[OPE-L:7410] NYTimes.com Article: Anthrax? The F.B.I. Yawns

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Mon Jul 08 2002 - 02:36:32 EDT

this New York Times analysis is relevant to OPE-L for two reasons: 1. 
it follows up on Alfredo's questions about the status of the 
investigation into the deadly use of anthrax and 2. it reminds us of 
the kind of terror which has been used in defense of the white 
Rhodesian farmer capitalists whose absolute rights in property OPE-L 
members were not so long ago asked to support.
all the best, Rakesh

Anthrax? The F.B.I. Yawns

July 2, 2002

The F.B.I.'s bumbling before 9/11 is water under the
bridge. But the bureau's lackadaisical ineptitude in
pursuing the anthrax killer continues to threaten America's
national security by permitting him to strike again or,
more likely, to flee to Iran or North Korea.

Almost everyone who has encountered the F.B.I. anthrax
investigation is aghast at the bureau's lethargy. Some in
the biodefense community think they know a likely culprit,
whom I'll call Mr. Z. Although the bureau has polygraphed
Mr. Z, searched his home twice and interviewed him four
times, it has not placed him under surveillance or asked
its outside handwriting expert to compare his writing to
that on the anthrax letters.

This is part of a larger pattern. Astonishingly, the F.B.I.
allowed the destruction of anthrax stocks at Iowa State
University, losing what might have been valuable genetic
clues. Then it waited until December to open the intact
anthrax envelope it found. The F.B.I. didn't obtain anthrax
strains from various labs for comparison until March, and
the testing is still not complete. The bureau did not
systematically polygraph scientists at two suspect labs,
Fort Detrick, Md., and Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, until
a month ago.

Perhaps it's a cheap shot for an armchair detective to
whine about the caution of dedicated and exceptionally
hard-working investigators. Yet months pass and the bureau
continues to act like, well, a bureaucracy, plodding along
in slow motion. People in the biodefense field first gave
Mr. Z's name to the bureau as a suspect in October, and I
wrote about him elliptically in a column on May 24.

He denies any wrongdoing, and his friends are heartsick at
suspicions directed against a man they regard as a patriot.
Some of his polygraphs show evasion, I hear, although that
may be because of his temperament.

If Mr. Z were an Arab national, he would have been
imprisoned long ago. But he is a true-blue American with
close ties to the U.S. Defense Department, the C.I.A. and
the American biodefense program. On the other hand, he was
once caught with a girlfriend in a biohazard "hot suite" at
Fort Detrick, surrounded only by blushing germs.

With many experts buzzing about Mr. Z behind his back, it's
time for the F.B.I. to make a move: either it should go
after him more aggressively, sifting thoroughly through his
past and picking up loose threads, or it should seek to
exculpate him and remove this cloud of suspicion.

Whoever sent the anthrax probably had no intention of
killing people; the letters warned recipients to take
antibiotics. My guess is that the goal was to help America
by raising preparedness against biological attacks in the

So it seems fair to ask the F.B.I. a few questions:

you know how many identities and passports Mr. Z has and
are you monitoring his international travel? I have found
at least one alias for him, and he has continued to travel
abroad on government assignments, even to Central Asia.

Why was his top security clearance suspended in August,
less than a month before the anthrax attacks began? This
move left him infuriated. Are the C.I.A. and military
intelligence agencies cooperating fully with the

Have you searched the isolated residence that he had access
to last fall? The F.B.I. has known about this building, and
knows that Mr. Z gave Cipro to people who visited it. This
property and many others are legally registered in the name
of a friend of Mr. Z, but may be safe houses operated by
American intelligence.

Have you examined whether Mr. Z has connections to the
biggest anthrax outbreak among humans ever recorded, the
one that sickened more than 10,000 black farmers in
Zimbabwe in 1978-80? There is evidence that the anthrax was
released by the white Rhodesian Army fighting against black
guerrillas, and Mr. Z has claimed that he participated in
the white army's much-feared Selous Scouts. Could rogue
elements of the American military have backed the Rhodesian
Army in anthrax and cholera attacks against blacks? Mr. Z's
rÈsumÈ also claims involvement in the former South African
Defense Force; all else aside, who knew that the U.S.
Defense Department would pick an American who had served in
the armed forces of two white-racist regimes to work in the
American biodefense program with some of the world's
deadliest germs?

What now? When do you shift into high gear?


Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company

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