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Washington torn between detecting nations developing nuclear weapons and monitoring stomach flu sufferers

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Mark Tapscott,Morning Examiner,Washington,EPA,Military Budget,Nuclear Weapons,Technology

There is a revealing juxtaposition in the news this morning regarding the federal government that may say something that many will likely find disturbing and some downright sinister.

In the first instance, the Washington Free Beacon reports this morning that the U.S. lacks the ability to detect and monitor nations seeking to develop nuclear weapons. You might want to read that sentence again.

"More nations than ever are pursuing nuclear arms. However, the United States does not have the mechanisms to detect and track these programs," according to the Defense Science Board, as reported by WFB.

"Moreover, U.S. intelligence agencies are not doing enough to rectify the issue, according to the report, which called for a full-scale revamp in how agencies approach the issue of nuclear detection," WFB said.

Detection by Twitter tweets

In the second instance, WFB reports that the Environmental Protection Agency has issued a "Blanket Purchase Agreement" -- that's bureaucratese for "we'll award the contract to whoever we please and we will spend as many tax dollars as we like" -- to buy ... tweets.

Yes, tweets. More specifically, tweets from individuals discussing symptoms like “nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.”

It's all in the name of science because EPA plans to make this purchase "to develop the use of social media to identify individuals in the United States that are suffering from Acute Gastroenteritis Infections (AGI).” That is, stomach flu sufferers.

Question of priorities

So, on the one hand, the federal government can't detect when another nation joins the steadily growing list of nuclear aspirants and doesn't appear to care much about the inability.

On the other hand, the federal government is very much concerned about developing an algorithm for detecting in social media communications specific behavior patterns in the U.S. population.

It seems like it ought to be a no-brainer, but which is more important for Washington to know — who is developing a nuclear weapon that could kill millions of Americans or which Americans have a stomach ache this week?

On today's washingtonexaminer.com

Editorial/Sunday: Obama's NSA reforms won't prevent unwarranted invasions of privacy.

Editorial/Monday: Liberals are ready to use more government power against the Tea Party.

Columnists/Hugh Hewitt: Targeting service members for budget cuts is a losing strategy for the GOP.

Columnists/James Jay Carafano: Jeff Sessions says no amnesty for immigration bill that violates the law.

Columnists/Star Parker: Why does the federal government want to control contraception?

Examiner Watchdog/Richard Pollock: Consumer complaints swarm around Obamacare's flagship New York co-op.

In other news

The Washington Post: Minimum wage is set to rise in the UK, with Conservatives' support.

The New York Times: Losing in Afghanistan imperils U.S. drone program.

CBS News: GOP prepares to challenge Obama on unilateral action, debt ceiling.

USA Today: Report says Kim Jong Un executed uncle's relatives, too.

New York Daily News: Edward Snowden thinks U.S. wants to kill him.

The Los Angeles Times: Benjamin Netanyahu's settlement comments spark anger.

Righty Playbook

The Weekly Standard: Privacy or security is a false choice.

National Review Online: For the sake of a fish, rich California farmland lies fallow.

Powerline Blog: Another reason to miss President George W. Bush.

Bonus must-read

The Federalist: The state of the modern State of the Union address.

Lefty Playbook

Talking Points Memo: GOPers suddenly find love for Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.

The Huffington Post: Fox News is dying.

Salon: How the Right destroyed itself.

Bonus must-read

The Nation: How serious is the terror threat at the Sochi Olympics?

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Author:

Mark Tapscott

Executive Editor
The Washington Examiner