the vaguely sinister comment of UN Ambassador John Negroponte
that "we may find that our self-defense requires further
actions with respect to other organizations and other states,"
Kristol excitedly asked: "Has the administration come
around thanks to repeated efforts at persuasion by The
Weekly Standard (and a few other hawks)?"
uh, probably not, but "a likelier explanation is that
they have come to believe we'll have to take the war beyond
Afghanistan to Iraq and other state sponsors of terror
because they've found evidence of support by 'other states'
for very recent and sinister bin Laden-related
activities." Kristol was among the first to immediately
pose a series of "what if" questions, all of which
pointed to one and only one culprit: "The discovery in
a Florida office building of anthrax the Iraq-favored biological
agent may be all the explanation we need for why the administration
is beginning to warn that actions could be required against
this brief editorial note, there was not a word of sorrow,
or horror, or even moral outrage just a cold, calculating
argument, and a subliminal gloating. Brrrrrrr! Now that's
in with a call for opening up a "second front"
in the war on anthrax-wielding terrorists. Extending the World
War II theme from the far-fetched to the patently ridiculous,
Barone compared the debates going on within the administration
to the "behind the scenes debates among national and
military leaders over issues like the second front, whether
and when 1942? 1943? 1944? to launch an invasion on
the coast of France."
Osama in the role of a Muslim Hitler, and the dark specter
whipped up for a quasi-convincing backdrop, Barone and the
talking heads division of our armed forces are all geared
up for "The Greatest Generation, II." But is the
police action now occurring in Afghanistan really comparable
to a world war in which millions died? It will be if the War
Party has anything to say about it
idea is to appeal to the boomers who, by now, have reexamined
and in many cases reacquired all the prejudices and ideological
tics that once made them disdain (if not actually hate) their
own parents. In the wake of 9/11, these people are saying:
"Give peace a chance? Give me a break!" If
the War Party can take this inchoate and as-yet-unfocussed
anger, and channel it in a certain direction specifically,
in the direction of Baghdad they can achieve one of their
long-term policy goals: the military conquest of the Middle
East by the US. (Coincidentally or not this all-out war
will pit the US and Israel against the Arab world.) But they
must strike while the anger is white-hot: for them, it is
now or never.
October 4, when this anthrax story began to crowd out news
of the Afghan war, the War Party's battalions have performed
with admirable precision. A real journalistic blitzkrieg has
been executed with ruthless efficiency, and each division
has played its part.
chronicles the story, putting the pieces of the puzzle together
for his readers before coming to the preordained conclusion.
The story of mysterious meetings between Faruk Hijazi, an
alleged Iraqi spook, and Al Qaeda, including Mohammed Atta's
supposed rendezvous in Prague with Iraqi spies, is trotted
out, along with newer "reporting" by William Safire,
who claims to have information about Saddam's patronage of
Al Qaeda from Iraqis captured by Kurdish rebels.
Hoagland of the Washington Post offered his own "inside"
information, retailing the tall tales of the US-funded and
directed Iraqi "opposition," the Iraqi National
Congress, to the effect that Al Qaeda operatives had been
seen in Iraq last year, where they supposedly underwent hijack
training, using an old Boeing 707 as a kind of rehearsal studio.
director James Woolsey opined, in the Wall Street Journal,
that the CIA pooh-poohed the story because it has an "institutional
bias" against defectors and other "volunteers"
who aren't on the payroll. One such volunteer is Laurie Mylroie,
a writer who claims that Ramzi Yussef, leader of the 1993
attack on the World Trade Center, was acting under orders
from Iraq. Ah, but the clear implication is that US government
is somehow blocking the verification of Mylroie's convoluted
theory, or at least not looking too strenuously at the evidence.
Or perhaps, suggests Barone, they are merely holding the evidence,
waiting for it to accumulate to the point where it can be
revealed in all its eerie awfulness.
the first wave of speculation, the anthrax delivered to Senator
Tom Daschle's office was described as "weaponized,"
meaning that it could have only been produced by some government
which has the equipment and the trained personnel to create
the spores and deliver them efficiently. The assumption was
that this pointed to either Iraq, or the former Soviet Union
the latter doing it for money, and the former motivated
the news is confirmed that the strain of anthrax transmitted
via mail is the "Ames" strain, born and bred not
in Iraq, or the Soviet Union, but right
here in the good old US of A, the gasps of disappointment
are practically audible. With
one blow, the carefully constructed edifice of circumstantial
and highly questionable "evidence" dug up by the
"On to Baghdad" crowd has come crashing down. It's
kind of sad, in a way: all that careful work the complex
conspiracy theories, so meticulously constructed, the chorus
of voices perfectly attuned has come to naught.
ON A DIME
New York Post, itself the victim of the anthrax terror,
had been trumpeting the story of some mad female Iraqi scientist,
Germ," as the evil mastermind behind the outbreak. However,
practically the next day the Post was forced to turn
on a dime and report that the FBI probe had shifted away
from foreign terrorists and toward homegrown hate groups.
of Osama bin Laden, the FBI is pursuing "antigovernment
hate groups" and, according to the Post, they
even have a particular West Coast-based group in mind. The
anthrax, law enforcement authorities seem convinced, was produced
in US laboratories, not in Iraq or the former Soviet Union.
The New Scientist writes that the fine milling of the
anthrax in the envelopes received so far could be achieved
with readily available equipment, and the final nail in the
coffin of the state-involvement school of thought is pounded
in with the news that tests
show this strain of anthrax is "naturally occurring"
and not the product of bioengineering. Furthermore, says Ken
Alibek, former head of the Soviet bioterror project, it isn't
"rocket science" to produce and disseminate this
evidence is not only in the substance itself, but in the accompanying
letters: the similar handwriting, the existence of several
"hoax" letters with the same style of lettering
and content; the rather stilted invocations of Allah and ritualized
anti-Israeli sloganeering, which is all a little too obvious
for a serious terrorist outfit like Al Qaeda. One would have
expected a long and bitter disquisition on "the
tragedy of Andalusia." The Post quotes an unnamed
source in law enforcement as saying:
feeling is the anthrax does not point to an international
terrorist group. The only way it could be
is if they are purposely writing letters that point away from
them as a ruse and using anthrax that we believe was manufactured
same "highly-placed" source claims that there are
several "strong leads," all of which point in a
single direction: the anthrax attack is a case of domestic
terrorism, a crime of convenience timed to look like the work
of Bin Laden.
what we now know, including
the scientific evidence, this is the most credible theory,
and there is, in addition, a lot of circumstantial evidence
that points to a homegrown enemy rather than a foreign one.
To begin with, the first anthrax letter received was dated
9/11, but postmarked the 18th, indicating that
it may have been an attempt to piggyback one horror on top
of another. Secondly, look at the targets: I'm not sure what
anti-Semitic, ultra-right extremists have against the Mirror
and the National Enquirer, but Tom Daschle, Tom Brokaw,
and the adamantly pro-Israel New York Post seem like
prime targets for such groups.
any case, the preponderance of the evidence we know about
so far points, not to the involvement of any state, but to
an amateur effort: one that could have been pulled off by
Al Qaeda acting alone, or any number of other nut-ball groups
originating right here in America.
call off the dogs of perpetual war, Bill Kristol and Michael
Barone and somebody puh-leeze tell Andrew Sullivan
to chill out, willya? Candy Andy was his
usual fun-loving self the other day, averring that in
the past the US has wielded the threat of nuclear retaliation
against biological warfare, and demanding that the Bushies
"act now" and "draw a line." This, we
are assured, "need not mean nuclear weapons"
but, then again, it just might be a good idea, anyway. Oh,
Sullivan is an expert on everything: even before the scientific
evidence was in, he just knew it was Iraq all along:
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."
Andrew Sullivan, 10/17/01
Andy, dead wrong: but of course we'll never see any acknowledgment
of his error. Never mind that, if he'd had his way, the US
would have nuked Iraq last week. Being the fair-haired neocon
boy-pundit of both the London and the New York Times means
never having to say you're sorry.
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
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