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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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Assessing the Threat

Assessing the Threat

Chapter:
(p.161) Chapter 10 Assessing the Threat
Source:
Bracing for Armageddon?
Author(s):

William R. Clark

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195336214.003.0010

What would it take to mount a catastrophic bioterrorist attack on America? What are the barriers to success? Who could do it, and what weapons would they use? In this chapter we analyze the attempts at bioterrorism described in Chapter 2, and ask why they failed. This chapter concludes that it is virtually inconceivable that any terrorist organization we know of in the world today, foreign or domestic, could on their own develop, from scratch, a bioweapon capable of causing mass casualties on American soil. It is equally inconceivable that any state would supply terrorists with such weapons, for fear of having them turned back on themselves. Other forms of terrorism, using nuclear or conventional explosives, or mega-suicide gestures like 9/11, are technologically simpler, and equally or more effective in achieving terrorist goals. Deterrents against bioterrorism currently in place are reviewed.

Keywords:   select agents, Aum Shinrikyo, anthrax, weaponization, vaccines, anti-microbial drugs

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