The Anthrax Conspiracy

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The admission by the Justice Department that they know the alleged perpetrator of the anthrax attacks did not have the means to create anthrax in his lab is hardly surprising: after all, this is an “investigation” that has been so mishandled that one has to question whether the point of it was ever to find the real culprit.

Indeed, I would venture to say that the US government is engaged in a massive cover-up. A serious charge, but one not made lightly: indeed, given what we know, it’s almost impossible to draw any other conclusion.

To begin with, it is clear from the evidence that Bruce Ivins, the scientist accused of creating and sending the anthrax — and who committed suicide before he could be brought to trial — is a patsy, and that the government would like nothing better than for this case to go away. But it isn’t going away. The most recent revelations are occasioned by a lawsuit brought by the relatives of the anthrax killers’ first victim, charging that the government’s neglect and sheer incompetence caused the death of Robert Stevens, a photographer for the Florida-based Sun newspaper group. In response, government lawyers presented evidence that blows apart their own case against the departed Ivins:

“On July 15, however, Justice Department lawyers acknowledged in court papers that the sealed area in Ivins’ lab — the so-called hot suite — did not contain the equipment needed to turn liquid anthrax into the refined powder that floated through congressional buildings and post offices in the fall of 2001.

“The government said it continues to believe that Ivins was ‘more likely than not’ the killer. But the filing in a Florida court did not explain where or how Ivins could have made the powder, saying only that the lab “did not have the specialized equipment” in Ivins’ secure lab ‘that would be required to prepare the dried spore preparations that were used in the letters.'”

“More likely than not?” Isn’t that a rather loose way to approach the question — especially when what we’re talking about isn’t an ordinary whodunit murder investigation, but a probe into the inner workings of a crime that galvanized public opinion in support of a major war? Remember the fear that swept the nation like a tsunami, the calls for the destruction of Iraq by Andrew Sullivan and his then-friends in the War Party? Recall the general assumption — buttressed by US government officials — that the Iraqis were the culprits? The hysteria generated by the anthrax-in-our-mailboxes scare was a key element in driving us to war with Iraq, and we’ll live with the consequences of that for a long time to come. Yet the US government’s interest in finding out who launched the anthrax attacks is remarkably casual.

When they couldn’t palm it off on Dr. Steven Hatfill — because he bravely fought back, and was fully exonerated after a life-shattering battle — they looked around for another scapegoat, and found a likely one in Ivins. One profile, published in the Los Angeles Times, starts out like this:

“He roamed the University of Cincinnati campus with a loaded gun. When his rage overflowed, the brainy microbiology major would open fire inside empty buildings, visualizing a wall clock or other object as a person who had done him wrong.”

Ivins was convicted in the media, and driven to suicide, and yet the same media has since joined with several prominent politicians and scientists to challenge the verdict. The government admits the evidence [.pdf] against Ivins is purely circumstantial, and is coming under increasing pressure to reopen the investigation as, one by one, the pillars of its case against Ivins have collapsed. The so-called genetic analysis done by the FBI, which supposedly incriminates Ivins, has since been disproved. This latest admission, entered as evidence by government lawyers in a claim for damages, pretty much pulverizes the case against Ivins. And so the question remains: who carried out the anthrax attacks that terrorized a nation in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks — and why?

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Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.

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