are fast approaching the second anniversary of the anthrax scare: the
first letter filled with the deadly spores was postmarked
September 18, 2001.
Almost two full years after the FBI fixed its sights on Steven
J. Hatfill as a "person
of interest" in the anthrax-by-mail attacks, John Ashcroft's
G-men are still persecuting Hatfill – without pressing any
charges, and persistently ignoring abundant leads pointing
away from their hapless victim.
there is not a single iota of physical evidence supporting
the case against Hatfill, a recent
story in the Washington, D.C. City Paper chronicles
the life of a man whose privacy and sanity have been held
hostage by the FBI in this, the season of terror. It is a
spectacle at once sinister and pathetic:
video cameras seem to be the latest hassle. One time, [press
liaison Pat] Clawson remembers, Hatfill spotted a few agents
trying to rig a camera to a lamppost across from his apartment
building. He decided to have a little fun and go out there
and offer his assistance.
are you guys doing?' Hatfill asked, according to Clawson.
agents told him that they were installing an 'Internet relay
device.' Whatever that means. He offered to help them install
it anyway. The joke in Hatfill's camp is that he's secured
the best Internet service in the District."
tax dollars at work. More tax dollars were spent draining
a pond in Frederick, Maryland, a few miles from the Ft. Detrick
government lab that may have been the source of the anthrax.
Four weeks and 50,000 gallons later, a veritable army of feds,
both FBI and postal agents, came up with a couple of logs,
a few fishing lures, and an old gun unrelated to the attacks.
for traces of anthrax came up negative. The search was
conducted on the basis of a "tip" that Hatfill had once confided
that he would dispose of anthrax by doing it in
the water. After this embarassing blow to the FBI's strategy,
Hatfill's attorney, Thomas Connolly, called on Ashcroft to
comes as no news to Dr. Hatfill that the search of the pond
yielded nothing. Dr. Hatfill had no involvement in the anthrax
attack. It is now time for those law enforcement officials
who have orchestrated a campaign of smears to do the honorable
thing and issue an apology to Dr. Hatfill and an apology to
the taxpayers for spending a quarter-million dollars on a
wild goose chase."
two years, an American citizen has been characterized as a
mass murderer by government officials and treated like a convicted
criminal by their agents: he has been spied on, rendered unemployable,
and publicly humiliated – all without being charged.
can this happen in America?
the age of terror – that is, government-initiated terrorism
directed against us – Hatfill's Kafkaesque predicament is
a metaphor for life in the 21st century – life, that is, as
our rulers would like to see it. In the world of Steven J.
Hatfill, the Bill of Rights has been repealed and you're guilty
until proven innocent. You can't go out of your home without
being observed, you're subject to warrantless searches, and
the FBI shows up for your job interview.
truly nighmarish aspect of all this is Hatfill's glaringly
obvious innocence. The case against him is entirely circumstantial,
based on his public pronouncements on the subject of bio-terrorism
and a "profile" of the anthrax killer worked
up by scientist Barbara Hatch Rosenberg. On the other
hand, the trail of some pretty substantial evidence leads
in another direction altogether, one that has been inexplicably
neglected by law enforcement agencies and the news media,
but is, nevertheless, a matter of public record.
late September, 2001, days before the anthrax story broke
– but after the deadly missives had been mailed
an anonymous letter arrived at military police headquarters
in Quantico, Virginia, stating that Dr. Ayaad
Assaad, who formerly worked at Ft. Detrick, was the mastermind
behind a bio-terrorist plot. The letter's author demonstrated
a detailed knowledge of Dr. Assaad's life and work at USAMRIID,
tending to validate the claim of this poison-pen author to
have once worked with the Egyptian-born scientist.
FBI soon cleared Dr. Assaad of any connection with the anthrax,
story – of how his former colleagues at Ft. Detrick, who
called themselves the "camel club," targeted him and essentially
set him up for just such an accusation – points so clearly
in the direction of the real culprits that it's hard to believe
this aspect of the case has been completely ignored.
was so lax at the Ft. Detrick bio-terror facility that, in
the early 1990s, an investigation turned up the disturbing
news that 26 sets of deadly specimens including anthrax,
hanta virus, and two labeled "unknown" – were found to be
"missing." As the Courant reports,
investigators also found a surveillance camera tape:
from the inquiry show that one unauthorized person who was
observed entering the lab building at night was Langford's
predecessor, Lt. Col. Philip Zack, who at the time no longer
worked at Fort Detrick. A surveillance camera recorded Zack
being let in at 8:40 p.m. on Jan. 23, 1992, apparently by
Marian Rippy, a lab pathologist and close friend of Zack's,
according to a report filed by a security guard."
and Rippy were part of the "camel club," which had left insulting
and obscene messages in the mailboxes of Arab scientists at
Ft. Detrick – including a 235-line poem, which included the
(Assaad's) honor we created this beast; it represents life
lower than yeast."
"beast" referred to is a rubber camel outfitted with sexually
explicit appendages, apparently another "camel club"-sponsored
tracking down the real culprit in the anthrax attacks, it
would seem that an attempt to frame someone as the anthrax
terrorist just as the attacks commenced would be a clue of
some significance. The history of Ft. Detrick's "camel club"
might also be seen as a hint of what direction the investigation
ought to take.
not to our intrepid FBI. They're too busy tormenting poor
scary is that these are the same people who are now warning
us Al Qaeda is poised for another strike at the U.S.,
once again using
planes as weapons. In this context, the question of whether
Ashcroft and the feds are the equivalent of the Keystone Kops,
or something more sinister, becomes a matter of some urgency.
In reviewing the role of the FBI in the anthrax investigation,
I am reminded of what FBI
veteran agent Coleen Crowley said in her memo and testimony
before Congress about the agency's failure to adequately investigate
Islamist terrorists in the U.S.:
"During the early aftermath of September 11th, when I happened
to be recounting the pre-September 11th events concerning
investigation to other FBI personnel in other divisions or
in FBIHQ, almost everyone's first question was "Why? Why
would an FBI agent(s) deliberately sabotage a case? (I know
I shouldn't be flippant about this, but jokes were actually
made that the key FBIHQ personnel had to be spies or moles,
like Robert Hanssen,
who were actually working for Osama Bin Laden to have so undercut
anthrax attacks ratcheted up the level of fear and anger that
gave momentum to the War Party, which was able to direct all
that emotional energy at a convenient scapegoat: Iraq. Andrew
Sullivan stated with certainty that the anthrax attacks emanated
from Baghdad, and demanded that we immediately launch
a strike that "need not be nuclear." The Weekly Standard
also published a
screed by William Kristol pointing to the Iraqis as the
probable culprits. I'm waiting for the Telegraph, or
some other enterprising pro-war rag, to come up with papers
supposedly found in the ruins of Baghdad, purporting to show
that Hatfill is an Iraqi agent. They would no doubt be just
as authentic as the Niger
uranium papers or those implicating British antiwar MP
same people who lied us into war with false "intelligence"
on Iraqi WMD are making Steven Hatfill's life a living hell.
Where is the ACLU during all this? Some
of my libertarian brethren are talking about joining the
ACLU regardless of their wacked-out stance on affirmative
action and other matters, but I won't do it until I see they're
fighting by Hatfill's side. The persecuted scientist is suing
his tormentors, and more power to him: but why, one has to
ask, does he have to fight alone?
will likely mark the second anniversary of the
anthrax attacks by acknowledging that the mystery only gets
darker, and more impenetrable. Congress is now busying itself
holding hearings about the missing "weapons of mass destruction,"
the ones we didn't find in Iraq. But what about the WMD we
did find – in our mailboxes?
congressional investigation into the persecution of Hatfill
is bound to throw light on some remarkably murky
intelligence. As in the case of the Iraqi
WMD, will we discover that a small group with a particular agenda
has been feeding highly dubious "intelligence"
regarding Hatfill to law enforcement officials?
IN THE MARGIN
note, without quite knowing what to make of it, that the most
fanatic pursuer of Hatfill, second only to the FBI, is the
Jewish Defense Organization
(JDO), a split-off
from the extremist Jewish Defense League: the
JDO has devoted a special website to the proposition that
Hatfill is the anthrax terrorist, and also a "Nazi." A.J.
Weberman, a JDO militant, who once made a career out
of harassing Bob Dylan, has now turned his sights on Hafill.
As the Salt Lake City Tribune reports:
you look at Hatfill's background, there are just too many
coincidences,' said Weberman, who is putting the finishing
touches on the manuscript of a book about Hatfill called,
'The Bioevangelist.' He added: 'It is a tremendous circumstantial
case against this guy.' Among his favorite clues is the fact
that Hatfill once lived in Zimbabwe, near an area in Africa
known as Greendale the name of a nonexistent New Jersey
elementary school that is listed as the return address on
two of the anthrax-laced letters."
and if you re-arrange the letters of Hatfill's name, you come
up with all the letters in "Fatah"
– an obvious allusion to Palestinian-inspired terrorism –
as well as the word "ill." Now I dare somebody to tell
me that's a coincidence!
Weberman thinks Hatfill is guilty, then that's the clincher:
he's innocent, for sure.
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