[lit-ideas] Re: Anthrax

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 08 Oct 2006 13:55:06 -0700

Andreas wrote:

> Robert wrote that recent reports say the anthrax was not "weaponized"
> and thus not from military laboratories. I don't believe those news
> items; it sounds like disinformation. For four years, the FBI and
> other investigators studied the spores and tracked them to specific
> laboratories. So we're now supposed to accept that those four years
> of investigation were wrong? Those researchers didn't know what they
> were looking at?

It is possible to believe that the spores came from specific laboratories, but
this is not the same as believing that they came from military laboratories
except insofar as military laboratories may use the same strains as other
research laboratories; and it's also possible to believe they came from
specific laboratories without believing that they were 'weaponized.'

Why did they think the samples were from a military or advanced research
lab? There are two answers: (1) they didn't, and (2) accounts claiming that they
did were the result of media hype and media confusion. As with most stories
dealing with subject matter beyond the ken of journalists, 'facts' were
simply passed down the line from one media source to another until this false
picture became the standard one. The anthrax spores used in the first 'attack'
were 'cleaned up,' but they were not a new or even an interesting strain. The
work could have been done at any number of labs. The spores mailed to the
Senators had also been tinkered with a bit to make their dispersal more
effective. But they were not a 'new' strain, and what was done to them could
have been done any number of places by any number of people.

Now, suppose the FBI really believed that the anthrax used in the attacks was
high grade. 'weaponized' stuff. This would have quickly narrowed down its
source(s) and a failure to investigate those sources (i.e., those working in
those facilities or associated with them) would have made the FBI look even
more incompetent than usual. That is, narrowing the source would have made
their job easier, not harder. At this point, conspiracy theorists who believe
that somehow the Administration was behind these attacks, conjure up a SECRET
government lab.

But if it's secret, how is it known to conspiracy theorists, let alone to the
investigators? (How secret is it?) The move here is similar to Leverrier's
inventing the planet Vulcan to account for perturbations in the orbit of
Mercury (which Newtonian physics couldn't explain). Of course Vulcan was
conveniently hidden from earthly observation because its orbit kept it always
behind the sun.

As for the Washington Post's spreading disinformation for the Administration,
that may need a further conspiracy theory to explain.

Those interested in the anthrax diaries can find some interesting information,
and a lot of it, here:

The author seems neither a crank nor an ideologue, and he cites many sources in
support of his general claims.

Robert Paul
Reed College

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