Finally! 2001 Anthrax Attacks are Back in the News

My About blurb says I am interested in blogging about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. I’ve started several draft posts about the attacks and their aftermath, but I haven’t finished any of them. I’m finding it hard to articulate my thoughts about those attacks, especially when considered in light of all that has happened since then.

Well, my reservations have just been overtaken by events: The anthrax attacks that occurred in the weeks following 9/11, long neglected by the media, are finally back in the news. In my mind the anthrax attacks must be factored into in any discussion of the effects of the 9/11 attacks.

New York Times:

The seven-year investigation into the anthrax attacks that traumatized and baffled the nation just weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks has taken a stunning new turn with the apparent suicide of a scientist who was the prime suspect in the case.

With investigators close to filing charges against him, the scientist — Bruce E. Ivins, 62 — apparently took his own life with a prescription painkiller, Tylenol mixed with codeine. He died [July 29] at a hospital in Frederick, Md., about an hour’s drive north of Washington.

Mr. Ivins, who was a biodefense researcher at Fort Detrick, had been told of the investigation into the anthrax incidents, said his lawyer, Paul F. Kemp, who issued a statement insisting that his client was innocent.

The number of unanswered questions about the anthrax attacks rivals the number about 9/11. Furthermore, it’s not a stretch by any means to say the masses were more directly affected by the anthrax attacks and the associated media hype and inuendo than they were by the events of 9/11. Remember the anthrax hysteria? Glenn Greenwald reminds us at

The 9/11 attacks were obviously traumatic for the country, but in the absence of the anthrax attacks, 9/11 could easily have been perceived as a single, isolated event. It was really the anthrax letters — with the first one sent on September 18, just one week after 9/11 — that severely ratcheted up the fear levels and created the climate that would dominate in this country for the next several years after. It was anthrax — sent directly into the heart of the country’s elite political and media institutions, to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt), NBC News anchor Tom Brokow, and other leading media outlets — that created the impression that social order itself was genuinely threatened by Islamic radicalism.

So what are we to make about Ivins’ death? Greenwald again:

If the now-deceased Ivins really was the culprit behind the attacks, then that means that the anthrax came from a U.S. Government lab, sent by a top U.S. Army scientist at Ft. Detrick.

While that would be stunning news, assuming it’s true, it’s a yawner for me. As a follower of the relatively scant news coverage of the investigation, I long ago reached the conclusion that the anthrax came from a U.S. government lab.

I direct your attention to this news for two reasons.

I’m relieved the anthrax attacks are finally back in the news.

Bloggers with much more analytical minds than my own are now recalling and questioning the circumstances that led to “the war on terror” and the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the role played by the anthrax attacks in that context. Two such high profile bloggers who have thus far attempted to analyze the meaning and implications of Ivins’ death are Greenwald, whose long post on the matter I’ve quoted from above, and Marcy Wheeler aka emptywheel. Read what they have to say and see what conclusions you’re able to draw. Oh and don’t neglect the comments on these posts because some of the points made by the commenters are at least as compelling as the posts themselves.

Mixed in with my relief is uneasiness — more than just a bit.

I’m uneasy about Ivins’ death because it seems there are forces much bigger than ourselves possibly at work here. Some of those forces, I think, are sinister. If those forces are in or affiliated with the Bush administration, as I think is likely, they may be getting desperate. Unless they plan to disrupt the transition to an Obama or McCain administration, they have only 171 days to set in motion additional developments supporting the achievement of their goals, which I think are misguided at best and demented at worst. Desperate people are known to take desperate measures.

Wish I could will myself into doing more to deal with this uneasiness than keeping myself informed and attending occasional peace vigils.

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