Were the Anthrax Attacks on Congress the act of the U.S. Government?
By F. Vyan Walton
According to a report from a government Insider currently posted on AfterDowningStreet.org, the Anthrax attacks on Senators Daschle and Leahy in 2001, just weeks after 9-11, may have been launched not by foreign or even domestic terrorists, unless (like Rosie O'Donnell) you count members of the U.S. Government as potential members such a group.
Francis A. Boyle, an international law expert who worked under the first Bush Administration as a bioweapons advisor in the 1980s, has said that he is convinced the October 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people were perpetrated and covered up by criminal elements of the U.S. government. The motive: to foment a police state by killing off and intimidating opposition to post-9/11 legislation such as the USA PATRIOT Act and the later Military Commissions Act.
I admit I am wary of what might seem a bit of tin-foil haberdashery, but then again - we just had a President commute the sentence of someone who lied to protect the Vice President from possible Treason charges. We've seen our racial discrimination at the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ. Just how much lower can the Bush/Cheney Government go?
Based on what Dr. Boyle has to say it just might be that we haven't even begun to completely plumb the true depths of BushCo.
"At the time I myself did not know precisely what was going on, either with respect to September 11 or the anthrax attacks, but then the New York Times revealed the technology behind the letter to Senator Daschle. [The anthrax used was] a trillion spores per gram, [refined with] special electro-static treatment. This is superweapons-grade anthrax that even the United States government, in its openly proclaimed programs, had never developed before. So it was obvious to me that this was from a U.S. government lab. There is nowhere else you could have gotten that."
At the time of the attacks the Senate was contemplating the original version of the Patriot Act, which at the time included a complete striping of Habeas Corpus. Senator Leahy was one of the leading opponents of the bill.
Following the attacks, much of that opposition faded and the bill - with some modifications - was passed. Leahy even voted for it.
Boyle who had worked for years on Bioweapons and had been responsible for drafting the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, which passed both Houses and was signed into law by George Herbert Walker Bush.
But wait, the plot sickens...
After realizing that the type and quality of the Anthrax used against Sen. Daschle indicated that it had to have been developed by U.S. Scientists, Boyle contacted the FBI and spoke with Agent Marion "Spike" Bowman.
Boyle and Bowman had met at a terrorism conference at the University of Michigan Law School. Boyle told Bowman that the only people who would have the capability to carry out the attacks were individuals working on U.S. government anthrax programs with access to a high-level biosafety lab. Boyle gave Bowman a full list of names of scientists, contractors and labs conducting anthrax work for the U.S. government and military.
Well, you'd expect that armed with this knowledge, trusty Agent Bowman would be after his man/men immediately? Well, not so much.
Bowman then informed Boyle that the FBI was working with Fort Detrick on the matter. Boyle expressed his view that Fort Detrick could be the main problem.
Fort Detrick receives it's cultures for bioweapon analysis and development from Ames, Iowa - but not long after these events the cultures at Ames were ordered destroyed by ... wait for it ... the FBI.
The alleged destruction of the anthrax culture collection at Ames, Iowa, from which the Fort Detrick lab got its pathogens, was blatant destruction of evidence. It meant that there was no way of finding out which strain was sent to whom to develop the larger breed of anthrax used in the attacks. The trail of genetic evidence would have leddirectly back to a secret government biowarfare program.
"Clearly, for the FBI to have authorized this was obstruction of justice, a federal crime," said Boyle. "That collection should have been preserved and protected as evidence. That's the DNA, the fingerprints right there. It later came out, of course, that this wasAmes strain anthrax that was behind the Daschle and Leahy letters."
It's not like Agent Bowman hasn't dropped the ball before. It was he along with FBI Supervisory Special Agent Michael Maltbi who decided it wasn't even worth trying to file a FISA warrant the contents of Zacarias Moussaoui's computer hardrive.
<>The Judiciary Committee has been investigating FISA problems at the FBI, including holding closed hearings where Mr. Bowman and others were questioned about the Moussaoui case.
<>Mr. Grassley said a 26-page electronic communication from the Minneapolis agents contained information that "a reasonable person would have concluded" was sufficient to obtain a FISA warrant.
He said the application should have gone forward to the Justice Department and the FISA court.
Instead, he said, FBI Supervisory Special Agent Michael Maltbie concluded there was not enough information and that Mr. Bowman agreed, although he was aware Mr. Maltbie had "removed certain information before making a presentation of questionable accuracy and length to the national security law unit."
Mr. Grassley said if the application had gone forward and a warrant issued, the agents would have found information in Moussaoui's belongings linking him both to a major financier of the hijacking plot and to an al Qaeda boss who met with at least two other hijackers while under surveillance by intelligence officials.
After his stellar work on the Moussaoui case, Bowman was naturally given a Presidential Rank of Meritorious Service award. I suppose a fresh new Medal of Freedom wasn't available at the time.
It should also be noted that there are others with a different opinion and view of the source of that Anthrax used in that fateful 2001 attack. From the WaPo Sept 2006
What was initially described as a near-military-grade biological weapon was ultimately found to have had a more ordinary pedigree, containing no additives and no signs of special processing to make the anthrax bacteria more deadly, law enforcement officials confirmed. In addition, the strain of anthrax used in the attacks has turned out to be more common than was initially believed, the officials said.
As a result, after a very public focus on government scientists as the likely source of the attacks, the FBI is today casting a far wider net, as investigators face the daunting prospect of an almost endless list of possible suspects in scores of countries around the globe. "There is no significant signature in the powder that points to a domestic source,"
You wonder if any of these people have ever watched an episode of CSI and know what DNA is? Whether cultures from the Ames lab were or weren't a source for the Anthrax is now only a matter of speculation and supposition since the originals have been destroyed. Preserving them would have gone a long way to helping establish that Ft. Detrick or any other U.S. lab as suspected by Dr. Boyle clearly were not involved in the Attack.
So if it wasn't "weaponized" could it still have come from an Defense Lab or was it just run of the mill anthrax, the kind you find at your local Walmart? (More from Wapo)
Whoever made the powder produced a deadly project of exceptional purity and quality -- up to a trillion spores per gram -- but used none of the tricks known to military bioweapons scientists to increase the lethality of the product. Officials stressed that the terrorist would have had to have considerable skills in microbiology and access to equipment.
So who are the terrorist with "considerable skill in microbiology and access to equipment" - are they hiding out in the caves of Afghanistan or maybe they're somewhere North, South, East and slightly West of Tikrit by now? The lack of "additives" may not neccesarily mean that the Anthrax wasn't made at someplace like Ft Detrick, it simply means that additives that would have given it a more unique and distinctive signature weren't added (yet). Particular when the point of the Attack clearly wasn't to maximize leathality, it was to foment fear and help shift U.S. policy to a more fascist stance.
<>But again, this is mere speculation - proof one way or the other seems to be in short supply.
One may or may not believe Dr. Boyle, one may or may not feel that his cause for alarm and claims that this smacks of a "deliberate cover-up" are legitimate, I for one certainly have my doubts, but....
One thing is certain, in the wake of 5 Million Missing Emails, you just have to wonder...
UPDATE: As pointed out by a DKOS commenter - this doesn't have to be a "conspiracy" for Boyle to be largely correct about the possible source of the Anthrax. All it takes is one nutball with access to materials and the will to use them. Again from the WaPo.
"In my opinion, there are maybe four or five people in the whole country who might be able to make this stuff, and I'm one of them," said Richard O. Spertzel, chief biological inspector for the U.N. Special Commission from 1994 to 1998. "And even with a good lab and staff to help run it, it might take me a year to come up with a product as good."
Instead, suggested Spertzel and more than a dozen experts interviewed by The Washington Post in recent weeks, investigators might want to reexamine the possibility of state-sponsored terrorism, or try to determine whether weaponized spores may have been stolen by the attacker from an existing, but secret, biodefense program or perhaps given to the attacker by an accomplice.
Whether this was the act of one lone nut, followed by a botched investigation or something more sinister and deliberate - many questions remain and deserved to be answered.