The purpose of the August 11, 2008 teleconference is to disclose recent activities of the Board and to ensure that the public is given an opportunity to be involved in the deliberative process of the Board on personal preparedness issues that will specifically impact the Nation. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is preparing to release information that will have impact on all U.S. citizens. The information involves the homestockpiling of antibiotics prescribed by a physician for use following an exposure to anthrax.
Availability of Materials: The agenda and other materials will be posted on the NBSB Web site here.
More on stockpiling here
Remarks by Mr. Ted Gistaro here
National Intelligence Officer for Transnational Threats
Terrorism's New Structure By MARTIN AMIS, WSJ
History is accelerating; and so the future becomes more and more unknowable. Among our foremost thinkers, we find only one presentiment that is universally shared. This turns out to be a sinister variation on the idea of "convergence." Not the convergence of nations and polities, whereby the world's autocratic regimes would gradually align themselves with the democratic and contentedly globalized mainstream. This particular expectation, even neoconservatives now concede, was a triumphalist fantasy of the 1990s -- that curious holiday from what Philip Roth has called "the remorseless unforeseen."
Photo illustration by Donald George/The Wall Street Journal; Photo Researchers (anthrax) Bacillus anthracis (anthrax spores)
The convergence we have now come to anticipate is the convergence of international terrorism and weapons of mass destruction -- of IT and WMD. Even strictly parallel lines, I was taught, meet and cross in infinity. And the paths of IT and WMD are visibly inclined, like the sides of a tapering spire. Their convergence is guaranteed by the simplest of market forces. Marginal costs will fall; and demand will climb.
It has not been widely realized, even now, that America has already suffered a terrorist deployment of WMD -- as we have just been reminded by the one-man suicide mission of the troubled germ-scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, in Frederick, Md. This attack began on Sept. 18, 2001. The cost in blood was five dead and 17 seriously infected. The cost in treasure was over a billion dollars (the cost to the perpetrator, in a vibrant asymmetry, was estimated at the time to be as little as $2,500). And there was a third impact: the cost in fear. Anthrax is not contagious; but fear is. The scale of the attack was minuscule, yet for a while the terror filled the sky.
AFP/Getty Images; Newscom (spore) Hazardous materials experts at a U.S. Senate building in November 2001, after an anthrax-laced letter was found. Inset: an anthrax spore, magnified 40,000 times.
Unlike the poet, the novelist (see W.H. Auden's glittering sonnet of that name) assumes that his or her reactions to the main events (in life, in history) are utterly median, average -- predictably and dependably human. I am confident that my reaction to Sept. 11 was quite normative: a leaden and sourly mineral incredulity. It is with rather more diffidence that I divulge my reaction to Sept. 18: I followed the example of that large and flightless African bird which, when sighting a threat to its existence, chooses to bury its head in the sand.
This was the kind of information I was unable to contemplate:
Using one aircraft dispensing 1,000 kg of anthrax spores. Clear calm night. Area covered (sq. km): 300. Deaths assuming 3,000-10,000 people per sq. km: one million to three million.
The affective content of Sept. 18 ran as follows: you cannot protect your children (and I had and have five). Staggering, too, was the perceived magnification of the putative enemy's power. Al Qaeda swelled like a Saturn; and for a while they seemed to be everywhere on earth -- the whisperers, the nightrunners of Osama. Sept. 18 was very cheap, very terrifying, and hideously elusive. It entrained over 9,000 interrogations and 6,000 grand-jury subpoenas; and the case is not yet closed.
The anthrax letters contained two near-identical cover notes. The first said:
THIS IS NEXT
TAKE PENACILIN NOW
DEATH TO AMERICA
DEATH TO ISRAEL
ALLAH IS GREAT