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September 9, 2008

Ivins' Mystery Still There

Roy Meachum

Sunday readers of The Frederick News-Post and The New York Times should not have been surprised. The investigation of the Fort Detrick anthrax incident is still very much alive, despite declaration of its death by the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. Following politics rather than proof, Jeffrey Taylor officially closed the case.


Before proceeding further: Did no one else wonder why Mr. Taylor was involved at all? His appointment to the Washington post is currently, if erratically, the target of a congressional probe on the role radical right-wing officials played in the wholesale reshuffling of U.S. attorneys. After all, federal interests in Maryland normally come under his counterpart in Baltimore.


Mr. Taylor's leading role in the "wrap up" press conference at least underscored the importance to the White House of resolving the seven-year investigation that has, at times, taken on the characteristics of a pie-in-the-face burlesque turn.


At this time, capping the investigation, which means coming up with proof that Dr. Bruce Ivins was truly guilty, has been projected now not in a matter of weeks, as the world was told, but as long as six months. Without a calculator, the matter will not be resolved until a new president sits in the Oval Office.


For the investigation's outcome, the change in the White House has everything to do with which party triumphs in November. GOP nominee John McCain would, at first, be occupied with sorting out the big items. Since the U.S. attorneys now are Republican, he would get around to the Detrick investigation in turn.


Opponent Barack Obama's people are sure to change U.S. attorneys; the sooner the better for congressional Democrats, who are still yelling foul and plan hearings on how the Bush administration reshuffled those jobs. It takes no crystal ball to understand Mr. Taylor will be among the first to have his required resignation accepted.


On the News-Post's Sunday front page appears a picture of an Egyptian-American who was grilled early and hard. Ayaad Assaad was accused of being in league with Muslim terrorists, when in fact he's Christian, belonging to the Coptic Church. From my own experience, members of his faith enjoy no comfortable life in Egypt, where Islam is the choice for some 90 percent of the population. A Coptic archaeologist working in Aswan broke into tears while he was telling me of his daily harassments.


As written by reporter Nicholas Stern, Mr. Assaad's life in this country is little better. Even before the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. citizen was subject to discrimination; he worked with Bruce Ivins. He dismisses the idea that his former colleague might be guilty as charged in the media. Although found innocent on all counts, he was not permitted to return to his former job; he now works for the Environmental Protection Agency, where he claims the FBI continues blocking his career path. His great crime? He brought in a lawyer to defy governmental attempts to cover up, he says.


Incidentally, Ayaad Assaad told News-Post reporter Stern: "This anthrax issue is part of a much bigger issue. The roots of corruption are so deep (in Fort Detrick's medical and science projects), and this is the thing that the people in Frederick don't understand."


We do understand locally that we continue to deal with a monumental Department of Justice failure that should cause every patriot at least pause; this is no time to repeat the discarded notion that anybody should leave the country if he doesn't believe the government's version of the truth.


After all, these United States were created by Thomas Jefferson and others who took up arms against the existing government, in that instance the British crown.


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