Aug 032008

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent article up at discussing the unresolved issues around the 2001 anthrax incident. As everyone knows Bruce Ivins committed suicide earlier this week as a Grand Jury prepared to indict him in connection with the anthrax incident. Ivins had been a top anthrax researcher at a U.S. Government research facility for 18 years. So seven years after the incident, and after having to pay a settlement to one falsely accused researcher, we’re to believe the government had an airtight case against Ivins witnessed by his apparent suicide.

I’m sorry that the current government has brought me to the point that I can rarely believe the official version of events, but I am not buying that this is the end of the story.

Greenwald makes an excellent point about the importance of the anthrax attacks.

One could make a persuasive case that they were actually more consequential. The 9/11 attacks were obviously traumatic for the country, but in the absence of the anthrax attacks, 9/11 could easily have been perceived as a single, isolated event. It was really the anthrax letters — with the first one sent on September 18, just one week after 9/11 — that severely ratcheted up the fear levels and created the climate that would dominate in this country for the next several years after. It was anthrax — sent directly into the heart of the country’s elite political and media institutions, to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, and other leading media outlets — that created the impression that social order itself was genuinely threatened by Islamic radicalism.

I have to agree with Greenwald that it was the anthrax letters that really cemented the whole idea that we were under siege right in heartland. This pushed it over the top for Americans, and began laying the groundwork for going into Iraq.

There are just way too many coincidences that played out in the wake of these attacks for me to believe that our friend Dick Cheney didn’t have something to do with hammering home the need for us to attack Iraq. I won’t get into a discussion of the official story of the 9/11 attacks here, but you have to remember that New York is viewed by most of America as a unique place. Certainly it would be a target, as would Washington. However, anthrax, sent in the mail, could go just anywhere…millions could be exposed for the cost of small mass mailing. Most Americans, while appalled, disgusted, and saddened to our core by the 9/11 attacks quickly began to feel like it was an isolated attack on high value targets, and most of us don’t live near high value targets. The attacks had to continue, and they had to strike at home.    

Then, let’s look at the targets of the attack. Having the media attacked of course meant immediate and continuing coverage of the incident. The PATRIOT Act was several hundred pages long, and it’s now widely known, was drafted prior to 9/11. It was sent to Congress within a week of 9/11, but Democratic Senate leaders were loathe to rush it to a vote. Well, when their offices got hit, it didn’t take long for them to allow a vote on the PATRIOT Act, and slide to Fascism in America had begun.

Shortly after the attacks, in late October and early November of 2001, Brian Ross and ABC News were widely trumpeting reports from multiple government sources about the makeup of the anthrax that was used. At different times, Ross attributed these claims to “three well-placed but separate sources” and, alternatively, to “at least four well-placed sources.” He reported:

  1. “the anthrax in the tainted letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was laced with bentonite”;
  2. bentonite is “a troubling chemical additive that authorities consider their first significant clue yet”;
  3. “only one country, Iraq, has used bentonite to produce biological weapons”;
  4. bentonite “is a trademark of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons program”; and,
  5. “the anthrax found in a letter to Senator Daschle is nearly identical to samples they recovered in Iraq in 1994” and “the anthrax spores found in the letter to Senator Daschle are almost identical in appearance to those they recovered in Iraq in 1994 when viewed under an electron microscope.”

The only problem with these reports is that they are/were, each one separately, false statements. To this day, ABC News has allowed these statements to stand uncorrected, and Ross has refused to name his sources. Some will claim that reporters must protect their sources, but in this case, the protections fall because Ross was not furnished evidence of wrong-doing, but was clearly furnished false evidence that helped make the case for the run-up to the way with Iraq.

In advance of the anthrax attacks, several reporters, including Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, had been warned of an impending attack, and been told to get Cipro, the most common antidote for anthrax. Cohen writes in this article in Slate:

The attacks were not entirely unexpected. I had been told soon after Sept. 11 to secure Cipro, the antidote to anthrax. The tip had come in a roundabout way from a high government official, and I immediately acted on it. I was carrying Cipro way before most people had ever heard of it.

So how was it that high government officials were so concerned of an impending attack? Why was everyone working in the White House already taking Cipro? (As an aside, The major beneficiaries of this incident were Bayer and it’s owners. Bayer was near bankruptcy at the time, yet posted it’s largest profit in history shortly thereafter. Why? Because Bayer has the only US government contract to produce Cipro. The fact that the Bush family is a majority owner in the corporation of which Bayer is a subsidiary is purely a coincidence, right?)

Now let’s get back to Ivins. The guy worked in one of the most secure government facilities for 18 years. He had to undergo an extensive background check, which included a psychological review. He obviously passed, as he worked there for EIGHTEEN YEARS, and his work was considered excellent. Suddenly, we’re hearing that he was a mental case. So disturbed his psychiatrist had to get a restraining order?

Ivins was also a devout Catholic. Certainly Catholics do commit suicide, but it cannot be a decision made lightly by devout adherents. But his apparent suicide now officially ends the investigation, and the government suddenly doesn’t have to put on a case against the guy. After the Hatfil settlement, does anyone have any confidence in the DOJ’s ability to effectively this case?

This suicide leaves a lot of loose ends, but evidence seems to indicate that, in this case, it’s in the government’s best interest to not have to tie up all the strings. Consider me part of the tin-foil hat crowd if you must, but as I noted earlier, there are just too many coincidences for me to buy the government’s official story.

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