Bioterrorism, Public Health and the Law 
Law 801: Health Care Law Seminar
Professor Vernellia R. Randall

A Clear and Present Danger?


Lesson Schedule
00: Intro to the Course
01: Intro to the Problem
02: Public Health System
03: Real Threat?
04: Public Health Law
05: Disease-Reporting
06: Quarantine
07: Model Act
08: Military Presence
09: Health Law Revisited


 Does Catastrophic Terrorism Incidents Involving Biological Weapons Constitute a Clear and Present Danger?

Milton Leitenberg

excerpted from: Milton Leitenberg, An Assessment of the Biological Weapons Threat to the United States, "White Paper" prepared for the Conference on Emerging Threats Assessment. Biological Terrorism, at the Institute for Security Technology Studies, Dartmouth College, July 7-9, 2000.


A. An Informed Consensus?

1. Cannot assume that catastrophic CB terrorism is imminent.

2. Historical analysis provides no basis for forecasting catastrophic CB terrorism, however...

3. Analysis of current trends provides mixed picture.

4. With exception of OBL, not clear that any known group planning, but...

5. Perception of CB threat driven by vulnerabilities, changes in political and technological environments, consequences, and judgment of future generations.

6. We confront a diverse spectrum of potential actors, motives, purposes, capabilities, substances, targeting choices, levels of lethality.

7. Terrorist CB attacks causing catastrophic casualties likely to remain rare.

8. States or state-sponsored CBW represent potential threat especially in conflict with US.

9. CB hoaxes are increasing and will continue to be a problem.

10. Threat goes beyond casualties enormous psychological impact, potential for economic warfare.


B. Risky Analysis in which Anxieties become Conclusions

1. Instead of assessing intentions and capabilities of an identified enemy, we begin with...

2. Identifying vulnerabilities, which are infinite...

3. Then positing a foe they are legion provided with a highly generalized motive...

4. To create a scenario focusing on worst cases...

5. Reifying a hypothetical scenario useful for planning purposes into an actual threat, considered inevitable, imminent, for which we are unprepared...

6. Demanding action (or future generations will judge us harshly) from which we might derive a deterrent effect.

7. Fact-free analysis lends itself to manipulation and other mischief.


C. Conclusions

1. Not just a matter of time before chem-bio terrorism occurs.

2. Hoaxes and threats more likely than use.

3. Chemical more likely than biological substances.

4. Small-scale more likely than large-scale attacks.

5. Crude dispersal in enclosed area most likely mode of attack.

6. CB terrorism is not about to become the car bomb of the 1990s.

Related Pages:
Home ] Up ] Bioterroism and Public Health ] Biological Agents ] Dual Use or Poor Excuse? ] CDC Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response ] Will Bioterrorism Reshape Global Public Health? ] Bioterrorism - A Renewed Public Health Threat ] [ A Clear and Present Danger? ] Deaths and Illness--A Comparative Analysis ] The Requirements to Produce Biological Agents by Non-State Groups ] Potential of Use of Biological Weapons in the United States ] WHO Recommendations for Dealing with Bioterrorism ] Emerging Infectious Disease and Public Health (pdf) ] Facts about Biological Agents ]
Subsequent Pages:
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Previous Pages:
Home ] Syllabus ] Introduction to the Course ] Introduction to the Problem ] Public Health System ] Is Bioterrorism a Real Threat? ] Public Health Law and Bioterrorism ] Disease Reporting and Police Powers ] Quarantine and Police Powers ] Model State Public Health Law ] Military Presence and Public Health ] Public Health Law - Revisited ]
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