Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Juan Cole:[Open in new window]

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.


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