Since all the evidence in the anthrax case seems to indicate that the anthrax refiner/mailer is an American scientist, the speculation is now mostly about his motive.
Self-preservation seems to be the most obvious motive. With the horrors of 9-11 on everyoneís mind, he and thousands of other scientists were very afraid that the next attack upon America would be with bioweapons. Tens of millions of Americans might die! And he and everyone he knew could be among the dead. He decided to awaken America to the dangers so that precautions could be taken.
Life and Death - self-preservation - is a powerful motivator.
But there is still plenty of debate about how he happened to have anthrax available on September 17 or 18 for the first mailing to the media. It seems illogical that he could have obtained the anthrax from some government laboratory during that week when everyone was on high alert. He must have obtained it prior to 9-11. But why? For what? What had he planned to do with that anthrax prior to 9-11? Was he driven by some Right Wing motive or some Left Wing motive?
Looking at the "evidence"
The most obvious conclusion is that heís a Right-Wing radical of some sort. After all, his targets were "the liberal media" and two "liberal" Democratic Senators.
But he picked The New York Post as one of his first targets - and the Post is considered to be a conservative paper. Wouldnít a true Right-Winger have picked The New York Times? And what about the National Enquirer? Liberal or Conservative? Most say conservative. But who knows? It certainly isnít known as being a liberal paper.
With the Post and the Enquirer in the target mix, it seems too simple to say he was going after the "liberal media" with his first mailing. Clearly, he mainly looked for the media to raise the alarm - regardless if they were Right or Left
But his second mailing was definitely against "liberal" targets - Senators Daschle and Leahy. And the most likely reason he chose those two Senators also indicates the culprit is from the Right Wing: Senators Leahy and Daschle were in the news nearly every day prior to the Oct. 9 mailing as they fought with Attorney General Ashcroft over the "Patriot Act".
For a scientist concerned that tens of millions of Americans could die if precautions werenít taken immediately, it must have been absolutely infuriating for him to read every day about Leahy and Daschle quibbling over "personal freedoms and rights" while the fate of America could be hanging by a thread.
To me, it seems clear that Senators Leahy and Daschle were targeted to convince them that the country was in danger and it wasnít the right time to quibble. Potential foreign terrorists must be rounded up before they can attack again!
Again, that seems very much Right Wing thinking.
But it still goes back to pre-9-11 conditions. How did the culprit happen to have anthrax available? What was he planning to do with the anthrax prior to 9-11? It seems very doubtful that he was planning to send it through the mails, since everything about that act seems ill-conceived and hastily done. All the letters in the first mailing were ignored and/or simply tossed away. And five unintended deaths and another 14 injured? A little forethought could have prevented that. The mailing was clearly too hastily planned.
Besides, the anthrax was from a U.S. government lab! Would someone wanting to blame terrorists use Ames anthrax from a U.S. government lab? That makes no sense whatsoever.
And, too, when one thinks about people fearing government programs, one usually thinks about Right Wingers holed up in bunkers in Montana and watching for black helicopters. When it comes to "secret government programs", that's normally the concern of Right Wing conspiracy theorists. But very clearly in this instance that concern is shared with Left Wing conspiracy theorists. Most Americans are neither Right nor Left wing. They're moderates. They are on the Left on some issues and on the Right on other issues.
Back to the BTWC
No matter how I look at it, everything seems to begin with the Biological and Toxic Weapons convention in July or August, 2001. In July, the United States announced that it would not support or agree to the inspections proposed by the BTWC. Scientists supporting the BTWC were furiously upset.
Upset people do irrational things. Upset people take measures to "correct the situation". Upset people demonstrate.
Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg even told the Baltimore Sun that people she talked with were "jokingly" thinking about some kind of "demonstration" to make the American people aware of the dangers of biological weapons.
You get enough angry people talking about "doing something" and someone will actually "do something". It's happened a zillion times.
Of course, both the Left and the Right probably wanted to make the American people aware of the dangers of biological weapons. Their only disagreement was where the greatest danger lay. The Left felt the greatest danger was from Government sponsored weapons programs. The Right felt that the greatest danger was from terrorist groups.
But immediately after the horrors of 9-11 it certainly wouldnít have been surprising for someone who favored the BTWC to be concerned about terrorists. And he could very easily see the 9-11 attacks as having come from Iraq in some way. When pro-BTWC scientists worry about government sponsored biological weapons programs, they donít ONLY worry about U.S. programs. They also worry about all those other programs in all those other countries - like Iraq.
The letters sent with the anthrax letters donít specifically point to al Qaeda. They are generic Arab- or Muslim-type rantings. Who was the culprit trying to blame? Al Qaeda or Iraq? Or both? Itís unclear.
Everything seems to go back to "Plan A". Why was the anthrax stolen in the first place? What was the culprit planning to do with the anthrax prior to 9-11?
If we can assume that everything began with the U.S. causing the collapse of the BTWC, and if the anthrax was stolen in July or August (or sometime earlier but changed hands in July or August) for some kind of demonstration to correct the situation, then we have to be looking at Left Wingers - because their opponents were totally satisfied with the U.S. position announced in July. Only the pro-BTWC people were upset - and they were mightily upset.
The demonstration I always envision would have occurred at the next meeting of the BTWC in November, 2001. Imagine what would have happened if someone at that meeting had held up a test tube with enough weaponized anthrax to kill ten million people! And imagine if that person declared that the anthrax came from a secret U.S. Government program! That would definitely generate headlines across the globe, a massive investigation and frantic demands to expose the secret government programs that the Left worried about so much. If the person bringing the anthrax to the convention was not associated with any government program, it could be difficult to find a law that had been broken. The demonstration would not only be extremely effective, it would also be virtually harmless, and itís even likely that no one would go to jail.
What would the Right have used as a demonstration? They could have held up the same test tube filled with weaponized anthrax and declared it was bought on the blackmarket or from a potential terrorist. So what? Would the blame have then gone to terrorists? Would it have raised concerns about terrorists? No. The questions would still have been about where the anthrax was refined - and did it come from some government lab in America or the Middle-East? How did government refined anthrax get onto the black market? It would be assumed that the anthrax was government made, not home made. And when the anthrax was tested - as it certainly would be - it would be found to have come from a U.S. government laboratory!
The only demonstration that seems even remotely logical for Right Wingers to have perpetrated is what happened: sending anthrax through the mail. Thatís why most people suspect some Right Wing organization or some Right Wing nut case.
Yet I cannot see that as the original plan. It doesnít seem logical. It was far too dangerous. The original plan had to be something that wouldnít risk killing a lot of people. With a mailing, the demonstrators could get caught. Things would go better for them if no one was killed by the "demonstration". People don't like taking unnecessary risks. And, of course, the anthrax could be traced back to U.S. government labs! It always comes back to that.
If it was a Right Wing plan, the anthrax shouldn't have been the Ames strain and it should have been refined in a way that would cause it to be traced back to Iraq - NOT to the U.S.A.
I cannot come up with a Right Wing "Plan A" demonstration that would be both harmless and effective and wouldnít cause the planners to spend the rest of their lives in jail. Nor can I come up with a Right Wing "Plan A" that would work with anthrax obtained from a U.S. government lab.
Is it really reasonable that anyone expert enough to refine anthrax would believe that the anthrax would not be traceable back to U.S. laboratories? That's just not logical.
Perhaps they assumed that Iraq would be blown to bits before anyone bothered to determine the source of the anthrax. But then why send the letters to the "liberal media" and two "liberal Senators"? Why not send them to people assumed to be enemies of Iraq: George Bush Sr., General Schwarzkopf, Colin Powell, anyone at the Pentagon, anyone at the CIA?
So, I can only conclude that the anthrax mailer is someone who is Right of Center about most things in life, but who thoroughly supports the inspections proposed by the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention. That's the only way all the pieces seem to fit.
1. The anthrax
was stolen for use in a harmless demonstration ("Plan A").
2. The events of 9-11 made "Plan A" unworkable.
3. The person with the anthrax hastily concocted "Plan B" and sent it through the mails.
4. The plan backfired. People were killed and new government programs were initiated.
But I might be easily persuaded otherwise by some solid evidence that Iíve failed to see or evaluate.
(c) by Ed Lake
All Rights Reserved
First draft: Oct. 5, 2002