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Fun and Games with Anthrax By: Richard Poe
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, November 30, 2001

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE of these anthrax attacks? I can’t figure it out.


As a weapon of mass destruction, anthrax is a dud. The stuff only seems to kill occasional senior citizens by accident.

Were the terrorists simply idiots for choosing anthrax? Or does this operation serve some purpose other than killing?

I suspect the latter. Anthrax has failed dismally to hurt, kill or even frighten most of its intended victims. But it has proved remarkably effective in poisoning American unity.

Consider the sequence of events.

After the 9/11 attacks, Americans stood united. The sleeping giant had awakened. Terrorist leaders from Cairo to Baghdad trembled.

Then the Middle East propaganda mills started grinding. The September 13 edition of Iran’s Tehran Times declared:

"After the bombing in Oklahoma City, the U.S. officials under the influence of the Zionist lobby immediately pointed their fingers at Muslims and Palestinians. However, later it was revealed that a U.S. citizen Timothy McVeigh was behind the bombing..."

Homegrown extremists must have carried out the September 11 attacks as well, the editorial implied. Throughout the Muslim world, journalists, government officials and terrorist leaders took up the chant.

But Americans wouldn’t buy it. The role of radical Islam in the 9/11 atrocities seemed too obvious.

Then came the anthrax offensive. Suddenly, things got hazy.

Harvard University terrorism expert Juliette Kayyem led the way. An Arab-American and former Clinton political appointee, Kayyem told The New York Times on October 15 that "rightwing groups in America" were likely behind the anthrax attacks.

"As soon as I heard the word anthrax, that’s what I thought of," she told the LA Weekly.

And what made her jump to that conclusion?

Well, it seems that "rightwing" extremists in America have, on occasion, scared people with fake anthrax hoaxes.

Saddam Hussein, on the other hand, uses the real stuff.

"Saddam has the anthrax," noted Wall Street Journal editor Robert L. Bartley on October 29. "After his defeat in the Gulf War, U.N. inspectors found he'd deployed missiles and artillery shells loaded with anthrax, botulism toxin and nerve gas… We know that he's capable of milling anthrax to military grade..."

Government leaks have only muddied the waters, following a kind of Newton’s Law of action and reaction. For every leak blaming Muslim terrorists, an equal and opposite leak fingers domestic "hate groups."

For instance, "leading U.S. intelligence sources" told the London Observer that Iraq was the prime anthrax suspect. Two weeks later, anonymous sources from the "security services and Justice Department" told the same newspaper that "Aryan militants" were the likeliest culprits.

Such contradictory leaks may signal a dangerous rift in the counterterror community.

On October 27, NewsMax.com investigative reporter Carl Limbacher exposed serious mishandling of the anthrax investigation by what he called a "Clintonized FBI," obsessed with pinning blame on "rightwing" extremists.

"Nothing [about the anthrax attacks] seems to fit with an overseas terrorist-type operation," one senior FBI official assured the Washington Post on October 27.

So why was terrorist Mohamed Atta looking at cropdusters in Florida? And why did a newspaper in Pakistan receive an anthrax envelope?

The "Clintonized" FBI may have similarly whitewashed the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Former KFOR-TV reporter Jayna Davis told Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly in a March 20, 2001 broadcast, that the FBI ignored massive evidence linking Timothy McVeigh to Osama bin Laden’s terror network.

The alleged OKC whitewash has received extensive coverage on Internet news sites, such as WorldNetDaily.com. But mainstream media favor their own conspiracy theories, in which "rightwing" Americans are the sole villains.

On November 16, for instance, CNBC Hardball reporter Dan Abrams proposed that "some sort of right wing group" may have sent anthrax to Democrat Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy.

"That's been my theory since the beginning," replied host Chris Matthews, a Democrat.

On Tuesday, the U.S. military identified over 40 sites in Afghanistan with possible connections to chemical and biological warfare operations. Stay tuned for a rash of government leaks debunking this claim.

I don’t want to be a bad sport. Disinformation is inevitable in war. Lies and counter-lies are all part of the game.

But I’m getting worried. Eight years of Clinton appointments seem to have packed our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the sort of people who believe the NRA, the Republican Party and the Christian Broadcasting Network constitute greater threats to our nation than al-Qaeda.

We are going to have a very hard time winning this war if we can’t agree on who the enemy is.

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