I kind of feel sorry for Andrew Sullivan for a lot of reasons: having to explain his past pro-war vehemence in light of the disaster unfolding in Iraq can’t be easy, even for a champion evader. And having to live down his more outrageous bouts of hysteria, such as this one:
“The sophisticated form of anthrax delivered to Tom Daschleâ€™s office forces us to ask a simple question. What are these people trying to do? I think theyâ€™re testing the waters. They want to know how we will respond to what is still a minor biological threat, as a softener to a major biological threat in the coming weeks. They must be encouraged by the panic-mongering of the tabloids, Hollywood and hoaxsters. They must also be encouraged by the fact that some elements in the administration already seem to be saying we need to keep our coalition together rather than destroy the many-headed enemy. So the terrorists are pondering their next move. The chilling aspect of the news in the New York Times today is that the terrorists clearly have access to the kind of anthrax that could be used against large numbers of civilians. My hopes yesterday that this was a minor attack seem absurdly naÃ¯ve in retrospect. So they are warning us and testing us. At this point, it seems to me that a refusal to extend the war to Iraq is not even an option. We have to extend it to Iraq. It is by far the most likely source of this weapon; it is clearly willing to use such weapons in the future; and no war against terrorism of this kind can be won without dealing decisively with the Iraqi threat. We no longer have any choice in the matter. Slowly, incrementally, a Rubicon has been crossed. The terrorists have launched a biological weapon against the United States. They have therefore made biological warfare thinkable and thus repeatable. We once had a doctrine that such a Rubicon would be answered with a nuclear response. We backed down on that threat in the Gulf War but Saddam didnâ€™t dare use biological weapons then. Someone has dared to use them now. Our response must be as grave as this new threat.”
In short: nuke Iraq. That was in 2001, but ever since his ideological makeover, he’s run away from off-the-reservation remarks like that, which are not in accord with his new persona. Here at Antiwar.com, however, we’ve been on his case, reminding him of his past call for what would have amounted to genocide against the Iraqi people, and wondering if and when he’ll apologize — or at least come clean with an acknowledgement that he was, after all, wrong.
Not our Andy! Oh no, certainly not: over the years, he’s steadfastly ignored the moral implications of his “let’s-nuke-Iraq” stance, in effect dropping it down the Memory Hole, along with his vicious attacks on the antiwar movement as a “fifth column.” Now, however, he has at least indicated that he knows he has a problem with his credibility — after all, how can he condemn the Bush record on torture when his own record includes advocacy of nuclear mass murder? Today he posted this item:
Try not to worry too much about the latest attempt to figure out who made it and distributed it in 2001.
The link takes you to “The American Thinker,” where Laurie Mylroie, — Yes, that Laurie Mylroie! — trots out her theory that Iraq was indeed behind the anthrax attacks, and points to Marty “Arabs Are Subhuman” Peretz as her authority in the matter. Peretz, in turn, points to an article [.pdf file] by Dany Shoham and Stuart M. Jacobsen, that appeared in the Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, which maps out an elaborate rationale for believing the Iraqis were behind the anthrax attacks. Jacobsen is or was an electronics researcher at Texas Instruments, and an avid poster of angry tirades on the FreeRepublic.com website. Senor Shoham, a former IDF lieutenant colonel and “senior analyst,” is the author of a previous article, appearing in the same journal, that reiterated all the tired old “links” between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden that have long since been discredited, and added on the supposed responsibility of Iraq for the anthrax attacks by citing “circumstantial” evidence (his word). The new piece merely takes another tack, and tries to trace the anthrax spores using “technical” (i.e. quasi-“scientific” means) to link the particular anthrax spores and their composition to Iraq — all based on the completely debunked claim that the spores contained additives that constituted “weaponization.” And on what, in the end, is the Shoham-Jacobsen thesis based?
In short: nothing. No evidence is presented: instead, the authors rely on “clustering” theory, which tries to detect “patterns” without proof of direct causation. Based on this very thin reed, Shoham and Jacobsen name two individuals — Fuad el-Hibri, a Saudi financier and the director of BioPort, which has a license to manufacture anthrax in the U.S., and Dr. Wouter Basson, formerly a top bio-warfare expert for the South African army. El-Hibri is accused solely on the basis of his “access to certain laboratories,” and the latter is targeted because, according to the authors, “Basson has been revealed while trailed to be that type.”
I’m almost afraid to ask: trailed by whom?
The real kicker, however, is the following statement: “Notably, and in spite of continuing claims that no solid connectionsâ€”including the contexts of CBW [chemical and biological warfare] atâ€“large, as well as the 2001 Twin Towers attackâ€” existed between al-Qaeda and Iraq, the opposite has increasingly and firmly been emerging since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.”
This is footnoted — in keeping with the scholarly apparatus that disguises this exercise in pure propaganda — and here are the references: “Jonathan Schanzer, â€˜â€˜Saddam-Bin Laden Links,â€™â€™ The Weekly Standard, 1 March 2004; â€˜â€˜Inside the Ring: Notes from the Pentagonâ€”Iraq-al Qaeda Link,â€™â€™ The Washington Times, 19 March 2004; Frank J. Gaffney Jr., â€˜â€˜Terror-Tied by Memo,â€™â€™ The Washington Times, 9 May 2004; Laurie Mylroie, â€˜â€˜The Saddam-9-11 Link Confirmed,â€™â€™ FrontPageMagazine.com, 11 May 2004; Editorial: â€˜â€˜Saddamâ€™s Files: New Evidence of a Link Between Iraq and al-Qaeda,â€™â€™ The Wall Street Journal, 27 May 2004; Laurie Mylroie, â€˜â€˜All in the Family?,â€™â€™ The New York Sun, 24 June 2004.”
The Kool-Aid cultists persist, in spite of all the evidence — Senor Shoham, it seems, is also a leading proponent of the Iraq WMD cargo cult, who claims that they did exist and were moved to Syria. These loons are still busy constructing and elaborating their mythology, which spreads — with the help of useful idiots like Sullivan — and infects the political atmosphere like a poisonous fog. A fog of lies.
In fact, we don’t need to pore over dog-eared pages of old Weekly Standards and the ravings of the monomaniacal Ms. Mylroie — who has made a career out of attributing virtually every atrocity in the past decade or so to Saddam Hussein — to dig out some credible clues to unlocking the mystery of the anthrax attacks. Go here, here, here, and here, for starters, to read about an American scientist, Dr. Philip Zack, who was videotaped sneaking into the Ft. Detrick biowarfare laboratory that stocks the Ames strain of anthrax used in the attacks. According to this series of stories in the Hartford Courant, Zack had a grudge against an Egyptian American scientist at the same facility, Dr. Ayaad Assaad, and may have been involved in a racist frame-up attempt. The FBI still won’t release important evidence pointing down this particular trail, in spite of renewed interest in the long-stalled “investigation.” In the meantime, the perpetrators are still out there, and Sullivan, Ms. Mylroie, and the IDF school of criminal investigation get to float their self-referential mythos as if it were credible. Is there no form of intellectual dishonesty these people won’t stoop to in order to rationalize their own moral emptiness?
UPDATE: For the latest on the anthrax investigation — or, rather, the lack of a real investigation — go to Ed Lake’s website, the place to find solid information on this complex — and fascinating — subject.