Weaponized Ebola: Not as Far-Fetched As You May Think

Last week, one reader of our Laissez Faire Today e-letter wrote in to give us a piece of his mind…

“You guys are the worst sort of fearmongers out there,” he wrote…

“Solar power is a scam and has been proven to be so time after time.

“Those who are promoting it are either fools or scoundrels or both.

“Ebola,” our heated reader pivots, “can only be transmitted from one person to another by way of direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected person.

Solar energy… will revolutionize the way we collect, store and use energy across the world.

“There is no evidence of any other vector of transmittal.

“This guy OSTERHEIM or whatever is is his name is only flogging fear to sell books. He has a long alarmist reputation among those in the knowledgable Ebola community who understand and do not underestimate this dreaded disease.

“How was Nigeria able to contain it?

“Please cancel my subscription and refund me any balance due immediately.”

We’re sorry to see you go… But on both of these points, we couldn’t disagree with you more…

Solar power is not a scam. We assume your argument has something to do with the sun not always being up… it being too expensive… costly maintenance… etc…

We’ve heard it. Sure, it’s still more expensive than other modern forms of energy, such as natural gas. But that won’t always be the case.

Solar energy, if and when we’re able to harness it efficiently enough, we believe, will revolutionize the way we collect, store and use energy across the world.

As our tech maven Stephen Petranek mentioned last week, one company hasn’t just discovered a way to store energy from solar panels, but is also giving us the potential to use solar as a clean fuel.

How? Through the use of hydrogen generation. With it, Stephen explains, “you can take electrical energy provided by the sun and convert it into hydrogen. Hydrogen is not only the lightest element; it’s also very valuable as a fuel. It’s a very energetic fuel on a mass basis, which is why we used it to send the Space Shuttle into orbit.”

And as far as Osterholm goes, you may know, he was the keynote speaker at out the symposium we visited. (You can read my first-hand account of that symposium right here: An Insider Report from the World’s Largest Ebola Symposium)

A symposium, mind you, held at Johns Hopkins — one of the highest regarded hospitals in the world, and ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the best overall hospital in America for 21 years straight.

He was warmly accepted as a credible voice among all those involved — many of whom you’d probably consider “in the know.”

With little doubt, he’s in the knowledgeable community. For his full profile, click here.

And on the transmission of Ebola, maybe you’re taking cues from NYC’s Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The following is what he said during a press conference on Friday. He was responding to a question about whether or not they’ll track down all those who came into indirect contact with Dr. Spencer, the doctor who came down with Ebola in the city last week.

We quote:

“Unless we find anyone else we can confirm direct, intimate personal contact with bodily fluids, we would not take an additional step towards those individuals because there’s literally no way the disease can be transmitted.”

No way. Literally.

Strong words.

We wonder where he’s getting his information.

It’s not the CDC’s website. Even the CDC admits that saliva and mucus could transmit Ebola through coughing or sneezing.

Yes, Mayor. That means indirect contact. Literally.

In the CDC’s words…

CDC Description of How Ebola is Transmitted

The executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Jane Orient, recently said this in an interview with CBS Dallas: “What we’re suggesting is that it is very dangerous to assume that one cannot ever acquire Ebola from an aerosol or from breathing.”

If Ebola can spread through aerosol, what about coughing or sneezing in a crowded subway station? Or even in your hand and holding onto a rail? What about touching an Uber door handle? Or sticking your fingers in a bowling ball?

Dr. Spencer did all of these things. But no worries.

Ebola will acquiesce to the opinions of U.S. health officials. You know… like how the Law of Attraction works.

Your last question on how Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, contained the Ebola virus: Very carefully.

“The nation is woefully unprepared for an Ebola outbreak, much less an Ebola attack.”

They quarantined everyone who came into direct and indirect contact with patient zero.

The CDC estimated that 26,000 households of Nigerians living near those who were in contact with Ebola victims were reached through house-to-house visits.

Plus, Nigerians didn’t feign confidence. They laid out their vulnerabilities and were honest with the public.

From the outset, Nigerian government officials admitted their physicians and front-line first responders had no experience in dealing with Ebola. So they started from scratch. And they didn’t make any sweeping assumptions about the deadly disease.

And then they took quick, strong and decisive action. All the while educating the public on all the dangers.

“The Nigerian government was wholeheartedly into the process of trying to solve the problem,” Dr. Aileen Marty, one of the doctors on the ground in Nigeria helping to combat the spread, told CBC news.

They also didn’t let nurses who treated patient zero fly around the country.

We’re certain they would make sure doctors who fly back from Liberia have limited contact in cities of millions. They probably don’t assume that riding in public transit is 100% safe when infected (it’s not, and we believe to declare so, as Blasio did on Friday, is irresponsible).

Neither would we, by the way, consider Osterholm’s book on bioterrorism, Living Terrors, as “alarmist.” Especially not at a time when the richest terror group that’s ever existed is threatening to spread Ebola through the U.S.

“I have spent most of my career,” Osterholm writes in the introduction, “reassuring the public, policy makers, and colleagues that bacterial meningitis is not easy to transmit, HIV won’t mysteriously spread through the air, and that immunizations are generally quite safe and very effective. While that’s still true, many of our recent battles with infectious agents have become more complex and challenging.

“Nothing has prepared us, however, for the potential hell of a biological terrorist attack. For this reason, I felt compelled to write this book.”

What would happen in the event of a bioterrorist attack?

The government already has an idea…

Only a few months before Sept. 11, 2001, “a group of leading Democratic national security experts gathered at Andrews Air Force Base to carry out a national security exercise,” Marc Thiessen, former speechwriter for the Bush administration wrote in the Washington Post last week.

This “national security exercise” was donned Operation Dark Winter.

“Hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Dark Winter simulated a biological attack on the United States in which terrorists release smallpox virus in three shopping malls in Oklahoma City, Philadelphia and Atlanta.”

According to the exercise, it only took a few days for 1,000 people to get infected and 300 to die.

“After 13 days,” The Post article reads, “16,000 smallpox cases have been reported in 25 states and 1,000 people have died. Vaccine supplies have been depleted. Canada and Mexico have closed their borders to the United States. It has become logistically impossible to identify and isolate smallpox victims and their contacts to prevent the disease from spreading.

And the social consequences of this infection, the drill found, were disastrous.

Most hospitals reported inadequate supplies and not enough isolation areas.

Anxious crowds surrounded vaccination clinics.

Police and the National Guard were called in. Governors closed schools and canceled all public gatherings. The reluctance of drivers to make deliveries to the infected areas caused food shortages and store-shelf panics.

The attorney general prepared to push through the Executive Order for martial law.

Once signed, the affected areas instantly saw, as the EO stated, the “prohibition of free assembly, a national travel ban, quarantine of certain area, suspension of the writ of habeas corpus [i.e. arrest without due process]…”

As a result, says Thiessen, “Trading on the stock exchange is suspended. International commerce grinds to a halt. No country in the world will allow flights originating in or transiting through the United States to land. States have closed their borders with other states. There are riots and looting throughout the country.”

It was an eerily elaborate drill.

They even made several faux news reports for it, like this one…

“It means it could be a very dark winter for America…”

“So what about Ebola?” Thiessen asked.

“Unlike smallpox, which is hard to come by, the Ebola infection is raging right now in parts of Africa where Islamist extremists could have easy access. As physician Scott Gottlieb of the American Enterprise Institute points out, with Ebola, ‘Mother Nature has created the perfect bioweapon in many respects, as long as the attacker has suicidal aspirations.’

“Ebola has up to a 21-day incubation period — more than enough time for terrorists to infect themselves and then come here with the virus. In a nightmare scenario, suicide bombers infected with Ebola could blow themselves up in a crowded place — say, shopping malls in Oklahoma City, Philadelphia and Atlanta — spreading infected tissue and bodily fluids.

“Or, the virus could also be released more subtly. Terrorists could collect samples of infected body fluids, and then place them on doorknobs, handrails or airplane tray tables, allowing Ebola to spread quietly before officials even realize that a biological attack has taken place.

“Think it can’t happen?

“If an Ebola-infected Liberian, Thomas Eric Duncan, was able to fly to Dallas, what is to stop an Ebola-infected terrorist from doing the same? And if our health-care system was unable to handle a single Ebola patient, imagine what would happen if 50, 100 or more Ebola patients started showing up at U.S. hospitals.

Some disagree that ISIS could pull it off…

Because it’s so easy to get a U.S. visa if you’re a terrorist in the Middle East, they say.

Well, apart from the fact that ISIS supporters are flocking to Syria in support of ISIS from several Western countries (meaning, they’re not all coming from the Middle East. See: Canada)…

We assume the naysayers weren’t tuning in to ISIS’ tweets back in August.

See below…

ISIS Tweets in Front of Chicago's Old Republic Building and the White House

The one on the left is in front of Chicago’s Old Republic Building. The other, the White House.

Time stamps, according to NY Daily News, on both photos said June 20.

“Already we have seen schools closed in Dallas and Cleveland and a ship denied entry in Mexico and Belize,” Thiessen goes on.

“It would not require a attack on the level of Dark Winter to cause mass disruptions to our way of life and our economy.

“Moreover, in the Dark Winter exercise, the United States had a stockpile of 12.5 million doses of smallpox vaccine available. Today, there is no stockpile of Ebola vaccine. Indeed, there is no proven Ebola vaccine at all. There are promising experimental treatments, and the government is racing to ramp up production. But even if these prove effective, it would be impossible to quickly produce enough to deal with a Dark Winter scenario.

“Then there is the impact of all the false assurances from President Obama that Ebola was unlikely to reach our shores and that if it did that ‘our doctors, our nurses and our medical staff are trained, are ready, and are able to deal with a possible case safely.’ The American people’s trust in our government has been severely undermined — and with it the ability of public health officials to manage a mass outbreak.

“The nation is woefully unprepared for an Ebola outbreak, much less an Ebola attack. If terrorists were to turn Ebola into a crude terror weapon, we could be in for a Dark Winter indeed.”

Also, mind you, Ebola is in NYC…

According to some reports, Spencer has entered Phase Two of the disease. Not good.

Worse is the… once again… lackluster response by health officials.

Remember, Nigeria overreacted to the diagnosis of their first patient. That’s what saved them.

The U.S., on the other hand, is treading a dangerous path of overconfidence.

“The reports that they’re saying about the apartment being sealed off? It’s not,” Ricardo Lawrence, Spencer’s next-door neighbor told People magazine.

“There’s not even hazard tape across the door or anything.

“I’m a little bit of a germaphobe, so last night I went and wiped the elevator buttons down with some Clorox wipes and did what I could to minimize what little bit of exposure we may have.”

He even mopped the hallway’s floors.

“I’m not being overly paranoid, but I’m doing what I can to minimize any kind of contamination.”

Meanwhile, the NYPD on the scene reflect this complete disregard…

Below you see the officers walking down the street after taking the caution tape down.

One officer is checking out his hands and… we can only imagine… wondering if he touched something he shouldn’t have.

New York City Police Officers Taking Down Ebola Caution Tape

The shot below shows them throwing away their masks, the tape and their gloves in a public trashcan.


New York City Police Officers Disposing of Ebola Related Materials in Public Trash Can

And the third picture is the garnish. One police officer touches his mouth immediately after removing the gloves.

New York City Police Officer Touching His Mouth After Disposing of Ebola Related Materials

So… in a city of well over eight million, we think more can be done to eliminate risk of further infection… We just wish more of America’s health officials felt the same way.


Chris Campbell
for The Daily Reckoning

P.S. We recently published our Ebola Pandemic Survival Guide, not to fearmonger… but to better inform you of the potential dangers of this disease and to help protect you from the unintended consequences of the government’s less-than-glorious response.

If you haven’t already click here to claim your copy. It’s available right now on Amazon for only 99 cents.

The Daily Reckoning