Edward Jay Epstein, in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, explains that the Anthrax spores used in postal attacks around the time of 9/11 had been weaponized by a coating of silicon greatly enhancing their effectiveness as an aerosal. Over 100 scientists had had access to the particular strain of Anthrax, and the FBI’s ham-handed investigative efforts applied such intense scrutiny, pressure, and public accusations that they resulted in two suicides and a public apology including a $5.8 million settlement with no actual resolution.
The crux of the investigative problem is the silicon. None of the scientist suspects or the laboratories they had access to possessed either the specialized equipment or expertise needed to weaponize the Anthrax. Over 8 years later, the case remains open.
The Epstein editorial came to mind this morning, as I was looking through the Memeorandum aggregator page and found a link to this sneering hit piece by Justin Elliott, one of Talking Points Memo’s little leftist elfs.
Elliott is busily trying to marginalize Laurie Mylroie, a Harvard-educated Arabist, who has served on the faculty of Harvard and the Navy War College and as an advisor to Bill Clinton, identifying her as a “crackpot” and conspiracy theorist. I had not been previously familiar with Dr. Mylroie, her books, or opinions, but looking into all this, it is very clear that she has taken a position very much at odds with the prevailing consensus of the foreign policy and intelligence establishments and the media, one attributing a far more significant ties between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda and an active role on the part of the Iraqi regime in both the first WTC bombing and 9/11.
I don’t own her books (I just ordered two of them), so I don’t know if I agree with her, find any of her evidence persuasive or her reasoning credible, but I am interested in seeing what she has to say. Thank you, Mr. Elliott. Whenever I see the left performing one of their little excommunication-on-the-basis-of-thought-crime ceremonies, I always develop the suspicion that the target of such attention may be perfectly correct.
The TPM hit piece notes that the Department of Defense’s Office of Net Assessment (an internal Pentagon think tank) was employing Dr. Mylroie as recently as 2007 as a consultant to produce reports on Saddam Hussein’s strategy for dealing with UN inspections and his intelligence service. She had previously written in 2005 a History of Al Qaeda. I plan to read it carefully.
The popularly prevailing theory, completely excluding state support for al Qaeda’s terrorist activities, is very useful if you are interested in asserting Iraqi innocence in order to indict Bush, but it does leave a number of important problems unanswered, like where did those weaponized Anthrax spores come from?