$5.8m payout draws line under FBI's anthrax screw-up
Seven years and a bioterror defense industry later...
When the US Department of Justice agreed to pay Steven J. Hatfill $5.82 million in damages for trashing his life and reputation late last week, it was another big low in the mess that's been the Amerithrax 2001 case. With the de facto exoneration of Hatfill, who had been dubbed a "person of interest" by the FBI, bystanders can conclude the agency has no evidence and no valid notion of who may have been responsible for the mailings of anthrax powder which resulted in five deaths seven years ago.
If one summarizes where the investigation went wrong, an obvious place to start was the FBI's reliance on scientists who were nothing more than prating busybodies, and on its own culture of leakers. Agents and administrators were only too happy to telegraph to the media the name of someone the agency thought was the culprit. Hatfill ranks with Richard Jewell, now deceased, and Wen Ho Lee, among those tarred by FBI leaks and convicted in the newsmedia. Jewell, who was initially named as the prime suspect in the Atlanta Olympic bombing case, sued a number of media outlets and won significant sums before his death at age 44. Lee also sued the government, as well as the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and ABC, winning a collective settlement of $1.6 million for their roles in defaming him as a nuclear spy.
All the smears that fit...
Hatfill was fingered in 2002 by New York Times opinion page columnist Nicholas Kristof, on the say-so of microbiologist Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a Federation of American Scientists advisor on biological weapons.
Kristof and the Times went after Hatfill hard, mentioning him in at least three different columns, all aimed at goading the FBI over the anthrax investigation. Kristof referred to Hatfill as "Mr. Z," a name used by Barbara Hatch Rosenberg in her briefings and writings addressing the man she thought was the anthrax mailer. "I just decided never to use names," she told one newspaper.
"Mr. Z" was an insider in the shadowy world of the nation's biodefense effort, insisted Kristof on July 2, 2002. Z had shown evasion in a polygraph and been caught in flagrante delicto with his girlfriend in a microbial hot room at Fort Detrick, America's premier biodefense installation. If Z were an "Arab national," thundered Kristof, he'd be in jail, intimating the US government was covering up.
Kristof named the source for his inside information as "people in the biodefense field" who'd given Hatfill's name to the FBI. The FBI needed to get after "Mr. Z" more aggressively, added Kristof. "When do you shift into high gear?" he asked angrily.
About two weeks before the news stories of anthrax being mailed to Congress, there was an NPR (National Public Radio) story on the afternoon news program regarding a little island in the Middle East that had reportedly been used as a biological weapons test site where, if I recall correctly, one could collect "weapons grade" anthrax spores using nothing more complicated than a shovel. Much like the story at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/1358442/Soviet-anthrax-lying-unguarded-on-test-island.html
Setting the stage?
"The FBI was targetting Hatfill as a scapegoat, to cover their blue babboon arses....Curious George Bush is just a shaved monkey"
What are the options here:
1. Muslim terrorists , well that did seem to make sense, before the UK lab decided to DNA sequence the Anthrax and the source was identified. Clearly all the pointers where aimed at this option. This is what we were supposed to think.
2. A rogue employee on his own, with access to recent anthrax samples from Fort Detrick, who widely travels (letters posted from Fl, NY, DC, etc.) writes letters with the anthrax 'death to American... Death to israel, Allah is great' (Death to Israel? WTF? ).
First set posted Sept 18 shortly after 911, trouble I have with that idea, is this rogue person would be captured on CCTV, and would have to get a flight at short notice after the FAA had grounded flights for days and be absent from work. Not likely. The first was only one week after 911 (?). He would have been filmed, noticed, unable to account for his time.
3. A foreign government (e.g. an Israel psychop to encourage all out war against Islam), doubful, I doubt they would take the risk. I'm not a Israel fan, but I reckon sending anthrax to senators as a psychop is even beyond them. Plus I assume when the samples were identifed as USmil samples, that was checked. As strange as this may sound, if this was a psychop by the Israeli nutters, I'd expect them to also send anthrax letters to Israel (to unify them as a fellow victim) but I don't recall such an event.
4. An Islamic employee at the labs working with Islamic fanatics, .... maybe, that's a possible too, I assume they do background checks? Lets put this on the maybe pile.
5. An ex employee with a grudge. Don't see the motive, the letters indicate muslims, and the result would be lots of defense biochemical work, *benefitting* the lab. Plus all the problems of 2.
6. An ex employee trying to help his former lab/America by building up the threat of biochemical attack (overzealous patriot). Trouble with that is he would have to have the anthrax from before 911 and have it on hand. Some sort of complicity or crystal ball seems to be needed.
7. A US Psychop, Bush said 'do anything' and anything meant getting America in scared mode... that would explain the source, the ability to send letters from anywhere, etc. Given the stuff that's gone on since I can believe that.
I'm doubtful of 2 and 4 because the funding that was pumped into that lab. I don't think Bush is in charge, he's more a figurehead that reads prepared speeches. Doesn't mean the people under him are clueless, if there was any likelyhood of 2 or 4, I don't think they'd have pumped money into that lab.
The choices don't seem to be many, and psychop seems to be the most likely.
Look at the psychop we had on Iraq to convince us it was an imminent threat and not a clapped out state close to collapse.
"A judge dismissed the suit early last year in finding that Hatfill was a public official and had not shown that the newspaper had published information it reasonably may have believed to be false."
That's the problem with defamation (and libel and slander). You can talk to one total crackpot who gives you a wild made-up story, and then you can go and spread that story with immunity because you did not "reasonably" believe it to be false. What about reasonably believe it to be true? Why isn't that a factor?
According to that rule, I could tell a journalist (even as a bad joke), and they could print in the newspaper tomorrow, "court-worker-x shows porn to children". Because it's a court worker, it's a public official. And the journalist has no reason not to believe me, so they do not reasonably believe it to be false. That journalist could effectively ruin court-worker-x's life and because they do not reasonably believe it is false, there would be no consequences (especially in this climate of "won't somebody think of the children").
re: "Anthrax-sniffing dogs" -- "If a dog sniffs anthrax on you, surely that means you've got the anthrax..." -- I sincerely hope you're being sarcastic and I'm just too tired to detect it, because dogs, even trained dogs, will very likely make some mistakes (false-positive or false-negative). Let's ask that Japanese airport how perfect sniffer-dogs are.