Skip to comments.Domestic Anthrax Theories and Early Media Reports
Posted on 04/06/2004 1:53:01 PM PDT by Shermy
I recently found some interesting articles about anthrax, the domestic theory, and Hatfill that gave me some new ideas to consider.
Foremostly, I found that the first comments espousing the domestic theory often arose in the context of a war on Iraq, or finishing the war, depending on how you look at it. For years the government tried to build the consensus to getting rid of Saddam. Before and immediately after 9/11 Bush made it clear he wanted to complete the job.
Interestingly the first voice after 9/11 against finishing off Iraq and dissuading consideration that the anthrax was Iraqi was Scott Ritter.
I have also been curious as to who the experts Barbara Hatch Rosenberg often referenced. The experts that assumed the anthrax was a domestic attack, then within a few months identified Hatfill as the perpetrator.
Below are a variety of articles chronologically listed. They are early media reports touching on the domestic theory, then a focus on BHRs theories in 2001 and early 2002. Its interesting, for one, to observe how the domestic theory adapted in light of ongoing publication of information about the sophistication of the weaponized anthrax. And perhaps these articles help identify some of the group expousing a domestic theory. Was Ritter one of the group? Very possible IMO. Even Robert Novak of Plamegate fame pops up to tell us what we should think. (Valerie Plame is a CIA WMD expert, wife of anti-war advocate Ambassador Joseph Wilson).
Who are these officials and experts referenced in various articles? The use of unnamed officials werent so prominent in articles about AQ and Afghanistan as they were in those discussing Iraq.
Was there an organized campaign of disinformation to pin the anthrax as domestic? (Isnt there always?) What was the campaigns purpose...Personal? Political? To absolve Iraq in order to lessen chances of Saddams removal regardless of where the anthrax weapon came from, domestic or foreign? Did people have an axe to grind against Hatfill? Grist for the rumor mill? Witch hunt? Any foreign involvement or management? Iraq? Russia and France had much money to lose with Saddams removal. Here you go....
BACKGOUND ON RITTER AND IRAQ:
February 21, 2001
Bush blows hard, but Hussein sits as strong as ever
US policy towards Iraq is causing division at home GEORGE W. Bush's air strikes on Iraq at the weekend (Australian time) were highly symbolic. First, they reminded the rest of the world that whatever jokes they've been making about him, the US President still commands the most powerful military force on the planet. Second, coming 10 years to the month after the Gulf War, they are a reminder that the two previous unofficial rulers of the world, George Bush senior and Bill Clinton -- were not powerful enough to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Together these points show that the US needs a new policy to deal with Iraq and the man it sees as public enemy No.1. Right now, the Bush administration does not yet have its own strategy for Hussein, unless you count the national missile defence plan, which is usually justified as being needed because of the potential threat from rogue states such as Iraq. But a rethink is vital because it is clear the containment policy begun by Bush's father and more or less kept up by Clinton has outlived its usefulness. Ten years after the Gulf War was won, US hopes that Hussein would be ousted from power have come to nought. In fact, CIA chief George Tenet recently told Congress that Hussein appeared increasingly confident in his ability to stay in power. ...
Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia) July 20, 2001
America tried to provoke Saddam
....A former UN weapons inspector has accused the United States of manipulating the UN to provoke a confrontation with Saddam Hussein as a pretext for US airstrikes on Iraq. Scott Ritter, a former US Marines intelligence officer, says in a new TV documentary that hours before he left for Baghdad to lead an inspection mission he was told he had to "provoke a confrontation . . . so the US can start bombing". No confrontation eventuated, but nine months later, in December, 1998, a confrontation with another weapons inspector resulted in a declaration that Iraq was not co-operating with weapons inspectors. The US and Britain then launched air strikes. Former chief UN inspector Richard Butler, who was Mr Ritter's boss, said the allegations were "completely false". The documentary traces the history of the UN Special Commission created by the UN Security Council after the 1991 Gulf War to oversee the destruction of Iraq's biological and chemical weapons.
POST 9/11 STORY EXCERPTS
September 23, 2001
THE BIG IDEA
By J. H. Guillemin is professor of sociology at Boston College and senior Fellow at MIT's Security Studies Program. She is the author of "Anthrax: The Investigation of a Deadly Outbreak.";
THE NEW NEW TERRORISM BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS: AVOIDING THE NEXT, WORST THREAT BYLINE: BY J. H. GUILLEMIN
The unprecedented magnitude of the terrorist assault on the United States - the hijackers' use of fully fueled, 400,000-pound planes as bombs, the murder of more than 6,000 people, almost all civilians, the invasion of the nation's economic and political capitals - has brought home American vulnerability to massively lethal weapons.
What's next? Could terrorists also use a devastating biological, chemical, or nuclear weapon against our cities?
The US government has been asking the same question, with increasing concern about bioterrorism. Pound for pound, biological weapons - like anthrax, plague, tularemia, or smallpox - are considered a bargain among weapons of mass destruction. They are more accessible than nuclear arms, more effectively concentrated than chemical agents. Still, relative to conventional explosives, the obstacles to using biological weapons are great.
Myriads of people are trained in the use of explosives and conventional weapons that can be readily acquired. Very few have ever made a biological weapon capable of decimating a population. To make biological weapons requires laboratories equipped for development and testing and also production facilities, as well as the manufacture and transport of complex munitions. Modern nations have preferred precision weapons with immediate destructive force, rather than any difficult-to-target biological agent aerosol with its delayed, erratic epidemic "kill factor..."
October 9, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle
Scientific sleuths hunt for source of anthrax strain; Genes could tell where bacteria found in Florida originated
Scientists analyzing the anthrax bacteria that killed a Florida newspaper photo editor may be able to pinpoint just where on the globe the deadly bugs may have originated.
"If that strain turns out to come from Iraq or is a former Soviet Union strain, all hell is going to break loose," said medical anthropologist Jeanne Guillemin, author of "Anthrax, the Investigation of a Deadly Outbreak."
Bob Stevens, 63, died Friday from inhalational anthrax, a disease so rare that its appearance at any time is cause for serious concern that terrorists could have unleashed it.
A researcher at Northern Arizona State University said she could not comment about any work at the lab involving anthrax. "Anthrax" author Guillemin and her husband, Harvard biochemist Matthew Meselson, are among the only Americans to have studied an outbreak of inhalational anthrax. The couple interviewed 56 families of victims of an accidental anthrax release from a biological weapons laboratory that occurred in the former Soviet Union town of Sverdlovsk in 1979. ....
October 12, 2001
Bioterror road doesn't lead to Iraq
By Scott Ritter
Los Angeles Times, (Oct. 15 Plain Dealer)
The threat of a biological attack against the United States has become a major theme in the aftermath of Sept. 11. The investigation of anthrax infections fuels this concern. While Operation Enduring Freedom targets Afghanistan as the home of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, the complexity and sophistication of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon strongly suggest a state sponsor. Now reports out of the Czech Republic indicate that one of the terrorists met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague earlier this year. It has become all too convenient to automatically link Iraq with biological weapons. While there is a legitimate concern about the status of the United Nations' efforts to account for all of Iraq's weapons programs, this concern must be tempered by the reality that most of Iraq's biological agents, along with its production facilities, have been destroyed.
In any event, Iraq isn't the most logical choice for sponsoring terror activities undertaken by fundamentalist Islamic groups. Iraq is a secular dictatorship that has for 30 years undertaken its own brutal internal oppression of Islamic fundamentalists. On the other hand, Iraq does possess the wherewithal and motivation to plan, organize and assist in such a terror operation. For more than a decade, Iraq has chafed at the U.S.-led economic sanctions and enforcement of "no-fly" zones in northern and southern Iraq designed to contain the regime of Saddam Hussein - who was reported to be chortling over the killing of thousands of innocent Americans. The stalemate that currently exists concerning Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs further exacerbates its anti-American demeanor.
Iraq maintains that its weapons programs have been eliminated and that U.N. weapons inspectors had become pawns of U.S. intelligence. The United States, in turn, says that Iraq lied to the weapons inspectors and continues to maintain stockpiles of prohibited materials. It is said that politics makes for strange bedfellows. But Iraq has sought to embrace the Western model of economics and society - however misguided the Iraqi interpretation of these may be. Hussein and bin Laden are complete opposites in terms of ideology and motivation, making them natural enemies as opposed to secret allies.
The Bush administration has shown little inclination to pursue the issue of returning U.N. weapons inspectors to Iraq, instead using the absence of inspections to hype the threat of a rearmed Iraq. The alleged meeting in Prague creates the additional specter of Iraq as a state sponsor of terror and makes talk of a renewed bombing campaign against Iraq suddenly appear to be more imminent than conceptual. With its military poorly trained and equipped, its economy in tatters and once-vaunted weapons of mass destruction largely dismantled by U.N. weapons inspectors, Iraq today represents a threat to no one. Investigations into the anthrax cases point more toward sources other than Iraq.
In this time of crisis, the United States must stay focused on the mission that confronts it. Throwing Iraq into the mix of targets associated with the terror attacks against the United States - absent any verifiable linkage - should be avoided at all costs. Ritter, a former U.N. weapons inspector, is the author of "Endgame: Solving the Iraqi Problem, Once and For @All." (Los Angeles Times)
October 13, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle
Anthrax scare lacks signature of terrorists; Disgruntled U.S. citizen seems likeliest source, experts say , By Kevin Fagan
If this week's anthrax scare is the handiwork of terrorists, they're most likely homegrown psychopaths like the Unabomber -- not a tightly organized ring. The target total is too small, the methods too crude and the anthrax too unsophisticated to be part of a concerted attack by the same stripe of terrorists who planned the devastating Sept. 11 hijackings, experts say.
This, of course, is not to discount -- with the investigation still sketchy -- the possibility that the anthrax cases were clumsy, small blows mainly meant to spread fear cheaply. But those who study terrorism and stealthy crime don't buy that. So far. "Neither the cases in New York nor those in Florida look like full-blown bioterrorism," said anthrax expert Jeanne Guillemin, who investigated an accidental release of spores from a Soviet biological weapons lab in 1979. "It looks more like the Unabomber, a disgruntled individual who has it in for people." For proof of their theories, she and others simply point to the numbers and the methods of operation. Three people were found to be infected -- one fatally -- with airborne anthrax at a supermarket tabloid company in Florida. Yesterday, an NBC news assistant in New York tested positive for skin-contact anthrax. And other unconfirmed reports of possible cases popped up around the country. ...
October 14, 2001
Iraq behind US anthrax outbreaks
-Pentagon hardliners press for strikes on Saddam
-Britain's GPs put on full alert over deadly disease
War on Terrorism: Observer special
David Rose and Ed Vulliamy, New York Sunday October 14, 2001 The Observer
American investigators probing anthrax outbreaks in Florida and New York believe they have all the hallmarks of a terrorist attack - and have named Iraq as prime suspect as the source of the deadly spores.
Their inquiries are adding to what US hawks say is a growing mass of evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved, possibly indirectly, with the 11 September hijackers.
If investigators' fears are confirmed - and sceptics fear American hawks could be publicising the claim to press their case for strikes against Iraq - the pressure now building among senior Pentagon and White House officials in Washington for an attack may become irresistible.
Plans have been discussed among Pentagon strategists for US air strike support for armed insurrections against Saddam by rebel Kurds in the north and Shia Muslims in the south with a promise of American ground troops to protect the oilfields of Basra.
Contact has already been made with an Iraqi opposition group based in London with a view to installing its members as a future government in Baghdad.
Leading US intelligence sources, involved with both the CIA and the Defence Department, told The Observer that the 'giveaway' which suggests a state sponsor for the anthrax cases is that the victims in Florida were afflicted with the airborne form of the disease. ...
October 15, 2001
No evidence against Iraq
By: Robert Novak
Carefully built coalition would collapse if U.S. tried to rid world of Saddam Hussein now
Lord Robertson, NATO's secretary-general, on his visit to Washington last week privately and individually briefed U.S. senators he has known since his days as British defense minister during the Kosovo war. He told them there is no evidence--"not a scintilla," as quoted by one senator-- linking Iraq with the Sept. 11 attack on America.
That confirms what intelligence sources have told me. (Shades of Novaks Plamegate sources)The relentless investigation of the terrorist assault has developed massive evidence pointing to Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida organization. No comparable links to Iraq have been found. The Iraqi connection, say these sources, is a matter of speculation. If nothing has been uncovered by now, it is unlikely there ever will be compelling proof. (IMO a very strained argument).
.....While U.S. officials declined to rule out an Iraqi role on Sept. 11, the British have come close to doing so. "I am not aware of any evidence pointing to Iraq's complicity in those outrages," Robin Cook, leader of the House of Commons and former foreign secretary, said Oct. 4. (Ie, Cook doesnt decline to rule it out, despite Novaks insinuation).
Evidence of an Iraqi connection is less than circumstantial. Mohamed Atta, a Sept. 11 hijacker and an apparent leader in the terrorist conspiracy, met in Prague earlier this year with an unnamed Iraqi intelligence official. CNN's David Ensor last week quoted U.S. sources as saying the two men had an earlier meeting last year. U.S. intelligence officials are still investigating these meetings but emphasize that they can draw no conclusions.
The principal justification for assaulting Iraq is the need to prevent Saddam from wielding weapons of mass destruction. Because Iraq does not have nuclear capacity and chemical weapons are not a threat; the concern is biological warfare. Here, too, there is no evidence. "I don't see Iraq being able to do high-quality production on a large scale of bioweapons," former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter told Fox News Network last Tuesday. Larry Johnson, the former State Department deputy director of counterterrorism, told CNN on Thursday that the United States destroyed the Iraqis chemical and biological weapons and Saddam has "not built back up to the levels he had prior to the Gulf War." (So?)
The final rationale for unilateral U.S. military action against Saddam is alleged Iraqi sponsorship of the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center. Intelligence sources told me this connection is hypothetical and certainly not proved. (Richard Clarke again? Didnt he talk about this in his book?) The only credible link is Abdul Rahman Yasin, who was indicted on 20 counts in the 1993 bombing and fled to Baghdad. Saddam's failure to surrender a fugitive to a country with whom he has very unfriendly relations is hardly surprising. Extradition often is difficult even for countries with friendly relations.
Sober officials inside the administration believe the president should do no more than watch Iraq, unless and until it is clearly implicated in the murderous events of Sept. 11. ...
October 15, 2001
New York Times
New Tactic Of Terrorists Is to Attack The Media
If the idea was to get attention, the individuals who sent anthrax into the mailrooms of two American media companies could hardly have done better. If the idea was to increase the jitters in a grieving, nervous population, the people who dispatched the anthrax-carrying mail and those who sent the frightening copycat letters containing what appeared to be harmless white powder also succeeded. But whatever the purpose and whoever the culprits, the scattershot attacks on national and regional news companies were an unusual tactic. Even groups who profess hatred of the media use it to raise their profile.
Its brilliant," said Jessica Eve Stern, a lecturer on terrorism at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. "What better way to guarantee that you're going to get attention than to attack the media directly?"
Who did it? The timing, and the continuing threats from Osama bin Laden's network, Al Qaeda, make that group an easy suspect. In an appearance on Friday on the PBS program, "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer," Vice President Dick Cheney noted that Mr. bin Laden's group trained its followers to use chemical and biological weapons. Implying a link between Mr. bin Laden and the anthrax incidents, he said, "Again, we have not completed the investigation and maybe it's a coincidence, but I must say I'm a skeptic."
Juliette N. Kayyem, the executive director of the program on domestic preparedness at the Kennedy School, was more cautious. So far, little is known, she said. "We shouldn't go into this with blinders on trying to link this to Sept. 11. " The media, she said, "has not been a particular target of Islamic fundamentalist groups or groups we associate with Sept. 11. It has been a target of right-wing groups in America."
The one thing that Islamic radicals and American right-wing radicals have in common, she added, is a paranoid belief that American media outlets are pawns in a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. And one of the letters that has been a focus of the anthrax investigation in Florida came with a Star of David inside.
...At Harvard, Ms. Stern also finds some logic in suspecting the media attacks may have a domestic origin. "Right-wing extremists," she said, "are obsessed with biological warfare." She has studied a former member of a neo-Nazi group who in 1997 was arrested -- though the parole- violation charges were later dismissed -- for claiming, falsely, that he had "military-grade" anthrax in his possession....
October 18, 2003
The Guardian (London)
Attack on Afghanistan: Investigation: Weapons-grade anthrax used in Senate attack: Uphill struggle to pinpoint source of killer disease
Anthrax of the grade involved in the Senate attack could not have been manufactured by terrorist organisations without some form of state-level help, leading biological weapons experts said last night. Scientists believe that the enormous complexities involved in producing the sort of "military grade" material that US officials say was found in senator Tom Daschle's office preclude a lone terrorist being behind the incidents.
But officials last night appeared to rule out the anthrax having been produced by a foreign state. The term "military grade" means that the spores had been dried and milled down to a size of between one and five microns - the crucial range for anthrax to become an effective weapon. Any bigger than five microns, and the spores get stuck in the victim's nasal passages and are not capable of being suspended in the air; any smaller than one micron and the victims would exhale it. Jonathan Ban, a research associate at the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute in Washington, said: "If the anthrax is between one and five microns, then that is the traditional route which states have gone down to develop anthrax as a militarily efficient biological weapon. "That raises the possibility of some state sponsorship, perhaps not in the normal sense of a government allowing the transfer of biological agents, but maybe by individuals within government or weapons programmes leaking the material."
"Only a handful of countries have successfully weaponised anthrax and that was with hundreds of millions of dollars, the very best scientists, years of expertise and unlimited access to anthrax agents," Mr Ban said. "It took the state weapons programmes decades to figure this out and that is why I do not believe that terrorists have the capability to produce it themselves." Scott Ritter, a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, agreed. "If this is anthrax which has been milled down to the one to five micron size . . . then we have a problem because this shows that this is more than just people accessing routine stocks of vaccine quality or laboratory research quality anthrax and mailing it about," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme yesterday.
Investigators face an uphill struggle in establishing which state the anthrax may have originated from. More than a dozen other countries are believed to have had anthrax biological weapons programmes. These include Syria, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Egypt, China, India, North and South Korea, Bulgaria, and Russia. The conventional wisdom in Washington is that it must have been Iraq, but Mr Ritter dismissed that as wild speculation. He said: "By 1998, it was a well known fact that while we were not able to verify the totality of the disarmament of Iraq's bioweapons programme, we were able to establish in no uncertain terms that Iraq had no capability of producing chemical weapons. We covered Iraq up and down and all around, every square inch and there was nothing there."
October 19, 2001
Don't blame Saddam for this one [Anthrax]
by Scott Ritter
The current spate of anthrax attacks on media and government buildings in the United States has heightened the undercurrent of concern since September 11 about the possibility of links between the perpetrators and the Iraqi regime. However, fears that the hidden hand of Saddam Hussein lies behind these attacks are based on rumour and speculation that, under closer scrutiny, fail to support the weight of the charge.
First, there is the history of UN weapons inspections in Iraq from 1991 to 1998. It is true that Iraq has not fully complied with its disarmament obligation, particularly in the field of biological weapons. However, this failure does not equate to a retained biological weapons capability. Far from it. Under the most stringent on-site inspection regime in the history of arms control, Iraq's biological weapons programmes were dismantled, destroyed or rendered harmless during the course of hundreds of no-notice inspections. The major biological weapons production facility - al Hakum, which was responsible for producing Iraq's anthrax - was blown up by high explosive charges and all its equipment destroyed. Other biological facilities met the same fate if it was found that they had, at any time, been used for research and development of biological weapons.
Moreover, Iraq was subjected to intrusive, full-time monitoring of all facilities with a potential biological application. Breweries, animal feed factories, vaccine and drug manufacturing facilities, university research laboratories and all hospitals were subject to constant, repeated inspections. Thousands of swabs and samples were taken from buildings and soil throughout Iraq. No evidence of anthrax or any other biological agent was discovered. While it was impossible to verify that all of Iraq's biological capability had been destroyed, the UN never once found evidence that Iraq had either retained biological weapons or associated production equipment, or was continuing work in the field.
Another mitigating factor is purely scientific: Iraq procured the Vollum strain of anthrax from American Type Culture Collection, a company based in Rockville, Maryland, which provides commercially available viruses - such as anthrax - to consumers worldwide. While Iraq had investigated other strains, including those indigenous to the country, it was the Vollum strain that Iraq mass-produced for weapon use. It is a unique, highly virulent form of anthrax, and its use would represent the kind of link needed to suggest Iraq as a likely source. That is not to say that the presence of a Vollum strain would automatically indict Iraq, or that a non- Vollum strain clears Iraq. However, federal investigators currently think that the anthrax used in New York and Florida is the same strain, most probably the Ames strain, a variety native to the US. The strain used in Washington is as yet unidentified, but it has been assessed as non-weapons grade and responsive to antibiotics. Based upon this information, it would be irresponsible to speculate about a Baghdad involvement.
There is also the political factor. Despite the ongoing efforts of the US and Great Britain to maintain economic sanctions, Baghdad has been very successful in developing a political and diplomatic momentum to get them lifted since weapons inspectors left three years ago. The events of September 11 brought this anti-sanctions momentum to a halt. It makes absolutely no sense for Iraq to be involved in a bio-terror attack that, in one fell swoop, undermines what has been Iraq's number one priority over the past decade: the lifting of economic sanctions.
There is another side to the political equation. America's policy towards Iraq continues to be one of abject failure, and President Bush's administration exhibits the same level of frustration and impotence shown by its predecessor in trying to piece together a viable plan for dealing with Saddam's continued survival. Washington finds itself groping for something upon which to hang its anti-Saddam policies and the current anthrax scare has provided a convenient cause. It would be a grave mistake for some in the Bush administration to undermine the effort to bring to justice those who perpetrated the cowardly attacks against the US by trying to implement their own ideologically-driven agenda on Iraq. Those who have suggested that Iraq is the source of the anthrax used in the current attacks - including Richard Butler, a former chairman of the UN weapons inspection effort - merely fan the flames of fear and panic. There is no verifiable link whatever and it is irresponsible for someone of Mr Butler's stature to be involved in unsubstantiated speculation. His behaviour has, it seems, been guided by animosity towards Baghdad, rather than the facts.
·Scott Ritter was a UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991-8. His book Endgame is published by Simon & Schuster.
October 21, 2001
FIGHTING TERROR DIPLOMATIC AND DOMESTIC FRONTS / THE BIOTERROR CASE; IN ANTHRAX PUZZLE, SOME SEE EVIDENCE POINTING WITHIN US
By Kevin Cullen,
While the panic over anthrax appears to be based largely on a presumption it is linked to the Sept. 11 attacks by Islamic extremists, a growing number of analysts say the letters containing anthrax sent to news organizations and the US Senate are as likely a case of domestic terrorism. The FBI has yet to point a finger at a suspect in the letters sent to American Media Inc. in South Florida, three major American television networks in New York, and the office of US Senate majority leader Tom Daschle. On Friday, Tom Ridge, director of the Office of Homeland Security, said the anthrax in the three cases appeared to be from the same source.
Some specialists, including Richard Butler, the former UN chief weapons inspector, say evidence points to the anthrax being supplied to Islamic terrorists in the United States by a hostile government such as Iraq. Others insist there is not enough evidence yet to say whether the source of the anthrax attacks is foreign or domestic. But a significant group of specialists on bioweapons - including Scott Ritter, a UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998 - say they believe it is likely that domestic antiestablishment, anti-US government, or extreme right- wing groups are involved in the anthrax attacks. .
Among the points raised by Ritter or others who hold this view: The crude, relatively ineffective delivery system of the anthrax, which has killed just one person and has infected only a half dozen others, seems amateur in comparison with the planning, precision, and sheer audacity of the extremists who plotted for years to collapse the World Trade Center towers by crashing commercial airliners into them. (IMO very weak argument.) Neo-Nazi groups have long coveted anthrax as a weapon to use against their perceived enemies. Antiabortion extremists have for years threatened abortion clinics with anthrax. The news organizations attacked constitute the heart of the "liberal media" (--New York Post?) often demonized by antigovernment and right- wing extremists. Daschle is the highest-ranking member of the Democratic Party in Washington, a whipping boy for antigovernment and right-wing extremists. The type of anthrax used in the letters sent to Florida, Washington, and New York was not genetically modified to withstand antibiotic treatment, as might be the anthrax created by Iraqi and Russian biological weapons programs. (Who leaked that supposed fact? Again, excusing Iraq and Russia)
...But they say there is so far no evidence that would support that theory. Ritter said he sees nothing yet that would point the finger at Iraq as the source of the anthrax in the United States. He said that the evidence points to someone who was more likely influenced by the likes of Timothy McVeigh than Osama bin Laden, and that the anthrax probably was obtained in the United States. "The anthrax that Iraq manufactured was weapons grade, and the anthrax that's been mailed around is not," said Ritter. (IMO first media printing of the simple anthrax theory.) "The evidence I've seen suggests someone has gained access to a strain" of anthrax that has been traced to Iowa in the 1950s. "You can't discount Iraqi involvement," Ritter said, "but it doesn't make sense. We disarmed them. It wasn't perfect, but we destroyed a lot of their biological capabilities. And on a political level, there is a lot of international momentum in Iraq's favor right now, about ending sanctions, about ending US-British patrols in the no-fly zones. Why risk that?"
But Butler, who as the UN's chief of weapons inspections was Ritter's boss, has pointed a finger at Iraq. Butler could not be reached for comment, but in an op-ed piece in Thursday's New York Times, Butler hinted at Iraqi involvement. Citing US intelligence reports that Mohamed Atta, the reputed leader of the 19 suspects in the Sept. 11 attacks, had met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in September 2000, Butler speculated that the meeting "may have been an occasion on which anthrax was provided to Mr. Atta." Ritter, who has clashed regularly with Butler over Iraq and US policy in the Middle East, called Butler's speculation "irresponsible" and said it was based on Butler's animosity toward Iraq more than probability.
Edith Flynn, a longtime researcher and specialist on terrorism at Northeastern University, said she was reluctant to rule out Iraq but "nearly all of the evidence that we have now points to this being a case of domestic terrorism." "There is a prior history in which right-wing crazies and neo-Nazis have dabbled in biological" weapons, said Flynn, who has written extensively on terrorism. "My thesis is that 80 to 90 percent of the anthrax stuff we've seen is homegrown because these extremist groups are using the cover of a national calamity to advance their own agendas."
Jessica Stern, a lecturer on terrorism at Harvard University who has interviewed right- wing extremists for her research, said antigovernment groups have been trying to perfect the use of anthrax for years. "Right-wing extremists are obsessed with anthrax," said Stern. But wanting to use anthrax as a weapon and having the technology and know-how needed to obtain a culture, process it into spores, then mill it so it can be distributed to maximum deadly effect are two different matters. The latter requires a lot of money and knowledge. ...
Flynn, Stern, and Ritter said the targets chosen so far would be those who would be seen as enemies by right-wing groups. "Daschle has been in the vanguard of liberal positions," said Flynn. "It is interesting that nothing was sent to the Republican side in Congress."
(First appearance of BHR in media)
November 4, 2001
INVESTIGATION'S SLOW PACE SPEAKS TO ITS COMPLEXITY
by Karen Branch-Brioso
Despite an ever-growing trail of anthrax in post offices, government buildings and media outlets, three tainted letters remain the closest links to the sender. Two postmarked Sept. 18 were mailed to NBC and the New York Post; another, postmarked Oct. 9, went to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Monday marks a full month since Florida photo editor Bob Stevens became the first American to die of inhaled anthrax in a quarter-century. The disease has since killed two postal workers in Washington and a hospital worker in New York. Yet this whodunit -- part of the largest investigation in U.S. history -- doesn't appear close to finding the "who" behind the anthrax murders. "We don't have progress to report," Attorney General John Ashcroft said last week on the day the latest victim died. The probe hasn't even narrowed the source to domestic or foreign senders in the deadly mail attacks. The explanation is simple, say investigators, biological weapons experts and other analysts.
...A Daschle staff member opened it in his office just 21 days ago. Investigators blame the subsequent deaths of two Washington postal workers on the letter, which passed through their postal facility on its way to the Senate. "Even if it was a stolen sample, it would have had to have been a very skilled microbiologist who is used to handling pathogens," said Barbara Rosenberg, chair of the Federation of American Scientists' biological weapons verification project. She has also worked as a U.S. germs weapon inspector. "Just putting it into the envelope without getting it all over the place was a challenge. It's not just some college student who can grow anthrax."
The strain of anthrax may help narrow the probe as well, Rosenberg said. Investigators reportedly have enlisted Northern Arizona University microbiologist Paul Keim to compare the specimen from the Daschle letter. Keim, who has a database of more than 1,000 anthrax fingerprints from around the world, called a news conference to say he could neither confirm nor deny his participation. The FBI's not talking, either. The government has said the anthrax in the letter belongs to the "Ames strain," named for the Ames, Iowa, laboratory where it was developed. Rosenberg said there are many Ames strains. A match with some of those strains would narrow the source considerably. "At least one of the Ames strains is supposedly confined to just 12 laboratories in the U.S. and the U.K. If it was (given out), it was done under the table."
But Rosenberg acknowledges that there are likely many other unregistered sources of anthrax, thanks to the practice among scientists of trading samples for research. "Anthrax I wouldn't want to say is common, because there are not that many people working with it, but certainly people in the field giving somebody else a sample may elude some of the legal requirements and hand somebody a test tube," Rosenberg said.
(Don Foster comes on the scene)
Handwriting analysis: The letters and envelopes, apparently penned by the same person, also provide clues, but not as many as linguistic analysts would hope. The letters to NBC and the New York Post were identical -- one was a photocopy of the other -- and contained just 15 words. The Daschle letter is a 24-word note. "We don't have a lot to go on at this point," said Don Foster, a Vassar College professor and linguist who uncovered the formerly anonymous author of the book "Primary Colors," journalist Joe Klein. Foster studied the letters and envelopes and believes the letters' author was probably a foreigner -- but he's unsure: "While it's compatible with writing of someone not well-versed in English and may be Arabic, we certainly shouldn't limit (the possibilities) to that." He said the investigation also is hobbled by the lack of writing samples to use as a point of comparison. "What we don't have yet is a national archive of (handwriting) documents in criminal cases that would be fully searchable," he said. "We now have electronic archives for fingerprints and facial images.
November 5, 2001
The Washington Post
In Anthrax Probe, Questions of Skill, Motive; Some Terrorism Specialists Suspect an Angry Loner With Scientific Knowledge
By Peter Slevin
Analysts who monitor militias and political movements on America's far right doubt that any known domestic group was capable of launching the deadly anthrax that has left four people dead and at least 12 others sickened. "American groups on the right tend to be small and poorly organized," said Mark Pitcavage, who directs fact-finding for the Anti-Defamation League. "If it turns out to be a domestic extremist source, the odds are more likely it would be an individual or a small group of individuals, rather than an organization."
Senior officials (---unnamed as usual) at the FBI and CIA have told reporters privately that they believe the anthrax bacteria likely came from a U.S. source. (---Ames is an American bacteria, inapt division proceeds...). That contention, challenged by others who suspect an overseas conspiracy, leaves open a very large question: Who in the United States had the skill and the motivation to wield a germ as a weapon?
Some terrorism specialists outside law enforcement lean toward the example of Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who built intricate bombs in his Montana hideaway and escaped detection for years. They theorize that an angry loner with the requisite scientific expertise may have decided to piggyback on the horror of the Sept. 11 attacks. "Any terrorist worth the name would realize it was a good time to strike," said Harvard lecturer Jessica Stern. "Right-wing domestic extremists want to undermine American citizens' faith in the government. They want to prove to the American people that the government isn't serving their interests."
Investigators are searching for a pattern in the attacks, aware that the extreme right has long held much of the national media in contempt. Letters containing anthrax bacteria reached the highest- ranking Democrat in Washington and the New York offices of NBC, ABC and CBS, as well as the New York Post and a Florida-based tabloid, the Sun. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said Friday that the bureau is not tilting either way in its suspicions.
In recent days, high-ranking bureau and CIA officials have said the composition of the anthrax-laden powder and the "totality" of the evidence convinced them the conspiracy originated in the United States, either among American militants or foreign-born opponents of the United States and Israel. (Ie, could be AQ, Hamas, whomever. Letters were mailed in New Jersey) With little evidence in hand, federal authorities are still considering the possibility the attack was undertaken by a militant Islamic cell or individual connected to, or inspired by, the Sept. 11 plotters.
Inside and outside the government, some suspect Iraqi sponsorship.
... "You'll hear people say this is something any random PhD could do," said Alan Zelicoff, a senior scientist at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico. "Yes, they could grow up anthrax or plague, but I don't think they'd have the wherewithal or training to do the physical engineering to make the spores aerosolize."
November 9, 2001 FBI releases its profile about subject, lone scientist theory, though not necessarily right wing
November 28, 2001
The Herald (Glasgow) November 28, 2001
Warning against strike on Iraq
A former United Nations weapons inspector warned yesterday that attacking Iraq would have "devastating" consequences.
There was no evidence that Iraq was involved in the September 11 attacks said former UN inspector Scott Ritter, who added: "I don't believe that Saddam Hussein is involved in international terror" although he conceded on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the Iraqi regime had supported terrorist organisations in the past.
Mr Ritter made his remarks as the "gunslinger attitude" of the US president was criticised yesterday by Labour MP George Galloway. (Like Ritter, Galloway has since been connected to the Oil Coupon scandal - though more directly). He said that the"chink of light" which separated Tony Blair and George W Bush over the action in Afghanistan would widen if America pursued Iraq under its anti-terrorism campaign. Mr Galloway, MP for Glasgow Kelvin, warned that the "gunslinger attitude" of President Bush had alarmed many nations and that any fresh military action against Saddam Hussein's regime would create a world disaster.
Mr Bush had warned that Iraq might become a target and that Afghanistan was "still just the beginning" of a larger war against terrorism. Before a speech in Dublin, Mr Galloway said: "In the gunslinger language George Bush was using, I think he alarmed world leaders with the apparent recklessness with which he is dealing with the issue. Mr Galloway made the remarks after President Bush called on Saddam Hussein to allow UN weapons inspectors to inspect his arsenals.
December 2, 2001
New York Times
A NATION CHALLENGED: THE GERM ATTACKS; Inquiry Includes Possibility of Killer From a U.S. Lab
By WILLIAM J. BROAD and JUDITH MILLER
The F.B.I. has expanded its investigation of the deadly anthrax attacks to include the laboratories of the government and its contractors (Hatfill worked for a contractor - first hint of Hatfill frame-job percolating?) as a possible source of the anthrax itself or the knowledge to make it, scientists and law enforcement officials say. While theories about the attacker have focused mainly on domestic loners and foreign states or terrorists, law enforcement officials are now also examining the possibility that the criminal may be a knowledgeable insider.(Indication the domestic terror theory doesnt hold up in light of sophistication of the atx weapon, now evolves into `lone scientist who cares about us theory)
Asked if the Federal Bureau of Investigation was investigating American military and nonmilitary laboratories that have had the powdery anthrax strain used in the attacks and individuals associated with such centers, a law enforcement official replied, "Certainly." The official said, "We are aggressively investigating every possible lead and every possible avenue," adding it was logical.
Few details of the insider investigation are known. But federal agents are already interrogating people in the military establishment that replaced the old program for making biological weapons. The facilities for that effort, in western Maryland, are major repositories of the Ames strain of anthrax, the particularly virulent form that federal officials have identified as the type used in the attacks that killed five people. Col. Arthur M. Friedlander, the senior research scientist at the Army's biodefense laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md., said in an interview on Friday that officials there were cooperating with federal investigators. "They've asked us about personnel who had access," he said, speaking reluctantly. "They didn't talk to me about my personal experience," said Colonel Friedlander, a physician and leading anthrax expert. "They asked me about other personnel."
He went on to dismiss the insider idea as improbable. Whoever made the killer anthrax, he said, "clearly knew what they were doing." "But to make the leap that this came out of a government lab is somewhat large," he added. He emphasized that no one in his organization, the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, a leader in developing germ defenses, even knew how to make dry anthrax, as was found in the letters used in the attacks. Instead, he said, scientists there used wet anthrax, which is far easier to make. It is used in developing vaccines and testing their effectiveness. "We haven't had an offensive program for a long time," Colonel Friedlander said. Nobody at the Army's laboratory, he added, "has that kind of expertise."
... Some see the attacker as home-grown -- perhaps a disaffected scientist or a militia group -- while others discern a conspiracy by a state like Iraq or a foreign terrorist group. In the United States, there are probably scores of laboratories and contractors and hundreds of people who have access to essential anthrax ingredients and recipes. The insider avenue of inquiry is consistent with the official profile of the suspect, released on Nov. 9 by the F.B.I. The profile describes a man with a strong interest in science who is comfortable working with hazardous material and has "access to a source of anthrax and possesses knowledge and expertise to refine it."
Separately, a private expert in biological weapons, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, has recently published a paper contending that a government insider, or someone in contact with an insider, is behind the attacks. Though not an expert on criminal profiling, Dr. Rosenberg, a molecular biologist at the State University of New York, has testified on biological weapons before Congress, advised Bill Clinton when he was president and made addresses to international arms control meetings, including one a few days ago in Geneva.
Law enforcement officials said Dr. Rosenberg's assertion might turn out to be well founded, though they emphasized that the investigation was still broadly based. One official (unnamed) close to the federal investigation called the Rosenberg theory "the most likely hypothesis." Referring to her paper, the official said, "I might not have put it so strongly, but it's definitely reasonable."
Other analysts, including some scientists and experts in germ weapons, expressed more skepticism of the theory that it had to be an insider, contending that the skills and knowledge needed to produce the type of anthrax in this attack were widely available. The paper laying out Dr. Rosenberg's thesis was distributed on Thursday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an arms control group. Dr. Rosenberg, who is chairwoman of an arms control panel at the Federation of American Scientists, a private group in Washington, has argued repeatedly that states, not individuals, tend to have the wherewithal to make advanced biological weapons. International treaties that prohibit that work, she believes, are thus critical. Dr. Rosenberg contends that the Ames strain probably did not originate in 1980 or 1981, as is often asserted, but arose decades earlier and was used in the secret American program to make biological weapons.
She agrees with a conclusion, reached by some experts knowledgeable about the investigation, that the anthrax powder distributed in the attacks by letter was treated in a sophisticated manner so it floated easily, as was done in the old American offensive weapons program, unlike Colonel Friedlander's defensive program, which uses the wet anthrax. "All the available information," she said, "is consistent with a U.S. government lab as the source, either of the anthrax itself or of the recipe for the U.S. weaponization process."
Dr. Rosenberg contended that the anthrax used in the attacks either originated in the weapons program itself or was made by someone who had learned the recipe. The killer, Dr. Rosenberg concludes, is "an American microbiologist who had, or once had, access to weaponized anthrax in a U.S. government lab, or had been taught by a U.S. defense expert. (early peak into the story Wm. Patrick taught Hatfill?) Perhaps he had a vial or two in his basement as a keepsake." The paper, "A Compilation of Evidence and Comments on the Source of the Mailed Anthrax," dated Nov. 29, is based on interviews with federal and private experts, published reports and scientific articles.
Richard H. Ebright, a microbiologist at Rutgers University who has followed the anthrax case and has read the Rosenberg paper, said he found it provocative but unconvincing. "This is one extreme in the theorizing," Dr. Ebright said. "There are elements that are reasonable, but elements that are not. Im confident that she started with the insider conclusion and then selected the facts." Even so, he said, American foes seem likely to seize on the paper and amplify the provocative thesis. "Every state that's hostile to the United States is going to pick up on this," Dr. Ebright said. "They'll say it was an orchestrated government attack, which I don't believe for a second. But you can see people believing it."
Dr. Rosenberg's theory is getting attention in Europe, where the environmental group Greenpeace Germany is citing it as credible. An American official sympathetic to her thesis said the Ames strain might have come from a place other than a military laboratory. "There are other government and contractor facilities that do classified work with access to dangerous strains," the official said. "But it's highly likely that the material in the anthrax letters came from a person or persons who really had great expertise. We haven't seen any other artifacts that point us elsewhere."
December 4, 2001
New Zealand Herald.
Were the anthrax attacks the work of an insider?
US investigators searching for the source of the recent East Coast anthrax attacks are increasingly entertaining the theory that the culprit is a former member of the US biological weapons programme. Federal agents have begun interrogating military officials linked to the old programme, which was phased out after 1969, and a number of government experts have been quoted in the media saying an "inside job" is a plausible, if explosive, explanation for the anthrax- laced letters that were sent to politicians and journalists in September and October. "It's frightening to think that one of our own scientists could have done something like this, but it's definitely possible," one unnamed federal science adviser said in yesterday's New York Times. A source close to the investigation said it was "the most likely hypothesis". (a source, not an official. Rosenberg? Ritter? Who?) This theory, echoed by a handful of academics attending the United Nations biological weapons conference in Geneva last week, has bitterly divided experts in the narrow fields of anthrax research and biological weapons inspection, however.
Dr Richard Spertzl, a former weapons inspector in Iraq, said yesterday the insider job theory was scientifically dubious, unsupported by any evidence made public so far, and "terribly irresponsible". "I think this is pure garbage," said the germ warfare specialist in a telephone interview. "They're speaking out of ignorance, out of stupidity. They don't know anything about biological weapons or about the past US programme."
... One molecular biologist who attended the Geneva conference, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, went so far as to write a paper describing the letter-sender as "an American microbiologist who had, or once had, access to weaponised anthrax in a US government lab, or had been taught by a US defence expert how to make it". "Perhaps," she speculated in her paper, distributed by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, "he had a vial or two in his basement as a keepsake." Dr Spertzl denounced this line as uninformed nonsense. The anthrax sent to Senator Daschle, he argued, had to come from either an active or recently active government laboratory. The US programme, he added, has been defunct for too long to be a plausible source. He is increasingly convinced the anthrax came from Iraq. Dr Spertzl's rebuttal was partly substantiated by the senior research scientist at the army's biodefence laboratory in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Colonel Arthur Friedlander said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been asking questions about possible insider suspects but said he thought the idea was a bit of a stretch. "We haven't had an offensive programme for a long time," he told the New York Times. "Nobody [at the army laboratory] has that kind of expertise."
Rosenbergs November 29, 2001 paper is apparently the same as this one dated December 10, 2001. Heres one excerpt.
....9. MOST LIKELY HYPOTHESIS
The perpetrator is probably an American microbiologist who has access to weaponized anthrax or to the expertise and materials for making it, in a US government or contractor lab. He does not live in or near Trenton, but more probably in the Washington, DC area. Trenton is probably accessible to him (it is a stop on the Amtrak line that runs along the East coast), but if he is smart enough to handle anthrax he is smart enough not to mail it from his home town.
So how can she tell by the anthrax that the perp probably lived in the Washington, D.C. area? Its hard not to think she was already framing her profile to fit Hatfill, who at the time was living in the Washington D.C. area and worked for a contractor.
December 13, 2001
The Washington Post
Army Working on Weapons- Grade Anthrax; Utah Facility Quietly Developed Formulation; Spores Sent Back and Forth to Md.
An Army biological and chemical warfare facility in Utah has been quietly developing a virulent, weapons-grade formulation of anthrax spores since at least 1992, and samples of the bacteria were shipped back and forth between that facility and Fort Detrick, Md., (ie, where Hatfill had workedl) on several occasions in the past several years, according to government officials and shipping records. The Utah spores, grown and processed at the 800,000-acre Dugway Proving Ground about 80 miles from Salt Lake City, belong to the Ames strain -- the same strain used in the deadly letters sent to media outlets and two senators in September and October. No other nation is known to have made weapons-grade Ames. (---Spores are not weaponized anthrax)
And although it is legal to make small quantities of such agents under the provisions of an international treaty the United States has signed, experts said yesterday they were surprised by the revelation that a U.S. lab was producing such lethal material. "It comes as a bit of a shock," said Jonathan Tucker, a former member of the U.N. team that inspected Iraq's bioweapons stocks after the Persian Gulf War and now director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies' Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program in Washington.
.... "The anthrax in the letters was probably made and weaponized in a U.S. government or contractor lab," Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a microbiologist and director of the Federation of American Scientists' Working Group on Biological Weapons, concluded in an analysis released by the federation on Monday. "It might have been made recently by the perpetrator on his own, or made as part of the U.S. biodefense program; or it may be a remnant of the U.S. biological weapons program before President Richard M. Nixon terminated the program in 1969." Richard Spertzel, a former Army colonel who directed the U.N. biological weapons inspection team in Iraq, scoffed last week at the idea of a "bio-bomber," a disgruntled or deranged scientist crafting a lethal anthrax weapon alone in a basement lab. "The quality of the product contained in the letter to Senator Daschle was better than that found in the Soviet, U.S. or Iraqi program, certainly in terms of the purity and concentration of spore particles," Spertzel said in testimony Dec. 5 to the House Committee on International Relations, apparently referring to the U.S. offensive program that ended in 1969.
December 14, 2001
New York Times
A NATION CHALLENGED: BIOTERRORISM; F.B.I. Queries Expert Who Sees Federal Lab Tie in Anthrax Cases
F.B.I. agents yesterday questioned a leading proponent of the theory that the anthrax attacks were the work of someone linked to a federal laboratory or contractor, asking her about possible clues to the culprit's identity. "They wanted to know whether I had ideas about who did it," said the expert, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a molecular biologist at the State University of New York at Purchase and chairwoman of a biological weapons panel at the Federation of American Scientists. Dr. Rosenberg said that in response she had given the agents detailed information about ideas that she had sketched out in a paper posted on the federation's Web site. (IOW, Rosenberg or whomever was running the Domestic theory publicity campaign probably telephoned the NYTimes that night to get her investigation story out the next day)
She said the agents had also repeatedly asked her whether she agreed that the perpetrator would have known that anthrax spores would seep through envelopes in which they were mailed. But "I kept disagreeing," she said. In her paper, Dr. Rosenberg said she believed that the culprit's motive was not necessarily to kill but to stir public fear and so highlight the importance of building up defenses against germ attack.
January 4, 2002
The New York Times
Profile Of a Killer
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF; (of later Mr. Z fame - shows hes connected early in the game to the Domestic Theory gang).
I think I know who sent out the anthrax last fall. He is an American insider, a man working in the military bio-weapons field. He's a skilled microbiologist who did not aim to kill anybody or even to disrupt the postal system. Rather, he wanted to sow terror. Like many in the bio-warfare field, he felt that the government was not sufficiently attuned to the risks of anthrax, so he seized upon the opportunity presented by Sept. 11 to get more attention and funding for bio-terror programs like those that have been his career.
How do I know all this? Well, I don't exactly. But talk to the people in the spooky world of bio-terror awhile, sop up the gossip and theories, and as you put the clues together -- as bio- terror experts and F.B.I. officials are now doing -- a hazy picture seems to come into focus. It's not a certainty but an educated guess, circulating among many who know their business. "I think there are on the order of 100 people who could have done it, who have the access to the spores and the technical expertise to have done it," says one man with long experience in the shadows of the United States bio-defense program. (Kristof in contact with Ritter?) "I've got to admit that I could be a suspect. I've been interviewed by the F.B.I."
The emerging image of the killer that many of the experts see (but not all; anthrax experts agree about as much as economists do) is precisely the opposite of the perpetrator whom we initially imagined. Our first impulse when catastrophes happen is to look for foreigners to round up, as we did after the Oklahoma City bombing and after the crash of Flight 800. The Bush administration tried hard to find evidence to pin the anthrax attacks on Iraq.
In fact, many experts believe that the killer is tied to the American bio-weapons program because the anthrax he sent out is genetically identical to the anthrax kept by the United States Army. A microbiologist named Paul Keim is helping the authorities compare the genetic fingerprint of the mailed anthrax, and every indication is that it derives at least indirectly from the mother lode of the military strain, kept at Fort Detrick, Md. (Note----Ft. Detrick/Hatfill again, though the source could be any lab with one spore) The mailed anthrax is also astonishingly pure and equivalent (in spore size and concentration) to the best the American Army ever achieved. Making anthrax in a dry powdered form of this quality is difficult, and beginning in 1959 took 900 workers in the "hot" area of Fort Detrick years of effort (and two accidental deaths, including that of an unlucky electrician who changed light bulbs at the wrong time).
Thus it seems that the murderer had access not only to the American military germs but also to some knowledge of the American military method of preparing it in its dry form. Why do specialists agree that the murderer was not trying to kill anybody? Because he taped the envelopes tightly, and as of September nobody expected that the spores could leak through envelopes. Moreover, each of the letters that has been recovered announced that the substance was anthrax and advised the recipient to take antibiotics. "I don't think that he was trying to kill anybody," said Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a microbiologist who has studied the attacks for the Federation of American Scientists. "I think the motive was to create public fear, to raise the profile of biological warfare." ...
February 25, 2002
The Washington Times
Suspect worked in U.S. lab
By Jerry Seper
The FBI's search for the person who mailed anthrax-laced letters that killed five persons has focused on a former U.S. scientist who worked at a government laboratory where he learned how to make a weapons-grade strain of the deadly bacteria.
Law enforcement authorities and leading biochemical experts (---who?) familiar with the FBI's five-month investigation said agents targeted the unidentified scientist after extensive interviews with more than 300 persons associated with the government's anthrax program, although no charges have yet been filed.
The scientist was identified from a pool of about 50 researchers known to have the technical ability to produce the sophisticated weapons-grade anthrax strain found in the letters sent to Florida, New York, Connecticut and Washington, D.C., the sources said.
The FBI has known for more than three months that the person responsible for sending the letters was a U.S. citizen and, according to the sources, probably a former scientist connected to the government's biodefense program.
The government's chief suspect, the sources said, is believed to have worked at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., which has maintained stores of weapons-grade anthrax commonly known as the Ames strain of Bacillus anthracis. (Hatfill)
The sources said the former scientist is now employed as a contractor in the Washington area. (a.k.a. Hatfill)
The unidentified scientist, according to the sources, was twice fired from government jobs and, after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that killed more than 3,000 people, reportedly made a threat to use anthrax.(???)
He has been interviewed by FBI agents on several occasions, according to the sources, and his house has been searched.
The sources said that while numerous chemicals were located inside the house, no anthrax was found. (Every house has numerous chemicals)
The FBI investigation, according to the sources, began to focus on current and former U.S. scientists after the anthrax found in letters sent to the Capitol Hill offices of Democratic Sens. Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont matched a finely powdered strain of the bacteria held at Fort Detrick.
Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a microbiologist at State University of New York who heads the biological arms-control panel for the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), said that the FBI has been working on a "short list of suspects" for some time, and that agents had narrowed the list to "a particular person ... a member of the biochemical community."
"It has taken a long time for the FBI to identify any suspects in this case, and I don't know why, considering that the person responsible for this comes from a very narrow list of people who have the necessary skill to do what was done," she said. "But there is a common suspect, and the FBI has questioned that person more than once."
Mrs. Rosenberg said she and several colleagues have wondered whether the FBI's failure to bring charges in the case is related to government reluctance to publicly acknowledge its biochemical operation.
"Is the FBI dragging its feet? I just don't know. And, if so, I don't know why," she said.
The FBI has consistently maintained that the anthrax investigation is on track, and that thousands of leads have been pursued by a task force of investigators under the direction of FBI Assistant Director Van Harp, who heads the bureau's D.C. field office, and Chief Postal Inspector Kenneth C. Weaver.
Neither the FBI nor the U.S. Postal Service has identified any potential suspects.
In a letter last month to the 40,000 members of the American Society for Microbiology, Mr. Harp said it was "very likely that one or more of you know this individual."
That Washington Times article is. But was it true? Who is organizing this information campaign? The next day.....
February 26, 2002
New York Times
NATION CHALLENGED: BIOTERRORISM; F.B.I. Has a 'Short List' of Names In Its Anthrax Case, the U.S. Says
By JUDITH MILLER and WILLIAM J. BROAD :
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has identified a "short list" of 18 to 20 people who had the means, opportunity and possible motive to have sent the anthrax-laden letters last fall, law enforcement officials said. Officials said the list was compiled mostly through tips from scientists and an analysis by investigators of people with skills to have made the highly concentrated anthrax spores that killed five people and prompted doctors to prescribe antibiotic treatment for 30,000 people.
Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, said today that the F.B.I. had several "suspects" in the case, a characterization that law enforcement officials said went beyond the evidence uncovered thus far in the four-month investigation. In fact, they said, the F.B.I. is still searching for clues that might point to a specific person. "It would be inaccurate to say that these people are suspects in the classic sense," one law enforcement official said.
The short list, officials said, has been whittled down in recent weeks from a larger group of 35 to 40 researchers or technicians believed to have the expertise needed to produce such a lethal product, access to the particularly powerful Ames strain of Bacillus anthracis contained in the letters and a grudge against the government or other possible motive to commit such a crime.
Law enforcement officials said that a description of individuals on the list had been shared with a few senior officials in one or two agencies, but that the names had not been widely discussed or disseminated. Both the White House and the F.B.I. denied an article in The Washington Times yesterday that asserted that investigators had identified a chief suspect in the case who had learned how to make a weapons-grade strain of the deadly anthrax bacteria at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., and had twice been fired from government jobs. "There is no prime suspect in this case at this time," said Bill Carter, a bureau spokesman. (Denial of Hatfill theory)
Mr. Fleischer, the White House spokesman, gave public voice to the frustration felt by many government officials about the slow pace of the investigation. "I wish it was that easy and that simple right now," he said, "but unfortunately, there still are several suspects." The F.B.I. had not "narrowed it down to just one," he said. "They are continuing their investigation.'
The statement by the F.B.I. and Mr. Fleischer came after several months of growing speculation about why there had been no arrests in the anthrax case. For months, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a microbiologist at the State University of New York who heads an arms control panel for the Federation of American Scientists, has advanced the theory that the culprit is a federal scientist, technician or contractor who gained deadly expertise from work in a military laboratory. In a lecture this month at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Dr. Rosenberg argued that the bureau might be "dragging its feet" in bringing charges because the suspect might be familiar with secret biodefense work that the government does not wish to disclose.
While law enforcement officials confirmed that there were military scientists and contractors on its list, they denied that the bureau was not making an arrest to keep government biodefense programs secret. "We keep knocking that down," one official said, "but the same conspiracy theory keeps popping up in different forms." One law enforcement official described those being investigated as entries on what he called a "floating list" of people whose names were added and removed as the bureau questioned and investigated them. He described people on the short list as being of "more logical interest" to the F.B.I., but emphasized that any single name on the list could "wash out at any time."
... A person's ranking is roughly proportional to how often the name arises in the matrix, officials said. As Dr. Rosenberg has suggested, one place where many of the attributes exist is at military laboratories and among contractors that have worked with anthrax, the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, the Army laboratory at Fort Detrick and the Battelle Memorial Institute, a military contractor in Ohio that does secret work for the Pentagon and other government agencies. A scientist who talks regularly to the F.B.I. said a "recent and intense focus" of activity had been the Fort Detrick laboratory, including current and past employees. "Tens of people," the scientist said, "have been interviewed in last few weeks." (How does she know this?)
February 20, 2002
US ANTHRAX SCIENTIST 'IS BEING PROTECTED BY FBI'
THE FBI has identified the man behind last year's series of fatal anthrax mailings but is "dragging its feet" over bringing charges because the suspect is a former government scientist, it was claimed yesterday. Barbara Rosenberg, of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), said many scientists working in the field were aware of the suspect, who she said had been questioned at least twice by the authorities. She said the FBI was reluctant to arrest him because he knew government secrets.
She said the FBI had known of the suspect since October and added: "There are a number of insiders - government insiders - who know people in the anthrax field who have a common suspect. The FBI has questioned that person more than once. So it looks as though the FBI is taking that person very seriously." The FBI said the investigation had not been narrowed to one suspect.
But Dr Rosenberg's comments - made at Princeton University and reported by the Trenton Times newspaper - are the most specific yet. The accusations, many of which are repeated on the FAS website, says the man may have worked at the US military laboratory near Washington that tested the letters, Fort Detrick, Maryland. Most of the genuine and many of the hoax letters were posted from near Trenton, New Jersey. Dr Rosenberg, director of the FAS chemical and biological arms control programme, said: "We can draw a likely portrait of the perpetrator as a former Fort Detrick scientist who is now working for a contractor in the Washington DC area. "He had reason for travel to Florida, New Jersey and the United Kingdom. (aka Hatfill story, linking him to his trip to his parents in Ocala, and his conference in England coincidental with one hoax letter from there.)
February 26, 2002
FBI Still Lacks Identifiable Suspect in Anthrax Probe; Investigators Continue to Focus on People Connected to Labs That Had Strain Found in Letters
The FBI has conducted anthrax tests in the homes, offices and vehicles of about a dozen people who have been investigated in the deadly anthrax mailings, but the individuals were cleared of suspicion after the tests came back negative, according to officials familiar with the government's probe. ... The FBI last week dispatched agents to a Canadian defense lab with anthrax stocks. More visits are planned to research agencies in Britain and France. (Hadnt heard about France before...)
....FBI officials over the last week have flatly discounted Rosenberg's claims, which were included in a Washington Times article yesterday reporting that a suspect had been identified. Numerous Bush administration officials, including White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, yesterday called the report erroneous and said the FBI was not close to identifying a suspect. (IMO that Washington Times piece was thereby quite a piece of daring disinformation, or misinformation.)
March 15, 2002
ANTHRAX ATTACKS MAY HAVE BEEN CIA TEST GONE WRONG
AN AMERICAN expert last night claimed last autumn's anthrax attacks may have been the result of CIA research which went disastrously wrong. (ie another new Rosenberg domestic theory). At the same time, health ministers of the G7 countries and Mexico met in London and agreed to carry out an international exercise to test reactions to a biological, chemical or radio-nuclear terrorist incident. Barbara Rosenberg, the director of the Federation of American Scientists' Chemical and Biological Weapons Program, raised the possibility that the CIA could have ordered a "field trial" on the possible effects of delivering anthrax through the mail and the contents could have been used by whoever was responsible for the anthrax attacks.
Dr Rosenberg told the BBC's Newsnight: "Some very expert field person would have been given this job and it would have been left to him to decide exactly how to carry it out. "The result might have been a project gone badly awry if he decided to use it for his own purposes and target the media and the Senate for his own motives as not intended by the government project."(Hatfill again, theory to fit his authorizing of study about anthrax by mail)
Dr Rosenberg claimed the culprit had knowledge both of the law and of the detective work it would need for him to be caught. She said: "This person knows a lot about forensic matters, knows exactly what he can be prosecuted for and what he can get away with and I think he had some personal matters that he might have wanted to settle, but I think in addition that he felt that bio-defence was being underemphasised for some time in the past."
As 2002 proceeded, there were numerous Rosenberg references, Kristofs Mr.Z musings, etc. The Hatfill/Domestic theory gained wide circulation, his name well known by June. To end here, heres an article from the Boston Globe.
September 23, 2002
FIGHTING TERROR GLOBAL IMPACT; ANTHRAX PROBE RAISES DOUBTS ON FBI
By Wayne Washington
On June 18, four FBI agents and a handful of senior staff aides to three US senators met in a hearing room at the Dirksen Senate Office Building and listened as a top US scientist alleged that investigators were not aggressively pursuing a possible suspect in the deadly anthrax mailings. Even now, the questions linger: Has the FBI found the suspect? Or has there been a rush to judgment?
The June briefing, given by Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, chairwoman of the Federation of American Scientists' Chemical and Biological Arms Control Program, lasted for more than an hour, according to three congressional aides familiar with it. Months had gone by since someone stepped up the post-Sept. 11 fears by lacing letters with anthrax, but no arrests had been made.
Rosenberg did not mention former government biowarfare scientist Steven J. Hatfill by name (hmmm...), but she told staff members that she believed the anthrax killer was a microbiologist who used to work at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., and that his government ties were protecting him.
After she left the room, the FBI agents forcefully denied to the congressional aides - some of whom worked for two Democratic senators who had been targets of the anthrax killer, Thomas A. Daschle, Democrat of South Dakota and the majority leader, and Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and the Judiciary Committee chairman - that they would overlook anyone suspected of causing five deaths. But the media were reporting Rosenberg's concerns as well, citing circumstantial evidence that pointed to a government employee, and were chiding the FBI for its lack of progress. A week later, Hatfill's life became a public nightmare....
Bookmarked and saved.
The pattern you described is clear. Fascinating to watch how the domestic theory morphed to keep up with disclosures about the technology.
A relatively small group of people, with a well-defined agenda, were clearly driving the story -- almost from the outset. Makes one wonder just exactly what the source of that agenda was. Merely reflexive liberalism? Or was it something else, as you suggest?
Frankly, I'm suspicious...
She has ties to the Cuban government and ties to groups which broke the sanctions/embargo on Iraq.
I have to wonder if her efforts were to deter any further action against Iraq after the Gulf War and all of its cease fire violations.
And, from your article above:
Jeanne Guillemin, who investigated an accidental release of spores from a Soviet biological weapons lab in 1979
I notice it doesn't say what Guillemin's conclusions were. The initial investigation by the experts declared the anthrax spore case in Russia to be caused by tainted meat. They were wrong. So was Guillemin one of those who erronously said it was due to tainted meat or did Guillemin say it was evidence of bioweapons research?
OCTOBER 25, 2001 : (COLUMBIA : IRA TERRORISTS REPORTEDLY TRIED TO BUY COCAINE; PLANNED TO MIX ANTHRAX WITH COCAINE) On October 25,2001, Univisions Spanish T.V., "Primer Impacto' and in the late nightly international news, it was reported from Colombia that the IRA terrorists arrested this month in Colombia had their headquarters in Cuba and tried to buy 1,500 kilograms of cocaine in order to be mixed with anthrax for further distribution in the U.S. Although the Spanish TV channel interviewed the DEA agent who exposed the operation, the American media censored this important news that brings forward Castros involvement in bio-terrorism. - "CASTRO AND THE INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM, A CHRONOLOGY," by Eugene Pons with a foreword by Jaime Suchlicki , Institute for Cuban &Cuban-American Studies, Occasional Paper Series, September 2001
From the Kristof article (my emphasis in boldface):
As Seymour Hersh noted in The New Yorker, the claims were based on documents that had been forged so amateurishly that they should never have been taken seriously....
The envoy reported, for example, that a Niger minister whose signature was on one of the documents had in fact been out of office for more than a decade.
I know this is how it's been reported, and maybe it really was an amateurish job. But would somebody who would go to the trouble of creating the forgery really be so amateurish? Maybe it was done on purpose that way, and was intended to be discovered?
Question : has anyone published the 'forged' letters? I mena, if they are just forgeries, what harm would there be in simply publishing them?
Here's some info on her role- perhaps unwitting role, perhaps not- in Rosenberg's theory:
1978- 1980 : (RHODESIA : ANTHRAX OUTBREAK- CUTANEOUS- KILLS 182) The Nass report [1992 article by longtime Rosenberg associate Meryl Nass] purported to explain the 1978-80 anthrax outbreak that affected 10,000 black farmers, predominantly with cutaneous anthrax, killing 182. In her "explanation," Nass leaped from one politically loaded speculation to another without any evidence.- "Media Manufacture Cloud of Suspicion Over Hatfill," Posted July 22, 2002, By Nicholas Stix, Insight On The News , InsightMagazine, http://www.insightmag.com/news/2002/08/12/FairComment/Media.Manufacture.Cloud.Of.Suspicion.Over.Hatfill-258774.shtml
1992 : (MERYL NASS WRITES PAPER ON 1978-1980 ANTHRAX OUTBREAK IN RHODESIA) The Nass report [1992 article by longtime Rosenberg associate Meryl Nass] purported to explain the 1978-80 anthrax outbreak that affected 10,000 black farmers, predominantly with cutaneous anthrax, killing 182. In her "explanation," Nass leaped from one politically loaded speculation to another without any evidence.- "Media Manufacture Cloud of Suspicion Over Hatfill," Posted July 22, 2002, By Nicholas Stix, Insight On The News , InsightMagazine, http://www.insightmag.com/news/2002/08/12/FairComment/Media.Manufacture.Cloud.Of.Suspicion.Over.Hatfill-258774.shtml
JULY 22, 2002 : (INSIGHT MAGAZINE REPORT : KRISTOF, ROSENBERG & MERYL NASS : NASS'S 1992 RHODESIA STORY) In seeking to convince readers of Hatfill's guilt in last fall's attacks, Kristof and the other journalists claimed that in the late 1970s, Rhodesian special forces attacked black-owned farms with anthrax, and sought to link Hatfill to these "attacks."
No one ever has provided any evidence showing that the Rhodesian army carried out anthrax attacks, much less that Hatfill participated in them. Kristof and company merely are regurgitating a tainted 1992 article by longtime Rosenberg associate Meryl Nass. The Nass report purported to explain the 1978-80 anthrax outbreak that affected 10,000 black farmers, predominantly with cutaneous anthrax, killing 182. In her "explanation," Nass leaped from one politically loaded speculation to another without any evidence. - "Media Manufacture Cloud of Suspicion Over Hatfill," Posted July 22, 2002, By Nicholas Stix, Insight On The News , InsightMagazine, http://www.insightmag.com/news/2002/08/12/FairComment/Media.Manufacture.Cloud.Of.Suspicion.Over.Hatfill-258774.shtml.
Rosenberg's all over Hatfill in this one while Nass takes a much less specific stance.
It's an amazing story. But even better is how the bogus documents have been used to frame Blair and Bush as lying about Iraqi uranium quests.
Did they lie? Did they mean Niger? Or South Africa?
Does Joe Wilson still claim Bush meant Niger in the State of the Union speech? Did he really ever make such a claim?
Does he still?
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