Skip to comments.BIO-HUNT HEATS UP
Posted on 06/28/2002 8:18:59 AM PDT by freeperfromnj
BUG BUSTERS: FBI agents sift through a storage trailer in Ocala, Fla., in search of clues to the deadly anthrax mailings. The site belongs to a bioresearcher who's a "person of interest" in the probe.
FBI agents hunting for last year's anthrax-sending psycho searched a Florida storage trailer belonging to a bioresearch scientist who three years ago commissioned a study into ways the deadly bacteria can be delivered by mail.
Federal sources said the scientist, Dr. Steven Hatfill of Hagerstown, Md., is a "person of interest" in their probe into the deadly wave of mailings that killed five people last fall.
They caution, however, that Hatfill is one of about 30 individuals the bureau is closely scrutinizing because of their specialized knowledge and because they may have had access to the deadly biological toxin.
On Wednesday, agents searched a storage facility in Ocala used by Hatfill to store personal belongings after his parents sold a nearby farm.
Ocala is about 230 miles northwest of Boca Raton, where Robert Stevens, the photo editor of a tabloid newspaper, was killed by a letter containing anthrax.
In another coincidence, Hatfill once asked a bioterrorism expert to do a study into how anthrax could be spread by mail while he worked as a researcher for defense contractor Science Applications International.
A report in The Sun of Baltimore said the study revealed how 21/2 grams of bacillus globigii, a simulated form of anthrax, could be mailed in a standard business envelope.
Ben Hadad, a spokesman for the San Diego-based company that Hatfill worked for, said the researcher and another employee commissioned the report in February 1999 as part of the company's official business. Hadad said there was nothing unusual about the commission, but would not release the report.
Hatfill is one of about 200 people the FBI has investigated in the wake of last year's mailing. Investigators still have no firm suspect.
Yet another coincidence, however, has led them to probe Hatfill, who has voluntarily allowed his Maryland apartment and Florida trailer to be searched.
The coincidence relates to his medical alma mater, the University of Zimbabwe Medical School.
The school is located in the Greendale neighborhood of Zimbabwe's capital, Harare.
The anthrax letters sent to Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy bore the false return address "Greendale School" Franklin Park, N.J.
Hatfill could not be reached for comment yesterday, but has protested his innocence in the past.
"I've been in this field for a number of years, working until 3 o'clock in the morning, trying to counter this type of weapon of mass destruction, and, sir, my career is over at this time," Hatfill said. .
I thought he lived in that apartment in Frederick, next to the entrance to Ft. Detrick, that the FBI searched the other night.
Keep every story element the same (the apartment search, the storage facility in Florida search, that both were with the permission of the "person of interest," guy worked with Anthrax) but give this guy a Great-grandfather that was 1/4th Arab, and this thread would have about 150 posts by now.
The coincidences around this guy certainly are suspicious. However, that he lives in Hagerstown, MD is utterly irrelevant.
I want to know about HIM. For instance, tell me why he got his degree in Zimbabwe, and what he did while he was there.
I have another obvious question the media is hesitant to ask: Is he Muslim?
Check some of what he had to say back in 1997. I don't remember seeing this ever posted but his own words are quite telling. It is rather long but contains a wealth of information about HIM and what he had to say 5 years ago about bio attacks.
The Washington Times August 11, 1997, Monday, Final Edition
"Biological terrorism is a real threat" By Fred Reed
The terrorism racket grows more interesting. What with trials of terrorists in New York for the bombing of the World Trade Center, and now the fellows who were going to blow up Manhattan's subways, things don't look as safe as they might.
A sort of terrorism that hasn't gotten a lot of attention, but may yet, is bio-terrorism. Remember the petri dishes of raspberry Jell-O or whatever that were left outside B'nai B'rith and tied up Washington for most of a day? And that wasn't even real. A fellow I know is Steve Hatfill, a medical doctor with years of experience in the Third World, and therefore with the diseases to be found there. What would happen, he wonders, if terrorists, with or without the support of governments like Iraq's, tried to use diseases as biological weapons against America? How would they do it? Is it really possible? Dr. Hatfill has thought carefully about bio- terrorism. He made some intriguing points. To wit: There exist at least four reasonably distinct levels of possible biological attack. The first is the B'nai B'rith variety, in which no real organisms are used. ("Hello. This is Abdul. We have put anthrax in the food at Throckmorton Middle School." In fact, Abdul hasn't.) We empty public buildings for bomb threats. How about for anthrax threats? After all, sooner or later one might be real.
The second level consists in the release of real bacteria or viruses, but without the intention of infecting many people. For example, a bad guy might spray plague bacteria around the men's room in the World Trade Center. Probably only a few people would get it, and perhaps none would die - but it would take only one plague case to shut down the entire building, especially if the bug had been sprayed on several floors. Then the call comes: "Let our man loose, or we'll do a school."
The third level consists in trying to get a lot of people sick, and maybe dead, but not necessarily to start a self- sustaining epidemic. Anthrax spores put into the ventilation system of a movie theater would do the trick. The result would be horrendous panic even if only 100 people got sick or died. After all, if it worked in a theater, what public place would be safe? The fourth level consists of a self-sustaining, unstoppable epidemic sweeping the nation. While that idea makes good copy, it isn't likely.
Most serious diseases are containable or self-limiting. Some have to be transmitted by contact, which can be prevented. Others are spread by coughing, but most don't last long outside the body, and so on. The important point is that you don't need a raging epidemic to paralyze a city. Remember B'nai B'rith. Dr. Hatfill points out that the comparatively high quality of American medical facilities doesn't necessarily provide protection against even a smallish outbreak of nasty diseases.
The first patients would get excellent care in the small number of places that are set up to handle such diseases. The ensuing wave of very sick people would swamp the system. They would not get good care. How hard, really, would it be to carry out a bio-attack? Not very, Dr. Hatfill says. Culturing bacteria is easy and almost universally understood. Getting the culture past customs would be no problem. You could almost certainly just carry it in a small bottle in your pocket. Dr. Hatfill, who is familiar with such things, showed me how to culture bacteria with supplies that can be bought at Safeway.
A bright high-school student could manage it. For that matter, nasty bugs indeed can be found wild within the United States in certain animal populations that don't transmit them to humanity. Since this isn't a school for terrorists, I'll let it go at that. And, Dr. Hatfill says, spending on public health has been diverted from prevention and control of epidemics to such things as discovering why certain groups commit suicide more often than others. Rates of vaccination are down, he says. Some extraordinarily unpleasant bugs are out there. Some are old ones traveling by the most dangerous disease vector known - a Boeing 747. People here do not have the natural resistance to these diseases that people who live in their regions of origin have. Others are emerging diseases about which little is known. The United States is, he believes, becoming more, not less, vulnerable to such pathogens. Few police, in fact few people of any kind, are prepared to deal with bio-terrorism. Something to think about, no?
Your earlier thread on this topic has 139 posts. How many do you want? There are quite a few articles on this, and the posts are split among them. Plus, the story is petering out (at least for now).
By the way, notice that the coincidences here (which are worthy of investigating) are weaker than the coincidences connecting Mohamed Atta and the 9/11 terrorists to anthrax -- certainly no stronger.
As we've seen in the past couple of months, one doesn't have to be Arab/muslim to be part of their Jihad. Given that he spent much of his career in third world countries it is not unreasonable to conclude that he could be a well-paid sympathizer to the Islamic cause. He may very well have had ties with Atta and company in Florida. I suspect we'll soon find out.
The story gets better with each re-telling. Actually, the Medical School is not in Greendale. There is a Greendale School in Harare (a city of 600,000 people, capital of the former Rhodesia). The University of Zimbabwe is headquartered in Mount Pleasant, and the Medical School is in Avedale. If you do a Google search on "Greendale School" and the name of any large city, you'll find that almost every city has one, so this "coincidence" may not amount to very much.
Steven Hatfill (pictured above) is the researcher that left-wing activist Barbara Rosenberg has been trying to pin the anthrax mailings on for the last six months. She believes he is associated with an alleged use of anthrax by the Rhodesian military during the civil war of the 1970s, back when he was a med student in Harare (Hatfill is American-born). She argues that the FBI has known this is the perp in the five anthrax murders for six months, but have conspired with the Military-Industrial Complex to leave him unapprehended because he knows embarassing details about the US biowar program, a program that Rosenberg has steadfastly agitated against for much of her career.
More background: Barbara Rosenberg is a professor of Environmental Studies at a Northeastern "visual arts-oriented" community college by day, and a self-appointed arms control "expert" by night. She is quite influential in the leftist, arms control-oriented scientific community. The FBI caved to doing a search of Hatfill's place after Rosenberg fingered him in person in a meeting with senators Daschle and Leahy last week, as reported in the Hartford Courant, a paper which has been stalwart in pushing Rosenberg's anthrax theories.
Now, with Hatfill's name in the national media, I imagine we will see a speedy resolution to the long-running Rosenberg saga. Is Hatfill "one of the good guys," as he maintains, or will Rosenberg send him to the Florida death house? Fasten your safety belts, anthrax fans, it's going to be a bumpy ride.