Photo: Courtesy of Anna Johnson-Winegar
Two days after anthrax was discovered in a letter addressed to US Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD), Anna Johnson-Winegar was testifying on the state of the nation's readiness to counter bioterrorism before the Senate Committee on Government Affairs. Her office is the Department of Defense's (DoD) focal point for chemical and biological defense. In the hot seat before the Senate that bright October day, the Pentagon scientist wasted no time trying to convince them that all was well on the biodefense front.
"We have documented gaps and deficiencies," she admitted. Exercises to test the strength of the biodefense system highlighted cultural differences that kept government agencies from working efficiently to counter a germ- or chemical-based assault.
More than a year after the anthrax assaults of 2001, Johnson-Winegar has been back to Congress several times, faced the press, spoken at conferences, sat on panels and attended meetings...