Tommy Thompson’s Tips for Terrorists


Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson resigned Friday, warning of a potential global outbreak of the flu and health-related terror attacks. “For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do,” he said.


Thompson listed accomplishments of his tenure but also said he worries about a worldwide flu pandemic in an era when vaccine is in short supply.

The former Wisconsin governor has warned about food safety issues since before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and pushed for more money for safeguards. Spending on food security has increased from $800,000 to $150 million during Thompson’s tenure, and there are eight times as many food inspections now as in 2001, according to HHS figures.

The lead-in makes this sound like a huge gaffe. Clearly, though, this is an issue Thompson has not only talked about previously but actually did something about.

FILED UNDER: Terrorism
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kappiy says:

    I’m not sure what Thompson did to deal with the shortfall of flu vaccines. Medical professionals have been warning for years that our capacity to deal with large scale pandemics has been comprimised by decades of public divestment. Worried municipalities are having to scramble for supplies due to the Feds’ incompetence.

    The problem with our food security is less that it is susceptible to “the terrrorists,” and more that it is largely a centralized affair with very little independent oversight over safety. While the figure cited here indicates more money is being spent on “food security,” the basic voluntary mechanisms for food producers to comply have not changed. The spreading of e-coli and other bacteria–which are a product of the industrialized processes of food production and distribution–is a significant issue.

    Given Mark McCurry’s laizze faire performance as head of FDA–just look at the Vioxx situation for an example of the death that can come about due to inaction–I doubt he, nor the new Agriculture Secrtary are prepared to adequately address these problems.