By Nicholas Stix
Middle American News
Where some see a crisis, others see an opportunity.
Last fall, five victims were murdered by anthrax-laced letters, but according to recent reports in such diverse sources as the socialist New York Times and neo-conservative weekly standard, the feds now have dozens, even hundreds of potential suspects. But not according to Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, whom I have dubbed the Dr. Strangelove of the American Left, far and away the most quoted “scientist” in anthrax stories. Rosenberg, who neither teaches nor conducts research, is a tenured, activist professor of environmental science at New York State’s performing arts college at Purchase, and the chairwoman of the Marxist Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Working Group on Biological Weapons. Since last fall, Rosenberg has insisted that the FBI knows exactly who the anthrax terrorist is, and that he is a “home-grown” (read: right-wing, Christian, white male) terrorist, not an Al Qaeda operative. Immediately following the anthrax attacks, Rosenberg began using them to try and force the federal government to sign on to biowarfare protocols that would undermine American sovereignty, and make America more vulnerable than ever to terrorist attacks.
In spite of (or because of) her extremist politics and lack of biowarfare expertise, Rosenberg has been quoted and cited by CNN, Reuters, the Associated Press, ABC News, CBS News, Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, New Yorker, Village Voice, Hartford Courant, Baltimore Sun, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and American Prospect. Abroad, she has enjoyed fawning treatment by the BBC, Britain’s The Guardian and Scotsman newspapers, the German TV newsmagazine, The Monitor, and on web sites as far away as the South African-based Dispatch (which several news reports have erroneously placed in Zimbabwe).
In the December 14, 2001 New York Times, reporter William J. Broad misrepresented Rosenberg as an “expert,” and led with her in his anthrax story:
F.B.I. agents yesterday questioned a leading proponent of the theory that the anthrax attacks were the work of someone linked to a federal laboratory or contractor, asking her about possible clues to the culprit’s identity.
“They wanted to know whether I had ideas about who did it,” said the expert, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a molecular biologist at the State University of New York at Purchase and chairwoman of a biological weapons panel at the Federation of American Scientists.
In the February 27-March 5, New York-based Village Voice, columnist James Ridgeway reported that Rosenberg “says the FBI has likely known the identity of the anthrax perp since October...., and quoted her as saying, “Clearly they don’t want to name anyone until they have sufficient evidence to make a conviction. On the other hand, considering the small number of people they have to interview and that they’ve had five months to do it in – this is purely conjecture – they may be reluctant to pursue this guy because he may know too much.”
In the course of speaking with countless journalists, Rosenberg has frequently changed her story. To one audience she insists the “fact” that the anthrax terrorist was just seeking to spread fear, rather than kill anyone (what about the five people he murdered?!), “proves” that he is an American; to another audience, the “fact” that he tried to kill as many people as possible, “proves” that he is ... an American! Rosenberg has only been consistent, in ignoring evidence pointing to foreign terrorists, such as the skin inflammations that 911 terrorist leader Mohammed Atta suffered on his hands – possibly from handling anthrax spores – and for which he had sought treatment, and several secret meetings Atta had in Europe with Iraqi intelligence officers.
On January 6, the Baltimore Sun’s Scott Shane quoted Rosenberg as saying that the terrorist may have initiated an attack, in order to warn the public of the dangers of bioterrorism. Shane dubbed this the “bioevangelist theory.” Rosenberg “says such a notion was occasionally aired jokingly in the small circle of those who worried about biological terror prior to Sept. 11. ‘There have been a number of occasions when we’ve said in frustration, “What we need is a biological weapons attack to wake the country up.’”
So, Rosenberg and her comrades were hoping for an anthrax attack, in order to alert the public to the danger of otherwise non-existent attacks, for which they would then blame the American government.
One moment Rosenberg claims that she has put together a “profile” of the killer entirely on her own, and the next, she insists that she has worked closely with the FBI, and knows that the anthrax killer was a specific scientist working on a germ warfare program, and acting with federal authorization.
As David Tell wrote on April 29 for the New York Post and the weekly standard, “Rosenberg claims the FBI has known the anthrax killer’s precise identity for months already ... [A]ccording to an account ... [she] offered on BBC Two’s flagship Newsnight telecast March 14, the suspect is a former federal bioweapons scientist now doing contract work for the CIA. Last fall, you see, the man’s Langley masters supposedly decided they’d like to field-test what would happen if billions of lethal anthrax spores were sent through the regular mail, and ‘it was left to him to decide exactly how to carry it out.’ The loosely supervised madman then used his assignment to launch an attack on the media and Senate ‘for his own motives.’ And, this truth being obviously too hot to handle, the FBI is now trying very hard not to discover it.”
David Tell noted that Rosenberg’s academic title notwithstanding, she doesn’t understand anthrax, genetic research, biological warfare or the evidence at hand, and “[her] sensational pronouncements betray ... a surprisingly unscientific, even Oliver Stone-scale, incaution about the ‘facts’ at her disposal.”
And yet, the media here and abroad treat Rosenberg’s pronouncements as authoritative. In January, she was interviewed on the German TV newsmagazine, The Monitor (my translation):
Microbiologist [sic] Barbara Hatch Rosenberg knows the results of investigations by U.S. officials. Their analyses have meanwhile unambiguously confirmed their initial suspicion: The anthrax attacker came not from bin Laden’s bioterror laboratory, but rather from an American government lab.
The Monitor’s producers embellished on Rosenberg’s embellishments. Immediately after discussing her charges, The Monitor “reported” that,
The FBI now has a new, hot clue. And according to information in The Monitor’s possession, it leads straight to the American secret police, the CIA. The FBI is working on the assumption that the criminal is employed by a corporation that experimented with biological weapons for the CIA.
Barbara Hatch Rosenberg is the only person to make that claim before or since the Monitor interview. The Monitor producers’ claim of independent corroboration was designed to enhance both their credibility and Rosenberg’s.
Indeed, far from getting her “mad CIA scientist” story from FBI sources, Rosenberg stole the idea from Chris Carter’s brilliant but little-watched TV show, Millennium (1996-1999).
Rosenberg assumes the terrorist got his hands on the Ames strain at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Maryland. But since 1997, when a new federal law mandated that all such transactions be recorded with the Centers for Disease Control, Fort Detrick, following scientific protocol, has shared Ames strain anthrax spores with researchers at seven institutions in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The Canadian and British scientists have since shared the Ames strain with colleagues at other, unreported locations, and it’s anyone’s guess how many institutions received Ames spores from USAMRIID prior to 1997. And the Iraqis have long had weaponized anthrax.
The best analysis I have seen of the method behind Barbara Hatch Rosenberg’s particular brand of madness, came from Cliff Kincaid of America’s Survival, on March 20:
The [February 25] Washington Times story by Jerry Seper about the FBI supposedly having a prime suspect in the anthrax attacks generated attention nationally. He claimed his sources were “law enforcement authorities” and “leading biochemical experts.” But you had to read deep into the article to discover his main source for this charge - Barbara Hatch Rosenberg ...
Interestingly, the Federation of American Scientists now promotes Rosenberg’s report on its own Web site by saying, “This report by Dr. Barbara Rosenberg prompted media reports that the FBI has a prime suspect in the anthrax attacks....”
The Times neglected to mention that [the Federation of American Scientists] is a group with a left-wing orientation that believes in the sanctity of international arms control agreements....
Near the end of Rosenberg’s own report, she tips her hand, saying, “The recent anthrax attack was a minor one but nonetheless we now see that it was made possible by a sophisticated government program…
That’s her way of attacking the Bush Administration for resisting a protocol to an international agreement supposedly banning biological weapons. She believes that if it is proven that a former U.S. government scientist is behind the anthrax attacks, then that makes the case for having an international treaty mandating inspections of government facilities. The U.S. fears that rogue nations would circumvent the treaty and our secrets would be exposed to the world.
And that’s exactly what Rosenberg wants.
In the June 26 Hartford Courant, Dave Altimari and Jack Dolan reported that “[Dr. Steven J.] Hatfill’s name came up during a [June 18] meeting between Barbara Hatch Rosenberg ... staff members of Sens. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and Thomas A. Daschle ...” and FBI agents.
“For months, Rosenberg has been publicly prodding the FBI to take a closer look at Hatfill.”
Immediately following the June 18 meeting, a slew of articles appeared in the American and even African media strongly suggesting that Dr. Steven J. Hatfill was the anthrax terrorist.
Steven J. Hatfill, a brilliant, flamboyant, American scientist who has for years warned of the dangers of bioterrorism, is a protege of William C. Patrick III, the scientist who ran the U.S. offensive biowarfare program that President Richard Nixon shut down over 30 years ago. Hatfill has consented to four FBI searches of his home and property, and most recently invited the Bureau – amid FBI press leaks to the media – to search his premises on June 25. None of the searches turned up anything. Using journalistic and political proxies, Rosenberg has cost Hatfill his security clearance, and hunted him from job to job, seeking to make it impossible for him to work.
Rosenberg, who has no evidence to support her accusations, has persecuted Hatfill, and sought his arrest because he is a patriotic defender of America’s biowarfare defense program, which she seeks to destroy; to distract the public and authorities’ attention from hunting down the real, presumably foreign terrorists; and last, but not least, as political revenge. Hatfill earned his medical degree in then-Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Having also trained and served in Rhodesian and American special forces, Hatfill fought against the guerillas who eventually toppled Rhodesia’s white, apartheid regime. Communist dictator Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980, has destroyed the nation, and is now deliberately starving up to half of its 12 million citizens. Rosenberg supports Mugabe.
In 1992, Dr. Meryl Nass, a longtime Rosenberg associate, published an article on the anthrax outbreak on black-owned farms in late 1970s’ Rhodesia. The outbreak initially affected livestock, and eventually over 10,000 blacks, predominantly with skin anthrax; 182 people died. Despite lacking any evidence to support her charge of a military anthrax attack, Nass claimed that the outbreak was a case of germ warfare carried out by the white, Rhodesian Army’s elite Selous Scouts unit. (Reportedly, Hatfill served in the Selous Scouts.) The article was not published in a scientific journal. More recently, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg has gotten New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to suggest, in his July 2 and July 12 columns, that Hatfill (whom Kristof refers to as “Mr. Z”) worked on the “anthrax outbreak” in Rhodesia, and to call on the F.B.I. to arrest Hatfill:
Have you examined whether Mr. Z has connections to the biggest anthrax outbreak among humans ever recorded, the one that sickened more than 10,000 black farmers in Zimbabwe in 1978-80? There is evidence that the anthrax was released by the white Rhodesian Army fighting against black guerrillas, and Mr. Z has claimed that he participated in the white army’s much-feared Selous Scouts.
On July 3, Hatfill’s attorney, Thomas C. Carter, told me that his client, who is in a state of shock, does not want to talk to the press:
My client doesn’t want to do anything, right now.... He’s really upset that his name continues to be mentioned, and he’s decided that the best approach is to ignore everything, and to try and stay as much removed from it as he can. He might change his mind at some point in the future and participate in something, but right now, he doesn’t [want to].
If Steven J. Hatfill does not recover from the shock of the ambush he is enduring, he may soon find himself unable to speak even with his attorney.