Wired’s Danger Room reports that the US is still following the biodefense strategy of the Bush Administration (and, since that policy was largely formulated by Scooter “Germ Boy” Libby, the strategy of Dick Cheney).

On Tuesday, Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher was in Geneva at the Biological Weapons Convention talks. Her primary purpose was to announce President Obama’s long-expected “National Security for Countering Biological Threats.”


The first clue that something was wrong was when Ms. Tauscher … decided to use language that most people associated with bioterrorist alarmists such as Dr. Tara O’Toole and former Senators Graham and Talent. “President Obama fully recognizes that a major biological weapons attack on one of the world’s major cities could cause as much death and economic and psychological damage as a nuclear attack could,” she said. Wow! Holey overstatement, Batman! Then she told the convention attendees that the U.S. government “would not seek to revive negotiations on a verification protocol to the Convention.”

Now, Danger Room attributes the hawkish statement to folks at NSC, burrowed in from the Bush Administration, who took over the speech drafting process.

Sources tell this reporter that the National Security Council had some Bush administration holdovers in charge of editing the National Strategy and preparing Ms. Tauscher’s script, and these individuals basically bulldozed the final draft through Defense and State officials with very little interagency input and with a very short suspense. There were no significant changes in her speech, either, despite attempts to soften the heavy Bush administration-type language.

But I wonder.

I’m not so much bugged that Ellen Tauscher, formerly one of the Blue Dogs from the most liberal districts saying this. Maybe she is as hawkish as all this.

I do wonder, as always, whether John Brennan–himself a repurposed Bush Administration flunkie–had a hand in this.

But it always comes back to questions of staffing with Obama. And to suggest that he has simply mistakenly failed to clean out NSC of Cheney’s moles doesn’t cut it, almost a year into Obama’s Administration. This is NSC after all, not a giant bureaucracy across the Potomac. And yet these anonymous speechwriters-turned-policy-setters still managed to put these very hawkish words into Tauscher’s mouth.



Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.