No NBAF in Kansas

Real Biosecurity for the Heartland

No “credible information” from the DHS

Posted by Dale on December 15, 2009

Via Wikileaks I recently came across a Department of Homeland Security PowerPoint presentation that was inadvertently posted on November 22, 2007 and removed within days. It is unclassified information, but nonetheless provides some interesting insights into the thought processes prevalent in the DHS during the Bush administration (and perhaps still).

After scrolling through many slides on the risks to oil and gas facilities and military missions in Iraq (one sees here the nation’s priority when it comes to protecting the US from terrorists), one reaches on the 12th of 27 slides a discussion of threats to the “homeland.” At the 15th slide, the discussion turns toward risks to food and agriculture.

The first statement on the topic is

DHS lacks credible information to indicate planning for an attack against the Food and Agriculture sector, but continues to pay great attention to this threat

which seems to be something of a mild smoking gun with regard to NBAF. Much has been made by its supporters of the threat, which is typically described as imminent and real, while perhaps not using those terms. Is is really worth the expense and the risks to build an NBAF when even the DHS cannot present any credible information pointing to a threat?

Perhaps even more disturbingly, the next slide analyzes the danger represented by domestic “animal rights extremists” and “environmental extremists.” While I find the tactics of groups such as PETA and Greenpeace (and smaller groups with similar and perhaps more action-oriented agendas) off-putting, I think we have room in our nation to tolerate a bit of antisocial behavior. If they commit criminal acts, which some do, we have laws against such acts (theft, wanton destruction of property, disturbing the peace, etc.), so why the need to label them extremists and terrorists? Unless something has been hidden from the public, the only “extreme” domestic acts one reads about in the paper are fairly frequent shooter incidents and, of course, the Oklahoma City bombing, none of which have anything remotely to do with animal rights nor the environment.

This is, put simply, making enemies out of thin air. The mindset behind this slideshow frightens me, frankly, as a citizen of a democratic nation. I am not much of a conspiracy theorist, but if PETA et al. already rank as “terrorists” and “extremists,” who will be next?

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3 Responses to “No “credible information” from the DHS”

  1. rhyno79 said

    any updates on whats going on with this nbaf thing is this now a dead site? is the facilty in operation already? have we lost? if so surely there is still something we can do. please let me know. i would really like to participate in getting this abomination out of our state.

  2. Dale said

    No, it is not dead, but it is far from being operational. If I recall correctly, the planned operational date was 2015, which was based on an optimal construction schedule. The financial crisis will surely derail that, but I recently read how a Dept of Homeland Security official reassured members of the Kansas Bioscience Authority that the Obama administration stands firmly behind the plan to build this monstrosity. Having voted for Obama hoping that his election would mean that we would stop seeing threats around every corner and return to spending our tax dollars on things that provide tangible benefits, I suppose one can add me to the list of people disappointed with our president.

    You can read the DHS’s timeline for NBAF. At this point, perhaps the best strategy is to resist the funding for this lab, so write your representatives and senators and let them know you oppose its construction.

  3. Save_PIADC said

    Rhyno79 and Dale,

    For those individuals interested in diverting the funding for NBAF, I would suggest contacting the office of Senator Jon Tester from Montana.

    Senator Tester has been one of the very few skeptical voices about NBAF in the Senate. In fact, his efforts played a key role in getting the safety analysis requirements placed into law.

    Senator Tester is a farmer and his brother is a veterinarian. He is deeply suspicious about the wisdom of bringing live virus Foot-and-Mouth disease research onto the U.S. mainland. He is facing a tough re-election in 2012 and this issue could be political gold for him and further galvanize support from R-CALF USA and NCBA members.

    Tester sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Homeland security Subcommittee and is probably the Senator best positioned to take on the NBAF funding juggernaut.

    In the House of Representatives, Reps. John Dingell and Bart Stupak led a valiant effort to expose the politically tainted site selection process for NBAF. Unfortunately, Rep. Dingell was deposed as the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Dingell’s successor, Henry Waxman, had no interest in continuing what was a very effective (and potentially politically embarrassing) investigation. Waxman was completely co-opted by the White House and at the White House’s request, the oversight investigation into NBAF was killed and Rep. Stupak was prevented from holding his scheduled hearing on the GAO’s damning 2009 NBAF report. Waxman’s longtime aid, Phil Schillero, is the White House Director for Legislative Affairs and ensured that the NBAF investigation “went away” in the House of Representatives.

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