Subj: IUFO NEWS: Konformist: US anthrax attackers aimed to assassinate Democratic leaders
Date: 1/26/02 1:54:00 AM Pacific Standard Time

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Subject:            Konformist: US anthrax attackers aimed to assassinate Democratic

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Robert Sterling
Editor, The Konformist

World Socialist Web Site
WSWS : News & Analysis : North America

US anthrax attackers aimed to assassinate Democratic leaders
Media silent on military links
By Jerry White
23 January 2002

In the more than three months since anthrax-infected letters were
mailed to US Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, evidence has
emerged about the source and motives of the attack which has vast
political implications.

It is now generally accepted that the anthrax came from a domestic
source, not from the Middle East. Given the fact that the intended
victims were prominent leaders of the Democratic Party, it is clear
that the perpetrators must be linked to right-wing organizations in
the US. In December, the anthrax in the letters was traced to
biological warfare facilities run by the US military.

Most recently, the Washington Post reported January 21 that at least
27 biological warfare specimens, including anthrax bacteria, had gone
unaccounted for at the Army's Fort Detrick, Maryland lab, prompting
an internal investigation in 1992. Lab workers told the Post that
they had produced anthrax in powder form, contrary to official claims
that the lab generated only "wet" anthrax, which is less dangerous.

Citing interviews with lab personnel, the newspaper concluded: "the
emerging details are consistent with the increasingly popular
hypothesis that last fall's bioterrorist attacks were the work of a
current or former Fort Detrick scientist."

In other words, the leaders of the Democratic Party were targeted for
assassination by right-wing elements that have some connection to the
military. This staggering fact, however, has been met with a strange
silence by the media, government officials and the Democrats
themselves, including the two senators who were targeted.

Investigators have determined that the letters contained weapons-
grade anthrax, which an FBI microbiologist said was designed
for "overkill." Two postal workers at the mail facility where the
tainted letters were processed died after being exposed to up to
3,000 times the lethal dosage of the bacteria, while scores of Senate
office workers were only spared because they were quickly treated.

The anthrax powder has been genetically traced to a single US
military source: the Army's Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah, the only
facility known to have processed anthrax into the highly lethal
powder form found in the letters. The spores in the letters to
Daschle and Leahy were identical to those sent from Dugway to the
Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRID) at
Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC,
and to a CIA lab in Langley, Virginia.

Within political and media circles it is generally conceded that the
assassination plot was hatched by right-wing elements in the US. In a
barely reported comment last month Senator Daschle told a CNN
interviewer, almost in passing, that he believes the most likely
suspect in the attacks was someone related to the US military. But
neither Daschle, Leahy, nor any other Democratic Party spokesman has
sought to make an issue of this attempted political murder.

The news media all but dropped mention of anthrax once it became
clear that neither Osama bin Laden nor Saddam Hussein was responsible
for the attacks and the White House could no longer use such claims
to bolster its war effort and sweeping assault on civil liberties. As
the military link to the attacks came to light, the media sought to
blunt the significance of the exposure. Typical was Time magazine,
which attempted to reassure its readers: "While the possibility of an
Army connection has raised a few eyebrows, investigators are urging
people not to jump to any conclusions."

Targets of the extreme right

Daschle and Leahy have long been targets of vitriol by the extreme
right of the Republican Party, which considers them hardcore
opponents of Bush's agenda. As Senate Majority Leader, Daschle is the
most prominent Democratic officeholder and a possible challenger to
Bush in the 2004 presidential elections. He has been the subject of a
non-stop smear campaign by the Wall Street Journal, which accused
Daschle in an editorial last November of "conducting his own guerilla
war against Mr. Bush, blocking the President's [domestic] agenda at
every turn." The statement was only one of many designed to incite
reactionary elements with whom the Journal is politically and
ideologically allied and which are tied to the Republicans and the

As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Vermont Senator Leahy has
been a target of anti-abortion fanatics and the most hawkish military
types for delaying Bush's judicial appointments and raising mild
criticisms over military tribunals and other violations of civil

During the Clinton administration the Republican Party repeatedly
sought to incite the most reactionary elements in the military with
claims the Democratic president was undermining military
preparedness, selling nuclear secrets to China and engaged in other
disloyal acts. In a thinly veiled effort to stir up violence against
Clinton, North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms told a television
interviewer that it would be dangerous for Clinton to visit the
military bases in his state. Because of the president's views on gays
in the military and his opposition to the Vietnam War, the senator
said, "Mr. Clinton better watch out if he comes down here. He'd
better have a bodyguard."

During the Monica Lewinsky affair some members of the officer corps
openly defied laws prohibiting them from publicly expressing contempt
for civilian political authorities. Several active-duty officers
wrote letters published in the Navy Times and Army Times, which
denounced Clinton as a "criminal," while others circulated petitions
supporting the impeachment and removal of their nominal commander-in-

The Republicans' theft of the 2000 presidential election relied to a
great extent on their connections to the military brass. With the
Bush camp fearing a recount of votes would eliminate their narrow
lead in Florida, the Republicans mobilized military officials to
supply large numbers of absentee ballots from armed forces personnel
stationed overseas. Many of the ballots lacked postmarks or bore
postmarks later than Election Day, suggesting that there was a
concerted effort to solicit late votes and ship them without
postmarks so as to conceal the fact they were illegal.

The Bush campaign then launched a witch-hunting attack on Democratic
candidate Al Gore, portraying the efforts of the Democrats to weed
out invalid military ballots as an anti-American attack on the armed
forces. Montana Governor Marc Racicot, a leading spokesman for the
Bush campaign, told a press conference: "The vice president's lawyers
have gone to war, in my judgment, against the men and women who serve
in the armed forces." Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf, the
commander of US forces in the Persian Gulf War, denounced Gore for
denying servicemen their right to vote.

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, Republican officials such as
Attorney General John Ashcroft portrayed the slightest questioning of
Bush's attacks on democratic rights as aiding and abetting the
terrorists. Even after the anthrax attacks Daschle and Leahy
continued to be targeted by right-wing talk show hosts and newspaper
columnists who denounced them for undermining national security. The
national conservative weekly Human Events ran an article about Leahy
with the prominent headline "Osama's Enabler in Congress," sparking
scores of hate messages to his office.

Daschle came under particular attack for opposing the billions more
in tax breaks included in Bush's so-called economic stimulus package.
Ads were circulated in Daschle's home state of South Dakota featuring
side-by-side photographs of him and Saddam Hussein. Bush
administration officials refused to distance themselves from the
right-wing campaign, with Vice President Dick Cheney denouncing
Daschle as an "obstructionist" on NBC's "Meet the Press" in mid-
December, claiming the Democratic senator was blocking an economic

Bush's double standard

The Bush administration has clearly pursued a double standard when it
comes to fighting the so-called war on terrorism. It has carried out
a dragnet against Arab immigrants but has done nothing to round up
right-wing domestic terrorists. Bush immediately held bin Laden and
the Taliban responsible for the September 11 attack and began bombing
Afghanistan, but White House officials now predict that finding the
perpetrators of the anthrax attacks could take years.

The connections between the military and white supremacist and
militia groups are well known, and there are numerous cases of
weapons and ammunition from military bases going missing and ending
up in the hands of the far right. But rather than pursue such an
investigation, homeland security chief Tom Ridge has discounted the
military connections to the anthrax attacks as just one of "multiple
leads" in the case.

The World Socialist Web Site does not claim to know the exact nature
of the anthrax attacks and to what extent they involved elements in
the military. One thing is certain, however: there is a great need to
seriously investigate these connections.

Anyone who thinks it is preposterous that elements within the state
apparatus and the backers of the Bush administration could actively
be involved in an assassination attempt or could have condoned such
an act should consider recent history in the United States.

From the series of shutdowns of the federal government in 1995-96, to
the impeachment drive against Clinton and the theft of the 2000
election, the Republican Party has shown it no longer plays by the
traditional rules of bourgeois democracy. After being thwarted by
popular opposition during the 1990s, the right has concluded it can
only achieve its agenda through extra-parliamentary and illegal
methods. That these forces will resort to violence was demonstrated
during the 2000 election when a Republican mob attacked officials
recounting votes in south Florida. At the time the Wall Street
Journal urged Bush to use an "iron fist" against his opponents.

In the face of such attacks the Democrats have proven their
unwillingness and incapacity to wage a genuine struggle against these
fascistic forces. They responded with cowardice even as leaders of
their party are targeted for assassination. At the same time the
Democrats have concealed from the American people the extent of the
danger posed by the ultra-right.

This underscores the need for working people to advance their own
independent political struggle in defense of basic democratic rights.