Inside USA's Biological Warfare Center;
Q. & A. With Citizen Activist Barry Kissin
WRITTEN BY SHERWOOD ROSS
One legacy of the Bush-Cheney administration is the grandiose expansion of our germ warfare research program. This was declared to be necessary because of the September-October 2001 anthrax letters’ attacks on Congress and the media---attacks the public is now being told came not from the Middle East but from within our own government’s facilities. As a result, developmental work is going forward with deadly and loathsome pathogens capable of triggering plagues and epidemics.
Legislation to finance this expansion rolled through Congress after the anthrax attacks killed five persons, sickened 17 others, caused more than 10 million Americans to go on very strong antibiotics, and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up. Laboratories at hundreds of universities and corporations have expanded into biological warfare research centers. More than $50 billion has been lavished on this effort—an effort critics charge is in violation of the existing treaty against bioweapons development ratified by the United States in 1975. So much of the nation’s resources have been shifted into germ warfare research that 750 of our most celebrated scientists signed a petition protesting the adverse effect this is having on research into combating naturally occurring diseases.
The Government’s admission the anthrax attacks came not from the Middle East but from its own biowarfare research facilities signifies the anthrax letters constituted a “false flag” operation designed to whip up public sentiment for the “War On Terror.” One man who saw the expansion of the Government’s biological warfare research hub at Ft. Detrick under President Bush as a danger to his community and to the nation was Barry Kissin, a 57-year-old Brooklyn-born attorney who moved to Frederick, Md. in 1981. Kissin and his wife, Dr. Malgorzata Schmidt, make their home just a few miles from the main gate of Ft. Detrick. Kissin has found himself devoting ever more of his time to challenging the expansion of “biodefense” as well as the underlying rationale contained in our government’s mutating story about the anthrax letters.
Over the past six years, Kissin has become a leading citizen activist in the struggle to halt the expansion of our “biodefense” program. His work evidently came to the attention of the Homeland Security division of the Maryland State Police. The Washington Post of October 12, 2008, reported that this Homeland Security division had listed Kissin and 52 others as “terrorists,” and furthermore that authorities had acknowledged their wrongdoing and had agreed to purge the files. Kissin, an unsuccessful candidate for Congress in 2006, was in good company. The activists labeled as terrorists included two nuns, a man who challenges military recruiting in high schools, and critics of the Iraq war.
Following is my Q. and A. with this passionate opponent of a new biological arms race---a race once shut down by President Richard Nixon only to be stoked anew by the Bush regime.
Q: How did you happen to get interested in Ft. Detrick?
A: I became a resident of Frederick, MD, home of Ft. Detrick, in 1981. I was aware Ft. Detrick was headquarters for our bio-warfare related programs ever since the first such program commenced in 1943. Before my move to Frederick, I was also conscious of the Silent Vigil that was maintained from July, 1959, until March, 1961, outside Detrick’s main gate that stood for the cessation of our bio-warfare program and the conversion of Detrick’s scientific facilities into a health research center. This Vigil, conceived by a Quaker named Lawrence Scott, is credited with laying the foundation for the decision by President Nixon in 1969 to terminate our offensive bio-warfare program. Two years later, Nixon came to Detrick and announced he was creating the National Cancer Institute (NCI) there which would utilize (and continues to utilize) former Army bio-warfare buildings, thus “sending a clear message that America could beat its swords into plowshares.” I might add that it has since become apparent that the CIA and its “Special Operations Division” at Detrick did not abide by the decision to terminate bio-weapons research. Various bio-warfare related programs continued to function in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
During my formative years, I was very active in the movement against the Viet Nam War. Since then I have been very conscious of the terrible workings of our military-industrial-intelligence complex. Upon moving to Frederick, I quickly became aware of how the Army at Detrick manipulated the local community and local media. Ft. Detrick is the largest employer in Frederick County. Its unassailable position in the community is based on a mixture of messages about its contributions to the local economy and its patriotic role in defending against the enemy, once Communist, now terrorist.
Q: What steps did the Bush administration take to launch its biological warfare program?
A: Upon coming into power, the Bush Administration immediately exercised its strong preference for arms race over international arms control. In the realm of bio-warfare, it promptly withdrew from negotiations to strengthen the 1975 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), the international treaty that bans the development of biological weapons. This made the United States practically the only country among 150 signatories to the Treaty opposed to a protocol for international inspections and verification. Thereafter, using the anthrax letters attacks of the fall of 2001 as a central pretext, the Bush Administration launched a massive expansion of our so-called “bio-defense” program, much of it at Ft. Detrick.
Q: Could you briefly describe the nature of the work going forward at Ft. Detrick and the names of agencies involved?
A: One of the programs at Ft. Detrick is under the auspices of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). My focus of course has been upon bio-warfare related activities, which, since termination of the overtly offensive program, have been conducted by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). USAMRIID is a part of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command (USAMRMC) at Ft. Detrick, which also manages activities unrelated to bio-warfare, such as supplying medical materials for use by the Army.
The expansion underway at Ft. Detrick contemplates a “National Inter-agency Bio-defense Campus” (NIBC) which upon completion would occupy 200 acres there. The plan is for the NIBC to be the site of a new facility for USAMRIID, designed to measure more than one million square feet (approx. 25 acres of facility space), at a cost of $1 Billion (2005 cost estimate). Construction of two of the new NIBC facilities has already been completed (in 2008) – namely the “National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center” (NBACC) to be operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which measures 160,000 square feet, and the “Integrated Research Facility” (IRF) to be operated by the National Institute of Health (NIH), which also measures about 160,000 square feet. After the new USAMRIID facility is completed, the plan is to erect another new facility on the NIBC, to be operated by the Department of Agriculture (USDA). And the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has announced that it also wants to join this campus “confederation.”
Q: Please explain what BSL laboratories are and how they are graded. Also, could you describe some of the pathogens government scientists are working on in these labs?
A: BSL labs are biocontainment facilities designed for research, development, testing and evaluation (RDT&E) activities involving specific pathogens (germs), exposure to which would be hazardous to lab workers as well as the “outside environment.” BSL stands for Bio-Safety Level --- the higher the level, the more elaborate the safety and security measures, the more dangerous the germs. BSL-4 is for maximum containment. There are dozens of diseases viewed as potential agents for biological weapons. RDT&E upon diseases such as hepatitis A, B and C, influenza A, Lyme disease, dengue fever and salmonella takes place in BSL-2 labs. Anthrax, West Nile virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, Eastern equine encephalitis, SARS, tuberculosis, typhus, Coxiella burnetii, Rift Valley fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and yellow fever are dealt with in BSL-3 labs. And Bolivian and Argentine hemorrhagic fevers, Marburg virus, Ebola virus, Lassa fever, and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever are dealt with in BSL-4 labs.
The new DHS, NIH and Army facilities at Detrick alone will house approximately 60,000square feet of BSL-4 laboratory space, specifically designed to accommodate work with germs for which there is neither vaccine nor cure.
This amount of space is four times the total amount of BSL-4 space that existed in the entire country as of 2004.
Q: How have you attempted to slow or stop the expansion of these laboratories?
A: Since 2003, I and others in the community have been participating in proceedings under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) designed to examine the environmental impacts posed by new bio-warfare related facilities at Ft. Detrick. Though NEPA treats as a priority the consideration of public input, our input has essentially been ignored as one facility after the other has been approved. I and others have also been conducting demonstrations in downtown Frederick against the expansion.
Q: In some ways the community’s activism has paid off, has it not?
A: In August, 2007, for the first time in history, an elected official, namely a Frederick County Commissioner, publicly expressed concerns about what was going on at Ft. Detrick. This opened a floodgate. Unprecedented columns and editorials in the local newspapers appeared questioning what was going on at Ft. Detrick. And in November, 2007, upon the occasion of a public meeting hosted by the County Commissioners, more than 150 members of the community filled Frederick City Hall to express their many concerns.
Under much pressure, both of Maryland’s U.S. Senators----Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin---got behind the demand for a review by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) of the public health and environmental hazards posed by the new facilities being built at Ft. Detrick. Though the appropriation for this NAS review was passed by Congress in September, 2008, we continue to wait for the Army to fulfill its obligation to enter into a contract with the NAS for this review.
Q: Are you a member of any citizen groups concerned about research underway at Ft. Detrick?
A: Frederick Citizens for Bio-lab Safety; Frederick Progressive Action Coalition (FredPAC); Frederick County Peace Resource Center (PRC). There are also national organizations concerned about our national “biodefense” program, a central part of which is being implemented at Ft. Detrick. A most important example of such an organization was the “Sunshine Project” based in Austin, Texas. This non-profit organization was instrumental in procuring the Congressional hearing in October, 2007, regarding the alarming (if not reckless) proliferation of high-security bio-laboratories in the U.S. Unfortunately; the Sunshine Project has since ceased its operation for lack of funding.
Q: As I understand it, with most of the rest of the world on record as opposed to a new bioweapons arms race, the United States is setting a terrible example by its research at Ft. Detrick.
A: In 2004, Milton Leitenberg, Senior Research Scholar at the University of Maryland, James Leonard, head of the U.S. delegation that negotiated the international arms control treaty known as the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) that bans the development of bio-weapons, and Richard Spertzel, former deputy Commander of USAMRIID and Senior Biologist on the United Nations inspection team in Iraq, co-authored a commentary containing the following statements:
“The rapidity of elaboration of American biodefense programs, their ambition and administrative aggressiveness, and the degree to which they push against the prohibitions of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), are startling. . . . [The Deputy Director of DHS’s NBACC himself] noted that one NBACC objective, the creation of genetically engineered agents, might raise BWC compliance questions. . . Reportedly, the US intelligence community is under orders to carry out studies. . . . Surely, the ‘intelligence community’ is the least appropriate place in the US government to ‘carry out’ such work — and the most likely to lack adequate oversight.”
Q: According to some critics, “biodefense” activity at Ft. Detrick will violate Federal criminal law, is that correct?
A: In 2007, International Law Professor Francis Boyle, who drafted the “Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989” that criminalizes violations of the BWC, stated:
“The proposed construction and operation of new facilities at Fort Detrick is an integral part of the program that is referred to as ‘Biodefense for the 21st Century’ in Homeland Security Presidential Directive - HSPD-10, released on April 28, 2004. In my expert opinion, said program constitutes clear violations of the [BWC]. . . . [This] so-called ‘biodefense’ program . . . [has the] unmistakable hallmarks of an offensive weapons program. . . . In my expert opinion, participants in this so-called ‘biodefense’ program are subject to criminal liability [under the Act that I drafted.]”
Q: Have you been inside Ft. Detrick?
A: Numerous times. As an attorney, I have represented before the Magistrate’s Court at Ft. Detrick individuals charged with misdemeanors committed on post. More to the point, I have attended various “community meetings” on post hosted by the Army for the purpose of answering questions about the expansion. Furthermore, on March 5, 2008, I personally was given a three-hour-long tour of the USAMRIID facility by then USAMRIID Commander Colonel George W. Korch, which included an inspection (through windows) of the “biological containment” laboratories [like the ones portrayed in the Dustin Hoffman film, “Outbreak” (1995)].
Q: How many acres does Ft. Detrick cover and what’s it like?
A: Ft. Detrick comprises 1200 acres, (about 10% of the total land area of the City of Frederick, population 60,000). “Area A” contains all of the buildings for the activities summarized above, as well as a substantial number of recently-constructed single-family homes for Army families, a very large gymnasium, commissary, etc. (Though remarkably it still has places in it that would be easy to penetrate), the perimeter fencing has recently been bolstered, which critics describe as contributing to a militaristic presence in the middle of a densely populated community.
Q: What is going on in “Area B?”
A: “Area B” is about 400 acres and is separated from “Area A,” and has livestock on it used in testing by USAMRIID. Area B was a landfill site. Though questions were raised beginning in the 1970’s about possible leakage from Detrick dumping, it was not until the early 1990’s that monitoring wells were installed that revealed in the ground water the presence of TCE and PCE, both cancer-causing chemicals, at levels between 1,000 and 5,000 times the levels determined to be safe by the EPA. It became clear that the water supplies of nearby residents had been severely contaminated. On July 1, 2003, the local Frederick News-Post published a front-page article “Cancer questions: Residents point finger at Detrick,” based on the statements of many of Detrick’s neighbors about the high incidence of cancer in their families.
Q: How have Ft. Detrick authorities and the Army responded?
A: The clean-up has dragged along ever since the early 1990s. Two thousand metric tons of hazardous waste have been unearthed. In 2003, sanitation crews were shocked to find vials containing live germs. The discarded biological agents included anthrax, Brucella melitensis, which causes the virulent flu-like disease brucellosis, and klebsiella, a cause of pneumonia. (On May 28, 2003, The Guardian, a prominent English newspaper, published an article entitled “US finds evidence of WMD at last -- buried in a field in Maryland.”)
Q: Surely, public officials would raise questions about this situation.
A: On November 13, 2008, both of Maryland’s U.S. Senators, ordinarily quite protective with respect to Ft. Detrick, stated in a letter to then President-elect Obama: “[W]e write to draw your attention to the Department of Defense’s (DOD) position that it is not subject to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to administer federal environmental protection statutes. The Department of Defense has been in flagrant and repeated violation of these statutes at installations in Maryland and around the country. . . . [A]dmitting flaws in its characterization of contamination at Ft. Detrick Maryland as well as the handling of the clean-up there, Secretary Davis promised that the Army would not oppose EPA’s decision to list Area B at Fort Detrick Maryland on the National Priorities List. Yet, we now have a clear sign that DOD appears to be shirking its responsibilities and legal obligations to protect the health and welfare of our constituents, particularly . . . neighbors outside the gate. As recently as November 3, 2008, Secretary Davis wrote to the EPA asking that the Agency refrain from placing Ft. Detrick on the Superfund list in spite of the fact that the site meets all the listing criteria.”
Q: Wow. Have there been any injuries or deaths as a result of the biological research at Ft. Detrick? I understand some of its streets are named after fallen employees.
A: In general, secrecy in the name of “national security” has concealed the consequences of biological research at Ft. Detrick.
According to the official account, three people have died as the result of contracting diseases being cultivated at Ft. Detrick, all before the overtly offensive program was terminated in 1969. A microbiologist and an electrician died from anthrax, and an animal caretaker died from the Machupo virus. The official account does not acknowledge what has come to light about one of the anthrax cases, namely that, at first, the victim was placed by his personal physician in a Frederick hospital, and that “bronchial pneumonia” was listed on his death certificate.
Q: Sounds like a cover-up.
A: One must study Pulitzer Prize-winning Seymour Hersh’s seminal work, Chemical & Biological Warfare: America’s Hidden Arsenal (Doubleday & Company, 1969) to discover the case of an enlisted laboratory technician at Detrick contracting pneumonic plague. In a memo classified as secret, Detrick officials cautioned that this lab technician was also a life guard at a public swimming pool in the community. But no attempt was made to inform Frederick residents of the danger, or to provide preventative antibiotic treatment. There was also a case of an enlisted man residing off base who contracted meningitis, which can be highly contagious. The Frederick County Health Commissioner was not informed of this case until weeks after it was discovered. Regarding the plague case, this Health Commissioner told Hersh: “I co-operated with [Ft. Detrick officials]. I had an obligation to them – I had a secret clearance. They told me not to report the case [because] we didn’t want to alarm anyone.” Referring to “funny cases” related to Ft. Detrick, this Commissioner also told Hersh about questionable incidents involving typhoid fever and tuberculosis.
Then there was the case of Frank Olson, whose death back in 1953 was attributed by officials to suicide. Largely as the result of ongoing efforts by one of Frank Olson’s sons, Eric, it has come to light that Dr. Olson was actually in charge of the CIA’s “Special Operations” at Ft. Detrick, that he was gradually becoming more and more disturbed by the CIA’s secret programs at Ft. Detrick, and that after he expressed some of his misgivings and shortly before his death, he was given LSD by CIA agents. In 1994, Dr. Olson’s son Eric retained Dr. James Starrs, a noted forensic pathologist at the George Washington University Medical Center, to assemble a team of experts to conduct an exhumation and autopsy on Frank Olson. After months of tests and investigation, Dr. Starrs concluded that the circumstances of Dr. Olson’s death had been deliberately covered up by the CIA, and that his death was the result of “homicide deft, deliberate, and diabolical.” (Dr. Olson’s son Eric has also uncovered documents that establish that Dick Cheney became personally involved in this cover-up – see Eric’s website, www.frankolsonproject.org).
Q: Are there any other examples of deaths or injuries at Ft. Detrick?
A: With regard to injuries resulting from biological research at Ft. Detrick, it is instructive to consider an article written by several medical doctors who work at USAMRIID entitled “Experience in the Medical Management of Potential Laboratory Exposures to Agents of Bioterrorism at USAMRIID” that appeared in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: Volume 46(8), August 2004, pp. 801-811:
“The large number of exposure incidents reported . . . serves as a reminder that work in a laboratory of this type is inherently hazardous. . . . [W]e recognize that work in containment laboratories is inherently hazardous because of the need to work with sharp objects (ie, needles) and animals, which can be unpredictable. In addition, personal protective equipment may inadvertently increase the potential for incidents by limiting the field of vision, tactile sensation, and communication. . . . A laboratory worker was evaluated for a potential ocular exposure to orthopox viruses resulting from a splash of condensate. . . [A]ll 17 persons involved in the [anthrax] letter handling were considered at potentially significant risk for exposure due to the readily aerosolizable spores. . . . The route of exposure [in another case] was probably inhalational as the result of a malfunction (leak) of the filter in the bio-safety cabinet that was subsequently discovered. . . . As research on the agents of bioterrorism becomes more widespread, an increase in occupational exposures to bioterrorist agents may be expected . . .
“Much of our knowledge about biosafety has come from investigations into the mechanisms and activities that caused workers to become infected . . . However, historically the majority of individuals, over 80% in one report, diagnosed with laboratory-acquired infections, could not identify a known incident or breach in laboratory policy responsible for their infection. . . There were 77 individuals evaluated for potential exposures to 107 viral agents . . . [N]o vaccine existed for many of [these] viral agents. . . .” This Journal article also refers to instance after instance of the failure of existent vaccines to prevent infection.
The experience of one USAMRIID scientist who accidentally contracted a disease called “glanders” was described in the article as follows: “The individual, after a diagnostic liver biopsy, subsequently went into respiratory failure, necessitating intubation, [followed by] a 6-month course of treatment.” There is explicit acknowledgement in this article of “the risk of introducing communicable illnesses into the community at large.”
Also relevant to this question about death and injuries is the apparent incidence of cancer afflicting neighbors of Ft. Detrick due to water contamination, as outlined in my answer to a previous question. Also, there is the matter of the anthrax letters of 2001. It bears pointing out that according to the official account, the anthrax in the letters was developed at Ft. Detrick.
Q: Do you know what the budget is for biological research programs?
A: Spending on so-called “bio-defense” research greatly increased immediately after the anthrax letters. In the seven fiscal years following the anthrax letters, $48 billion was spent on “bio-defense.” There is another $9 billion budgeted in fiscal year 2009. Much of this is for the stockpiling of pharmaceuticals -- vaccines and remedies such as Cipro for anthrax.
The General Accounting Office and scientists like Richard Ebright of Rutgers University have suggested that the spending on research since 2001 has actually made this country less safe by vastly increasing the number of researchers and labs authorized to handle bacteria and viruses of bioterrorism concern, known as “select agents.”
Ebright estimates that the number of labs so engaged has increased 20-fold since 2001. Today, there are about 1,400 public and private labs and about 14,000 scientists known to be involved.
Q: Arms control expert Milton Leitenberg has said there is no evidence of biowarfare capability on the part of any terrorist group. What do you make of that?
A: I have read two books by Mr. Leitenberg that pertain to the bioterrorism threat, and I have spoken to him several times about his work. Mr. Leitenberg is a conservative academic. In Assessing the Biological Weapons and Bioterrorism Threat, Mr. Leitenberg demonstrates that billions of federal expenditures have been appropriated in the absence of virtually any real threat analysis, and that the risk and imminence of the use of biological agents by non-state actors/terrorist organizations has been “systematically and deliberately exaggerated” by our government. It is noteworthy that this book was published in December, 2005, by none other than the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College. On its title page can be found the following statement: “This publication is a work of the United States Government . . .”
Q: Turning to the anthrax letters, what is Amerithrax?
A: Amerithrax is the FBI’s name for its investigation into the anthrax letters attacks of September-October, 2001. This investigation has become a cover-up and a fraud, a systematic and deliberate fraud that now attempts to pin exclusive responsibility for the attacks upon a USAMRIID immunologist named Bruce Ivins. After months of intense harassment by the FBI, Ivins died in July, 2008, it appears by suicide.
Q: Do you believe the anthrax attacks on Congress and the media in 2001 emanated from Ft. Detrick?
A: The anthrax in the letters was of a particularly pernicious strain called the “Ames strain” of anthrax. After being discovered in a dead cow from Texas in 1981, the Ames strain made its way to Ft. Detrick, where it was originally cultivated as a potential bio-weapon. Bruce Ivins worked with the Ames strain at Ft. Detrick in the course of his efforts to derive an effective vaccine. According to the FBI’s genetic analysis, the anthrax in the letters was of a specific genotype designated RMR-1029. RMR-1029 was created by Bruce Ivins in 1997. Thereafter, Dr. Ivins was called upon to send RMR-1029 to various laboratories, including those at the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, as well as those in Ohio owned and operated by the company named Battelle. So, it is likely that the anthrax came from Ft. Detrick. But the attacks “emanated” from either Battelle or Dugway, where the anthrax was converted from the “wet slurry” form it was in at Detrick to the powdered weaponized form found in the letters addressed to the Senators.
Since the FBI announced that Dr. Ivins was the lone culprit, two articles of mine have been published on the internet that set forth the strong evidence that the real source of the anthrax letters was one of our own secret anthrax weaponization projects being conducted by the CIA and the DIA at Battelle’s labs in Ohio and at the Army’s labs in Utah. “FBI Sweeps Anthrax Under the Rug” can be accessed at http://rockcreekfreepress.tumblr.com/post/46413512/fbi-sweeps-anthrax-under-the-rug.
“Amerithrax Hoax” can be accessed at
Q: The anthrax letters had “Death to Israel,” “Death to America” and “Allah is Great” printed in them. This seems like a crude propaganda plant to make the public believe the letters were sent by persons from the Middle East or their sympathizers. I’ve also heard it said the Bush Administration leaked information at the time of the anthrax attacks that the letters came from the Muslim world. What do you make of that?
A: This aspect of the anthrax letters is what makes the anthrax letters a “false flag” operation. A “false flag” operation is one wherein a country stages an attack made to look like an attack by an enemy, so as to justify an (aggressive) attack upon that enemy. Clearly, elements in the Bush administration and in the media, for as long as they could get away with it, pretended that the anthrax letters came from Iraq. This played an unmistakable role in gathering support for the invasion of Iraq.
Q: What do you believe was the motivation for the anthrax attacks?
A: The practice of inventing or exaggerating an attack or a threat in order to stimulate demand for military build-up and war has been in place forever. (The Gulf of Tonkin incident and the fabrication of Iraqi soldiers throwing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators before the first Gulf War are important, relatively recent examples.) In his 1961 Farewell Address, President Eisenhower warned about the "unwarranted influence" and “misplaced power” of the “military-industrial complex.” Before that, General Douglas MacArthur declaimed: “Our country is now geared to an arms economy bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and an incessant propaganda of fear.” And before that, General Smedley Butler: “War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious.” And while we are at it, let’s also heed James Madison, the primary author of our Constitution: “The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.” And: “If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”
Q: Are you saying the motivation traces back to the profit motive of the military-industrial complex?
A: For many involved in this practice of inventing/exaggerating threat, this is part of an effort to maximize profits. Others are believers in the need for a military build-up, and justify the invention/exaggeration as necessary to establish priority among competing demands for appropriations. No matter the quality of the motivation, the practice is fraudulent, and is directly responsible for the ignored phenomenon that the U.S. spends more on its military than all of the other countries in the world combined.
Q: And is the world’s No. 1 arms merchant as well, plus the U.S. has ringed the globe with 700-800 military installations, all for “defense” of course but, taken together, giving the appearance very much of an aggressive posture, the stance of an imperialist superpower.
A: The neocons who controlled policy under Bush were of course very closely connected to the “defense” sector of our economy, and the profits made in that sector have of course skyrocketed during the past eight years. What distinguished the neocons in this context was that they did not only rely upon inventing/exaggerating threat, they also explicitly espoused “full-spectrum dominance” for the sake of the ascendance of American empire.
Q: So where do the anthrax letters fit in?
A: The anthrax letters must be viewed in this historical context. In the case of the anthrax letters, the invention/exaggeration of threat took the perverse form of an inside job. The Bush Administration has had to officially acknowledge that the anthrax letters were an inside job. But in order to minimize the implications of this fact, the official account resorts to the flimsy claim that the insider was a lone nut named Bruce Ivins, peculiarly driven to stimulate demand for his anthrax vaccine.
The obvious cover-up in Amerithrax, which depends on the complicity of not only our FBI and Department of Justice, but also of our mainstream media, demonstrates how economically and politically powerful are our military-industrial-intelligence forces. Remarkably, despite the admission of inside job, the anthrax letters continue to serve their dual purpose of generating profits and of achieving dominance in the ghastly realm of bioweapons.
Q: Thank you, Barry Kissin.
(Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based public relations consultant who formerly reported for the Chicago Daily News and wire services. He is the author of the article, “America The Beautiful’s Germ Warfare Rash” published in The Humanist magazine. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reach Kissin at email@example.com.)
Barry Kissin leads a march in downtown Frederick to protest plans for the new “biodefense” campus at Fort Detrick. A variety of peace groups came together to express concerns that this campus will threaten local health and safety as well as international arms control.