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Bracing for Armageddon?The Science and Politics of Bioterrorism in America$
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William R Clark

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195336214

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195336214.001.0001

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Tales of a Dark Winter

Tales of a Dark Winter

A Play in Three Acts

Chapter:
(p.3) Chapter 1 Tales of a Dark Winter
Source:
Bracing for Armageddon?
Author(s):

William R. Clark

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195336214.003.0001

This chapter examines one of the many war games-like exercises carried out beginning in the 1990s to test the reaction of government officials to a hypothetical bioterrorist attack. In this exercise, smallpox virus is released simultaneously at three sites across America. Experienced government officials played the roles of the president, his cabinet, and members of the National Security Council in formulating responses to information fed them by exercise planners. As the players stumble through their roles, the situation rapidly spins out of control, and hundreds of thousands of hypothetical deaths occur. This exercise contributed to a sense of panic among government officials, and contributed to the commitments of enormous sums of money to try to remedy perceived shortcomings in our ability to respond to a real bioterrorist attack.

Keywords:   Dark Winter, smallpox, anthrax, quarantine, surge capacity, coordination, first responders

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