Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., joined by attorneys Paul D. Clement, far left, and Rick Esenberg, second from left, announces that he has filed a lawsuit to block the federal government from helping to pay for health care coverage for members of Congress and their staffs, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

What Ron Johnson sees as a ‘real and present danger’

The Weekly Standard, a prominent conservative magazine, has a piece in its new issue with a headline no doubt intended to get readers’ attention: “Six Reasons to Panic.” Take a wild guess what the article is about.
 
Reason #3, in particular, is quite a scenario: “What’s to stop a jihadist from going to Liberia, getting himself infected [with Ebola], and then flying to New York and riding the subway until he keels over? This is just the biological warfare version of a suicide bomb. Can you imagine the consequences if someone with Ebola vomited in a New York City subway car?” It leads the Weekly Standard to suggest “drastic precautions,” though the piece wasn’t specific as to what those might be.
 
It’s tempting, of course, to just laugh off the conservative magazine, but the more significant problem is that this same line of thought is being espoused by public officials who have a responsibility to be more responsible. Andrew Kaczynski had this report yesterday:
A Republican senator says he sees the threat of ISIS militants intentionally infecting themselves with the Ebola virus and then traveling to America as a “real and present danger.”
 
“Well, it’s certainly something I’ve been thinking about ever since this Ebola outbreak started,” Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said Wednesday of ISIS using Ebola on America’s Forum on NewsmaxTV.
Specifically, the Republican senator told the far-right outlet, “You really don’t even want to think about. You really don’t even want to talk about, but we should do everything possible to defend ourselves against that possibility because I think that is a real and present danger.”
 
Did I mention that Ron Johnson is a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee? Because he is.
 
In case anyone’s wondering whether the senator’s fears are rooted in fact, let’s set the record straight. Or in this case, let’s have the director of the FBI explain the situation clearly.
Federal officials have no indications that terrorists are seeking to use the Ebola virus as a biologic weapon against the United States, FBI Director James Comey said on Thursday.
 
“No,” Comey replied simply when asked whether there was any credible evidence that foreign terrorists were looking into using the virus to target the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the same thing the day before.
 
Let’s note for context that shortly after the 2012 elections, Ron Johnson complained that Americans just “aren’t properly informed” and “don’t understand the problems facing this nation.”
 
This, of course, is the same far-right senator who believes affordable contraception is easily distributed over the Internet, thinks “sunspot activity” is responsible for global warming, believes the Great Recession ended before President Obama took office; and sees public investment in alternative energy as roughly the same thing as “the Soviet Union.”
 
And now he thinks Ebola-carrying terrorists represent a “real and present danger.”
 
Yes, senator, tell us some more about how awful it is when someone isn’t “properly informed.”
 

Ebola, Ron Johnson and Wisconsin

What Ron Johnson sees as a 'real and present danger'