The 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention made it illegal under international and U.S. law to make or stockpile bacteriological or viral organisms for use as weapons. The United States is exploiting a loophole: The treaty allows nations to develop small amounts of biological warfare agents for defensive research.
That, according to a NBACC Power Point presentation, briefly posted on the Internet and quickly removed, is what the Fort Detrick lab does—in secret and without meaningful monitoring. The profound secrecy that surrounds the project, as well as CIA and intelligence involvement, raises alarms; these are ratcheted up to red alert in light of the Bush administration's track record of violating international treaties and lying to the public. And then there is Congress' history of defining "oversight" as a failure to notice rather than a duty to oversee.
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