DISINFORMATION: A SHORT
US government has been playing the same game since the dawn
of the cold war, when the Congress
of Cultural Freedom was run as a CIA operation to influence
world opinion in the struggle against the Soviet Union: A
whole raft of ostensibly "private" individuals, such as Irving
Kristol, a CCF stalwart, and assorted other
intellectuals-for-hire, were on the CIA payroll, although
they may not have known it (or wanted to know it) at the time.
The Agency cultivated "mainstream" journalists, planted news
stories, and routinely used the media to mislead, misinform,
and confuse. Do you mean the government is lying to
us, scream the liberals, who are shocked shocked!
that such a thing is possible. Fer chrissake, what do
you think they've been doing all along?
THE BIG LIE
US government is spreading lies. Why is this considered so
unusual? After all, our entire foreign policy is based on
a structure of lies, the central one being the inevitable
beneficence and altruism of the United States as a world power;
and this, in turn, is based on the Biggest Lie of Them All,
the one that seeks to justify and explain every bit of self-aggrandizement
on the part of our great and glorious leaders: the lie of
"democracy," which rubberstamps, every four years or so, decisions
that have already been made by those who really rule.
EMANATIONS OF UNTRUTH
they're lying to us: but lies come in all sorts of colors
and shades of prevarication, including the more subtle emanations
of untruth that might be called lies of omission. Liars must
always cover their tracks: indeed, government officials spend
a lot of their time, energy and your money doing exactly
that. It isn't what they're telling us that matters so much:
any halfway conscious human being is smart enough to discount
that right off the bat. It's what they're not telling
us that counts.
course, in this day and age, for a lie to go over, government
officials must have at least the passive cooperation of journalists
or at least those relatively few gatekeepers who pretty
much still determine what gets reported and what is relegated
to the Memory
Hole. This doesn't mean that journalists are recruited
to write lies, but, somehow, they know what not to
TWO SPIKED STORIES
good example is the four-part series on Fox News reporting
on an extensive Israeli spy operation in the US that was discovered,
apparently, prior to 9/11 and raising
the possibility of Israeli foreknowledge of the attacks.
After four days of one stunning revelation after another
the Israelis had penetrated US government communications systems,
they had been watching Al Qaeda cells in the US, and had sent
agents to penetrate US military facilities the story dropped
like a stone in a bottomless abyss, noiselessly and seemingly
without leaving so much as a ripple of air in its wake. Another
example: the story about how the stocks of certain companies
with a 9/11 connection were dramatically
manipulated in the days and hours prior to the attacks.
Who profited? What became of the promised
Securities and Exchange Commission investigation? So far
we have heard not a peep out of the news media on this, nor
has anyone in Congress bothered to ask questions.
AT LOOSE ENDS
the most dramatic loose end left conspicuously hanging in
the aftermath of 9/11 is undoubtedly the anthrax story. For
a few weeks in October, and into November, the anthrax letters
sent to media outlets and prominent elected officials were
the top story: but when the attacks stopped, and the
media ran out of scare stories on the possibilities of bio-terrorism
(after all, how many documentaries about smallpox and ebola
can you run without sending the audience fleeing?) the coverage
sputtered out rather quickly, and soon came to a complete
dead end. The investigation, too, seemed to have reached a
similar blind alley: the authorities were baffled, or so they
said. But they were lying: indeed, as the investigation proceeded,
usually voluble government officials, eager to be seen as
"on the job," were laconic in their public pronouncements.
On November 19, John Bolton, Under Secretary of State for
Arms Control and International Security, averred that "We
at the moment, in a way that we could make public,
where the anthrax attacks came from."
Of course they can't make it
public: because, at the very least, the truth points to their
own incompetence and passive complicity. And, at worst
WHY THE FOOT-DRAGGING?
Hatch Rosenberg, director of the Federation of American Scientists'
chemical and biological weapons program, says
the US government has "a strong hunch" about who is behind
the anthrax letters, but is "dragging its feet" in the investigation
because the chief suspect is a former government scientist
with knowledge of "secret activities that the government would
not like to see disclosed." Rosenberg has written a
very interesting analysis of the anthrax attacks that
leads to one and only one ineluctable conclusion: that the
chief culprit was not some Arab terrorist, associated with
Al Qaeda or similar groups, but an American, a former US government
employee one who, furthermore, is a middle-aged "insider"
in the biodefense field, with a doctoral degree, who probably
worked in the USAMRID
laboratory, at Fort Detrick, Maryland, still has access
and had some dispute with a government agency.
PLEASE TRY THIS AT HOME!
given the information compiled by Rosenberg, and with the
aid of Google.com, anyone with computer access can identify
by name the person or persons in possession of the
key to unlocking the mystery of the anthrax attack.
strain of weaponised anthrax used in the attacks narrows the
search for the perpetrator(s) down to a few US labs: but law
enforcement agencies have yet to issue a single subpoena for
employee records at the four labs with a history of working
with this strain. We know about the anthrax letters, of course,
and the several hoax letters, but a major clue in this investigation
is an anonymous letter, sent before the anthrax hysteria,
in late September, to the military police at the Marine base
in Quantico, Virginia, accusing a US government bioengineer,
Egyptian-born Dr. Ayaad Assaad, of being behind a bio-terrorist
plot. The letter-writer revealed a detailed knowledge of Dr.
Assaad's life and work at USAMRID, including details of his
personal life that only someone who worked with him could
have possibly known: indeed, the poison-pen author claimed
to have formerly worked with Dr. Assaad.
FBI TAKES A PASS
FBI spokesman Chris Murray confirmed that Assaad was not under
suspicion, he also stated
to reporters that the FBI is not trying to find
out who sent the anonymous hate-letter which the FBI won't
show to Assaad. The odd timing of the letter sent after
the anthrax letters were mailed, but before their deadly contents
were known doesn't even have them mildly curious.
WHERE THE ANTHRAX TRAILS LEADS
believes that the poison-pen missive was written by the real
perpetrator of the anthrax attacks, who sought to ride the
wave of anti-Arab, anti-Muslim hysteria that swept the nation
after 9/11. This also fits the pattern of masquerade that
characterizes the anthrax letters to NBC, Daschle, Leahy,
et al, with their anti-Israel, pro-Muslim slogans neatly printed
in block letters. Indeed, the one thread that seems to run
throughout this story is anti-Arab animus, as the astonishing
and truly frightening story of what happened at Ft.
Detrick in the early 1990s makes all too clear
IT CAME FROM FT. DETRICK
were turning up missing at AMRIID, and Lt. Col. Michael Langford
was baffled. He suspected that someone was tampering with
records, perhaps in order to conduct unauthorized research.
He told a lab technician to "make a list of everything that
was missing," and "it turned out that there was quite a bit
of stuff that was unaccounted for," 27 sets of specimens,
including anthrax, hanta virus, simian AIDS virus "and two
that were labeled 'unknown' an Army euphemism for classified
research whose subject was secret," as this
chilling Hartford Courant story by Jack Dolan and Dave
Altimari puts it. One set of specimens has since been found:
the rest are still missing
CAUGHT ON TAPE
investigation was launched that exposed the shockingly lax
security measures at the lab, and raised the possibility that
some specimens may never have been entered in lab records.
Also uncovered was a tape from a surveillance camera showing
the entry of an unauthorized person into the lab, at 8:40,
on January 23, 1992, let in by Dr. Marian Rippy, lab pathologist.
The night visitor was Lt. Col. Philip Zack, a former employee
who had left as a result of a dispute with the lab over his
alleged harassment of Dr. Assaad. The Courant reports:
"Zack left Fort Detrick in
December 1991, after a controversy over allegations of unprofessional
behavior by Zack, Rippy, [lab technician Charles] Brown and
others who worked in the pathology division. They had formed
a clique that was accused of harassing the Egyptian-born Assaad,
who later sued the Army, claiming discrimination."
THE KAMEL KLUB
to Assaad, in the week before Easter 1991, he found a poem
in his mailbox, described in another
"The poem, which became a
court exhibit, has 235 lines, many of them lewd, mocking Assaad.
The poem also refers to another creation of the scientists
who wrote it a rubber camel outfitted with sexually explicit
appendages. The poem reads: 'In (Assaad's) honor we created
this beast; it represents life lower than yeast.' The camel,
it notes, each week will be given 'to who did the least.'
The poem also doubles as an ode to each of the participants
who adorned the camel, who number at least six and referred
to themselves as 'the camel club.' Two Dr. Philip Zack and
Dr. Marian Rippy voluntarily left Fort Detrick soon after
Assaad brought the poem to the attention of supervisors."
Charming, eh? This kind of organized
harassment has an ideological edge to it not completely attributable
to personal antipathy, and seems politically inspired, a possibility
that is intriguing given the political repercussions of the
SULLIVAN SAYS: 'NUKE 'EM!'
Kristol, of the Weekly Standard, was positively
gloating that, after years of neoconservative hectoring
and with little to show for it except
a few hundred thousand dead Iraqi babies the anthrax
attacks had finally put the "get Iraq" lobby over the top
in Washington: the Iraqis, he exulted, would now get what
was coming to them. But Andrew Sullivan, for his part, wasn't
content with a mere bombing campaign or even an invasion:
Writing in his "weblog"
for October 17 , he demanded that we nuke 'em without
waiting for the evidence:
"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."
I guess he must've taken an overdose
of testosterone that day: what is astonishing is that,
after having made such an obviously deranged statement in
all seriousness, he was ever taken seriously by anyone again.
Instead, he has been lionized and touted
as the living incarnation of George Orwell a truly Orwellian
claim, considering his recent defense of the Office of Strategic
Influence plan to spread lies far and wide:
"Those kinds of lies are often
necessary to ensure the success of military strikes, and pose
no threat to the credibility of the American government or
the domestic press."
What kind of lies Sullivan tells
himself in order to evade the overwhelming evidence of his
complete moral bankruptcy is open to speculation. But of one
thing we can be sure: he has by now completely forgotten what
he wrote about the anthrax attacks and the alleged moral imperative
of immediately reducing an entire nation to a nuclearized
cinder. As I
wrote in a column some months ago:
"It kind of reminds me of
the idiot who killed a turban-wearing immigrant from India,
because, as he told his wife, 'all Arabs should be shot.'
When the cops came to his Phoenix home to arrest him, he reportedly
said: "I'm an American. Arrest me and let those terrorists
run wild?" The differences between this drunken sub-literate
wife-beating fool and the literary wonder boy of the neocon
set are superficial: morally, they are brothers under the
skin though at least the Arizona knuckle-dragger had the
courage to act on his murderous convictions. All Sullivan
can do is write in his little weblog and thank God for that!"
is an ominous and telling parallel with the 9/11 investigation
here: that's another instance in which the authorities are
being extra careful not to dig too deeply, at least in public.
For the anthrax sub-plot was almost like an afterthought to
the main mystery of 9/11: how did an underground terrorist
network manage to operate in the US for as long as five years,
and perhaps more, without being detected by law enforcement
agencies? Multiple agencies of government were laden with
multi-billion dollar budgets earmarked for "anti-terrorist"
activities, yet they knew nothing of this operation, had not
even a hint. The CIA and other intelligence agencies aren't
to blame, says CIA director George Tenant, who testified before
Congress that "intelligence will never give you 100 percent
Yeah, but how about 50 percent,
or 30 percent? Perhaps even as much as 10 percent intelligence
might have changed the course of events, and prevented or
at least ameliorated the biggest terrorist attack in US history.
At any rate, the
investigation isn't going anywhere, no doubt for the same
reasons the FBI refuses to move on the anthrax case: too much
embarrassing and potentially explosive information could get
out, exposing the US government or, perhaps, one of its
closest allies as criminally negligent or even complicit
in the attacks.
A DOMESTIC OPERATION?
that Saddam Hussein was the mastermind behind the anthrax
attacks has failed to materialize: the evidence, and official
suspicions, all point to a domestic operation. But that doesn't
rule out an overseas connection. Iraq isn't the only foreign
intelligence service that has the resources, methods, and
most importantly the motive to pull off a stunt clearly
designed to spread fear throughout the land and provoke
a violent American military response. The mystery, to this
day, remains unsolved and, if you don't believe that, then
you'd better pay a visit to the Office of Strategic Influence.
I'm sure they'd be more than glad to straighten you out
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