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Now that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has officially put the anthrax investigation on a back burner, it is time for Americans to think the unthinkable: that the FBI has never been keen to identify the perpetrator because that perpetrator may, in fact, be the U.S. Government itself. Evidence is mounting that the source […]
Anthrax and the Agency
by Wayne Madsen

Now that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has officially put the anthrax investigation on a back burner, it is time for Americans to think the unthinkable: that the FBI has never been keen to identify the perpetrator because that perpetrator may, in fact, be the U.S. Government itself. Evidence is mounting that the source of the anthrax was a top secret U.S. Army laboratory in Maryland and that the perpetrators involve high-level officials in the U.S. military and intelligence infrastructure.

FBI Debunks Anthrax-Hijacker Link

Coming shortly after the hijacked airliner attacks on New York and Washington, the anthrax attacks on the U.S. Congress, major media outlets, and the U.S. Postal System were, at first, blamed by the Bush administration on Al Qaeda or Iraq. However, on March 23, the FBI officially announced that "exhaustive testing did not support that anthrax was present anywhere the hijackers had been." This statement came after a rather weak story based on conjecture appeared in The New York Times. The article reported that a Fort Lauderdale emergency room doctor treated Saudi hijacker Ahmed Alhanzawi in June 2001 for a cutaneous anthrax lesion on his leg. Although the doctor, Christos Tsonas, did not think the lesion was caused by anthrax at the time he cleansed and treated the wound, he later changed his mind after realizing Alhanzawi was one of the hijackers.

Although Tsonas’ theory was rejected by the FBI, it was supported by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Biodefense Strategies. Johns Hopkins has its own peculiar link to anthrax. President Bush recently named as the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Elias Zerhouni, an Algerian-born professor at Johns Hopkins University and notorious Pentagon yes-man on anthrax bio-defenses. As a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, Zerhouni and his colleagues, serving on a National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine special committee, gave a green light to the Pentagon’s use of a questionable anthrax vaccine on military personnel. According to Dr. Meryl Nass, a member of the Federation of American Scientists who spent three years studying the world’s largest recorded anthrax epidemic in Zimbabwe from 1979 to 1980, the report generated by Zerhouni and his colleagues "relies on ignoring many pieces of crucial information, and its recommendations give the Department of Defense everything it could have wanted. The report appears to be ‘spun’ to support a number of DOD initiatives, and it provides the needed justification for restarting mandatory anthrax vaccinations over the objections of many in Congress."

U.S. Link to Anthrax No Conspiracy Theory

Forget unfounded conspiracy theories. The evidence is overwhelming that the FBI has consistently shied away from pursuing the anthrax investigation, in much the same way it avoided pursuing leads in the USS Cole, East Africa U.S. embassies, and Khobar Towers bombings.

On April 4, ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross broadcast on ABC World News Tonight that after six months the FBI still had hardly any clues and no suspects in its anthrax investigation. A Soviet defector, the former First Deputy Director of Biopreparat from 1988 to 1992 and anthrax expert, Ken Alibek (formerly Kanatjan Alibekov), now a U.S. government consultant, made the astounding claim that the person who is behind the anthrax attacks may, in fact, been advising the U.S. government. After having passed a lie detector test, Alibek was cleared of any suspicion.

Interestingly, Alibek is President of Hadron Advanced Biosystems. On October 2, 2001, just two days before the first anthrax case was reported in Boca Raton, Florida and a week and a half before the first anthrax was sent through the mail to NBC News in New York, Advanced Biosystems received an $800,000 grant from NIH to focus on very specific defenses against anthrax. Hadron has long been linked with the CIA. The links include charges by many former government officials, including the late former Attorney General Elliot Richardson, that the company’s former President, Earl Brian, illegally procured a database system called PROMIS (Prosecutors’ Management Information System) from Inslaw, Inc. and used his connections to the CIA and Israeli intelligence to illegally distribute the software to various foreign governments.

Ross reported that U.S. military and intelligence agencies have refused to provide the FBI with a full listing of the secret facilities and employees working on anthrax projects. Because of this stonewalling, crucial evidence has been withheld. Professor Jeanne Guilleman of MIT’s Biological Weapons Studies Center told ABC, "We’re talking here about laboratories where, in fact, the material that we know was in the Daschle letter and in the Leahy letter could have been produced. And I think that’s what the FBI is still trying to find out."

But the FBI does not seem to want to pursue these important leads.

CIA Testing Anthrax and the U.S. Mail

The first major media outlet to accuse the FBI of foot dragging was the BBC. On March 14, the BBC’s Newsnight program highlighted an interview with Dr. Barbara Rosenberg of the Federation of American Scientists. After claiming the CIA was involved, through government contractors, in secret testing of sending anthrax through the mail, Rosenberg, someone with close ties to the biological warfare community, has been attacked by the White House, FBI, and, not surprisingly, the CIA.

The BBC also interviewed Dr. Timothy Read of the Institute of Genomic Research and a leading expert on the genetic characteristics of anthrax. Read said of the two strains, "They’re definitely related to each other … closely related to each other." However, Read would not go so far as to suggest the Florida strain, known as the Ames strain, and that developed at the U.S. Army’s top secret Fort Detrick biological warfare laboratory – officially known as the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases — were one and the same.

William Capers Patrick III was part of the original Fort Detrick anthrax development program, which "officially" ended in 1972 when President Nixon signed, along with the Soviet Union and United Kingdom, the Biological Weapons Convention. Nixon had actually ordered the Pentagon to stop producing biological weapons in 1969. It now seems likely that the U.S. military and intelligence community failed to follow Nixon’s orders and, in fact, have consistently violated a lawful treaty signed by the United States.

Cuba certainly accused the United States of using biological war weapons against it during the 1970s. In his book, Biological Warfare in the 21st Century, Malcolm Dando refers to the U.S. bio-attacks against the Caribbean island nation. The American covert campaign targeted the tobacco crop using blue mold, the sugar cane crop using cane smut, livestock using African swine fever, and the Cuban population using a hemorrhagic strain of dengue fever.

Last December, the New York Times claimed Patrick authored a secret paper on the effects of sending anthrax through the mail, a report he denies. However, Patrick told the BBC that he was surprised that as an expert of anthrax (he was a member of the UN biological warfare inspection team in the 1990s), the FBI did not interview him right after the first anthrax attacks.

The BBC reported that Battelle Memorial Institute (a favorite Pentagon and CIA contractor and for whom Alibek served as biological warfare program manager in 1998) conducted a secret biological warfare test in the Nevada desert using genetically-modified anthrax early last September, right before the terrorist attacks. The BBC reported that Patrick’s paper on sending anthrax through the mail was also part of the classified contractor work on the deadly bacterial agent.

But would the U.S. Government knowingly subject its citizenry to a dangerous test of biological weapons? The evidence from past tests suggests it has already done so. According to Dando, in the 1950s, the military released uninfected female mosquitoes in a residential area of Savannah, Georgia. It then checked on how many entered houses and how many people were bitten. In 1956, 600,000 mosquitoes were released from an airplane on a bombing range. Within one day, the mosquitoes had traveled as far as two miles and had bitten a number of people. In 1957, at the Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah, the Q-Fever toxin discharged by an airborne F-100A plane. If a more potent dose had been used, the Army concluded 99 per cent of the humans in the area would have been infected. In the 1960s, conscientious objecting Seventh Day Adventists, serving in non-combat positions in the Army, were exposed to airborne tularemia. In addition to Dando’s revelations, a retired high-ranking U.S. Army civilian official reported that the Army used aerosol forms of influenza to infect the subway systems of New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia in the early 1960s.

From Fort Detrick With Love

The Hartford Courant reported last January that 27 sets of biological toxin specimens were reported missing from Fort Detrick after an inventory was conducted in 1992. The paper reported that among the specimens missing was the Ames strain on anthrax. A former Detrick laboratory technician named Eric Oldenberg told The Courant that while at Detrick, he only handled the Ames strain, the same strain sent to the Senate and the media. The Hartford Courant also revealed that other specimens missing included Ebola, hanta virus, simian AIDS, and two labeled "unknown," a cover term for classified research on secret biological agents.

Steven Block of Stanford University, an expert on biological warfare, told The Dallas Morning News that, "The American process for preparing anthrax is secret in its details, but experts know that it produces an extremely pure powder. One gram (a mere 28th of an ounce) contains a trillion spores . . . A trillion spores per gram is basically solid spore . . . It appears from all reports so far that this was a powder made with the so-called optimal U.S. recipe . . . That means they either had to have information from the United States or maybe they were the United States." (author’s emphasis).

Block also told the Dallas paper, "The FBI, after all these months, has still not arrested anybody . . . It’s possible, as has been suggested, that they may be standing back because the person that’s involved with it may have secret information that the United States government would not like to have divulged."

And what the government would not want divulged is the fact that the United States has been in flagrant violation of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention. Article 1 of the convention specifically states: "Each State Party to this Convention undertakes never in any circumstance to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain: 1. Microbial or other biological agents, or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes. 2. Weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict."

The Death of Dr. Wiley: Murder They Wrote

The one person who was in a position to know about the origin of the anthrax sent through the U.S. Postal Service met with a very suspicious demise just a month after the attacks first began.

The reported "suicide" and then "accidental death" of noted Harvard biophysics scientist and anthrax, Ebola, AIDS, herpes, and influenza expert, Dr. Don C. Wiley, on the Interstate 55 Hernando De Soto Bridge that links Memphis to West Memphis, Arkansas, was probably a well-planned murder, according to local law enforcement officials in Tennessee and Arkansas.

On November 15, Wiley’s abandoned 2001 Mitsubishi Galant rental car was strangely found in the wrong lane, west in the eastbound lane of the bridge. The keys were still in the ignition, the gas tank was full, the hub cap of the right front wheel was missing, and there were yellow scrape marks on the driver’s side of the vehicle, indicating a possible sideswipe.

Wiley had last been seen four hours earlier, around midnight, before his car was found around 4:00 AM on the bridge. He was last seen in the lobby of Memphis’ Peabody Hotel, leaving a banquet of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, on whose advisory board he served. Police quickly "concluded" that Wiley committed suicide by jumping off the bridge into the Mississippi River. It appears the early police conclusion, decided without a full investigation, was engineered by the FBI. On December 20, Wiley’s body was recovered in the river in Vidalia, Louisiana, 320 miles south of Memphis. After Wiley’s friends and family discounted claims of suicide, the Memphis coroner concluded on January 14, 2002 that Wiley had "accidentially" fallen over the side of the bridge after a minor car accident.

Not so, say seasoned local law enforcement officials who originally assigned homicide detectives to the case. Memphis police claim there was only 15 minutes between the last time police had checked the bridge and the time they discovered Wiley’s abandoned vehicle. They suspected Wiley was murdered. However, the local FBI office in Memphis stuck by its story that Wiley’s death was not the result of "foul play." A Memphis police detective said, "the newspaper account of Wiley’s accident did not clear anything up for me," adding, "everything attributed to the ‘accident’ could also be attributed to something else."

However, according to U.S. intelligence sources, Wiley may have been the victim of an intelligence agency hit. That jibes with local police comments that the FBI and "other" U.S. agencies stepped in to prevent the local Memphis police from taking a closer look into the case. Employees of St. Jude’s Childrens’ Hospital in Memphis, on whose board Wiley served, were suddenly deluged with unsubstantiated rumors that Wiley was a heavy drinker and despondent.

It is a classic intelligence agency ploy to spread disinformation about "suicide" victims after their murders. The favorite rumors spread include those about purported alcoholism, depression, homosexuality, auto-erotic asphyxia, drug addiction, and an obsession with pornography, especially child pornography.

According to the local police, it would have been easy to determine if Wiley was a heavy drinker and that would have shown up in his autopsy. The police also reckon that if Wiley left the Peabody under the influence, four hours later he should have been sober enough not to have fallen over the side of the bridge. Also, the bridge railing is high enough that event the 6′ 3" Wiley could not have accidentally fallen over it without assistance. Add that to the fact that no one in the history of the bridge had fallen over the side.

Police also feel that even at 4:00 AM, there should have been someone else on the bridge who would have called the police about a person who was driving down the interstate the wrong way. Due to the fact that access is restricted to the bridge, one would have to have driven a long way on the wrong lane. Some police are of the opinion Wiley was stuck with a needle and that one reason he was dumped into the fast-moving Mississippi is that with the length of his time in the water (one month), the needle mark evidence would have largely disappeared.

And in yet another strange twist, on March 14, a bomb and two smaller explosive devices were found at the Shelby County Regional Forensic Center, which houses the morgue and Medical Examiner’s Office that conducted Wiley’s autopsy. Dr. O.C, Smith, the medical examiner, told Memphis’ Commercial Appeal, "We have done several high-profile cases from Dr. Wiley to Katherine Smith (a Department of Motor Vehicles employee mysteriously found burned to death in her car after being charged in a federal probe with conspiracy to obtain fraudulent drivers’ licenses for men of Middle East origin) but there has been no indication that we offended anyone . . . we just don’t know if we were the attended target or not."

Knowledgeable U.S. and foreign intelligence sources have revealed that Wiley may have been silenced as a result of his discovery of U.S. government work on biological warfare agents long after the U.S., along with the Soviet Union and Britain, signed the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention.

A South African Connection

The death of Wiley may be also linked to revelations recently uncovered in South Africa. His expertise on genetic fingerprints for various strains may have led him to particular countries and their bio-warfare projects.

The South African media has been abuzz with details of that nation’s former biological warfare program and its links to the CIA. The South African bio-chemical war program was code-named Project Coast and was centered at the Roodeplat Research Laboratories north of Pretoria. The lab maintained links to the US biowarfare facility at Fort and Britain’s Porton Down Laboratory. The head of the South African program, Dr. Wouter Basson, was reportedly offered a job with the CIA in the United States after the fall of the apartheid regime. According to former South African National Intelligence Agency deputy director Michael Kennedy, when Basson refused the offer, the CIA allegedly threatened to kill him. Nevertheless, the U.S. pressured the new President Nelson Mandela to turn over the records and fruits of Basson’s work. Much of this work was reportedly transported to Fort Detrick.

Basson also claimed to have been involved in a project called Operation Banana, which, using El Paso, Texas as a base with the CIA’s blessing, was designed to transport cocaine to South Africa from Peru. The cocaine, hidden in bananas, was to be used in developing a new incapacitating drug.

One of the South African’s secret projects involved sending anthrax through the mail. Among the techniques that fell into the hands of the Americans was a method by which anthrax spores were, with deadly effect, incorporated on to the gummed flaps of envelopes.

Other South African bio-chemical weapons allegedly transferred to the CIA included, in addition to anthrax, cholera, smallpox, salmonella, botulinum, tularemia, thallium, E.coli, racin, organophosphates, necrotising fasciitis, hepatitis A, HIV, paratyphoid, Sarin VX nerve gas, Ebola, Marburg, Rift Valley hemorrhagic fever viruses, Dengue fever, West Nile virus, highly potent CR tear gas, hallucinogens Ecstasy, Mandrax, BZ, and cocaine, anti-coagulant drugs, the deadly lethal injection drugs Scoline and Tubarine, and cyanide.

Many of Dr. Wiley’s family and friends doubt he would have committed suicide. The fact that he was certainly in a position to know about the origination of various viruses and bacteria — which could have led to the U.S. government — would have made him a prime target for a government seeking to cover up its illegal work in biological warfare.

Wiley’s Anthrax Research

And Wiley had a significant connection to anthrax research. Wiley was not only a professor at Harvard but also conducted research at the Chevy Chase, Maryland Howard Hughes Medical Center, which does work for the National Institutes of Health. On October 1, 2001, just three days before the first reported anthrax case in Florida, the Hughes Center announced that a joint Harvard-Hughes team had identified a mouse gene that made mice resistant to anthrax bacteria. Although the media failed to play it up later, that research involved using Wiley’s expertise on the immune system. The new gene, identified as Kif1C, located in chromosome 11 of a mouse, enhanced the defense systems of special immune cells, called macrophages, against the destructive effects of anthrax bacteria.

Wiley’s was not the only suspicious death of a scientist with knowledge of biological defenses. Just three day before Wiley’s death, Dr. Benito Que, a Miami Medical School cellular biologist specializing in infectious diseases, died in a violent attack. The Miami Herald reported Que died after "four men armed with a baseball bat attacked him at his car." A week after Wiley died, Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, a former scientist for Biopreparat, the Soviet Union’s biological weapons production factory, was found dead from an alleged stroke in Wiltshire, not far from Britain’s Porton Down biological warfare center. Pasechnik had defected from the Soviet Union in 1989 and was an expert on the Soviet Union’s anthrax, smallpox, plague, and tularemia programs. While at Biopreparat, Pasechnik worked for Alibek, who defected three years later. When he died, Pasechnik was assisting the British government’s efforts in providing bio-defenses against anthrax.

Anthrax and Operation Northwoods

For those who disbelieve the possibility that the U.S. Government is the number one suspect in the anthrax attacks, they are directed to James Bamford’s book on the National Security Agency, Body of Secrets. The book reveals that in 1962,Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Lyman Lemnitzer was planning, along with other member of the Joint Chiefs, a virtual coup d’etat against the administration of President Kennedy using acts of terrorism carried out by the military but to be blamed on the Castro government in Cuba. The secret pan, code-named Operation Northwoods, entailed having U.S. military personnel shoot innocent people on the streets of American cities, sink boats carrying Cuban refugees to Florida, and conduct terrorist bombings in Washington, DC, Miami and other cities. Innocent people were to be framed for committing bombings and hijacking planes. If John Glenn’s liftoff from Cape Canaveral in February 1962 were to end in an explosion, Castro would be blamed. Plans were made to shoot down civilian aircraft en route from the United States to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama, or Venezuela and then blame Cuba. The U.S. military also planned to attack Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, both British colonies, and make it appear that the Cubans had done it in order to bring Britain into a war with Cuba.

So far, the Bush administration has refused to support a full and independent Congressional investigation into the events of September 11 and the later events involving anthrax. It seems it and the three-letter agencies the administration is so fond of praising, and funding, know more about the source of the anthrax attacks than they are admitting. If the saying, "where there’s smoke, there’s fire," has any basis of truth, the United States is in the midst of a raging inferno. Who will answer the fire alarm?

Wayne Madsen is an investigative journalist based in Washington, DC. He can be reached at: WMadsen777@aol.commailto:WMadsen777@aol.com