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August 19, 2010

Framing Muslims: The ninth anniversary of the Anthrax fraud

Dr. Graeme MacQueen

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As pressure builds for an attack on Iran, it's important to recall how past adventures in the "global war on terror" were initiated and justified.

The fall of 2010 will not only mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, but also the ninth anniversary of the now-forgotten 2001 anthrax attacks on U.S. civilians.

One week after the 9/11attacks, a letter was sent to Tom Brokaw of NBC News and several other U.S. news organizations. Inside the envelopes were anthrax spores with an accompanying sheet of text that read:







Coming directly after the traumatizing events of Sept. 11, this attack with a “weapon of mass destruction” shocked Americans, and the letter to the media told them exactly whom to blame.

The letter was short but readers had no difficulty understanding its implied messages:

We are connected to the fanatics who attacked you on 9/11.

We are foreigners, who cannot write proper English.

We are Muslims.

We want to terrify you and we want to hurt you—we will kill you if we can.

Our religion is one of destruction and death.

By the time this letter made the news, the United States government had already chosen to define the 9/11 attacks as an act of war, as opposed to a crime to be dealt with through a legal process, and made clear its determination to respond with its own act of war.

Members of Congress stood on the steps of the Capitol singing God Bless America.

The President had likened the perpetrators of 9/11 to the followers of Hitler and Stalin, and promised to wage war against them for as long as necessary.

The mass media had unapologetically become bards for their warrior king. A new set of wars was beginning.

And now innocent civilians began contracting anthrax as they went about their daily activities.

At least 22 people were infected and five died. As October 2001 progressed, the anthrax attacks added to the atmosphere of fear and the desire to strike back.

The bombing of Afghanistan began on Oct. 7, two days after the first victim, Robert Stevens, died of inhalational anthrax.

The USA PATRIOT Act was passed, rapidly and unread, soon after anthrax letters were sent to Sen. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, both Democrats who were in a position to obstruct its passage.

Iraq was named as a likely source of the anthrax spores and thus joined al-Qa‘ida and its host as a prime target of reprisals.

But as panic and outrage built during October, scientists examining the anthrax spores were having their doubts, and the scientific investigation quickly passed beyond the government’s control.

In fact, the official story began to crumble almost as soon as it was constructed.

By December 2001 major news media were reporting that investigators were looking at the possibility of a domestic source of the spores, and by January 2002 Tom Ridge of the recently formed Office of Homeland Security made a public announcement to this effect.

To rephrase these announcements in more blunt language, the anthrax attacks were an inside job.

Neither the strain of anthrax used (the Ames strain) nor the methods used to “weaponize” the spores pointed to Iraq or any Muslim nation.

They pointed to military labs in the United States. Investigations carried out since then have confirmed this finding, which is no longer controversial.

I recommend a slow re-reading of the above letter sent to Tom Brokaw as well the letter to senators Daschle and Leahy. Here is an utterly fraudulent narrative. Here is the framing of Islam.

The consequences of this fraud, especially for the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, are well known, but there is no reason to think such frauds are at an end.

In fact, the anthrax fraud continues in a revised form. The U.S. government has tried to control the crumbling of its first narrative through the tactic of “limited hangout,” in which some truths are admitted while others are still obscured or denied.

In 2008 the FBI announced that the crime was committed by anthrax researcher Dr. Bruce Ivins, a scientist at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

Ivins died a week before the FBI named him publicly, so he seems fated to be the designated “lone nut” who absorbs blame so that it cannot spread to others.

The Ivins hypothesis continues to have two clear benefits for the FBI:

(a) as a random, insane individual, Ivins threatens no institution or system and raises few troubling questions about the military-industrial-intelligence community in which he worked;

(b) Ivins can be accused of taking advantage of the 9/11 attacks to indulge his homicidal impulses, but since he had no known connections to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks his exposure leaves the official 9/11story unsullied.

But does the Ivins hypothesis hold up?

Many knowledgeable people do not think so.

For example, the FBI implies that Ivins prepared his anthrax prior to the attacks during approximately 34 hours of evening work in his lab.

In a recent interview, Dr. Henry Heine, microbiologist and former supervisor of Ivins at USAMRIID, claimed that the FBI estimate is “more than 8000 hours (close to a year) short of what he would have needed to grow the anthrax.”

This difficulty joins a lengthy series of difficulties. Some have to do with the science of the anthrax preparation; some have to do with the politics of blame and cover-up; while others have to do with foreknowledge of the attacks. *

After nine years it is pretty clear that the anthrax attacks were carried out by a group embedded in the U.S. military-industrial-intelligence community that had high-level administration support.

This group also had connections to those who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, and the aims of these two groups appear to have been identical:

• to increase the power of the executive branch of government as well as security, military and intelligence bodies;
• to restrict the rights and freedoms of U.S. civilians;
• to weaken the institutions of U.S. democracy;
• to inflame the U.S. population so that it would assent to wars of aggression waged in its name;
• to put Muslim people in the crosshairs; and
• to enable U.S. elites to secure the world’s last (and rapidly dwindling) reserves of cheap oil.

To date, the perpetrators of this State Crime Against Democracy remain at large and are presumably brooding over remaining obstacles to their plans, including the state of Iran, which has the double vulnerability of being Muslim and rich in oil.

Will we see a violent incident in the near future that will be pinned on Iran to justify fierce retribution?

We have good reason to believe that the concoction of such incidents was discussed at the highest levels of the U.S. government during the Bush administration’s hold on power and I am not convinced the new administration is either more honest or more benign.

If an incident appearing to implicate Iran occurs, remember the anthrax attacks of 2001. Believe nothing you are told until you have examined the evidence.


* Some of the key difficulties in the FBI account are found in Barry Kissin’s 2009 research paper, “The Truth about the Anthrax Attacks and Its Cover-up.” See also, the substantive critique of the DOJ case against Ivins by Dr. Meryl Nass, as well as two important The Wall Street Journal articles: Richard Spertzel,, “Bruce Ivins Wasn’t the Anthrax Culprit,” Aug. 5, 2008, and Edward Jay Epstein, “The Anthrax Attacks Remain Unsolved,” Jan. 24, 2010.

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