You see the problem?

Posted in Bioterrorism, War On Terror at 3:01 pm by George Smith

From the Miami Herald, today:

Law enforcement agents should be able to test the toxin found in the letters to determine its potency and purity, as well as learn what chemicals may have been used to extract it from widely available castor beans, said Murray Cohen, the founder of the Atlanta-based Frontline Foundation, which trains workers on preparedness and response to bioterrorism and epidemics. Those chemicals might then be able to be linked to purchases made by Curtis or materials found in his home.

Curtis’ ex-wife has said he likely didn’t have the know-how to make ricin, and she did not know where he would buy it because he was on disability. But Cohen said ricin was once known as “the poor man’s bioterrorism” because the seeds are easy to obtain and the extraction process is relatively simple.

Any kid that made it through high school science lab is more than equipped to successfully make a poison out of this stuff. Any fool can get recipes off the Internet and figure out how to do it,” Cohen said.

Those seeds, which look a bit like coffee beans, are easy to buy online and are grown around the world; they are often used to make medicinal castor oil, among other things. However, using the seeds to make a highly concentrated form of ricin would require laboratory equipment and expertise to extract, said Raymond Zilinskas, a chemical and biological weapons expert.

“It’s an elaborate process,” he said.

The industry of fear, at work. In the first “expert” claim, you have the case of someone from one of the many small advisory and training firms that moved into national security work in the wake of 9/11.

The Frontline Foundation was originally a business for healthcare worker safety training.

The second expert is someone who knows and has a long career studying bio and chemical weapons and their relationship to terrorism.

The claims are contradictory. The story’s title: Experts: Ricin like that in letters easy to make.

There is one right answer and it’s the second. Again, no one has made purified ricin during the war on terror years for reasons explained over and over here.

But it’s not something one has ever been able to get across to the press.

It does not fit the script, all the received wisdoms. Worse, it does not aid businesses offering their services in training for defense against all those things we are to be afraid of. Because they are easy to make.

There’s no profit in telling the truth because it’s complicated. It does not make as sensational a story nor does it earn money.

Consider too, there is now an obvious social cost to this, at the general public’s expense. Paul Kevin Curtis probably read the news. Although clearly out of his mind and with no sense of self-consciousness or restraint (you can get it from his pictures and videos), like others before him he’s immersed in an environment that tells everyone how easy things are to make.

Any kid that made it through high school can do it, you see.

And logic and careful thought can never win against such one-line claims delivered by people in performance for the media.

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