Accuracy in Media

A Washington Times story by Jerry Seper about the FBI supposedly having a prime suspect in the anthrax attacks generated attention nationally. He claimed his sources were “law enforcement authorities” and “leading biochemical experts.” But you had to read deep into the article to discover his main source for this charge ? Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, who was described by Seper as “a microbiologist at state University of New York who heads the biological arms-control panel for the Federation of American Scientists?”

The Village Voice, a left-wing New York weekly, noted that the Seper story “more or less repeated her report” ? that is, Rosenberg’s report. Interestingly, the Federation of American Scientists now promotes Rosenberg’s report on its own Web site by saying, “This report by Dr. Barbara Rosenberg prompted media reports that the FBI has a prime suspect in the anthrax attacks.”

Readers are entitled to know more about Rosenberg and the Federation of American Scientists. The Times neglected to mention that this is a group that has a left-wing orientation that believes in the sanctity of international arms control agreements. Its Web site has stories attacking the Bush Administration’s withdrawal from the flawed ABM treaty.

Near the end of Rosenberg’s own report, she tips her hand, saying, “The recent anthrax attack was a minor one but nonetheless we now see that it was made possible by a sophisticated government program? secret US programs may have been the source of that support? US government insistence on pursuing and maintaining the secrecy of elaborate biological threat assessment activities is undermining the prohibitions of the Biological Weapons Convention and encouraging biological weapons proliferation in other countries?”

That’s her way of attacking the Bush Administration for resisting a protocol to an international agreement supposedly banning biological weapons. She believes that if it is proven that a former U.S. government scientist is behind the anthrax attacks, then that makes the case for having an international treaty mandating inspections of government facilities. The U.S. fears that rogue nations would circumvent the treaty and our secrets would be exposed to the world.

John Bolton, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, says the protocol would endanger the viability of biological warfare defense programs because its inspection provisions could enable countries with offensive programs to learn about national defense programs and devise countermeasures. Bolton has identified Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Libya and Syria as countries with offensive programs. But Barbara Hatch Rosenberg would rather talk about some alleged and anonymous former U.S. scientist.

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