Monday, March 28, 2005

Plum Island Redux

Well, here we are at 5:00 PM on a beautiful day after a week of almost solid rain and I'm in front of the computer once more...aided by my ever-diminishing army of Newcastlians. I continue my "research" about Plum Island Animal Disease Research Lab and I find that the Homeland Security Department took it over in 2003. I, also, find that we signed an international treaty in (I think) 1969 to stop developing bioterror organisms, but we continue to "produce' them in order to find out how to stop them. So, we agree to stop, but don't on the grounds of self-defense:

Also, Grumpy ( a commenter) mentioned that the island may now be involved in "weaponized" anthrax. I had come across this allegation yesterday, but didn't note in my blog. Mainly because I was having too much fun seeing just how adrift from my initial point I could go. But here we have the Island denying any interest in anthrax:
In "The Silence of the Lambs," FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) promises Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) an annual trip to Plum Island in exchange for information on a serial killer. The cannibal seethes: "Anthrax Island?"
The island is still battling that image. "We have no interest in anthrax," Dr. McKenna says, because it is endemic to the U.S.

Anthrax is endemic to the U.S. ? Perhaps natural anthrax is, although I don't know of anthrax in the wild. I've never heard of roving herds of anthrax. I've never heard of hunting permits for anthrax. I do know that it is a naturally occuring substance, much like cannabis. But I have never known it to be anything other than invisible and unattended until somebody started putting it in letters (it should be said, though, that the anthrax put in the letters was not naturally occuring. it was "manipulated" or man-made). So, if anthrax for a terror use is endemic (made in the U.S.), then it seems that we are making it and f**king with it at some level. Maybe not Plum Island level, but a level that cuts out the handyman and/or meth maker.
But what constitutes "weaponized" anthrax? Well, according to the Washington Post, it's this:
"It remains unclear whether Dugway scientists have the technical capacity to make anthrax spores as dangerous as those found in the letters to Daschle (D-S.D.) and Leahy (D-Vt.). The particles in those letters were extremely small and the formulation very pure, with far more spores per gram than the U.S. offensive bioweapons program had achieved at its pinnacle in the late 1960s. Small size and high purity are crucial if infectious quantities are to become airborne and inhaled to cause the most deadly form of anthrax.
William Patrick, who led the Army's offensive biological weapons program at Fort Detrick until the program ended in 1969, said yesterday that it was he who taught Dugway scientists how to dry deadly bacteria into a fine powdery form in 1998. "

Drying the stuff and making it small and pure. Sounds simple to me...except for that little problem of getting my hands on any of it.
But wait one stinkin' minute. Does this article talk of Dugway Proving Ground, 80 miles out of Salt Lake City? And does it talk about commercial animals that were killed downwind of Dugway by nerve gas? It's not Plum Island, but the aria's similar. And it's now proven that we are making weaponized anthrax domestically along with unnamed other "deadly bacteria".
Newsmax (of undefined credibility) states that it was Russia that provided Iraq with the know-how to produce weaponized anthrax and the timing of our government's shipping of "normal" anthrax to Iraq was coincidental:
However, as I noted in an earlier column there was an Iraqi scientist at Plum Island doing bio-germ research who went back to Iraq in 1990 or 91, began teaching at Baghdad University and was subsequently killed (some say by the Israelis).
So, who's to say which government did the most damage?
Continuing on, however. This blog that I found actually seems rational and well researched:
and it states that the University of Iowa and Iowa State University both had strains of the weaponized anthrax in their possession for some time. But, somehow, both institutions destroyed all of their samples before any comparison could be made between theirs and that which was mailed.
In a sense, I'm getting closer to Plum Island geographically. I've made it from utah back to the upper Mid-West. And I'm wondering why colleges are being allowed to play with substances that can kill through the smallest exposure. Not that I don't trust the government any more than I would a grad student. I'd never say that. Never.
It's interesting to note how many of the so-called mainstream websites that purport to have educational knowledge of weaponized anthrax insist that the most probable perpetrator od disseminating weaponized anthrax is none other than the former Soviet Union. in the following article, the writer mentions the USSR and downplays any possible U.S. involvement, because (as the writer notes) the U.S. signed a treaty in the 1970's agreeing to stop the cultivation of bio-terrorism germs. But at the end of the article it states that the most likely perpetrator of the mailing of the weaponized anthrax is domestic and that the original Ames strain comes from College Station, Texas. So, our country doesn't produce this stuff any more, but the perpetrator is most likely an American and the strain of anthax used is a domestic product. Did the mailer latch onto it before we signed our treaty and let it sit for 20-30 years? Unlikely.

According to the Washington Post, however, only three countries have the technology to produce an airborne anthrax that can do what the anthrax mailed within our country did: the former Soviet Union, Iraq and us. So, that gives us a 2 out of 3 chance to be the creators of this strain:

And where in all of this is Plum Island? I still don't know. We have documentation of weaponized anthrax being cultivated in Utah, Iowa and even Arkansas. But Plum Island and the government deny adamantly that the Island ever worked with or on it. And we still have not a single lead as to who might have sent the stuff to anyone. Our government was able to define Iraq as the culprit behind the 9/11 attacks without any corroborating evidence and invade it with no meaningful opposition (other than the one "focus group" comprised of tens of millions of people around the world), but it can't even give us a hint of who might have sent the anthrax or where they got it from almost four years after the fact. This anthrax is a very rare commodity and each batch has unique "fingerprints". It shouldn't take a bio-chemist to figure it out. And, if it does, we've got plenty of them.

By the way, I've got to give thanks to my good friend Erik over at The Generik Brand:
for egging me into starting a blog. Somehow, he knew that my love for beer, my unlimited home time due to being single and reclusive during my afterhours and my need to blow sputum would either land me on the FBI list (which I do believe I'm already on) or get me elected Governor of California. He wanted neither so he suggested a blog. I thank him even as I curse him.

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