Russia has enough anthrax to kill the world's population four times over. Iraq stockpiles weaponized neurotoxins. Can homeland defense hold up against these weapons?
It was a low-tech attack with box-cutters and plastic knives. But suppose it had been a low-tech attack with even more murdered across a broader territory? In the weeks before the airline disasters, Washington officials were thinking a lot about that. But they were not thinking nuclear -- they've been thinking biological.
Since Sept. 11, they've been thinking about it even more intensely. Among the workers immediately sorting through the rubble were biohazard specialists, alerted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, quietly taking samples to see if biological agents had been secreted in the baggage of the terrorists.
More disturbing still was a report by Bill Gertz of the Washington Times that Mohammed Atta, one of the dead terrorists, had been seen a year ago in talks with a high-level Iraqi intelligence official. Specialists long have known that Iraq possesses chemical and biological weapons, although U.N. inspectors in postwar Iraq, buffaloed by Saddam Hussein's game of three-card monte, did not find any. Intelligence sources tell Insight that Saddam simply hired scientists from the Russian biological-weapons complex called Biopreparat.
Ken Alibek was deputy chief of Biopreparat when he defected in 1992. The program had the highest security classification, and the Russians routinely denied that it existed. Alibek was told that it was necessary because the United States was preparing such weapons. …