More on the US Anthrax Scandal

Quote from this article:”…the type of anthrax found at all locations corresponded to a perfect genetic match to one specific stock of anthrax bacilli, known as “the Ames strain,” developed at the US Department of Agriculture’s veterinary lab, Ames, Iowa, in the 1930s, and stored currently only at an Army biochemical research facility in Ft. Detrick, Maryland..”

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International Politics
by Todd Brendan Fahey
December 1, 2007

Seven days prior to events which would set the world on-edge, newly-hired Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria “Torie” Clarke offered an equally startling admission to Agency France Presse wire service, but which received scant attention within U.S. media.

On September 5, Ms. Clarke–lured back into government service by pal Mary Matalin on Vice President Dick Cheney’s staff, from a high-paying post as Manhattan office director for the venerable public relations firm of Hill & Knowlton–the former PR chief to Senator John McCain and one-time George Bush (the elder) staffer would divulge to foreign media that the United States, via the Pentagon and the shadowy Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, would begin producing a new and potent strain of anthrax bacteria, and that such plans had been in the works since 1997. The source of the anthrax was to be from Russian stock, and, according to Ms. Clarke, would be used “purely for defensive measures.”
Ms Clarke

At the popular political site FreeRepublic.com, Victoria Clarke posts as “Torie”–a self-proclaimed “statist neocon.” The Pentagon’s disinformation campaign was already in motion on September 5, 2001, and Victoria Clarke, then employed as Deputy Director for Public Affairs, was its “go-to girl” on “the anthrax question.”

The Pentagon, despite its protestations of ignorance, lied to the American public about its stockpile and continued production, however limited, of anthrax bacilli, with “Torie” Clarke as its mouthpiece, and with FreeRepublic.com as its wide-ranging propaganda organ.

The new strain of anthrax, engineered by Russian sources, Clarke purported, would be used to test the effectiveness of a newly-developed vaccine in the United States. “We have a vaccine that works against a known anthrax strain. What we want to do is make sure we are prepared for any surprises, for anything that might happen that might be a threat,” she said.

Clarke presented this information on September 4, 2001, via a Department of Defense news briefing; when asked directly as to whether the United States, through any agency, was developing or producing anthrax bacilli, her response, repeatedly, was, “no.”

The DoD issued this update recently to Ms. Clarke’s news briefing: “the Department of Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction Program is funding a collaborative research project on anthrax monitoring with the State Research Center for Applied Microbiology in Obolensk, Russia. In August 2001 the State Research Center applied to the Russian Export Control Commission for a license to transfer the anthrax strain to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The application is currently pending a decision of the Russian Export Control Commission, and the U.S. government will seek Russian approval of the export license.”

***

One week after this news conference, three ostensibly “hijacked” airliners slammed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon buildings, killing an estimated 3,100 civilian and military personnel. Shortly thereafter, white powder began to appear on the desks of prominent politicians and at news broadcast stations–most notably at NBC and American Media, headquarters of The National Enquirer tabloid–and bearing strikingly identical handwriting, each dated 09-11-01 and proclaiming the message, “Allah Is Great.”

Incredibly, despite airport videotapes purporting to show Middle Eastern men boarding the various jets, and what with the messages contained on and within the anthrax envelopes and the fact that hijackers Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi had taken flight training lessons at a private airfield very near to American Media’s headquarters, Boca Raton, Florida, and that al-Shehhi had rented a room in a condominium owned by the wife of American Media (National Enquirer) publisher: news reports filtered out for weeks, attempting to convince the public that FBI profilers had determined the anthrax exposures in New York, Connecticut and Florida to be the work of a “right-wing loner.” Anonymous FBI sources, through the New York Post, offered that a “popular West Coast right-wing organization” was under specific scrutiny.

Domestic critics of the government would counter that the style in which the dates were penned on the envelopes containing the anthrax spores could not be that of a person of Middle Eastern descent, which would use a script akin to: “01. 09. 11.”; government sources bandied back that, the sources probably thought ahead and disguised the script. Nobody knew what to believe, and the investigations into the anthrax exposures were not (and are still not) being made known to the American citizenry.

The American public didn’t bite on the “right-wing loner” theory, with no proof offered, no suspect produced, and in light of a New York Times article, citing weapons expert William C. Patrick III, a U.S. microbiologist active in germ weapons design during the late 1960s. The Times quoted Dr. Patrick as saying, of the batch sent to Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD), “he had learned details of the federal inquiry from a senior investigator. The Senate powder, Mr. Patrick said, was quite potent and capable of sailing far through the air to hurt many people. Remarkably free of extraneous material. ‘It’s high-grade,’ said Mr. Patrick, who consults widely on making germ defenses. ‘It’s free flowing. It’s electrostatic free. And it’s in high concentration.'” (“Contradicting Some U.S. Officials, 3 Scientists Call Anthrax Powder High-Grade,” William J. Broad, 10/25/01)

Pressured by the Times report, newly-installed Director of the Department of Homeland Security, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, announced that the type of anthrax found at all locations corresponded to a perfect genetic match to one (1) specific stock of anthrax bacilli, known as “the Ames strain,” developed at the US Department of Agriculture’s veterinary lab, Ames, Iowa, in the 1930s, and stored currently only at an Army biochemical research facility in Ft. Detrick, Maryland, which it is said produced via budget cuts and layoffs scores of disgruntled employees and whose inventory procedures and security was, in recent years, notoriously lax.

Within days of the failed government trial-balloon, samples of the anthrax sent to office within National Broadcasting Company and to Sen. Daschle proved what most “right-wingers” feared most: The Anthrax Was Ours.

But We Weren’t Supposed to be Producing Anthrax

On December 12, 2001, media scrutiny of international treaties and U.S. law forced the U.S. Army to make an embarrassed admission: contrary to government propaganda, which had it that the U.S. had ceased producing or storing anthrax, according to terms of treaty signed by President Richard Nixon, 1969, substantial stocks of anthrax bacilli were, in fact, being stored at Dugway Proving Ground, Tooele county, Utah, with “limited quanties” still being produced, toward “defensive research” against possible airborne attacks by hostile sources. Army sources at the Dugway facility reported to FBI that all stocks of anthrax were secure and accounted for, following a thorough inventory. The same could not be said for elsewhere.

International media–tipped off by British sources at a biochemical warfare research facility in Porton Down, Salisbury, England–were informed that an investigation was underway at Porton Down, of stocks of a unique form of anthrax sent to that facility via the U.S. Army, Ft. Detrick. From the Porton Down admission, not only was it acknowledged that the U.S. government was exporting anthrax abroad, but via the “FBI’s interest in a CIA contractor” who worked at the Porton Down facility, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began, as is its charter and scope, to investigate the Central Intelligence Agency, on grounds of domestic terrorism. Porton Down was later cleared of involvement in the U.S. anthrax outbreaks, after all stocks were accounted for, but not before British involvement laid the U.S. clean with a very black eye.

And still, according to the London Telegraph, and despite Tom Ridge’s admission that the Florida and New York samples were identical and were that of “the Ames strain,” held only at US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, Ft. Detrick, Maryland, FBI persisted in reporting that it “believes the attacks, which have killed five people, to be the work of a domestic terrorist, although they have not ruled out links with Osama bin Laden and his al-Qa’eda network.”

The highly-milled, “weaponized” anthrax which killed five known persons, sickened dozens of others, and to which perhaps even hundreds were exposed, was not Iraqi, nor Soviet in origin. Martin Hugh-Jones, a biological researcher from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, was quoted by the UK’s New Scientist that, “while many laboratory animals are immunised with the vaccine now being given to thousands of American troops are exposed to anthrax, many are still killed by the Ames strain.”

Both Soviet and Iraqi researchers favored the “Vollum strain,” isolated in Oxford, England, in 1930; Gulf War-era weapons inspectors in Iraq found samples of the Vollum strain at Iraq’s Al Hakam plant.

And still, according to New Scientist, “the White House reiterated last week that all anthrax mass-produced in the US was destroyed after 1969.” (“Trail of Terror,” Debora MacKenzie, 10/24/01)

But the White House and the Pentagon were lying. And whether by error, leak or design, the United States Government had killed five of its own citizens domestically. Torie Clarke’s statement to Agency France Presse had not been valid and true: we were not “looking to procure” a stock of Russian anthrax; we were already making it–with spores bred from a stricken cow in Ames, Iowa, in secret, illegally by international treaty, and with faulty safeguards toward our citizens’ safety.

***

A Journalist Pays the Price (or, “You Can’t Handle the Truth!”)

In writing the aforementioned, I have been fired by EtherZone.com (as its Strategic Director and member of the board of Directors–when the full weight of FreeRepublic.com came down upon the home telephone and e-mail accounts of its owner/publisher Robert Momenteller); taken off the masthead of American-Partisan.com and dropped as a contributor to several other online political ‘zines friendly with FreeRepublic.com, including GOPUSA.com; banned from LibertyForum.org–a very difficult thing to do [only three persons have ever been banned permanantly from LF.org], as its owner and Administrators forged a “gentleman’s agreement” with FreeRepublic.com owner Jim Robinson, to not snipe at each other’s sites. Even Insight Magazine, a sister-publication of the often claws-out Washington Times, begged off–after several rounds of initial interested e-mail and telephone calls. Its then-Managing Editor Paul Rodriguez (the man who busted the “White House Homosexual Call-Boy Ring” article in 1987) and who had been following Victoria “Torie” Clarke around for weeks, found the anthrax angle to be too much of a risk. He’d felt his neck on the block before.

A prime piece of journalistic real estate, with no takers.

…Until RawStory.com leaked a piece wherein the FBI has under arrest one Chad Castagana, 39, of Woodland Hills, California–himself a poster at none other than FreeRepublic.com–for mailing bogus anthrax to news personality Keith Olbermann and to at least one politician–Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer (NY).

Posting at FreeRepublic as “Marc Costanza,” Mr. Castagana’s letters and online writings have been likened to those of Ted Kaczynski–“the Unabomber”:

“Let us create a future of infinite possibilities devoid of the agenda of the social engineers who work their corruption on us thru the one way world of television. A world where anything is possible, but not everything is possible. Anything can happen, but not all things can happen at once. That is what ‘Time’ is for, to keep all things from happening at the same moment. That shall be the only rule of our new fantasy world. That an event happens only once. What has been done, cannot be undone. There is no turning back the sands of time. You can review the past but you cannot change the past. That a vision of a possible future – to the present, must be taken in the context of the present. A Cosmos not governed by compassion or tolerance or equality, but common sense and merit. A Universe of strange and totally new lifeforms and not distorted reflections of human characters, just to make some social allegory —- THAT is the insipid barren road of Political Correctness that Sci-fi entertainment has been a slave to for so many years. The future is not the current events of our world thrown into Outer Space. The future is not with the Liberals, not with the Multiculturalists (both hate America), and it is certainly not to be found in some cheapo TV production made in Canada! The future is not written, the future is unformed.” [posted to FreeRepublic.com, 2006]

***

What to conclude–of a former deputy director of public affairs, the Pentagon, and a solitary and, according to neighbors, unfriendly man being both highly active posters of FreeRepublic.com and both neck-deep in the anthrax equation? And of this writer being hounded out of a half-dozen publications and Web discussion fora for pointing it out?

Two so-called “conservatives” (or, neo-conservatives) are busted (“Torie” for lying about what the Pentagon knew and was doing; Chad Castagana, for mailing what turns out to be bogus anthrax to media members and politicians); as far back as year-2001, the New York Post implicated, as being involved in the transmission of anthrax through the mails, a “popular West Coast right-wing organization”…as it turns out, FreeRepublic.com, a cheerleading bleachers populated and financed by high-level members of the Republican National Committee and GOP.

To cop a phrase: “I can’t seem to get my mind around it.”

What is known is, we are five years after the fact, and nobody–other than our own–is proven to have cultivated, tested, stored, traded or mailed anthrax bacilli. While we hunt for “terrorists” around the globe and create impenetrable layers of new bureaucracy and fill the walls with prying eyes, let us first consider that which the evidence suggests–as it does with the gamut of events and scenarios surrounding the World Trade Center and Pentagon of September 11, 2001: that something is rotten from within.

Todd Brendan Fahey has served as aide to Central Intelligence Agency officer Theodore L. Humes; to former Arizona Governor Evan Mecham and former U.S. Congressman John B. Conlan, and to the late Defense Intelligence Agency chief Lt. General Daniel O. Graham.

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