Post of December 16, 2001:
Finally a leading
Democrat has mentioned the elephant in the livingroom. On December
8th Majority Leader Senator Tom Daschle said he believes
it is a good bet that those letters laden with deadly anthrax spores
were sent to him and Senator Leahy by someone "with military experience."
By this time Ashcroft and Ridge had conceded that it was probably
a domestic terrorist and not one of bin Laden's guys. Senator Daschle
could have added (but it would have been most unwise politically
to have done so) that, given the influential positions of the two
Democratic recipients, the sender was most likely a right-wing Republican.
that Attorney General Ashcroft has been so slow in sending his FBI
to interview past and present military with experience in biological
warfare and also past and present workers in microbiology labs.
(He's had no problem doing a fishing expedition with immigrants
from Middle Eastern countries, and that's a far less specific criterion.)
But as Clayton
Lee Waagner, the confessed "anthrax" hoaxer who sent threatening
letters containing a white powder to 550 abortion clinics in the
last two months, said of Ashcroft, "I understand he's anti-abortion
also. He's a good man."
The whole anthrax
scare that was so hyped in October by the networks revealed an interesting
class consciousness in this administration. Immediately after anthrax
was discovered in the Daschle letter on October 15th
the area was quarantined, hundreds of people on Capitol Hill were
tested, and at least 50 people put on a prophylactic dosage of Cipro
for 60 days. The House of Representatives, with no known
exposure, closed down for business on the 17th.
Only a week
later, after two postal workers died
of inhalation anthrax on the October 22, did authorities turn
their attention to the postal service that had handled and delivered
the letter. The thousands of postal workers who went to the District
of Columbia General Hospital for anthrax testing on October 23rd
were told that testing was not necessary and handed a ten days'
supply of Cipro (this despite the warnings on TV that people
should not take the antibiotic if they had not been exposed.)
With only five
deaths so far, it is obvious that anthrax, at least in the current
delivery system, is a dud as a bioterrorism weapon of mass destruction
(familiarly known on Capitol Hill as a WMD.) Where it is useful,
of course, is in creating panic and, as in this case, providing
a climate wherein legislation curtailing civil liberties can be
passed. Since only Russia and the US have the capability of producing
anthrax in the Daschle-Leahy form, the conspiracy theorists have
been pointing their collective fingers at the CIA and/or military
Now a Washington
Post news story of
December 16, 2001 reveals that the anthrax
spores mailed to Capitol Hill have the identical genetic fingerprints
as the anthrax stocks maintained by the US Army at Fort Detrick,
Maryland since 1980. Only four other labs have samples from the
Fort Detrick stock: Dugway Proving Ground, a military research facility
in Utah which has processed anthrax spores into the easily-inhaled
powdery form; Lousiana State University, Northern Arizona University,
and the Porton Down military lab in Britain.The spores used in the
Daschle-Leahy letters had to have come from one of these five places.
Now that should help narrow your search, Mr. Ashcroft.
labs (including the CIA which has also been experimenting with anthrax
spores) were using the samples in an effort to develop vaccines
against anthrax. But suspicious minds recall that the US has refused
to sign on to the bioterrorism treaty as long as the treaty mandates
international inspection of laboratories working with materials
that could be used in bioterrorism.
February 19, 2002
the FBI has had a major suspect since October. Barbara Hatch
Rosenberg, the director of the Chemical and Biological Weapons program
of the Federation of American Scientists, said the suspect is a
former government scientist. "We know that the FBI is
looking at this person, and it's likely that he participated in
the past in secret activiies that the government would not like
to see disclosed. And this raises the question of whether the FBI
may be dragging its feet somewhat and may not be so anxious to bring
to public light the person who did this.... I know that there are
insiders, working for the government, who know this person and who
are worried that it could happen that some kind of quiet deal is
made that he just disappears from view." In answer to a question
she further said, "The results of the anayses (of the letters
and the anthrax in them) show that access to classified information
was essential. And that rules out most of the people in the pharmaceutical
industry.... We can draw a likely portrait of the perpetrator as
a former Fort Detrick scientist who is now working for a contractor
in the Washington, D.C. area. He had reason for travel to Florida,
New Jersey and the United Kingdom..... There is also the likelihood
the perpetrator made the anthrax himself. He grew it, probably on
a solid medium and weaponized it at a private location where he
had accumulated the equipment and the material.... The FBI has questioned
this person more than once." Joseph Dee,
Times of Trenton, New Jersey Online, 02/19/02--- www.nj.com/mercer/times/index.ssf?/mercer/times/02-19-IZAR1IUB.html
March 18, 2002 update:
Dr. Rosenberg further describes her candidate for the
anthrax mailings in an article in The
New Yorker. He is "a middle-aged man who had worked
at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
(USAMRIID), at Fort Detrick, Maryland, and who was familiar with
the method of weaponizing anthrax devised by William Patrick III,
the longtime head of bioweapons research at Fort Detrick. The perpetrator
now works for a Washington-area subcontractor to the U.S. biological
weapons program." Assessing him as "not a normal person,"
but someone with a "pattern of erratic behavior," she
believes he may have had some sort of a setback to his career and
decided to seek revenge with the anthax letters not only to demonstrate
how good he is (and therefore misjudged by his superiors) but, also
to motivate the government to spend more money in bioweapons research.
The anthrax, she believes, was prepared in the summer of 2001. With
the September 11th attacks he had the opportunity to throw suspicion
on the Muslims with an anonymous letter to the police casting suspicion
on a former colleague from Fort Detrick who had been born in Egypt,
Ayaad Assaad, and with Muslim slog ans included in some of the letters.
Nicholas Lemann, "The Anthrax Culprit," The New Yorker,
March 18, 2002.
July 2, 2002 update:
in a most explicit New
York Times op-ed, questions why the FBI has refused "to
arrest or seriously investigate the most obvious suspect" in
last Fall's anthrax-laced letters. He suggests that the suspect
will "strike again or, more likely,... flee to Iran or North
Korea." His Mr. Z. fits Dr. Rosenberg's description with these
added specifics: The FBI has searched his home twice and interviewed
him four times. Some of his polygraphs "show evasion."
Kristof has discovered at least one alias for the man and says he
continues to travel abroad on government assignments including to
Central Asia and has "close ties" to the CIA and the US
Defense Department. Kristof asks the FBI: "Have you searched
the isolated residence that he had access to last fall? The FBI
has known about this building, and knows that Mr. Z. gave Cipro
to people who visited it. This property and many others are legally
registered in the name of a friend of Mr. Z., but may be safe houses
operated by American intelligence."
Mr. Z. has claimed to
have fought with the white Rhodesian Army against the black guerrillas
in the late '70s. Kristof asks if Mr. Z. had any connection with
the cutaneous anthrax epidemic of 1978-80 that sickened 10,000 black
farmers in what is now Zimbabwe. This was the world's largest anthrax
outbreak and is believed to have been spread by the Rhodesian Army----
an operation modeled, perhaps, on the smallpox-infected blankets
given by the US Army to Native Americans in the nineteenth century?
Mr. Z. was also involved with the former South African Defense Force.
Kristof wonders, as do I, why would the US Defense Department employ
a man who has served in the armed forces of two white-racist regimes
and then give him access to some of the world's deadliest organisms?
His top security clearance was suspended in August, 2001---- before
9-11 or the anthrax letters. Why?
However, under our system
of law, at least until recently, a person is innocent until proven
otherwise. Since Dr. Z. is widely regarded in his community as the
prime suspect and is said to be suffering from the suspicions, it
would seem only decent to thoroughly investigate the man and then
either arrest him or exculpate him and apologize. We don't need
another Dr. Wen Ho Lee. "Anthrax? The FBI
Yawns," New York Times, July 2, 2002; wsws.org, July
3, 2002; George Monbiot, "Riddle of the spores-- Why has the
FBI investigation into the anthrax attacks stalled? The evidence
points one way," Guardian( UK), May 21, 2002.
July 11, 2002 update:
According to Dr. Patricia Doyle's article, "On
the Trail of the Anthrax Attack Conspirators," a Dr. Steven
Hatfill fits the bill for "Dr. Z." She describes a highly
classified risk assessment of sending anthrax through the mail in
1999. In that experiment business-size envelopes were filled with
2.5 grams of an anthrax simulant, b. globigii, taped closed
and handled in the lab with no resulting contamination. (The anthrax
letters sent to Daschle and Leahy contained a similar amount of
material and were sealed in the same fashion.) However, in the risk
assessment experiment, the envelopes were not subjected to the high
speed sorting machines of the Postal Service which can puncture
The list of people who
knew about this risk assessment was very small. It was commissioned
by Steven Hatfill and carried out by William Patrick III, the scientist
who developed and patented the method for aerolizing, or weaponizing,
Doyle posits a "cabal"
of conspirators who wanted a bioevent "to scare the Congress
and public into accepting major public health changes as well as
major funding," but who never intended to kill people or contaminate
facilities. Those new public health laws "would virtually subvert
the US Constitution" in the creation of concentration camps
for those people allegedly exposed to an epidemic disease. She believes
the anthrax in the letters was milled by at least two different
article she includes Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Ken Alibek
and "certain highly placed CIA agents" as part of the
Hatfill-Patrick cabal. Ken Alibek is the new name of Kanatjan Alibekov,
the former Number Two man in the Soviet biochemical warfare program
until his arrival in the US in 1992. Alibek's company, Hadron Advanced
Biosystems, Inc., was one of several companies that reaped large
profits from the anthrax scare. (His former boss in the USSR, Dr.
Vladimir Pasechnik, died in England in late November, 2001, one
of the dozen or so microbiologists and immunologists to be murdered
or die mysteriously in the weeks following the anthrax letters.)
Dr. Doyle supplies some
more items for Dr. Hatfill's resume: He went to medical school in
Rhodesia, he worked concurrently for the US Army Institute for Military
Assistance at Fort Bragg NC and for the Rhodesian Special Air Squadron
in the early '80s. After 1984 he worked for the white South African
government including a year of duty in Antarctica. In 1995 he went
to work for the US National Institute of Health. In 1997-1999 he
worked at his "dream job" at USAMRIID (US Army Medical
Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.) From 1997 on he was
a very public agitator for more funding for bio-terrorism preparedness
and received additional media attention in 1997 after the anthrax
hoax package (containing b. cereus) was sent to B'nai B'rith.
After his unexpected departure from USAMRIID, he went to work for
SAIC (Scientific Applications International Corporation) while maintaining
privileges and clearances at USAMRIID, Dugway and Edgewood labs.
The Baltimore Sun reported that in August, 2000 he had been
observed leaving USAMRIID with two biosafety cabinets. In March,
2002 his security clearances were revoked and he left SAIC. Doyle,
"On the Trail of the Anthrax Attack Conspirators," www.rense.com/general26/hoton.htm
(July 7, 2002); Doyle, "Battelle, Alibek and Anthrax,"
www.rense.com/general24/ere.htm (May 8, 2002); Leonard Horowitz,
"Could the Anthrax Mailings be Military-Industrial Espionage?"
www.thestolenelection.com, July 11, 2002
July 14 update: Nicholas Kristof suggests
that the FBI really should re-examine that package that was sent
to B'nai B'rith on April 24, 1997. It had been identified as containing
"anthracks" which is reminiscent of the misspelling of
"penacillin" in the 2001 letters. (Anyone competent to
manufacture anthrax is surely capable of correctly spelling these
Kristof's Mr. Z. frequently
invokes the B'nai B'rith mailing to demonstrate the bioterrorism
danger. At the time of the mailing he was in Washington bemoaning
the fact that he had not been invited to a terrorism conference
taking place there.
Kristof is concerned
that the FBI has not re-investigated either the B'nai B'rith episode
nor the February, 1999 letters containing powder anthrax that were
mailed to government and media targets including the Washington
Post, NBC in Atlanta, a Georgia post office adjacent to Fort
Benning and the Old Executive Office Building in the capitol. These
letters contained powder anthrax at a time when most workers were
still working with wet anthrax. (Dr. Z.'s 1999 resumé claims
proficiency with both kinds.) The language patterns, the capitalization
and the warnings to the recipients are very much like that of the
2001 letters. And isn't there a good possibility that DNA could
be recovered from the stamps?
"The Anthrax Files," New York Times, July 12,
July 19 update:
Nicholas D. Kristof, the anthrax watchdog at the New York Times
(and bully for you, N.K.!) says this
bad enough that we can't find Iraqi anthrax hidden in the desert.
But it turns out that we also misplaced anthrax and Ebola kept in
a lab outside Washington, D.C. [Also hantavirus and SIV, the
simian version of HIV.]
Army documents about the U.S. biodefense program describe missing
Ebola and other pathogens, vicious feuds, lax security, cover-ups
and a "cowboy culture" beyond anyone's scrutiny. Moreover,
germ warriors in the C.I.A. and the Defense Department decided
without bothering to consult the White House to produce anthrax
secretly and tinker with it in ways that arguably put the U.S. in
violation of the Biological Weapons Convention.
It's time for Congress
or an outside commission to investigate our nation's biodefense
program and establish oversight.
He's talking about USAMRIID
at Fort Detrick, Maryland and information contained in the 400 pages
of internal documents which he has obtained. There were incidents
in 1992 when someone was working secretly with anthrax at night
and on weekends. Attempts were made to roll back the counter on
an electron microscope to conceal work with anthrax.
He further notes that
anthrax spores were found in a hallway and administrative area of
USAMRIID shortly after the visit of Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA).
"Anthrax spores seem to have it in for Democratic senators."
"Case of the Missing Anthrax," New York Times, July 19,