Wayne Madsen, the author of the following article, clearly is not attempting to be politically neutral, nor does he seem afraid of being labelled a conspiracy theorist. Looking past his political slant and the 007 stuff, I believe what he is suggesting is actually very reasonable. I had the same idea some time ago, and was frustrated but not surprised that I had seen absolutely no mention anywhere of the possibility. Today I decided to search the web for any mention of the idea. I found very little, but among what little I found was this article, which not only mentions the idea, but argues for it.
I would like to add a little of my own evidence. Consider this graph, wherein:
Another first for the Bush regime?
By Wayne Madsen
May 3, 2003—Evidence is mounting that the Bush administration may be engaging in a new form of warfare: bio-economic attacks against countries that either opposed the U.S. war on Iraq or were showing signs of surpassing the United States in economic vitality and growth. Revelations that the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) does not occur naturally and that anthrax may have been introduced onto an Egyptian merchant vessel bound for Canada from Brazil has raised eyebrows among biological warfare experts.
The use of bio-economic warfare as a weapon of mass destruction was first suggested by Dr. Edgar J. DaSilva, the Director for the Division of Life Sciences of the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Da Silva stated in a 1999 article in the Electronic Journal of Biotechnology that bio-economic warfare—"the undermining and destruction of economic progress and stability"—can be traced to "the development and use of biological agents against economic targets such as crops, livestock and ecosystems." DaSilva also noted that such warfare can often be perceived by the public as naturally-occurring because "such warfare can always be carried out under the pretexts that such traumatic occurrences are the result of natural circumstances that lead to outbreaks of diseases and disasters of either endemic or epidemic proportions."
The United States, particularly the Central Intelligence Agency—through its joint efforts with the U.S. Army's biological warfare laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland—has pioneered in the field of bio-economic warfare. In the 1970s, the CIA directed a bio-economic warfare campaign against Cuba. In his book, Biological Warfare in the 21st Century, author Malcolm Dando describes the Cuba campaign as involving the use of blue mold against the nation's tobacco crop, cane smut against the sugar crop, African swine fever against the livestock population, and a hemorrhagic strain of dengue fever against the human population. These attacks were designed to destabilize Cuba's agricultural based economy. The Cuba operations were conducted after President Richard Nixon, in a 1969 Executive Order, banned the use of biological warfare agents. Nixon's order and his 1972 signing of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention with Britain and the Soviet Union outlawing bio-weapons were systematically ignored by the CIA and Pentagon.
Almost at the same time that Western financial institutions were forecasting a record growth in China's gross domestic product—estimates ranged from 7.5 to 7.6 percent—the country's southern Guangdong Province experienced its first outbreak of SARS. After the disease began spreading and Chinese officials scurried to deal with the virus, the economic cost to mainland China was devastating—$2.2 billion according to the Far Eastern Economic Review. In addition, SARS cost Hong Kong $1.7 billion. For the Bush administration, which was experiencing America's worst economic downturn in 10 years and was spending billions on the war against Iraq, the idea of a booming Chinese economy did not sit well. In addition, China was in the final stages of planning its first manned space launch at a time when the United States lost its second space shuttle due to incompetence. The contrasts between a economically vitalized China and a United States caught in the malaise of recession, war, and technological failure could not have been more stark. Then we heard about the first outbreak of SARS.
In January 2002, the Hartford Courant reported that Fort Detrick had lost several specimens of deadly viruses and bacteria. These included the Ames strain of anthrax bacteria (the same strain used to terrify the Congress during its deliberations over the USA PATRIOT Act in late 2001), Hanta virus, Ebola virus, simian AIDS and two "unknown" specimens—agents that were actually classified as "Secret" by the military and CIA. Based on recent suggestions by Russia's top biological warfare experts, SARS may have been created as a bio-economic weapon of mass destruction.
Nikolai Filatov, the head of epidemiological services for Moscow, told Russia's Gazeta newspaper that he thought SARS was man-made. Russian Academy of Medicine member Sergei Kolesnikov agreed with his colleague. He was quoted by the RIA-Novosti news agency that SARS is a "cocktail" of mumps and measles. He added that such a mixture could never appear naturally.
Considering the fact it was a right-wing group known as the Minutemen that originally planned on conducting a bio-terrorism campaign involving the distribution of an unknown virus in major airline terminals throughout the United States, the culpability of the United States government in the SARS outbreak must be seriously considered. A number right-wing extremists, including those with ties to racist and religious zealot organizations, have found high-level jobs within the Bush administration. The Minutemen plot was the idea of Robert DePugh, the leader of the organization who also happened to own a veterinary drug firm called Biolab Corporation, headquartered in Norborne, Missouri.
In 1972, members of an extreme right-wing group, the "Order of the Rising Sun," were arrested in Chicago after it was discovered they were going to contaminate the water supplies of Chicago, St. Louis, and other Midwestern cities with 30 to 40 kilograms of typhoid bacteria cultures. In May 1995, Larry Wayne Harris, a member of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations, was arrested for a probation violation when he told a police informant that he had enough anthrax to wipe out the entire population of Las Vegas. The FBI discovered that Harris's car contained several bags containing a strain of anthrax that was not dangerous to humans.
Another right-winger, Dr. Larry Ford, a Mormon gynecologist with the University of California at Los Angeles, maintained a close relationship with the director of South Africa's bio-weapons program, Dr. Wouter Basson. According to CourtTV.com, Ford was often accompanied on his trips to South Africa by Dr, Jerry Nilsson, a fellow Mormon and UCLA colleague. A former lab assistant of Ford's told The New York Times in November 2002 that she saw Ford carry a vial on the plane to South Africa. She said the vial contained a deadly bacteria that could have endangered everyone on the plane had it leaked. The vial was turned over to a South African official. Two FBI informants reportedly attended a 1986 meeting in South Africa with Niels Knobel, South Africa's Surgeon General, and Ford. The agents reported that Knobel received toxins from Ford and Nilsson. These toxins were later used in South Africa's deadly top secret bio-weapons program, code-named Project Coast. On February 28, 2000, James Patrick Riley, Ford's partner in the firm Biofem Pharmaceuticals, was shot and critically wounded at its Irvine, California headquarters. After one of Ford's friends was charged in the shooting, Ford committed suicide at his Irvine home. Canisters later dug up in Ford's backyard were discovered to contain cultures of cholera, salmonella, botulism, and typhoid fever. When reports emerged that Ford worked for the CIA, FBI agent Doug Baker confirmed the story but later quickly recanted.
An April 20, 2003 article in The Washington Post revealed that Don Mayes, a retired CIA officer, acted as a go-between between Daan Goosen, a former employee of Basson, and the CIA and FBI. Goosen was trying to sell the CIA and FBI a pathogen that genetically fused the genes of an ordinary intestinal bacteria with those that result in lethal gas gangrene. Some samples of the pathogen were actually shipped to the United States via the CIA in a toothpaste tube. The tube was delivered to the FBI's Key West office by Robert Zlockie, another retired CIA officer. The CIA and FBI eventually declined Goosen's offer to sell them his deadly bugs as well as his offer to work in the United States on biowar defenses. Prior to the breakdown in negotiations between Goosen and the CIA and FBI, the Pentagon set up a meeting between Goosen and Bioport, the Michigan-based firm that provides anthrax vaccines to the military. Bioport has refused to comment on reports that The Carlyle Group, a controversial international investment firm on whose board former President George H. W. Bush sits, owns shares of stock in Bioport.
The Washington Post also reported that Zlockie was given a receipt on FBI letterhead acknowledging that it had taken custody of "one toothpaste tube containing one ampul of E. coli genetically coded with epsilon toxin." The tube was then sent to Fort Detrick, which concluded that Goosen's pathogen was a legacy from Project Coast, the same program on which Ford and Nilsson worked. Against the wishes of some in the CIA and Defense Department, the FBI declined to play ball with Goosen and it alerted the South African police to the fact that Goosen had attempted to sell virulent strains of bacteria and viruses to the United States. The South Africans declined to prosecute Goosen. In addition, in April 2002, a South African court cleared Basson, Goosen's one-time boss, of 46 criminal charges, including attempted murder of anti-apartheid activists. Earlier, Basson was cleared of 15 charges, including murder and attempted murder.
In October 2002, the Sunday Mirror of Zimbabwe reported that FBI agents traveled to Zimbabwe and South Africa to examine Dr. Steven Hatfill's role during the 1970s in the Rhodesian Selous Scout's biological warfare program and South Africa's bio-war program. Hatfill, a native of Missouri who was briefly a Marine Corps reservist, emigrated to Rhodesia at a time the United Nations and United States imposed severe sanctions against the breakaway minority government of Ian Smith. However, Hatfill claims he served in the Army, Army Reserve, and National Guard from 1975 to 1981 at the same time he claimed to have been in the Rhodesian military. In an article in The American Prospect, writer Laura Rosen postulates that Hatfill may have been a double agent, working for both the Selous Scouts and the U.S. Army Institute for Military Assistance in Fort Bragg. In fact, Hatfill bragged to his colleagues about being a double agent.
The idea that the CIA and the U.S. Special Forces could have been running Hatfill as an agent in Rhodesia is all the more troubling when considering that the Rhodesian bio-war program targeted black Zimbabwean rebels with anthrax during the 1970s. Hatfill's resume claims he served in the South African Defense Forces after leaving Rhodesia. The FBI was particularly interested in Hatfill's work for Project Coast, a program that included experiments on applying anthrax to the gummed flaps of envelopes sent through the mail.
In the late 1990s, Hatfill worked at Fort Detrick as a U.S. Army employee and later as a contractor for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a company with a number of CIA and Pentagon classified contracts. Later, Attorney General John Ashcroft called Hatfill a "person of interest" in the investigation surrounding the 2001 anthrax mailings. Hatfill graduated from the University of Zimbabwe Medical School in 1983. In July 2002, South Africa's Daily News reported that in 1987 or early 1988, Hatfill trained elite Aquila Brigade members of neo-Nazi leader Eugene Terre'blanche's Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB), a notorious paramilitary group.
After Hatfill was identified by the FBI as a "person of interest," Pat Clawson became the scientist's spokesman. According to The Baltimore Sun, Clawson is a close associate of Oliver North, the right-wing politician, Fox News reporter, talk show host, and convicted Iran-contra criminal. In fact, Clawson is a program director for North's radio show. Also coming to Hatfill's defense was National Review writer Joel Mowbray, a right-wing defender of the Likud government of Ariel Sharon and Bush administration policies in Iraq. Mowbray, who is quite content with Ashcroft's anti-Arab and anti-immigrant policies, uncharacteristically criticized Ashcroft for leaks to the press about the investigation of Hatfill. Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard reported that much of the "evidence" against Hatfill emanated from the Jewish Defense Organization, a radical offshoot of the extreme right-wing Jewish Defense League.
After Fort Detrick and SAIC severed their ties with Hatfill, he wound up working for Louisiana State University's Academy of Counter-Terrorist Education, an entity that receives most of its funding from U.S. government grants, and, interestingly, SAIC, Hatfill's one-time employer at Fort Detrick. When Hatfill's name surfaced as a continuing "person of interest" for the FBI, LSU fired him. Ironically, during his stint at LSU, Louisiana suffered a huge outbreak of West Nile virus, which, according to New African magazine, was one of the pathogens weaponized by South Africa's Project Coast, the program that the FBI was investigating for its prior links to Hatfill.
There is definitely a right-wing element involving scientists, military, intelligence, and government contractor personnel in the study, production, and distribution of biological weapons, including anthrax, gas gangrene, Dengue fever, and other pathogens. As the right-wing in the United States calls for retaliation against countries that failed to support America's war on Iraq, it may be more than coincidental that SARS has broken out in China and the virus has been transmitted to Canada via the busy travel routes existing between China, Hong Kong, and major Canadian cities like Toronto and Vancouver due to Canada's large Asian population. Not only has China's economy drastically suffered but Toronto, Canada's most populous city, is facing an economic disaster. After the SARS outbreak in Canada, it is discovered that an Egyptian vessel carrying bauxite from Brazil to an Alcan aluminum plant in Saguenay, Quebec, suffered the death of its first mate from anthrax just prior to departing Brazil for Canada. The Brazilian police have reported that the man contracted anthrax when he opened up a suitcase containing the bacteria. Fortunately, Canadian authorities were alerted before the ship docked in Quebec, whose majority French-speaking population has been just as outspoken against America's war policies as their kinfolk in France.
Considering Dr. DaSilva's warnings about bio-economic warfare, the world should be on guard against a deliberate policy by the right-wing elements that populate the Bush administration to use bio-weapons to punish countries for failure to cooperate with the United States. Considering that the CIA and Pentagon considered buying genetically-fused bacteria and viruses from South African freelance bio-war scientists and Russian scientists now claim that SARS is a similarly genetically-fused mumps and measles pathogen, an immediate investigation of Fort Detrick's stockpiles and their points of origin should be initiated by the Congress, which has shown an amazing lack of oversight for all the questionable activities of the Bush administration, including 9–11, Enron, and even the anthrax mailings that targeted two of the Senate's top leaders.
Although the Bush administration contends that the anthrax mailings, like the hijacking of commercial planes and turning them into virtual cruise missiles, were unprecedented and a surprise, history refutes such claims. In 1988, the Foundation on Economic Trends warned that Fort Detrick and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta were shipping some of the "deadliest diseases known to man" through the U.S. postal system. One such shipment in 1987 from the CDC to Fort Detrick contained the Crimea-Congo virus, a deadly pathogen carried by ticks. The shipment was "lost" somewhere in the main Philadelphia post office.
In 1988, Postmaster General Anthony Frank banned U.S. government bio-toxin shipments through the mail after the U.S. Army said it would increase its postal shipments to its new bio-war laboratory at Utah's Dugway Proving Grounds, a facility that has the only aerosolized anthrax laboratory in the United States. The Army also wanted to ship anthrax, botulism, Q fever, and dengue fever through the mail, a frightening idea considering the reports that Fort Detrick was missing several pathogenic strains after the commencement of the anthrax mailings.
Unless Congress begins asking the tough questions, we will never know what went missing from Fort Detrick. Could the missing "bugs" have been West Nile virus, AIDS, bubonic plague (there have been several recent "mysterious" outbreaks of this disease in India, Kazakhstan, Libya, Congo, and Brazil), or even SARS? Why can't the American people expect a full investigation of and accounting for America's supposedly "banned" bio-weapons program?
The U.S. Congress, which is now in the hands of some of the most right-wing and venal ideologues in its history, will probably not want to delve into America's secret labyrinth of bio-weapons progenitors and dispensers, especially since it involves a number of their ideological soul mates. The vitriol spewing from the mouths of the congressional leadership is strictly reserved for gays, African Americans, the French, Hollywood liberals, the drug addicted, and abortion rights advocates. As far as the right-wing leadership is concerned, there is no questioning the military, Justice Department, or the intelligence agencies. Those who dared are no longer in a position to do so. Senators Graham and Shelby are off of the Senate Intelligence Committee. They have been replaced by dupes and yes-men for Langley and Detrick.
China and Canada are now suffering from the SARS virus. Quebec almost received a possible deadly blow from ship-born anthrax spores. The Bush administration is now deciding how best to punish France, Germany, Russia, and other countries for their lack of support. Nothing, including the use of bio-economic warfare, should be put past the Bush administration. In the absence of an independent U.S. Congress, the world should demand that UN inspectors be given access to all U.S. bio-weapons laboratories. There is still no evidence that Saddam Hussein used bio-weapons but there is a lot of actual and circumstantial evidence that the United States has and continues to do so with possibly disastrous consequences for the entire world.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative reporter. He was also the Operations Officer at Naval Facility Coos Head, Oregon from 1980 to 1982 and assisted the FBI and NIS in the investigation as a temporary special agent.
last updated: 06.19.2003