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Tilting at Windmills

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August 2, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

BENTONITE....I'm a little late to the party on this, but the must-read blog post of the weekend is Glenn Greenwald on bentonite.

Bento-what? Glenn's post is long, and you should read the whole thing (and while you're at it, check out his previous two posts on the subject as well), but it boils down to this: in September 2001, shortly after the post-9/11 anthrax attacks, ABC News' Brian Ross reported that four separate "well-placed" anonymous sources had told him that government tests showed traces of bentonite in the anthrax. Since bentonite had previously been connected to Saddam Hussein's biological weapons program, this was taken as evidence that Iraq might be behind the anthrax attacks.

As it turned out, this was wrong. There was no bentonite in the anthrax at all. But this wasn't just a mistake:

It's critical to note that it isn't the case that preliminary tests really did detect bentonite and then subsequent tests found there was none. No tests ever found or even suggested the presence of bentonite. The claim was just concocted from the start. It just never happened.

That means that ABC News' "four well-placed and separate sources" fed them information that was completely false — false information that created a very significant link in the public mind between the anthrax attacks and Saddam Hussein.

Glenn would like to know who fed ABC this deliberate misinformation. Was one of their sources Bruce Ivins, the Ft. Detrick scientist who the FBI now believes was the source of the anthrax attacks? This question is especially significant in light of today's LA Times story suggesting that Ivins held patents on an anthrax vaccine and stood to make a fair bit of money in the event of a nationwide anthrax panic.

Will we ever find out? In practice, most journalists refuse to identify their sources under any circumstances at all, even when it's clear that those sources deliberately lied to them. But should that be the standard? Or is the profession — and the rest of us — better off if sources know that they run the risk of being unmasked if their mendacity is egregious enough to become newsworthy in its own right? I'd say the latter.

At a guess, Brian Ross is re-reporting this story as we speak. I'd be shocked if he were doing anything else — and I'd say that part of that re-reporting ought to include a full explanation of exactly who was peddling the bentonite lie in the first place, and why they were doing it.

Kevin Drum 4:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (106)

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Revealing sources, in any instance, might be problematic. But at least making the issue transparent (e.g., "We cannot reveal our sources, but we can say they lied to us, and we can look at the reasons for their mendacity." Follow that up with a full report analyzing the issue.

Too wonkish?

Posted by: Fugitive Pope on August 2, 2008 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, this is nothing new considering the current bunch in the White House.

It will be interesting to see if anybody who's not a Democrat gives a damn about this. I'm betting that not one Republican will care, and the press will try to ignore it.

Posted by: Mark-NC on August 2, 2008 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Surely,Kevin you must know that bentonite is the main ingredient in cat litter.

Posted by: Botch on August 2, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Atrios has put up lots of interesting posts on this recently. The Glenn Greenwald article is of course exhibit A, but there are more goodies there too. One of the best is, about the curious report from "America's concern troll" Richard Cohen that some unnamed government official/s told him to get some Cipro, before the rest of us heard of the danger, and that being the best (?) treatment. First we wonder who told Cohen and why they would know (if a "lone germman" was doing it, why *would* they know?) Then Atrios brings up, in his inimitable snarky style, the question of how Cohen got a hold of a very powerful antibiotic that is illegal w/o prescription for good reason - what would he tell the doctor? Ummm, I heard there's going to be a terrorist attack? Errr, just gimme some because I say so? Make up an illness? Huh? Congress should ask him to testify, serious as a heart attack.

Then there's the suspicious framing of Ivins as being wacko, "homicidal" etc. for years, to supposedly bolster the "credibility" of his doing it. Well, if anyone in authority or medicine knew this guy was unstable, how could they not work hard to release him from work at a sensitive military installation where deadly bio WMD were being formed and stored? WTF?

This whole business stinks to high heaven. Something needs to, and is going to, hit the fan. Every honest American needs to help push it in so we can find out more about what really happened, why, and who did it.

BTW Kevin, you are late to parties a bit often IIRC. Get more into The Google, OK? You don't want McAncient getting ahead of you.

Posted by: demoraptor on August 2, 2008 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

That's actually less insane that Greenwald's usual ravings. It appears that the White House's early
denials of the presence of bentonite rather took the wind out of the poor chap's sails.

Posted by: a on August 2, 2008 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Did anyone else get the impression that the author(s) of the Wikipedia article on bentonite don't spent much time outside the tight-knight circle of bentonitists?

Bentonite is an absorbent aluminium phyllosilicate generally impure clay consisting mostly of montmorillonite. There are a few types of bentonites and their names depend on the dominant elements, such as K, Na, Ca, and Al. As noted in several places in the geologic literature, there are some nomenclatorial problems with the classification of bentonite clays. Bentonite usually forms from weathering of volcanic ash, most often in the presence of water. However, the term bentonite, as well as a similar clay called tonstein, have been used for clay beds of uncertain origin. For industrial purposes, two main classes of bentonite exist: sodium and calcium bentonite. In stratigraphy and tephrochronology, completely devitrified (weathered volcanic glass) ash-fall beds are commonly referred to as K-bentonites when the dominant clay species is illite. Other common clay species, and sometimes dominant, are montmorillinite and kaolinite. Kaolinite dominated clays are commonly referred to as tonsteins and are typically associated with coal.
Posted by: ogmb on August 2, 2008 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

"a", I don't get your general putdown of Greewald but you are missing the point. We can find out more on why the WH denied bentonite other than the banality that it wasn't there and they needed to admit it. But note about ABC, "four well-placed and separate sources" fed them information that was completely false — false information that created a very significant link in the public mind between the anthrax attacks and Saddam Hussein. Four separate sources - you can't pin it all on the lone germman.

Also, there are interesting googles you can do about Dr. Philip Zack, and a company (not necc. related) called BioPort. A commenter also reminded me of the disease expert who "jumped off" a bridge and left his car running, during a meeting he was attending.

Posted by: demoraptor on August 2, 2008 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin sez: "At a guess, Brian Ross is re-reporting this story as we speak"

Really? I'd guess he's getting his fingers sticky with some good ol' McCain family BBQ, thinking about ways to talk about Barack H. Obama's "presumptuousness" and burgeoning celebrity persona similar to that of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

Posted by: Pessimist on August 2, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Got your tinfoil hats screwed on tight?
Good. Here's my Rovian Darth Cheney double backflip conspiracy theory.

Conspirators in the Bush 43 executive branch determined in 2001 that 9/11 had not yet made Americans quite frightened enough to acquiesce to the establishment of an unaccountable Unitary Executive and collude in the loss of citizens' Constitutional civil rights.

So ..

They got Ivins to prepare the material and to mail it ("but the real stuff only goes to _liberals_, see, so no harm done"). They assured Ivins that he'd never be indicted.

Then they engineered leakage that _Hatfill_ was the "person of interest", never intending to actually indict him. The point was to steer attention away from Ivins, and especially to discredit the idea that the material came from Ft. Detrich by making sure that suspicion fell on a Ft. Detrich worker who was definitely innocent.
That's the classic Rove misdirection touch.

And then, to the best of their ability, they caused the Executive Branch to completely lose interest in investigating the anthrax mailings.

Posted by: joel hanes on August 2, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Man, bentonite gets around.

As Botch notes, it's in kitty litter, but also, as any wine-home-brewer knows, it's also used in the clarification process of home-brewing.

Bentonite is a clay granule that holds a negative electrostatic charge (& has hydrogen bonding properties). The bentonite particles bond with the impurities in the wine & then settle to bottom.

I'm not a chemist & have no idea what bentonite's addition to anthrax results in, but bentonite, by itself, is not some kind of toxic material.

I have no real point here, other than to say my intial reaction wasn't "Bento-what?", but, rather, 'huh,... I wonder what bentonite brings to the anthrax formulation & why, apparently only Saddam used this method'.

Posted by: raff on August 2, 2008 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

How does someone who works in the R&D of the government own patents? Usually, everything that is created working for a government using government resources is owned by the government. Same as in private industry.

That excuse smells.

Posted by: qingl78 on August 2, 2008 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder what bentonite brings to the anthrax formulation

IIRC, the bentonite is to prevent the exremely fine "weaponized" anthrax preparation from clumping, so that it can be dispersed and float in the air for some time.

Posted by: joel hanes on August 2, 2008 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

I can understand a journalist's responsibility to keep sources' identities confidential. However, that code of ethics simply does not apply here. These journalists have been duped into perpetrating a grand and deadly lie against the American people. I would think that they would be happy to divulge the names of those who used them this way. That is unless they were willing accomplices in which case they should be thrown in jail. Am I missing something here?

Posted by: justinnyc on August 2, 2008 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

The leak to reporters and the Cohen angle is the most interesting to me. They were able to terrify the public, disseminate news reports linking this to Iraq, and there was McCain on Letterman stating it was linked to Iraq. How long did that story go on? Long enough for most of the public to link bioweaponry to Iraq, a lot of people think that to this day.

Then when the story couldn't hold up, reporters issued a very quiet, brief and subdued retraction.

Posted by: Jan in Stone Mtn on August 2, 2008 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

I have always derided most conspiracy theories as silly and unlikely, but I believe I'm going to have to have myself fitted for some headware in tinfoil. Given what we continue to learn about this regime (and I using that noun very pointedly) I am coming around to the belief that they are capable of almost anything. I would refer everyone to Kevin's post of two days ago ("Trigger Happy"), regarding Seymour Hersh's descriptions of the administration's musings over possible Iranian provocation scenarios.

I read that again and what Joel wrote above does not seem all that unlikely. I confess that when I heard the press stories of the suicide, something similar occurred to me.

Posted by: lucienc on August 2, 2008 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

There are two important and incontrovertible facts regarding the anthrax plot:

1. Arab Muslims had nothing to do with it.

2. Someone desperately wanted us to think they did.

And I'm really having a hard time imagining this Ivins fellow dreaming up this caper all by himself (though given his wingnut politics he probably went along with it fairly eagerly).

Posted by: kth on August 2, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

If the sources were administration (ie Cheney) -led, then I'm supposing journalists will be feeling less compelled to protect them.

But, it won't come out until after the election or until Republicans are out of power. Wouldn't wanna jeopardise one's access, dontcha know.


Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on August 2, 2008 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

"IIRC, the bentonite is to prevent the exremely fine "weaponized" anthrax preparation from clumping, so that it can be dispersed and float in the air for some time."

That makes sense given the absorbing properties of betonite, but still leaves the question: 'Was Saddam the only one using this technique?'. Does no-one else in the world use bentonite in the preparation of anthrax or other chemical weaponry?

Even if the initial charge wasn't a lie (& it was), it would seem to be a tenuous connection at best, even at face value.

Better lies, please.

Posted by: raff on August 2, 2008 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

The four sources: Dick "Dick" Cheney, Lynne Cheney, Mary Ritalin, & The Condiliar.

Posted by: Hedley on August 2, 2008 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

qingl78: How does someone who works in the R&D of the government own patents?

While Ivin's name was on the patent, the government owned it. While it isn't clear what Ivin's might have stood to gain, "...Army policy would allow the inventor to receive up to $150,000 a year “of any royalties/payments resulting from commercial licensure" (see here).

Posted by: has407 on August 2, 2008 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

I do not understand this compulsion to protect sources that lied to you. What would be wrong with the law-of-the-street being "you fuck with me I'll fuck with you"?

Maybe the number of source-leaks will shrink but the quality would go way up.

Besides what value is it to your journalistic credentials (not to mention you self-worth ) knowing that you have been played and you are too afraid to call the prick that did it to you on it.

Posted by: paulo on August 2, 2008 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

paulo: You protect the source because you want more information from the same source.

I know that sounds crazy, but yes. You do. You want to get the story that's going to be the story, whether or not it's the truth. Remember, those leaks were truthy.

Posted by: rabbit on August 2, 2008 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

To expand a bit on "paulo's" point, lawyers are required to out their clients if they are contemplating a continuing or future crime. Doctors are compelled to report patients who are deliberately passing on communicable disease. An accountant can lost his license if he helps a client perpetrate a fraud on the public or the government.

NO profession other than journalism tolerates one of its practitioners becoming a tool for criminal or other injurious purposes. The other professions simply aren't that stupid.

Posted by: John B. on August 2, 2008 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

It's worth noting that, during the Judith Miller debacle, it came out that the NYT's own policy is not to protect sources who lie to you.

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on August 2, 2008 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's a little funny how unusually unclearly written a lot of the comments are on this post. It kind of sticks out.

Anyway, although I guess some people will start saying now that the guy was innocent and that he killed himself because he feared the criminal charges were brought to make him a patsy for an excuse for the Iraq war, I think that's jumping too quickly to a conclusion. Maybe the guy did the crime, and the White House just took advantage of the anthrax attacks to spread some misinformation about Saddam (hoping no one would really care if it eventually was revealed that the anthrax didn't contain bentonite.).

Posted by: Swan on August 2, 2008 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

"I do not understand this compulsion to protect sources that lied to you."

There's money to be made from these sensational stories, and the "unnamed source" is important in selling the story. We don't want to go exposing those people now do we?

Posted by: Captain on August 2, 2008 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

I have doubts that this story is really that important or that anybody is really going to be able to get the White House in trouble for it. It seems like a distraction from other things, like how misleading and terrible McCain's ads are.

Posted by: Swan on August 2, 2008 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Anyway, although I guess some people will start saying now that the guy was innocent and that he killed himself because he feared the criminal charges were brought to make him a patsy for an excuse for the Iraq war,

That is, people might wonder whether the White House tried to get this guy indicted because they thought he or others would start drawing attention to erroneous claims about bentonite and point people in the WH's direction. But something about this whole bentonite thing (that is, Glenn Greenwald's recent reporting on it) seems like a red herring to me.

Posted by: Swan on August 2, 2008 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

Good work, Kevin. I read your blog for good info like this. Weaponized anthrax is of very small particle size so it will get to the alveoli when inhaled. The smaller the particle, the farther down it goes and the more infectious. The bentonite helps this.

Posted by: Mike K on August 2, 2008 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

On NBC News tonight, all about Ivins and his supposed psych problems etc., the container only he had access to, etc. Someone did question, why didn't someone try to get him out of there earlier or etc. However, no mention of the bentonite claims, Richard Cohen and the secret tip about Cipro, etc. Last night on Washington Week the guy filling in for Gwen signed off with the notion this is basically resolved. I don't expect a lot better from the rest of the MSM.

Posted by: demoraptor on August 2, 2008 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

Swan, I think it's most likely that Ivins was responsible, maybe with help, and that the Admin. took advantage of it to drum up the Iraq business. But that doesn't explain all the other odd features that have been pointed out all over lately. Re Richard Cohen: he wrote a lot of good stuff in the 90s and was one of my favorites, but became such a dick in recent years. It's a shame. I think the top columnist now is Leonard Pitts.

Posted by: Neil B. on August 2, 2008 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Huh? But you you you had me convinced! Don't you think YOU may want to mention how you may have jumped the gun....?

Posted by: jerry on August 2, 2008 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

"I'd be shocked if he were doing anything else"

Your winnings, sir.

Posted by: Forrest on August 2, 2008 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know whether Ivins is the guy or not. But before we jump to the rightwing religious nutbag file, you SHOULD read his letters to the editor.

The guy was:
a) religous
b) apparently not a homophobe, and apparently believed homosexual behavior had a possible significant genetic component to it (that is, not a mutable lifestyle choice)
c) encouraging of female clergy and married clergy
d) appalled with racist and bigoted shock jocks.

Sounds like he was to the left of Amy Sullivan.

Posted by: jerry on August 2, 2008 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

"Revealing sources, in any instance, might be problematic."

Huh? I'm sorry, but exactly WHAT public interest is served by protecting sources that very clearly lied? What exactly do they teach at J School that makes this even problematic? I just don't see what the supposed ethical/moral problem is, nor what the negative supposed long-term ramifications will be.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on August 2, 2008 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

This went a beyond ABC pushing the bentonite-Iraq meme. They were also putting the Atta-in-Prague connection in the same story:

Tests Find Laced Anthrax; Atta Met Iraqi

Four well-placed and separate sources told ABCNEWS that initial tests detected bentonite, though the White House initially said the chemical was not found.

..."There are reports that one of the things that may have happened at that meeting was that [Atta] was given by the Iraqi some sample of anthrax," former U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler told ABCNEWS. "We do not know if that is true. I believe it is something that should be investigated."

Meanwhile, Ari Fleischer is denying the bentonite line and saying "If ABC's sources are so good, perhaps they'd like to come out and identify themselves and share the information they have...", with ABC responding, "We are confident in our reporting. We have four separate well-placed sources who told us that initial tests showed bentonite..."

So Fleischer calls ABC out, and ABC not only doesn't blink, but pushes back. Taking the position that the official White House line is somehow hiding or downplaying the Iraq connection was an extremely aggressive and unusual move.

Admittedly you don't have to go very far to get above the press secretary, but to pull this off, those ABC "sources" had to be more than some scientists, but insiders with some chops in the administration, and no compunctions about pushing a false meme in order to promote a confrontation with Iraq, even in the face of White House statements to the contrary.

Posted by: has407 on August 2, 2008 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

The bentonite was misdirection, a distraction, and I should know. I spent a great deal of my youth searching for benton.

Posted by: jerry on August 2, 2008 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone suppose the threat of a little torture would work well?

Posted by: Intelvet on August 2, 2008 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

Swan: But something about this whole bentonite thing (that is, Glenn Greenwald's recent reporting on it) seems like a red herring to me.

If you think this is about the "bentonite thing", then you've missed the point entirely. While Ivins death--which has been widely reported, along with many retrospectives of this shoddy affair--may have brought it to your attention, Greenwald's reporting is not "recent", but has been going on for years.

This appears to be falsification in order to foment war, independent of interpretation by the intelligence community or our allies or the CW of the time as to Iraq's capabilities or intents. In short, a potentially premeditated, egregious and provable lie by people in the administration--aided and abetted by the press (knowingly or otherwise)--which helped bring this country to war.

That is hardly be a "red herring".

Posted by: has407 on August 2, 2008 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK
....four separate "well-placed" anonymous sources...

I don't think the sources were anonymous, they were just unnamed in Ross's report. Ross surely knows who they are.

Posted by: Kris on August 2, 2008 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

So,
is this another story where everyone in the village knows whats going on, but refuses to tell the public because it would make it so totally uncomfortable when they attend the next soiree and Darth Cheney uses his force powers to throttle the guests for blabbing about his secret plan?

Posted by: spiny on August 2, 2008 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

I buy bentonite in 40# bags every year to plug holes in a small dam. It is sold by the local agricultural coop in both granular and finely powdered form. The cost is around $10 per bag.

After 9/11/2001, the refined form was not available for a few months.

Posted by: dd on August 2, 2008 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

OK, so we're told that Ivins stood to benefit from the scare caused by anthrax getting around (which of course doesn't explain the four sources, even if he was one of them for distraction, Cohen, etc.) But in any case, well - *did* he benefit from the scare? So what ever did happen to his patent, etc? And who did benefit, other than neocon factions? Makers of Cipro sure did.

Posted by: demoraptor on August 2, 2008 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

While the public might be better served by revealing who lied, the reporters might not be. In the future, they would have to tell sources that they will be outed if the reporter decides that their motives were impure. Since politicians have impure motives, they will not talk to that reporter in the future.

Posted by: reino on August 2, 2008 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

From http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gH1fcT1QrjvwIaAZTO63_lxHs9EQD92A9HQG0

Social worker Jean C. Duley filed handwritten court documents last week saying she was preparing to testify before a grand jury. She said Ivins would be charged with five capital murders.

"Client has a history dating to his graduate days of homicidal threats, plans and actions towards therapists," Duley said, adding that his psychiatrist had described him as homicidal and sociopathic.

So, a history of *homicidal* threats, plans and "actions" - "dating to graduate days" - but he's working in a top-secret germ war lab ... Uh huh -- so its that easy to be a lone germman, who would have guessed.

Posted by: demoraptor on August 2, 2008 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

"This question is especially significant in light of today's LA Times story suggesting that Ivins held patents on an anthrax vaccine and stood to make a fair bit of money in the event of a nationwide anthrax panic."

The operative word is "fair" - the money is in the tens of thousands of dollars, not millions, according to the piece. Seems to me they're constructing a motive out of thin air.

If we had GOOD conspiracy theorists in this country there'd be a lot of information out about this already.

Posted by: dday on August 2, 2008 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

I may have already posted this, but there is a book, called Vaccine A by Gary Matsumoto, which mentions Bruce Ivins prominently by name. Ivins is implicated in the testing of an experimental anthrax vaccine that killed a number of Army personnel. Not sure how or if this subplot weaves together with the bentonite theme, but this whole affair is very strange and nefarious.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on August 2, 2008 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Why exactly is this such a big deal? More people have been killed by none-to-bright high school students with guns than by this scientist. If anthrax powder is a weapon of mass destruction, then a backpack full of plastique is a doomsday device. And were the anthrax attacks used to bolster the case for the invasion of Iraq? No, I don't think so.

What really deserves attention are the knuckleheads in the Air Force who keep mishandling nuclear weapons. My heart goes out to the anthrax victims' families. But this stuff is small beer.

Posted by: lampwick on August 2, 2008 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

I think the suicide was probably genuine-- the guy just didn't want to go to jail and killed himself. We can all only just guess as to what happned and what motivated it w/ regard to each detail of this story, us not having firsthand knowledge of this thing, but there are certain suspicions I would expect others might jump to that don't seem likley to me in light of what we do know.

Posted by: Swan on August 2, 2008 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

lampwick, I get your point that it is an abuse of language to call anthrax powder a weapon of mass distruction. But Jacob Weisberg's book about the Bush administration argued that the administration resolved to go to war mainly because of the chaos surrounding the anthrax attacks. Of course there was no real reason to suppose that Saddam or any other Arab Muslim was behind the attacks, but Weisberg seemed to believe that the Admin's concern was genuine and not ginned up.

Now that we know that the anthrax wasn't cut with bentonite--and hence wasn't "weaponized" for dispersal over a large area, and moreover that the Bushies knew this from the outset--the credulity of ostensible liberals like Weisberg looks even more foolish than it did at the time of the attacks, or a year ago when his book came out.

Posted by: kth on August 2, 2008 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

I buy bentonite in 40# bags every year ...
After 9/11/2001, the refined form was not available for a few months.

Have you noticed that Crystal Drano is an ex-product, no longer produced or sold?

Posted by: joel hanes on August 2, 2008 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

Why is the AP reporting that Obama has flip flopped on offshore oil drilling?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080801/ap_on_el_pr/obama

I am certain the AP is mistaken. Right?

Posted by: jerry on August 2, 2008 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

"I do not understand this compulsion to protect sources that lied to you."

There's money to be made from these sensational stories, and the "unnamed source" is important in selling the story. We don't want to go exposing those people now do we?--Captain

really? that explains the fluff that fills most newspapers and newscasts.


Posted by: mudwall jackson on August 2, 2008 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

You'd think the administration would have been a lot coyer in its denials of the bentonite if it had been responsible for the story in the first place and wanted it publicized. But it was very firm in saying there was no bentonite.

That doesn't rule out shadowy administration figures who were lusting for war with Iraq playing a role in the false story, but it seems unlikely it was the Bush faction.

I think the Cohen-Cipro business is a red herring. There were genuine concerns about an anthrax attack well before the one that actually happened (that's why Ivins was working on a vaccine); someone might well have recommended that Cohen get a supply just in case.

And it wouldn't be the least bit surprising if doctors, especially in the D.C. area, were willingly prescribing Cipro for patients who were worried about terrorism. It's not something you'd take for fun and become addicted to, after all.

Finally, to reinforce what someone else noted, Ivins was clearly not a wingnut, at least judging by his letters to the editor of his local paper.
Which makes one wonder about his choice of targets for the anthrax if he was indeed the perp.

Posted by: Swift Loris on August 2, 2008 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

lampwick: And were the anthrax attacks used to bolster the case for the invasion of Iraq? No, I don't think so.

Maybe not the case for the invasion of Iraq, but arguably a significant factor; e.g., anthrax's mention in GWB's statements, most notably the Oct 2002 Cincinnati and Nov 2002 Atlanta speeches.

While Bush didn't make an explicit anthrax-Iraq link, the implication seems clear. Even if the administration didn't make that connection explicit, ABC certainly tried to. It's hard to believe that ABC went out on that limb solo.

Posted by: has407 on August 2, 2008 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget Colin Powell. That vial "representing" anthrax at the UN presentation wasn't some kind of coincidence.

Yes, the anthrax scare was used to help justify killing brown people for sport and electoral advantage.

Posted by: the on August 2, 2008 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

At a guess, Brian Ross is re-reporting this story as we speak. I'd be shocked if he were doing anything else

No, like this: "I'd be shocked, shocked! if he were doing anything else"

Fixed it for you. If he is doing any such thing it will be the first time since Bushism ascended from the slime. I'll believe it when I see it. And I'm not gonna see it.

Posted by: DrBB on August 2, 2008 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK
That makes sense given the absorbing properties of betonite, but still leaves the question: 'Was Saddam the only one using this technique?'. Does no-one else in the world use bentonite in the preparation of anthrax or other chemical weaponry?
Betonite in the anthrax is a sign of using the Soviet recipe for weaponizing anthrax (which Sadam Hussein was allegedly given). The US recipe for weaponizing anthrax does NOT contain bentonite at all. For details on this and some other things about the 2001 anthrax letters, I recommend you read the book Amerithrax.

Among the other unpleasantries one learns when reading up on the situation is that the occupants of the White House were taking Cipro starting on September 12, 2001. Antibiotics are helpful only for US weaponized anthrax and completely useless for Soviet weaponized strains of anthrax. And if Soviet strains of anthrax were used in 2001, the death toll would be in the tens of thousands - just like the times when the Soviets had accidental releases of anthrax from their own research facilities.

Posted by: Tangurena on August 2, 2008 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

kth: Now that we know that the anthrax wasn't cut with bentonite--and hence wasn't "weaponized" for dispersal over a large area...

WTF!? It was "weaponized". That's how it managed to kill people after being sent through the mail as a powder. Using bentonite is only one technique for weaponizing anthrax.

Posted by: has407 on August 3, 2008 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

There's no question that the administration used the threat of anthrax to bolster its case for war with Iraq. But it does not seem to have used the October 2001 anthrax attacks in the U.S. for that purpose--to the contrary. Why it didn't is another question that may even be relevant to who carried out those attacks.

Posted by: Swift Loris on August 3, 2008 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

The gravest threat we face today comes from Mexican tomatoes purposely treated with weaponized salmonella.

Kill all the gringos! The Reconquista is nigh!

Posted by: lampwick on August 3, 2008 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

"Client has a history dating to his graduate days of homicidal threats, plans and actions towards therapists," Duley said, adding that his psychiatrist had described him as homicidal and sociopathic."

I would expect this is a preferred profile for someone working on weapons of mass destruction (bio as well as nuclear). Who in their right mind would eagerly research different ways to kill human beings en masse?

Posted by: rational on August 3, 2008 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

Client has a history dating to his graduate days of homicidal threats, plans and actions towards therapists," Duley said, adding that his psychiatrist had described him as homicidal and sociopathic."

I wouldn't make too much of the petition for the restraining order. Restraining orders are notoriously inaccurate, defamatory, and largely bullshit meant to provide a judge with enough FUD to justify removing constitutional rights from an individual.

Case in point, the David Letterman restraining order.

http://www.ifeminists.net/introduction/editorials/2005/1228.html

An actual progressive, liberal party would scream at the known abuse of temporary restraining orders.

Kevvy and other arm-chair liberals, not so much.

Posted by: jerry on August 3, 2008 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

Is it bentonite or kaolinite that they put in slimfast and nonfat yogurt?

My guess is they latched on to concept of bentonite being unique because it sounded special . . . sort of like dihydrogen oxide.

If the iraqis were the only people using it to weaponize anthrax it couldn't have worked that well.

I know this is beside the point, but the whole concept of bentonite being some sort of unique fingerprint strikes me as bizarre. Sort of like the idea that copper disks are from Iran.

In the case of anthrax (or any other microbe) the source of the culture is the unique thing. And yes they can do better with phylogeny than the name of the strain. They can also tell you where it was cultured and when based on stable and radio-isotopes.

Posted by: B on August 3, 2008 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

I just figured out why the whole "bentonite therefore Iraq" thing sounds so familiar. They do this all the time on the various Star Treks when the good guys are in pursuit of unknown evildoers who have blown something up.

"Captain, our analysis of the bomb revealed traces of flaxion microfragments."

"Hmm, the Romulans have been known to use flaxion microfragmentors. Set course for Romulus!"

And of course they're always right, because in the future, there are a thousand alien species, each of whom knows exactly one way to build a bomb. It makes for some of the more annoying suspension-of-disbelief moments in Trek.

I know forensics and spycraft can do some amazing things, but finding this magic anthrax-growing mineral that only Iraqis use and that Iraqis use exclusively... I'd say that warranted a follow-up question or two. (Even if it really is that simple, although since they made up finding it too, I guess the whole thing is moot.)

Posted by: Matt on August 3, 2008 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

finding this magic anthrax-growing mineral that only Iraqis use and that Iraqis use exclusively

I know it's cool how precise you can be. Especially considering that the Iraqis weren't making any anthrax at all.

Posted by: B on August 3, 2008 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

As I have said for years--this is the case of the dog barking in the night. No tinfoil needed to indict the administration on this one. They have been hugely disinterested in finding the culprit because they are the culprits.
--The therapist misspelled her own profession on the restraining order.
--A PhD with an SCI or higher clearance was in mental health therapy for years--and continued to work? Your clearance is stripped if you admit to having high stress in the workplace.
--Cipro is a prescription anti-biotic that will cause rampant resistance if capriciously used. There was no reason to believe that an Anthrax attack was coming.
--The FBI is going to shut down the case of one of the largest terror attacks in American history on the thinnest reed.
--Ivins was released from in-patient psych treatment and not monitored?? Neighbors say the FBI constantly monitored him.
--Everything about the attack bolstered fear, attacked critics of the administration, and has been conveniently swept aside until there was a real threat that they would lose the elections so badly there might be grim accountability?
--His brother has been used to boster the official story (like in the Unabomber case). But had no contact with him for 23-years.

This is the most important story of the Bush years and the smoking gun. The concern trolls (nothing to see here, he probably did it, etc., ) and the administration plants, such as "a," should be scrolled by. There is much more here than meets the eye. A lot of strange suicides these days.
Pelosi--you need to act on this. Killing Americans for effect is not something we should sweep off the table.

And did Ivins really work with powdered Anthrax? He was a vaccine specialist who had already developed a vaccine for this. He was on the other side of the fence from the Neocon crazies.

Posted by: Sparko on August 3, 2008 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

I hate conspiracy theories. Government groups just aren't competent enough. However, you would think a PhD microbiologist would know that suicide by Tylenol is one of the most painful, slow and not guaranteed methods.

Posted by: Mike on August 3, 2008 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK

MANY things this administration has done are known conspiracies: i.e., the Plame affair, the U.S. Attorney scandal, vote caging (probably vote rigging too), the shameful Siegelman prosecution, the lies leading to the war in Iraq, the propaganda purchases across the country, Abu Ghraib, Water-boarding, renditions, etc, etc, etc! There is a myth that conspiracies require competence to work--they actually require only cowardly citizens.
And we have been guilty of being cowards as a society and a government--shame on us. And letting the media spew bullshit--especially the AP, Fox and ABC-Disney.

Posted by: Sparko on August 3, 2008 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

All I know is I believe the opposite of anything the Bush administration says because they lie about EVERYTHING. I always thought the timing of the anthrax attacks was fishy, and in retrospect, I don't see how that episode could be anything other than part of this evil crew's machinations. I always dismissed conspiracy theories about 9/11, but now I'm not so sure.

Posted by: Helena Montana on August 3, 2008 at 6:47 AM | PERMALINK

Amen, Helena, @ 6:47!

And, as someone said above -- this is an election year, there's a high probability these ignoramuses are going to get beat, and they're trying to clean up loose ends.

Posted by: pol on August 3, 2008 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

There is only one reason to believe that there is "a high probability" that "these ignoramuses are going to get beat"...and that would be that our entire MSM is in collusion to present misleading and inaccurate information to the electorate...do we honestly believe that could be true??? Otherwise this race wouldn't appear to be "so tight"...not, what possible reason would our illustrious media have to promote a TIGHT RACE??? Or, is it possible that the DEMS might have looked more closely at their options and selected the STRONGEST ticket possible to knock out the "ignoramuses"????? Either way that's what the focus should be on every day for the next 90 some...because this IS an important election!

Posted by: Dancer on August 3, 2008 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Ivins reminds me of the volunteer firefighter who starts a fire so he can put it out and be the hero.

Posted by: anandine on August 3, 2008 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

There's no question that the administration used the threat of anthrax to bolster its case for war with Iraq. But it does not seem to have used the October 2001 anthrax attacks in the U.S. for that purpose--to the contrary.

Others did though. Notably one John "Maverick" McCain.

But you're right, the fact that the Admin officially denied ABC's bentonite story is one of the oddities. But remember: the neocon faction, for whom the need to invade Iraq was an article of faith from well before 9/11, were just that: a faction. And whereas they used 9/11 to leverage their way into dominance, they were not at all in that position at the start. We're basically talking about the Cheney faction versus the Bush faction. Colin Powell, who earlier that year (along with Rice) had stated Iraq was contained and not a threat to anyone, had not yet been neutered and arm-twisted into his appalling role of spreading disinformation at the U.N. On the other hand the source of that bogus info, the Office of Special Plans was probably already in some nascent form or other. Setting up their own intel group, a resurrected " Team B" as it were, from Cheney and Rummy's glory days second guessing the CIA back in the 70s.

This whole thing has the Cheneyist stink in general and the OSP stink in particular all over it. The manipulation of the press using Super Double Secret Info, the targeting of Iraq in particular--it's all a rerun, or rather pre-run of the Judith Miller game.

I almost want to go that extra step and say they instigated the attacks. Before 9/11 occurred they must have been casting about for a casus belli, and Saddam and anthrax were already synonymous. If I was writing the screenplay... But from everything we DO know about how the Cheney shadow government operates, the disinformation/press-manipulation side of it has those fingerprints all over it. I would fully expect some OSP names to turn up on ABC's list of "four separate but well placed sources." Feith, Wolfowitz. Maybe even Mr Undisclosed Location himself, given how staunchly ABC clung to their claims in the face of Bush-faction denials.

Posted by: DrBB on August 3, 2008 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Bush-2, what a fellow.

He water boards our own soldiers, infects us with Anthrax, and does business deals with Al Qeda. Claims he does this to protect us!

Posted by: Matt on August 3, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

perhaps the reason "bentonite" sounds so ominous is the close resemblance to that other deadly substance "kryptonite".

"bentonite? kryptonite? supergeorge is in danger! lassie, run home and tell them cheney fell down the well!" cried out karl rove, rubbing his hands together gleefully.

OTOH, i think we need to put some umph! into advancing the meme that brian ross isn't talking because his sources told him the bentonite angle was malarkey from the start. he was a willing co-conspirator.

Posted by: dopey-o on August 3, 2008 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Dancer: is it possible that the DEMS might have looked more closely at their options and selected the STRONGEST ticket possible to knock out the "ignoramuses"?????

Mea culpa and Amen. No personal disrespect to Sen. Obama, but in spite of his good qualities and very real qualifications, he's going to be tough to elect.

Posted by: thersites on August 3, 2008 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Have you noticed that you don't hear anything at all about the other post-9/11 terror attacks? I mean the Beltway sniper.

When authoritarians try to tell us that there have been no further terror attacks on US soil (and therefor Bush is Right about something), we should remind them that a year after 9/11 two terrorists killed ten people and critically wounded three others in the area around Washington DC

Posted by: joel hanes on August 3, 2008 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Trying not to "throw up in my mouth" (so colorful) watching the PANEL on TWWGS...yegods it's sad when David Gergen seems to be making the most sense...but it was interesting to hear George Will actually admit that perhaps the polls do not reflect the actual race at the moment...BUT, the "elephant in the room" to me is that Hillary should have been the nominee with Obama as VP and he, IMHO, had no chance without her (especially if he goes with some of the colorless types being mentioned (Bayh/Biden/Kain)...LOSING MY RELIGION!!!

Posted by: Dancer on August 3, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

This is indeed way too 'smelly' for my liking. The Washington Post has come out with an article (ten hours ago) in which many of Ivins' colleagues and other scientists at Ft. Detrick support Ivins innocence. It is also reported that no one at the research lab had access to powdered anthrax, that they deal only with wet forms, and although it would have been possible to produce powdered anthrax at the site, it would have been highly unlikely to do so without detection.

And who is this social worker/psychiatrist, Jean Duley? She sounds like the real nut case in this story. She only saw Ivins for a period of 6 months and I've seen her described as either a social worker or a psychiatrist. Here is the charge she made to a judge for the restraining order.

"As far back as the year 2000, [Ivins] has actually attempted to murder several other people, [including] through poisoning," she said "He is a revenge killer, when he feels that he's been slighted . . . especially towards women. He plots and actually tries to carry out revenge killings," she told a judge.

Is this for real? Where's the professional ethics? I can see getting a restraining order to answer threats to oneself, but to make charges of attempted murder willy-nilly seems a bit much.

To read more, see:

Scientists Question FBI Probe on Anthrax, WP


Posted by: nepeta on August 3, 2008 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

What I find very strange is the fact that they had 4 sources of information! When is the last time you heard of a report with 4 unnamed/anonymous sources. If ABC only had 1 or 2 sources they may not have run the story. But with 4 sources it was a “Slam Dunk!” Someone wanted to make sure that the report was aired!

Posted by: mat1492 on August 3, 2008 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Sparko, not just the "concern trolls," also the "distracto-trolls" with comments like "Wasn't Bentonite invented by Benton Quest? ya know, Johnny Quest's dad? Man I loved that show!"

Lets not forget the "taunt-trolls" who say "Tinfoil hats" and such.

Man, the VRWC has a huge payroll. Good thing they can keep it down to a dime-a-post.

Posted by: Harold S on August 3, 2008 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

And speaking of Weird Fun Fax About Molecular Biologist Suicides! let's not forget the nearly memory-holed David Kelly. Who was an expert in bioweapons that could kill millions but apparently didn't have a clear enough grasp of basic anatomy to know that you commit suicide by slicing your wrists the long way, not across as it's almost always depicted in Pop Kulture. And speaking of not having a firm grasp, apparently he was able to accomplish his own death not only by cutting the wrong way, but without leaving any fingerprints on the the little penknife he used. Pretty nifty trick considering he wasn't wearing gloves and none were found at the scene. Guess he slashed and then decided it would be convenient to clean the knife with a leaf or his shirttail or something. Just a neatness fanatic. But not to worry:

A Thames Valley police spokeswoman said: "There were no fingerprints on the knife. "This, however, does not change the official explanation for his death."
Posted by: DrBB on August 3, 2008 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Bentonite--when our kids were little, we mixed it with tempera paints to extend them. By adding bentonite and water, you could make a can of paint go a lot further.

But if you search on bentonite today, you'll find that it's a major ingredient in "colonic cleansing," based on the new age idea that your body isn't smart enough to clean out its own intestines without help.

Which sounds like the lead-in for a Dave Barry column.


Posted by: Bonnie on August 3, 2008 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Harold s. distracto-trolls

You're right. A couple of smartass remarks in the comments section of a political blog will derail the entire process. Um, I don't see any references to "Benton Question" besides yours.

So I feel safe in pointing out that when I saw the headline "Bentonite" I thought it was going to be something about Walmart or the Walton family.

Posted by: thersites on August 3, 2008 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Harold S: Terrific points. Distracto Troll is a needed additive to the lexicon. Here we have an attack on American citizens by its own government and we have "conspiracy theories are nuts" and Johnny Quest references.

The only question now is who in government ordered/allowed the attacks. The Anthrax came from our stocks. The fall guy had no access to said powdered Anthrax stocks. We have Cheney on record trying to start a war with Iran on false premises.

Daschle was en fuego this morning demanding accountability. Let's keep up the pressure until Cheney and his staff are forced to testify about their Cipro intoxication.

Posted by: Sparko on August 3, 2008 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

One final thought: there is a real Monica Goodling quality to Jean Duley. The right-wing side of things is not attracting quality--maybe they never did.

Posted by: Sparko on August 3, 2008 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Some people think the real anthrax killer is a Jewish scientist named Phillip Zack. I’m just sayin’…

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on August 3, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

It makes for some of the more annoying suspension-of-disbelief moments in Trek.

Hey! We got about 48 minutes and four acts, and we gotta get Kirk and the girl together.

Jeez, give 'em a break!

Regarding Ivin's brother, one of the FOX affiliates (I think) interviewed him by phone, and well, with due respect to the guy, he either sounded drunk or stupid but added nothing except that he and his brother didn't get along.

Nepeta, I'm not impressed by the social worker, but I don't think her claim is that she is his psych, he had one of those too. It's pretty likely any claims she was his pysch was lousy reporting. I have my doubts regarding her claims. As I said, restraining orders appear to have been perverted by lawyers into FUD worse than Microsoft on Linux. Thank you lawyers for your efforts, especially your use of lies in restraining orders mixed with ex-parte hearings. Good on you and a pox on that whole constitution
thing anyway.
TCD, thanks for the pointer to "the real anthrax killer!" Lovely stuff.

Posted by: jerry on August 3, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Nepeta, thank you much for the WAPO link.

My BIG issue with article is that by suggesting US research scientists can take out patents on their work, it puts a good sized hole in an otherwise terrific murder/spy novel (written in 1997 so maybe things have changed) that I read last week.

Posted by: jerry on August 3, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain linked the anthrax attacks to Iraq in October of 2001.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on August 3, 2008 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that Ivins continued to hold an extremly high clearance while being treated by a psychiatrist might (a lot of emphasis on that might) be explained by his being the only person capable of doing his job. If that wasn't the case, then it is very suspect that he wasn't immediately banned from Ft. Detrick until he was certified as "healthy". And that alone would be worthy of further investigation by the appropriate people.
As to the four "anonymous" sources: Cheney, Feith and any other two neocons that might come to mind.

Posted by: Doug on August 3, 2008 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

raff -- Bentonite is toxic, but only to beings from the planet Benton (who would enjoy superpowers on planet Earth due to our relatively dust-free environment).

Posted by: RonK, Seattle on August 3, 2008 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

As BradBlog pointed out, Ivins worked only with liquid anthrax, and never had access to the dry powdered anthrax used in the attacks. Any attempt to convert between the types would have been detected.

Posted by: Pyre on August 3, 2008 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the four unnamed sources were those Pentagon ex-general windbags that were planting info in the media and the public discourse? Brian Ross was pretty chummy with them. He certainly would not want to reveal that he got duped by them on that story also. And the Pentagon certainly wanted to bang the casus belli drum with evidence of WMD use by an unnamed Middle Eastern country.

Posted by: AC on August 3, 2008 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I guess you must be talking about some new vaccine and not the antibiotic Cipro (Ciprofloxacin). I'm wildly allergic to that.

Whenever I get poisoned with anthrax by a Muslim pharmacy student that hates me (yes, I think maybe this happened to me once, maybe that's not too crazy a notion), I have to refuse the Cipro, saying to the doctors, "Oh, no, please, I mustn't. Thank you."

I only take Cipro when I want to: have all of my joints in pain; walk so slowly it takes me a half hour to walk a block; be almost unable to lower myself onto a toilet seat; be unable to eat for a week and throw up ice cream when I make a last attempt at taking some sustenance. Etc., etc.

Good times.

Posted by: Anon on August 4, 2008 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

From Glenn Greenwald's excellent 8-03-08 Salon article today:

"Did the FBI meaningfully investigate who sent an anonymous letter to the FBI after the anthrax letters were sent, but before they were made public, accusing a former Fort Detrick scientist -- the Arab-American Ayaad Assaad -- of being a "potential biological terrorist," after Assaad was forced out of Fort Detrick by a group of USAMRIID bioweapons researchers who had exhibited extreme anti-Arab animus? [Laura Rozen, Salon, 1/26/2002]"

Then I read Larisa's article at At Largely, in which she connected the dots, so to speak.

Trenton NJ, from which some of the lethal anthrax letters were mailed, falls on the major interstate running between New York City and Fort Detrick. On 9/11, bioterrorist experts were in their command center in WTC 7, preparing for a major NYC bioterrorism city-wide exercise scheduled for the next day, 9/12, when they heard one of the hijacked planes fly overhead and into the WTC building next door. Afterward, with airplanes grounded, any bioterrorism expert at WTC 7 on 9/11 would have had to drive back to Fort Detrick...passing through Trenton NJ. Maybe this person (or persons) drove back on Sept. 18th, which is the postmark on one of the lethal anthrax letters mailed out of Trenton NJ?

Anyway, it is obvious that whoever mailed the lethal anthrax letters was trying to pin blame on Arabs/Muslims (the anthrax originated from Fort Detrick) since the messages contained in each "purportedly" came from an Arab/Muslim. When combined with this additional information about an anonymous letter being sent to the FBI, presumably outing an Arab-American bioweapons scientist at Fort Detrick, who worked there until he was forced out by a group of USAMRIID bioweapons researchers with an "extreme anti-Arab animus," then I'm guessing that it was one of these Fort Detrick USAMRIID bioweapons researchers behind the anthrax attack. Access. Motive. Opportunity.

So, were either Hatfill or Ivins members of this group? Did either of them have an "extreme anti-Arab animus"? Did either of them participate in the campaign at Fort Detrick to fire this Arab-American bioweapons expert? Did either one of them ever indicate that they hated liberals enough to send lethal anthrax to some, while trying to pin blame on Arabs/Muslims?

If not, then this person at USAMRIID I'm alleging is responsible for the lethal anthrax mailings is still on the loose. (Of course, the guilty party could just be someone who knew a member of this USAMRIID group and somehow got access to weaponized, lethal anthrax through them...which I doubt). How many members are there in this USAMRIID group? Were any members of this group in NYC on 9/11 at the WTC 7, preparing for the next day's bioterrorism exercise? If not, does any member of this group live in or near Trenton NJ (Larisa at At Largely pointed out that no one would want to drive a long distance carrying weaponized anthrax in their car, airplanes were grounded, remember, but especially in the Northeast shortly after 9/11 when so much security was visible everywhere and random stops and searches were being conducted by law enforcement).

And I don't believe in coincidences...and how well the lethal anthrax attack, along with the false "betonite" claim, played into the Bush administration's overall strategy of trying to establish a "permanent Republican majority" and with their starting a war with Iraq over Iraqi oil...while the Bush administration (and lapdog MSM) have consistently downplayed the significance of the huge number of copycat terrorist mailings that followed the initial lethal one, with 99 percent of these copycat terrorist mailings (hundreds of thousands, I believe) directed at liberal individuals and organizations. (Just imagine what would happen if word ever got out that a whole lot of right-wingers have been sprinkling powder into envelopes and terrorizing their fellow citizens through the mail).

Posted by: The Oracle on August 4, 2008 at 4:40 AM | PERMALINK

when I saw the headline "Bentonite"

I thought it was a Benetton sweater advert.

Posted by: Brojo on August 4, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

This Greenwald article is dynamite. To anyone who doesn't remember 2001, and is looking for a revisionist narrative to get a boner about.

It's amazing to me that this post and Greenwald's attendant paranoid fantasies are gaining any currency with anyone. In particular because the "they sold the Iraq war with WMD claims" has focused on "yellowcake" and "a mushroom cloud" for the last 5 years, and nobody has said anything whatsoever about anthrax.

Now, Greenwald comes out with an article saying it was all about the Anthrax, and suddenly everyone can pretend to remember how this totally insignificant story that no-one remembers is the key to understanding the vast conspiracy.

Greenwald even pulls obvious fast ones like this :

"
The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade.
Bush's invocation of Iraq was the only reference in the State of the Union address to the unsolved anthrax attacks.
"

Except that Saddam Hussein's production and weaponization of anthrax was an issue way back in 1998. Fortunately for Greenwald et al, 1998 doesn't exist, because US Govt military and diplomatic policy regarding Saddam began on 9/11.

I guess that UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook was making a coded reference to the 2001 anthrax attacks when he made statements in 1998 about Saddam's anthrax?? It's a conspiracy!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/49390.stm

Glenn Greenwald is what you get when a liberal lawyer becomes a blogger. Posts which seem plausible on the surface, but are actually ridiculous conjecture based on carefully selected "facts."

=darwin

Posted by: Darwin on August 4, 2008 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/white_house/jan-june98/clinton_1-21a.html
"
Think how many can be killed by just a tiny bit of anthrax, and think about how it's not just that Saddam Hussein might put it on a Scud missile, an anthrax head, and send it on to some city he wants to destroy. Think about all the other terrorists and other bad actors who could just parade through Baghdad and pick up their stores if we don't take action.
"

Gee. I wonder why George Bush would mention Saddam and anthrax together. I guess he's just a fear-monger, like the above quoted person.

Too bad that the above quoted person is President Bill Clinton, talking in 1998.

=darwin

Posted by: on August 4, 2008 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, idiot Darwin and no name up above: First, just because most complaints were about yellowcake etc. doesn't mean that anthrax wasn't *an* issue. (Do conservatives have one-track minds?) One reason liberal bloggers etc. don't pick so much on Bush for the anthrax bit is his admini admitted there was no bentonite. Bill Clinton: talking about the overall danger of anthrax. You dolts aren't saying anything at all here. The rest of us are talking about the relevant issues brought up just lately: why was bentonite reported by ABC news in regard to its four high-placed sources, why did Richard Cohen hear about Cipro, and better yet - why are so many scientists now skeptical about the whole Ivins frameup? Check this out:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/02/AR2008080201632.html?nav=hcmodule

PS: I heard above that Cipro is only good against US style anthrax, not the Russian versions (which is what Saddam would have used.) So why was Cipro floated as the big shield to the anthrax attacks anyway? Curiouser and curiouser ...

Posted by: demoraptor on August 4, 2008 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

Greenwald is on the trail! In the latest installment, we find out that the ditsy socialworker accusing Ivins had plenty of her own problems:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/08/04/anthrax/index.html

Posted by: demoraptor on August 4, 2008 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

And the "Sorority" myth goes down the tubes too. Apparently that sorority doesn't actually house students at Princeton. But they have a garage. Or something. Anyway--Greenwald has done an outstanding job.

Darwin is just waiting to lick the wrong boot and win that award he covets.

Posted by: Sparko on August 4, 2008 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Our government would have us believe that there is never a conspiracy.

Somehow there is always a suicide, accident, or untimely demise before individuals get to trial.

All just deranged loners...

So, nothing to see here, just move along.

Posted by: MLuther on August 4, 2008 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

The Anthrax attacks were an inside job engineered by Dick Cheney.

anthrax
http://www.911blogger.com/taxonomy/term/1531

Posted by: James Madison on August 5, 2008 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK


Late update but it's critical: Brian Ross of ABC explains the Bentonite affair. A few points: Bruce Ivins was not one of the leakers, but Brian also says the bentonite misID had an acceptable explanation.

http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/abc/ross_responds_to_vital_questions_about_anthrax_report_90768.asp

Posted by: Neil B. ☼ on August 6, 2008 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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