Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/10/08/bioterror_kit_going_cheap/

Bio-terror kit going cheap – from the Pentagon

Oh Puh-lease

By Drew Cullen

Posted in Security, 8th October 2003 12:52 GMT

The Pentagon has halted sales of redundant low-end laboratory equipment following accusations that they could be used to develop instruments of biological warfare.

Buyers of the surplus kit came from, among other places, Egypt and the Philippines, where terrorist groups are known to operate.

The lab kit for sale includes centrifuges, evaporators, bacteriological incubators, and protective suits.

Congress' General Accounting Office (GAO) set up a dummy company to buy kit at bargain basement prices. It found that the Pentagon did not check the bona fides of would-be buyers.

Cue faux outrage from Christopher Shays, the Republican congressman who is chairing the inquiry into the sales. "The cheap, virtually unregulated availability of low-cost biological laboratory equipment poses a risk to national security. The department of defence should not be a discount shopping outlet for would-be bioterrorists."

According to The Guardian, the news is "particularly embarrassing, coming only days after the CIA-led Iraq Survey Group claimed the discovery of similar equipment in Iraq was evidence that the Saddam Hussein regime had a covert weapons programme".

Yeah, right. The Pentagon is the first place that bio-terrorist wannabes would come shopping for their test tubes and bunsen burners. Secondhand laboratory equipment is so difficult to buy elsewhere. And so expensive too. ®