Please join us for this timely presentation on….

Bioterrorism:

How the Revolution in Biotechnology

Has Changed the Threat

with

Colonel Randall Larsen, USAF (Ret)

The Ramada, Thursday, July 7, 2016, 9:00 a.m.

During the cold war the Soviet Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and several other nations had large-scale offensive bioweapons programs.  By the late 1960s these programs were producing weapons of mass destruction (WMD), with capabilities that were only surpassed by thermonuclear devices. In November, 1969, President Nixon unilaterally terminated the U.S. program, and the U.S. led the international effort to eliminate all bioweapons through the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972. (However, after signing this treaty, the Soviet Union greatly expanded their bioweapons program. By the late 1980s, more than 30,000 scientists and engineers were working in the Soviet Union’s offensive bioweapons program.)

During the later half of the 20th century it required enormous capital investment–financial, engineering and scientific–to develop and produce sophisticated biological weapons. Today, the revolution in biotechnology has made it possible for small nation-states, and some non-state actors, to develop bioweapons with WMD capabilities. If the FBI is right about the anthrax letters of 2001, then a single individual, with no background in bioweapons production, used equipment that can be purchased on eBay to produce dry powdered anthrax of a quality equal to the best produced in the former U.S. program.

What has changed? What are the risks?  Why hasn’t it already happened? What can be done to prevent bioterrorist attacks on the U.S.? Are we prepared to respond?  These and other questions will be addressed. 

Randall Larsen is the national security advisor at the UPMC Center for Health Security and a senior fellow at the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University.

In 2009 he served as the executive director of the Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, and in 2010, along with former Senators Bob Graham (D-FL) and Jim Talent (R-MO), Larsen founded the Bipartisan WMD Terrorism Research Center where he served as the chief executive officer.

Larsen is the author of Our Own Worst Enemy: Asking the Right Questions About Security to Protect You, Your Family, and America (Grand Central, 2007). His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Business Week. He served as the co-host of public radio’s Homeland Security: Inside & Out and as the host of Science and National Security on WFED in Washington D.C.

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII Veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some breakfast, coffee and conversation.

You are encouraged to RSVP by clicking HERE. You may also RSVP by e-mailing info@nationalsecurityforum.org. Just a reminder, after the forum, we will be accepting new and renewal membership applications for the July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017 period. Forms will be available at the forum, though you can also access the application form by clicking HERE. For your convenience, we accept cash, check and credit card payments for both the breakfast and membership fees.

Colleagues:

As you know, Randy Larsen will be our guest speaker for the NSF on “Bioterrorism” on July 7th.  Randy sent me this note this morning and an article which graphically portrays how the Bio Threat has morphed from one conducted by major states, such as the USSR, to something high school students can now produce.  Worth the read!

Ty

/////

Ty,
This is an issue we need to address on July 7th as a likely future threat. With the CRISPR-CAS 9 technology, high school biology students will soon have the capability to build designer bioweapons better than the top Soviet scientists were working on in the late 1980s.
Randy

Intelligence Agency Wants to Keep

‘Novel Organisms’ From Threatening Humans

By Mohana Ravindranath

Nextgov

June 14, 2016

The same technology that helps scientists sequence genes could also help them create “novel organisms” that could be used to attack humans and the environment, according to one intelligence agency.

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, the intelligence community’s R&D arm, wants businesses to showcase technology that could prevent new biotechnology, such as DNA synthesis, from being exploited. At the end of this month, IARPA is hosting a Proposers’ Day in advance of a new solicitation for its Functional Genomic and Computational Assessment of Threats, or “Fun GCAT” program. 

New biological research on gene sequencing, synthesis and analysis “are likely to enable revolutionary advances in medicine, agriculture and materials,” IARPA’s posting says — but they also “have intensified security concerns around the accidental or deliberate misuse of biotechnologies.”

The potential that researchers could synthesize “novel organisms” from genetic material is a “special concern,” the posting said. Today, researchers aren’t screening DNA synthesis for the risks it might pose to humans and the environment, according to IARPA. To remedy this, the Fun GCAT program aims to assess “the threat potential of unknown genes.”

The ultimate goal is to create screening systems that can “prevent accidental or deliberate health hazards to humans and agricultural assets.”

Eventually, the program aims to use computational systems that can “predict structure and functions of unknown genes,” or create models of the risk that certain gene functions might present.

Nextgov has requested comment from IARPA.

Save the Date for this timely presentation on….

Bioterrorism:

How the Revolution in Biotechnology

Has Changed the Threat

with

Colonel Randall Larsen, USAF (Ret)

The Ramada, Thursday, July 7, 2016, 9:00 a.m.

During the cold war the Soviet Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and several other nations had large-scale offensive bioweapons programs.  By the late 1960s these programs were producing weapons of mass destruction (WMD), with capabilities that were only surpassed by thermonuclear devices. In November, 1969, President Nixon unilaterally terminated the U.S. program, and the U.S. led the international effort to eliminate all bioweapons through the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972. (However, after signing this treaty, the Soviet Union greatly expanded their bioweapons program. By the late 1980s, more than 30,000 scientists and engineers were working in the Soviet Union’s offensive bioweapons program.)

During the later half of the 20th century it required enormous capital investment–financial, engineering and scientific–to develop and produce sophisticated biological weapons. Today, the revolution in biotechnology has made it possible for small nation-states, and some non-state actors, to develop bioweapons with WMD capabilities. If the FBI is right about the anthrax letters of 2001, then a single individual, with no background in bioweapons production, used equipment that can be purchased on E-Bay to produce dry powdered anthrax of a quality equal to the best produced in the former U.S. program.

What has changed? What are the risks?  Why hasn’t it already happened? What can be done to prevent bioterrorist attacks on the U.S.? Are we prepared to respond?  These and other questions will be addressed. 

Randall Larsen is the national security advisor at the UPMC Center for Health Security and a senior fellow at the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University.

In 2009 he served as the executive director of the Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, and in 2010, along with former Senators Bob Graham (D-FL) and Jim Talent (R-MO), Larsen founded the Bipartisan WMD Terrorism Research Center where he served as the chief executive officer.

Larsen is the author of Our Own Worst Enemy: Asking the Right Questions About Security to Protect You, Your Family, and America (Grand Central, 2007). His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Business Week. He served as the co-host of public radio’s Homeland Security: Inside & Out and as the host of Science and National Security on WFED in Washington DC.

No need to RSVP at this time—we will have the full announcement out a week before the meeting.

Changing Perspectives Of Hiroshima

By Dr. Steven Hull

Preceding President Obama’s May visit to Hiroshima, the National Security Forum (NSF) featured two articles, Wilson Miscamble’s “Obama, Truman, and Hiroshima” (Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2016); and Stanley Weiss’s “Hiroshima Saved My Life” (NSF email/post at http://www.nationalsecurityforum.org).  The authors weigh in on the never-ending controversy over President Truman’s decision to use the bomb, and while Mr. Weiss expands readers’ perspectives about the lessons of Hiroshima, Father Miscamble dwells on the rectitude of Truman’s decision, comingled with irrelevant anti-President Obama ramblings.  Though almost seventy-one years have passed, Hiroshima remains an enigmatic event.  We may continue to learn from it, as Mr. Weiss shows, or we may remain in a historical rut defending what is highly defensible, but never moving morally beyond the 1945 rationale for loosing the energy of the atom in war.
Miscamble and Weiss make credible cases supporting President Truman’s decision, yet both could have employed current data to bolster their claims. For example, projected American casualties for both phases of Operation Downfall, the invasion of Japan, were understated.  Miscamble uses a figure of 500,000.  In early 1945 General George C. Marshall publicly predicted this very number. The New York Times printed that number in the summer of 1945 and it was the number briefed to members of the armed forces.  Hidden from public view were well-researched, larger estimates.  Former President Herbert Hoover, working with a group of Army colonels, told President Truman that his research showed there would be 500,000-1,000,000 casualties.  Dr. William Shockley, later famous for the invention of the transistor, estimated 1.7-4,000,000 American casualties.  Truman and his advisors were aware of these predictions. Ironically all of these relied on American intelligence that dramatically underestimated the quantity of Kamikaze planes available, the number qualified pilots to man them, and the size of the Japanese army on the island of Kyushu, the target of Operation Olympic, Phase I of Operation Downfall.
What about Japanese casualties?  Projections varied from two to ten million dead, with Shockley predicting five to ten million.  This is plausible considering the massive conventional firepower that was mobilizing for Operation Downfall.  It would have dwarfed the 1944 Allied invasion of France.  Downfall was to involve 5,000,000 men, 4,000 ships, and 20,000 aircraft.  Ninety percent of the Royal Navy (800,000 sailors) would be participating.  In addition, Japanese defense systems were far more extensive than those on Okinawa, which slaughtered American troops and led to the annihilation of the defending Japanese.  Almost all of these defenses were in place by mid-August 1945.  Furthermore, General George Marshall was willing to use poison gas and the next nine atomic bombs being produced against Japanese defensive hard points and personnel concentrations. All this leads to the conclusion that these casualty projections were reasonable and Truman’s decision saved Japanese lives as well.
In other ways Miscamble’s and Weiss’s articles are quite different.  Miscamble wanders off topic criticizing President Obama. His assumption that the President’s mere visit to Hiroshima was a gateway for an apology for the bomb was an a priori conclusion looking for a rationale.  His linking Truman’s decision to Obama’s indecisiveness in Syria is a false analogy.  Lastly, he condescendingly chides the President and the Japanese to appreciate the fact that Truman’s decision saved lives on both sides, as if Obama and his hosts were not already aware of this line of argument.
In refreshing contrast, Weiss is focused, introspective and aware of the unique implications of the nuclear devastation of Hiroshima.  He would have seen the invasion first hand.  He likely witnessed some of the massive buildup preparations.  He experienced the magnitude of what might have been.  He states Truman’s decision likely saved his life and has no regrets about that decision.  He acknowledges the brutality of Imperial Japan and rejoices in its death. However, Weiss recognizes the unprecedented destruction was horrible.  Subsequently he has spent much of his life trying to rid the world of nuclear weapons, using Truman’s decision, which gave him life and so many Japanese death, as justification.
American and Japanese World War II combatants are rapidly leaving us.  There is sadness in this but also opportunity for further healing.  We must challenge the idea that any type of an American apology is a toxic, treasonous zero sum game.  Should we have had no pangs of conscience for using the bomb?  Or, are there gray areas of ethics and morality that are open for discussion?  Can we believe that incinerating Hiroshima was the right thing to do, yet not feel sorry so many people died? And if so, should we not be able to communicate that sorrow to the nation and people who were ground zero?  Is not such sorrow a cleansing for us, perhaps more so than an apology to the Japanese?
The notion that the bomb was justified does not eliminate the human side of the Hiroshima tragedy, nor quell feelings of regret and sorrow on both sides, as Weiss touchingly articulates.  I would encourage Miscamble to read Weiss and then read or re-read John Hersey’s 1946 best-seller, “Hiroshima”.  When atomic destruction is humanized at the level of the individual, the narrow righteousness supporting the bombing at the policy level reeks in comparison.

Biographical Note: Dr. Hull is a retired public school educator, trained historian, and a retired Navy Captain.  He was an active duty surface warfare officer and Navy Reserve intelligence officer. He was born on the fifth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.  His father was a World War II Pacific combat veteran.  A U.S. Navy Aviation Radioman, he was assigned to a PV-2 Harpoon medium bomber squadron slated to be part of Operation Olympic.

Board Member and Advisor Bios

NSF Members,

Before our All Members Meeting on Thursday, we wanted to send out brief bios on our Board Members, Advisors, and Staff.  Each person plays an integral role in keeping the National Security Forum a success.

See you Thursday!

/////

BOARD

JIM MEGQUIER

Chairman of the Board of Directors

Jim M.Jim assumed the chairmanship of the NSF from Dick Barnard last year and also oversees the Board’s Development efforts. Megquier retired after 33 years as an oral surgeon in Reno, having completed his dental education at the University of the Pacific Dental School and the University of Michigan for his surgery training and residency. Married to the late Lynn Walsh for over 50 years, Jim has three daughters. He served on the UNR Foundation for nine years, two as Chair and on the Board of the Reno Rodeo Foundation.

TYRUS W. COBB

Founder and Board Member

Tyrus C.Ty served as Special Assistant to President Reagan for National Security Affairs (1988-89) and before that as Director of Soviet, European, and Canadian Affairs on the Reagan NSC staff. He was the Executive Secretary for President Reagan’s Summit meetings with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva (1985) and Reykjavik (1986). A graduate of UNR, Ty earned a Masters Degree at Indiana U. and a PhD from Georgetown. He taught at West Point as a tenured professor, as well as in China, Italy and Russia. He is married to the former Suellen Small of Reno and they have two daughters and a son. On the NSF board Ty is responsible for arranging and conducting our programs and preparing and posting commentaries on the website.

ELAINE ALEXANDER

Elaine Alexander has been a Nevada CPA since 1988.  She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Nevada and a Masters in Taxation from Golden Gate University.  Elaine was hooked on politics and social matters beginning with her first college level political science class and has been attending NSF meetings for more than a decade.  She is constantly impressed by the resumes and levels of expertise the NSF speakers bring to northern Nevada, as well as the intellects and backgrounds of the attendees.

RICHARD BARNARD, CPA

Richard B.Dick was the first Chairman of the National Security Forum Board.  He founded Barnard, Vogler & Co., CPAs in 1969 and has just recently retired.  Prior to that he was with the international accounting firm Coopers & Lybrand.  He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Business Administration.  Dick has served on the board of numerous community organizations and was Chairman of the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA) for over twenty-five years.  He is married to the former Ann Bridge of Pittsford, New York, and they have a son and a daughter.

RICHARD “DICK” BARTHOLET

Dick B.Dick is a Research Associate at the University Center for Economic Development, College of Business, University of Nevada, Reno.  His areas of research and outreach include energy, economic and fiscal policy, economic development and “special projects.”  Prior to UNR, Dick was an owner, president and corporate broker at Pennington & Associates, a Reno business-brokerage firm.  He is on the board and is past-president of the Regional Alliance for Downtown and also serves on the board of the Nevada Capital Investment Corporation, appointed by NSHE Chancellor Dan Klaich.  Dick has a MBA from UNR and is a business school graduate from Montana State University. Dick and his wife of 42 years, Gracie, have four children and six grandchildren.

CARINA BLACK

Carina B.A native of Argentina and a citizen of Switzerland and the U.S., Carina Black has lived in the United States since 1987. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1997 in Comparative Politics. She is the first Executive Director of the Northern Nevada International Center (NNIC). As an adjunct faculty member at the University of Nevada, Reno, Carina has taught courses in global studies, world politics, comparative politics, democratization, international organizations and Latin American politics. At the NNIC, Carina has focused her energies on growing programs through the US Department of State and USAID.

SKIP HANSEN

Skip H.Skip joined the National Security Forum when it was first meeting at the Gold and Silver Restaurant.  He has been a Board member unofficially and then officially as the logistics coordinator when it formally became a 501c3.  He has been a Real Estate Broker since 1959, and served as a Board member on many non-profit boards over the years.  He holds the CCIM designation in Real Estate, the highest in the Commercial and Investment earned award from the National Association of Realtors.  He has been married to Nilsine for over 53 years.  They have one daughter, Kate.

MAJOR JERRY MORRIS

Jerry M.

MAJ Jerry Morris is an Armor Officer with over 20 years of combined active duty service, and is currently the Logistics Officer with the Nevada Army National Guard.  Jerry is currently pursuing a PhD in Computer Information Security at Northcentral University and plans to attend War College next year.  He enjoys time on his ranch with horses, as well as restoring antique and classic cars.

 

BEN TEDORE

Ben T.Originally from Iowa, Ben moved to Reno where he graduated High School from McQueen and then UNR with a degree in Digital Media and Information Systems. Ben is currently the Web Communications Specialist for the Nevada Small Business Development Center in the College of Business at UNR. He has worked for the Nevada SBDC since 2007 and really enjoys helping entrepreneurs and businesses grow.  Ben likes spending time outdoors with his wife and two kids whenever he has free time.

ADVISORS

JAMES “JIM” BRADSHAW

Jim B.Jim is a partner at the law firm of McDonald, Carano Wilson, practicing in the Litigation, Construction Law and Employment Departments of the firm. He serves as the Chairman of the Firm’s Litigation Practice Group and Ethics Committee and is a member of the Firm’s Construction Law, Intellectual Property and Employment Law practice sections.  In addition to his career as attorney, Jim dedicated more than 24 years of service to the United States Air Force and Nevada Air National Guard.  He retired in 1995 as a Lieutenant Colonel.  Born and raised in Reno, Jim is a fifth generation Nevadan.

GARY HIPPLE

Gary H.Gary spent over 30 years in law enforcement. Most of that time he was a federal criminal investigator; 9 years with IRS Internal Security and 20 years with the US Customs Service as a special agent. He worked cases involving money laundering, drug trafficking, international firearms trafficking and fraud. He spent over 4 years undercover on various matters. In addition to case specific work, Gary worked 10 years in the intelligence field as team leader for a multi-agency, multi-discipline intelligence team dedicated to international narcotic trafficking and terrorism. He retired in 2003 and moved to the Reno area where he volunteered with several groups. He has been NSF’s door keeper since its inception.

STAFF

LAUREN PAROBEK

IMG_1999Lauren has been the Executive Assistant for the National Security Forum since 2014.  With a background in politics, she enjoys working with the NSF board members to bring presenters to the northern Nevada area to educate the community on key national security issues, as well as getting to know the participants of the Forum.  She is a graduate of Reno High School and continues her studies at the University of Nevada, Reno.