Mounting questions over US anthrax probe and scientist’s alleged suicide

Dandelion Salad

By Patrick Martin
http://www.wsws.org
4 August 2008

One week after an Army germ warfare scientist apparently committed suicide, there are mounting questions over the government’s handling of the investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks and expressions of skepticism regarding the sensationalized media coverage of the past four days.

Colleagues and friends of Dr. Bruce Ivins, who died Tuesday from an overdose of prescription Tylenol he had taken two days earlier, have cast doubt on the claims by the FBI and Justice Department that Ivins perpetrated the anthrax attacks. They have also debunked many of the claims made in initial news reports about Ivins’ death.

Ivins’ lawyer, Paul Kemp, sent an email to news organizations Saturday denouncing reports that his client was considering a plea bargain to avoid a death sentence for the anthrax mailings, calling such reports “entirely spurious.” Kemp had been contacted by federal investigators—the FBI interviewed Ivins several times over the past year as well as searching his home—but there was no discussion of a possible plea.

…continued

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see

Journalists, their lying sources, and the anthrax investigation

Vital unresolved anthrax questions and ABC News by Glenn Greenwald + McCain video

Countdown: Anthrax Attacks Inside Job? + The Long Road + Wal-Mart

Journalists, their lying sources, and the anthrax investigation

Dandelion Salad

by Glenn Greenwald
Salon
Sunday Aug. 3, 2008

(updated below – Update II – Update III)

The death of government scientist Bruce Ivins has generated far more questions about the anthrax attacks than it has answered. I want to return to the role the establishment media played in obfuscating the anthrax investigation for so long and, at times, aiding in what was clearly the deliberate deceit on the part of Government sources. This is yet another case where the establishment media possesses — yet steadfastly conceals — some of the most critical facts about what the Government has done, and insists on protecting the wrongdoers. Obtaining these answers from these media outlets is as important as obtaining them from the Government. Writing about ABC’s dissemination of the false Iraq/anthrax story, The New Republic‘s Dayo Olopade wrote yesterday: “Pressure on ABC to out their sources should be swift and sustained.”

The Washington Monthly‘s Kevin Drum argued yesterday that despite the need for journalists to use confidential sources, “the profession — and the rest of us — [are] better off if sources know that they run the risk of being unmasked if their mendacity is egregious enough to become newsworthy in its own right.” Drum added: “I’d say that part of [Ross’] re-reporting ought to include a full explanation of exactly who was peddling the bentonite lie in the first place, and why they were doing it.” Nonetheless, Drum said: “In practice, most journalists refuse to identify their sources under any circumstances at all, even when it’s clear that those sources deliberately lied to them.”

…continued

see

Vital unresolved anthrax questions and ABC News by Glenn Greenwald + McCain video

Countdown: Anthrax Attacks Inside Job? + The Long Road + Wal-Mart

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Vital unresolved anthrax questions and ABC News by Glenn Greenwald + McCain video

Dandelion Salad

by Glenn Greenwald
Salon
Aug. 1, 2008

(Updated below – Update II – Update III – Update IV – Update V – Update VI)

The FBI’s lead suspect in the September, 2001 anthrax attacks — Bruce E. Ivins — died Tuesday night, apparently by suicide, just as the Justice Department was about to charge him with responsibility for the attacks. For the last 18 years, Ivins was a top anthrax researcher at the U.S. Government’s biological weapons research laboratories at Ft. Detrick, Maryland, where he was one of the most elite government anthrax scientists on the research team at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID).

The 2001 anthrax attacks remain one of the great mysteries of the post-9/11 era. After 9/11 itself, the anthrax attacks were probably the most consequential event of the Bush presidency. One could make a persuasive case that they were actually more consequential. 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 Brokaw, and other leading media outlets — that created the impression that social order itself was genuinely threatened by Islamic radicalism.

…continued

see

Countdown: Anthrax Attacks Inside Job? + The Long Road + Wal-Mart

  • **

After 9/11, McCain Linked Anthrax to Iraq

TheYoungTurks

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more about “Vital unresolved anthrax questions an…“, posted with vodpod

h/t: Think Progress

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Countdown: Anthrax Attacks Inside Job? + The Long Road + Wal-Mart

Dandelion Salad

Aug 1, 2008

videocafeblog

Anthrax Attacks Inside Job?

Keith talks to David Willman of the LA Times about the recent news on the anthrax investigation.

Anthrax, The Long Road

Keith talks to Gerald Posner about the anthrax case and whether we’ll ever get an answer about what happened.

Wal-Mart, The Republican Brand

Keith reports on the intimidation of employees that was going on at Wal-Mart and their opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act. Chris Hayes from the Nation talks to Keith about why the company’s actions prove exactly why the Employee Free Choice Act is needed since it keeps employers from being allowed to intimidate employees and force them to watch anti-union propaganda if they want to join a union and how the DOL has turned into an establishment bent on busting unions rather than protecting workers.

see

Apparent suicide in anthrax case h/t: CLG

Anthrax scientist Bruce Ivins stood to benefit from a panic h/t: CLG

Mandatory Flu Vaccines & Anthrax by William Mac

Dandelion Salad

ThisWeekInTime

This Week in Time

Mandatory Flu Vaccines And Anthrax

This Week in Time is all about… fuck it. Just watch.

William Mac reads the newspaper and then comments on “Flu Shots Advised For Kids up to 18” in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

He then remarks upon the forced mandatory Anthrax vaccines for military personnel just approved by a Federal Judge, despite the fact that the FDA has, over a couple of decades, continued to find the vaccine dangerous and ineffective.

Check out the blog for more on the Anthrax decision:

Anthrax Vaccine — Law, Not Choice

This Week In Time

By William Mac
This Week in Time

featured writer
Dandelion Salad
March 4, 2008

It’s safe to say that almost everyone in the United States remembers the brief and unexplained Anthrax attacks that occurred shortly after 9/11. Although there is much controversy surrounding the event, what we do know is that Anthrax is something that no every day pipe-bomb fanatic can produce. It takes a highly skilled professional with access to a variety of different kinds of lab equipment to actually produce various strings of Anthrax. It takes money, it takes credentials and it takes authority. However, I will not go into detail about this during this particular blog, but I will point out that Anthrax in a widespread bio-weapon attack will take tons of money, tons of time, tons of professional know-how and plenty of creativity. Otherwise, it is virtually impossible.

Another thing is that Anthrax can be absorbed through the skin as well as through the nostrils. There is virtually no way to prevent sickness in either case. But, even so, the new vaccine recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has become mandatory for all military personnel.

By all accounts, if an Anthrax vaccine actually prevents an individual from getting the “bug” then I would be all for it. The only thing is that I believe the Anthrax vaccine to be more harmful than any potential threat of Anthrax, especially when its use becomes mandatory.

This vaccine’s mandatory use has actually been being battled for quite sometime, as far back as the middle 80s in fact.

Judge Rosemary M. Collyer says that the FDA acted appropriately when it found the Anthrax vaccine to be safe. She approved its mandatory use. But, she dismissed a lawsuit by military officials who argue that the drug is unproven and the scientific data unsound, which it is.

James Turner, a Washington, DC attorney has pushed for the vaccine to be ruled as a Class II dangerous drug. Back in 1985 the FDA recognized that this same vaccine was not safe or effective against inhaled anthrax. However, still during that time, the then acting FDA Commissioner Michael Friedman told the military to go ahead and use it – basically, to experiment.

Despite years of battling this vaccine’s mandatory use and despite countless allegations that the information of its effectiveness, usefulness and safety is unfounded, Federal judge Rosemary M. Collyer says, “the court will not substitute its own judgment when the FDA made no clear error of judgment.”

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman even went so far as to state, “we owe it to our service members to give them every possible protection,” by explaining that, “force protection is the number one priority in the Defense Department and Anthrax inoculation program is an important force-protection measure.”

Yet, the eight military officials combating this vaccine’s mandatory use are not opposed to “every possible protection”, they’re simply opposed to mandatory protection. They want the vaccine to be optional, which by all logical reasoning should be a no-brainer.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Mark Zaid, says that the FDA relied on outdated studies that didn’t prove the vaccine is safe or effective against inhaled anthrax. He also stated, “It would appear the court has condoned an agency’s manipulation of decades-old data to support a present-day policy objective.” Mark Zaid will immediately appeal the decision.

The main issue here isn’t so much safety, but choice. It is incomprehensible to me as to why anyone, civilian or military, should be forced to have a vaccination of any kind, especially considering the dangers that come with vaccinations and, even more especially, the dangers that may come with a vaccination such as this, which does not seem to have been thoroughly proven effective or safe in the least.

The worst part is that the Homeland Security Force now wishes to make the vaccine available to the entire population. Will that, too, become mandatory? Yikes.

Digg It

State Irresponsibility + Experiments in full responsibility (anthrax; soldiers)

Dandelion Salad

by Rela Mazali
Jewish Peace News
February 21, 2008

A February 20 editorial by Haaretz calls a current stage of a High Court case in Israel “a small but important step”. In a petition against the state for trying out an anti-anthrax vaccine on 800 misinformed soldiers, the state has admitted that, “The defense establishment bears full responsibility for  [their] care”. Hearings are still ongoing but Haaretz calls this an achievement already attained by the 34 plaintiffs, though the practical implementation of the declaration has yet to be proven.

Previously, the state denied responsibility as well as the causal link between the experiments and the (ex-)soldiers’ conditions. Obviously, it is only the activism of these young people that has achieved the admission. It’s a response, says Haaretz, “which does not evade a fundamental discussion of the question of experiments on human beings in general, and on IDF soldiers as a ‘captive audience’ in particular, [but] arouses hope that the defense establishment will finally grasp the importance of human rights.” Given the record of horrendous and ongoing IDF violations of the human rights of Palestinian and Lebanese people, this seems vastly overstated. Nevertheless, I think the case is important, among other things as an instance of the state’s abuse and indifferent exploitation of its own “captive audience”.

Though I believe each soldier to be individually accountable for her or his personal actions, soldiers are also young people placed at the disposal of the state by law and by a consenting society, including their parents. This social and parental consent implies a strong assumption that the state will deploy its captive conscripts with care, endangering them only if vitally necessary; refraining from the misuse, abuse or waste of their lives and health. As partly reflected in the rising numbers of young people who resist the draft, this assumption has been negated by a long series of incidents and practices in the military that have come to light in recent years in Israel.

Ranging from extremely severe to relatively minor, a tiny sample of these are the two cases below, coincidentally featured in Haaretz on just one day. One of them concerns pharmaceutical experimenting on soldiers, with grave health consequences; the other concerns exploitation of soldiers as a low-cost, skilled workforce, for private advancement. The first was conducted by and on behalf of the military establishment; the second was an alleged case of individual criminal misconduct. In an institution condoning and practicing the former, though, the inevitable, almost logical consequence would seem to be the latter.

Pertaining to “others” rather than “our own”, the last item is consistent with the state’s evasion of accountability and responsibility. In this case, though, more than one state was implicated. According to the BBC, in 2005, British police refrained from executing a warrant for the arrest of Doron Almog, formerly head of Israel’s southern military command, on charges of “the destruction of a home in Rafah . the killing of a nine-month pregnant woman in March 2003; the firing of a ‘Flechette’ antipersonnel shells at three Gaza youths and killing them in December 2001; and dropping a missile on a house in Gaza in July 2002, killing a senior Hamas man along with 14 Palestinian civilians”. The charges had been pressed by Palestinian activists. The report claims that UK police were afraid of “a shootout with Israeli security officials” and, moreover, that “the British foreign secretary issued an apology for the incident.”

While there’s a “gentlemen’s club” intact ensuring their impunity, whether in or outside the country, Israel’s top military officers and security officials can continue irresponsibly exploiting, abusing and violating the human rights of more than one kind of “captive audience”. I view the activism that challenges this, time and again, in many ways, as vital and sometimes effective in holding them accountable.

***

Experiments in full responsibility

By Haaretz Editorial
February 21, 2008 Adar1 15, 5768

The state’s response to a High Court of Justice petition by soldiers who were subjected to medical experiments with anti-anthrax drugs (the experiments known as Omer 2) is a small but important step on the road to regulating one of the most neglected human rights issues in Israel. Admittedly, the state – in contrast to the soldiers – claims that the experiments were performed in accordance with accepted medical and ethical norms, and that there was nothing wrong with them. Nevertheless, it also stated, “The defense establishment bears full responsibility for the care of the soldiers who were harmed.”

This announcement includes two important points: an admission of the causal link between the experiments and the damage to the soldiers’ health, and an assumption of full responsibility for the soldiers’ care and treatment.

…continued

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

U.S. labs mishandling deadly germs by Larry Margasak

Dandelion Salad

By LARRY MARGASAK
Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 2, 7:48 AM ET

Continued…

h/t: CLG

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.