Y2K and the Legacy of Kanatjan Alibekov

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Y2K and the Legacy of Kanatjan Alibekov

Y2K is all about evaluating risk. We live in a world where the dangers are great and yet most Americans seem to view the world through a soda straw. We view all the bad things as happening 'over there' and 'to someone else'.

Yet,when we are jolted from our sleep and tragically reminded that we are not immune, as was the case in Oklahoma City or Littleton, we stare blankly at each other and rhetorically ask, "How is this possible?" But somewhere, in a dark recess of our hearts we know that not only was it possible, it was inevitable. Look at the bigger picture.

Y2K will not occur in a vacuum. I think that's what keeps the government awake at night. The disruptions that are possible as a direct result of Y2K-related problems are significant. But they really don't compare to the potential indirect consequences.

Case in point: Kanatjan Alibekov

If you've never heard the name before, make it a point to remember it. You'll be living (or not) with the legacy of his work - a thousands like him - long after Y2K is a fading memory.

Mr. Alibekov (now living in the US and using the name Ken Alibek) is a microbiologist and the former deputy chief of Biopreparat, a Russian organization whose task was to research and implement biological weapons for the former Soviet Union. The work apparently continues, sans Alibekov.

The extent of the Soviet biological weapons program became known to our government in the early 90s, after the defection of the first Biopreparat employee Vladimir Pasechnik in 1989 and then by Alibekov in 1992.

Mr Alibekov has written a book about his time with Biopreparat. I hate to recommend it because I'm not thrilled about him profiting from what he has done. Nevertheless, the book details the size and scope of the Soviet bioweapons program. By reading the book, you will gain a very clear insight into why the government is so rattled by the threat of terrorism today.

Biohazard by Ken Alibek (formerly Kanatjan Alibekov)

Read the book. Mr. Alibekov clearly shows that the genie is out of the bottle to stay. Considering his credentials, he should know. Like so much data on the Internet, the information, technology and personnel required to construct weapons capable of enormous damage is already 'out there', available to all. There's no going back and no realistic hope of 'containment' at this point.

You can bet the fact that Y2K may present 'motivated' individuals or organizations with a golden opportunity to initiate an attack with such weapons is not lost on our nation's top security personnel. It may also help to answer why there is highly organized apathy with regard to Y2K preparation from our government. Simply put, those in charge may see the potential for terrorist acts - acts that would make the Oklahoma City bombing look like cakewalk - and they conclude that it is in our national security interests to severely downplay the potential of Y2K and hope for the best. Of course that's just a guess on my part, but if you read Alibekov's book, you won't be able to dismiss the seriousness of the threat.

As I read it, I kept hoping to run across that little paragraph that states "All people and events in this book are ficional...". I never did find it.

Our vulnerability is enormous and our enemies are legion.

All you'd really need for a global, catastrophic event is about 200-300 well trained, well led, well funded, and well organized personnel who are willing to die for their country or for their God. A coordinated dispersal of weaponized Ebola or Marburg or Smallpox (or a combination) in oh, say 30 of the worlds busiest airports would result in a disaster of unimaginable proportions. Even a single, highly motivated, but not especially smart individual could kill thousands.

My family and I are prepared for mild to moderate disruptions in our basic infrastructure due to computer problems that can be fixed (or worked around) in a 'short' amount of time by a cooperating society. These disruptions, if taken in a vacuum, could last a few weeks or months and we'd be OK. Got water. Got heat. Got food. We are not looking forward to disruptions but, if taken in a vacuum, we're about as ready as we'll ever be. We're even ready to help out a small number of close neighbors if need be.

But against weaponized anthrax? smallpox? Rift Valley fever? Marburg?

Sorry, game over.

Our government cannot protect us from this threat. Oh, I believe they'll do what they can. They'll use their intelligence gathering personnel and technology and try to plug the holes in the dike one at a time as they detect them. But they won't find them all. Sooner or later, their going to run out of fingers.

Sooner or later there won't be any U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq.

Thousands of the scientists that the Soviet Union had working on these 'advances' dispersed across the globe when the Soviet Union broke apart 10 years ago. Like pee in a swimming pool, there's no reversing the process.

Albert Einstein, when asked if he was afraid that other countries would learn the 'secret' of producing nuclear weapons said "there is no secret and there is no defense". Einstein would have understood Alibekov.

We've decided to go ahead and take that vacation later this year.

-- Arnie Rimmer (Arnie_Rimmer@usa.net), May 22, 1999


Never trust foreigners.

-- King of Spain (madrid@aol.com), May 22, 1999.

Sounds worse than it really is.

Don't let yourselves be rattled by the possibilities of either massive Y2K breakdowns, nuclear war, or chemical or biological warfare. If it happens, it happens, and it shouldn't stand in the way of preparations (or maintaining a fairly upbeat attitude, either). None of us will die because we got nuked, or got anthrax - we'll die because it was our time. Being overly concerned about situations and events over which you have no control is a guaranteed recipe for depression and ill health. Prepare as best you can, and let someone else make themselves sick with worry. And remember, even in an all-out NBC attack, some, perhaps many, will live no matter what.

-- . (.@...), May 22, 1999.

Arnie----Great post. I predict very few will respond to this "bigger picture" it is too scarry. Most of us feel or think we can survive a Y2K senario that would be a 5 to 9 impact. What you write about people will turn their back on. "Like pee in a swimming pool there's no reversing the process." Way too scarry for most of us.

-- thinkIcan (thinkIcan@make.it), May 22, 1999.

Agree with all of the above - and I'm a foreigner :)

Arnie - it IS just a matter of time. I am expecting something major on US soil within the next six months. There are a lot of scenarios that could play out here.

But personally, I'm interested in why you think y2k will be a catalyst for this type of action?

Why do you think it may be linked?

Personally, the way Clinton is running roughshod around the world my feeling is that it's a wonder the US has ANY friends left other than the UK...

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), May 22, 1999.

Arnie -- clearly you take this multiple biological threat as fact -- I can't argue with that, since I don'tknow enough. But as you paint the picture, we're all tied to the railroad track like Gloria Swanson, the train is coming, and Rin-Tin-Tin the Wonder Dog is not available.

I remember Lyndon a while back saying ""I feel like a hitchhiker caught in a hailstorm on a Texas highway. I can't run, I can't hide, and I can't make it stop." Much like the situation you describe.

Have you any constructive suggestions?

Even if the sky is falling, it does get tiresome to hear the shrill cries of warning repeated so many times. Particularly since nobody knows how to prop it up or glue it back together.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), May 23, 1999.

The risks of NBC warfare are one of the main reasons my wife and I decided to abandon the lower 48, when we relocated for y2k 6 months ago.

We wanted to stay on U.S. soil, in North America, near or in a small town with access to the internet, book stores, grocery stores, cable tv, etc. We also wanted to be in a place that would not get real cold, and where taking care of shelter, water, heat and food would be relatively easy. We also did not want our location to be accessible by road, or on the power grid.

We met all those parameters by moving to the city of Craig on Prince of Wales Island (America's third largest island), population 2200, in Southeast Alaska. The first thing you need to know about southeast Alaska is that it is NOT Anchorage, Fairbanks or the North Pole. Average temperature in January is 35 F. The weather here is mild year round with lots of rain, similar to Seattle only rainier. We are located about 750 miles north of Seattle. You can only get here by plane or boat. Electricity here is hydro. Timber here is abundant, as is water and game (dear and black bear). Fishing is first class. In fact this is a favorite fishing area for many celebrities. No one will starve up here.

Sometime this fall, we hope to hunker down in a prepared, hidden, secret location on one of the many uninhabited islands within an hours boatride from Craig, for a few months and see what happens. But if we end up staying in Craig, it couldn't be with a nicer, more prepared, more libertarian bunch of people. We love this place, and whether or not y2k is a 10 or fizzles, we're happy with our change of lifestyle.

Doug Platt

-- Doug Platt (dplatt@ptialaska.net), May 23, 1999.

Just another reason to get out of the city and stay away from crowds.

-- FLAME AWAY (BLehman202@aol.com), May 23, 1999.

Tom wrote:

Have you any constructive suggestions?

Even if the sky is falling, it does get tiresome to hear the shrill cries of warning repeated so many times. Particularly since nobody knows how to prop it up or glue it back together.

I understand what you are saying and therein lies the rub. I have hundreds of constructive suggestions related to temporary disruptions in infrastructure caused by computer malfunctions. A great many problems that might occur are easy to deal with if you've been diligent in preparing ahead of time. Storing water, food, fuel - those things are relatively easy for the motivated family to accomplish.

Lest someone think I have changed my position with respect to Y2K and basic preparations, I have not. I still do not know what will happen but believe most of us have very little to lose and potentially much to gain by making some prudent preparations.

My point is that we seem to go about from day to day ignoring very real dangers and assuming that they pose no real threat to ourselves and our families.

For example, I was having a discussion about the Yugoslavia situation last week with a friend and his wife. His wife's position was essentially "Haven't you seen what is happening to those poor refugees from Kosovo? Milosevic is such an evil man. He has to be stopped. We have to send in ground troops and stop him now."

I replied, "I agree that Milosevic is not a very nice man and that he is causing suffering and death for the people of Kosovo. But you think the United States should send in ground forces even though it is very likely that the loss of life will be great?"

"Absolutely" she said.

I then said "So you are ready to sacrifice Jennifer and/or Jason's life to stop Milosevic?" (Jennifer is her 17 year old daughter. Jason is her 15 year old son.)

"No, of course not." she said.

"Well then," I replied "Just who's son or daughter are you willing to sacrifice for this noble cause?"

She didn't say much after that but it was clear that she hadn't believed that her position to support ground troops would have any direct effect on her life. She didn't like being reminded that it could.

It is easy to be brave with other people's lives and other people's money. It's not so easy when it begins to get personal.

The threat that Y2K poses is, in and of itself, not great if we first acknowledge it and then move to mitigate it. Choosing not to make preparations, we needlessly erode the middle ground. We willing choose to make the problem worse than it needs to be.

The threat posed by biological weapons is qualitatively different however. We can acknowledge the threat all we like but there is very little we can personally do to mitigate the threat. There are few effective vaccines and they are not readily available. New virus strains are being engineered all the time. What detection technology that does exist is not widely distributed. Intelligence is incomplete at best and you simply can't take out a Marburg with a Mossberg.

Of course I knew that governments around the globe were working on such weapons. But I was surprised by the sheer size and scope of the Biopreparat programs. And what concerns me most is that, with the breakup of the former Soviet Union, a great many of the personnel once employed by the Soviets are now spread out across the globe - in Iraq, in North Korea, in Cuba, and other places where they can find employment.

There is no better time to attack your enemy than when he is down. To the extent that Y2K offers such an opportunity to those people who are insane enough to actually use such weapons, I am deeply concerned. Do I have any direct evidence that an bioweapons attack is imminent? Of course not. But there is plenty of reason to believe that we will be the targets of such an attack at some point in our future.

I suspect that if Y2K results in significant problems around the globe (even if big problems do not material here in the U.S.), a great many who are capable will seize the opportunity to settle old scores and redraw the borders.

Bioweapons are not especially difficult or expensive to produce and deliver. At least with nuclear weapons, there was some hope of containment.

I would like to tell you that the sky is not falling. I would like to tell you that our governement has this bioweapons threat clearly under control. I would like to tell you that these weapons pose no bigger threat than Y2K itself and that there is a great deal you can do to protect yourself and your family from this threat. I would like to believe that Y2K were occurring in a vacuum and that it was the only threat we have to deal with.

But is the only response to the bioweapons threat simply to say to ourselves that "This problem is so big we must ignore it."? I don't think so but I'm at a loss to tell you how to put the genie back in the bottle. How do you fight to protect yourself against such unparalleled lunacy?

-- Arnie Rimmer (Arnie_Rimmer@usa.net), May 23, 1999.

Your (U.S.) government has put all of you at tremendous risk. Its insane foreign policy has put the U.S. to position number 1 of most of the hit lists of the world.

Unfortunately, those abroad with the hit lists are just as screwed up as the shooters in Colorado, and the myriad others who have dropped out of the medias' sight.

If the terrorists and shooters had any sense, they would be targeting the "leaders" rather than the peons. It only makes sense to target the peons when they are in an important support position to the leaders.

Targeting the peons just because they are easier to get to, just creates the peons' (sheeple) crying to their leadership to "do something" more, which just increases the power of the leadership. (This for example, makes the scenario of the OKC bombing as government sponsored a reasonable one. BTW, why did the gov't raze the site so quickly after -- afraid someone might find anomolous evidence?) This makes the shooter/terrorist target even "harder."

Terrorism against a population does nothing to dissuade the "leadership". Targeting leadership and its support staff does do so.

Why, for example, is Klinton bombing all the civilians in Yugo? If he really has such a beef with Milo, why hasn't he gone directly after him? Ditto Sadaam in Iraq?

Why hasn't Saadam gone directly after Klinton (or Bush)? Their whereabouts are pretty much public knowledge.

Answer: All the political leaders today, as opposed to the conquerors of old, are chicken shit. It must be a rule of statecraft today that you can bomb,kill,gas... the hell out of the civilians, but the leaderships are off limits. A far cry from the olden days where the chiefs, generals, even kings were in the middle of the battle, not sitting in a bunker 1000 feet undergound and/or out of range of the enemy.

Years ago, I used to see in newspapers legal announcements re: "I John Doe, am no longer responsible for the debts ... of ...." Divorce related. Maybe they still have them, maybe not with "no fault."

Anyway, maybe we shoudl start publishing to the world that "I, John Doe, am not responsible for the actions of the U.S. government, the government of the State of .... the county of, the city of...." Of course, if you participate in the voting charade, you cannot make such a claim.

The only way to get rid of tyrants is to make tyranny unprofitable. The ultimate unprofitability is the loss of life.

-- A (A@AisA.com), May 23, 1999.

A said: "Targeting the peons just because they are easier to get to, just creates the peons' (sheeple) crying to their leadership to "do something" more, which just increases the power of the leadership.

That, apparently, is exactly what the leadership here in the U.S. wants to happen. And, if there aren't enough real bogeymen out there to do the job of making the sheeple bleat away their rights, they'll invent some.

"(This for example, makes the scenario of the OKC bombing as government sponsored a reasonable one. BTW, why did the gov't raze the site so quickly after -- afraid someone might find anomolous evidence?)"

Right again. It's called destruction of evidence and/or tampering with a crime scene - the same thing occurred immediately after Waco. What keeps me up at nights and sometimes makes me cry is that almost none of my fellow countrymen thought that it was anything out of the ordinary. If America falls, it will because its inhabitants are too lazy and stupid to deserve what cost their forefathers so much blood.

P.S. I take it your not an American, A... congratulations on being able to see what so few here find invisible.

-- klm (klm@nwhre.not), May 23, 1999.

klm: Unfortunately I am domiciled in Amerika. I do try to remember to say "your government" or better, the "U.S. government" in my posts. (While most readers are probably in U.S., many are not.) It sure as hell is not "my" government. I support it in no way except by TDC (threat, duress, coercion).

-- A (A@AisA.com), May 24, 1999.

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