CA—Presidential Science Advisor John Marberger told an audience at the
Photonics West trade show and conference here yesterday that a Manhattan Project
approach to fighting terrorism is not needed. Unlike the effort to develop the
atomic bomb, he noted "the context is different than when WW II started. Today
science is more mature...and nearly all technology needed is available." The
country will not have to develop new technology, he added, "but deploy it
effectively. We are in a technically mature era and we have a tremendous range
of capability to bring about increased security."
He said the attacks of September 11 and the anthrax contamination have cast light on our vulnerabilities, and cautioned that the relatively quick results in Afghanistan are "not a good measure" of the strength of our defenses elsewhere against terrorism. The nation has "just begun to fight" in regards to homeland defense, he noted.
Marberger added his Office of Science and Technology Policy is coordinating what has to be done to reduce vulnerability and prepare for future events. He also sees an increase in funding for medical research in areas related to bio-terrorism. This would include studying the effects of biological agents and tools to counter them.
In a related topic, he said the greatest payoff to the atom-by-atom understanding and control of matter that we have may be in health sciences—thus he expects to see the "substantial increases in budgets for the National Institutes of Health."