Accuracy in Media

In the seemingly never-ending story of Steven Hatfill and the anthrax letters case, the Washington Post has continued its campaign of innuendo, reporting in the context of discovering the chemical agent ricin in a Senate building that, “Friends of Hatfill said he has been in the Washington area and could establish for law enforcement authorities where he has been for the last few weeks.” That is a clever way of saying that, although Hatfill isn’t a suspect and has never been charged in the anthrax case, he had better be able to prove that he wasn’t behind the ricin attacks. Hatfill has already been found guilty by the Post.

This is a smear, pure and simple. Hatfill has lost two jobs, and his career has been ruined. And isn’t it interesting that the left-wingers who are mounting a national campaign against the Patriot Act, a law used to uncover and prosecute suspected terrorists on American soil, have not come to the defense of Steven Hatfill. Perhaps it’s because Hatfill is not a left-winger. Rather, he’s a solid anti-communist who worked for the U.S. government and wants to help in the war on terrorism.

It’s been over two years since 9/11 and the anthrax attacks and the FBI has failed to produce one iota of evidence against Hatfill. It is apparent that the Bureau was prompted to go after Hatfill because of pressure from liberal Senators Daschle and Leahy and left-wing organizations that wanted to believe the attacks were an inside job committed by a current or former government scientist. That’s an interesting theory, but the circumstantial evidence suggested an al Qaeda connection. Al Qaeda had access to anthrax and one of the 9/11 hijackers had been exposed to it.

In the ricin case, press reports have suggested that a disgruntled trucker is behind the attack. Perhaps. But the Wall Street Journal noted that, “The chemical has also made frequent appearances in the post-September 11 world. Former Iraq weapons inspector David Kay mentioned it?in his report on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. Saddam, he said, was actively trying to weaponize ricin right up until the U.S. invasion in March. Ricin also turned up in a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda was clearly experimenting with the chemical?as it was with anthrax?though there is no evidence that it succeeded in weaponizing either substance.”

A CNN story noted that, “Numerous references to making ricin were in documents produced by the al Qaeda terrorist network. References to ricin were part of the group’s training course and in a manual that was spread worldwide. Iraq is also known to have included ricin in its biological weapons program.”

The inability to find the perpetrator or perpetrators of the anthrax attacks stands out as another intelligence failure. Hatfill’s suit against the government for publicly identifying him as a “person of interest” in the case provides the opportunity for the Justice Department to clear his name and settle the matter. Then Hatfill can take on the news organizations that joined the campaign to smear him and the government can work to find those behind the anthrax and ricin attacks.

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