Glenn Greenwald’s recent post about the botched anthrax investigation reminds me of a colleague who was investigated by the FBI after the anthrax attacks (and check out the letter claiming that Bruce Ivins was yet another scientist wrongfully accused).
When I heard that he was under investigation, I was shocked: he is one of the nicer scientists I know. Ultimately, he was cleared, and in a bizarre reversal, the government asked him for help in typing the anthrax strain.
The reason I bring this up is not to demonstrate that the FBI couldn’t investigate its way out of a paper bag, but to note that, at the time, the FBI was seriously investigating many U.S. scientists (none of whom had even the remotest connection to Iraq, Al-Queda, or other Islamist terrorist groups). Meanwhile, several prominent politicians, notably John McCain and John McCain were suggesting that Iraq was involved:
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.
But, hey, they were only ‘suggesting’ this; they were only claiming that there was only “some indication” that “some” of the anthrax came from Iraq. This is profoundly stupid: what does “some” of a strain mean anyway? There is no evidence that multiple strains were used, so it either came from Iraq or it did not (answer: not).
And where exactly did they get this “indication” from? Because the FBI was focused on U.S. scientists who were not associated with Iraq at all. Either this was an outright lie or a case of hysterical delusion.
But McCain’s the last honest man in Washington! Or not.