[back] Anthrax scare
GOVERNMENT BY ANTHRAX ?
by Richard J. Ochs
CONSIDER THESE “COINCIDENCES”
Coup d’etat – a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics by a small group.
Cabal – a number of persons secretly united to bring about an overturn or usurpation, esp. in public affairs (Websters).
Who spread the anthrax last October and why? Well, who has that strain of anthrax and who has a motive? Most commentators and the FBI agree that only a select group of Americans have easy access to the Ames strain of anthrax used in the letters mailed last October. But why would any of them want to kill and terrorize Americans? The clue is in the timing. A chronology of events suggests that the motivation was to boost passage of controversial legislation in Congress last October, called the USA Patriot Act. A number of unlikely “coincidences” associated with the anthrax attacks makes it hard to believe that they were random.CONSIDER THESE “COINCIDENCES”
· The anthrax attacks were concurrent with the debate of Bush’s Patriot Act by Congress and the media.
· The Senators who received anthrax letters were trying to amend the Patriot Act to protect civil liberties and the innocent.
· Two Senate democratic leaders received anthrax letters mailed the same day that Senator Feingold blocked an attempt to rush the bill through without discussion or amendments.
And on that very same day, the FBI told the Iowa state lab to
destroy the original batch of the Ames strain, making tracing the
anthrax type more difficult.
· Senator Leahy received an anthrax threat after he expressed reservations about the Bill. As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, he managed the debate on the Bill.
· Senate Majority Leader Daschle received the first Senate anthrax letter as he led the opposition to the original version of the Bill.
· After receiving the anthrax letter, Daschle switched from supporting a 2 year limit on the Bill, later defending a 4-year sunset clause as the “appropriate balance.”
· No Republican received an anthrax letter.
· The House and Senate buildings were closed and not reopened until after the Patriot Act was passed.
· The Supreme Court was shut down with an anthrax scare the day after the constitutionally-challenged Patriot Act was signed by President Bush.
· All the contaminated letters contained the Ames strain of anthrax, the DNA of which is traced to the original batch preserved in a university lab in Ames, Iowa. This strain was “weaponized” in Utah into a potent powder with an elaborate secret technique developed at Fort Detrick, Md.
· The FBI failed to interview Ft. Detrick anthrax experts for two months into their investigation, doing it only after the experts complained to the press of gross incompetence on the part of the FBI.
· The FBI overruled local homicide detectives who think that an anthrax expert was murdered, possibly because he knew too much.A CURIOUS FLOW OF EVENTS
The following is a merger of “A Chronology of Anthrax Events,” published by the South Florida Sun-sentinel, and the simultaneous proceedings of the Patriot Bill in Congress as reported in the local press.
Sept.16 -- Anti-terrorism bill proposed.
Sept.18 – Two letters containing Ames anthrax are postmarked in Trenton, N.J., addressed to Tom Brokaw of NBC Nightly News and the New York Post.
Sept.28 – Boy visiting ABC network in New York contracts anthrax.
Oct.2 – USA Patriot Act anti-terrorism bill is introduced in Congress.
Oct.3 – Tabloid editor of Boca Raton Sun, Florida, hospitalized with anthrax and dies two days later.
Oct. 3 – Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (Dem., S.D.) says he doubts the Senate could take up the anti-terrorist legislation before next week, as the administration had asked. Attorney General John A. Ashcroft accuses Senate Democrats of dragging their feet.
Oct. 4 – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (Dem., Vt.) accuses the administration of reneging on an agreement on the anti-terrorist bill. Some warn that “lawmakers are were overlooking constitutional flaws in their rush to meet the administration’s timetable.”
Oct. 6 – Under the headline, “Glow of bipartisanship seems to dim,” the Baltimore Sun reports: “…opposed by most Senate Democrats, Ashcroft complained about the rather slow pace…over his request for law enforcement powers…Hard feelings remain.”
Oct. 8 – Under the headline, “Cracks in Bipartisanship Start to Show,” The Washington Post reports, “Congress has lost some of the shock-induced unity with which it first responded to the [9/11] attacks.”
Oct.9 – Senator Feingold blocks an attempt to rush the Patriot Act to a vote with little debate and no opportunity for amendments. Feingold criticizes the Bill as a threat to liberty.
Oct.9 – Identical anthraxed letters are postmarked in Trenton, N.J., with lethal doses to Senators Daschle and Leahy.
Oct. 10 & 11 – The original batch of the Ames strain of anthrax is destroyed with the permission of the FBI, making tracing the anthrax type more difficult.
Oct.11 – First Senate version of the Bill passes.
Oct.12 – First House version of the Bill passes.
Oct.12 – House-Senate debate on Bill starts.
Oct.12 – Second anthrax case reported at NBC in NYC.
Oct.13 – Baltimore Sun reports that the media may have been targeted for a “coordinated bioterrorism” attack.
Oct.13 – President Bush says: “The anthrax attacks might be tied to Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaida terrorist network.”
Oct.15 – Tom Brokaw of NBC opens anthraxed letter containing Islamic threats and phrases.
Oct.15 – Senator Daschle’s office opens the letter mailed Oct.9, containing a lethal dose of anthrax. Senator Leahy’s similar letter was misrouted to Virginia.
Oct.16 – The Senate office buildings shut down.
Oct.17 – House of Representatives shut down; 28 congressional staffers test positive for anthrax.
Oct.17 – The New York and Florida letters are found to contain the Ames strain.
Oct.18 – An assistant of CBS Dan Rather contracts anthrax.
Oct.21 – Letters to N.Y.Post, NBC and Senator Daschle are found to have identical handwriting of “Death to America, Death to Israel, Allah is Great.”
Oct. 24 – House passes the final version of the Patriot Act and other previously unpopular Bush projects: Alaska oil drilling, $25 billion in tax cuts for corporations, taps into Social Security funds and cuts in education.
Oct.25 – Congressional mail halted. Senator Daschle switched from supporting a 2 year limit on the Patriot Act to defending a 4 year sunset clause as the “appropriate balance.”
Oct.26 – Senate passes the final version Patriot Act.
Oct.26 – President Bush signs the constitutionally questionable USA Patriot Act.
Oct.27 – Supreme Court shut down with anthrax scare.
November -- No more anthrax letters received by anyone.
November – Congressional buildings reopened.
November – Three top anthrax experts with knowledge of the U.S. bioweapons program died under suspicious circumstances within a ten day period.CONGRESS TERRORIZED
The atmosphere of terror in Congress was expressed by Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio: “. . . a state of siege trap[s] us in a state of fear, ill equipped to deal with the patriot games, the mind games, the war games. . .” He lamented the physical and psychological disruption and disorientation of lawmakers at a time when calm objectivity was required for wise decisions. No doubt, the terrorized senators accepted an anti-terrorism bill more threatening to the rights and wellbeing of citizens than they otherwise would have. They granted more power to the President than they otherwise would have.
New York Times commentator William Safire wrote under the heading, “Seizing Dictatorial Power,” that “Bush admits to dismissing the principles of law and the rules of evidence that undergird America’s system of justice.”
The anthrax letters to the media can be considered peripheral to political targets. They guaranteed publicity and heightened general hysteria. Janette Rainwater, Ph.D., wrote that anthrax threats are useful “in creating panic and, in this case, providing a climate wherein legislation curtailing civil liberties can be passed.”
The anthrax scare at the Supreme Court likewise put a chill on their mission to defend civil liberties. Whether the anthrax is believed to have come from foreigners or Americans, the threats resulted in the granting of more power to the Executive Branch by the Legislative and Judicial Branches, seriously damaging “checks and balances.”FBI COMPROMISED?
The FBI’s performance since the anthrax attacks has indicated either gross incompetence, conspiracy or cover up. The FBI allowed the Iowa state lab to destroy the original batch of the Ames strain on Oct.10 and 11, making tracing the anthrax to its origins impossible. The Bureau was criticized by Congress for not securing critical material evidence in one of the most frightening attacks on public health this country has ever seen. Moreover, the Baltimore Sun reported on Dec.9: “Two months after the FBI mobilized hundreds of agents to investigate the anthrax attacks, the bureau still has not interviewed the only Americans with experience producing anthrax for use as a weapon: aging veterans of the U.S. biological warfare program based at Fort Detrick.”
According to Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), “The source of the mailed anthrax, or the information and materials to make it, is a U.S. government program.” The Baltimore Sun reported on Dec.9, 2001, that “Organisms made at a military lab in Utah are genetically identical to those mailed to members of Congress.” On February 5, Rosenberg wrote in the FAS webpage: “For more than 3 months now, the FBI has known that the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks is American.”
BBC News reported on March 14 that “Dr. Rosenberg, an acknowledged authority on U.S. bio-defense, claimed that the FBI is dragging its feet because an arrest would be embarrassing to the U.S. authorities.” The BBC asked, “Has the FBI found the whole case too hot to handle?”
During a lecture at Princeton University on Feb.18, Rosenberg claimed that the FBI has a prime suspect. She called on the public and news media to keep up the pressure on the FBI., saying some of her sources, who she described as “government insiders,” have confided fear that the FBI might attempt to deal with the suspect discreetly, out of the glare of public scrutiny. She wrote on Feb.5: “The perpetrator is cocksure that he can get away with it. Does he know something that he believes to be sufficiently damaging to the United States to make him untouchable by the FBI?”
Stanford biologist Steven Block, a leading expert on biological weapons, said revealing the identity of the culprit(s) may also reveal “that the U.S. may be violating” the international treaty outlawing the development of biological and chemical weaponry. The U.S. still refuses to ratify the international treaty for bioweapons facility inspections.
A leading anthrax expert, Dr. Don C. Wiley, who may have been in a position to know of such a cover-up, died under suspicious circumstances a month after the attacks began. According to Memphis police officials, the bridge which Dr. Wiley fell off on November 15, 2001, had a railing “high enough that even the 6’3” Wiley could not have accidentally fallen over without assistance.” The local police suspicion of homicide was overruled by the FBI “and other U.S. agencies,” who insisted it was a suicide.
Would a U.S. agency kill a non-cooperator? According to former South African National Intelligence Agency deputy director Michael Kennedy, when another top bioweapons expert Dr. Wouter Basson refused a job offer, the CIA allegedly threatened to kill him.A COVER-UP?
Counterpunch wrote: “Knowledgeable U.S. and foreign intelligence sources have revealed that Wiley may have been silenced as a result of his discovery of U.S. government work on biological warfare agents long after the U.S. signed the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention. President Nixon had actually ordered the Pentagon to stop producing biological weapons in 1969. It now seems likely that the U.S. military and intelligence community failed to follow Nixon’s orders.
In fact, since 1972, “South African bio-chemical weapons allegedly transferred to the CIA included, in addition to anthrax, cholera, smallpox, salmonella, botulinum, tularemia, thallium, E.Coli, racin, organophosphates, necrotising fasciitis, hepatitis A, HIV, paratyphoid, Sarin VX nerve gas, Ebola, Marburg, Rift Valley hemmorrhagic viruses, Dengue fever, West Nile virus, highly potent CR tear gas, hallucinogens Ecstasy, Mandrax, BZ, and cocaine, anti-coagulant drugs, the deadly lethal injection drugs Scoline and Tubarine, and cyanide.”
What the U.S. government would not want divulged is the fact that the U.S. has been in flagrant violation of the 1972 Convention, Article 1 of which states: “Each State party to the Convention undertakes never in any circumstance to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain: 1. Microbial or other biological agents, or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes. 2. Weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.”
Dr. Wiley’s was not the only suspicious death of a scientist with knowledge of biological defenses. Just three days before Wiley’s death, Dr. Benito Que, a Miami Medical School cellular biologist died after “four men armed with a baseball bat attacked him at his car.” A week after Wiley died, Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, a former Soviet bioweapons scientist was found dead near Britain’s biological warfare center.
For those who disbelieve the possibility that the U.S. Government is the number one suspect in the anthrax attacks, they are directed to James Bamford’s book on the National Security Agency, Body of Secrets. The book reveals that in 1962, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Lyman Lemnitzer was planning, along with other members of the Joint Chiefs, a virtual coup d’etat against the administration of President Kennedy using acts of terrorism carried out by the military but to be blamed on the Castro government in Cuba. The secret plan was code-named Operation Northwoods.
Cuba accused the U.S. of using biological war weapons against it during the 1970s. In his book, Biological Warfare in the 21st Century, Malcolm Dando refers to the U.S. bio-attacks against Cuba. “The American covert campaign targeted the tobacco crop using blue mold, the sugar cane crop using cane smut, livestock using African swine fever, and the Cuban population using a hemmorrhagic strain of dengue fever.”CONSPIRACY
The number of unlikely “coincidences” associated with the anthrax attacks on the media and Congress makes it hard to believe that they were random. The simultaneous debate of Bush’s Patriot Bill in Congress points to the existence of a cabal of domestic conspirators which succeeded in terrorizing the body politic to influence legislation.
If so, this American terrorism was much more harmful to democracy than the attacks on 9-11. It is frighteningly reminiscent of how Hitler grabbed power in 1933 when arsonists destroyed the Reichstag parliament building. Bush is taking advantage of widespread fear, whether he was party to the anthrax cabal or not. He is wielding dictator-like power to push through dozens of unpopular environmental, nuclear, economic and star wars policy changes. He has no electoral mandate for these policies and they have nothing to do with fighting terrorism.
Moreover, the anthrax-aided Patriot Act gave the President unprecedented police power over all citizens, not just suspected terrorists or foreigners. According to Senator Russell D. Feingold, the act would “allow police to scan computer activity without a search warrant, to execute a search warrant without informing the subject, and to review private medical records as well as business records.” Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, who also voted against the Act, criticized “wiretaps that could record conversations of people unconnected to the investigation targets.” The anthrax terror in Congress weakened the rights and wellbeing of U.S. citizens.POSSIBLE SUSPECTS
When any crime is committed, investigators always look for a motive. Who stands to benefit from the anthrax attacks? What interests stand to benefit? Let’s consider some suspects:
Suspect #1: Al-Qaida.
While they may want to sow terror in the U.S., why would they target Democrats? If they struck the World Trade Center and Pentagon because they were centers of economic and military power, wouldn’t it follow that they would target Bush and the Republicans? Since it appears the anthrax letters were timed to strengthen Bush’s police power in the Patriot Act, wouldn’t it be counter to al-Qaida’s interest to do that?
Suspect #2: Iraq:
Likewise, Iraq would not have anything to gain by attacking opponents of the original Patriot Bill.
Suspect #3: A Lone Wolf:
Recent statements by the FBI and by Barbara Hatch Rosenberg theorize that the culprit is a disgruntled scientist, formerly with Fort Detrick. Suspected motives include getting the government to spend more money on bioweapons research, proving his expertise and/or blaming it on a hated co-worker. David Franz, the former bioweapons commander at Ft. Detrick, said, “I think a lot of good has come from it. He told ABC News, “…we’ve now five people who have died, but we put about $6 billion in our budget into defending against bioterrorism.” Has a lone wolf morphed into a pack of wolves?
Suspect #4: The CIA:
The CIA has cultures of the Ames strain. The Agency has been conducting secret experiments with powdered germs since 1997 at Battelle Memorial Institute in Ohio. Battelle received the Ames strain from Fort Detrick in May of 2001. The CIA said it was trying to develop defenses against anthrax, but did not explain why it was doing what other defense labs were set up to do. As of December 16, 2001, one FBI investigator said that the CIA’s anthrax project was the “best lead they have at this point.”
Just as Oliver North ran an illegal and secret Iran-Contra scam out of the White House, with then President Reagan and CIA denying knowledge of it, so too could conspirators operate secretly and illegally to intimidate the congressional opposition now. Former President Nixon did this also with his Watergate break-in, enemies list and domestic surveillance. There is evidence that George H.W.Bush, former head of the CIA, made a secret pre-election deal in 1980 with the Iranian hostage holders, delaying their release until after the election to insure the victory of Ronald Reagan. After all these dirty tricks, is it too outrageous to think the President’s men would stoop to intimidating Congress with anthrax?
Suspect #5: The anthrax vaccine industry:
According to Leonard G. Horowitz, D.M.D.,M.A., M.P.H., “All findings have pointed to anthrax mailings being a white collar crime, a military-industrial conspiracy involving chief biological weapons firms and the CIA.” Horowitz, a Harvard trained expert in public health and social and behavioral science, bases his conclusion on “the highly weaponized nature of the silica powdered anthrax that required a weapons savvy microbiologist and expensive equipment to produce.”
The Baltimore Sun reported on Oct.21, 2001, “The Bush administration asked Congress for $1.5 billion to stockpile emergency medicine. The N.Y.Times reported on Nov.16, 2001, “Senators seek $3.2 billion to fight germ threats, doubling the Bush plan.” Horowitz wrote: “obvious suspects among the government “insiders” with economic and/or political motives to mail anthrax are Bioport, sole maker of the anthrax vaccine, smallpox vaccine makers OraVax/Acambis, Baxter, and Aventis, Bayer, and Battelle.” Remember that Battelle and the CIA have collaborated on anthrax research since 1997 (see CIA above).
Suspect #6: The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA):
It is common knowledge that the military wants military tribunals, secret trails, suspension of civil liberties and impunity from civilian control. They run Fort Detrick and the Dugway Proving Ground and control the Ames anthrax. They wanted a war in Afghanistan. They want lots of oil for the military machine. They don’t want Congressional, media or public opposition. They want a free hand and have the power to get it. Several authors believe that the Joint Chiefs and DIA assassinated JFK because he removed nuclear missiles from the Soviet border during the Cuba missile crisis and would not bomb Cuba during the Bay of Pigs invasion.
Suspect #7: Big Oil
It's been three years since Congress discussed removing the government of Afghanistan to make way for an oil pipeline:  Three months before 9/11, the US Government told India there would be an invasion of Afghanistan in October. One month before 9/11, the BBC heard about the planned invasion of Afghanistan. Five months before 9/11, Jane's Defense News got word of the planned invasion of Afghanistan. The U.S. recently installed Hamid Karzai as the new interim president of Afghanistan and Zalmay Khalizad as the U.S. Afghanistan envoy. Both are former employees of Unocal, the future builder of the oil pipeline. The attacks on the World Trade Towers got the American people angered into support of the war that everybody on the planet BUT Americans had been told was on the way before September 11.
Suspect #8: Israeli agents:
In the days right after 9/11, an influx of illegal Israelis was interdicted by INS officers. Unlike the Arabs suspects, they were not detained. Israel cited the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan to justify their increasing attacks on Palestine, saying it was part of the war on terrorism. For several weeks, the ploy seemed to be working, as Bush sided with Israel against Palestine. A strong U.S. anti-terrorism Act is seen by Israeli leaders as helpful to their military plans. The anthrax attacks helped produce it.
The fact that the U.S. is a strong ally of Israel does not deter occasional hostile acts by Israel. Israel also has “sleepers” in the U.S., like Jonathan Pollard, who was imprisoned for spying on U.S. secrets. It was reported on Feb. 26 that a scientist, formerly employed at Fort Detrick, Md., Dr. Philip M. Zack, may be the culprit. He allegedly tried to blame an Egyptian co-worker, Dr. Ayaad Assaad. Surveillance cameras allegedly recorded Zack’s entrance after hours at 8:40 PM on January 23, 1992. A co-worker named Dr. Marian Rippy allegedly let him in to conduct unauthorized research. Specimens of anthrax were reported missing during the same period.
Israel also deliberately fired on the U.S. spy ship Liberty off their coast in 1967, killing 34 U.S. seamen so their massacres would not be observed. A ship load of U.S. uranium, which disappeared in 1967 is believed to have been highjacked by Israeli agents to advance its secret nuclear bomb production. The motto of their secret police is “By Way of Deception.” One of their own assassinated President Rabin. Do they have a cabal operating outside the law which is just as fanatic as the Jewish Defense League or the Palestinian Hamas?
Suspicion of al-Qaida can be eliminated to the extent that they were NOT enabled by American handlers, intent on using “foreign assets” as a cover. Only highly-placed US personnel have access to the Ames strain of anthrax.
Iraq has no significant biological weapons capability, according to Scott Ritter, former United Nations inspector in Iraq. U.S. investigators have found no Iraqi connection to terrorism in the U.S.
Any Zionist who worked at Ft. Detrick or Dugway may have had access to the Ames strain. An Israeli agent would commit this crime only at a risk of inciting anti-Jewish sentiment if caught, which a scientist should be smart enough to know.
A vaccine company by itself is an unlikely suspect. If they wanted to “scare up a market” for drugs, they could have done so without carefully coordinating the attacks with the Patriot Bill.
Dr. Rosenberg theorized that the motive of a lone bioweapons scientist was to get more research money from the government. The sophisticated timing with congressional events would be unnecessary for that purpose.
The CIA and Battelle seem capable of pulling off this conspiracy. The CIA’s history of covert action makes it entirely plausible.
Big Oil would pull off this coup, but they are not able to do it alone. The President and Vice President are oil men and they run the military and intelligence agencies. Either with or without Executive collusion, it would necessitate the involvement of military or intelligence personnel. Chances are great that the Joint chiefs and DIA are involved because they control the Ames anthrax and have a motive. An oil pipeline through Afghanistan was nixed by the Taliban before 9/11. Now it’s back on track.
The US is using state-of-the-art genetic splicing to make designer bioweapons. An article by Laura Rozen in Salon (2/8/02) revealed that the "Defense Intelligence Agency hired Battelle to create a genetically enhanced version of anthrax" even though no vaccine was proven to be effective beforehand. A former Clinton administration official, Elisa D. Harris, "was shocked to read in the New York Times" (9/4/01) about bioweapons research "that she herself had not known about, although she had served for eight years in the White House as the point person for weapons of mass destruction nonproliferation issues."
The extreme danger of genetically engineered pathogens with no cure or vaccine requires urgent attention by lawmakers. Such secrets kept even from White House staff and FBI indicates a security establishment out of control. This rampant deception justifies an open Congressional investigation to stop illegal activities and restore confidence in government. Secret hearings will not accomplish this purpose.
The glaring coincidence of the anthrax attacks with the passage of the Patriot Act can only be ignored as an elephant is ignored at a tea party. It is believable that this coincidence was overlooked in the fall of 2001 due to all the confusion, including letters to other places. In historical hindsight, the connection is obvious. It can be ignored now only as Germans ignored the death camps – the brazenness of the crime was unbelievable. Moreover, to admit the crime’s existence requires a courageous response. Timid souls may be tempted to stick their heads in the sand rather than do what is required to expose and root out criminals in high places, especially in time of war. The obvious response would be a Congressional investigation with no holds barred, even if it goes all the way to the top. The war for democracy must start at home.
Land of the brave? Home of the free?
May 1, 2002