Washington Times also reveals that the chief suspect
is "employed as a contractor in the Washington area." Curiouser
and curiouser. Is his contract with a government agency?
If so, which one would have use for a maker of mass murder?
As a libertarian, I am naturally for privatization: but
there are some government-owned and operated assets that
just can't – or, rather, shouldn't – be privatized: that
is, if one could even define germ warfare as an "asset"
in any meaningful sense of the term. As my friend Lew
Rockwell said to me recently: "If you want to see the
real evil of government, then ask yourself: what other
entity would unleash something so monstrous?"
DON'T WANT TO GO THERE
law enforcement sources, the Washington Times reports
that the suspect's reaction to the events of 9/11 was to
make a threat to use anthrax. His home was searched, where
"numerous chemicals" were found but no
anthrax. The story cites Barbara
Hatch Rosenberg, a microbiologist with the Federation
of American Scientists, whose fascinating
analysis of the anthrax mystery is must reading – but
only for those who don't scare all that easily. Because
what she reveals about this grotesque case is unsettling
in the extreme, leading to the undeniable conclusion that
the US government has something to hide. As to just what
that might be, I almost don't want to go there....
says that she can't understand the FBI's lethargy in this
matter. After all, they've been working on a very
short list of suspects: not that many people have both the
scientific knowledge and the access to vital materials necessary
to the making of such highly weaponised anthrax as was delivered
to the offices of Senators Daschle and Leahy. The FBI, Rosenberg
contends, has finally narrowed it down to "a particular
person ... a member of the biochemical community." This
person, it seems, has been questioned more than once, but
no one is pressing any charges. Why not? "Is the FBI dragging
its feet?" Rosenberg asks. Her answer gives law enforcement
the benefit of a doubt: "I just don't know. And, if so,
I don't know why." If the FBI is our only protection against
anthrax-wielding terrorists, then I don't think I want to
know. God help us all.
OF THE MAD SCIENTIST
FBI has denied the Washington Times story, and
Ari Fleischer, the President's spokesman, averred that the
number of suspects is more than one: "I wish it were that
easy and that simple right now," he said. Yet they're still
sticking to their "lone nut" theory, with Van Harp, assistant
director of the FBI's Washington office, writing in a letter
to microbiologists nationwide that this person has "a clear,
rational thought process and appears to be very organized
in the production and mailing of these letters." Oh, now
I get it: instead of arresting him, they're going to make
him a job offer. But just how credible is this brilliant-but-mad
the FBI and the Washington Times assume that we are
dealing with a single perpetrator, a lone nut who, for some
reason, and with remarkable efficiency, managed to pull
off a feat many at first attributed to state-sponsored terrorism.
I don't buy it. As
Dr. Meryl Nass puts it in Red Flags Weekly:
am referring here to the anthrax attacker in the singular
and using the male gender, although I suspect that, for logistical
reasons, it is unlikely that one person acted alone, or was
even a loner, as the FBI profile has suggested."
Nass asks some very interesting questions that give us some
insight into the possible motives of the attacker(s):
had the anthrax been sent in letters, rather than released
in ventilation systems, tunnels or subways? The (estimated)
two trillion spores per letter could have caused a lot more
mischief in another setting."
true terrorist would want to spread death, and not just
fear. Aside from that, however:
else was odd. The attacker had actually warned the recipients
that the letters contained anthrax, and suggested they take
penicillin. Then a light-bulb went off: someone was sending
these letters to create an effect, not to cause damage. The
letters were sealed with tape, presumably to further prevent
the escape of spores. The point was to frighten, not to kill.
And the targets were chosen with an eye to getting publicity
and making an impact on Congress."
an impact on Congress to do – what? It's the political aspect
of this curious case that argues against the "lone nut"
theory, and gives the whole affair a rather ominous cast.
For the achievement of a particular political goal conjures
up a picture of an ideologically-motivated cabal, a lobbying
group that was willing to go to unusual lengths in order
to impress the US government with the urgency of its agenda.
key issue here is motive. The "lone nut" scenario would
have it that a single disgruntled scientist may have released
the pathogens in order to get more funding for biowar research.
But the extreme thoroughness with which these crimes were
carried out suggests that the renegade scientist may not
have acted alone. As Dr. Nass puts it:
attacker also had familiarity with forensic investigations.
He avoided using saliva on the letters, used a form of printing
that is most difficult to analyze, and otherwise left a paucity
of evidence. Did he have professional help?"
to what profession would be most helpful, it seems clear
that this is the work of some government agency but which
government are we talking about?
Nass seems to imply, at times, that the US government is
somehow involved. She theorizes that filling the envelope
with such a highly weaponised form of anthrax would be almost
inevitably fatal unless the perpetrator prepared his deadly
missive within the confines of a special facility used for
experimental purposes – and available in the US only at
a few carefully monitored government sites. With vague references
to "the biowarfare establishment," and allusions to the
CIA, clearly Dr. Nass is at least highly suspicious that
the US government unleashed anthrax on its own people: perhaps
in order to ratchet up the level of fear and make the populace
more tractable. But the good Doctor, I believe, should stick
to her own field – science – and leave the speculation as
to motive to others. For this "the government was behind
it" scenario makes no sense at all: the level of fear, and
of funding for "anti-terrorist" programs, was already high
in the wake of 9/11. Putting anthrax in letters to US Senators
and other high profile targets seems like overkill, if you'll
pardon the expression.
evidence indicates that unauthorized research and entry
into supposedly secure facilities occurred at Fort Detrick
over an extended period of time, and that the culprit (or
culprits) got away not only with anthrax but with a
wide variety of deadly pathogens, some so virulent and top
secret that slides of samples were labeled "unknown"
– security at these facilities being so lax at the time
as to be practically nonexistent. A former chief of the
Ft. Detrick lab suspects that an elaborate system of deception
was employed in the record-keeping department, so that many
specimens were not even entered in inventory before they
disappeared. But how could a "lone nut" have pulled off
such a feat unaided? In order to cover his tracks, he would've
needed the cooperation of allies in key positions at the
lab. This militates against the "lone nut" theory, and reinforces
the idea that the perpetrators of the anthrax attacks had
some "professional help."
is certain – in a sane world, that is that the US
government could not have facilitated the release of such
horrors as Hanta-virus,
and god knows what other unknown plagues into the general
population: the consequences of such an action would be
so heavy as to outweigh any conceivable benefit. Yes, yes,
I can just hear the tinfoil hat crowd objecting: "But we
aren't living in a sane world, as
you yourself have pointed out recently." We may be living
World, at least in certain respects, but the axiom that
our rulers will always act in order to preserve their own
power is one of those pre-9/11 truisms that has survived
intact: indeed, the eternal truth of it has been demonstrated
by the alarming alacrity with which the government used
the tragedy to aggregate more power to itself. That they
would endanger this power by doing something so stupid,
or allowing it to happen, defies belief.
ideological angle of this strange case has, so far, been
completely overlooked: in her list of possible beneficiaries
of the anthrax scare, Dr. Nass lists "the biowar establishment,"
whatever that is, which certainly was not that desperate
for extra funding, as well as the makers of antibiotics.
However, she neglects to mention the likeliest possibility.
What is all too believable is that some foreign intelligence
agency with substantial assets in the US penetrated a government
lab and recruited a clique of scientists and other insiders,
initially for purposes of routine spying but eventually
launching a full-scale terrorist operation designed, not
to kill, but to frighten everyone out of their wits – and
provoke an anti-Arab reaction.
my last column on this subject, I detailed the story of
Ayaad Assaad, an Egyptian microbiologist who used to
work at Ft. Detrick, where he attracted the hostile attention
of a clique known as the "Camel Club": they put obscene
missives in his mailbox and otherwise tirelessly harassed
him, until one of their number, Lt. Col. Philip Zack, was
fired because of this hate campaign. Zack was also videotaped
entering the lab after hours, without authorization, with
the cooperation of one of his fellow Camel Club members.
we have a viscerally anti-Arab clique at a biowar lab that
might have been the cat's-paw of a foreign government –
now which foreign government could that be?
TO THE MAX
other day I was talking with my webmaster, Eric Garris,
about this story, and remarking that the way it's being
treated in the media is remarkably
similar to the way the Fox
News story on Israeli spying in the US was treated:
i.e. in relation to its importance, and possible implications,
the amount of attention it is receiving is negligible. Fox
News reporter Carl Cameron's FBI sources told him that not
only had Israel compromised supposedly secure US communications
systems – the phone system of the Departments of Defense
and State, as well as the White House but they had
also launched an effort to physically penetrate important
US defense facilities in the months prior to 9/11. Surely
this would include such facilities as the bioweapons lab
at Ft. Detrick, and others around the country.
not only has the means, but also the motive: certainly an
anti-Arab backlash in the US would aid their cause, and
make the American public much more amenable to wiping out
their Arab enemies. Indeed, Israel's supporters in the US
were quick to suggest that Iraq was behind the attacks, and
such a prominent Israel Firster as Andrew Sullivan lost
no time in calling on Bush to at least consider nuking
Iraq in retaliation. Indeed, it seems as though the "Camel
Club" at Ft. Detrick must have been reading some of Sullivan's
more virulent anti-Arab postings, and those of his fellow
"war-bloggers," whose hostility to all things Arab was eerily echoed
in this repulsive bit of doggerel attached to a rubber camel, a "gift" to Assaad from the "Camel Club":
(Assaad's) honor we created this beast;
It represents life lower than yeast."
denizen of the extreme Israeli right-wing couldn't have
said it better. So perhaps earlier speculation that the
anthrax letters were the work of right-wing extremists was
essentially right – only they got the wrong country.