Dude, Where Is My Anthrax?

Deadly chemical and biological weapons may be missing from the stockpile of one of the world’s largest producers of such weapons of mass destruction

These ‘agent’s’ may fall into the hands of dangerous lunatics who may decide to reek havoc on innocent civilians!

Why are we not scared?

Why has our media not inundated us with slogans, graphics and a symphony of melodies to draw our attention to this ‘sensational development’?

Because the nation in question is our own United States of America and the ‘agents’ are missing from the inventory of a U.S Army institution that has already been confirmed as a source of deadly biological weapons, and whose employees have already carried out attacks against civilians!

Why are we not scared?

Read on.

In late 2001 and early 2002, journalists, politicians and others began receiving Anthrax laced packages and envelopes. The attacks killed 5 people and seriously injured 17 others. It was quickly labelled Al-Qaeda’s ‘second wave’ – 9/11 attack at the World Trade Center being the first.

Intoxicated by the hysteria in the aftermath of 9/11, many a respectable journalist, pundit and politician fell over themselves to ‘reveal’ evidence of Saddam’s Hussein’s involvement in this chemical weapons warfare.

It was obvious to all who the attackers were after all they were signing their packages with statements like ‘DEATH TO ISRAEL’ and ‘ALLAH IS GREAT’.

We were quickly told, obviously told, that it could only have been those damn towel heads again – the bane of American existence and way of life, them with their penchant for irrational acts of violence as taught to them by their hateful religion (here I am paraphrasing the respectable but fear ridden Pope Benedict XVI – more about his insanities and idiocies in a separate post!), them who ‘hate us for our freedoms’ as someone so eloquently put it!

We went to war. Saddam was hung. The Anthrax was forgotten, at least mostly.

Justice achieved?

A few days ago the far-from-the-mainstream, non-profit press reported that the United States Army has decided to shut down its research at the U.S Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID).

Lest you think that this will significantly harm our research into health cures, the USAMRIID is in fact a U.S. Army biological weapons research facility in Maryland a.k.a. a germ warfare research and development center.

And the reason for the closure – the Army is unable to maintain an accurate inventory of all the deadly biological agents in its refrigerators and laboratories!

(WHAT!)

Even more shockingly, this is the same facility that the FBI has identified as the source of the Anthrax used to in the 2001 attacks! And the employer of the man now confirmed to have been the perpetrator!

(No, sadly it was no towel head)

It is now known that Bruce Ivins, who worked at this very lab for over 18 years, engineered the attacks, stealing the deadly materials with ease and bypassing the lax inventory and control mechanisms, sending out letters to his intended victims by signing them with the words ´DEATH TO ISRAEL´and ÁLLAH IS GREAT´.

The FBI has revealed that the evidence against this man, who committed suicide before he could go to trial, is indisputable – see recent article in Science magazine.

However, this is the FBI, and I seriously doubt that we know the whole truth. The blame for the entire episode has been placed on the shoulders of one lunatic, but I at least find it unlikely that it ends there!

We may never know the extent of this or who else was involved and may still have access to the deadly materials.

We may never know the truth.

But we do know the lies.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks these Anthrax attacks played into the hands of the scaremongers, and those desperate to find an argument to go to war against Iraq.

The atmosphere of that year derailed many a fine journalists – so many ‘award winning’ journalists suspended their responsibilities, common sense and intellectual courage and refused to challenge the slop that was being cast at them. A couple of examples from 2 major international papers to support this point:

The Guardian: Iraq ‘behind US anthrax outbreaks’

The Wall Street Journal: The Anthrax Source

Then there were the professional scaremongers, those who anxiously commit all their reserves to feed their prejudices and paranoias without waiting for any evidence. Laurie Mylorie, publisher of something called ‘Iraq News’, was repeatedly interviewed and featured as a ‘journalist’ which allowed her in an interview in 2001 to say things like :

There is also tremendous evidence that subsequent anthrax attacks are connected to Iraq. The cumulative evidence that Iraq was a key player in the September 11 attack and subsequent anthrax attacks is overwhelming. (Newsmax archive)

And in another interview, she continued thanks to her ‘research’ with this line without actually stating any sources for her claims that:

…at least two labs have concluded that the anthrax used in the U.S. was coated with two additives linked to Iraq’s biological weapons program: bentonite and silica.

Bentonite is a trademark of the Iraqi weapons program. Iraq is the only country in the world that uses it.

The German newspaper Bild also reports that according to Israeli security, Mohamed Atta, who organized the 9/11 attacks, was given a vacuum flask of anthrax when he met with the Iraqi counsel in the Czech Republic.

We also know that Saddam has enormous quantities of anthrax. In 1995, before U.N. weapons inspectors were expelled from Iraq, they estimated that he had produced 2,000 gallons of anthrax – enough to kill every person on earth. God knows how much he has now, in addition to his weaponized smallpox and other deadly biological weapons. (Newsmax archive)

Oh, by the way, what is this unique and deadly ‘additive’ called Bentonite? A quick research on any geological and mining book will tell you that Bentonite is mined extensively in Wyoming and South Dakota. It is not “a chemical additive” and it is not unique to Iraq. It is widespread and common, it is mined and used for drilling mud i.e. getting the rock chips out of a drill hole when drilling for oil or deep water. Oh, it is also mined for the clumping-type kitty litter.

And in case we comfort ourselves that this is just one lone moron or a few exceptions, we just have to turn to The David Letterman Show to find that in fact a US Senator by the name of John McCain (remember him?), went on TV and gave these statements in an interview:

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.

Oh come on, he did not say that! Yes, he did, and thanks to the internet, you can watch it here!

(Aside: by the way, this is the same interview in which John McCain, when asked about his ‘counter terrorism approach’ responded by saying “The more serious these people [terrorists] think we are and believe we are – and we are serious – then I think they might, you know, go back to selling camels or whatever enterprise that they might want to engage in.”)

Interestingly, there have not been as many journalists or celebrity US Senators speaking out since we learned that in fact the attack was carried out by an American, who worked at a US Army germ warfare research facility, who stole the weapons grade Anthrax from a lab that had trouble tracking its inventory, who had become delusional and who signed his letters with ALLAH IS GREAT and DEATH TO ISRAEL to exploit the racism and Islamophobia being fostered in the post 9-11 America.

In the meantime, innocent scientists working at this lab were harassed and abused simply because of their ‘Arab’ ethnicity.

The USAMRIID center is now being closed because it cannot track its inventory!

The germ warfare programs are being investigated because there is evidence to suggest that they are in fact a greater source of danger to America than any delusional belief in imagined chemical terror attacks.

We challenge lesser nations to prove themselves worthy of the weapons of the civilized. The Americans have constantly been worried about Pakistan’s ‘loose nukes’. In fact, the consistently Islamophobic New York Times Sunday Magazine recently published a major piece on how Pakistan’s nukes were ‘not in control’ – I wrote about this in an earlier blog piece called ‘The Most Dangerous Nation’.

And yet, here we are, in Maryland none the less, confronted with the real, factual event of a closure of a major germ warfare center, a center from which an American military researcher, a man who worked for nearly 18 years at the lab, stole weapons grade chemicals, and carried out terrorist attacks against innocent civilians on America’s shores.

And whose inventory of deadly bacteria, viruses and germs is not properly accounted for!

Who should we be watching?

Is anyone worried?

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From “Headmen” To “Hitmen”–A People Brutalised Yet Again

Another photographer turns up at another manufactured ‘traditional’ geography, and produces another set of racist, reductive and entirely fake set of images. I don’t mean ‘fake’ in the way that most photographer’s get all concerned about. I mean ‘fake’ in a much more serious way, one that reduces people to social, political and historical caricatures and makes them into concocted objects for class titillation and voyeurism. And this American magazine–mired deep in the heart of American imperialism, its violence and its brutality–publishes the images and accompanies them with what can only be described as one of the most incredibly ahistorical, obfuscatory and infantile articles I have read outside of stuff frequently published by Time Magazine and/or The New York Times.

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Thomas Sankara’s Restless Children

The project is now complete. Although, we may never really complete the telling of this remarkable story. You can see the project by clicking on this link here, or on the image below.


Eyes Of Aliyah–Deport, Deprive, Extradite Initiative By Nisha Kapoor

I have publicly and on this forum very explicitly argued against the strange ‘disappearance’ of black/brown bodies that are the actual targets and victims of our ‘liberal’ state policies of surveillance, entrapment, drone assassinations, renditions and indefinite detention. I recently argued:

“Western visual journalism, and visual artists, have erased the actual victims of the criminal policies of the imperial state. Instead, most all have chosen to produce a large array of projects examining drone attacks, surveillance, detentions and other practices, through the use of digital abstractions, analogous environments, still life work or just simply the fascinating and enticing safety of datagrams and charts. Even a quick look at recent exhibitions focusing on the ‘war on terror’ or wars in general, have invited works that use digital representations of war, or focus on the technologies of war. An extreme case of this deflection are recent projects on drone warfare that not only avoid the actual brown/black bodies that are the targets of deadly drone attacks, but are not even produced anywhere near the geographies and social ecologies where drone attacks continue to happen! Yet, these works have found tremendous popularity, though i remain confused what kinds of conversations or debates they provoke given that the voices of the families of those who have been killed, are not only entirely missing, but people who can raised the difficult questions about the lies and propaganda that are used to justify the killings, are also entirely missing.”

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Public Release of “The Sinner”

This is my first feature length documentary film and we–Justice Project Pakistan, with the guiding support of Sarah BelalRimmel Mohydin and others at Justice Project Pakistan, are finally releasing it.

And we are doing it first in Pakistan.

The film takes us into the world of capital punishment in Pakistan through the life of one man; Jan Masi. Jan Masi worked as an execution for nearly 30 years, and claims to have executed over 1800 people. He started his work in the enthusiastic pursuit of revenge for the execution of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

This isn’t a typical documentary film. No talking heads. No linear story-telling. No polemics or moral grand standing. No righteous exclamations against capital punishment. Instead, Jan Masi, his life, his scars, his fears and despair, act as metaphors for the meaning of capital punishment in Pakistan, and the consequences it has on the broader Pakistani society.

Sudhir Patwardhan

Sudhir Patwardhan.

Can you discover ‘an influence’ after the fact?

What do you call someone who seems to embody your eye, your sensibility, and yet you had never seen his / her work, and yet, when you now see it, you see the ‘influence’…the similarities?

Is he confronting the same questions? Is he seeing this incredibly complex and multi-layered world with the same desire to depict it as close to that complexity as possible?

I was taken aback. The aesthetic pursuit is so familiar. It is as if he is a step ahead of me. He is a step ahead of me.

I am going through these images–gorgeous, striking, unique, and no, I refuse to give you some ‘European’ reference to understand them in any way. They are Patwardhan’s and his alone. But I want to make them as photographs.

They are the photographs I would make if in Mumbai. It is beautiful stuff. It makes me want to go and make photographs.

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Make It Right For Palestine, November 4, 2017

Be there. Hyde Park. Speaker’s Corner. London. 12:00 noon. 4th November, 2017.

The Polis Project…Is Up And Running

If you can’t join them, then just do it on your own.

We launched a new collective focused on research, reportage and resistance. The specific goals and objectives are being developed as we speak, but the idea is a simple one: to collect under one banner a group of individuals from different fields – artists, writers, academics, photographers, intellectuals, poets and others, who are consistently working against the grain. In this time of collective conformity, and a media sycophancy to power and extremism, some of us felt the need to create a small space where people are still determined to refuse the agendas of political power, debilitating capitalism, nationalist extremism and neoliberal idiocy, and remain fools in their hearts, and idealists in their souls.

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Short Doc: “As If A Nightmare”;The Story Of Former Bagram Prisoner Abdul Haleem Saifullah

 

We are commemorating 9/11 this week, but by remembering the ‘other’ victims of that event that few chose to remember. These are the brown bodies that rarely make it into visual media projects, that since 9/11, have chosen to hide behind digital representations, data charts, and other visual forms that do a lot, but never permit us to see or hear the brown and black people who actually suffer the consequences of drone attacks, sweeping surveillance, targeted entrapment, renditions, indefinite detentions, torture and other forms of inhumanity that today liberal minds seem to be able to easily justify.

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Short Doc: “Prisoner 1432” – The Story of Former Bagram Prisoner Amanatullah Ali

 

We are commemorating 9/11 this week, but by remembering the ‘other’ victims of that event that few chose to remember. These are the brown bodies that rarely make it into visual media projects, that since 9/11, have chosen to hide behind digital representations, data charts, and other visual forms that do a lot, but never permit us to see or hear the brown and black people who actually suffer the consequences of drone attacks, sweeping surveillance, targeted entrapment, renditions, indefinite detentions, torture and other forms of inhumanity that today liberal minds seem to be able to easily justify.

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10 Things To Consider…

I recommend that photographers, photojournalists, documentary photographers remember these wise words by Tania Canas, RISE Arts Director / Member – I am copying and pasting it here. As brown and black bodies are stripped of their clothing, as brown and black children are dehumanised to mere misery, as brown and black women are reduced to simply victims, as ghettos and brothels and refugee camps and slums become the ‘paint by number’ formula for White photographer’s career and publishing success, it becomes increasingly important that those of us on the receiving end of White ‘largesse’ begin to build obstacles, speak back, and refuse / reject these ‘representations’ and their reductive, violent and brutal narrative frames. We have lost too much, and are in danger of whatever little we have left as humans and as histories, if we permit this process to continue.

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