Among the many examples that [retired USAF Colonel Sam] Gardiner documented was the use of the "anthrax scare" to promote the administration's pre-existing plan to attack Iraq.
In both the US and the UK, "intelligence sources" provided a steady diet of unsourced allegations to the media to suggest that Iraq and Al Qaeda terrorists were behind the deadly mailing of anthrax-laden letters.
It wasn't until December 18, that the White House confessed that it was "increasingly looking like" the anthrax came from a US military installation. The news was released as a White House "paper" instead of as a more prominent White House "announcement." As a result, the idea that Iraq or Al Qaeda were behind the anthrax plot continued to persist. Gardiner believes this was an intentional part of the propaganda campaign. "If a story supports policy, even if incorrect, let it stay around."
And who, pray tell, was on point for the Times on the anthrax story? The co-author of Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War?
Oh, and the recipient of a fake anthrax letter herself at the beginning of the attacks?
As Digby says, this sounds a lot like tin-foil hat territory, but it ain't. It's difficult now to even recall the sort of hysteria the anthrax attacks whipped up in a country already in shock. It may have faded from popular memory how quickly that hysteria turned to complete disinterest once it became obvious the source was domestic.
At some point between September 19-25 NBC received and opened a letter containing anthrax. It was not immediately recognized or reported in the media. The first case was reported on October 4. The victim died the next day.
Judy opened her hoax letter on Oct. 12, the day before the first media reports of the hoax letters. The letters to Daschle and Leahy, the ones which contained the deadliest, "weaponized" form of anthrax, were already in the mail. The copycat hoax letters began appearing around Oct. 14. Daschle's office opened the letter on the 15th.
It had to be clear shortly thereafter that the source was the U.S. military. The FBI had to have established that within 24 hours. Yet it took until the middle of December before the Bush administration admitted as much.
In the meantime, in the pages of the Times and all over teevee news, Judy Miller, bioterrorism expert, was touting the "three country scenario", insisting that the source was the United States, the former Soviet Union, or Iraq. But there was no evidence whatsoever that Iraq had ever acquired the Ames strain, and the Soviet strain was in fact distinct from what had been mailed. The stuff in the mail came from one of twenty labs in the U.S. Period. Known by mid-October, not copped to officially until mid-December.
But both the Times and WaPo continued to push the possibility of a foreign source. So did Miller, who wrote of a possible Soviet-Iraqi anthrax link as late as December 3, 2002, and wrote of Al-Qaeda attempts to obtain anthrax on December 28, 2003. In between, on May 7, 2002, she reported on a speech by John Bolton which accused Cuba, Libya, and Syria of violating international treaties on unconventional weapons which seems to have ignored the fact that we'd been caught red-handed doing the same.
Miller's mitts all over the anthrax scare stories has been largely forgotten, and she's now out from under the contempt charge, but if the rumors that Fitzgerald wants to expand his investigation further into the Iraq Group are true, it just might be that Judy isn't through testifying.
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