The Anthrax Questions

 Congress, Crime, Politics, Presidency, Society, War  Comments Off on The Anthrax Questions
Aug 032008
 

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent article up at Salon.com 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.    

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Dec 112007
 

I sincerely hope that no one is falling for this “false flag” (I believe it’s called in intelligence parlance) of the CIA Agent suddenly coming forward to condemn waterboarding as torture, but then saying it saved thousand of lives when used to interrogate Abu Zubaydah. It is just too convenient that this “former” agent, John Kiriakou, suddenly gets permission to come forward and openly discuss this operation on the national news circuit. Does anyone still fall for this shit from this Administration?

Let’s play this all out. First off, Wikipedia defines “False Flag” as, “covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to appear as if they are being carried out by other entities.” These sorts of operations are not unknown to the CIA, and are a standard part of operations within intelligence organizations.

Detainees and defense attorneys are not allowed to see any information related to interrogations, and according to the administration, US Courts can’t see information about interrogations and interrogation techniques even during these bogus detainee hearings at Guantanamo. Kiriakou said things on national TV that could not be discussed at one these detainee tribunals according to the Administration.

Now according to Kiriakou he was only at Zubaydah’s initial interrogation when captured, but the guy was captured while in the process of making a bomb, and had the plans for a school laid out on the same table. How convenient. He provides some detail of the operations that were uncovered during the Zubaydah interrogations, but admits he wasn’t there when Zubaydah caved after only about 35 seconds of being waterboarded…however, the guy couldn’t be broken any other way.

Kiriakou says that he didn’t know about the existence of the tapes until just the day before his appearance, yet he was able to get the appropriate clearances for these appearances from a gigantic bureaucracy in less than 24 hours. While this is the season of miracles, I’m not buying it.

 Mr. Kiriakou is “retired” from the CIA. He looks about 32, so I guess he went to work there at about age 10. Boy, they start them young. You can see part of his ABC interview at Crooks and Liars. Kiriakou is perfect for the job. He’s no longer with the agency…wasn’t there when the waterboarding was actually done…didn’t even take “the training,” but did submit to a little demonstration waterboarding.

The guy is handsome, well spoken, and well rehearsed. On a couple of the interviews, it even appears the questions are as rehearsed as the answers. He offers up the softest of descriptions of waterboarding (nothing like the the one offered by the Military Officer testifying under oath before Congress). Steve Benen at Carpet Bagger Report sums it up well:

As a matter of crass politics, Kiriakou’s assessment seems to offer a little something for everyone. For the right, Kiriakou is saying that torture produced intelligence that saved lives and thwarted possible attacks. For the left, Kiriakou is conceding that the Bush administration authorized and utilized torture (i.e., committed a felony), and he now believes the U.S. should stop using these “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

There is, however, one angle that warrants a closer look: whether torturing Zubaydah actually produced actionable intelligence. The answer is far from clear.

You see, it turns out that some time back it was reported that CIA and FBI agents had determined that Zubaydah, at most a low-level logistics guy arranging for some travel for families, and was most likely certifiably crazy. Ron Suskind reported some time back in the Washington Post:

Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries “in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3″ – a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail “what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said.” Dan Coleman, then the FBI’s top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, “This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality.”

I am just not buying it. This is an attempt to lessen the impact of even more attention to the administration’s illegal activities, and to try to start the dialog as being something that was valuable at the time because it supposedly saved lives, but we shouldn’t be doing it now…so let’s just drop it, and all go back to our respective corners.

Kiriakou says he thinks there should be a national debate about torture. BULLSHIT. There should be no discussion about torture. What has become of the values of this Republic and we as a people when we have to have a debate about torture?