Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Curiouser and curiouser

As the plot thickens in the wake of purported Anthrax scare perp's death (I say purported due to some skepticism about his actual role if any), one of the more disturbing possibilities to emerge is that not only was it an inside job (which seemed plausible long ago), but that it may well have been done partially as a vendetta against various people and organizations that had crossed the Lush/Zany gang, and partially a means to goad whatever opposition to the Enabling Patriot Act into submission. Here's a possibility as outlined by Justin Raimondo:
Now I want to venture into some territory that is wild, to be sure, but no wilder than the anthrax letters themselves. I want to emphasize that this is just pure speculation on my part, or, more accurately, an interesting angle that could have significance – yet I hope not.

A number of the recent articles on the anthrax attacks have remarked on how the various targets seem curiously unrelated: the phrase "little in common" is often employed. And yet – and yet…

To begin with, targets Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy aren't just any old U.S. senators. They're Democrats, and, what's more, they are – or, in Daschle's case, were – leaders of the congressional Democratic caucus. Daschle was leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, and Leahy was – and is – head of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, a post he used to his party's maximum advantage.

Both of these men, in addition, were major obstacles to the passage of the PATRIOT Act, with Daschle refusing to grant the administration the unlimited power it sought. Together with Leahy, Daschle led the opposition to the original version of the bill, which had no expiration date. The Democrats, particularly Daschle and Leahy, argued in favor of a two-year expiration date, but after their Senate offices were targeted by the anthrax killer, both thought better of it and compromised on a four-year extension.

Far from having "little in common," as the conventional media spinmeisters would have it, these two men shared their staunch opposition to the Bush administration's brazen attempt to trample the Constitution underfoot and seize power for themselves.

Yes, but what about the anthrax killers' media targets? NBC one could arguably describe as either centrist, or mildly liberal, but what about the New York Post and the National Enquirer, one a rightist daily owned by Rupert Murdoch and the other an iconic gossip sheet whose name is a synonym for journalism of the yellowest sort? These two targets seem to have nothing in common, aside from a certain tabloid flair.

Yet they do, indeed, share a certain focus, at least when it comes to one very particular subject, and I owe this insight to the anonymous "Allie," posting on the Web site. The Enquirer has published a lot of photos of celebrities caught-in-the-act, so to speak, and one of these was of Jenna Bush, falling-down drunk and rolling around on the floor with another female for the delectation of the attending fraternity boys. The New York Post was another source for this specialized genre. As "Allie" puts it: "If you go to their search page and do a search for Jenna what you come up with is a plethora of articles on the Boozing Bush Twins. More and worse than anything published in The National Enquirer."

"Allie" then goes on to list the Post's prolific output of bad-girl-Jenna pieces, with such lurid titles as "Busted Bush Babes Make Different Booze Pleas," "Double Shot: Bush Twins Both Nailed," "Jenna Comes 'Clean': Beer Bush Babe Faces Garbage Duty," and a little editorial comment to stick the knife in all the way: "Reign in These Bush Leaguers," by Linda Stasi.

As "Allie" shows, all of the intended targets of the anthrax attacks did indeed have one thing in common: in some manner or other, they had crossed the Bush family, either in a very personal way (the first victims at the Enquirer and the Post), or else politically, in the cases of Daschle and Leahy. As far as the latter two are concerned, it wasn't just their status as Democratic Party leaders, but their active opposition to the Bush agenda during the PATRIOT Act debate, that mattered.

As for Tom Brokaw, "Allie" points out that, prior to receiving the deadly anthrax-laden missive, and as the country was still reeling from the impact of 9/11, Brokaw had been approached by administration insiders not to run an interview with Bill Clinton, but he went ahead and did it anyway, thus incurring the Bushies' wrath.

Yes, there were many more victims of the anthrax attacks, with five killed and 17 injured. Leahy and Daschle were unharmed, as was Brokaw, but the Enquirer was hit hard, and – given "Allie's" thesis – right on target.

In any case, a certain pattern of the intended targets emerges. I can't paraphrase the passion behind Allie's analysis, so I'll let him speak for himself:

"Who had a motive? Who had a grudge against The Enquirer and the New York Post? Who had a grudge against Brokaw? Who wanted to frighten or manipulate Congress? First to get it to adjourn indefinitely, leaving Bush with the power of the purse. Second to get the PATRIOT Act passed in all its fascist glory, without even being read. Who?

"It's as plain as the nose on your face. Why is the major media pussyfooting around it? Are they still terrified?"

I have to say I don't see any real evidence for any of this, beyond the wildly circumstantial – and, in that respect, the basis of "Allie's" thesis is no different from the "evidence" marshaled by the FBI against Dr. Ivins. Except that, of the two narratives, the FBI's tale of a porn-obsessed sorority-house lurker and mad scientist is a lot less believable.

Make of it what you will. Dr. Ivins may well have been a bit off - then again, plenty of us in the sciences have our quirks - but I get the sense that he's a bit too convenient as suspect. All I know is a good healthy dose of skepticism is a good frame of mind to possess whenever dealing with anything your government tries to communicate.

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