Glenn Greewald's article in Salon about Bruce E. Ivins' suicide is fascinating. Ivins was a senior biodefense researcher at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. He committed suicide in July shortly before the FBI was going to indict him for his alleged role in the 2001 anthrax attacks.
Here are a few excerpts, but the entire article is worth reading:
If the now-deceased Ivins really was the culprit behind the attacks, then that means that the anthrax came from a U.S. Government lab, sent by a top U.S. Army scientist at Ft. Detrick. Without resort to any speculation or inferences at all, it is hard to overstate the significance of that fact. From the beginning, there was a clear intent on the part of the anthrax attacker to create a link between the anthrax attacks and both Islamic radicals and the 9/11 attacks.
During the last week of October, 2001, ABC News, led by Brian Ross, continuously trumpeted the claim as their top news story that government tests conducted on the anthrax — tests conducted at Ft. Detrick — revealed that the anthrax sent to Daschele contained the chemical additive known as bentonite. ABC News, including Peter Jennings, repeatedly claimed that the presence of bentonite in the anthrax was compelling evidence that Iraq was responsible for the attacks, since — as ABC variously claimed — bentonite "is a trademark of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's biological weapons program" and "only one country, Iraq, has used bentonite to produce biological weapons."
But bentonite was never found in the anthrax, and Greenwald says ABC News didn't acknowledged this until 2007, and only after Greenwald's "badgering them about this issue." That means, says Greenwald, the four "well-placed and separate sources" ABC claimed to have fed them "false information that created a very significant link in the public mind between the anthrax attacks and Saddam Hussein."
After all, three days later, McCain and Joe Lieberman went on Meet the Press (on October 21, 2001) and both strongly suggested that we would have to attack Iraq. Lieberman said that the anthrax was so complex and potent that "there's either a significant amount of money behind this, or this is state-sponsored, or this is stuff that was stolen from the former Soviet program."
As I said, it is not possible to overstate the importance of anthrax in putting the country into the state of fear that led to the attack on Iraq and so many of the other abuses of the Bush era. There are few news stories more significant, if there are any, than unveiling who the culprits were behind this deliberate propaganda. The fact that the current GOP presidential nominee claimed back then on national television to have some "indication" linking Saddam to the anthrax attacks makes it a bigger story still.