Monday, January 30


I was hoping the transcript for this 60 Minutes segment would show up quickly, and it has. You MUST READ "The Worst-Case Scenario."

To sum up: We have a drug, tested and approved by the Pentagon, that would save people from radiation exposure (see my post below on the film Dirty War). The HHS has ordered only 100,000 doses instead of the minimum 10 million recommended by the 9/11 Commission, because the guy in charge of Project Bioshield is another Bush political appointee in the mold of Michael Brown. In other words, Bush is at it again, making us "safer" by installing unqualified cretins in the most sensitive of posts. Who in their right minds trusts this guy to protect us?

No one knows where a terrorist strike might take place, but there are dozens of U.S. cities with populations large enough to be plausible targets.

Drugs would need to be stockpiled in every city, according to Lee Hamilton, Vice Chairman of the 9/11 Commission.

"A hundred thousand doses is not nearly enough," he says. "If you really had a major attack you probably would need much more than that. One estimate we made was that we’d need 10 million doses."

Who made the decision to buy 100,000 doses instead of 10 million? It was Stewart Simonson, the man who oversees Project Bioshield. Simonson is a Republican political appointee who, before running Project Bioshield, was a lawyer for Amtrak. Republicans as well as Democrats have criticized his management of the program.

"Secretary Simonson just appears to be over his head on this particular issue," says Rep. Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican, who chairs the committee that oversees Project Bioshield.

Davis, who usually supports the administration, is taking the unusual step of calling in this story for Simonson’s removal from Bioshield.

He says Simonson lacks the necessary technical and scientific background, and compares him to Michael Brown, the former FEMA director who resigned after Hurricane Katrina.

"Oh, I think that we’re seeing the same kind of issues," says Davis. "Michael Brown had been before our committee prior to Katrina and exhibited the same kind of arrogance, a lack of expertise. This is a serious job at this point, and I think we need to have professionals filling it, not political appointees."
"The thing that must be understood here is the urgency of the problem," says Lee Hamilton. "We don’t have an unlimited amount of time here. We know that it is possible to have a nuclear attack very soon, and we must not go about business as usual."
Furthermore, the Pentagon’s chief radiologist wrote 60 Minutes that: "One of the most desirable features of Neumune" is that it "could be self-administered without physician supervision in a disaster scenario."

The drug could be in a cartridge with a needle. You could inject it in your thigh.

Marsella says having a drug that people can administer themselves was the whole idea.

"We need something that’s safe enough that we can distribute to people even in their homes," he says.

Assistant Secretary Simonson seems to be going in a different direction. He wrote a letter to Congress emphasizing that nuclear victims bleeding to death could be treated in hospitals.

Asked if he thinks hospitals would be able to handle the load of patients in such an event, Simonson’s deputy, Raub, says, "There would be hospital capacity that would be able to treat a substantial portion of that load. By no means would there be the ability to treat all of it, and therefore that’s what makes it a catastrophe."

"I talked to one of the top hematologists in this country this morning, and he said that he thought his facility, his hospital, would be able to handle maybe dozens of people, that’s it," says Bradley. "And I think if you’re looking at radiation exposure, you’re looking at more than dozens of people, you’re talking about hundreds of thousands in a place like New York or Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles."
Relying on hospitals is far from a perfect solution according to the Pentagon. They wrote to 60 Minutes: "In the event of a radiation disaster the overwhelming majority of radiation victims will not have access to medical personnel."
But Raub says people can be evacuated to hospitals in the surrounding area.

"Do you imagine what it would be like evacuate New York City?" Bradley asks.

"Yes, I understand that. But, also, this is a catastrophe and I think people would do their very best on under those circumstances," Raub replies.

"Whose going to drive the buses?" asks Marsella. "If you have 450,000 people that are in a radioactively contaminated area possibly with acute radiation syndrome, how are you possibly going to deal with that many people when you just saw in Katrina that we had a hard time getting people food and water?"
"It’s just so frustrating because you’ve got nothing but duck and cover, and duct tape and plastic in the past 60 years," says Marsella. "And then you try to come out with a countermeasure that the Department of Defense is supporting. And HHS tells you, 'Well, we don’t really need it. We’re just going to put everyone in the hospital.' "
He says that HHS is playing a dangerous game.

"Ultimately, you’re betting that we don’t have a terrorist attack and that we’ll be able to catch up by that time. That’s the gamble," Davis says.

How far behind are we?

"I think years from where we ought to be," he says.

"What I want to see is a president of the United States and a secretary of HHS saying 'This is my No. 1 priority," says Lee Hamilton. "The No. 1 threat to the safety and security of the American people is the possibility of a nuclear attack of some kind, and it should be at the top of my priorities. That’s what I want to hear."

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Blogger spocko said...

Yeah I read the transcript too. What a load of crap this admin feeds us.

They waste our money, they waste our solider's lives and their idea of preparing for a disaster is to go through the motions.

They haven't been punished for ANYTHING they have screwed up on.
Was anyone fired over Katrina? No. Brown was allowed a leave and is still getting a paycheck.
If you stay loyal they are like the mob, they take care of you for life. They or their cronies will keep you in speaking fees for the next 30 years.

If you betray them they remove the gloves and release the hounds.

Funny you should mention 60 minutes. I wrote a post about the Opera Singer's weight loss program.
60 minutes has lost it.

3:55 AM  
Blogger Motherlode said...

Read your post, Spocko. I agree, with all the assets of a major prime-time news program they elect to go with a weight-loss story? Seriously, I expect to find that sort of thing on "Calling Dr. Gupta."

10:12 AM  

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