Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Anthrax redux

I've mentioned previously that the best thing about running this blog has been the great mail I receive. The latest is from reader jsg, responding to my recent posts on the anthrax case. It seems jsg knows whereof he speaks:
Based on the Science article, I would say that the anthrax probably wasn't made at Frederick. Battelle seems to have much more experience with making weaponized anthrax. What struck me in the Science article was that Battelle has made some for DARPA and the army. I have felt for a while that it was possibly DARPA or some other rogue govt agency that did the attacks (CIA, NSC, DIA, JCS or some other I've never heard of). It was, after all, sent to Democratic Senators who were opposing the so-called "Patriot act" at the time. I believe it was an attempt to get more govt money for bioterrorism defense or research and to pass the Patriot act. I have no direct evidence whatsoever, except that as a government microbiologist (NIH), I don't believe just any jamoke could make this substance. Especially if polymerized glass was an ingredient.

Initially, I also thought it was the "camel clubbers" or their sympathizers because of the letter to the FBI before the first death. Now, my feeling is that this letter was sent by the actual terrorists as a kind of plausible deniability factor. A well prepared state government would not send anthrax cold without also setting up a potential perpetrator, who in reality had nothing to do with the mailings. I believe both Hatfield and Assaad were such potential perps. There was also an anonymous mailing to the FBI, I believe, that resulted in the discovery of the glove hood in the Frederick pond.

Side thought: remember that hokey idea propounded by the FBI that the anthrax was prepared underwater in plastic bags? Leave it to the FBI to come up with a doozey like that! If anyone can screw up this investigation, it is the FBI.

You may think I'm some kind of conspiracy nut. Or tinfoil hat type. I'm not. I believe in the lone gunman theory of the Kennedy assassination. Unfortunately, in this situation, it appears that the most likely candidates for the terrorists are in the US military or intelligence. They had the know-how, when no one else did. They had the motive. And they had precedent.

By precedent, I am referring to a couple of admittedly vague things. One, that Northwoods thing, where the US intelligence community came up with a plan to assasinate US citizens in US cities for some idiotic purpose. My understanding is that they would have carried through if it weren't for the president intervening. Two, medical experimentation on unwitting humans, such as the Tuskeegee syphilis studies, the army LSD studies, and the "learned stuttering" thing. Three, DARPA -- and Poindexter, who was running it -- have been involved in some pretty unusual, but in perspective tamer things, such as Total Information Awareness, the market to predict terrorism and the whole Iran-contra affair.

But when you get right down to it, we just don't know. I don't have a lot of faith in the FBI, but it looks like they are our only hope.

His analysis mostly concurs with mine (as well as a few other analysts I happen to know), though I'm not yet ready to exonerate the "Camel Clubbers."

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