This book’s Introduction set out a number of claims and promised that evidence would be offered to support each of them. Here is a quick review.
(a) The anthrax letter attacks were carried out by a group of perpetrators, not by a lone wolf.
As was shown, previous researchers have argued convincingly that the physical characteristics of the prepared anthrax spores used in the attacks indicate that, although the anthrax certainly came from a U.S. lab, the FBI’s “anthrax killer,” Bruce Ivins, could not have been responsible for the attacks. This book has carried the argument against a lone perpetrator further, tracing, with attention to timeline and motive, the construction of fictional scenarios intended to direct attention away from the true perpetrators and onto foreign groups useful as targets of the Global War on Terror. The work required for this construction would have been impossible for any individual to manage.
Could an individual establish the crop-duster incidents and narratives? Or establish the other connections between the Hijackers and the anthrax—for example, the detailed Florida connections discussed in Chapter 7? Would this individual have been able to write speeches for members of the executive branch, repeatedly warning of biological weapons in the lead-up to the attacks? Who sent journalists scrambling hither and yon to spread fear and anxiety about the ubiquitous al-Qaeda and to frame Iraq relentlessly and fraudulently? What about getting allegations and rumors of imminent biological attacks reported soberly in print media from the Guardian to The New York Times? Who decided to shut down the investigation after naming a lone wolf, Bruce Ivins, as anthrax killer based on cherry-picked, weak and circumstantial evidence? What individual could have sought to manage the transition from one global conflict framework (Cold War) to another (Global War on Terror) with maximum use of both the 9/11 and the anthrax attacks?
No loner, however well positioned, could have managed these things.
(b) The group that perpetrated this crime included deep insiders within the U.S. executive branch.
Whether the anthrax attacks were a top-secret government-approved initiative of the upper levels of the executive or initiated secretly by a sub-group of deep insiders, it would seem that the capacities brought to bear are available only to those who can implement policy goals.
While Bruce Ivins could be called a member of the military-industrial complex—he worked at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases—he had neither the required inside information nor the extensive connections and capabilities of the team of insiders to which the evidence points. The questions asked under point (a) indicate not merely a team but a very powerful team with high level inside knowledge and connections.
Naming suspects has not been my primary intention. However, certain groups and organizations, based on both ideology and personal connections, have emerged as what we might call “organizations of interest.” These include now defunct and overlapping associations of neoconservatives with ties to the executive branch such as “the Wolfowitz cabal” and the Project for the New American Century. Their persistent use of deception, over many years, to link Iraq to al-Qaeda and to construct scenarios and fictions to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq, have been well documented.The material presented in this book simply makes visible another possible aspect of their activities that is even darker.
There have been years of research on the anomalies of the events of 9/11 that would have to be taken into account in any attempt to name the individual perpetrators of the anthrax attacks. Any naming of 9/11 suspects such as Kevin Ryan’s in a recent book would have to be studied carefully in relation to the anthrax attacks to ascertain how the two sets of planners might be related to each other. Given the connections between the two operations, overlapping management can be expected.
Institutions, corporate and state, outside the U.S. would also have to be investigated. (Here is where Quadrants 2 and 4 from Chapter 5 unite: a domestic group could have invited participation from a foreign group.) Researchers have made the case for involvement of intelligence agencies from several countries in the 9/11 events. While intelligence connections in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, to mention but two, have been documented, Israel must also be included in the list of suspects. If this move leads to accusations of anti-Semitism the accusers must be answered assertively. Israel is a state and is to be held responsible for its actions like any other state.
How about the FBI? How does it fit into the anthrax case? The Bureau appears to have been the main organization that shut down the attempt to pin the crime on the Double Perpetrator in October of 2001. How do we explain this if the FBI was a partner in the crime?
The term “limited hangout” has been in circulation for years (it supposedly originated with a comment of Richard Nixon) to indicate “a public relations or propaganda technique that involves the release of previously hidden information in order to prevent a greater exposure of more important details.” Citizens can be allowed to feel they now have the crucial facts; certain parties can come forward to accept blame for minor mistakes; and, in the meantime, the truly important facts are kept deeply hidden.
By late October or early November of 2001 the FBI had resorted to a limited hangout position–the lone domestic perpetrator. This position enabled the Bureau to acknowledge a U.S. military source of the spores while drawing attention away from the true perpetrators and their aims. Even today, some skeptics argue about who was “the anthrax killer,” unaware that they have accepted a category (the lone wolf), that evidence shows is untenable.
Nowadays few people seem to remember the anthrax attacks. Every time there is a new incident—the Boston Marathon bombing, for instance—the anthrax attacks seem to grow dimmer in the collective consciousness. (“They were so long ago…and didn’t the FBI find the guy?”) This amnesia is a sign of the success of the FBI cover-up.
(c) This group of perpetrators was linked to, or identical with, the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks.
The FBI claims to have examined the relationship between the anthrax attacks and the Hijackers and to have found nothing worth pursuing—once the Double Perpetrator hypothesis had to be abandoned. Although there were roughly 285 million people living in the U.S. in 2001, we are to believe it was mere coincidence that two of the Hijackers had the same real estate agent as the first person to die of anthrax. The fact that investigators connected nine of the 19 Hijackers to one of the apartments this real estate agent located leaves the FBI unmoved. This is an instance where the FBI’s determination to adopt a limited hangout position is clear. If the Bureau had been genuinely interested in solving the crime it would have relentlessly investigated the anthrax-Hijackers scenarios, seeking the group that had constructed these scenarios to frame al-Qaeda.
Chapter 7 showed that the detailed Florida connections cannot be dismissed. Nor can the other dozen or so events or stories that at one time (before the spores were shown to have a domestic source) were held to link the perpetrators of the 9/11 and of the anthrax attacks. The perpetrators—the deep insiders responsible for the anthrax attacks—initially worked hard to make a Hijacker-anthrax connection appear convincing. Putting the date “09-11-01” in the notes accompanying the deadly spores was only the most obvious of their moves. When the FBI began leading people off in the direction of its limited hangout the pattern recognition abilities of investigators and journalists suddenly began to fail them.
Since the Hijackers of 9/11 fame were connected to the anthrax attacks, and since the anthrax attacks manifestly had to be planned and carried out by deep insiders in the U.S., there is no avoiding the implication that the 9/11 attacks were also carried out by insiders. There is, as it happens, a large body of research that supports this thesis.
(d) The anthrax attacks were the result of a conspiracy meant to help redefine the enemy of the West, revising the global conflict framework from the Cold War to the Global War on Terror.
The Introduction set out my understanding of “conspiracy” and the point has by now been made repeatedly that the anthrax attacks—obviously criminal and secretly planned—were the acts of a group. I have also explained why no hypothesis of an opportunist loner or an opportunistic group is adequate. Flexibility, the seizing of opportunities, the ability to move quickly from option A to option B: all these can be found, but they took place within the context of a plan.
The shift from the Cold War to the Global War on Terror has been discussed mainly through the case of U.S. withdrawal from the ABM treaty. Narrowly, terrorism, together with its frequent partner the rogue state with WMD, was to be the new enemy. The immediate exemplars of these enemies were meant to be the shadowy and ubiquitous al- Qaeda and its state sponsors, Afghanistan, the home of the 9/11 planners, and Iraq, the home of the WMD used in the anthrax attacks. Broadly, the enemy was now Islam—officially “extremist” Islam, but, through contagion, all of Islam.
(e) The establishment of the Global War on Terror, to which the anthrax attacks contributed, enabled the U.S. executive branch to reduce the civil liberties of people in the U.S. and to attack other nations. Domestically and externally, these events were also used to weaken the rule of law.
Chapter 3 showed that the anthrax attacks, and repeated threats of attacks, were used to move the Patriot Act through Congress.
The perpetrators’ approach to domestic law can be seen both in the intimidation of the legislative branch, as in the case of the Patriot Act, and in the marginalizing of both legislative and judicial branches, as in the setting up of military tribunals for trying suspects within the framework of the Global War on Terror.
A host of other initiatives not discussed in this book also have depended on the argument that the United States is at war and that, therefore, the executive needs increased powers. This argument carries less weight at the international level, of course, and U.S. leaders have had to exert a great deal of effort to bring the international community with them on their adventures. Aware of this, and convinced the benefits of imperial might outweigh those of international citizenship, the executive has followed the PNAC plan of either disengaging from international agreements or simply violating them.
What is to be said about the success or failure of the anthrax operation? The attacks were certainly successful in causing an infusion of funds into bioweapons work in the U.S. Already in 2008, Scientific American noted that the 2001 attacks “sparked a massive infusion of research funds to counter civilian bioterrorism, $41 billion spread over seven federal departments and agencies.” By 2011 the 2002-2011 expenditures were estimated at $70 billion.
In 2008 a large new biodefense laboratory, to cost $143 million and occupy 160,000 square feet, was dedicated at Fort Detrick, Maryland. This is where the late Bruce Ivins, driven to his death by the FBI, had worked. When it opened, Jamie Johnson, of the Department of Homeland Security, said: “This is a great day.”
But if those institutions that grow fat on military spending were made happy by the anthrax attacks, the failures of the operation are also noteworthy. The attempt to implicate Muslim groups and states collapsed almost immediately after the Patriot Act was pushed through Congress. The decision to invade Iraq, made well before 9/11, was not changed but its justification now depended on a set of unvarnished lies that failed to convince the international community. U.S. leaders had no Security Council cover and, therefore, no legal justification whatsoever for their clear act of aggression. This was not a trivial failure. While it demonstrated the unilateralism that groups such as the Project for the New American Century championed, ignoring international law had a price. The price was erosion of international sympathy for the U.S. government and a growing conviction that the U.S. was itself a rogue state run by criminals.
Notes to Chapter 9
- Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2006).
- Kevin Ryan, Another Nineteen: Investigating Legitimate 9/11 Suspects (U.S.A.: Microbloom, 2013).
- “Limited Hangout,” Wikipedia, n.d., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Limited_hangout.
- All of David Ray Griffin’s books on 9/11 are good, and the following set is an excellent place to start: Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 (updated Edition); Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited: 9/11, the Cover-Up, and the Exposé. Special mention should also be made of The 9/11 Toronto Report: International Hearings on the Events of September 11, 2001 (Dallas, Texas: International Center for 9/11 Studies, 2013). Also helpful is philosopher John McMurtry’s “The Moral Decoding of 9-11: Beyond the U.S. Criminal State,”Journal of 9/11 Studies 35 (February 2013): 1–67. Websites that provide a solid critical perspective on 9/11 include:
9/11 Consensus Panel: http://www.consensus911.org/
Journal of 9/11 Studies: http://www.journalof911studies.com/
Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth: http://www.ae911truth.org/
- John Miller, “Postal Anthrax Aftermath: Has Biodefense Spending Made Us Safer?” Scientific American, November 6, 2008.
- Leitenberg, “Biological Weapons: Where Have We Come from over the Past 100 Years?” I disagree with Leitenberg on important aspects of both the 9/11 and the anthrax attacks, but his point about the emptiness of bioweapons warnings is well made.
- Nelson Hernandez, “Huge New Biodefense Lab Is Dedicated at Fort Detrick,” Washington Post, October 23, 2008.