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Paula Olsiewski at The Sloan Foundation, Lukas Haynes and Kennette
Benedict and now Amy Gordon at The MacArthur Foundation, Patricia
Nicholas at the Carnegie Corporation, and Charles Curtis at the Nuclear
Threat Initiative. I am grateful for your personal and institutional trust.
And for everything else, my love and more: Hope.
Introduction




This book is about species treason “ giving aid to the enemy in the per-
petual war between humanity and microbes. Using disease, traitors to
humanity could in¬‚ict death tolls beyond the great historical scourges
and unleash panic of biblical proportions. These traitors crucially impart
the one quality that microbes lack: they think. The microbes, operating
through remarkable processes of trial and error, have never designed a
strategic battle plan to resist the onslaught of modern medicine. But their
new ally can strategize and ¬nd people™s most sensitive vulnerabilities. This
ally of disease is as dastardly as can be imagined for this ally is human.
Bioviolence is the in¬‚iction of harm by the intentional manipulation
of living micro-organisms or their natural products for hostile purposes.
It is the ultimate act of terror, making everyone potentially vulnerable. It™s
a crime that must be prevented. It should be a crime whether the in¬‚ic-
tor is a State or a person, a terrorist or a criminal, or just a lunatic. Broad
prophylactic measures to heighten security against biothreats should be
implemented in every nation. Law enforcers worldwide should be pre-
pared to interdict this crime. These are complex challenges with many
intricate details requiring elaborate twists and turns through policies that
implicate science, diplomacy, health care, and law enforcement. Yet, noth-
ing here is so abstruse or beyond human intellect as to impair policy
progress.
This book is a brief “ an argument “ that: 1) bioviolence is a threat
that merits serious attention; 2) there are wise strategies that can reduce
bioviolence threats; and 3) those strategies have serious rami¬cations that
demand important changes in global governance. This argument is pro-
voked by the realization that no other problem facing humanity is so poten-
tially cataclysmic and has been so inadequately addressed.


1
2 BIOVIOLENCE: PREVENTING BIOLOGICAL TERROR AND CRIME


THE BIOVIOLENCE POLICY FAILURE

In recent years, vast monetary and scienti¬c resources have been devoted
to developing vaccines and antidotes against the most feared bioagents.
Efforts to combat disease have dramatically improved, motivated in part by
escalating concerns for natural pandemics. Some threats have been mit-
igated, and we are gaining a better understanding of lethal microbes and
how to stop them. Many developed nations have prepared rapid response
capabilities for a bioviolence event; in some regions, sophisticated exer-
cises have been conducted to improve coordination and identify unantic-
ipated dif¬culties.1 Various international and regional organizations have
taken modest steps to become more vigilant in addressing bioviolence
threats. Interpol has initiated an entire program for bioterrorism preven-
tion to train police and coordinate relevant information. Most important,
national and multilateral intelligence communities that are broadly atten-
tive to terror and criminal threats are certainly alert to risks associated with
intentionally in¬‚icted disease.
Nevertheless, it is striking how little has been done to make it hard
to be a bioweaponeer and shocking that all these resources have been
expended without anything like a global approach that might actually
make us safer. Across a broad panoply of policy arenas, readily adaptable
initiatives to prevent bioviolence are stalled. Throughout the vast majority
of the world, outside of perhaps two dozen developed States, bioviolence
preparations could proceed without substantial chance of detection and
could in¬‚ict unimaginable damage against unprotected populations. A
handful of threats receive substantial attention, but many easily accom-
plishable attack modes are virtually ignored.
In short, advancing policies to prevent bioviolence is what the interna-
tional community does worst. It must be asked why bioviolence has not
already been addressed, why international and national leaders have done
such a remarkably poor job in diminishing bioviolence risks leaving us all
virtually naked to a bio-attack from a powerful military, group, or single
person. No other threat presents such a stark contrast between, on one
hand, severity of harm along with global denunciation but, on the other
hand, a failure of leadership to reduce risks.
Although many disciplines “ science, history, politics etc. “ have rele-
vant responsibilities, this is fundamentally a book about international law.
The thesis here is that humanity is vulnerable to bioviolence because, at
this time, international law is unable to devise, implement, and enforce
3
INTRODUCTION

preventive policies. Such policies are potentially available and effective,
but they demand progressive changes in prevailing legal concepts.
It is only because bioviolence has not yet taken a truly catastrophic
toll that humanity tolerates international law™s in¬rmity. That bioviolence
perpetrators have not yet capitalized upon this failure is grounds for solace
but not con¬dence. How long our luck will continue will be decided by
the wrong people for entirely the wrong reasons. We can take preventive
measures now, or we can hope that bioviolence continues forever to be only
a hypothetical threat. The former option is complicated and has costs; the
latter option is irresponsible.


THEMATIC FOUNDATIONS

Three Crossroads
Bioviolence stands at the intersection of three transformative phenomena.
First is the changing condition of strife. State-to-State warfare with explicit
battle¬eld confrontations is, for the most part, a thing of the past. In place of
warfare, however, are three types of strife: slaughter of defenseless groups
(Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, etc.); terrorism; and proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction. Signi¬cantly, bioviolence is ideal for today™s
forms of strife and could magnify their already horri¬c implications. Using
bioviolence, a handful of culprits can ever more easily cause profound
harm to enormous numbers of people.
Second is the globalization of pandemic disease. For decades, infec-
tious calamities have only peripherally affected geopolitics. There have
been stunning successes against smallpox and polio; measles, rubella,
diphtheria, and other maladies persist in sharply con¬ned domains. But
initially HIV/AIDS, then SARS, and more recently the Avian Flu have under-
mined the perception that modern medicine can altogether abate infec-
tious disease. Today, disease threatens international peace and security
and has the potential to unhinge global order.2 Bioviolence can initiate,
propel, or ride upon disease™s potential for devastation. Disease and strife
are the Achilles™ heels of our age; bioviolence is where they intersect.
The third phenomenon here is the radical pace of change in the bio-
logical sciences. Bioscience is a dynamic phenomenon that stretches from
inquiries about humanity™s most existential search “ what is the architec-
ture of life? “ to the development of medicines for improving health. If eras
can be labeled according to the technology that is most transformative
4 BIOVIOLENCE: PREVENTING BIOLOGICAL TERROR AND CRIME

of humanity (Stone Age, Industrial Age, Nuclear Age), then ours is indis-
putably the Genomic Age. The cracking of the human genome symbol-
ized a seismic shift not only of technology and pharmaceuticals but, more
fundamentally, of how we perceive “humanness.” Our commonality as a
species has never been so tangible, and never before have we so had to face
possibilities of altering the essence of what we are. Capabilities that might
emerge in a decade are almost beyond estimation. Indeed, the advance
of bioscience is a major theme of this book. And, unfortunately, these
advances can endow perpetrators of bioviolence with previously unimag-
ined abilities.


Law for Humanity
Bioviolence is a threat without borders to the human species. Like other
challenges facing humanity “ for example, global warming “ it simply
makes no sense to try to insulate any particular country or region from
the threat. To prevent bioviolence requires policies that focus on human-
ity as a biological species entity.3 These policies must be implemented
everywhere with centralized governance.
A sizeable bioattack will have transnational implications, exposing
our human commonality and demanding new modes of cooperation.
The opportunities for bioviolence are everywhere, and perpetrators might
emerge from virtually anywhere. They can prepare their attack through
easy networks of communication and transport lethal devices in de¬ance
of traditional notions of sovereign jurisdiction. Moreover, the effects of
igniting a severe bioviolence pandemic will not respect borders or dis-
tinguish among victims according to their race, religion, or nationality;
the effects will quickly bind humanity into a suffering collectivity. Said
Gro Harlem Brundtland, “Today, in an interconnected world, bacteria and
viruses travel almost as fast as e-mail and ¬nancial ¬‚ows. Globalization
has connected Bujumbura to Bombay and Bangkok to Boston. There are
no health sanctuaries.”4
The challenge is how to confront these threats in a ¬‚attening world
where accelerating circulation abets the ready movement of science and
technology and makes each of us targets of unnamed perpetrators of catas-
trophe. A prevention strategy must be global. Every State and many inter-
national institutions must make a serious commitment in concert.
Looking forward, it is striking how little attention has been devoted
to the changes in governance that will be necessary in a world of rapidly
mutating bioscience and associated technologies. Yet, discussion of such
5
INTRODUCTION

policies makes it instantly apparent that the world is very awkwardly orga-
nized. Today, efforts to initiate global policies rapidly crash on the shoals
of an anarchic division of the world into almost two hundred sovereign
fortresses with separate claims to independent and unfettered decisional
power. This is not the place to call for a radical restructuring of the West-
phalian system and centuries-old concepts of national sovereignty, but it
is imperative to see that this global threat inherently shrinks the planet
into an interdependent neighborhood. Nations must realize that adamant
proclamations about the inviolability of State sovereignty are, in this con-
text, a recipe for disaster.
There is another sense in which bioviolence prevention must be
expansive: policies must be sustainably effective for a species-community
that is prospectively multigenerational. Prevention is not something that
will be done once, then humanity can move on. Prevention must be a pro-
cess of decisions that recon¬gure our approaches to science, law enforce-
ment, and public health; these recon¬gured approaches will carry forward
in perpetuity. Whatever decisions are made now, whatever actions are
taken now, must withstand the test of time. Action is needed now because
the threat is on our doorstep, yet what we do to thwart bioviolence will
entail changes that our successors will inherit. Their interests must be
considered as we make our decisions.
To consider how to prevent bioviolence is to open peepholes into the
near-term future of international law and to ask what institutions and rules
our grandchildren will want us to have created. Ultimately therefore, this
book is something more than a policy manifesto about current threats of
biological weapons in an era of non-State terrorism; it is an exploration of
how global governance should evolve to address challenges of advancing
science and technology.


TERMINOLOGY

Bioviolence is used here instead of the far more common term bioterror-
ism because of the many disputes and ambiguities about the meaning
of terrorism. There is no globally accepted de¬nition of terrorism despite
years of United Nations negotiations, yet the term suggests conduct of: 1)
a non-State actor that is 2) motivated by a political or religious agenda.
A State can support terrorists, but terrorism is not a term that typically
applies to deployment of military capabilities. Nor does the term apply
to criminals motivated exclusively by ¬nancial gain or lunatics motivated
by idiosyncratic alienation or revenge. Another ambiguity attends how to
6 BIOVIOLENCE: PREVENTING BIOLOGICAL TERROR AND CRIME

distinguish a terrorist from someone seeking to overthrow a repressive
regime.
Where to draw precise lines that separate terrorism from other cate-
gories of wrongdoing or use of armed force is, from this book™s perspective,
an irrelevant exercise. The objective here is more generic. There are real dif-
ferences among the many potential perpetrators of intentionally in¬‚icted
disease, but those differences are secondary to the challenge of preventing
any and all hostile plots to make people ill. The term violence captures the
phenomenon without regard to the actor or the motivation so long as it is
deliberately malevolent.
Notably, there are other risks associated with advancing bioscience,
such as use of genetically modi¬ed organisms with unpredicted conse-
quences, but this book advocates policies against violence “ that is, wrong-
ful activity that is intended to cause injury. Also important to note is that
the focus of this book is mass catastrophe, not biohomicide or biovandal-
ism. Although there is no speci¬c demarcation between murder and mass
murder, the reality is that little in this book will prevent someone from
lacing salmonella on his or her spouse™s pasta. The term bioviolence here
implies an act that has far more extensive consequences.
Used to similarly generic effect here is the term bioweapon and the verb
to weaponize. Among some diplomats, a weapon is something possessed or
procured by a State military; by de¬nition, a non-State actor cannot make
a bioweapon, only a biodevice. Besides being semantically clumsy, this
distinction is arti¬cial. What is a State™s bioweapon that has been handed to
a non-State actor; is it suddenly no longer a weapon? It is nonsensical to use
different terms to describe the same thing on the basis of who has it. In this
book, a bioweapon is simply what someone uses to commit bioviolence,
and weaponization is any process that is designed to make a pathogen into
a bioweapon. Correspondingly, bio-offender refers to someone who would
commit bioviolence whether a State actor, terrorist, lunatic, criminal, or
anyone else.
The word pathogen here refers to any live agent or poison created by
a live agent (a toxin) that causes disease, whether in humans or other
living beings. The scienti¬cally sophisticated reader knows that the outer
boundaries of what might be referred to as a pathogen “ distinct from a
pollutant or even a mechanism (nanotechnology) “ are increasingly fuzzy.
Once again, this term is used broadly and ¬‚exibly to refer to any disease
agent that has a living source.
Critically, the term prevention deserves clari¬cation. It does not refer
to eliminating risk. The policies recommended here will not confer an
7
INTRODUCTION

ironclad shield from bioviolence. Prevention is used here in the same way
that “seatbelts prevent car accident fatalities” or “a low-calorie diet pre-
vents diabetes” “ of course, some seatbelt wearers will die in accidents, and
some careful dieters will get diabetes. Prevention is not an absolute term.
Yet, compared to the prevailing situation that in many respects is heedless
of palpable risks, adoption of proposed policies can make us safer even if
not totally safe. Absent a prevention strategy, the threats will grow larger
and more unmanageable.


PRESENTATION OF THE ARGUMENT
This book is comprised of two parts. Part I™s three chapters describe the
problem of bioviolence and explain how it evolved to its current intractable
condition. Chapter 1 is a brief essay about why bioviolence should be a
matter of pressing concern. There are easily understood plots that could

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