Monday, January 30, 2006

Bush political appointee screws up, puts us all at risk

If you didn't catch 60 Minutes yesterday (and I didn't; I never do) they had a story about a real Bush administration screwup that could result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.

What would happen if Al Qaeda succeeded in detonating a nuclear bomb in the US? There would be tens of thousands perhaps dead, but hundreds of thousands more would have radiation sickness.

In 2003, Bush created Project Bioshield, which allocated $6 billion to help develop a biodefense industry that would create drugs that could be used in the event of a terrorist strike. He appointed a Republican political ally, Stewart Simonson, who was a lawyer for Amtrack, to administer the program.

A company called Hollis Eden Pharamaceutical (HEPH - Nasdaq) has developed a very effective drug for radiation poisoning that is far and away the most effective drug for preventing the bleeding and other maladies that come with radiation exposure. [Full disclosure: I own some stock in Hollis Eden. I've owned it for almost two years, having heard about the drug they were testing.]

The Pentagon has partnered with Hollis Eden because it knows its drug is the best. It can be self administered, and stockpiled for long periods of time. Literally millions of doses would be needed, because it has to be stockpiled in major cities - no one knows where the bomb might go off.

Unfortunately, Project Bioshield is run out of Department of Health and Human Services, and when it came time a couple months ago to announce the first big purchase of the radiation treatment drug, what did Stewart Simonson at HHS decide?

They announced they would buy 10,000 doses, and it would not be Hollis Eden's drug, developed with the encouragement of the Pentagon and Project Bioshield, but an inferior drug developed by a competitor. What happens if a nuke hits now? Ten thousand doses is only a small fraction of what is needed.

Imagine if it happened. The 60 Minutes story is already out. They could have the millions of doses ready and waiting, but chose to buy only 10,000. What if tens of thousands of people died of radiation poisoning because Project Bioshield refused to do its job, due to the bungling of a railroad lawyer who has no biomedical background?

The Bush Administration would be finished. Karl Rove I hope you are paying attention.


Anonymous said...

Kremer you're just trying to get the stock price up so you can make some money, you capitalist pig.

Rob Kremer said...

Nice that I have 60 Minutes doing my bidding for me, isn't it? They usually aren't so helpful.

This is actually quite serious. This hack Simonson screwed up badly, for whatever reason. Instead of admitting it and correcting it, he seems to be digging in.

Someone in the White House should intervene.

Anonymous said...

This is fear mongering coupled with stocks in various stuffs.

Rob Kremer said...

Not quite sure what you mean there.

But if you mean that worrying about a nuke being detonated on U.S. soil is "fearmongering" at a time when Iran is making the noises it is now making, I think you are kidding yourself.

Let's say the chance of it happening in the next few years is 1/10th of 1%. Is that worth preparing for?

As for your phrase "stocks in various stuffs," I have absolutely no idea what that means.

Anonymous said...

It sounds as if there is a conflict of interest in those that hold stocks and those that fearmonger....

Rob Kremer said...

Well, that is why I disclosed the fact that I own the stock.

Is it your claim that 60 Minutes is fearmongering? Or that there is zero chance of a nuclear event?

Yes, there IS a conflict of interest. Conflicts do not disqualify; they just should be disclosed.

It doesn't change the facts, however.

Anonymous said...

Rob, the odds of nuclear war go up as we stick our noses where they don't belong. If we didn't participate in the Iraq civil war, it probably wouldn't be nearly as bad.

BTW, we still haven't secured our shipyards.

And I've noticed some of that 20/20 style reporting is seriously sensationalized. I watched one such report on research nuclear reactors and security issues behind them. Since the boyfriend works with one such reactor, I got an earful of how sensationalized the reporting was.