by Mike Whitney
These guys give me the creeps.
On Friday there was an article in the New York Times (â€œIn a Daylong Drill, an Agency Tries to Prepare for a Real Outbreak of Avian Fluâ€, Donald McNeil Jr.) that gave the details of the drills that are being conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) in case a full-blown pandemic breaks out in the United States. The exercises were supervised by CDC chief, Dr. Julie Gerberding, the agencyâ€™s director. A number of disastrous scenarios were simulated to test the judgment of the supervisors and the strengths of the system.
Iâ€™m sure everyone is relieved that the C.D.C. and Dr. Gerberding are practicing their routine in the event of an outbreak of lethal influenza. After all, Gerberding may confront a situation where she will be asked to decide whether or not to quarantine cities or, perhaps, entire states to prevent the spread of an epidemic, like Avian Flu.
So, why is this so weird?
Well, when was the last time Bush-Cheney devoted millions of dollars to anything that served the public interest? That is an oddity in itself.
They refuse to provide the recommended security-measures for the nationâ€™s nuclear power plants from terrorist attack, and they waged a bitter battle over legislation that required the checking of cargo coming into US ports. They even fought congress on the issue of air-port screeners following the attacks on 9-11?!?
So now theyâ€™re spending millions on drills for a potential outbreak of Bird Flu?
Why? Why this sudden interest in the health and welfare of the American people?
Of course, we know what the administration REALLY thinks of the American people as evinced in their reaction to Hurricane Katrina. Thatâ€™s when tens of thousands of people were (intentionally?) cut-off from food, water, and medical supplies while Bush blew kisses to his people from 30,000 feet from Air-force 1.
And, what ever happened to the zillions of dollars that congress provided to rebuild New Orleans after the storm?
My guess is that it vanished into a Republican black-hole like the trillions earmarked for Iraqi reconstruction.
The only thing thatâ€™s been rebuilt in New Orleans is the one house that was used in the photo-op of Bush pounding nails in his shirtsleeves.
So, what is the real motive behind these C.D.C. drills and why did Bush the media involved? According to the NY Times:
â€œFour reporters, from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press and The Canadian Press, were allowed to watch the exercise (and even to comment on how well C.D.C. public affairs officers played reporters during a mock news conference)â€
In fact, Dr Gerberding even chirped, â€œThis is new for us. A lot of people feel itâ€™s really high-risk to let the press look inside the sausage factory while the sausage is being made.â€
â€œHigh riskâ€?!? No way. The Bush administration is doing what they always do; manipulating public perceptions by releasing tidbits that prepare people for disaster.
Isnâ€™t that true?
And why are privately-owned corporations like MPRI overseeing Dr. Gerberdingâ€™s work?
Thatâ€™s right; according to the article in the New York Times:
â€œAlthough Dr Gerberding was nominally in charge, the man pulling the strings was in a little room upstairs known as the Simulation Cellâ€¦He was Pete Taylor, a 69 year old retired general who spent 34 years running war games for the Pentagon and now does it for MPRI, a consulting group with many former military officers on staff.â€
(MPRI was formerly known as Military Professionals Resources Inc is covered in the New York Times â€œAmericaâ€™s For-Profit Secret Armyâ€ Leslie Wayne 10-13-02)
Is that what this is?
And, why are former military officers overseeing drills that are needed to best protect the American people from an epidemic?
Is this another crackpot Bush scheme to seal the borders, lockdown entire regions of the country, establish martial law, and put us all under quarantine?
And, for what? Bird Flu?
Doesnâ€™t this all sound a bit fishy?
Like I said before; these guys give me the creeps.