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Remember the anthrax attacks?

Nobody talks much about the anthrax attacks that hit America just after Sept. 11, five years ago today.

No one was ever charged. The investigations seemed to go nowhere.

You might recall the FBI focused all of its suspicions on an American scientist – Steven Hatfill, a microbiologist and bioweapons expert. He never worked with anthrax but reportedly had associates who worked with the Ames anthrax strain. The Ames strain was laced into five letters and mailed to several media outlets and congressional offices in September and October 2001.

The case against Hatfill was always weak. Thus, he was never charged. I believe he sued the New York Times over what certainly appeared to be a crusade to frame him.

Meanwhile, in the rush to point the finger at a non-Muslim American, the real bad guys got away.

Do you want to know what I think after five years of observation? I think the anthrax was Iraqi in origin and spread by the 9/11 hijackers before they went to meet their imaginary virgins in the sky.

If I’m right, the anthrax attacks represented three compelling reasons for our eventual invasion of Iraq:

What’s the evidence?

ABC News reported in October and November 2001 that at least five experts had identified a substance called bentonite that was used to upgrade the anthrax found in the letter sent to Sen. Tom Daschle’s Washington office. ABC’s experts, as well as former U.N. inspectors that worked in Iraq, claimed that bentonite “was a trademark of the Iraqi germ warfare program.”

ABC wasn’t the only news agency that reported the bentonite discovery. The Wall Street Journal also claimed it was detected in the anthrax mailings that nearly paralyzed the country.
Another clue is a little-known piece of evidence – a report by Dr. Christos Tsonas at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who treated Ahmed al-Haznawi, one of the 9/11 hijackers for a lesion that he thought “was consistent with cutaneous anthrax.”

The way the FBI handled the story of Tsonas’ encounter with al-Haznawi, which was related to the agency in several interviews, appears perplexing, as does its handling of another related incident examined below. A spokeswoman for Holy Cross Hospital said in response to a request for information about the incident, “We cooperated with the FBI and other authorities. At their request, we will not discuss the matter. … We have nothing to say.”

A team of microbiologists and weapons-grade anthrax experts interviewed Tsonas and investigated the report. They concluded her diagnosis made sound medical sense and said it “raises the possibility that the hijackers were handling anthrax and were the perpetrators of the anthrax letter attacks.”
That hijacker, by the way, lived near the headquarters of American Media International in Boca Raton, Fla. It was that company’s photo editor, Robert Stevens, who became the first fatality in the anthrax letter attacks.

Then there is the report of pharmacist Gregg Chatterton in Delray Beach, Fla. He told investigators that two of the 9/11 hijackers came into his store, Huber Drugs, looking for medication to treat irritations on Mohamed Atta’s hands. Chatterton, whose pharmacy is not far from American Media International’s headquarters, recalled that Atta said, “My hands – my hands burn; they are itching.”

There’s more. Remember those controversial alleged meetings that took place between an Iraqi agent and Mohamed Atta in the Czech Republic?

The high-ranking Iraqi intelligence operative was Ahmed Khalil Sar al-Ani. Acording to Czech U.N. Ambassador Hynek Kmonicek, Atta met with him “at least on one occasion, perhaps more.” Other sources say there were as many as four meetings. Weeks later, on April 22, 2001, al-Ani was expelled from the Czech Republic.

Several European newspapers reported in October and November 2001 that FBI teams were dispatched to Prague to investigate. An unnamed “Western intelligence official” was quoted in the London Times as saying: “If it can be shown that Atta was given a flask of anthrax, then the link will have been made with Osama bin Laden and Iraq.”

Later, the German newspaper Bild claimed that, according to Israeli security sources, Atta was given anthrax by al-Ani, “which he took back to the U.S. on a flight to Newark, N.J.”
I know what you’re thinking now. Why on Earth would the Bush administration want to see this overwhelming evidence covered up? Why wouldn’t the Bush administration, which has been under fire for years for “lying” about the evidence against Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaida, want this information out there before the American public?

In fact, the White House, from the beginning, has gone out of its way to deny the Iraq link to the anthrax attacks. Then spokesman Ari Fleischer strangely even took issue with the ABC News report – later backing down.

A couple possibilities occur to me. This is where pure speculation enters the picture – so be warned. Until now, I’ve given you nothing but established facts. But I know the facts I have provided here are sure to raise questions – questions I can’t necessarily answer with hard evidence.

What if it turned out the U.S. government had first provided Iraq with anthrax?

Well, in fact, that seems to be the case. During the 1980s, the U.S. government allowed biological pathogens to be sold to the Iraqi government, as I have previously reported. Export records provided by the American Type Culture Collection lists several pages of biological substances sent to Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education. Included on the list for May 1986 is a shipment of “Bacillus Anthracis (ATCC 14185) V770-NP1-R. Bovine Anthrax, Class III pathogen (3 each).”

Still there is more. Remember bentonite? It turns out one of the largest manufacturers is (get ready for this, Michael Moore) a subsidiary of Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former employer.