Sunday, May 22, 2005

al Qaeda and the Anthrax

Qaeda Letters Are Said to Show Pre-9/11 Anthrax Plans ( By ERIC LIPTON, Published: May 21, 2005, NYTIMES.COM)

The article in question discusses plans that had been made by al Qaeda, in Afghanistan, to construct a biological laboratory for the purpose of culturing Anthrax and making a weapon out of it. The information discussed was released under the Freedom of Information act, and was captured at a camp in Afghanistan.

It discusses the equipment requirements (centrifuges, incubators, etc), and describes a rudimentary lab layout. It discusses visits and other attempts by the lab director aimed to acquire Anthrax samples. But it also says the lab director was in the end frustrated in acquiring suitable samples to work with.

The letters appear to be the same documents referred to in the report of a special presidential commission on intelligence failures and unconventional weapons led by former Senator Charles S. Robb of Virginia and Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the federal appeals court.

The report, released in March, describes a biological weapons program that "was extensive, well organized and operated two years before the Sept. 11."

But the article goes on to quote someone else saying:

Two biological weapons experts who have read the letters said in interviews Friday that the letters suggested that the laboratory construction was at an early stage and that it would have most likely been at least two to three years, if not more, before the Qaeda team would have been able to produce enough anthrax to use as a weapon.

"They were moving to try to get the right stuff," said D. A. Henderson, an expert on biological weapons who is a former top scientific adviser to the Health and Human Services Department. "But not in a very sophisticated way."

And

"It is not likely that anything is going on right now," said Dr. Leitenberg, author of "The Problem of Biological Weapons" (2004). "And in the three years they were working on this, as best as is known, they did not succeed in obtaining a pathogen or reach the stage of growing the pathogen in the laboratory."

So, on the one hand a government report says there was a huge problem, and on the other hand some experts say they were at very early stages. Who to believe? The government we've seen hand us lie after lie after manufactured evidence?

Oh, and there's still the unsolved mystery of the Anthrax attacks in September and October of 2001. My understanding is the Anthrax used then appeared to be of American manufacture, that it came from a strain produced by the U.S. Government. Hmmm???