"Anti-Terrorism Expert Advises Against BioWatch Upgrade"

"A Homeland Security Department undersecretary has told Janet Napolitano she has doubts about a new version of the nation's troubled system for detecting a biological attack."

"Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's top expert on anti-terrorism technology has privately advised her to spike a long-planned, multibillion-dollar upgrade of BioWatch, the nation's troubled system for detecting a biological attack.

Dr. Tara O'Toole, the department's undersecretary for science and technology, doubts that the so-called Generation 3 version of BioWatch could be relied on to detect anthrax, smallpox, plague or other deadly germs in the event of a biological attack, scientists familiar with the matter said.

O'Toole is also concerned that the cost of the upgrade -- $3.1 billion for the initial five years -- would divert money from measures she considers more beneficial, such as establishing computer links between hospitals, large HMOs and public health agencies to speed the distribution of medicine after an attack, the scientists said."

David Willman reports for the Los Angeles Times November 13, 2012.

Source: LA Times, 11/13/2012