Anthrax Appears To Be Home Grown.
October 30, 2001 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Anthrax Appears To Be Home Grown. Something more than sensationalist anchor people reading off tele-prompters. A low key approach to questions I think a lot of people have
posted by Grok09 (20 comments total)
Dear $DEITY_OF_CHOICE, not another one. What's wrong with saying we have no fucking idea where this stuff came from? The anthrax itself is probably not much help for two reasons: a) there's really not that much to sample, and b) even if the anthrax was made according to a certain "recipe", the recipes are pretty well-known among a certain subset of weapons-designers. If it is indeed a US "recipe", that doesn't mean it was grown or made here.

As I've said before in other anthrax threads, we need to look at means, motive, and opportunity. Saying that domestic nutballs carried out these attacks is ridiculous: these pointy-heads have the collective IQ of a golf ball. Further, violent hate groups in America tend to be highly racist -- their targets would more likely be Colin Powell or Condoleeza Rice rather than than Sen. Daschle. And then there are the "anthrax letters" which mention Allah -- they could be fakes to divert attention, but they could just as well be real.

The upshot is we just don't know. I wish the media would stop speculating out loud until we know a little bit more about the situation.
posted by mrmanley at 1:22 PM on October 30, 2001

Didn't Malaysia admit the letter to the Microsoft office in Reno was tampered with in thier country?

There could be more than one source, although as Mr. Manley points out, we are purely guessing.

They didn't catch the unibomber until his brother turned him in. Without a similar break, we aren't going to get these folks either.
posted by argon405 at 1:26 PM on October 30, 2001

mrmanley -- okay, we still don't know. Granted. But you seem to have missed the reason that the evidence points back to US (or at least away from the Middle East). The anthrax in question does not use the same anti-caking agent that is typical in Iraqi versions. The article also suggests that the milling was a bit uneven; not what one might expect from a government lab.

Again, the jury's still out, but the article was certainly more informative than a Rumsfeld briefing.
posted by RavinDave at 1:48 PM on October 30, 2001

While I don't doubt the anthrax came from the US, you really can't believe everything you read at New Scientist. In my (albeit limited) experience with it, I've seen an awful lot of half-baked "science."

Just take it with a grain of white, powdery salt.
posted by jpoulos at 2:02 PM on October 30, 2001

mrmanley - The NS article seems well reasoned. You say we just don't know, but the article indicates that we do know (1) that the stuff is processed ("military grade") and (2) that it's most likely from the US process rather than USSR or Iraq.

On the other hand, your arguments don't seem to hold up well. If this recipe was well known in the community, and easy to produce, why did Iraq go with grinding (the US method is apparently simpler)? Also, if US groups are highly racist, why has recent internal violence (Oklahoma, Unabomber) been directed against Government/Industry/Academia?

jpoulos - In my experience, their science is usually OK, if popularised. Their politics may not be that reliable, though.
posted by andrew cooke at 2:06 PM on October 30, 2001

It didn't say anthing about the anthrax being "home-grown" though, save the jolting headline. Moreover, it suggests that the bacteria stems from an old stockpile that the US professionally manufactured. That's yet another indication that the science is "half-baked".
posted by bloggboy at 3:02 PM on October 30, 2001

Last I heard, the Antrax, highly refined, was thought to come from Uncle Saddam's laboratories and grown by his own "Dr. Germ."

If it is home grown, let us not look automatically at the right wing extremists and I think it could be left wing extremists, sponsored by the Clintoniestas. Maybe Dr Carville...................hmmm?
posted by coraggio at 3:09 PM on October 30, 2001

I'll have to agree with mrmanley that 'we don't know' but thereafter his points seem to owe much to personal bias.

I'm not willing to stipulate that the totality of American nutjobs are pointy-headed racists of meager intelligence incapable of stumbling across Anthrax and mailing it.

As far as the milling (or at least the variations in grain size) of the stuff sent to Daschle, the article states that the range was very narrow and right at the optimum for inhalation infection:

"Last week, US Senator Bill Frist announced that the powder in the Daschle letter was in particles 1.5 to 3.0 microns wide, a very narrow size range. The results of the physical analysis of the New York Post letter are not yet known."

So, at least some of the attacks appear to be using fairly sophisticated ordnance. My gut tells me, though, that there are multiple sources for the stuff. Perhaps one original source and a number of other opportunists who had some of the stuff lying around waiting for a good time to use it. Now is that time.

Of course my gut also tells me McDonald's makes tasty hamburgers so who the hell knows, really.
posted by rocketpup at 3:09 PM on October 30, 2001

<lisa simpson>Okay, so the Iraqis, with the help of the reverse vampires, supplied the anthrax to the rightwing nutjobs.</lisa simpson>
posted by RavinDave at 3:23 PM on October 30, 2001

My theory is it's Ashcroft sending it out...the man seems just crazy enough to me, and besides, how ELSE is he justify all these fun new intrusive laws? (Er...Mr. FBI man, that's a JOKE!)
posted by airgirl at 4:47 PM on October 30, 2001

Argon - for the record, the Microsoft letter was anthrax negative.

Right wing whackjobs have been sending anthrax and anthrax threats to planned parenthood for years and years. Why _wouldn't_ you think it was them?
posted by swerdloff at 4:51 PM on October 30, 2001

"A New York hospital worker lay gravely ill with inhalation anthrax Tuesday as the widening list of victims prompted health investigators to wonder whether they have underestimated just how infectious the bacteria might be."

This worries me much more.
posted by MsRoxie at 5:08 PM on October 30, 2001

If right-wing kooks were behind this, there would have been flour sacks of anthrax delivered to FEMA, the IRS and BTF on day one. Antipathy towards these organizations might have been a nuance in American culture that completely flew over the head of Atta et al.

Of course, I don't know what I'm talking about, either.
posted by lileks at 5:26 PM on October 30, 2001 [1 favorite]

well i think it's obvious that it is related to the middle east terrorists, and i'll give some of the evidence

1. the location of the letters florida, new jersey, new york. These are all the places where the hijackers spent the majority of their time.

2. Mohammed Atta had gone to a pharmacist and requested medicine for abnormal skin irritation

3. It seems to me that the targets of these letters wouldn't be those that right wing extremists would go after
I find it hard to believe they would have targeted a lowly tabloid bypassing abortion clinics, hillary clinton, bill clinton, etc. etc. The name of the company was 'American' Media, but we all know its just the tabloids. It was located in Florida and I swear I picture Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi driving by the place and going "oh thee America Media ".....
posted by rabbit at 6:31 PM on October 30, 2001

here is an interesting link about atta's visit to the pharmacist

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - A man believed to be one of the hijackers in the terrorist attacks visited a drug store in late August for medication to treat a burning sensation in his hands, a pharmacist says.
Gregg Chatterton, co-owner of Huber Discount Drugs, said Friday the man he identified as Mohamed Atta was evasive about the cause and the pharmacist asked if he'd been exposed to cleaning fluids or gardening chemicals.

"He snickered and said, 'No, I wasn't in a garden,'" said Chatterton, who described him as "cocky."
posted by rabbit at 6:33 PM on October 30, 2001

"That stockpile was destroyed when the US renounced bioweapons in 1969. But small samples might have been saved without being noticed".Hmmmm, I don't think so.
Two things will stop this crap:$10 MILLION REWARD and
PUBLIC EXECUTION.Lets get serious
posted by Mack Twain at 7:48 PM on October 30, 2001

Hilarious, Mack.
Why not move to Saudi, if that's your bag.
posted by asok at 2:26 AM on October 31, 2001

The most compelling argument against the Anthrax being Right-Wing/domestic is that it has been introduced following 9/11/01. Right wing looneys would not want their message to be negated/distorted by association with Muslim looneys, which they probably hate, anyway.

Even if the Anthrax seems to have the "fingerprint" of old US research, that doesn't mean that Iraq, or Afghanistan, or some other lovely world citizen hasn't developed a similar product; the "fingerprint" analogy is somewhat limited.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:02 AM on October 31, 2001

Well,assock,I'm happy living here,where our government
quite often offers rewards to solve crime, and where we
have a federal death penalty for murder.A huge reward will bring forth the truth, while a public execution (Tim McVeighs' was semi-public) serves several purposes. So,
whats the problem?
posted by Mack Twain at 5:09 PM on October 31, 2001

Of course everyone understands the mind of a terrorist now.
posted by lagado at 5:09 PM on November 1, 2001

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