Remember the anthrax attacks of 2001? The case was named Amerithrax
by the F.B.I.
The attacks began one week after the 9/11
attacks and were linked by the government and media to Iraq
as yet another reason to invade. And then, as quickly as it began, the anthrax scare ended with a conspicuous lack of closure. By the time the US invaded Iraq, the media were content to be Bush's hype men.
The anthrax attacks came in two waves. The first set were mailed out, as mentioned, one week after 9/11. Letters were mailed to ABC, CBS, NBC, the New York Post
and AMI (publishers of The National Enquirer
). Robert Stevens, an employee of AMI, was the first to die. Following him to their deaths were Thomas Morris Jr, Joseph Curseen, Kathy Nguyen and Ottilie Lundgren. At least 22 were infected with anthrax. The original wave of letters read:
09-11-01THIS IS NEXTTAKE PENACILIN NOWDEATH TO AMERICADEATH TO ISRAELALLAH IS GREAT
The attempt to make the anthrax-containing letters look like the work of a fanatical Muslim was crude. Few Muslims write the date in the American manner of day/month/Christian Calendar year. In addition, most Muslims say "God is great" if writing in English, not "Allah is great." I'm not suggesting that the anthrax attacks were part of a conspiracy to drum up support for the invasion of Iraq, but they certainly helped win support.
The second wave of letters were dated October 9 and were addressed to Democratic senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. They were identified by the media as opposed to the Patriot Act over concerns of its violation of civil liberties. The second letters read:
- YOU CAN NOT STOP US.
- WE HAVE THIS ANTHRAX.
- YOU DIE NOW.
- ARE YOU AFRAID?
- DEATH TO AMERICA.
- DEATH TO ISRAEL.
- ALLAH IS GREAT.
If the rationale was, as it seems, to target opponents of the Patriot Act and to use the media to get attention, it suggests that perhaps the perpetrator was not a crazed Muslim hoping for abuses of civil liberties. No, the perpetrator's main aim was apparently to make himself needed and he merely used the post-9/11 paranoia as a smokescreen and tool for his own advancement. Indeed, in 2003, Dr. Bruce Ivins
(a top US biodefense researcher) and two of his colleagues at USAMRIID at Fort Detrick were awarded the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service
for their development of an anthrax vaccine.