Friday, December 23, 2005

Remember the Anthrax Attacks?

Four years later and the case is still open. I've just finished an interesting book on the subject: Analyzing the Anthrax Attacks by Edward G. Lake. (Lake also has a website: ). Both are a useful compendium of the known facts an do a good job of debunking the false leads that crept into the media narrative.

There were a lot of false leads that the media trumpeted. In some cases the reporting on the anthrax letters looks like an overture for the MSM meltdowns over Niger, WMDs, Abu Ghraib, and the false TANG documents. For instance, before Nick Kristoff signed up as Joe Wilson's PR flack, he was doing the same for Barbara Hatch Rosenberg in her vendetta against Dr. Stephen J. Hatfill. In both cases, Kristoff combined a preening moral passion with gullibility, obtuseness, and laziness. He went into a a dudgeon, but could not get his facts straight.

Before it botched the Koran/toilet story, Newsweek printed a harebrained story about bloodhounds identifying Hatfill from scents found on the envelopes. (Lake argues persuasively that the FBI used the bloodhounds after they lost Hatfill while he was under surveillance and had nothing to do with the envelopes.)

Lake believes Hatfill is innocent based on some pretty powerful evidence. The case against him, in contrast, relies heavily on innuendo, speculation, and misinformation.

It is telling, but wholly unsurprising that the voices raised over the NSA/al Qaeda wiretaps were silent during the highly publicized pursuit of Hatfill.

(Hatfill, like Richard Jewell, is an example of the how the free press can sell out the presumption of innocence for a few scraps of leaks from law enforcement.)

The Anthrax case is also a rebuke to Greta and Nancy Grace and all the other Holloway obsessives. For six months they've croaked about sending the FBI to Aruba. They act as if the Bureau has magical powers that let them solve every case they are assigned. The anthrax letters, like the Unabomber and Chandra Levy cases, are a standing rebuke to that conceit.

Analyzing the Anthrax Attacks
Analyzing the Anthrax Attacks

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