Yes, terrorism is a big issue. But, not because it will be published to the public first. No, what they were referring to were publishing it to other scientific communities. And yes, even with such action, the possibility of this documents falling in the wrong hands is still present, especially if a scientist is bribed or threatened to hand over the entire procedure and data of the report.
This research is in the hands of the institution conducting the research, and the government has no say in it, yet the government did try to persuade the research group to leave out the procedure, and any other vital information that could be used for purposes for malice.
We don't know the mortality statistics of this virus, so don't imagine it to be some sort of pandemic plaque that will wipe humans out.
As Microbiologist Vincent Racaniello points out:
"I think there is no reason to assume that this virus will transmit among humans based on the ferret experiments. Ferrets have been shown to be wrong over and over. The 2009 swine-origin virus, when it first emerged, was put into ferrets. It was highly lethal and deadly. Everyone warned that this would be a bad virus. It turned out to be milder than we think. So I think that that's not a good argument to use if we are really worried about H5N1 spreading. And I think it's been around a long enough time, it's infected enough people to be able to acquire that capability. If we're really worried, we should stockpile antivirals, which are known to inhibit viral replication and perhaps even a vaccine."
Here's another study conducted in Wisconsin, that is already published:
More than one way to make airborne H5N1
"The other H5N1 study, conducted by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a professor of virology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was published in the journal Nature in May.
Kawaoka's team took a different approach to the same end. They made an airborne version of the virus by introducing four mutations into its hemagglutinin protein (represented by the H in H5N1) and using that to create a hybrid with the pandemic "swine flu" virus, H1N1. Ferrets infected by airborne droplets carrying the virus did not die in this experiment, either.
Preliminary word of these research projects stoked fear that details on how to create these altered H5N1 viruses could fall into the hands of terrorists or inept laboratories, resulting in the release of a deadly virus that could spread around the globe.
At a conference in February, scientists and public health officials decided the studies should be published in full after a delay and a moratorium on this and related research to allow time to educate the public and alleviate anxieties. At the end of March, NSABB reviewed revised versions of both papers, and a majority of members recommended that Kawaoka's study be published as it was, but recommended further revision for Fouchier's manuscript.
Ultimately, the details on the methods or results of this study were not changed, Fouchier said. Instead, in agreement with NSABB advice, Fouchier and colleagues added text to better explain the goals, benefits to public health, biosafety oversight and other details, he said in a statement."