Pentagon to defend against avian flu?

From the Washington Times:

President Bush said yesterday that he was concerned about the potential for an avian flu outbreak and suggested empowering the Pentagon to quarantine parts of the nation should they become infected.

“If we had an outbreak somewhere in the United States, do we not then quarantine that part of the country, and how do you then enforce a quarantine?” he said during a Rose Garden press conference.

“It’s one thing to shut down airplanes; it’s another thing to prevent people from coming in to get exposed to the avian flu,” he added. “And who best to be able to effect a quarantine? One option is the use of a military that’s able to plan and move.”

… That would entail removing governors from the decision-making process and vesting more power in Mr. Bush. Yesterday, he acknowledged that the plan is not universally popular.

“Some governors didn’t like it; I understand that,” the former Texas governor said. “I didn’t want the president telling me how to be the commander in chief of the Texas Guard.

“But Congress needs to take a look at circumstances that may need to vest the capacity of the president to move beyond that debate,” he added. “And one such catastrophe, or one such challenge, could be an avian flu outbreak.”

… Mr. Bush said he has been spending a lot of time investigating preparedness for a devastating pandemic. During his remarks yesterday, he sought to raise awareness without causing undue alarm.

“I’m not predicting an outbreak; I’m just suggesting to you that we better be thinking about it, and we are,” he said. “We’re more than thinking about it; we’re trying to put plans in place.”

So, how are you feeling?

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