Monday, June 30, 2008

Who Dunnit?

It seems like it happened decades ago yet it actually took place while smoke was still rising from the WTC pile in lower Manhattan. In early October 2001 people started to die from anthrax inhalation and skin contact. The nation's mail system was being used to attack US citizens with deadly anthrax spores. Media elites who today believe the Bush administration overreacted to threats against the nation were, at that time, writing hysterical columns about not being able to get enough Cipro to stay alive. Read that October 21, 2001 Mo Dowd NYTimes column linked above to get a flavor for just how much the nation's mood has changed. Back then Americans didn't know where the next attack was coming from and where the terrorists would strike. Of course, over time, we learned that everything was simply George W. Bush's fault-- except for the things that were Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney's fault. That made life dramatically easier. We could just blame Bush and his evil henchmen for everything scary in the world. We could even put Democrats in control of Congress so John Conyers and Henry Waxman could purge Washington of any remaining knuckle-dragging, pro-America zealots. Ignorance truly is bliss.

The FBI never has seemed to have a good idea, at least not for public consumption, about who was behind the anthrax attacks that cost at least 5 American lives and, according to the FBI, $1 Billion. Along the way they gravitated to the domestic white male theory. The "person of interest" they fingered was Dr. Steven Hatfill. The mainstream media loved this twist to the storyline. Reporting on Islamic terrorists who want to kill infidels gave them the creeps so having a big, white, male, American suspect was something that was much more to their liking. Some of us never bought the "Hatfill as anthrax terrorists" story for one minute. If Hatfill could just stay alive and solvent long enough he might just get vindication and a payday out of this like Richard Jewell , we guessed.
Last week Steven Hatfill got his payout without apology from the US government. He receives $3 Million cash and a 20 year annuity of $150,000/ year. That annuity has a cash value of $3 Million to Dr. Hatfill, although it costs the government less than that amount. So this must be upsetting to the media-- the white American male apparently didn't do it-- right? No. Along the way a reporter got caught up in the trial. She refused to testify about who from the government leaked what to her about Hatfill. The judge imposed a $5,000 / day fine on her until she fessed up. The government's settlement likely makes that imposition moot. So, the press folks now celebrate the fact that the media don't have to reveal sources or even admit if their sources ever really existed. I'm not saying that this reporter made stuff up and attributed it to anonymous government sources-- but others sure do, and even freely admit it. So the basic press principle of making up stuff and reporting it as news is still intact. Whew... that was a close one!
Where are we now regarding the attacks? If Hatfill wasn't the source of the mailed anthrax who was? Where are the perpetrators now? Do they have more anthrax spores? If anthrax is mailed again are the safeguards we spent a small fortune on sufficient to protect the public? Does Maureen Dowd have enough Cipro? Some people who never believed the Dr. Hatfill theory have some ideas they've been kickin' around for a while. I don't have any idea if they're onto something with any of this. Frankly, I worked within groups a large part of my life and found that a group of more than three people could barely conspire about where to have lunch, so my skeptic's alarm bells go off loudly when anything even barely smacks of a "conspiracy." Still, there are a lot of questions and seemingly no solid answers. The mainstream media, once obsessed with anthrax, seems quite content now to have it all go away in a summer filled with hope for change. But, really, who dunnit?