Dusting off the anthrax attack case

Out of the memory hole

Old-thinker news | August 23, 2007

By Daniel Taylor

***Update*** (January 25, 2008) History Channel admits anthrax attacks an inside job (watch video here)

Just eight days after the 9/11 attacks the first anthrax letter was received at the American Media headquarters in Florida, marking the beginning of a series of letters that would claim the lives of five people. To this day, the crime is still officially “unsolved” and the whole event seems to have fallen into the collective memory hole of America.

On September 11th, 2001, eight days before the first anthrax attack, Whitehouse staff was put on Cipro, apparently acting on information that the rest of the country was not so fortunate to have access to. As the Associated Press reported on October 24, 2001,

“On the night of the Sept. 11 attacks, the White House Medical Office dispensed Cipro to staff accompanying Vice President Dick Cheney as he was secreted off to the safety of Camp David, and told them it was a precaution, according to one person directly involved.”

Judicial Watch filed a FOIA request (Freedom of Information Act), inquiring the decision to put Whitehouse staff on Cipro the same day as the 9/11 attacks. Judicial Watch received a response, but the information contained in it was of little use.

“Despite multiple press reports confirming that White House staff began use of Cipro on September 11, 2001, the incomplete and evasive FOIA response from The White House consisted of a paltry, four e-mail messages and an “administrative alert” concerning testing procedures in reaction to the anthrax deaths of two postal workers, all of which were dated October 23 and October 24, 2001.”

Who carried out these attacks? How did Whitehouse staff know to begin using Cipro over a week before the first attacks?

In early 2002, the BBC program Newsnight conducted an investigation into the anthrax case, suggesting that the CIA was conducting a “test” on various methods of sending anthrax through the mail. Susan Watts, the BBC science correspondent, reported from Washington,

“Initially the investigation looked for a possible Al-Qaeda or Iraqi link, then to a domestic terrorist, then inwards to the US bio-defence programme itself. But in the last four or five weeks the investigation seems to have run into the sand…There have been several theories as to why …

Three weeks ago Dr Barbara Rosenberg – an acknowledged authority on US bio-defence – claimed the FBI is dragging its feet because an arrest would be embarrassing to the US authorities. Tonight on Newsnight, she goes further…suggesting there could have been a secret CIA field project to test the practicalities of sending anthrax through the mail – whose top scientist went badly off the rails…”

Watts continues,

“They’re looking for differences between this so-called Florida “strain” and stored samples from a number of US military sites

This is the first time genomic analysis has been used for microbial forensics…Tim Read is one of the world’s leading authorities on the genetic make-up of anthrax . He compared the fingerprint of the Florida strain with that of samples originating at Fort Detrick.”

Timothy Read of the Institute of Genomic Research responds: “They’re definitely related to each other …closely related to each other”

Watts: “Could they be so closely related that one could consider them to be one and the same thing?”

Read: “I’m not commenting on that…”

In May of 2002 New Scientist magazine broke the story on the source of the anthrax used in the attacks. The report was conclusive; the anthrax came from a US military laboratory.

“The data released uses codenames for the reference strains against which the attack strain was compared. But New Scientist can reveal that the two reference strains that appear identical to the attack strain most likely originated at the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick (USAMRIID), Maryland.”

The LA Times gave an update on the anthrax investigation in 2006, reporting that the investigation appears to be “stalled,” and the case has “gone cold.” Senator Tom Daschle, himself a target of the attacks is quoted as saying that there is a lack of “good evidence.”

“Daschle, now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said he asked the FBI about a month ago for an update but was rebuffed.

‘Clearly, this whole investigation has gone very cold,’ he said. ‘Because it has become so cold, they are all the more apprehensive about acknowledging that they do not have any real good evidence or leads.'”

What evidence is the FBI looking at (or choosing not to)? Susan Watts of the BBC suggests that the individual(s) responsible are likely involved with top secret bio-defense programs that the government wants to keep secret, thus the stalled – if nonexistent – investigation.

Is this the truth, or a cover story? How did the Whitehouse know that a “mad scientist” – according to the BBC – was going to launch a biological attack, when the earliest letter was dated September 18th?

Here’s what we know from the above documentation:

– The Whitehouse staff was put on Cipro over a week before the first attacks, implying prior knowledge.

– Inquiry into this action is met with secrecy, vague responses.

– The anthrax used in the attacks is directly linked to a US military lab.

– FBI investigation into the anthrax attacks “goes cold”.

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