Two years after a report on the 2001 anthrax attacks was finished, the Pentagon has released parts of it. It says the U.S. is woefully ill-prepared to detect and respond to a bioterrorist assault, reports the New York Times. The report identifies weaknesses in “almost every aspect of U.S. biopreparedness and response.” The two-year fight over the Pentagon’s refusal to release the study highlights the tension between public access to information and the government’s refusal to divulge anything it says could help terrorists.
The dispute involves a 44-page analysis written by a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a research center in Washington that conducts only nonsecret research. The report was based largely on discussions among 40 government and private experts on public health, national security, and law enforcement who attended a meeting the center sponsored in December 2001. The report was written by David Heyman, director of the homeland security program at the center. “This study was based on discussions that were held in an unclassified setting,” said Jerome M. Hauer, a former assistant secretary for public health emergency preparedness in the Bush administration, who attended the meeting. “To close the results of that forum is myopic and does nothing to better prepare this country to deal with those threats.”