In what would appear to be an attempt to placate Kristof, Rosenberg and other newspapers jumping on the bandwagon of blaming Hatfill circumstantially, the government did turn up the heat. The Department of Justice instructed Louisiana State University not to hire Hatfill as the supervisor of its counter-terror program, one funded by government grant. A raid on Hatfill's apartment was televised. Another leaker told Newsweek anthrax-sniffing dogs had gone nuts over the unemployed scientist. (The dogs were later deemed to be unreliable witnesses.) A pond was dragged and drained, allegedly to find evidence Hatfill was said to have disposed of. And, at one point, FBI men tailing him in a car even ran over his foot.
A touch of the Olivers
The Hatfill boondoggle resulted in Rosenberg's effective separation from the Federation of American Scientists, a sober and well-known public information group which did not appreciate being attached to someone who'd gone 'Oliver Stone' with a conspiracy theory. Since then the microbiologist has not appeared in any major news stories on bioterrorism, except those mentioning her role in the Hatfill case. The obsession with "Mr. Z" appears to have smoked her reputation, a case of collateral damage in the tarring of Hatfill.
Hatfill and his lawyer subsequently moved to sue the New York Times for defamation in Kristof's columns. 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.
Unlike Judith Miller, who was thrown onto the tracks for bringing embarrassment on the Times for untrue stories on weapons of mass destruction, Kristof remained at his post.
In the wake of Amerithrax and 9/11, the biodefense industry took off. Although only five people had died, the anthrax mailings generated great hysteria. Newspapers, magazines and television shows filled with experts playing the fear card for all it was worth, predicting it was only a matter of time until a mass death incident resulted. Biological weapons, it was claimed, were trivially easy to make.
In the intervening seven years, biological weapons have killed zero people and been shown, somewhat empirically, not to be so easy to make after all. In any case, a great deal of the biodefense industry in the United States now works with very little oversight. Think of it as scientific welfare for those who often claim to be defending the country against a clear and present danger.
Who was responsible for the anthrax mailings? There still exists a cottage industry in theories: stories about incriminating emails between boffins at Fort Detrick, arguments over the nature of the anthrax powder and its similarity or dissimilarity to an anthrax bioweapon once made by the United States, and hoary tales about Detrick scientists stealing microbes, their personal beefs and entrances into the lab after hours. All of it pretty much unconvincing gossip.
What would seem certain is that the anthrax must be long gone, along with much of the forensic value the samples once had for the investigation - and that the FBI will need miracles, an extremely lucky break or unexpected confession to solve the case. ®
George Smith is a senior fellow at GlobalSecurity.org, a defense affairs think tank and public information group. At Dick Destiny, he blogs his way through chemical, biological, and nuclear terror hysteria, often by way of the contents of neighbourhood hardware stores.
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.