June 16, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - A decade ago, then-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge oversaw the start of BioWatch, the nationwide system designed to detect airborne releases of anthrax or other biological weapons. In his 2003 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush had announced that BioWatch would "protect our people and our homeland. " Ridge's expectations were not so high. "Everyone knew it was a primitive, labor-intensive, fairly unsophisticated attempt," Ridge recalled in a recent interview.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 25, 2013 |
The evacuation announcement came over the loudspeaker at the Beverly Center in the early afternoon -- a muffled voice telling shoppers that this was not a drill, that everyone needed to leave the mall immediately. Like many others at the enormous shopping complex in West L.A., Christina Taylor couldn't make out exactly what the official said as she and her mother browsed at Bloomingdale's on Sunday. But they immediately noticed panicked store employees locking up registers and running toward the exits.
January 31, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Leaders of a House committee probing BioWatch, the nation's troubled system for detecting biological attacks, complained Thursday that administration officials had blocked them from seeing documents held by two senior federal scientists known to have been privately skeptical of the nationwide program. The materials are of particular interest to congressional investigators, in part because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is pushing for a revamping of BioWatch that would cost taxpayers $3.1 billion in its first five years.
December 21, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - Year after year, health officials meeting at invitation-only government conferences leveled with one another about Biowatch, the nation's system for detecting deadly pathogens that might be unleashed into the air by terrorists. They shared stories of repeated false alarms - mistaken warnings of germ attacks from Los Angeles to New York City. Some questioned whether BioWatch worked at all. They did not publicize their misgivings. Indeed, the sponsor of the conferences, the U.S. Homeland Security Department, insists that BioWatch's operations, in more than 30 cities, be kept mostly secret.
November 21, 2012
It's possible that not every problem has a technological solution. That will come as a shock to U.S. policymakers, who since the 9/11 terrorist attacks have invested in multiple technologies to protect us from evildoers. Some have been a success, while others - such as enhanced surveillance techniques or airport scanners that can peer through clothing - are often seen as unacceptable invasions of privacy. And then there are ideas that simply don't work or are impractical, such as scanning every shipping container entering U.S. ports for nuclear weapons.
November 15, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - Homeland Security Department and other federal officials responsible for BioWatch, the nationwide system for detecting deadly biological attacks, have withheld key documents sought by a congressional committee, according to the panel's leaders. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the chairmen call for her to comply with their original request for documents, which was triggered by a July 8 Los Angeles Times article that disclosed shortcomings in BioWatch's performance.