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Documents Prove Pentagon Violated Bioweapons Act

by Edward Hammond

Three Pentagon documents proposing development of offensive biological weapons have been turned over to the US Department of Justice, the US government law enforcement agency.

Two of the documents are from the US Naval Research Laboratory and the US Air Force’s Armstrong Laboratory. These two documents propose anti-materiel biological weapons and were described in the Sunshine Project’s news release of May 8. On May 10th, in response to a Sunshine Project request, the National Academies of Science (NAS) released another US government proposal for offensive anti-material biological weapons. The third proposal is from the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL). The three documents have been turned over to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) accompanied by letters from the Sunshine Project requesting United States Attorney action pursuant to the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989.

The Third Biological Weapons Proposal: On May 10th, the National Academies released "Biofouling and Biocorrosion", a 1994 document from the National Security Programs Office of the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL), a facility of the US Department of Energy. In the paper, INEL proposes US development of offensive biological weapons that destroy materials. Like the Air Force and Navy proposals discussed on May 8th, the INEL document has recently been distributed to government officials by the Marine Corps-directed Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program (JNLWP) and in 2001 was submitted for consideration by the National Academy of Sciences Panel "An Assessment of Non-lethal Weapons Science and Technology" (NAS Study NSBX-L-00-05-A).

In "Biofouling and Biocorrosion", INEL specifically proposes "selection of particularly active [microbe] strains" and "consideration of genetic techniques for further optimization and control". INEL also proposes "investigation of probable scenarios for [microbe] employment" and development of "organisms with faster rates of degradation and production of fouling agents, as well as novel methods for introducing the organisms to their targets." This proposal is available on the Sunshine Project website for independent analysis.

US Attorney Contacted: In two letters, one on 16 May and another on 23 May, the Sunshine Project has provided copies of three documents to Mr. Johnny Sutton, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas. They are: "Biofouling and Biocorrosion" (INEL, Idaho Falls, ID), "Enhanced Degradation of Military Materiel" (US Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC), and "Anti-Materiel Biocatalysts and Sensors" (Armstrong Laboratory, Brooks Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX). Letters accompany the documents requesting Department of Justice action pursuant to the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989.

The Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 is the US law that implements the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), to which the United States is a contracting party. The Act was passed unanimously by both houses of the US Congress and signed into law by President George Bush, Sr. It creates a general prohibition punishable by imprisonment and/or civil penalties on the development, production, stockpiling, transfer, acquisition, or possession of biological weapons (Section 175), and permits the United States Attorney to seek injunctions against preparation, solicitation, attempt, or conspiracy to engage in prohibited conduct (Section 177). The Act defines biological agents to include anti-material agents, specifically including those that cause deterioration of food, water, equipment, supplies, or material of any kind (Section 178).

Edward Hammond is director of The Sunshine Project, based in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at: hammond@sunshine-project.org