Accuracy in Media

The headline said, “FBI Is Casting A Wider Net in Anthrax Attacks.” The article in the Washington Post was basically an admission that, five years after the fact, the FBI completely botched the case of the post 9/11 anthrax letters. We’ve been after the FBI to change course for years, noting the complete lack of evidence against “person of interest” Steven Hatfill and the circumstantial evidence suggesting al Qaeda was behind the attacks.

The story by Allan Lengel and Joby Warrick tried to put the best face on the FBI’s incompetence by suggesting the bureau was merely reacting to new developments in the case.

The Post said, “What was initially described as a near-military-grade biological weapon was ultimately found to have had a more ordinary pedigree, containing no additives and no signs of special processing to make the anthrax bacteria more deadly, law enforcement officials confirmed. In addition, the strain of anthrax used in the attacks has turned out to be more common than was initially believed, the officials said.”

None of this should be a surprise. The FBI allowed itself to be misled from the start, acting on disinformation being fed to it by liberal Senators and left-wing activists anxious to find a right-winger to blame.

The Post added, “In interviews and a recently published scientific article, law enforcement authorities have acknowledged that much of the conventional wisdom about the attacks turned out to be wrong.”

That conventional wisdom had been featured in such newspapers as the Washington Post and New York Times.

AIM, by contrast, had publicized evidence of an al-Qaeda link to the attacks. One of our articles appeared as far back as August 2002. We noted, “The anthrax letters praised Allah, and [lead 9/11 hijacker] Atta was spotted a few days before the assault in a Palm Beach, Florida, pharmacy getting medication for his hands, which had become red and swollen. Another hijacker, Ahmed Alhaznawi, who lived and trained as a pilot in Florida where the anthrax attacks began, went to the Holy Cross hospital in Fort Lauderdale complaining of a nasty leg lesion that could have been caused by anthrax. Yet FBI officials have dismissed this evidence.”

The Post story admitted that “?the particular strain of anthrax used in the attacks has turned to out to be a less significant clue than first believed. The highly virulent Ames strain was first isolated in the United States and was the basis for the anthrax weapons formerly created by the United States. The use of the Ames strain in the 2001 attack was initially seen as a strong clue linking the terrorist to the U.S. biodefense network.

“But the more the FBI investigated, the more ubiquitous the Ames strain seemed, appearing in labs around the world including nations of the former Soviet Union.”

In his September 6 speech about the interrogation and detention of al Qaeda terrorists, President Bush acknowledged, for the first time, that the terrorists had an anthrax program.

He said, “KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] also provided vital information on al Qaeda’s efforts to obtain biological weapons. During questioning, KSM admitted that he had met three individuals involved in al Qaeda’s efforts to produce anthrax, a deadly biological agent-and he identified one of the individuals as a terrorist named Yazid. KSM apparently believed we already had this information, because Yazid had been captured and taken into foreign custody before KSM’s arrest. In fact, we did not know about Yazid’s role in al Qaeda’s anthrax program. Information from Yazid then helped lead to the capture of his two principal assistants in the anthrax program. Without the information provided by KSM and Yazid, we might not have uncovered this al-Qaeda biological weapons program, or stopped this al-Qaeda cell from developing anthrax for attacks against the United States.”

It looks like another al-Qaeda cell carried out the post-9/11 anthrax attacks.

Unfortunately, the FBI doesn’t know who or where they are.

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