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Retired FBI Director on Anthrax: “They really wanted to blame somebody in the Middle East”

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The Daily News has the story on how the Bush Administration pressed FBI officials to blame the anthrax attacks on Saddam Hussein or al Qaeda despite all the evidence to the contrary.

After the Oct. 5, 2001, death from anthrax exposure of Sun photo editor Robert Stevens, Mueller was “beaten up” during President Bush‘s morning intelligence briefings for not producing proof the killer spores were the handiwork of terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden, according to a former aide.

“They really wanted to blame somebody in the Middle East,” the retired senior FBI official told The News.

Following the cue, John McCain said on David Letterman that Iraq would be “second phase” in their war.

LETTERMAN: How are things going in Afghanistan now?

MCCAIN: I think we’re doing fine. I think we’ll do fine. The second phase – if I could just make one, very quickly – the second phase is Iraq. There is some indication, and I don’t have the conclusions, but some of this anthrax may – and I emphasize may – have come from Iraq.

LETTERMAN: Oh is that right?

MCCAIN: If that should be the case, that’s when some tough decisions are gonna have to be made. ‘

And a third phase? This incident sheds even more light on reflexive claims made by McCain regarding Iran—such as the “well-known fact” that Iran is helping al Qaeda (Joe Lieberman, of all people, had to correct his gaffe).

As Juan Cole points out:

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.

For more, read Think Progress.

Irancove @ August 5, 2008

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