Judith Miller has a piece in the recent edition of City Journal carrying the title, "Bioterrorism's Deadly Math". Her perspective is that after many years and billions of dollars, the U.S. remains quite vulnerable to attack.
Here is one interesting bit that stands out as good news about the Department of Homeland Security's National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC):
The agency's original plan was to operate the NBACC mostly in secret by classifying the entire center as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF, pronounced "skiff")--a place where top-secret information and materials could be stored and discussed. But the NBACC's new director, J. Patrick Fitch, says that he intends to operate the lab with the greatest possible transparency. "Eighty percent of our projects and their results will be unclassified, and we will encourage our scientists to publish," he says. While his facility would be "SCIFable" in an emergency, he intends to encourage as much interaction as possible between NBACC scientists and their American and foreign counterparts. "In such a fast-moving area," he explains, "it's self-defeating to isolate yourself."
This is a welcome change. There is also an independent advisory board looking over the NBACC's shoulder, but the idea of classified work on pathogens still makes me uneasy.
It is interesting to see Miller back on the biodefense beat. Even if some of her prior work is now frowned on, she seems to have a knack for putting pieces together.