The Los Angeles Times is reporting another huge failure by the Department of Homeland Security. After spending billions on bio-hazard detectors, it is clear that they simply do not work effectively. And a new line of detectors seem little better.
As Chris Lindley drove to work that morning in August 2008, a call set his heart pounding.
The Democratic National Convention was being held in Denver, and Barack Obama was to accept his party’s presidential nomination before a crowd of 80,000 people that night.
The phone call was from one of Lindley’s colleagues at Colorado’s emergency preparedness agency. The deadly bacterium that causes tularemia — long feared as a possible biological weapon — had been detected at the convention site.
Should they order an evacuation, the state officials wondered? Send inspectors in moon suits? Distribute antibiotics? Delay or move Obama’s speech?
Another question loomed: Could they trust the source of the alert, a billion-dollar government system for detecting biological attacks known as BioWatch?
Six tense hours later, Lindley and his colleagues had reached a verdict: false alarm.
BioWatch had failed — again.
The ultimate verdict on BioWatch is that state and local health officials have shown no confidence in it. Not once have they ordered evacuations or distributed emergency medicines in response to a positive reading.