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Going to the Mattress

The enemy is stealthy and bloodthirsty. It attacks innocent victims without warning, while they sleep.

Fortunately, the federal government is on the case. In a hotel ballroom in Crystal City yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency convened the first-ever National Bed Bug Summit -- a veritable Yalta Conference for the species Cimex lectularius. With help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and even the Pentagon, the EPA assembled scientists, state and local officials, and a colony of exterminators to buzz about such topics as "Bed Bug Perspectives," "Bed Bug Basics" and "Government Responses to Bed Bugs."

"These insects can have a life-altering impact," warned panelist Richard Cooper of Cooper Pest Solutions.

"They are showing up in some of the finest hotels," contributed Saul Hernandez, an aide to the congressman who introduced H.R. 6068, "The Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite Act of 2008."

All this for an insect the size of an apple seed that has a painless bite and is not known to spread disease?

Read the whole Sketch

By Dana Milbank  | April 15, 2009; 12:00 AM ET
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