evidence disproves strongly held beliefs,
what occurs, according to the theorists of 'cognitive dissonance'
is not rejection of the beliefs but rigidifying, accompanied by
attempts to rationalize the disproof. The result is 'cognitive rigidity';
in lay language, the knots of folly grow tighter."
--Barbara W. Tuchman: "The March Of Folly"
When terrorist struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, it was traumatizing for almost all Americans. And the media was quickly filled with speculation about the "next attack". Would it be germ warfare? The experts all seemed to think so. America held its breath (figuratively, and sometimes literally).
Then came the anthrax attacks. Unlike the WTC disaster, which was like a sudden fist in the face, the anthrax scare unraveled very slowly. For most of America it was not traumatizing news. Only a few people were actually affected, and they were all on the East Coast - not millions dead all across America as had been feared.
The news first broke in Florida on October 4, 2001, when American Media photo editor Bob Stevens was diagnosed as having contracted inhalation anthrax. At first, it was thought to probably be from natural causes. At that same time the newspapers were reporting on how some of the Sept. 11 hijackers had lived in Florida prior to the attacks. Newspapers and TV were telling about threatening letters mailed from Florida, such as the ones received by the St. Petersburg Times and Judith Miller at The New York Times. People were putting two and two together. And why not? It all seemed to fit. American Media, Inc., had been printing articles attacking Osama bin Laden. So, the Al Qaeda members in Florida must have seen the articles and that was their reason for going after American Media Inc. It made sense.
News item after news item reenforced the idea that the WTC terrorists were somehow also behind the anthrax case in Florida. In late October, 2001, U. S. News & World Report printed a story that really hit home. Part of the story said:
"Last August, Gregg Chatterton, a pharmacist at Huber Healthmart Drugs in Delray Beach, Fla., says two men he later identified as Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, two of the September 11 suicide hijackers, wandered into his pharmacy. Chatterton approached the men to see if they needed any help and noticed Atta's hands were flaming red. 'Both hands were red from the wrist down,' recalls Chatterton. 'If you filled your sink with bleach and stuck your hands in there for six hours, they would come out red,' he says, 'and that is what they looked like.' Chatterton thought the two men might have been construction workers, who often get red, irritated hands, or perhaps Atta had been gardening and had an allergic reaction. 'I asked [Atta] if he had done any gardening,' says Chatterton, 'and he was very rude and just pooh-poohed me. He said: 'I don't garden.' ' Chatterton finally sold Atta a 1-ounce tube of 'acid mantle,' a medication that helps replenish your skin, says Chatterton. Shehhi also bought a bottle of Robitussin for what Chatterton described as a hacking cough. Chatterton believes Atta's red hands were a result of frequent washing with bleach, perhaps, or some other chemical...."
Information like this was heard by those in Florida long before it was picked up the U.S. News & World Report. To those who believed that al Qaeda must have sent the anthrax letters, it was proof! Atta was had been infected with anthrax! If his hands were red, what else could possibly have caused it? And Marwan al-Shehhi must have contracted anthrax, too! What else could have given him a "hacking cough"? And other news stories told of Atta meeting with an Iraqi official in Prague earilier in the year. That must have been when and where Iraq gave the anthrax to the al Qaeda! Of course! It all made sense! Perfect sense!
Americans were watching the news and trying to understand what was going on. Many on the East Coast and the others scattered around the country were panicked by the thought that foreign terrorists could be next door or operating very nearby. Their concerns weren't helped by the flood of hoax cases initiated by depraved idiots all over America who began taking advantage of the situation to foster their own goals by sending hoax anthrax letters through the mails. The mere mention of anthrax had been enough to set them off.
On October 14th, new facts caused Americans to divide into camps of differing opinions about exactly what was going on. On that date the media began reporting that people in New York and New Jersey were falling ill with anthrax. Postal workers were falling ill from handling the mail, and the letters that caused their illnesses were directed toward the media - specifically Tom Brokaw and The New York Post.
This is where many, if not most, Americans stopped focusing on al Qaeda as being behind the anthrax cases and people began suspecting that the anthrax attacks might be the work of a domestic terrorist - perhaps one from the Ted Kaczynski mold. After all, anthrax mail hoaxes were very common prior to Sept. 11. Check this article from the Washington Post about how common they were. Often the only real difference between a hoax anthrax letter and a real anthrax letter is that in the latter case the mailer actually has anthrax to use.
News soon broke that the anthrax was the Ames strain, a type used in U.S. government projects - including biodefense projects. Experts were also saying that Iraq used a different method and different chemicals to refine anthrax. The anthrax in the letters was apparently processed using American methods. And the CIA had been involved in some anthrax projects. Uh oh.
When the media began reporting on October 15 or 16 that Democratic Senator Tom Daschle had also received an anthrax-laced letter, it was "Aha!" time for the majority of Americans. Why would foreign terrorists only target a Democratic Senator and "the liberal media"?
Americans were now thoroughly divided into three "camps of thought": "Camp Mystery" where the attitude was to wait-and-see what the facts would show, "Camp Conspiracy" with its ready membership willing to believe the government - or specifically the CIA - was somehow behind the attacks, and the diehards in "Camp Jingo" who still kept insisting it had to be al Qaeda.
As part of Camp Mystery, I started collecting newspaper articles and other pieces of evidence to see for myself that the facts actually indicated. I hate arguments that are just endlessly repeated opinions. That's why I attempted to research the facts. Nothing quashes an argument faster than the insertion of a few facts.
From the very beginning, the facts seemed to say: It wasn't al Qaeda! Prime among the facts were all the precautions that the terrorist took to do minimal harm. That by itself said: NOT al Qaeda!
In on-line arguments on UseNet newsgroups, I began presenting the evidence I had found. On more than one occasion I was accused of siding with al Qaeda because I didn’t point the accusing finger at them. To some diehards in Camp Jingo, any suggestion that the anthrax could have been sent by Americans was "anti-American". Apparently to be "Pro-American" you had to blame foreigners regardless of who did it. I kept being reminded of "To Kill A Mockingbird" where the real culprit was identified as a white member of the community, but the community hung the dark skinned guy anyway.
For a long time after the anthrax attacks, the FBI was apparently in Camp Jingo, too. On December 22, 2001, The New York Times printed an article titled: "U.S. Inquiry Tried, but Failed, to Link Iraq to Anthrax Attack".
"For months, intelligence agencies searched for Iraqi fingerprints and scientists investigated whether Baghdad had somehow obtained the so-called Ames strain of anthrax. Scientists also repeatedly analyzed the powder from the anthrax-laced envelopes for signs of chemical additives that would point to Iraq.
"'We looked for any shred of evidence that would bear on this, or any foreign source,' a senior intelligence official said of an Iraq connection. 'It's just not there.'
"The focus on Iraq was based on its record of developing a germ arsenal and also on what some officials said was a desire on the part of the administration to find a reason to attack Iraq in the war on terrorism.
"'I know there are a number of people who would love an excuse to get after Iraq,' said a top federal scientist involved in the investigation."
When the evidence that a domestic terrorist was most likely behind the anthrax mailings grew and grew, the few remaining members of Camp Jingo appeared to go into Sulking Mode, keeping their unaltered opinions to themselves - except for a few sporadic grumblings.
Even the CDC added a bit of information that pointed away from al Qaeda. Tracking the mail contamination, they found the the letter to AMI was apparently sent to an old address for the National Equirer, an address in Lantana, FL. If al Qaeda members in Florida had sent the anthrax letter to the National Enquirer, surely they would have known that the National Enquirer moved from that old address over a year prior.
And most convincing of all: Americans were in Afghanistan pounding the crap out of al Qaeda, yet there were no more anthrax attacks. America may even have killed the leader of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden. That posed the question: Even if al Qaeda had for some unfathomable reason taken precautions to avoid harming people with the anthrax letters, would they also refrain from using that weapon when they were being wiped out all across the globe? If so, why did they obtain it in the first place? The al Qaeda theory began to seem just plain silly.
Meanwhile, various factions of Camp Conspiracy were building membership, mostly overseas and mostly as the result of speeches, news interviews and writings by Barbara Hatch Rosenberg of the Federation of American Scientists. Is the government covering up the facts and protecting the American scientist who is the anthrax terrorist in order to avoid disclosing secret CIA projects to the American people? Only the government and those in Camp Conspiracy knew for sure.
On March 23, 2002, nearly five months after the first anthrax victim was diagnosed, Camp Jingo was rejuvinated by a new article in The New York Times implying that there was new evidence the al Qaeda was behind the anthrax mailings.
What was most puzzling about that The New York Times article was this sentence: "If the hijackers did have anthrax, they would probably have needed an accomplice to mail the tainted letters, bioterrorism experts knowledgeable about the case said."
"They would probably have needed an accomplice"?! If you have been DEAD for a week and your body is splattered all over the countryside, is it just a "probability" that you need help to mail some letters? And is it still just a "probability" that you’d also need help a month later to mail a second batch of letters!?
All the "new" evidence that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks pertained to people who died on September 11th! But to those in Camp Jingo, the fact that those terrorists were all dead is merely "proof" that there must have been an unidentified accomplice.
Of all the complaints that people have had about the FBI since September 11, one I’ve never heard is that the FBI has been lax in tracking down everyone associated with the 9-11 terrorists. We know all the terrorists names - even the one who failed to show up for his flight. We know where they lived, where they visited, where they went to flight school, who rented them their apartments, where they had drinks, what they drank, how they paid their bills, who they talked with, where they had arguments, where they went for medical help. We’ve seen photographs of every one of them, plus video tapes of them going through airports. Nearly two thousand people are reportedly still behind bars because of their possible associations to the 9-11 terrorists. But in all this we have seen absolutely nothing of this supposed "accomplice" from the anthrax attacks.
So, what do we know about this "accomplice" other than that he has apparently never been seen in any photograph and that he has never been associated with the dead al Qaeda members? We apparently know he has ever been infected with anthrax - even though he was supposedly handling it while his associates were getting ill and continued to handle it for a month after September 11! And we also know he took a lot of precautions to make certain that the anthrax did minimal harm. This supposed "unidentified accomplice" even warned the media people receiving the anthrax that they should take penicillin, and he told the Senators that the powder in the letters was anthrax. This particular terrorist sends germs through the mail along with information about how to protect yourself from the germs! Clearly this accomplice must be the "white sheep" of the al Qaeda terrorist family, since he tried in numerous and various ways to avoid hurting anyone! And, of course, as America retaliated for the 9-11 attacks, fellow al Qaeda members were being wiped out all across the globe, yet the peace-loving al Qaeda "white sheep" member apparently couldn't bring himself to again use the anthrax weapon he had used twice previously.
Here is the "new evidence" as reported in The New York Times article:
1. In June of 2001, two men visited the emergency room of Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, FL. One of them was Ahmed Alhaznawi, who piloted the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11. Dr. Christos Tsonas treated Alhaznawi for an ugly, dark lesion on his leg.
2. After September 11, when federal investigators found the medicine among the Alhaznawi’s possessions, Dr. Tsonas was question (in October, after anthrax became a hot subject in the news, particularly in Florida). Dr. Tsonas reviewed the case and decided that the lesion "was consistent with cutaneous anthrax."
3. According to The New York Times, experts at the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies recently sent a memorandum to government officials in which they concluded that the diagnosis of cutaneous anthrax was "the most probable and coherent interpretation of the data available." The memorandum added, "Such a conclusion of course raises the possibility that the hijackers were handling anthrax and were the perpetrators of the anthrax letter attacks."
Unfortunately, Johns Hopkins fails to explain exactly how that "possibility" accounts for dead people being "the perpetrators of the anthrax letter attacks."
Did some member of Camp Jingo at Johns Hopkins simply fail to check his dates? Or was he or she totally out of touch with virtually every aspect of the anthrax mailing case?
The New York Times seemed to be aware of the situation, since they alluded to the dates in a vaguely worded paragraph in the middle of their article:
"If the hijackers did have anthrax, they would probably have needed an accomplice to mail the tainted letters, bioterrorism experts knowledgeable about the case said. The four recovered anthrax letters were postmarked on Sept. 18 and Oct. 9 in Trenton. It is also possible, experts added, that if the hijackers had come into contact with anthrax, it was entirely separate from the supply used by the letter sender."
Why not just say, All those September 11 guys were DEAD at the time of the anthrax mailings! It couldn't have been them!
Could the terrorists have had some anthrax in their possession? It’s certainly possible. No one has any evidence to indicate otherwise, and no one is saying they didn't. But, if they did have some anthrax, the evidence would seem to indicate that they found it too dangerous and flushed it down a toilet, since there is no indication that they actually used it on anyone. And they were all DEAD at the time of the anthrax mailings.
When anyone attempts to promote the idea that the September 11 terrorists were involved with the anthrax mailings, they should begin by explaining how that could be true if the Sept. 11 terrorists were all DEAD at the time of the anthrax mailings!
If the fact that they were all dead is viewed as "proof" that there must have been an unidentified associate, then we are in the area where anything can be proven by the lack of evidence. In this area, the less evidence there is, the more "proof" there is that there is a cover-up or a conspiracy to hide the evidence or laziness on the part of government agents for failing to look in the right places for evidence. This is the area of flying saucers, faked moon landings, second gunmen on grassy knolls and Elvis sightings. Normally it's the territory of Camp Conspiracy, but Camp Jingo seems to be in the same general vicinity.
Whenever you enter that territory you are immediately confronted with the three tenets of cognitive rigidity:
cannot prove I'm wrong, then I must be right.
2. If you won't even try to prove me wrong, then you are close-minded.
3. If you refuse to argue further with me, then I win.
And the motto of Camp Jingo: "Anyone who disagrees with me is closed-minded".
The main crop in that territory is ulcers, but some "experts" have made money there by getting research grants and by writing and selling books.
Camp Jingo, Iraq and al Qaeda
The Wall Street Journal quickly picked up on the story from Florida about the lesion that could have been anthrax and wrote an editorial on March 26, 2002, promoting the idea that al Qaeda and Iraq could have been behind the anthrax attacks:
"The circumstantial evidence here is strong. The future hijacker with the leg lesion lived and went to school in nearby Boca Raton, where the first anthrax victim worked at a publishing company called American Media Inc. Also, some of the hijackers rented apartments from a real estate agent whose husband worked at American Media. These may or may not be coincidences but surely it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to deduce that the September 11 terrorists might have had something to do with the subsequent anthrax attacks."
This "circumstantial evidence" is a good reminder of how "circumstantial evidence" can be used to promote any theory. And to help promote their theory, the editor simply leaves out the fact that the September 11 terrorists were all dead at the time of the anthrax mailings.
Was it anthrax?
According to the Washington Post,
"A Florida man who said he examined and treated Al Haznawi's calf before sending him to the hospital described the injury last September as a 'gash' -- a description that appears to vary significantly with lesions associated with cutaneous anthrax.
"Although law enforcement officials said they have not ruled out anthrax as a possibility, they said there was not enough information to draw a specific conclusion. That view was shared by Thomas W. McGovern, the leading authority on anthrax for the American Academy of Dermatology's bioterrorism task force, who said it was "highly unlikely" for someone to contract cutaneous anthrax on his lower leg.
"McGovern said Al Haznawi's infection -- described as a one-inch black lesion with raised red edges -- could have been anything from an encrusted boil to a common scrape that received improper medical attention."
As with so many such stories, people hear the original report but never hear the later reports that discredit the original. And, if you want to believe it was anthrax, it's a free country and you can definitely do so regardless of what new information appears later.
The search for answers wasn't helped any when the media printed things like this:
Which federal officials said Dr. Tsonas treated Al Hasnawi for "a form of skin anthrax"? Even Johns Hopkins never said that! Speculation gets turned into accepted "facts" by reporting errors like this. (The original can be found HERE (until it is corrected or deleted).)
America Hates A Mystery
When the FBI failed to arrest anyone in the anthrax case by the end of April, 2002, more magazines and newspapers began rehashing the facts to suggest that the FBI is looking in the wrong place and should be after al Qaeda. The issue reached the boiling point with a lengthy April 29 article titled "Remember Anthrax?" by David Tell in The Weekly Standard. Tell's arguments concluded:
"Based on the publicly available evidence, there appears to be no convincing rationale for the FBI's nearly exclusive concentration on American suspects. And the possibility is far from foreclosed that the anthrax bioterrorist was just who he said he was: a Muslim, impliedly from overseas, who thought the events of '09-11-01' were something to be celebrated--and who would have been doubly pleased to see 'you die now.'"
That same day, an editor at The New York Post used Tell's article as a basis for a very bitter editorial about the FBI's delay in arresting someone:
"Now, it's just possible that the FBI is waiting to reveal the involvement in the attacks of, say, Saddam Hussein, until a time when the government needs to galvanize support for an attack on Iraq.
"It's also possible that the FBI continues to fixate on the chimera of a domestic source, and to avoid the indications that the anthrax came from abroad, because the bureau is still shot through with incompetence."
On May 11, 2002, while acknowledging that there was more and more evidence that the anthrax attacks were domestic, The New York Times editorialized that the FBI could be looking in the wrong place:
"The F.B.I. remains convinced that the attacks were carried out by an American with scientific training, not by Al Qaeda or a rogue nation, but critics fear the bureau is so wedded to this theory that it has become blind to other possibilities."
Apparently this editor doesn't read his own newspaper, or he would know that the FBI began by looking at Iraq and the evidence took them elsewhere. So, it isn't the FBI who is "wedded" to a theory, it is the Times editor. He's merely reciting the Camp Jingo motto: "Anyone who disagrees with me is closed-minded."
On June 3, 2002, The Wall Street Journal made certain the entire world knew how it felt. It published an editorial titled "FBI Reform: Connect Anthrax Dots - The 'lone wolf' theory is evidence of the Bureau's ineptitude." The editorial ranted:
"Mr. Fitzgerald's sleuths peered into the letters, a total of 39 words, and determined that this episode was basically a repeat of the "Unabomber" case, in which Theodore Kaczynski expressed environmentalist rage with mail bombs. The anthrax mailings, they concluded, were almost certainly the work of a single adult male, and probably an American. He was an "opportunist" in launching his attack in the wake of the kamikaze plane attacks. And he sought to mislead investigators by dating the letters '9-11-01' and including phrases such as 'Death to America, Death to Israel, Allah is Great.'
"This theory is, to be polite, counter-intuitive. Yet the FBI has stuck to it ever since, and has been seconded at various key points by Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge and White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer."
Is it really "counter-intuitive"? Someone attacks the media and a couple Democratic Senators and it's "counter-intuitive" to think it's a domestic terrorist? Hardly. The editor is just chanting the Camp Jingo motto: "Anyone who disagrees with me is closed-minded."
On June 14, 2002, the parade of newspapers and magazines fostering the idea that Iraq and al Qaeda could be behind the anthrax attacks reached a new level when The Indianapolis Star editorialized about a June 11 letter sent by Congressman Mike Pence to Attorney General John Ashcroft. That letter is HERE. It makes very interesting reading because it enumerates what Congressman Pence considers to be "facts", ten items which Camp Jingo believes support the idea that Iraq and al Qaeda were behind the anthrax attacks. Or to put it another way, it enumerates Camp Jingo's list of bad information and misunderstandings. Here is are the enumerated points from Congressman Pence's letter along with my comments in red:
*Extract from Pence's letter*
The following facts support the assertion that the anthrax attacks may have been connected to international terrorism:
1) The letter to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was dated 9-11-01 and included the phrases "Death to America," "Death to Israel," and "Allah is Great."
The letter wasn't dated 9-11-01, it was headlined: "09-11-01". And the phrases used in the letter would be the same if it was written by an American who wanted Arabs and the Muslim world to get the blame. The Philadelphia bomber who recently planted pipe bombs in mail boxes also tried to point blame at al Qaeda.
2) Evidence suggests that one or more of the 9-11 terrorists visited doctors to be treated for anthrax-type infections.
All those people were dead at the time of the anthrax mailings.
3) The material found in my office and in others on Capitol Hill was finely milled weapons grade anthrax that had been genetically modified to increase its virulence.
This is totally untrue. According to the foremost expert on the subject, William C. Patrick III, the anthrax in the letters to the senators was “one step removed from weapons grade.”
“'It has small particles, with good concentration, (but) it is electrostatic (carries an electrical charge),'” said Patrick. To make the mailed spores suitable for military weapons, the electrical charge would have to be removed. The electrical charge helps make the spore become airborne at the slightest puff of air."
Furthermore, the anthrax in the letters to the media was far fromb being "weapons grade". According to an article in The New York Times: "The powder was heavily contaminated, they said, with what biologists call vegetative cells — anthrax bacteria before processing in the laboratory turns them into hardened spores. Vegetative cells in dry anthrax powder are generally dead and therefore harmless, experts said."
You can't really discuss the anthrax attacks intelligently by looking ONLY at the attacks upon the Senators.
In addition, the anthrax was NOT genetically modified. According to The Institute For Genomic Research (TIGR) which analyzed the anthrax that killed Bob Stevens in Florida: [Question] What was TIGR seeking in its comparative analysis of the B. anthracis isolates? [Answer] When TIGR scientists embarked on the analysis, the main goals were to identify genomic differences that might be used as "markers" to distinguish among isolates of the Ames strains and to determine if any regions of the Florida isolate's genome had been genetically engineered. [Question] Did TIGR find any evidence that the Florida isolate had been genetically engineered? [Answer] No evidence of genetic engineering was found in the Florida isolate.
4) So that they could be better aerosolized, anthrax spores were coated with a chemical not commonly used by scientists in the United States.
The chemical used is not commonly used by scientists anywhere. The evidence indicates that the scientist was experimenting with the anthrax - and continued his experiment between the two mailings of Sept. 18 and Oct 9. The fact that he was experimenting with the anthrax between the two mailings indicates he works in an American laboratory or has an extensive lab of his own.
5) This anthrax was so powerful that five people, including two postal workers and two elderly women, died solely from coming into contact with cross-contaminated mail. This suggests that professionals in an organized, large-scale research facility, not a troubled individual in a basement lab, manufactured the anthrax used in these attacks.
First, there is no evidence that Kathy Nguyen was killed by cross-contaminated mail. She was very likely killed in a very different way. Check my page on the subject HERE.
Second, “'You can process the stuff in so many different ways, I don't think that it will be the smoking gun,' William C. Patrick III said Tuesday [Dec. 18, 2001] in an interview with The Associated Press.
"Patrick, who holds patents for techniques used to make weapons-grade anthrax, said that the type of spores mailed to the offices of Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., could have been processed in a crude laboratory 'as long as you are dealing with small quantities of material.'”
6) DNA evidence shows that this anthrax originated from the Ames strain, a strain of the anthrax bacillus originally developed at Fort Detrick, Maryland, which was later sent to England's Porton Down research facility.
7) In 1988, Iraqi germ warfare scientists attempted to obtain Ames strain anthrax from England, as part of a larger mission to create biological weapons. Iraq succeeded in obtaining at least two other strains of anthrax and likely also obtained the Ames strain.
It is well known that Iraq has looked at anthrax as a weapon, and they readily admit using it in liquid form. But there's no evidence that the anthrax used in the anthrax attacks came from Iraq. The fact that someone else has anthrax isn't proof that they used it. Many many countries around the world have looked at anthrax as a weapon - including the United States.
8) European governments and CIA officials reported meetings between al Qaeda members and Iraqi officials before September 11.
Such meetings could have happened countless times over the years, but they are not evidence of anything having to do with the anthrax attacks of Sept. 18 and Oct. 9, 2001.
9) The 9-11 terrorists attempted to rent crop dusters, presumably as delivery vehicles for biological or chemical weapons.
Mohamed Atta's stated plans for the use of the "crop dusters" indicate that he was planning to modify larger aircraft to carry large quantities of chemicals or gasoline. This would indicate he either planned to spray deadly chemicals or to use the planes as flying bombs in the same way he eventually used the hijacked commercial jets. Those plans were stated to Johnelle Bryant when Atta attempted to appy for a loan to buy the "crop dusters". The details are HERE.
With biological weapons you are talking about a test tube full of germs, not something one would put into "a chemical tank that would fit inside the aircraft and take up every available square inch of the aircraft except for where the pilot would be sitting."
Besides, crop dusters would probably not work as a way of dispersing anthrax. According to experts, they would spray liquids in droplets that are too large for absorbtion into the lungs.
10) According to UN weapons inspector Richard Spertzel, Iraq has conducted military exercises to explore the possibility of dispersing anthrax using crop-dusting aircraft.
As with the "circumstantial evidence" attempting to connect dead terrorists to the mailings, this "circumstantial evidence" ignores the fact that the anthrax was sent through the mail, it was not dispersed via a crop duster aircraft. Therefore it is meaningless as evidence that Iraq was involved.
*End of Extract from Pence's letter*
One can only conclude after evaluation Congressman Pence's letter that he was acting from emotion instead of facts when he wrote the letter. And everyone else in Camp Jingo seems to be equally unable to distinguish between facts and opinions.
And those in Camp Conspiracy are no different. In her latest diatribe against the FBI (which can be found HERE), Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg says:
has stated more than once that it insists upon 100% proof before making
an arrest in this case-a very stringent requirement.
--Either the FBI is under pressure from DOD or CIA not to proceed
the Suspect knows too much and must be controlled forever from the
of arrest; [For the good of the country, is it really more
to hide what he knows than to let justice be served?]
--or the FBI is sympathetic to the views of the biodefense clique;
--or the FBI really is as incompetent as it seems."
Are those really the only three possible reasons why the FBI has not made an arrest? Have we forgotten what happened when the media broke the story that the FBI was investigating Richard Jewell as a suspect in the Atlanta bombing before the FBI had established conclusive proof of his guilt? Can you imagine the media feeding frenzy that will occur as soon as the FBI names their suspect in the anthrax case?
All we know of this case tells us there is no "smoking gun" pointing to a specific culprit. If there was a "smoking gun", he'd already be in jail. And if the FBI has a suspect, he hasn't confessed or he'd be in jail, so there seems no doubt the culprit claims innocence. Whatever case the FBI makes will be a case largely based upon "circumstantial evidence". In a high profile case like this one (and there has never been a higher profile case than this one) the government not only has to win the case, they have to make certain the culprit's defense attorney cannot generate reasonable doubt by bringing forth experts who say it could not have happened the way the government says it happened. So, the investigation continues as the FBI tries to figure out how and where the anthrax was refined - so they can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt in court.
If "the FBI has stated more than once that it insists upon 100% proof before making an arrest in this case" the most logical reason is because they want their circumstantial case to hold up in court. Is that so unreasonable or unbelievable?
On June 22 and 23, the New York Times and The Washington Post printed articles with interesting new information about the anthrax case. The biggest new item was information that the anthrax spores in the letter sent to Senator Patrick Leahy were newly made - not more than two years old. This was determined by a unspecified radiological process similar to carbon-dating.
While it might merely seem to be an arcane bit of data, this piece of new information very nicely trashes most of the Camp Conspiracy theories of Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, since she had been claiming that the anthrax was stolen from Ft. Detrick years ago and used in the letters in the same form as when it was stolen. Combined with the information about the differences in the anthrax in the anthrax letter sent to the The New York Post versus the anthrax letter sent to Senator Leahy, as reported in the May 7, 2002, issue of The New York Times, it now seems virtually certain that the anthrax mailer was manufacturing spores in a lab somewhere during the period between Sept. 11 and Oct. 9, 2001. This is totally inconsistent with most of Barbara Hatch Rosenberg's accusations.
Interestingly, in the June 22 New York York Times article there was also a mention of an appeasement bone tossed to the new voice of Camp Jingo. While it wasn't part of the Internet version of the article, the printed version included the following, which seems to indicate that Congressman Pence was told exactly what he wanted to hear:
Suspicions of foreign ties remain a matter of serious debate in Washington, not only in intelligence circles but in the White House and Congress. Representative Mike Pence, an Indiana Republican whose office was contaminated by traces of anthrax last fall, wrote a letter to Mr. Ashcroft on June 11 saying he was troubled by the F.B.I.'s "apparent lack of progress" and focus on domestic suspects to the exclusion of foreign sources.
In an interview, Mr. Pence said he learned from an F.B.I. briefing last week that investigators were having trouble scrutinizing possible foreign links because some countries were not cooperating. "They're leaving no stone unturned on the domestic front," he said. "But there are some stones they can't flip overseas."
One senior official said of the overseas inquiry: "It's more problematic and difficult. Some countries aren't going to tell you anything."
So, Camp Jingo can still believe what it wants to believe and blame the lack of information on those pesky foreigners who simply won't cooperate.
On March 23, 2003, The Washington Post printed an article with these statements:
"Because of al Qaeda's limited sophistication, the documents do not support a theory that al Qaeda had a role in the anthrax letters mailed in late 2001 to Senate and news media offices that killed five people."
"Among the consolations in the captured documents is that al Qaeda's manufacturing plans show no knowledge of advanced techniques used in the most efficient biological weapons. There is no reference, for example, to the special processing needed to produce very fine anthrax spores that resist clumping and linger in the air as free-floating particles."
"Another reassuring sign, officials said, is that the strain of anthrax involved in al Qaeda's planning is not among the most virulent."On March 28, 2003, The Washington Post printed an article that included this statement:
"Mohammed has also told interrogators that he knows nothing about why Moussaoui and some of the hijackers were interested in learning how to operate crop-dusters, but he has said it could have been connected to Sufaat's work on anthrax. The effort by Sufaat, who obtained a biology degree at Sacramento State University, stalled because he could not procure a strain of anthrax that could be dispersed as a weapon, Mohammed has told interrogators, according to the sources."It seems that Al Qaeda was and is very interested in anthrax, but all indications point to the fact that anthrax was beyond their reach in 2001. Also, it is unlikely that they ever got Ames. But any fact that points toward them is "proof that al Qaeda did it" to the people in Camp Jingo.
Barbara Hatch Rosenberg's "suspect" named?
The FBI seems to be fighting back against Barbara Hatch Rosenberg's endless accusations.
On June 23, 2002, we learned that the anthrax in the letter to Senator Leahy was "newly made", which shot down most of BHR's theories.
And two days later, on June 25, the media went into a feeding frenzy when the FBI just happened to publicly search the home of Dr. Steven J. Hatfill who "previously worked at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, the top military bioterrorism research facility, for about two years in the late 1990s." The search took place even though he was cleared months earlier. And it seems that everyone in the media was there to watch the search. It was shown on NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw on June 25.
Many newspapers and TV reports (like the one on NBC) did not name Dr. Hatfill, but ABC, The New York Times and The Baltimore Sun did name him.
Everything about Dr. Hatfill seems to fit BHR's description of her "suspect", including the fact that Hatfill received a letter from the FBI clearing him as a suspect:
"I've got a letter from the F.B.I. that says I'm not a suspect and never was," he said.
According to The New York Times,
"Dr. Hatfill, 48, had been the subject of Web site gossip among scientists, journalists and other professionals about possible domestic suspects in last year's anthrax attacks. After reporters pursued him, he was fired in March from his job at Science Applications International Corporation, a contractor for the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency that helps the government with germ defenses. From 1997 to 1999, he worked at the Army's biodefense laboratory at Fort Detrick."
Another item that appeared to point at Hatfill was described by ABC:
"ABCNEWS Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross also reported that investigators are intrigued by the the fact that Hatfill lived for years near a Greendale Elementary School while attending medical school in Zimbabwe. Greendale School was the phony return address used in the anthrax letters."
In reality, it appears that there is a town called "Greendale" near where Hatfill went to medical school, and Greendale has many schools, but it has no "Greendale School" - elementary or otherwise.
So, in a period of less than a week we have the FBI releasing the news that the anthrax could NOT have been made back in 1997 to 1998 and probably not in 1999 when Hatfill worked at Ft. Detrick. And now his name and everything else about him is laid on the table for all to view - including the fact that, even with all his credentials, he once worked a doctor in Third World countries helping those who most need help.
From what I can tell, his biggest crime was that he talked about the dangers of bioterrorism when no one else wanted to talk about it.
The key question that BHR and all from Camp Conspiracy never ask is: What was he doing on the dates of the anthrax mailings and during the period between Sept. 11 and Oct. 9, 2001? In August of 2002, Dr. Hatfill's time sheets from SAIC were made public and it was shown that he was working long hours in McClean, Virginia, on the dates of the anthrax mailings. And he apparently has associates to testify that he was truly working on those dates. If Dr. Hatfill has an alibi for the dates of the mailings, then what he was doing in Africa in 1980 or anywhere else at any other time is "irrelevant and immaterial" as they say in court.
The guy seems like a very interesting and complicated guy to me. But definitely NOT the anthrax mailer, as far as I can tell, particularly after reading his resumé. I wish him luck in the newest media feeding frenzy, and I look forward to reading his autobiography.
Hopefully, while the media, Camp Conspiracy, the lunatic fringe, and the Internet are feeding on Dr. Hatfill, the FBI can get some work done on building a case against the real culprit(s). For more details about Dr. Hatfill, his August 1 apartment search by the FBI, and his press conference of Aug. 11, go to the page on this site about "The Media & Dr. Hatfill", which also includes a section titled "Did Dr. Hatfill Do It?".
No one is saying in any way that the al Qaeda wasn't looking into obtaining anthrax for possible use in terrorist attacks against the United States. They almost certainly were - and are. All that is being said on this web site is that the evidence indicates that the anthrax mail attacks of September and October 2002 were almost certainly NOT perpetrated by al Qaeda. The evidence indicates it was someone else - most likely an American scientist with an overwhelming compulsion to awaken America to the threat of bioterrorism, which he certainly accomplished - while killing 5 people in the process.
So, who says it wasn't Steven J. Hatfill? The FBI says it wasn't. Hatfill's alibi says he wasn't the one who did it. For conspiracy theorists, the fact that the FBI says Hatfill is "not a suspect" only makes him more suspicious. Conspiracy theorists see plots everywhere. Where a "non-suspect" was ten years ago is more important than where he was during the time the crime was committed. His associations are more important than his motivation. Associations are the stuff conspiracies are made from.
Boogie Man Theories
(added Aug. 21, 2002)
It’s no coincidence that the Dr. Hatfill Theory and the al Qaeda Theory are so much alike. They are basically the same theory: The Boogie Man did it.
the scientists who believe the Dr. Hatfill Theory, the CIA did
With the jingoists who believe the al Qaeda Theory, al Qaeda did it
help from Iraq. Same theory, just different
boogie men. Pick your favorite boogie man and you can build your own theory.
The Dr. Hatfill Theory was developed by scientists who believe that the CIA and government bioweapons programs are a danger to us all. The al Qaeda theory was developed by jingoists who want to finish the war with Iraq and wipe out any trace of the terrorists who were behind 9-11. Neither group is really concerned with who sent the anthrax letters. They’ve made up their minds about who is guilty - it's the people they hate the most. And, in their minds, if you can’t prove them wrong, that proves they are right.
Look at what they claim to be proof:
With Dr. Hatfill they talk of events in Africa (10,000 people inflicted
with anthrax!). With al Qaeda they talk of events in Afghanistan
(anthrax found in caves and in home of 9-11
REALITY: The 10,000 people in Africa came down with cutaneous anthrax, which is common in the area. There’s no evidence it was man-made. The anthrax tests in Afghanistan were done with test kits so unreliable that the President ordered that the no longer be used.
CLAIMS: With Dr. Hatfill we had secret meetings in a cabin in the Maryland woods run as a safe house by the CIA. With al Qaeda we had secret meetings between a 9-11 hijacker and an Iraqi official in Austria.
REALITY: The cabin in the woods turned out to be a third-floor apartment owned by a friend, and where Hatfill occasionally attended skeet shooting parties. The secret meeting in Austria probably never happened, and even if it did there’s no reason to believe it had anything to do with the anthrax mailings.
CLAIMS: Dr. Hatfill was accused of taking a couple cabinets to use in making anthrax. The al Qaeda theory has some Arab buying a mixing machine which is assumed to have been used to make anthrax.
REALITY: Dr. Hatfill’s cabinets were used to train soldiers to be able to recognize the equipment if seen in Iraq, and the cabinets were blown up when the training sessions were completed. The Arab man who bought the mixing machine has never been located but the machine could used for any number of ordinary commercial activities.
CLAIMS: Dr. Hatfill took Cipro and was up-to-date on his anthrax shots. An al Qaeda member had a lesion on his leg that a doctor much later decided could have been anthrax.
REALITY: Dr. Hatfill was merely asked about Cipro after the 9-11 attacks because of where he worked. He was not up-to-date on his anthrax shots. Experts on anthrax seriously doubt that the al Qaeda terrorist had anthrax.
Every single serious accusation leveled against Dr. Hatfill has been shown to be either absurd or wildly distorted exaggerations of ordinary activities. The al Qaeda "proof" is all rumor and theories - mostly about events from years ago that have no known bearing on the anthrax case.
Both are just boogie men theories.
The biggest difference between the two theories is that the Dr. Hatfill Theorists seem to be open to evidence to the contrary. And many are changing their minds as the evidence is presented.
But the al Qaeda theorists are not open to any evidence. To them, if Dr. Hatfill didn’t do it, that’s more proof that al Qaeda did.
Some al Qaeda theorists maintain long lists of reasons why they believe what they believe, and in response to any challenge of their point of view, they drop the 50 or 100 or 200 reasons on you. Their philosophy is: When you don’t have facts, bury them in bullshit. If anyone tries to tell them they’re wrong, they’ll hit you with the 50 arguments. If you show one argument to be ridiculous, they’ll just hit you again with the other 49 - including all the ridiculous arguments previous shown to be ridiculous. It’s an endless process intended to wear you down.
Both the Dr. Hatfill Theory and the al Qeada Theory are simple boogie man theories. That’s all.
The real anthrax mailer is probably someone who was never part of any government program and certainly was never in al Qaeda. (He obtained the anthrax from an associate.) He’s an American scientist living and working in Central New Jersey. He sent the anthrax to awaken America to the dangers of bioterrorism - and to save his own neck in the process, since he believed that millions would likely die if America wasn’t prepared.
But that’s just my opinion based upon the evidence I've seen. I’m open to facts proving otherwise. But contrary opinions aren’t facts. And neither is inuendo about the meanings of things that happened long ago in other lands.
Links to sites with other theories about anthrax
The following sites contain additional information about the anthrax case, including other theories about who did it and why.
Review: Richard M. Smith, a
computer expert and best known for helping the FBI to capture the
of the Melissa computer virus in 1999, created his site to collect
about the anthrax case. His site has been around for a long time,
but he doesn't really have a theory about who was behind the anthrax
His site is more of a search to find a theory. But it has a
lot of good information.
Review: Barbara Hatch
of The Federation of American Scientists has been telling everyone
November of 2001 that she has a good idea who was behind the anthrax
and she's even said so to a Congressional Committee. Her site
her logic ... and her politics.
Review: Ross Getman appears to
be the preeminent "Qaeda-did-it" believer on the Net. His site
every detail he's been able to collect that even remotely suggests that
al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks - but he would undoubtedly
that he doesn't "suggest" anything and that they were certainly
behind the attacks. And he appears to firmly believe that anyone
who doesn't agree is closed minded and/or is knowingly or unknowingly
Review: Dr. Horowitz is the
of many books designed to scare the hell out of the reader, and he has
many followers. His main
is dedicated to making money off of those books ... and his
His theories about the anthrax case - many in the form of "press
- appear to be primarily conspiracy theories involving the CIA,
FBI and big business - specifically the pharmaceutical
Review: This web site doesn't
have a theory about who did it, it is just an examination of mysterious
symbols and writings that appear on the anthrax letters and envelopes
examined under the right conditions ... and with the right frame of
Through the one or two layers of plastic covering the letters, the
is able to see "Gazelle with bowl on back, smoke emanating from bowl",
"Human figures with shared eye" and the words "Rat Race". Strange
as it may seem, there are many people out there who see similar - but
not identical - features.
Review: Alan Weberman proudly
points to a New
York Magazine article that lists him as #12 in a list of the top 15
"New York's Loopiest". Alan Weberman's web site is devoted to
Dr. Steven Hatfill for the anthrax attacks and points out any item of
that can in anyway remotely link the anthrax attacks to Dr.
Reportedly, Weberman tells people (who generally refer to him as a "pot
head") he doesn't really care if Dr. Hatfill is guilty or not; he's
after Dr. Hatfill because Weberman thinks that Hatfill is a "Nazi".
Review: The FBI is reportedly
still investigating the anthrax case and may have suspicions about who
did it. But there appear to be many people who think the FBI is
covering up for the culprit, or is just bumbling around aimlessly, or
by Ed Lake
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