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(LOS ANGELES) – While the country responds with growing alarm over torture policies first instigated against prisoners in Guantánamo, policies which now appear to be levied against  Bradley Manning, another policy violation has been overlooked by the guardians of our freedom. The U.S. press has been mum, at least up until now, on the violation of the Biological Weapons Convention by none other than the United States government.

In the rush to pass protective legislation into law following the attacks of 911, the authors of the U.S. Patriot Act amended the previous legislation regarding biological weapons. Section 817 of the U.S. Patriot Act, otherwise known as the “Expansion of the Biological Weapons Statute,” has violated the Biological Weapons Convention, an international treaty which the U.S. signed in 1974.

The Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention, also known as the BWC, was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the production of an entire category of weapons. It was largely considered to be a result of prolonged efforts by the international community to supplement the 1925 Geneva Protocol.


The language of 817 closely mirrors that of the BWC, which bans the development, stockpiling and transport of biological weapons. The violation has occured in a final caveat, which nullifies the prohibitions contained in the BWC and prior U.S. bioweapons legislation.

Wikipedia page on Biological Weapons Convention

After paragraphs of assurances as to the criminal penalties involved in violating Section 817, the U.S. government granted itself the freedom to violate any and all prohibitions contained in the section.

Here is the section of 817 where the violation takes place:

“(c) Whoever knowingly violates this section shall be fined as provided in this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both, but the prohibition contained in this section shall not apply with respect to any duly authorized United States governmental activity.”


This reporter stumbled upon this violation in the process of researching arms treaties where the U.S. was a signor. Upon discovery of this violation of the BWC, the United States Department of Justice was contacted. Dean Boyd, Press Officer for the DOJ, wrote this reporter that “we disagree with your conclusion that the statute enacted by Congress is a violation of the letter or spirit of the Biological Weapons Convention and, with all due respect, believe your interpretation of the law is misconstrued. Please see 18 USC Section 175(b).”

18 USC Section 175(b) is, in fact, the law that was amended and thus superseded by Section 817 of the US Patriot Act. When Boyd was informed of this in a subsequent email from this reporter, he hunkered down and replied “we have no further comment for you on this matter.”

On January 12, 2010 The U.S. State Department was contacted for comment as well. As of the time of going to press, over two weeks later, Sandra Postell at the State Department has stated that “We are working on your request; we have multiple offices working on this which is taking more time than anticipated.“

According to a United Nations spokesperson, that body is not the repository of the bioweapons treaty. The repositories are Great Britain, The Russian Federation and the United States of America. Both Great Britain and Russia were informed this week of the violation by their colleague. At the time of going to press neither country has responded.


Concern is heightened by indications that the U.S. may be planning on deploying these banned weapons. Sources have disclosed that these weapons may, in fact, be stockpiled at a military base in Herlong, California/Nevada border.

Sierra Army Depot

The particular language of 817 also raises concern that there may be attempts to deploy domestically. This concern focuses on the list of restricted persons named in 817. “Restricted persons” are those who may not possess or transport biological weapons. Due to the fact that the “restricted persons” list does not indicate an overseas military operation, the argument is strengthened that there is intent to deploy domestically.

The intersection between bioweapons and what are colloquially termed “ethnic bombs” reveals an area of genome research where these weapons might be developed and deployed covertly, under the mantle of “plausible deniability.”. Vincent Sarich and Frank Miele, authors of Race: The Reality of Human Differences, published in 2004, believe that information from the Human Genome Project will be used in just such a manner.


The official declaration of the United States government concerning Title 18 USC 175 (the old law which was amended by 817) follows:

Section 2 of Pub. L. 101-298 provided that:
“(a) Purpose.–The purpose of this Act[see Short Title note above] is to–
“(1) implement the Biological Weapons Convention, an
international agreement unanimously ratified by the United States
Senate in 1974 and signed by more than 100 other nations, including
the Soviet Union; and
“(2) protect the United States against the threat of biological terrorism

By amending the law in the manner discusses herein, it is possible that the
U.S. has violated both original intentions: we have clearly signed off from the international treaty and may very well have signed off from protecting U.S. citizens from a bioweapons attack.

The primary authors of the U.S. Patriot act were Viet D. Dinh, a lawyer who served as the Assistant Attorney General of the United States from 2001 to 2003 and Michael Chertoff, formerly the head of Homeland Security.

To be continued…..


Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist whose articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The San Bernardino County Sentinel, The Santa Monica Daily Press, The Long Beach Press Telegram, Oui Magazine and other regional and national publications. Her poetry has been published in Gambit, Libera, Applezaba Review, Nausea One and other magazines. Her first book, The Hitler Poems, was published in 2005. She currently resides abroad. You may browse through her articles (and poetry) at janetphelan.com


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