Leathers said, 'We were indirectly concerned in the fringes of the subject during the war. But in the end neither side used it. Around 1944 the Americans had a plan for destroying the whole of the Japanese rice crop by the use of aerial sprays. But, as I recall, Roosevelt vetoed the idea.'
'Right,' said Franklin. 'Dead right. But the subject is still very much alive. And very much so in my Ministry. We happen to be the most highly agriculturalized country in the world. We had to make ourselves so during the war to keep ourselves from starvation. So, in theory, we would be an ideal target for an attack of this kind.' He slowly brought his hands down on the table for emphasis. 'I don't think it would be too much to say, gentlemen, that if such an attack could be launched, and it can only be countered by slaughtering the poultry and animals and burning the crops, we would be a bankrupt country within a matter of months. We would literally be down on our knees, begging for bread!'
'Never thought of that,' said M reflectively, 'but it seems to make sense.'
'Now this,' continued Franklin, holding up the pamphlet, 'is the latest thinking on the subject by our friends in America. It also covers Chemical and Radiological Warfare, but we're not concerned with those - CW, BW, and RW they call them. It's a United States Senate paper, Number 58991, dated August 29th, 1960, prepared by “The Subcommittee on Disarmament of the Committee on Foreign Relations”. My Ministry goes along with the general findings on BW, with the reservation that America is a vast country and we are a very small and tightly-packed one. BW would hit us a thousand times harder than it would hit the States. May I read you a few extracts?'
M positively loathed the problems of other Ministries. In the end, on the Intelligence side, they all ended up on his plate. Bond, amused, watched him summon an expression of polite interest.' Go ahead, Mr Franklin.'
Something Called 'BW'
FRANKLIN BEGAN reading in an even, expository tone of voice, frequently stopping to explain a point or when he skipped irrelevant passages.
'This section,' he said, 'is headed “Biological Warfare Weapons and Defense”. This is how it goes on:
'"Biological Warfare,' he read, 'is often referred to as bacteriological, bacterial, or germ warfare but it is preferred over those terms because it includes all micro-organisms, insects and other pests, and toxic products of plant and animal life. The Army lists five groups of BW agents, including certain chemical compounds used to inhibit or destroy plant growth:
Micro-organisms (bacteria, viruses, rickettsiae, fungi, protozoa).
Toxins (microbial, animal, plant).
Vectors of disease (arthropods (insects and acarids), birds and animals).
Pests (of animals and crops).
Chemical anti-crop compounds (plant-growth inhibitors, herbicides, defoliants).
'“Biological Warfare agents, like Chemical Warfare agents, vary in lethality, making it possible to select an agent best suited to accomplish the objective desired, whether it be temporary incapacity with little after-effects or serious illness and many deaths. There are some important differences between BW and CW other than their scientific classifications. BW agents have an incubation period of days, sometimes weeks' - (Franklin looked up. 'See what I mean about Olympia?') - 'which produces a lag in their action while CW weapons usually bring reactions within a few seconds to a few hours. CW agents are easier to detect than BW agents, and identification of the latter could often be too late to permit effective counter-measures.' (Franklin again looked significantly at his audience) '... BW agents theoretically are more dangerous, weight for weight, than CW agents, though this advantage may be cancelled because of loss of virulence by BW agents under exposure.”'
Franklin paused. His finger went down the page. “Then it goes on to talk about anti-personnel BW agents like anthrax, typhus, smallpox, botulism, and so on. Yes' - his finger stopped - 'here we are. ”Anti-animal BW agents which might be used to incapacitate or destroy domestic animals are:
Bacteria: Anthrax, three closely related species of brucella, and glanders.
Viruses: Foot-and-mouth disease, rinderpest, Rift Valley fever, vesicular stomatitis, vesicular exanthema, hog cholera, African swine fever, fowl plague, Newcastle disease, and equine encephalomyelitis."'
Franklin looked up apologetically. ' Sorry about all this jaw-breaking stuff, but there's not much more of it. Then it goes on to “Anti-crop BW agents”, which they say would be used as economic weapons, as I personally think is the case with the Blofeld scheme, and they mention a whole list including potato blight, cereal stem disease, crown rust of oats, curly top disease of sugar beets, block rot of crucifers and potato ring rot, and insects such as the Colorado beetle and something called “the Giant African Land-snail”, which I somehow don't think we need worry about. Then they talk about “chemical anti-crop agents”, but I don't think we need worry about those either as they'd have to be sprayed from an aeroplane, though, for what it's worth, they're damned lethal. Now, this is more to the point.' Franklin's finger halted on the page. '“The nature of BW agents makes them very adaptable for covert or undercover operations. The fact that these agents are so concentrated, cannot be detected by physical senses, and have a delayed casualty effect, would enable an operator quietly to introduce effective amounts into building ventilation systems, food and water supplies, and other places where they would be spread rapidly through contact with a heavily concentrated population.'” Franklin paused. 'And that means us. You see what I mean about livestock shows and so on? After the show, the virus gets carried off all over the country by the exhibits.' He went back to his pamphlet. 'And here it goes on, “A significant factor is that the possible area of effective coverage is generally greater with BW than with CW agents. Tests have been made which show that coverage measured in the thousands of square miles is quite feasible with biological agents.”' Franklin tapped the paper in front of him. 'How about that, gentlemen? We talk about the new poison gases, the nerve gases the Germans invented in the war. We march and counter-march about radiation and the atom bomb. “Thousands of square miles” it says here. A Committee of the United States Senate says it. How many thousands of square miles are there in the United Kingdom and Eire, gentlemen?' The eyes, urgent and holding humour no longer, looked almost scornfully into the faces of these three, top officers of the Secret Service. Til tell you. There are only something over one hundred thousand square miles of this little atoll of ours, including the little atoll of all Ireland.' His eyes retained their fire. 'And let me just give you a last quote and then perhaps' - the eyes regained some of their humour - 'you'll realize why I'm getting so steamed up on this Day of Goodwill to all Men. Look here, what it says under “Defensive Measures”. It says, “Defense against BW warfare is greatly complicated by the difficulties involved in detection of BW agents, a situation which is almost unique as to these weapons.'” (Franklin looked up and now he smiled.' Bad English. Perhaps we might improve on “ as to ”.) “They cannot be detected by sight, smell, or any other physical sense. So far no means have been devised for their quick detection and identification.”'
Franklin threw the pamphlet on to the desk. Suddenly he gave a big, embracing smile. He reached for his little polished pipe and began filling it. 'All right, gentlemen. The prosecution rests.'
Franklin had had his day, a Christmas he would never forget.
M said, 'Thank you, Mr Franklin. Am I right in thinking that you conclude that this man Blofeld is mounting Biological Warfare against this country?'
'Yes.' Franklin was definite. 'I am.'
'And how do you work that out? It seems to me he's doing exactly the opposite - or rather it would if I didn't know something about the man. Anyway, what are your deductions?'
Franklin reached over and pointed to the red cross he had made over East Anglia. 'That was my first clue. The girl, Polly Tasker, who left this Gloria place over a month ago, came from somewhere round here where you'll see from the symbols that there's the greatest concentration of turkey farmers. She suffered from an allergy against turkeys. She came back inspired to improve the breed. Within a week of her return, we have the biggest outbreak of fowl pest affecting turkeys in the history of England.'
Leathers suddenly slapped his thigh. 'By God, I think you've got it, Franklin! Go on!'
'Now' - Franklin turned to Bond - 'when this officer took a look into the laboratory up there he saw rack upon rack of test-tubes containing what he describes as “a cloudy liquid”. How would it be if those were viruses, Fowl Pest, anthrax, God knows what all? The report mentions that the laboratory was lit with a dim red light. That would be correct. Virus cultures suffer from exposure to bright light. And how would it be if before this Polly girl left she was given an aerosol spray of the right stuff and told that this was some kind of turkey elixir - a tonic to make them grow fatter and healthier. Remember that stuff about “improving the breed” in the hypnosis talk? And suppose she was told to go to Olympia for the Show, perhaps even take a job for the meeting as a cleaner or something, and just casually spray this aerosol here and there among the prize birds. It wouldn't be bigger than one of those shaving-soap bombs. That'd be, quite enough. She'd been told to keep it secret, that it was patent stuff. Perhaps even that she'd be given shares hi the company if the tonic proved the success this man Blofeld claimed it would. It'd be quite easy to do. She'd just wander round the cages - perhaps she was even given a special purse to carry the thing in - lean up against the wire and psst! the job would be done. Easy as falling off a log. All right, if you'll go along with me so far, she was probably told to do the job on one of the last two days of the show, so that the effects wouldn't be seen too soon. Then, at the end of the show, all the prize birds are dispersed back to their owners all over England. And that's that! And' - he paused -'mark you, that was that. Three million birds dead and still dying all over the place, and a great chunk of foreign currency coughed up by the Treasury to replace them.5
Leathers, his face red with excitement, butted in. He swept his hand over the map. 'And the other girls! All from the danger spots. All from the areas of greatest concentration. Local shows taking place all the time - cattle, poultry, even potatoes - Colorado beetle for that crop, I suppose, Swine Fever for the pigs. Golly!' There was reverence in Leathers's voice. 'And it's so damned simple! All you'd need would be to keep the viruses at the right temperature for a while. They'd be instructed in that, the little darlings. And all the time they'd be sure they were being saints! Marvellous. I really must hand it to the man.'
M's face was thunderous with the fury of his indecision. He turned to Bond. He barked, 'What do you think?'
I'm afraid it fits, sir. The whole way along the line. We know the man. It fits him too. Right up his street. And it doesn't even matter who's paying him. He can pay himself, make a fortune. All he has to do is go a bear of sterling or Gilt-Edged. If Mr Franklin's right, and that Senate paper's pretty solid backing for him, our currency'll literally go through the floor - and the country with it.'
M got to his feet. He said, 'All right, gentlemen. Mr Franklin, will you tell your Minister what you've heard? It'll be up to him to tell the PM and the Cabinet as he thinks fit. I'll get on with the preventive measures, first of all through Sir Ronald Vallance of the CID. We must pick up this Polly woman and get the others as they come into the country. They'll be gently treated. It's not their fault.