Skip to comments.The Iraq-Antrhax-West Nile Virus COnnection (my title)
Posted on 09/24/2002 9:17:15 AM PDT by eshu
WASHINGTON - American research companies, with the approval of two previous presidential administrations, provided Iraq biological cultures that could be used for biological weapons, according to testimony to a U.S. Senate committee eight years ago.
West Nile Virus, E. coli, anthrax and botulism were among the potentially fatal biological cultures that a U.S. company sent under U.S. Commerce Department licenses after 1985, when Ronald Reagan was president, according to the Senate testimony.
The Commerce Department under the first Bush administration also authorized eight shipments of cultures that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention later classified as having "biological warfare significance."
Between 1985 and 1989, the Senate testimony shows, Iraq received at least 72 U.S. shipments of clones, germs and chemicals ranging from substances that could destroy wheat crops, give children and animals the bone-deforming disease rickets, to a nerve gas rated a million times more lethal than Sarin.
Disclosures about such shipments in the late 1980s not only highlight questions about old policies but pose new ones, such as how well the American military forces would be protected against such an arsenal - if one exists - should the United States invade Iraq.
Testimony on these shipments was offered in 1994 to the Senate Banking Committee headed by then-Sens. Donald Riegle Jr., D-Mich., and Alfonse M. D'Amato, R-N.Y., who were critics of the policy. The testimony, which occurred during hearings that were held about the poor health of some returning Gulf War veterans, was brought to the attention of The Buffalo News by associates of Riegle.
The committee oversees the work of the U.S. Export Administration of the Commerce Department, which licensed the shipments of the dangerous biological agents.
"Saddam (Hussein) took full advantage of the arrangement," Riegle said in an interview with The News late last week. "They seemed to give him anything he wanted. Even so, it's right out of a science fiction movie as to why we would send this kind of stuff to anybody."
The new Bush administration, he said, claims Hussein is adding to his bioweapons capability.
"If that's the case, then the issue needs discussion and clarity," Riegle said. "But it's not something anybody wants to talk about."
The shipments were sent to Iraq in the late 1980s, when that country was engaged in a war with Iran, and Presidents Reagan and George Bush were trying to diminish the influence of a nation that took Americans hostages a decade earlier and was still aiding anti-Israeli terrorists.
"Iraq was considered an ally of the U.S. in the 1980s," said Nancy Wysocki, vice president for public relations for one of the U.S. organizations that provided the materials to Hussein's regime.
"All these (shipments) were properly licensed by the government, otherwise they would not have been sent," said Wysocki, who works for American Type Culture Collection, Manassas, Va., a nonprofit bioinformatics firm.
The shipments not only raise serious questions about the wisdom of former administrations, Riegle said, but also questions about what steps the Defense Department is taking to protect American military personnel against Saddam's biological arsenal in the event of an invasion.
Riegle said there are 100,000 names on a national registry of gulf veterans who have reported illnesses they believe stem from their tours of duty there.
"Some of these people, who went over there as young able-bodied Americans, are now desperately ill," he said. "Some of them have died."
"One of the obvious questions for today is: How has our Defense Department adjusted to this threat to our own troops?" he said. "How might this potential war proceed differently so that we don't have the same outcome?
"How would our troops be protected? What kind of sensors do we have now? In the Gulf War, the battlefield sensors went off tens of thousands of times. The Defense Department says they were false alarms."
U.S. bioinformatics firms in the 1980s received requests from a wide variety of Iraqi agencies, all claiming the materials were intended for civilian research purposes.
The congressional testimony from 1994 cites an American Type shipment in 1985 to the Iraq Ministry of Higher Education of a substance that resembles tuberculosis and influenza and causes enlargement of the liver and spleen. It can also infect the brain, lungs, heart and spinal column. The substance is called histoplasma capsulatum.
American Type also provided clones used in the development of germs that would kill plants. The material went to the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission, which the U.S. government says is a front for Saddam's military.
An organization called the State Company for Drug Industries received a pneumonia virus, and E. coli, salmonella and staphylcoccus in August 1987 under U.S. license, according to the Senate testimony. The country's Ministry of Trade got 33 batches of deadly germs, including anthrax and botulism in 1988.
Ten months after the first President Bush was inaugurated in 1988, an unnamed U.S. firm sent eight substances, including the germ that causes strep throat, to Iraq's University of Basrah.
An unnamed office in Basrah, Iraq, got "West Nile Fever Virus" from an unnamed U.S. company in 1985, the Senate testimony shows.
While there is no proof that the recent outbreak of West Nile virus in the United States stemmed from anything Iraq did, Riegle said, "You have to ask yourself, might there be a connection?"
Researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said American companies were not the only ones that sent anthrax cultures to Iraq. British firms sold cultures to the University of Baghdad that were transferred to the Iraqi military, the Center for Strategic and International Studies said. The Swiss also sent cultures.
The data on American shipments of deadly biological agents to Iraq was developed for the Senate Banking Committee in the winter of 1994 by the panel's chief investigator, James Tuite, and other staffers, and entered into the committee record May 25, 1994.
The committee was trying to establish that thousands of service personnel were harmed by exposure to Iraqi chemical weapons during the Gulf War, particularly following a U.S. air attack on a munitions dump - a theory that the Defense Department and much of official Washington have always downplayed.
Bureau assistant Diana Moore and News researcher Andrew Bailey contributed to this article.
Mosquitoes acquire the West Nile virus from birds and pass it on to other birds, animals, and people. While humans and horses may be infected by the virus, there is no documentation that infected horses can spread the virus to uninfected horses or other animals. Migrating birds may play a role in spreading the disease.
History of West Nile Virus in the United States
On September 14, 1999, the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) of the U.S. Department of Agricultures (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) isolated a virus from neurological and other tissues of flamingos and tragopans (pheasants) from the Bronx Zoo and crows from the New York City area.
Samples of the isolated virus were sent to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for identification. On September 27, CDC officials announced that the isolated virus was very similar to that of the West Nile virus, previously unseen in the Western Hemisphere. CDC later confirmed the virus as West Nile and connected it to an encephalitis outbreak that killed 7 people and infected at least 55 others in the New York City area in 1999. The virus has since been identified in horses, mosquitoes, and wild birds in more than 20 States in the eastern United States and the District of Columbia.
Because this virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, it has the potential to affect livestock and poultry. In 1999 and 2000, a total of 85 horses were diagnosed with encephalitis caused by West Nile virus. The horses were located in numerous States along the eastern coast.
Clinical signs of West Nile virus infection in the New York horses included ataxia (stumbling and incoordination), depression or apprehension, weakness of limbs, partial paralysis, muscle twitching, or death. Fever was not generally observed.
Although the role of commercial poultry in maintaining or transmitting the virus is not thoroughly understood, no clinical signs have been reported in U.S. poultry. According to scientific literature, chickens can develop a short-lived infection, but clinical signs are not seen.
Not really, probably. Have a look at his profile page.
I'll be very surprised if I haven't seen our friend eshu around LibertyForum ;).
In a similar vein, the recurring epidemics of E. coli, normally an innocuous bacteria present in everybody's intestinal tract, suddenly erupts as a serious pathogen from the consumption of hamburger. The source of the hamburger contamination is usually traced to one or another of the major meat packers, and always in just a few shipments to a fast-food retailer. This is not necessarily coincidental. It would only take a very few grams of concentrated bacterial culture, dropped strategically in the meat processing machinery, to contaminate huge quantities of ground beef. In the past, this has been officially attributed to a failure of sanitation practices at the packing plant in question. In actually fact, we have been targeted by bio-terrorists. It may be, that the source of the contamination may not be a foreign enemy, but a domestic variety. The effect is the same. Domestic terrorists can be as much a threat as the international variety, and they wish us no good either.
Per your suggestion I have looked up this LibertyForum and it appears to be a political chatboard of some sort - I'm not sure what your point is though, since I didn't see anything there that had anything to do with whether or not Reagan's Alzheimer's disease might have influenced his decision to authorize the export of biological weapons to Iraq.
Would you care to elaborate and connect the dots for us? I can't speak for anyone else here, but I do know that as I am not privy to your thoughts I am not sure if your comments represents some sort of insight, or is an inside joke, or what. Thanks! 8-)
WHAT?!??!? do you have a link or a source for this?
Oh. Just that a lot of folks on that board hate Reagan with a vengeance (they tend to call him "RayGun"), just as they hate Republicans, Jews, the rule of law, and a number of other things. In contrast they love Arabs, Stormfront, StrikeTheRoot, Matt Giwer, Ernst Zundel and every Canadian loon at large.
Would you care to connect the dots between your Clinton picture and your Bush picture?
Huh. Well, I don't "hate" Reagan, but I do feel sorry for him now that he has lost his sense and can't tell the difference between his own wife and a a stalk of asparagus. I do wonder if his mental deterioation might have played a part in his *singularly bad* decision to allow anthrax and other bioogical weapons to be exported to Saddam, which is, after all, the topic of this thread. ANytime you want to get on topic, feel free.
Now, of the other items in this list you have rattled off: oddly enough I do remember the alternate spelling of "Raygun" from my misspent youth as a fan of Southern California punk rock. Hating Jews, Republicans and the rule of law, though? It is not all clear to me how this things are comnnected, and as for the rest of the items in this list you rattle off ("StrikeTheRoot, Matt Giwer, Ernst Zundel") I have never heard of these foks so if you want to elaborate and actually have something to contribute to the discussion, please do so, otherwise please keep it in your pants, as they say.
Would you care to connect the dots between your Clinton picture and your Bush picture?
Sure. You will notice that both are flashing the "devil horns" sign used by adolescent headbangers everywhere. This is a mocking reference to the idea that both are party to some sort of NWO conspiracy. Actually, we need posit no "conspiracy," simply read the consitution and take note of the items in the Bill of rights that have been abrogated or severely weakened under Bush and Clinton both and you will understand that it is simply the growth of the Federal goverment, which, having acquired the taste for power, simply wants more of the same.
As an AMerican who respects and has read the constitution i am naturally disturbed by this, but i also feel free to make fun of it too.
WHich brings up back to the topic at hand - if reagan had been in his right mind, perhaps he would not have exported anthrax to Iraq or allowed the CIA to arm and train Osama Bin Laden & his followers.
If Reagan had had his wits about him, perhaps Saddam and Osama would never have become so dangerous, and we would still enjoy the full protection of the cojnstitution, instead of having to submit to this "Patriot Act," which basically guts the 4th & 6th amendments and severely weakens the 1st amendment too.
To make a long story short and relevant, commerce was giving the green light to dual-use shipments, and insisting that defense should not be involved in the decision. In hindsight, defense would have raised (according to testimony) red flags not on any particular shipment, but on certain combinations.
Reagan was at the helm, however, so he does share the flack; but subsequent presidents also share in the mess, along with their staffs, their state departments, their defense departments, etc.
In short, I disagreed and still disagree with some of Reagan's (et al) policies in the ME, but not to the point of assuming they were idiotic.