Awakened by the Gulf War. By June 1990, our intelligence was focusing on Al Tuwaitha, near Baghdad, and suspecting that it was an important germ warfare production facility.
Then, on August 2, Saddam’s army invaded Kuwait. It was obvious that we had waited too long. Hussein had biological warfare capability; and our defenses were inadequate. We lacked detection devices for airborne anthrax spores; they would not be developed by the January 15, 1991, deadline that was set by the UN for Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait. There was also little likelihood of having enough vaccine by that time. The antiquated Michigan anthrax vaccine facility was not able to produce enough.
Warning our ships. On August 6, the U.S. Navy sent its commanders a warning, that Iraq might have germ weapons which could be used against ships 25 miles away or closer. “The Iraqis would deploy these agents if needed” (Navy Operational Intelligence Center Report No. 0604327, August 6, 1990).
Already stockpiled. Two days later, another intelligence report noted that Saddam already had “substantial amounts of botulinum toxin” which was “probably weaponized.” Other germs being developed, or already available for weaponization, included cholera, anthrax, staphylococcus enterotoxin (SEB), and clostridium perfringens. “It is assessed that Iraqi forces will use BW [biological weapons] only as a last resort” (Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center, Special Weekly Wire, 32-90, August 8, 1990).
Anthrax shots begin. On December 17, Colin Powell recommended to Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, that inoculations should begin right away. President G.H.W. Bush approved it. The army began urging the FDA to permit it to give the botulinum vaccine to U.S. soldiers without obtaining the “informed consent” normally required of patients given experimental, unapproved drugs. The FDA reluctantly gave permission. That decision laid the seeds of grief for many Americans in coming years.
The Pentagon gave anthrax shots to 150,000 Persian Gulf soldiers, many of whom later developed the mysterious “Gulf War Syndrome.”
Another question concerned what to do with the remains of U.S. soldiers killed by a germ attack. In response, a memo from Fort Detrick said that the remains would have to be soaked in a powerful chlorine bleach. Only then could they be safely sent to the States for burial.
At the war’s end. After repeated bombings and 100 hours of action, the sudden end of the Gulf War meant that Saddam did not have to release his germs.
Russians still busy. Vladimir Pasachnik’s disclosures turned out to be correct. By January 1991, we had far more evidence that Russia had an immense germ warfare program. But Russian leadership continued to deny that it was producing biological weapons.
Inspections begin. On August 2, 1991, the first team of United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspectors had arrived in Baghdad. UNSCOM spent four years and repeated trips trying, in vain, to actually see what CIA intelligence had discovered by the fall of 1991.
Alibek defects. In the autumn of 1992, Kanatjan Alibekov (who later changed his name to Ken Alibek) defected from Russia and arrived in America. He was debriefed for over a year. Alibek had worked in Soviet germ warfare plants for 17 years and had risen to become the second in command of Biopreparat, which U.S. intelligence had been tracking for years. Biopreparat was the central agency in charge of all chemical / biological weaponization production throughout Russia.
He also told the techniques used to accomplish this, including breakthrough methods devised after the U.S. stopped its own germ program in 1969.
First Trade Center bomb. Thirty-five days after Bill Clinton took office, a bomb exploded in the basement of the World Trade Center. Among the results of this wake-up call was renewed interest in developing and stockpiling vaccines against biological weapons.
Iraq hard at work. Meanwhile, Iraq was rapidly improving its own germ-making facilities. An Iraqi clerk told the UNSCOM team that Iraq’s large Technical and Scientific Materials Import Division (TSMID) was actually part of their intelligence services. By the mid-1990s, British and German firms had sold nearly 40 tons of microbial food (needed to mass produce germs) to TSMID. Iraq had purchased far more than it needed for normal research and medical treatment. Yet as early as the late 1980s, the CIA had already identified the true role of TSMID.
South African stockpile. By the mid-1990s, both Iraq and Libya were trying to buy germs from South Africa. The Apartheid regime in South Africa had, for years, been developing a stockpile of anthrax, botulinum toxin, ebola, Marburg, and HIV virus (the cause of AIDS), to use against an uprising of blacks.
When the government suddenly collapsed in 1994, Libyan leader, Muammar Qadaffi, sent agents to purchase supplies and hire out-of-work scientists. They especially wanted Wouter Basson, who had been in charge of South Africa’s former germ warfare program.
Tokyo attack. On March 19, 1995, a nerve gas attack was carried out in a Tokyo subway, using sarin, which sickened thousands of people. Eventually, the leaders of Aum Shinrikyo were jailed. It was later learned that the cult had acquired some of its materials from ATCC, that Maryland germ center, as well as from Russia.
Oklahoma bombing. One month later, on April 19, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed. Nearly two hundred people died. Although no chemical or germ weapons were used, it was also a terrorist attack, the largest ever to occur in the U.S. up to that time.
First time inside a Russian germ facility. Stepnogorsk is a place you may never have heard about. It is a city in Kazakhstan, which had been built in 1982 as part of the Scientific Experimental and Production Base (SEPE). This was the most advanced of all Soviet germ warfare plants, and the only one on the edges of Russia. When Kazakhstan broke away from Moscow in 1991, its leaders wanted closer relations with America; and they let them examine the now-empty production facilities.
Andy Weber, a young diplomat stationed at the American embassy in Kazakhstan, led the inspection team. Inside just one structure, Building 221, they saw ten 20-ton fermentation vats, each four stories tall. Each one could hold 20,000 liters of fluid. The building was as long as two football fields. Yet it was only one of more than 50 buildings.
Building 221, alone, could produce 300 tons of anthrax in just 220 days, enough to fill many ICBMs.
Yet the Stepnogorsk complex was just one of at least six Soviet production facilities.
Immense production. American intelligence was beginning to realize the astounding fact of what had been accomplished. Begun in 1973, by the late 1980s, the Soviet germ warfare program had employed over 60,000 people, run by the military with an annual budget of close to $1 billion; they had stockpiled immense amounts of plague, smallpox, anthrax, and other agents for intercontinental ballistic missiles and bombers.
Two questions. But there were two questions: First, what had happened to all that germ stockpile?
Second, where were the hundreds of scientists and technicians who had once worked here? At its peak, Stepnogorsk alone had 700 scientists and top-level technicians. Now there were only 180. Where were the rest? Were they driving taxis or farming or had they been hired by foreign nations?
Fortunately, young Weber was fluent in Russian, and he set to work to find answers. He had abundant opportunities; for the U.S. government found he was very effective at obtaining uranium transfers to the U.S. It was Weber who first learned of the existence of Stepnogorsk, during a hunting trip with a friend who was a high-placed Kazakh official.
Vector. Then there was Vector. The defector, Alibek, had earlier identified this remote location in western Siberia as the Soviet’s largest and most sophisticated virus facility. Russia had secretly moved its smallpox samples there from Moscow, in violation of a 1992 treaty. That treaty broke down in 1995, when the Russians refused to permit the Americans to visit Vector and other facilities. Obviously, they were still being used to store and work on germ weapons. It would not be till several years later that we would be able to enter that facility.
Scientists for hire. One evening during supper, Gennady Lepyoshkin, a former Soviet colonel who had managed the Stepnogorsk plant after Alibek transferred to Moscow in late 1987, told Weber that Iran had repeatedly tried to recruit remaining scientists and technicians at Stepnogorsk. But, so far, they had not succeeded. But this could not continue forever. Everyone at Stepnogorsk was impoverished; some were close to starvation. Lepyoshkin asked for U.S. help to retrain these scientists at something they could use to support themselves. Later, Weber relayed the message. But, for a time, little was done.
The Aral Sea site. Lepyoshkin offered to show Weber other secret germ sites in Kazakhstan. Especially important to the Americans would be a visit to Vozrozhdeniye Island, which was the Soviet Union’s largest open-air testing site that was located 850 miles east of Moscow. Located on an island in the midst of the shrinking Aral Sea, it had been used to test brucellosis, Q fever, plague, glanders, tularemia, and even smallpox. (“Vozrozhdeniye” means “Renaissance” or “new life” in Russian.)
Buried treasure. After arriving there, Lepyoshkin told his new friend, Andy Weber, a very deep secret: When the Soviets lost Kazakhstan, they put their cache of anthrax into 66 stainless steel canisters, shipped them on a train with 24 cars, poured bleach into the canisters, then buried them under three to five feet of sand on this desolate island.
Waiting to be dug up. But, when others learned the secret (now rather well-known, or I would not be mentioning it here), they could come to the lonely, totally deserted island and dig up some of the anthrax canisters (so many that they originally filled 24 box cars) and carry them back home! One does not even need a boat to go there; for at certain times of the year a sandbar extends out to the island.
Thousands of gallons. Meanwhile, UNSCOM inspectors in Iraq were trying to learn the facts. On the evening of July 1, 1995, one of the Iraqi scientists broke down and told the truth. Rihab Taha had trained in Britain and spoke excellent English. She told them that Iraq began its biological weapons program in 1988, just as the Iran-Iraq War was coming to an end. Production of germ agents began the next year. Since then, thousands of gallons of anthrax and botulinum had been produced at Al Hakam. The anthrax and botulinum were stored in stainless-steel tanks in a warehouse.
Kamel exits. On August 8, Lieutenant General Hussein Kamel, a son-in-law of Saddam Hussein, defected to Jordan. He was the highest-level Iraqi official to escape, and had been in charge of much of the special weapons program.
Gulf War Syndrome. By 1995, thousands of Persian Gulf War veterans were complaining of a mysterious sickness which seemed to be ruining their lives. They insisted that their illnesses were caused by the medicines they were given, the air they breathed, or the anthrax inoculation. But poor records had been kept of which soldiers had received the anthrax and botulinum shots during the war.
Faulty records. Were the anthrax shots, given to our troops during the Gulf War, part of the cause of Gulf War Syndrome? In 1990, about 268,000 doses were sent to the military; but it reported that only 170,000 or less were given to our troops. Where are the rest? Between 1991 and April 1999, an additional 1.2 million doses were sold to our military.
Said to cause “little harm.” On October 20, 1995, a Defense Department slide showed a 1.3% systemic-reaction level from the anthrax vaccine. This was shown to demonstrate that little harm could come to America’s forces, if the anthrax vaccine was given. However, based on 2.4 million troops, that would equal 31,200 troops with varying degrees of sickness!
Nerve gas explosions. On June 21, 1996, the Pentagon made an startling announcement. For nearly five years, it had denied that any one serving in the Gulf War had been exposed to chemical or biological weapons. Now they admitted that, after American soldiers blew up an Iraqi ammunition depot containing chemical weapons, tens of thousands of allied soldiers might have been exposed to nerve gas. It was believed that prevailing winds may have blown it toward them.
Checking further, government experts found a second incident in which allied soldiers had blown up chemical weapons.
Anthrax for all. By the fall of 1996, the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon reversed themselves and approved a recommendation to vaccinate the entire U.S. military force with anthrax vaccine. The cost would be $2 billion. Six injections were to be taken by each of 2.4 million American military personnel.
Not so fast. Bitter complaints arose from the Gulf War veterans who said it was the anthrax shots which caused at least part of their health problems!
Medical experts also complained. They declared that the anthrax vaccine had not been proven by testing to safeguard against the aerosolized (air sprayed) form of the disease, the kind inhaled by the lungs. (The other type is the much milder form of the disease which falls on the skin and burrows in, a type not likely to be included in weaponized anthrax.)
Then the FDA got into the quarrel, arguing that the Michigan anthrax vaccine building did not follow its own manufacturing procedures, had rusting equipment, and a dirty environment with floors and even equipment not sanitized.
Demands were made that the current, entire Pentagon stockpile of anthrax vaccine doses be tested for sterility, potency, and safety. But the Pentagon balked. They knew that testing would reveal serious problems; and they wanted to get on with the vaccinations.
In order to obtain a better report, the Pentagon sent its own inspection team to the Michigan plant. Military officials feared that, even if problems were found with the vaccine, if the plant did not keep producing vaccine, it would close its doors. Then where would they turn to for vaccine? All the regular pharmaceutical firms had steadfastly refused to manufacture it, knowing that the anthrax vaccine could cause health problems in those receiving it, Efforts to begin vaccinating all our soldiers screeched to a halt.
Weber learns more. In June 1997, Andy Weber went to Kirov, in eastern Russia, in order to attend an international meeting of science researchers which was sponsored by the United States, Europe, and Japan.
One evening after a conference session, Weber went to a large cedar-panel sauna (steam bath). Evesdropping bugs don’t work well in such places. There he met two Russian scientists of the Obolensk State Research Center of applied Microbiology. They told him confidentially that at Obolensk, two hours drive from Moscow, the Soviets in earlier years had perfected dozens of strains of deadly bacteria for weaponization.
Iranian offers. They also told him that a delegation of Iranians had recently visited Obolensk and Vector (an important former germ warfare center which studied viruses, not bacteria). The scientists, who made less than $1,000 a year, had been offered salaries of up to $5,000 a month if they would come to Iran and help them on their germ warfare program.
The Iranians said they, the Iranians, were interested in developing germ and chemical weapons to be used not only against people but crops and livestock. They also were interested in Russian genetic engineering.
Ominous developments. Several impoverished Russians from Moscow institutions had already accepted positions in Iran or agreed to provide it with information by computer.
Obolensk alone had lost 54% of its staff between 1990 and 1996, including 28% of its top scientists. How many had gone to Iran or some other foreign country was unknown. (U.S. intelligence sources learned that similar offers had come from Iraq and North Korea.)
At the time Weber was told this: Washington was spending much less than $1 million a year, helping Russian biologists. This was very small, considering that there were over 15,000 Russian biologists; most of them were trained in research and development of biological weapons.
After the Kirov conference, Weber traveled to other places in Russia. At almost every stop, he learned that Iranian agents had been there already, making offers for workers.
One Russian scientist told Weber that, by the year 2015, Russia would be 60% Muslim. Fearful of a Muslim takeover, Russian leaders had secretly moved their stockpiles of exotic disease germs from the designated repository in Moscow to Vector, which was in faraway central Siberia.
Finally inside Vector. In September 1997, Weber was at last permitted to investigate what was inside Vector, that immense facility with over a hundred buildings and located in a desolate part of western Siberia. Many meetings by Weber in Russia and conferences of officials in Washington followed.
Joint research projects. Finally, in the fall of 1997, the U.S. agreed that it should begin joint research projects with scientists at Vector. In this way, the U.S. could learn more about what was taking place and try to prevent Iran, Iraq, or China from getting its scientists.
Soon after, similar agreements were entered into with Obolensk and other Russian research centers.
By this time, samples brought back from the eleven burial pits on the island of Vozrozhdeniye in the Aral Sea definitely revealed that some of that massive cache of buried anthrax, just below the surface, was still alive and deadly.
Still secret labs. Unfortunately, by early 1998, U.S. analysts noted that four leading Russian military labs remained totally closed to the Americans. It was feared that some of the money used to help scientists at the other labs would be shared with the military labs. We had no idea what was happening in them.
Smallpox contract. In late November 1997, the Pentagon awarded a $322 million, ten-year contract to DynPort, a British-American firm, to develop and obtain licenses for smallpox and 17 other vaccines for the military, plus a new recombinant anthrax vaccine.
New anthrax campaign. On December 15, the Pentagon announced that the
vaccination of the entire U.S. military against anthrax was to begin soon. It would take six years and cost $130 million.
Soon after, the Michigan plant was purchased by BioPort; this was owned by the wealthy Iranian, Fuad El-Hibri, with Myers and Ravenswaay on the board. But it still did not seem to know how to properly manufacture anthrax vaccine. When Pentagon officials were asked about the sloppy work at the plant, they consistently sidestepped the question. The truth was that the Michigan plant was their only source; and they intended to use the vaccine coming from it, regardless of its quality controls.
Many anthrax strains. In view of all that you have learned so far in this study, you might ask, If the enemy has so many different types of dangerous bioweapons, knowing that our troops are to be vaccinated against anthrax, why would not the enemy use a different agent against us—smallpox, ebola, bubonic plague, or something else? The answer to such a sensible question is quite obvious.
Genetically modified anthrax. Much of what the defector, Ken Alibek, had told our intelligence in 1992 had been ignored. One thing he had said was that Russia was continuing to find ways to blend ebola and smallpox. But the December 1997 issue of Vaccine (pp. 1846-1850), a London-based scientific journal, disclosed that Russian research had produced genetically modified anthrax. The Russian strains of Bacillus anthracis and Bacillus cereus were found to be closely related and often in soils near one another. Based on that fact, the project was successfully carried through to completion.
Russia, it turned out, was far more advanced in some areas of recombinant research than we had assumed. U.S. military men and scientists were alarmed to discover that Russia was in the process of making “super bugs”!
Alibek goes public. In February 1998, in interviews with the New York Times and ABC’s Prime Time Live, Ken Alibek went public with the frightening news of what was happening inside Russian biowarfare labs. He said the Soviet Union had planned that World War III include “hundreds of tons” of anthrax bacillus and scores of tons of smallpox and plague viruses. He also said that the Soviet labs had made hybrid germs from ebola and smallpox, which no vaccine or antibiotic could protect against. Many Washington legislators did not know that Alibek even existed.
Pscho germs. A new development was the discovery, about the time of the former Soviet Union effort, to use genetically engineered germs and toxins to cause psychological and physiological changes in people. The program involved making changes in peptides (short chains of amino acids that send signals to the central nervous system), to alter moods, sleep patterns, and heart rhythms—all without detection. They could also be used to produce death. The discovery was also made that these drugs were being used on patients in a hospital located close to that Russian research center!
Smallpox canisters. Soon after, we found that smallpox had also been tested on that Aral island; and that large amounts of it were also buried in canisters there.
Rapid-reaction teams. On March 17, 1998, Secretary of Defense Cohen announced that the National Guard was preparing ten rapid-reaction teams which would rush to any locality in America attacked by chemical or biological weapons.
25 nations. He went public with the fact that 25 nations had or were developing chemical and biological weapons; the expertise was spreading rapidly through the internet. He said terrorist groups would eventually be able to acquire those weapons. Soon after, Congress lavished money on the new state guard program.
Vaccinations resumé. In March 1998, the Pentagon began vaccinating our troops in the Near East against anthrax. But over two dozen sailors on two U.S. navy carriers refused them, fearing for their own health. They were about to be court-martialed; but they managed to get e-mails to Mark Zaid, an extremely competent Washington-based attorney who was already handling a case about the Gulf War Syndrome cover-up.
Zaid makes discoveries. Zaid filed a lawsuit under FIA (Freedom of Information Act) for every document connected to the anthrax vaccine program.
Zaid also discovered that, for years, the FDA had been reporting on deficiencies at that Michigan plant. The latest inspection, on February 1998, was not much better. Many deficiencies still needed to be corrected. There was something wrong with almost every phase of the production process. —Yet its vaccines were already being injected into U.S. servicemen overseas!
He also learned that the anthrax vaccine had been significantly altered. The new vaccine was quite different from the original one. The manufacturing process was changed, the strain of anthrax was different, and the added ingredients were changed “in order to increase the yield of protective antigen” (Heemstra, Anthrax, pp. 18-19).
Another researcher, Redmond Handy, uncovered many secret U.S. files. For example, one document from Fort Detrick revealed this:
“There is no vaccine in current use which will safely and effectively protect military personnel against exposure to this hazardous bacterial agent.” “Highly reactogenic, [it] requires multiple boosters to maintain immunity and may not be protective against all strains of the anthrax bacillus” (Redmond Handy, “Analysis of DOD’s Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program (AVIP),” report presented at the Call for Amnesty Press Conference, Washington, D.C., February 12, 2001, p. 7).
Delayed approval. It was not until two months after the military began vaccinating troops for anthrax that, in May 1998, Secretary Cohen officially gave approval for it to be done.
U.S. military within U.S. In the latter part of June, John Hamre, Secretary of Defense, told NATO officials that the Pentagon was thinking of appointing a regional commander to be in charge of “homeland defense.” The plan was, in case of a bioweapons attack, to send the national guard to set up field hospitals, bury the dead, and help care for the living.
But civil liberties experts were alarmed and, pointing to the Posse Comitatus Act enacted after the Civil War, declared it would be illegal for the federal government to interfere with activities within the states. The U.S. military would be involved in domestic law enforcement. The Pentagon immediately backed down. It would not be until 2002 that a Homeland Security Agency would finally be enacted into law.
$2 billion requested. On January 22, 1999, Clinton announced his decision to ask Congress for $2.8 billion to avoid and prepare for biochemical attacks. Donna Shalala, Secretary for Health and Human Services, commented that it was the first time in U.S. history that the public-heath system was being integrated into national-security planning.
Our stockpiles not destroyed. It was only a few months later that the White House had to decide whether America should destroy its remaining stocks of smallpox virus. But experts immediately stepped forward, declaring that not only Russia but other nations had smallpox stockpiles. A special committee, formed by the National Academy of Science to study the matter, decided in March that it was not wise to destroy our smallpox stocks.
Shocking facts. About a month later, William Patrick, a germ weapons expert, revealed a few facts to a special military conference at Maxwell Air Force Base:
Dry agent production (in metric tons per year) during peak production periods by the U.S. and former Soviet Union (S.U.):
Exposure to no more than 10,000 anthrax germs—all of which would fit comfortably into the period at the end of this sentence—could kill a human being. The spores are so tiny, they can slip through the fibers of an envelope or sheet of paper.
Zaid goes public. Meanwhile, the anthrax vaccine crisis only deepened. Mark Zaid, the attorney representing some of the first soldiers who refused the vaccine, had obtained thousands of pages of damaging facts about it. He began issuing press releases about his findings and sharing copies with the media.
Soldiers refuse vaccine. By this time, hundreds of soldiers, fearing for their health, had refused orders to take the shots. Fearing that their example would produce a general rebellion, the military took steps to court-martial them.
Pilots quit. This decision especially angered pilots in the Air National Guard. Many had jobs back home, flying for commercial airlines. Strong and healthy, they feared for their personal safety.
Over 260 pilots quit the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve. The GAO predicted a 43% total loss of pilots over the next six months. At a cost of $6 million to train each of these combat-ready pilots with eight to ten years of experience, the total cost was $1.5 billion.
GAO testimony. At an April 1999 hearing before Chris Shay’s house subcommittee, a GAO (General Accounting Office) auditor told the congressmen that no study had ever been made of the long-term safety of the anthrax vaccine.
“Therefore one cannot conclude there are no long-term effects,” he said. He also stated that there were questions about how effective it was in protecting against an anthrax attack. It appeared that the vaccine was both dangerous and useless.
Another GAO official, Sushil Sharma, revealed that the Defense Department’s brochure about the vaccine was not true when it said that the vaccine had already been given to large numbers of “veterinarians, laboratory workers, and livestock handlers.” It had actually been given to only a few.
Records missing. It was also discovered that there was no record of who received the anthrax shots in the Gulf War; yet the Pentagon had been claiming for years that the Desert Storm illnesses were not caused by the vaccine (Hearing before the Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs, and International Relations of the Committee on Government Reform, 106th Cong., 1st Sess., Apr. 29, 1999, pp. 10-20).
Protecting BioPort. As if that was not bad enough, Zaid, the attorney, disclosed that he had come across documents which had been drafted earlier by the army in order to indemnify companies making the anthrax vaccine! BioPort in Michigan was so afraid of the dangers of the anthrax vaccine it was manufacturing, it wanted governmental protection against lawsuits that would pour in when Americans were injured by receiving it or when it proved ineffective in protecting against an anthrax attack!
Long-term study promised. The Pentagon replied that there really was nothing to worry about; but a month later it promised to begin “a long-term study” of the vaccine’s safety. This was more than a year after large quantities of the shots began to be given and nine years after it had been given during the Gulf War. We are still waiting for that study to begin.
BioPort in trouble. More trouble erupted in the autumn of 1999, when BioPort, the Michigan company churning out the vaccine, was unable to meet FDA standards. So far, that plant never had met them. But this time, the FDA threatened to close down its operations.
There was danger that the firm might become financially insolvent. So, to help the company financially (not to improve the safety of the vaccine), the Pentagon agreed to raise the price of what it was paying the firm per anthrax dose, from $4.36 to $10.64.
This gave the company an additional $24 million; $18.7 million of this was immediately paid in advance. You will recall that it was BioPort which earlier spent millions on office furniture for its executives and bonuses for its executives.
Vaccine still flunking tests. Shortly after this, it was discovered that nearly 1.5 million vaccine doses, manufactured at BioPort, did not pass potency tests. Others were rejected by the FDA because it had not followed sterility procedures! A new inspection report found over 30 deficiencies, including the fact that batches did not uniformly meet the same specifications.
House report. The house committee investigating the anthrax vaccine issued a special report in April 2000: “The Department of Defense Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program: Unproven Force Protection.”
Strains not defendable against vaccine. The report included the very serious fact that gene splicing by an enemy could easily produce a strain of anthrax which would be completely resistant to our anthrax vaccine, making the program a “medical Maginot Line, a fixed fortification protecting against attack from only one direction.” In other words, it was a waste of time to inject Americans—any Americans—with anthrax vaccine (Committee on Government Reform, 106th Cong., 2d sess., House Report 106-556, April 3, 2000, p. 2).
Could the same be true about the other biowarfare protection vaccines? One example should suffice:
Variant U. In the spring of 1988, Nikolai Ustinov had died at Vector, the Siberian smallpox research complex. He was a scientist who had accidentally infected himself with the Marburg virus, a hemorrhagic killer that he and his colleagues had been trying to perfect as a weapon. After his death, his colleagues at Vector had cultured the virus that killed him. They discovered that, inside his body the virus had changed slightly. The new variant, according to Ken Alibek, was particularly virulent and had been weaponized as a replacement for the original. In Ustinov’s honor, it was named “Variant U.” In addition, any vaccine prepared to defend against Marburg virus would be useless against Marburg-U virus.
It was not difficult to produce disease variants which vaccines could not protect against. We would have to have samples of the secret virus; and, even if we made a vaccine, which could take years, there was a good likelihood it would neither be safe nor protective. We were already discovering that with our anthrax and smallpox vaccines.