Friday, March 28, 2008

2001 Anthrax Attack: 'Lies' at Fort Detrick

'Everybody knows' that the military, and particularly the American military, lies all the time.

Like now, when a commander at Fort Detrick said that the Army didn't use powdered anthrax for experiments: just the liquid form.

I don't think the commander was lying. But it's not likely that what he said was true, either.

Let's back up a little. Back in 2001, quite a few people got letters with anthrax inside: in powder form. Five died.

'We Got Us A Suspect!'

Steven Hatfill was fingered as a 'person of interest' very early in the investigation. He's got a lawsuit going about that, now: and I don't blame him. He was a virology researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick. He had a flamboyant personality, and had shown up at a hangout called Charley's Place with some guys who were bodyguards for Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar bin Sultan: and that seemed to be all the real evidence there was against him.

After that embarrassing debacle, the FBI started a calmer investigation, following the Sherlock Holmes principle of elimination. ("It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.")

The trail led to Fort Detrick, and at least three scientists.

Anthrax, Lies, and E-mail

As I said before, I don't think that the commander at Fort Detrick lied.

It looks like somebody lied to him.

Here's why: "In December 2001, an Army commander tried to dispel the possibility of a connection to Fort Detrick by taking the media on a rare tour of the base. The commander said the Army used only liquid anthrax, not powder, for its experiments.

" 'I would say that it does not come from our stocks, because we do not use that dry material,' Maj. Gen. John Parker said. The letters that were mailed to the media and Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy all contained powdered anthrax.

"But in an e-mail obtained by FOX News, scientists at Fort Detrick openly discussed how the anthrax powder they were asked to analyze after the attacks was nearly identical to that made by one of their colleagues.

" 'Then he said he had to look at a lot of samples that the FBI had prepared ... to duplicate the letter material,' the e-mail reads. 'Then the bombshell. He said that the best duplication of the material was the stuff made by [name redacted]. He said that it was almost exactly the same … his knees got shaky and he sputtered, "But I told the General we didn't make spore powder!"' " [emphasis mine]
FOXNews (March 28, 2008)

"But I told the General we didn't make spore powder!"

Oopsie. I feel sorry for [name redacted], in a way. The poor shmoo at Fort Detrick
  • Makes powdered anthrax - with a particular signature
  • Anthrax powder just like his kills five people in a terror attack
  • He tells "the General" that nobody at Fort Detrick makes "spore powder"
  • That lie gets repeated by a commander, to reporters
    • And is published
  • The lie is exposed
Someone was lying, all right: but it wasn't 'the military.'

It was a scientist, following the schoolboy impulse of lying to cover an embarrassing fact.

Wake Up! There's a War on!

I'm afraid that the [name redacted]s out there, the ones who aren't knowingly helping terrorists, haven't caught on yet. Like it or not:
  • The War on Terror is real
  • Islamic terrorists are trying to kill Americans, and anyone else who doesn't live up (or down) to their notion of what a Muslim should be
  • Lying to cover your butt isn't just a personal offense - it can affect everybody

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.