Friday, September 09, 2011

September 11 retrospective: The anthrax attacks

It's well worth remembering that the anthrax attacks that began a few days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks contributed mightily to the sense of vulnerability, panic and rage that helped drive the public agenda in responding to terrorism and invading Iraq. As Brad Sylvester says in Investigator Discusses 2001 Anthrax Attacks Yahoo! Contributor Network 09/08/2011:

In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks of the World Trade Center Towers in New York, America was still in a state of collective shock, trying to sort out our response to the terrorist attacks. The Amerithrax attacks which purported to be work of Islamic extremists following up the 9/11 attacks may have contributed to our assessment of the technological sophistication of Al-Qaeda's capabilities, laying a groundwork of perception that did not get entirely erased even when foreign terrorists were ruled out as potential perpetrators of the 2001 Anthrax letter terror campaign.

While we may never know if these attacks contributed to the Bush administration's obsession with the chase for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the Amerithrax scare certainly helped escalate the fear of such bio-terror weapons in the minds of the American public, increasing the effectiveness of claims that the U.S. needed to root out such WMD in Iraq. [my emphasis]
And it's also worth remembering that those attacks have never been solved. Whatever holes there may be in our understanding of the 9/11 attacks themselves and the specific actions and motivations of the participants, we actually know a lot about how did what and why. Not so in the case of the anthrax attacks.

The case was in the news again this summer: Greg Gordon, FBI lab reports on anthrax attacks suggest another miscue McClatchy Newspapers 05/19/2011; New twist in anthrax case; Mike Wiser, et al, Justice Department lawyers contradict FBI findings McClatchy Newspapers 07/19/2011, the latter a joint report with ProPublica and Frontline; Mike Webb, Stephen Engelberg on the FBI’s Anthrax Case ProPublica 07/262011. This video from The Real News accompanied the May 19 McClatchy story:

Glenn Greenwald has returned to this subject again and again: DOJ casts serious doubt on its own claims about the anthrax attack Salon 07/19/2011.

Meryl Nass also still follows the case on her Anthrax Vaccine blog: Judge: You can't change anthrax filing yet. Government must "show good cause"/ McClatchy 07/28/2011.

As does Marcy Wheeler at Emptywheel: Government Inches Closer to Admitting It Hasn't Solved Anthrax Attack 07/18/2011.

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