Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Big Lie

When Robert Stevens became the first confirmed death in the American Anthrax attacks of 2001, I was still in Miami attending my father’s funeral. Stevens had worked at the National Enquirer’s offices in Boca Raton, just up the coast from where I was staying, and my wife, back in Italy, thought that that was a little too close for comfort. Talking to her over the phone I told her that I didn’t think that I was in any danger, but she wanted me home and the sooner the better.

Cleaning up Capital Hill after the attacks

The anthrax letters, which had been mailed to two high ranking Democratic senators, a prominent TV journalist and the National Enquirer, were spooking a lot of people in the States. Coming just two weeks after September 11th, they seemed to confirm the idea terrorism was in America to stay. Indeed, as Glenn Greenwald convincingly writes in his blog on, the Anthrax attacks were perhaps even more important in securing popular support for the Bush Administration’s “War on terror” and its eventual invasion of Iraq than the suicide attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon had been.

Soon after Steven’s death, sources inside the US government were leaking information to ABC news about a probable connection between the attacks and the government of Iraq, saying that “initial tests on the anthrax by the US Army at Fort Detrick, Maryland, have detected trace amounts of the chemical additives bentonite and silica.” Betonite was a signature element closely associated with the Iraqi bio-weapons program and the kind of “smoking gun” that according to the late ABC anchorman Peter Jennings the Bush administration was looking for, in part, he explained “because there's been a lot of pressure on the Bush administration inside and out to go after Saddam Hussein.”

Which is exactly, as everyone knows, what the Neocons did. They went after Saddam, killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and effectively destroying the country. Searching for Hussein’s biological “weapons of mass destruction” was one of the primary reasons given for our preventive blitzkreig. The weapons, of course, were never found, but it didn’t matter, the claim that the Iraqi dictator was behind the anthrax letters and that he still had enormous stockpiles of chemical and biological horrors that were just waiting to be used on other innocent Americans was more than enough.

What many people didn’t know at the time, and are probably still unaware of, is that there were never any tests done at Ft. Detrick showing the presence of betonite in the anthrax letters. ABC News finally admitted as much in 2007, but they won't budge when it comes to naming those in the government who had given them the false information in the first place. They say they are “protecting their sources” but in fact are just continuing their cover-up of one of the many lies floated by this administration over an extremely gullible American public.

Worse still, the recent suicide on Tuesday of Bruce E. Ivins, a top anthrax researcher at Ft. Detrick, confirms what many have suspected for a long time, that not only did the anthrax letters have nothing to do with Islamic terrorism, but that they came from the Army’s own bio-weapons research facility. Ivins killed himself soon after he was told by the FBI that he would be indicted on five accounts of murder stemming from the anthrax attacks. The FBI was sure, albeit after seven years, that they had found their man.

Greenwald in his blog connects the dots: the letters were sent by a top government anthrax researcher, there was a clear intent in the letters to link the attacks to Islamic fundamentalism, ABC News was given false information by government sources linking the anthrax used in the letters to Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration repeatedly used this “link” to ramp up public support for its invasion of Iraq in the months prior to March, 2003.

I’d say the facts speak for themselves.


Penetralia said...

The entire story is far absurd than fiction!
Abraços do Lúcio Jr.

John Hemingway said...

Absurd, but disturbingly true. A piece of our very recent history.