For four years former FBI Agent Richard L Lambert was nominally in charge of the Amerithrax investigation. Lambert now claims he has been dissmissed from his current job (senior counterintelligence officer at the Energy Department) because of his continued insistence that the Bureau deliberately mishandled the case. He is now suing the FBI, and for those who haven’t been paying attention, his court filings comprise a series of explosive revelations.
Those with long memories will recall that one week after 9/11, somebody started using the US postal service to send anthrax to unsuspecting and seemingly random journalists and politicians. As well as anthrax, the envelopes contained letters which identified the acts as Islamist terrorism (“Allah is great”, “death to America”, “death to Israel”, etc). Thus a bridge was established between this Islamist terrorism and WMD. This link became the keystone of the entire war on terror, and ultimately provided the rationale for invading Iraq. As I make clear in my biography of David Kelly, Dark Actors, the claims that Iraq possessed WMD always tended to centre around biological WMD (and specifically anthrax), because bioweapons are the easiest WMD to make, and can be produced with the least infrastructure, thus making them the hardest WMD to detect. Amerithrax, as this news story was called, helped point 9/11 very quickly to Iraq. By October corporate media was blaming Baghdad.
9/11 brought conspiracy theory to the fore. Hundreds of millions of people believed it was an inside job, a false flag operation to enable the next chapter of American foreign policy. Their numbers have doubtlessly dwindled, but the Truth movement, as it tends to call itself, is still going strong. It has been met with something that has not yet been named, but might be described as the New Orthodoxy. Essentially this was an elite and anti-populist tendency to a) brand all those who doubt the corporate media as conspiracy theorists whilst b) classifying conspiracy theory as a dangerous, destablizing, anti-Semitic force. Notable proponents of this New Orthodoxy in the UK are David Aaronovitch (see Voodoo Histories) and Nick Cohen (“Conspiracy theories led to the calamitous movements of communism and nazism.”) In the US, the legal scholar Cass Sunstein, who happens to be the husband of Samantha Power, argued that conspiracy theory is a catalyst for anti-state violence, and that the government should infiltrate conspiracy theory groups (Sunstein classes the 9/11 ‘Truthers’ as domestic extremists). Closer to home, Cambridge University’s Leverholme-funded Conspiracy and Democracy project may provide an institutional example of the New Orthodoxy (“Are conspiracy theories destroying democracy?”), although I hope not.
I don’t think the Truth movement has proven that 9/11 was an inside job. But Amerithrax was. It is possible to be incredibly specific about strains of anthrax – because they are bacterial, they have DNA. Additionally, there are the processing treatments the anthrax in these letters recevied, which reduces the number of sources even further. This anthrax was a very finely ground, dry powder, with every granule given an anti-static polyglass coating, and electrocharged to aid aerial dispersal. It was a designer bioweapon. The Bureau found it could only have been produced by the US Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, or the private sector Batelle Memorial Institute at Ohio.
Faced with this incontrovertible evidence, the guy the FBI evenutally went after was a harmless, community-minded, Roman Catholic juggler and Celtic music afficianado with thirty six years’ service as a biodefence researcher at USAMRIID in Maryland. Military scientists can be a very prickly bunch (I’ve met dozens of them) but Bruce Ivins seems to have been well regarded by almost everyone he worked with. The FBI let him know he was their chief suspect and the Bureau followed him, overtly and covertly, with great scrutiny.
The pressure must have been immense. From released transcripts, which make for tragic reading, its clear that his questioners leant on him hard. His children were bribed to testify against him, even if they could only provide the most circumstantial evidence. They refused. Ivins, who suffered from depression, was also seeing a counsellor, who did not refuse these inducements. Her co-operation with the FBI was not only a fundamental breach of patient confidentiality, it amounted to asking leading and incriminating questions during their therapy sessions, something I suspect Ivins came to realise. Ivins was also, according to some of the agents involved, a closet crossdresser (much like J. Edgar Hoover). Distressed and disturbed, he killed himself with a Tylenol overdose as a consqeuence of FBI harassment on the 29th of July, 2008. More than 200 of his co-workers attended his memorial.
I often thought of Ivins when I was writing the biography of David Kelly. The Oxfordshire scientist may have been mistreated by the state, but it was nothing compared to what the FBI did to Ivins.
“They took an innocent man, a distinguished scientist, and smeared his reputation, dishonored him, questioned his children and drove him to take his life,” one anonymous colleague told ABC News. “He just didn’t have the swagger, the ego to pull off that kind of thing, and he didn’t have the lab skills to make the fine powder anthrax that was used in the letters.”
(One might also wonder about the wisdom of letting a dangerous bioterrorist know full well they’re your chief suspect, but then that’s exactly what Agent Lambert did with the previous suspect, Steven Hatfill. Either Lambert’s team never wanted to build a viable case, and/or they believed themselves, from the outset, to be working against a highly organized conspiracy that involved elements of the intelligence community.)
As soon as Ivins committed suicide the FBI and the Department of Justice promptly announced that he was the Amerithrax terrorist and closed the case. Scrabbling for a likely motive, the Feds said Ivins held a patent on an anthrax vaccine he had developed, and hoped to make money from the resulting scare. This was nonsense: Ivins had helped develop it, but the money went to the US Military. In fact the entire case against Ivins was ridiculous and dishonest. The catalogue of lies, distortions, and errors is extensive, and far too long to go into here, but many decent people have made comprehensive rebuttals here, here and here.
Lambert says he is still sitting on a wealth of classified information, but the gist of his filings thus far make clear that he was ordered to make Ivins the chief suspect, and that head office repeatedly denied him staff and support to pursue any other avenues. He says the FBI hid vast amounts of evidence that showed Ivins was innocent, while leaking tangential pointers that Ivins could be guilty as definitive fact.
So, these are explosive revelations, but they will suprise few who have followed the case. After all, the argument for flase flag operations is not hard for certain quarters to morally support. For example: you want to start a war, you have accepted there will be a “blood price”, and you understand there is a risk of failure. Based on those terms, why should you shrink from paying that blood price before the war formally begins? Otherwise you might not get to have your war at all. When we understand what false flags are, when our media can acknowledge their existence, these operations will become far less effective. Perhaps one day we will mature.
In the meantime it is surely self-evident that the rise of conspiracy theory is not destroying democracy, but a symptom of its decline. The lessons of Bruce Ivins and Amerithrax are obvious, but I am not aware of a single MSM personality prepared to acknowledge them.by