[ENG] Inchiesta sulle armi di distruzione di massa trovate in Maryland
- Subject: [ENG] Inchiesta sulle armi di distruzione di massa trovate in Maryland
- From: Carlo Gubitosa <c.gubitosa at peacelink.it>
- Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 15:33:33 +0200
US finds evidence of WMD at last - buried in a field in Maryland
Julian Borger in Washington
Wednesday May 28, 2003
The good news for the Pentagon yesterday was that its investigators had
finally unearthed evidence of weapons of mass destruction, including 100
vials of anthrax and other dangerous bacteria.
The bad news was that the stash was found, not in Iraq, but fewer than 50
miles from Washington, near Fort Detrick in the Maryland countryside.
The anthrax was a non-virulent strain, and the discoveries are apparently
remnants of an abandoned germ warfare programme. They merited only a local
news item in the Washington Post.
But suspicious finds in Iraq have made front-page news (before later being
cleared), given the failure of US military inspection teams to find
evidence of the weapons that were the justification for the March invasion.
Even more embarrassing for the Pentagon, there was no documentation about
the various biological agents disposed of at the US bio-defence centre at
Fort Detrick. Iraq's failure to come up with paperwork proving the
destruction of its biological arsenal was portrayed by the US as evidence
of deception in the run-up to the war.
In an effort to explain why no chemical or biological weapons had been
found in Iraq, the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said yesterday
the regime may have destroyed them before the war.
Speaking to the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations thinktank, he
said the speed of U.S. advance may have caught Iraq by surprise, but added:
"It is also possible that they decided that they would destroy them prior
to a conflict."
The US germ warfare programme at Fort Detrick was officially wound up in
1969, but the base has maintained a stock of nasty bugs to help maintain
America's defences against biological attack.
The leading theory about the unsolved anthrax letter attacks in 2001 is
that they were carried out by a disgruntled former Fort Detrick employee;
equipment found dumped in a pond eight miles from the base has been linked
to the crimes.
The Fort Detrick clean-up has unearthed over 2,000 tonnes of hazardous waste.
The sanitation crews were shocked to find vials containing live bacteria.
As well as the vaccine form of anthrax, the discarded biological agents
included Brucella melitensis, which causes the virulent flu-like disease
brucellosis, and klebsiella, a cause of pneumonia.