November 12th, 2012
Fear sells. There’s a great (and scary) article in this month’s Atlantic about the President’s DNA. Who knew the Secret Service now cleans up EVERYTHING the President touches, for fear of anyone getting his DNA. Riveting article, but the fear-seeking of the authors is what I found most fascinating.
BRAVE (AND SCARY) NEW WORLD
Yikes. What a world. If I were a Hollywood action movie screenwriter I’d be all over the article in this month’s Atlantic titled, “Hacking the President’s DNA.” It’s a gold mine of fear.
I found it fascinating, and I’m not making fun of it when I say that their pursuit of fear is relentless. The basic tone of the article is, “Check this out, and if you think that’s not scary, consider this, and even if we address it, there’s still this, and this, and this …” Ahhhhh!
They begin by painting a nightmare scenario where terrorists manage to obtain the President’s DNA, then bioengineer a virus that is harmless to everyone except the President — for him it’s lethal. They introduce it into the population, it quickly spreads by sneezes and handshakes until it finally makes it to the POTUS himself and zappo, bio-assassination.
SYNTHESIS BIOLOGY TO THE NON-RESCUE
After telling their little horror fantasy, they launch into the actual science of today to show it’s not so far fetched. They say, “The surreptitious collection of world leaders’ genetic material has already begun.” In response to this they quote Ronald Kessler’s 2009 book, “In the President’s Secret Service,” who says, “Navy stewards gather bed sheets, drinking glasses and other objects the President has touched — they are later destroyed in an effort to keep would be malefactors from obtaining his genetic material.”
They quote from a 2011 Senate report saying by 2013 a terrorist WMD attack is probable and it is likely to be biological in nature. They also say that one of the companies producing some of the most powerful biological agents (which could be disastrous in the wrong hands) doesn’t pay it’s employees very well, so one of them may eventually jump ship. Nice.
Here’s my favorite scary line from the article, “No amount of Secret Service vigilance can ever fully secure the President’s DNA.” Maybe Romney shouldn’t be so bummed out after all.