"Mr Z" and the anthrax attacks
A tremendous challenge looms for the postal workers and their unions in the United States. The American Government knows who probably sent the deadly anthrax letters, but has done nothing about it. This shocking assertion doesn't come from us. It was first made by Dr Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a prominent expert on biological weapons who reported her findings on the American Society of Scientists Web site. An article about her views appeared in the March 18 New Yorker magazine. Now the culpability of the Government has been suggested by an even weightier establishment source: the New York Times. On July 2, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas D Kristof describes in detail the person responsible, identifying him only as "Z" for obvious legal reasons. He is not somebody from the Middle East, says Kristof, but a "true-blue American with close ties to the Defense Department, the CIA, and the American biodefense program". He had access to an isolated residence last autumn that could be a government "safe house". The FBI "knows that Mr Z gave Cipro to people who visited it", says Kristof. Cipro is the antibiotic recommended to counteract anthrax. While the Bush administration pretends that its strengthening of the repressive apparatus here and abroad is for "fighting terror" and "homeland security", and has put more than a thousand Muslim and Arab people behind bars, it has allowed the prime suspect in the domestic anthrax attacks to use multiple passports and identities and "travel abroad on government assig nments, even to Central Asia", says Kristof. His identity appears to be an open secret in Washington. Kristof notes that the FBI has polygraphed [lie-detector tested] him, searched his home twice and interviewed him four times. But the agency has not placed Mr Z. under surveillance or asked a handwriting expert to analyse any similarities between his writing and that on the letters that accompanied the anthrax. The political police also declined to obtain comparison anthrax samples from labs until March and allowed the stocks of anthrax at Iowa State University to be destroyed before they could be tested. Scientists at two likely labs — Port Detrick, Md., and Dugway Proving Ground in Utah — were not systematically polygraphed until June. This person has an extreme racist political pedigree that is also known to Washington. Kristof says he has "claimed that he participated in the White army's much-feared Selous Scouts" in Rhodesia, before it became Zimbabwe. He "also claims involvement in the former South African Defence Force", which committed horrendous crimes against the African majority under the apartheid regime. The worst recorded outbreak of anthrax in history occurred in Rhodesia from 1978 to 1980, exactly the period when the liberation movement was winning the war against the Selous Scouts and white minority rule. The disease rages in the African-owned Tribal Trust Lands. Some 10,000 Black farmers were sickened and 182 died, but the white elite of Rhodesia and their cattle were untouched. There was suspicion that the disease was spread by aerial spraying. The FBI and the Bush administration appear totally unconcerned that a person with Mr Z's background has worked high up in the biological weapons program of the United States and is viewed by his colleagues as a prime suspect in the anthrax murders. But postal workers, many of whom are African American, must look at it differently. There have been nine known deaths since the letters started to appear — the majority postal workers. All were purposefully exposed to anthrax. Don't they have the right to conduct an independent investigation of what is going on? Kristof ascribes a benign motive to the killer: he "probably had no intention of killing people... My guess is that the goal was to help America by raising preparedness against biological attacks in the future". But what if the goal of this unregenerate racist was something much more sinister? To provide a pretext to dismantle civil liberties and strengthen a police state? And/or to wage a war on countries US imperialism wants to conquer, like Iraq? And what if cover-up is similarly motivated? The workers' movement — particularly the postal workers' union — has the right to take control of this investigation and pry it open to public view, here and around the world.
* * *Workers World (US)