Sunday, August 03, 2008

All About Anthrax

It's a strange end to a strange story.

And, I'd like to say that I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but after seven plus years of the Bush Administration, I can't honestly say that I believe anything the Administration -- or the government itself -- tells me anymore. Nothing. Nada. Never.

I sort of view the Bush regime like the little boy who cried wolf too many times. Even if there were a time that it was actually true, I'd never believe it because of all of the previous lies and misrepresentations.

So, what to make of this weird story about the final solution of the Anthrax attacks.

Initial reports, such as that in the NYTimes, suggest a troubled man decided to end it all when it became clear that the FBI was ready to name him as the perpetrator of the 2001 Anthrax attacks, Anthrax Suspect’s Death Is Dark End for a Family Man:

The ranting represented the final stages of psychological decline by Dr. Ivins that ended when he took his life this week, as it became clear that he was a suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks.
Yet even those reports showed surprise about Dr. Ivins:

For more than three decades, Dr. Ivins, 62, had worked with some of the world’s most dangerous pathogens and viruses, trying to find cures in case they might be used as a weapon. Now he was a suspect in the nation’s worst biological attack.

To some of his longtime colleagues and neighbors, it was a startling and inexplicable turn of events for a churchgoing, family-oriented germ researcher known for his jolly disposition — the guy who did a juggling act at community events and composed satiric ballads he played on guitar or piano to departing co-workers.

“He did not seem to have any particular grudges or idiosyncrasies,” said Kenneth W. Hedlund, a retired physician who once worked alongside Dr. Ivins at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Frederick. “He was the last person you would have suspected to be involved in something like this.”

Richard Blair of All Spin Zone provides an excellent analysis of the uncertainty raised by the death of Bruce Ivins, Anthrax Suspect Kills Self - How Conveeeeeeeenient…:

Several things don’t ring quite right with this story:

* The timing is certainly curious. If Ivins offed himself several days ago, why is the report just coming to light?
* Reports indicate that Ivins had been informed of his pending indictment. I’m not sure how that happened, as federal grand juries operate in secret, most importantly so indicted suspects don’t hit the road before they can be detained.
* The method of his reported suicide simply doesn’t square with how men kill themselves. Men put guns to their head or jump off a bridge; they generally don’t pill themselves to death. Plus, I’d hazard a guess that someone would have to take a whole lot of Tylenol III’s (a controlled substance) and get no medical attention in order for death to result.
* The first question that any amateur CSI sleuth asks is, “What’s the motivation?” According to earlier reports, Ivins was loosing the deadly spores into the wild in order to field test a vaccine that he’d been involved in developing. Is that a normal government protocol for testing bioweapons? (Just kidding. Maybe.)
As always, Glenn Greenwald also extensively reviews the historical background of the attacks and the attempt by the Bush Administration to link Iraq to the Anthrax attacks as additional support for their ties to terrorism, Vital unresolved anthrax questions and ABC News:

If the now-deceased Ivins really was the culprit behind the attacks, then that means that the anthrax came from a U.S. Government lab, sent by a top U.S. Army scientist at Ft. Detrick. Without resort to any speculation or inferences at all, it is hard to overstate the significance of that fact. From the beginning, there was a clear intent on the part of the anthrax attacker to create a link between the anthrax attacks and both Islamic radicals and the 9/11 attacks.

* * * *
Much more important than the general attempt to link the anthrax to Islamic terrorists, there was a specific intent -- indispensably aided by ABC News -- to link the anthrax attacks to Iraq and Saddam Hussein. In my view, and I've written about this several times and in great detail to no avail, the role played by ABC News in this episode is the single greatest, unresolved media scandal of this decade. News of Ivins' suicide, which means (presumably) that the anthrax attacks originated from Ft. Detrick, adds critical new facts and heightens how scandalous ABC News' conduct continues to be in this matter.
See also, The Carpetbagger Report, Ivins, anthrax, and the bentonite that wasn’t.

Those scientists who worked with and know Ivins also aren't convinced about the FBI's conclusion that Ivins is the one. They too alternatively worked on the case and were subjected to scruntiny about their possible role in the attacks, Scientists Question FBI Probe On Anthrax:
Over lunch in the bacteriology division, nervous scientists would share stories about their latest unpleasant encounters with the FBI and ponder whether they should hire criminal defense lawyers, according to one of Ivins's former supervisors. In tactics that the researchers considered heavy-handed and often threatening, they were interviewed and polygraphed as early as 2002, and reinterviewed numerous times. Their labs were searched, and their computers and equipment carted away.

* * * *

Yet, colleagues and friends of the vaccine specialist remained convinced that Ivins was innocent: They contended that he had neither the motive nor the means to create the fine, lethal powder that was sent by mail to news outlets and congressional offices in the late summer and fall of 2001. Mindful of previous FBI mistakes in fingering others in the case, many are deeply skeptical that the bureau has gotten it right this time.

"I really don't think he's the guy. I say to the FBI, 'Show me your evidence,' " said Jeffrey J. Adamovicz, former director of the bacteriology division at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, or USAMRIID, on the grounds of the sprawling Army fort in Frederick. "A lot of the tactics they used were designed to isolate him from his support. The FBI just continued to push his buttons."

It seems that other than the certainty of the FBI, the main proponent of Ivins' guilt is his therapist, Anthrax Scientist's Therapist Was "Scared To Death" Of Him, Says Scientist Tried To Poison People. Despite her statements that he tried to poison people before, she did not take action until now.

And Ivins, a strict Catholic, was opposed to mercy killings or assisted suicide, so you would think he's not a likely candidate for suicide. And the FBI has been wrong before. Remember Steven Hatfill? He was the original focus, who just settled with the government for their wrongful destruction of his name. See Anthrax.

And finally, as Brendan Calling reminds, Coincidences I’m Sure:

It’s fascinating how so many people who might prove troublesome for BushCo, the neocons, or the Republican party have this odd habit of dying unexpectedly.

Like Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the DC madam many suspected of having the goods on David Vitter and a number of other corrupt Republicans (but I repeat myself), who “committed” “suicide”.

Or Ken Lay, head of Enron, Bush pioneer, and convicted criminal, who had a “heart attack” right before he was sent to prison.

Or David Kelly, who exposed the lies over Iraq’s imaginary “wmd program”, and whose “suicide” is to this day questioned.

Yes, it’s all coincidental I’m sure. Nothing to see here.

So many questions, so little answers. Yet, it all comes down to trust. Trust of the Bush Administration and its governmental agencies.

No way. Nada. Never.


quakerdave said...

I was listening to NPR's reporting on this story this morning, and most of what you say here crossed my mind in one way or another. Especially: why wouldn't they just have ARRESTED this guy, if they had the goods on him days ago? You'd think with Bush's numbers being so far down the dumper that they'd want to score the brownie points for nailing a real, live terr'ist.

Why would they wait around for the guy to kill himself, especially since they knew he was "mentally unstable"?

Something stinks. As per usual.

Steve Gimbel said...

As someone who lives a spore's distance from Fort Detrick, the lack of transparency, action, and seeming motivation around what was clearly a conservative attempt at a coup d'etat has always been troubling.

The idea that it could have been folks from Detrick never seemed terribly strange to anyone around here -- Maryland is a liberal state in general, but Frederick county where I live is known here as Fredneck county and when you go in to buy bedsheets, they don't come in twin, king, or queen, but 42 regular with the eye holes already sewn into the pillowcases. So, that there would be dangerous ideologues amongst those with access to the weapons living around this area never struck anyone as far out.

The question, of course, was how far up was this connected or at least covered up. That we now may never know the answers to these questions is disconcerting to say the least.