November 13th, 2018
Dani D, Dani G, Elsie, and Meredith
In today’s class, speaker Eric Klien spoke about Bioterrorism through the lens of the 1918-19 Spanish Influenza Pandemic and the ability to reproduce the H1N1 virus in order to enact biological terrorism on a population, as well as potential government involvement. In order to better understand the threat of bioterrorism, it is important to look at other examples and how scientist and journalists have reacted to, as well as made predictions about the future of, these events.
Reporter Scott Keyes discusses the 1984 Rajneeshee attacks of bioterrorism and voter fraud and situates it in a 2014 perspective. In 1984 a mass poisoning of over 700 people with salmonella in The Dalles, Oregon was committed by a group of religious extremist in order to prevent voter turn on. The group also rounded up the homeless and offered them food and shelter if they registered to vote and voted in favor of the Rajneeshees. The American government was able to rectify the situation by deporting the leader of the group and imprisoning other primary members. The county was highly watched on the day of the election and every voter had to pass an eligibility inspection prior to voting. This example of bioterrorism over 35 years ago shows how the American government had been proactive about responding to not only terrorism, but voter fraud. Author Keyes attempts to calm the reader assuring that “What does this bizarre, made-for-Hollywood episode tell us about voter fraud? First, it’s really hard to pull off. Even for a group with thousands of loyal followers, millions of dollars, and a willingness to use germ warfare, it couldn’t achieve its relatively small goal of winning two county commissioner seats.” However, with the technological advancements of the past forty years it is frightening to imagine how much larger of a biological attack of terrorism could happen today.
Westpoint’s Center for Combating Terrorism discusses the threat of bioterrorism 10 years after one of the most serious attacks following 9/11, when many news correspondents and politicians were sent mail with anthrax. The article fights back against allegations of funding issues as well as how prepared the country is. Giving evidence of new sectors of government dedicated to preventing bioterrorism as well as pointing to exaggerations of the media, the military base attempts to reassure the reader that the government is prepared for a bio attack as well as is actively trying to prevent it.