God forbid – will be biological.”150
1.Stephen M. Block, “Living
Nightmares: Biological Threats Enabled by Molecular Biology,” in
The New Terror: Facing the Threat of Biological and Chemical
Weapons, eds. Sidney Drell, Abraham D. Sofaer, and George D.
Wilson (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1999), 58; see
also, Robert G. Webster, William J. Bean, Owen T. Gorman, Thomas
M. Chambers, and Yoshihiro Kawaoka, “Evolution and Ecology of
Influenza A Viruses,” Microbiological Reviews, March 1992,
2.Genetic engineering is a type of molecular biotechnology that
uses laboratory techniques to isolate, manipulate, transfer,
recombine, and allow expression of genes (DNA segments) between
different organisms. In biological warfare or bioterrorism,
adversaries might use genetically engineered agents that
included both modified existing microbes and possibly novel
synthetic life forms created to render them more effective as
biological weapons than found in naturally occurring organisms.
3. Tom Mangold and Jeff Goldberg, Plague Wars (NewYork: St.
Martin’s Press, 1999), 92.
4.Ken Alibek with Stephen Handelman, Biohazard (New York: Random
House, 1999), 43; see also, Lester C. Caudle III, “The
Biological Warfare Threat,” in Textbook of Military Medicine:
Medical Aspects of Chemical and Biological Warfare, eds.
Frederick R. Sidell, Ernest T. Takafuji, and David R. Franz
(Washington D.C.: Office of the Surgeon General, US Army, 1997),
454. Biopreparat constituted only half of the Soviet BW program.
See Alibek’s Biohazard.
5.Jonathan B. Tucker, Toxic Terror: Assessing Terrorist Use of
Chemical and Biological Weapons (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press,
2000), 4-5; and Jim A. Davis, “The Anthrax Terror,” Aerospace
Power Journal, Vol XIV, no. 4 (Winter 2000), 17.
6.Mangold and Goldberg, 182.
7.Ibid., 91-105; and Caudle, 453-4.
8.Mangold and Goldberg, 93-5.
9.Caudle, 454. Bacterial cells frequently contain
extrachromosomal (located outside the cell nucleus),
autonomously replicating DNA molecules known as plasmids. Some
plasmids carry DNA sequences that can produce antibiotic
resistance, virulence, or infectivity. Plasmids can move between
10.Mangold and Goldberg, 94-5, 164; Col John Alexander, Future
War: Non-Lethal Weapons in the Twenty-First Century (New York:
St Martin’s Press, 1999), 191.
11.Mangold and Goldberg, 93-7.
14.Alexander, 192; Mangold and Goldberg, 158-63.
17.Mangold and Goldberg, 177-95; Alibek, ix-xi.
18.Mangold and Goldberg, 178-9,182; Alibek, 3-304.
19.Alibek, 40-2, 155-6; Alexander, 191. Immediately after the
1972 Biological Weapons Convention treaty, President Brezhnev
initiated the largest biological weapons program in history.
20.Mangold and Goldberg, 186.
21.Ibid., 180. 187-8.
26.Mangold and Goldberg, 181.
27.Alibek, 160-1, 163-7, 272.
28.Ibid., 259; and Mangold and Goldberg, 181.
29.Alibek, 258-61; Mangold and Goldberg, 181.
31.Block, 50-1, Alibek, 69-86.
32.Plague War, Frontline, PBS Home Video, Public Broadcasting
Service, FROL1706, 1998, 60 minutes.
33.A.P. Pomerantsev, N.A. Staritsin, Yu V. Mockov, and L.I.
Marinin, “Expression of Cereolysine AB Genes in Bacillus
anthracis Vaccine Strain Ensures Protection Against Experimental
Hemolytic Anthrax Infection,” Vaccine, Vol. 15, No. 17/18, 1997,
34.Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg, and William Broad, Germs:
Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War (New York, Simon and
Schuster, 2001), 218-220.
35.Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg, and William J. Broad, “U.S.
Germ Warfare Research Pushes Treaty Limits,” New York Times, 4
September 2001, A1, A6.
36. Laurie Garrett, The Coming Plague (New York: Penguin Books,
37.Peter R. Lavoy, Scott D. Sagan, and James J. Wirtz, Planning
the Unthinkable: How New Powers Will Use Nuclear, Biological,
and Chemical Weapons (Ithica, NY: Cornell University Press,
38.Malcolm R. Dando, The New Biological Weapons: Threat
Proliferation, and Control (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner
Publishers, Inc, 2001), 11.
39.Mangold and Goldberg, 182.
40.Ibid., 110,159-61, 176.
44.Association of Military Surgeons of the United States
Newsletter, vol. 9, issue 2, (Summer 2001), 4.
45.Mangold and Goldberg, 181; Alibek, xi.
47.Lavoy et al, 4-5.
48.Mangold and Goldberg, 373.
49.Peter L. Hays, Vincent J. Jodoin, Alan R. Van Tassel,
Countering the Proliferation and Use of Weapons of Mass
Destruction (New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1998),
9; Zilinskas estimates that it may only take five years for
scientists working for “proliferant governments or subnational
groups” to develop biological weapons from the new
biotechnologies. R.A. Zilinskas (Ed.) Biological Warfare: Modern
Offense and Defense (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2000).
51.Ibid., 8-9. Lavoy et al, 232, 257.
52.Raymond A. Zilinskas, Biological Warfare: Modern Offense and
Defense (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000), 2-3.
53.Laurie Garrett, The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in
a World of Balance (New York: Penguin Books, 1994), 53.
54.Andrew F. Krepinevich, “Cavalry to Computer: The Pattern of
Military Revolutions,” The National Interest, No. 37, (Fall
55. Moisés Naím, “Reinventing War,” Foreign Policy,
November/December 2001, 37.
56.Claire M. Fraser and Malcolm R. Dando, “Genomics and Future
Biological Weapons: The Need for Preventive Action by the
Biomedical Community,” Published online: 22 October 20001 by
Nature Publishing Group @ http//genetics.nature.com, 1.
57.Even crop duster aircraft and mosquito sprayer equipment are
potential delivery mechanisms for bioterrorism.
58. Block, 60.
59.Ian O. Lesser, et. al, Countering the New Terrorism (Santa
Monica, CA: RAND, 1999), 7-38. Although the total number of
terrorist events worldwide has declined in the 1990s, the
percentage of terrorist events resulting in fatalities (and
total numbers of fatalities) increased; Ehud Sprinzak, “The Lone
Gunman,” Foreign Policy, November/December 2001, 72-3. According
to Sprinzak, today’s “megalomaniacal hyperterrorists” are
innovators and developers. They incessantly look for original
ways to surprise and devastate the enemy. They think big,
seeking to go beyond “conventional” terrorism and, unlike most
terrorists, could be willing to use weapons of mass destruction.
If the intent of terrorists is to inflict mass casualties, then
biological agents are likely to be used.
60.Richard Preston, The Hot Zone (New York: Anchor
Books/Doubleday, 1994). Tom Clancy’s Executive Orders and
Michael Critchton’s The Andromeda Strain were other popular
books on pathogens.
61.Alexander, 215. PDD-62 contained major initiatives to combat
internationalterrorism. PDD-63 addressed protection of the
nation’s critical infrastructure from both physical and cyber
62.Preventing Emerging Infectious Diseases: A Strategy for the
21st Century, (Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reprinted
August 2000), vii.
63.Garrett, 6; Block, 59. New infectious diseases are thought to
emerge due to situations where humans now live in close
proximity to animals.
64.William J. Broad, “Genome Offers ‘Fingerprint’ for Anthrax:
Analysis of Bacterium Could Help Investigators,” New York Times,
28 November 2001, B-1-8.
65.Block, 45. The minimum lethal dose for inhalational anthrax
(reported to be5,000 to 10,000 spores) is high compared to some
other biological agents.
66.Fraser and Dando, 2.
69.Ibid., 355; Sheryl Gay Stolberg with Melody Peterson, “U.S.
Orders Vast Supply of Vaccine for Smallpox,” New York Times, 29
November 2001, B-8.
70.Alibek, 258-61; Block, 49. The FSU’s biological warfare
program was massive, totaling over 18 complexes and 60,000
workers. Considering that this dwarfed the worldwide commitment
to the Human Genome Project, there is significant concern about
what the FSU bioscientists were able to accomplish. Despite
President Yeltsen’s order to close the Russian BW program,
biological warfare research is thought to continue in the FSU.
73.Personal conversation with Bill Patrick, 6 September 2001.
74.Asymmetric warfare is the use of less technological, less
expensive, and/or more unconventional weapons, tactics and
strategies. Historically, this has taken the form of guerilla
warfare, but today includes cyber war and the use of weapons of
75. Zilinskas, 1-2.
76.Katherine McIntire Peters, “Behind in the Biowar,” Government
Executive, December 2001, 28.
77.Ibid., 28. The potential to inflict damage on the enemy is
obvious. Less clear is how to protect friendly troops from
disease while spreading it among the enemy.
78.The Worldwide Biological Warfare Weapons Threat, 2001, 1.
80.David Franz quoted by Peters in “Behind in the Biowar,” 30.
81.Fraser and Dando, 2.
83.Donald Rumsfeld, Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review,
(Washington D.C.: Department of Defense, September 2001), 7.
88.International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium, “Initial
Sequencing and Analysis of the Human Genome,” Nature, Vol 409,
15 February 2001, 860-921 (http://www.tigr.org/tdb/mdb/mdbcomplete.html);
see also, David Baltimore, “Our Genome Unveiled,” Nature, Vol
409, 15 February 2001, 814-816.
89.International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium, 860-921.
90.Rachel Nowak, “Disaster in the Making,” New Scientist, 13
January 2001, 4-5.
91.Fraser and Dando, 3.
92.Clyde A. Hutchison, et al, “Global Transposon Mutagenesis and
a Minimal Mycoplasma Genome,” Science, Vol 286, 10 December
93.A minimal genome can be defined as the smallest set of genes
that allows forreplication of the organism in a particular
94.Philip Cohen, “A Terrifying Power,” New Scientist, 30 January
95.Carina Dennis, “The Bugs of War,” Nature, 17 May 01, 232-235.
97.Zilinskas, 13. The bacteria E. coli have been genetically
engineered to produce commercial quantities of valuable complex
proteins, including insulin, human growth hormone, interferon,
hepatitis B surface antigens, and angiotensin.
98.Bernard Moss, “Genetically Engineered Poxviruses for
Recombinant Gene Expression, Vaccination, and Safety,”
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United
States of America, 1996, Vol. 93, 11341-11348, as abstracted in
the Journal of the American Medical Association, 6 August 1997,
Vol. 278, No.5., 350.
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102.Nowak, 4-5; see also, Stanley L. Robbins, Ramzi S. Cotran,
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(Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1984), 158. The immune
response compromises all the phenomena that result from the
specific interaction of cells of the immune system with antigens
(foreign material). Entrance of an antigen into the body can
have two possible outcomes: (1) a humoral immune response,
involving the synthesis and release of antibody molecules within
the blood and extracellular fluids; or (2) cell-mediated
immunity, manifested by production of “sensitized” lymphocytes
capable of interacting with antigens such as bacterial toxins
and cause neutralization of the toxin, or they can coat the
antigenic surfaces of microorganisms and render them susceptible
to lysis by complement or to phagocytosis by macrophages. In the
second type of reaction, the sensitized cells are responsible
for such actions as rejection of foreign tissue grafts and
resistance against many intracellular microbes, i.e., viruses,
fungi, and some bacteria.
103. Dennis, 232-235.
104.Jose B. Cibelli, Robert P. Lanza and Michael D. West, with
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105.Gina Kolata with Andrew Pollack, “A Breakthrough on Cloning?
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107.Gina Kolata, “Company Says It Produced Embryo Clones,” New
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108.Sharon Begley, “Brave New Monkey,” Newsweek, 22 January
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117.Fraser and Dando, 3.
118.Block, 47-48; Dando, 125-129.
120.Fraser and Dando, 4; see also Dando, 127. Polymorphisms are
differences in a specific gene. Single nucleotide polymorphisms
(SNP) arise from the change of just one base pair in the DNA
sequence. SNPs are markers that may lead to the genetic basis of
many diseases. Theoretically, a SNP or sets of SNPs may provide
new targets for new drugs, toxins, or bioregulators.
121. Peters, 30.
122.Mildred K. Cho, David Magnus, Arthur L. Caplan, Daniel McGee
and the Ethics of Genomics Group, “Ethical Considerations in
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124.Fraser and Dando, 3.
125.RickWeiss, “ATerrorist’s Fragile Footprint,” The Washington
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127.Fraser and Dando, 3.
128.Robins, 158. See footnote 102 for definitions of humoral and
131.Fraser and Dando, 3.
132.William A. Haseltine, “Beyond Chicken Soup,” Scientific
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138.Alexander, 119-121, 196.
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145.Jeffery D. Simon, “Biological Terrorism: Preparing to Meet
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146.Amy Smithson, et. al, Ataxia: The Chemical and Biological
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by Peters in “Behind in the Biowar,” 33.
147.Elizabeth Becker and Tim Weiner, “New Office to Become a
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150. Sir William Stewart as quoted by Patricia Reaney, “Animal
Disease is Reminder of Bioterrorism Danger,” in Reuters news
report, 3 September 2001.