Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Promise you won't tell

It was just another of the (now frequent) MSM news stories about avian flu, this one in USAToday. I almost skipped it. But compulsiveness dies hard, so I gave it a quick read.
Health officials from all over the world are scrambling to figure out how to ward off a global outbreak of deadly flu. President Bush, fresh from reading a 546-page tome on his vacation about the 1918 “Spanish flu” outbreak, has been consulting with the heads of vaccine companies, and he warns that the military might be used to enforce quarantines. His administration's flu battle plan reportedly predicts that almost 2 million Americans could die in a major outbreak.
Etc., etc. Familiar by now. OK, some biting new criticism of the "military quarantine" plan:
Michael Stebbins of the Federation of American Scientists and others challenged the suggestion as unworkable. “It shows a fundamental lack of understanding of public health emergencies,” he says. “I would be fascinated to see whether the president has a plan to quarantine a city like Washington, D.C., New York or Boston with so many roads in or out. Is he going to send in tanks and armed men?”

Assistant Secretary of Defense William Winkenwirder declined to comment on the president's statement but said the military is often called upon for logistical and medical support in emergencies.
Yawn. Then this:
The administration is putting the finishing touches on its long-awaited pandemic plan to be released after Leavitt returns from his trip. A draft version, dated Sept. 30 and leaked to The New York Times, reportedly predicts a major outbreak might kill up to 1.9 million people and make half the country sick.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says he learned of the administration's prediction on Sept. 28 in a top-secret meeting in a secure room in the Capitol. He and a few other senators met with Leavitt; Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
WTF? They lock Harkin in a top-secret meeting in a secure room, tell him something experts have been saying for two years and which in any case should be shared with the public, and then go and leak it to the New York Times?

What is wrong with these people?