By Nicholas Stix
October 2, 2002
Remember Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg? She’s the tenured Marxist activist who from circa October 2001 until August, with the media’s consent, manipulated coverage of last fall’s anthrax attacks, in which five people were murdered and over a dozen sickened by anthrax-contaminated letters. She also engineered the smear campaign that sought to railroad scientist Dr. Steven J. Hatfill for the anthrax attacks.
On September 22, 2002, Rosenberg published a long op-ed essay in the Los Angeles Times, in which she sought to resurrect her discredited theory, according to which the anthrax killer was an insider from the American biodefense program at USAMRIID (the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases), at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Maryland, and to take some more cheap shots at the man whose career and life she has sought to destroy, Steven Hatfill.
The motive for Rosenberg’s campaign is her desire to destroy America’s biodefense program, and thus leave America defenseless against biological attack. Rosenberg is a Marxist; as former Marxist Irving Louis Horowitz once observed, contemporary Marxists believe that anything that harms the United States helps the Third World.
Rosenberg targeted Hatfill because he opposes bioweapons protocols Rosenberg supports, and because while living in the former Rhodesia (since 1980, Zimbabwe), he had supported Rhodesia’s white apartheid regime, while she apparently supports the black apartheidists who eventually prevailed, and who have since 1980 been led by genocidal dictator Robert Mugabe.
Beginning in late December or early January, Rosenberg began spreading two main stories, the “American” and the “European” version, plus “soft” and “hard” variations, respectively.
She told American reporters that the anthrax killer was a biodefense program insider, who had sent the letters not to kill anyone, but to warn the public of the danger of biological warfare. The Baltimore Sun’s Scott Shane dubbed this the “bioevangelist” theory. Rosenberg told more gullible European reporters, that the anthrax killer was a scientist who worked for the CIA, and who carried out the attacks on Agency orders.
In her “soft” variant, Rosenberg claimed that she had come up with her own “profile” of the attacker, based on publicly available information; in the “hard” variation, she insisted that she had FBI sources.
Rosenberg has tended to pair the American and soft versions, and the European and hard versions, respectively. What the European journalists didn’t know was that the version Rosenberg was feeding them came not from “FBI sources,” but from the defunct Chris Carter TV series, Millennium.
On July 22, I advised Hatfill that if he wanted to stay out of jail, he’d better take the offensive.
Barbara Hatch Rosenberg adopted a low profile beginning about August
11. That was the same day that Steven Hatfill held the first of two dramatic press conferences, in which he named Rosenberg as one of his tormentors:
According to The Frederick (Md.) News-Post of June 27, 2002, in June 2002 a woman named Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, who affiliates herself with the Federation of American Scientists, saw fit to discuss me as a suspect in the anthrax case in a meeting with FBI agents and Senate staffers. I don’t know Dr. Rosenberg. I have never met her, I have never spoken or corresponded with this woman. And to my knowledge, she is ignorant of my work and background except in the very broadest of terms.
The only thing I know about her views is that she and I apparently differ on whether the United States should sign onto a proposed modification of the international biological weapons convention. This was something I opposed to safeguard American industry, and I believe she favored.
I am at a complete loss to explain her reported hostility and accusations. I don’t know this woman at all.
In any event, within several days after Dr. Rosenberg’s reported comments in Congress, the FBI called me again at home. I was asked if these agents could look at my apartment and swab the walls for anthrax spores. I was surprised at the request. Anthrax is a deadly inhalational disease.
And yet, according to an August 11 AP story, Rosenberg insisted to Associated Press reporter Laura Meckler, “I have never mentioned any names, not publicly, not to the FBI, not to the Senate committee or staff, not to anyone. I have never said or written anything that pointed only to one specific person. If anyone sees parallels, that’s their opinion.”
Rosenberg made a similar denial to the New York Times’ Eric Schmitt.
Rosenberg’s denials are nonsense on stilts. She had long claimed to have a “profile,” but she didn’t have a profile, she had a person, Hatfill, from whom she derived the profile. Her reference to Hatfill as “Mr. Z,” in a June report she’d posted at the web site of Red Flags Weekly, was a transparent dodge.
The motivation for Rosenberg’s denials is transparent: She fears a libel lawsuit from Hatfill. But in the June 26 Hartford Courant, reporters Dave Altimari and Jack Dolan wrote that “Hatfill’s name came up during a [June 18] meeting between Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a biological weapons expert from the Federation of American Scientists, and staff members of Sens. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and Thomas A. Daschle, D-S.D., both of whom were sent anthrax-contaminated letters. FBI agents were present at the meeting, sources said.”
Altimari and Dolan added, “For months, Rosenberg has been publicly prodding the FBI to take a closer look at Hatfill.” (Hatfill’s reference to the Frederick News-Post was to an article which repeated the Hartford Courant story.)
And in an August 8 story, USA Today reporters Kevin Johnson and Toni Locy wrote,
Rosenberg does not name Hatfill in her writings, but she has told authorities that she is referring to him.
In June, Henry Kelly, the president of the Federation of American Scientists, refused to post Rosenberg’s newest report on the anthrax case, because it clearly pointed to one person. According to an August 19 web log entry written for the FAS web site by Stephen Aftergood,
Rosenberg, a scientist at the State University of New York who also chairs the FAS Working Group on Biological Weapons, has been an outspoken critic of the FBI investigation and has publicly and privately advanced her own theories concerning who might have been responsible for the anthrax attacks.
“Rosenberg’s remarks on this topic do not represent the views of the Federation of American Scientists,” wrote FAS President Henry C. Kelly in a letter to the editor of the Hartford Courant published on July 1.
“Accordingly, the Federation declined to post on its web site a June 2002 analysis by Rosenberg that purported to identify a ‘likely perpetrator.’
“The Federation obviously encourages its members to provide officials with information and analysis that might be pertinent to the solution of a crime like the anthrax attacks,” said Kelly.
But “FAS opposes any effort to publicly identify possible suspects or ‘persons of interest’ outside of a formal law enforcement proceeding and has not published such accusations,” said Kelly.
Soon after Steven Hatfill’s first press conference (August 11), Red Flags, the socialist medical web site which had posted Rosenberg’s June
“Mr. Z” report, took it down. FAS and Red Flags both sought to protect themselves from defamation lawsuits by Hatfill.
In the August 3 Washington Times, reporter Guy Taylor quoted Rosenberg as telling him that on August 1, the same day as one of the FBI’s highly publicized searches of Hatfill’s home, she was visited by agents and,
“They kept asking me did I think there might be a group in the biodefense community that was trying to land the blame on Hatfill.... Maybe [Dr. Hatfill] was being set up. That’s my speculation of what [the agents] thought….
“I just cannot imagine that it was a bona fide conspiracy,” she said, adding that she told the FBI she had heard nothing to suggest a group was trying to frame Dr. Hatfill.
The foregoing passage has a surreal quality; the main suspect of any such conspiracy would be none other than Barbara Hatch Rosenberg! And the FBI agents asking the questions knew full well of Rosenberg’s role in Hatfill’s misery – after all, she’d sought them out.
I think that the real reason for the agents’ questions, was to let Rosenberg know that the Bureau would be in charge of the spin machine that she had previously controlled.
In early September, Rosenberg announced that she had come up with a new anthrax report, but would be sharing it solely with the FBI. That was clearly another move to limit her liability.
For an indication of how little the mainstream media has changed its ways of covering the anthrax case, note that in Reuters reporter James Vicini’s September 5 article, “FBI Criticized for Failing to Solve Anthrax Case,” Vicini confounded those who criticized the Bureau for having wasted time dogging Hatfill, with Rosenberg, who was behind the anti-Hatfill campaign.
Which brings us back to Rosenberg’s September 22 L.A. Times op-ed.
While repeating her unsupported theory that a biodefense insider was the anthrax attacker, she could not resist taking swipes at Hatfill, albeit in a fashion designed to limit her liability:
The anthrax investigation has raised questions about the nature and value of the work at Ft. Detrick and has brought to light the granting of security clearance and free access to highly dangerous biological agents to someone with falsified credentials – very disturbing whether or not he turns out to be the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks.
The anthrax investigation has not raised any questions about “the nature and value of the work at Ft. Detrick” (read: USAMRIID), but that was a segue to an attack on Hatfill. Since Steven Hatfill did inflate his credentials, Rosenberg can get away with her weasely language. But she omitted noting that his access was to “dangerous biological agents” such as the Ebola virus, for which he is a recognized, world-class researcher.
As the saying goes, a half-truth is a whole lie.
The ultimate irony is that Rosenberg is charging a leading scientist with being unqualified to do his speciality, in an article for which she has misrepresented her own professional status. Rosenberg identified herself to the Los Angeles Times as “a research professor of molecular biology at State University of New York at Purchase.” In fact, she is a “research professor” of environmental science, a much less prestigious title. And there is no “state university” in Purchase; Rosenberg’s employer, Purchase College, is a four-year, state performing arts school, for which she neither teaches nor conducts research.
A reader might be skeptical as to how much mischief Rosenberg could have created. Rosenberg got Senators Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle – recipients of two anthrax-contaminated letters last fall – to apply pressure to the FBI. In turn, the FBI harassed Hatfill; invented a phony story about bloodhounds in order to fraudulently induce a federal judge to issue a criminal search warrant which was executed before a tipped-off media on August 1; and on August 1 sent an e-mail to Steven Hatfill’s employer, Louisiana State University, illegally ordering it to cease and desist employing Hatfill in any Justice Department-funded program, which amounted to a federal blacklisting of Hatfill, whose field is funded entirely by the Justice Department. Not only was Hatfill terminated, but his boss at LSU, Steven Guillot, was also fired for his failure to immediately violate Hatfill’s rights.
But surely scientists would know better, you ask. Consider the following e-mail I received from a scientist just the other day:
I held my annual house party last night for all the people that work for me, along with their significant others. The subject of going to war with Iraq came up, as well as last year’s anthrax attacks. None of these people are news-junkies but they do follow the news. It was interesting to observe that every single one of them regarded the anthrax attacks as a closed case. I heard quotes like “Yeah, it was that guy who used to work at the bioweapons lab.”
Barbara Hatch Rosenberg still holds the key to Steven Hatfill’s fate, and remains central to the media-political maelstrom that has engulfed Hatfill.
But who cares about Hatfill, anyway? According to an ABC News poll published on Tuesday, only 20 percent of Americans feel that the government is trampling their civil liberties. Everything’s fine, as long as somebody else is getting stomped on.
Hey, let’s party!