Bush Pressured FBI to Blame al-Qaeda for Anthrax; McCain fingered Iraq on Letterman; Can’t we Change the Name of Washington National Airport?

One thing I haven’t seen mentioned with regard to the attempt to implicate Iraq in the anthrax scare in fall of 2001 is the reason Iraq was hard to rule out as a source. It was that it clearly originated in labs in Ames, Iowa. The Reagan administration had permitted the provision to Iraq of anthrax precursors . . . from Ames, Iowa. That is, the Republican Party was proliferating weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, even though his regime was known to have deployed poison gas against Iran and against Iraqi Kurds. And, because Iraqi anthrax would have shown the Ames ancestry if analyzed, a foreign provenance– however unlikely– could not be ruled out by investigators.

In the intelligence world, Iraqi anthrax, given Iraq by Washington, showing up in the US would have been called “blowback”– the word for a covert operation that goes rogue and ends up harming the original sponsor. But even the inability to rule Iraq out was a form of blowback. Reagan and Rumsfeld muddied the waters for terrorism investigators by giving WMD to terrorist regimes.

The New York Daily News reveals that

‘After the Oct. 5, 2001, death from anthrax exposure of Sun photo editor Robert Stevens, [FBI Director Robert] Mueller was “beaten up” during President Bush’s morning intelligence briefings for not producing proof the killer spores were the handiwork of terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden, according to a former aide. “They really wanted to blame somebody in the Middle East,” the retired senior FBI official told The News.’

As usual, when Bush and Cheney could not get what they wanted in the way of propaganda from the FBI or CIA, they just made it up. That fall, McCain piled on:

‘ LETTERMAN: How are things going in Afghanistan now?

MCCAIN: I think we’re doing fine. I think we’ll do fine. The second phase – if I could just make one, very quickly – the second phase is Iraq. There is some indication, and I don’t have the conclusions, but some of this anthrax may – and I emphasize may – have come from Iraq.

LETTERMAN: Oh is that right?

MCCAIN: If that should be the case, that’s when some tough decisions are gonna have to be made. ‘

Hat tip to Think Progress

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