CDC Struggles to Coordinate Efforts with FBI
As the CDC works with the FBI to investigate anthrax cases, the two agencies have experienced a "clash of cultures," the Los Angeles Times reports. While law enforcement officials "tend to keep information secret to win a conviction," the Times reports, the CDC prefers to "share every detail they know" to prevent disease. Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) described the five-week anthrax investigation as a "bureaucratic snafu of the first order," adding, "Any time you have two government agencies, it's like two pretty sisters -- you always compete." Although CDC and FBI officials "say they are getting along remarkably well," the Times reports that incidents in the past five weeks "show a tenuous relationship marked by duplication of effort, delays, communication breakdowns and missed opportunities." The FBI has urged health officials to "keep mum" during the investigation, which "stopped the flow of information" about anthrax risks to a "worried" public, Cleland said. Jerome Hauer, former director of the New York City Office of Emergency Management and managing director of Kroll Inc., added, "The FBI is not a public health agency. ... And anything they do in withholding information really jeopardizes public health and can significantly impact the health of the public." Cleland said that "conflicting federal laws," which name the CDC, the Justice Department and the new Office of Homeland Security all as the "lead agency" in the event of a bioterrorist attack, also have contributed to some of the problems between the CDC and the FBI. Cleland plans to introduce legislation that "once and for all" would designate the CDC as the "top dog" (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 11/10).