I know it
will give at least some a thrill of vicarious fear to note
that the corner grocery on my block is run by Arabs. No doubt
this would have sent a good deal of my readership right over
the edge, with a call to 911 "Help! I've been anthraxed
by some rag-heads!" or at least a visit to the emergency
room of our local hospital. But, somehow, I restrained myself
OR WAS IT COCAINE?
I wouldn't have even noticed such a small occurrence, or,
if I had, it wouldn't have really registered as anything significant.
Under the present circumstances, however
It turned out to
be sugar at least it tasted like sugar, although it did
have a certain cocainish edge but in the back of my mind
I keep thinking: what if it wasn't? What if
part of our long national nightmare, a paroxysm of paranoia
being ratcheted up not on a daily but an hourly basis.
It began on 9/11 and will end when? The all-too-horrible
answer is: probably never. From now on we will have
to live in what they call "the fog of war," a state where
nothing is certain but the aura of doom and death that hangs
over even the most mundane activities such as going to the
corner store to get a sandwich and some smokes. Not that I'm
all that scared after all, how likely is it that Al Qaeda
has taken over a corner store in Pacific Heights, and is using
it to conduct a mass poisoning of San Francisco's haute
bourgeoisie? Well, now that you mention it
MEN OF MYSTERY
about as likely as a good number of the news stories I've
been reading, lately. There's the one about how the Federal
Bureau of Investigation is royally po'ed that six men of "Middle
Eastern appearance" were stopped by cops, somewhere in the
Midwest and let go under some pretty suspicious circumstances.
Although found to be carrying Israeli passports along with
plans of a nuclear power plant and the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline
and the obligatory box-cutters the six were subsequently
sent on their merry way. This supposedly happened over the
weekend, and, as many times as Attorney General John Ashcroft
denies it, it keeps popping up as a news story everywhere.
Reuters, and especially the Jerusalem Post with its
rather startling headline: "FBI
Suspects Israelis of Nuclear Terrorism"!
IT'S A SECRET
aspect of all this is we don't know the truth of the matter,
never mind how many times Ashcroft and the Bush team deny
it. For our rulers have already declared, in advance, that
this "new war" requires a level of near-absolute secrecy:
the President himself has stated that much of the action will
take place in the dark. Perhaps this is one of those battles.
THE NEW SURREALISM
As the boundaries
between reality and fantasy begin to dissolve, the flurry
of outrageous and seemingly outlandish news stories continues
to assault us, like the first snowstorm of winter. I especially
like the one about how Osama bin Laden underwent treatment
at the American Hospital in Dubai where he was visited
by a CIA agent who later boasted about it.
wasn't a report out of conspiracy.com, but an account
first published in Le Figaro, the respected French newspaper,
and repeated over Radio France International. According to
"an authoritative source," Le Figaro contends that
Osama arrived in Dubai on July 4, from Quetta, Pakistan, by
air. The world's most wanted man was taken from the airport
to the hospital, where he underwent treatment for a kidney
ailment. Aside from boggling the mind, this makes a certain
amount of sense: after all, reports that he has been on a
dialysis machine are rife, and Qatar seems to be a key locus
of terrorist activity. Furthermore, the Le Figaro account
is very specific: it names the doctor who supposedly treated
Osama, a Dr. Terry Callaway, who repeatedly declined to comment.
So, if it's not true, why not say so? The hospital has denied
it, as has the CIA, but Le Figaro and RFI are not
only standing by their story, they're also adding
a few more juicy details.
CRAZY AND CREDIBLE
reports have identified the CIA agent as Larry Mitchell, "a
connoisseur of the Arab world and specialist of the (Arab)
peninsula." According to this report, Mitchell's business
card described his position as a "consular agent," and I guess
that's close enough. At any rate, Mitchell was suddenly recalled
to CIA headquarters on July 12, a few days before Osama's
gallstones were sufficiently appeased to allow him to check
out of the hospital and fly back to his cave. It's crazy!
And, you know what? In the strange, hallucinated atmosphere
of the Halloween War, all of this seems perfectly
know what to believe anymore. The result is that I'm ready
to believe anything, and nothing. Anything is possible
anything, that is, but the expected. That's why I've done
such a turnaround on the anthrax question. I was, at first,
implacably skeptical when it came to the domestic terrorism
angle: after all, how could an attempt to kill the US Congress,
half the media, and various and sundry others be unrelated
to 9/11? Surely the simplest explanation would be the most
obvious, i.e. one pointing directly to Osama and Al Qaeda.
This, on the face of it, is a much more credible theory than
positing yet another terrorist group with a different sort
of agenda. And yet
THIS JUST IN
evidence is pointing, at this juncture, in another direction
entirely. The latest development in this unfolding story is
the news that very
similar threatening letters were mailed to the media before
9/11 with an uncanny resemblance to the post-9/11 anthrax-laden
missives. The New York Post, which has been all over
the domestic terrorism angle of this story, reports that many
in the Justice Department and the FBI believe "the anthrax
scare is the work of a twisted homegrown menace rather than
a terrorist linked to state-sponsored action or Osama bin
Laden." Editorially, the Post is committed to the Iraq-did-it
scenario: that their news department is doggedly pursuing
another line of inquiry gives it added credibility, in my
start delving into the domestic terrorism angle, a whole vista
of fascinating and bizarre scenarios opens up in front of
your eyes. The Post story mentions "Wicca," a "pagan
cult," as the possible culprit, and then goes on to report:
Wiccan group fashions itself as modern-day witches seeking
religious freedom, but they are not known to be violent. Investigators
are probing whether a disturbed member of the group may have
taken a bizarre turn and is targeting the media and the government
OVER THE HILL
AND AROUND THE BEND
Hey, I have
news for the author of this story: Anyone who believes they
can cast spells, and, presumably, fly around on a broomstick
by the light of the full moon, is already seriously
disturbed. There is no question of whether such a person might
take a bizarre turn they have already gone completely around
the bend. I have my own doubts about this Wiccan-gone-wrong
theory, and tend to prefer the right-wing extremist angle.
Not out of any ideological preference, you understand since
I'm something of a right-wing extremist myself but simply
because of what we already know.
A NOTE FROM
know that some
especially wacko ultra-rightists have long been fascinated
by anthrax as a weapon in their racial-cultural jihad,
is an especially interesting account of it not by some
left-wing pro-Taliban rightist-baiting commie, as you might
expect, but from a poster on FreeRepublic, the popular conservative
posting discussion site. In a long
and quite interesting essay on the neglected prehistory
of the anthrax scare, the anonymous poster "Joe
Everyman" relates the intriguing story of one Larry
Wayne Harris, a 49 year old registered microbiologist with
two felony convictions for conspiracy to commit extortion
in 1981 and 1982.
Harris was arrested again, with three
vials of bubonic plague toxins in the glove compartment
of his car. Charged with mail fraud for using his company
letterhead to fraudulently obtain plague germs from a Maryland
biological supply firm, he got 18 months probation. In 1998,
Harris was in trouble with the law again, this
time in connection with possession of anthrax. It seems,
however, that the form he had was nontoxic.
Assuming the posture of a harmless crank, he claimed he never
intended to hurt anyone, and was writing a book, a manual
designed to protect Americans against the threat of
biological warfare: and, indeed, Harris did issue a volume
with the prescient title of: Bacteriological Warfare: Major
Threat to North America. A little too prescient, perhaps
is also the producer of a series of tape cassettes, one of
which is entitled "Germ Warfare In U.S.?" in the course of
which, according to "Joe Everyman," Harris "discusses an alleged
plot of Iraqi students relayed to him to introduce the American
public to bioterrorism." Interestingly, at the time of his
earlier arrests, Harris reportedly owned labs north of Las
Vegas, and in Frankfurt, Germany, the apparent locus of the
WHO ARE THEY
has some interesting ideological affiliations. According to
the FBI, and several news reports, Harris is a member of the
white supremacist Aryan Nations. The Aryans denied this, at
first, and then admitted that, yes, he had been a member,
but was no longer affiliated with their nut-ball group. The
National Alliance whose leader, William Pierce, is the author
of The Turner Diaries, which influenced Timothy McVeigh
is another group linked to Wayne, along with some militia
connections. As "Joe Everyman" put it:
much as I hate to draw the parallel, who remembers the initial
reaction of the American public in the immediate aftermath
of the Oklahoma City bombing? The FBI was not looking for
a Caucasian. And we aren't doing that now. It makes you wonder
who the FBI is looking for
G-MEN IN CYBERSPACE?
the FBI is logged on to Free Republic, and they caught "Joe
Everyman's" little essay, perhaps not: in any case, it looks
like this is the trail they're following at present, and they
know a lot more than we do I hope. Indeed, the highest
circles of the Bush administration must be fairly certain
that the anthrax scare definitely isn't a case of terrorism
from abroad why else would they have scotched
a French proposal that the UN Security Council condemn
interesting detail of this story: in the summer of 1997, Harris
purportedly announced his plans to place a "globe" of bubonic
plague toxins in a New York subway station and stated that
the resulting hundreds of thousands of deaths would be blamed
on Iraq. Interviewed
by PBS's Frontline in October 1998, Wayne made some statements
that, in retrospect, sound positively eerie:
WAYNE HARRIS: My view of the future is that we are facing
now a biological apocalypse. It is coming. The Bible says
that it is coming.
Larry Wayne Harris, a member of the white supremacist group
Aryan Nation, has been in constant trouble with the law for
his attempts to obtain plague bacteria and Anthrax through
the mail. Harris has written a manual for do-it-yourself biological
warfare, and he claims it is easy to acquire these deadly
INTERVIEWER: How would you obtain samples of anthrax?
Anthrax? Go out where cows have died of anthrax. Dig down
to where the bodies are. Get a sample of the culture. Grow
INTERVIEWER: How would you obtain a sample of plague?
The rats the plague usually inhabits- rats would like to be
above 5,000-foot altitude. Go out in California, get above
the 5,000-foot mark. Catch you some rats, get some blood samples.
Bingo, you got your plague.
INTERVIEWER: Could you personally use biological organisms
offensively, if you had to?
Most definitely. I- I hope I never have- we never have to,
but most definitely.
INTERVIEWER: Do you believe, looking into the future,
that you may have to?
I hope and pray that I never have to.
INTERVIEWER: That's not the question, Mr. Harris.
I am not
accusing Harris of anything, merely offering material to my
readers and letting them make their own decisions. But I do
have a tentative theory, one that could help explain the domestic
terrorism angle in terms that illuminate the key element of
motive. We all know what Osama would have to gain from
inculcating fear and even panic in Americans: and it is logical
to think that the anthrax scare is yet another phase of the
war at home. But the facts, at least so far including the
medical-scientific evidence don't fit in with this thesis,
and so we are forced to ask: what would a domestic group of
terrorists have to gain, especially an extreme rightist group,
from such a terror campaign?
the key to understanding this is in Wayne's declaration that
"the Bible says it is coming." Of course, the Bible predicts
the coming of plagues, but it also predicts an apocalyptic
war, a final conflict that will trigger the Second Coming
of Christ. This is fervently believed by many, if not all,
fundamentalist Christians. Wayne's insistence hope?
that his New York City subway scheme would be blamed on Iraq
reflects a desire, I believe, to bring on war and the apocalypse,
to quicken it and therefore hurry along the Second Coming.
IRONY MAY BE
it's crazy but no wackier than any of the other stuff that's
going on these days. And, if true, there's something fittingly
ironic about the idea that the true culprits, instead of being
foreign fundamentalists, are some of our own.
of $50 or more will get you a copy of Ronald Radosh's out-of-print
classic study of Old Right conservatives, Prophets on the
Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism.
Send contributions to
520 S. Murphy Avenue, Suite #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
or Contribute Via
our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form
are now tax-deductible