The best anthrax money can buy

Jaquer0 jaquer0 at
Sat Dec 15 02:42:51 MST 2001

I don't know if people have been following the continuing saga of the
anthrax investigation.

In a previous life, I wrote a post for the list a couple of weeks ago, but
I'm not sure I sent it.

So to recap.

Turns out, the anthrax sent to the Senators -- the two high-ranking
Democratic Senators-- was extremely high grade, weaponized anthrax.

And not just any old weaponized anthrax, the best weaponized anthrax money
can buy, which, as far as is known, only the U.S. knows how to make. Better
than the old Soviet anthrax, better (needless to say) than the nasty,
primitive, third-world Iraqui Anthrax Saddam supposedly made. This stuff is
so highly and lightly powdered, it just floats away, it is like the dust
you see when a beam of sunlight comes in through a crack in a window into a
darkened room, and you look at all the stuff bouncing light off the sunbeam
and you think to yourself, "And they want me to worry about smoking? How
about worrying about breathing?" It doesn't settle in the presence of the
slightest air circulation, and even after it has settled, the slightest
activity will waft it up into the air and the air-conditioning system
again. No ordinary paper envelope made can fully contain it, as the size of
the spore particles --3 microns or less-- will pass through paper as if it
were a slice ---a very thin slice-- of Swiss cheese.

And it turns out it was weaponized Anthrax from the Ames strain. The
*American* Ames strain, which nobody weaponized, at least no country did.
(That last statement, by the way, is now inoperative. One country did
weaponize Ames Anthrax, as we'll soon see).

You would almost have thought that this anthrax must have come from U.S.
stocks, except, of course, we've all been told that the last time the US
made Anthrax was back in 1969, and it destroyed all it had way back then,
when we still had Dick "I am not a crook" Nixon to kick around.

The news this week is, "Did we say 1969? Oops, we meant 1999." Yes, in
between availing himself of the favors of young women, turns out President
Clinton found the time to get the U.S. back into the biololgical warfare
business. For purely *defensive* purposes mind you, all proper and legal
under the treaty banning the making of Anthrax which, logically enough,
ALLOWS the making of anthrax, as long as you do it with good intentions,
like figuring out how to keep the Anthrax you're making from killing you
because you've made it so fiendishly deadly certainly no one else will
escape exposure alive.

This stuff gets brewed out in Utah, but, as it turns out, the Utah proving
grounds doesn't have the equipment to sterilize the spores, so they get
shipped cross country to Maryland every time they want to do certain tests
without putting in danger much of the US's polygamous population. Somewhere
in or around Baltimore they irradiate it to kill the spores (they hope!)
and thereby make it safe for preparing wars.

The LAST time they shipped the spores cross-country was July, two
tightly-sealed vials, one with 150 grams, one with 60 or 80 grams,  of
ultra-fine-powered superdeadly bacteria spores. And, a couple of months
later, and a few days before September 11, the folks in Maryland sent back
the sterilized spores, 5 vials of 150 grams each. Ooops. So, either we
should be calling the Vatican about this miraculous multiplication of the
vials and spores, or, whatever else may be true, one thing we may be sure
of: All the official assurances about how the army knows where its anthrax
is at all times and keeps it under total control and so on are bunk. For if
there were any point to keeping track of the exact amounts being shipped
back and forth cross country, it would be so that if the amounts received
for irradiation and sent back afterwards did not match, it would set off
alarm bells all over the Defense Department louder than, say, a jumbo
passenger jet crashing into the Pentagon. Apparently, it did not.

Much of this has appeared in the Baltimore Sun (which, for some reason,
takes it personally when the army sends in ultra-weaponized anthrax into
its city and then can't quite figure out what it did with it), the rest is
from the Washington Post, which competes with the Baltimore paper, got
scooped, and is now playing catch up, and the NY Times, which competes with
the WaPo as a national paper, got scooped, and is now playing catch up,
too. But no one else seems to be paying attention.

You'd think a story this juicy would be WAY too good to pass, up, the
Anthrax terrorists may be U.S. Defense Department contractors or even US
military personnel. But it has gotten next to zero coverage, much less,
than, for example,  Geraldo's armament.

Instead, everyone is fixated with the Bin Laden tape, which purports to
show Bin Laden making statements that he took part in the planning and
organizing of the 9-11 attacks.

On one level I can understand the press's stunned reaction. The guy
actually told the truth. Bush said Bin Laden did it, and by golly, Bush
wasn't making it up! Here is Bin Laden confirming it. The LAST time a U.S.
president was caught in such a slip was back in 1946, when Harry Truman
told reporters he had a headache and was going to bed early and no fewer
than four witnesses confirm that he did, indeed, go to bed early that day
(although Presidential Historians are still debating about the headache part).

But actually I'd already concluded Bin Laden had done it, having read his
earlier statements about what a wonderful thing it was and how these
martyrs were now with Allah and all that Christian Fundamentalist-type
garbage dressed up in Muslim garb. Sure, he was a bit coy about admitting
direct participation in the conspiracy, but he was quite clear in giving it
his political and religious endorsement and accepting moral responsibility
for it. Good enough for me.

So --oh happy coincidence-- the very week the news about the Anthrax
investigation is breaking, the gasbags on TV and Geraldo and everybody was
talking about the tape. To keep the airwaves filled, the Pentagon went
through that whole charade of claiming it was grappling with the question
of whether or not to release it, as it might compromise National Security
Secrets on Intelligence Sources and Methods, and --of course-- having made
the decision to release it, it took longer than anticipated to translate it
than they thought it would. Even though it was already translated. Goes to
show what the White House thinks of the probity of the CIA, even at the
level of providing an honest translation, because they brought in big-shot
linguists and college professors to double check it. (Some news
organizations, rumor has it, have also verified the accuracy of the
translation after the release, but that news hasn't come out, I suspect
because they don't want to seem "unpatriotic" by having failed to take the
government's word, unquestioned, at face value.)

Now, there's been a lot of scepticism and incredulity about the tape, But I
tend to think it is genuine. The only other times I've seen captured on
tape or described in  accounts such complete, utter, cynical disregard for
the lives of civilians is in relation to the CIA and its operatives and
buddies carrying out their campaigns of terrorism and disappearances in
Lartin America and other parts of the third world. And, of course, Bin
Laden and many of his associates were trained by the CIA. It shows. The
smugness and contempt for working people shows his training has held.

If I didn't know better, I'd think the timing of the release of the tape
was meant to divert attention from the anthrax revelations. And, come to
think of it, I don't know better.

Meanwhile, a disturbing truth remains. Everything now points to the anthrax
attacks being, not just domestic, but an inside job. And there's no reason
to believe whomever did this has run our of supplies. There is some
controversy and confusion over the amounts the U.S. has manufactured. The
official story is grams at a time. The statement of at least one person
involved is a pound in one batch this person knows about. The official
story is this person is confused, they DID manufacture a pound of
anthrax-like Bacteria spores, but it wasn't anthrax, but something else
with similar physical characteristics but that doesn't cause disease.
Either way, the letters apparently have contained a couple of grams (a
little goes a long way), so there would be plenty left.

As for the authorities, it is now clear that at least some people in the
government knew a lot more about Anthrax than was reflected in the initial
statements. In particular, they knew the spores could be made practically
weightless and thus could easily contaminate an entire building. That they
would be so small that they could pass through  many porous substances,
like paper and (common) ventilation system filters. Obviously they weren't
talking to the regular emergency response services and CDC officials. And
certainly not to the Post Office.

After the Senator's offices leaked that this had been a weaponized, highly
sophisticated form of Anthrax, people in the government came out to deny it
a few days later. The only possible explanation I can think of is that they
were trying to keep some sort of coverup going. Unfortunately postal
workers and little old ladies kept dropping dead from inhalation anthrax.
And even attempts to float the idea that people were dropping dead from
Anthrax before, it's just that we didn't notice, nothing has changed except
that we're now looking for such cases, couldn't make the coverup stick.


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