It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the Bush administration — including the FBI, Homeland Security, and the Pentagon — all want the anthrax-killer case to quietly die with the person of Bruce Ivins. Yep, case closed, move along, folks. Right?
Well, excuse us. If you don’t mind, we still have a few questions:
— Did Ivins — if he really was the anthrax killer — have any co-conspirators, as the evidence suggests?
— Why was security at Fort Detrick, home of USAMRIID, probably the nation’s most sensitive and secretive weapons laboratory, so lax as to allow this to happen?
— And finally (and perhaps most significantly), was the mere fact of this kind of weaponized anthrax’s existence at Fort Detrick another example of the Bush administration’s flagrant violations of international law?
You see, the process used to create this anthrax was in flagrant violation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (more here). The United States is not just a cosigner, it is one of the chief authors of this particular international law, which has been in effect since 1972. Chief among its tenets is the prohibition against developing new biological-weapons processes.
The FBI’s self-evident conclusion that the anthrax was produced at Fort Detrick is manifest evidence that we are violating that law — and have probably been doing so for some time, even preceding the Bush regime.
Indeed, we’ve known since this spring that the anthrax was almost certainly produced there, when a Fox News report on a possible breakthrough in the case disclosed that "scientists at Fort Detrick openly discussed how the anthrax powder they were asked to analyze after the attacks was nearly identical to that made by one of their colleagues."
So you’ll have to excuse us if we are not quite ready to move along. In fact, as Jane says, it’s time for a full-blown, front-page congressional investigation.
That same Fox News story, incidentally, reported that there were four suspects in the anthrax case at the time. Now that the deed has been laid at Ivins’ feet, does that mean the other three have been cleared? Judging from the FBI’s treatment of the matter, it certainly seems so.
And yet for each door that officials want to close with Ivins’ convenient suicide, four others seem to open. Moreover, as the New York Times observed this morning, there is still by no means any conclusive evidence that it was in fact Ivins — nor even that he acted alone.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the anthrax case is the one that emerges from the larger picture that has been taking shape in the years since the attacks: It is now perfectly clear that the attacks were used by the Bush administration to drum up public fearfulness to advance the "War on Terror" as a marketing device for a whole panoply of measures and policies, from the Patriot Act to the invasion of Iraq.
And yet the perpetrator of those attacks, it turns out, was a scientist on the administration’s payroll. There is of course no evidence connecting Ivins with the BushCo "terra" marketing team beyond this coincidence, but this simple fact itself is reason enough for a full investigation.
Observe, as Blue Texan has, that the objects of the attacks were Democratic congressional leaders (Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy) and a major "liberal media" figure, Tom Brokaw of NBC. Perhaps it was only a coincidence that congressional Democrats and the media were going to be the Bush administration’s chief obstacles in passing its initiatives under the rubric of the "war on terror".
Perhaps Ivins (or whoever the perpetrator was) actually saw this political reality and chose his targets out of an ideological desire to help the administration. Or perhaps he just wanted more funding for his particular line of research. But we won’t know until there is a proper investigation.
One thing we do know: Once it became apparent that the phony theory that the anthrax contained bentonite — which was how the attacks were originally connected to Iraq — would not hold water, it was also clear that this was a case of pure domestic terrorism, and very likely right-wing terrorism at that. And it was at this point that all interest in solving the case, both on an official level and within the media, evaporated.
It’s also now painfully clear that the attacks had their desired effect. Congressional Democrats in fact caved, and have continued to cave, every time the White House has waved the bloody, anthrax-stained "terra" shirt.
Likewise, so have the media — witness their complicit role, as Greenwald has explored in some detail, in purveying the bentonite hoax. And of course, the right-wing bigotsphere has never given up on it; Michelle Malkin has continued to tout the theory as recently as this year — though she has been impressively silent about Ivins.
Meanwhile, we dirty fucking hippies, who have been consistently right about this case, have again gone consistently ignored. (If you want an example of eerie prescience which actually was just very good, thorough, and well-informed analysis, check out Paul deArmond’s 2002 paper on the matter.)
At the end of the day, what we’re looking at is a Bush clusterfuck of historic proportions: an intensely important weapons program where security is criminally lax; an administration so intensely politicized that it is willing to seize upon terrorist attacks against their political enemies as a club for obtaining their agenda — potentially through collusion with the terrorist; an administration similarly willing to flout the fundamental tenets of international law; while the actual perpetrator remains scot-free and is only finally revealed by his own continuing miscreancy.
If that doesn’t bear investigation, nothing does.