Sunday, June 5, 2011

Biological warfare

Interesting from a couple of perspectives: interpreting intelligence, and what an actual government cover-up looks like. For one thing, initial reports were both basically true (there had been a biological disaster) and inaccurate (60-100 deaths, not 1000). For one thing, an effective cover-up will have lots of sincere spokesmen who sincerely deny that anything sinister occurred, because they've been lied to as well. So how do you tell a phony conspiracy from a genuine one? I have no idea.

Emphasis added.

 The first reports emerged in October 1979 by way of a Russian-language newspaper in Frankfurt, West Germany that was close to the Soviet emigre community, which ran a brief report lacking any details about a major germ accident leading to deaths estimated in the thousands taking place in Russia.(1)  New details emerged in this same paper in early 1980, with reports of an explosion in April 1979 at a secret military installation near Sverdlovsk that released a large amount of anthrax spores into the air, again with a thousand people estimated dead from the disease. 

...The Soviets replied angrily to these accusations, claiming that the deaths in Sverdlovsk were the result of eating tainted meat. A Tass article entitled "A Germ of Lying," which was published on March 24,1980, was typical, in combining the Soviet argument that a natural outbreak of anthrax, which was endemic to the area, with condemnation of the U.S. accusations as part of a plan for "spurring up the arms race and] intensifying tensions in the relations between states," calling into question the validity of the 1972 biological arms convention, and waging psychological warfare against the USSR.(2)  U.S. intelligence analysts quickly dismissed the Soviet explanation as not in accordance with the evidence.

...Soviet scientists again presented this explanation along with examples of the autopsy data at scientific meetings in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Cambridge in April 1988 arranged by Meselson, who gave his view that the tainted-meat explanation was "completely plausible and consistent" with current knowledge about anthrax. Also lending plausibility to the Soviet version was the fact that veterinarians had reported animal deaths from anthrax before doctors reported human fatalities at Sverdlovsk. Though Meselson agreed there was need for a thorough investigation of the U.S. accusations, Meselson testified before a Senate hearing in 1989 that the evidence supported the Soviet explanation, not an explosion at a Soviet biological weapons facility.

...Yeltsin had a personal connection to the Sverdlovsk issue, as he had been Communist Party chief in the region at the time of the anthrax outbreak, and he believed the KGB and military had lied to him about the true explanation. At a summit meeting with President George Bush in February 1992, Yeltsin told Bush that he agreed with U.S. accusations regarding Soviet violation of the 1972 biological weapons convention, that the Sverdlovsk incident was the result of an accident at a Soviet biological warfare installation, and promised to clean up this problem. In a  May 27th interview, Yeltsin publicly revealed what he had told Bush in private:

    "We are still deceiving you, Mr. Bush. We promised to eliminate bacteriological weapons. But some of our experts did everything possible to prevent me from learning the truth. It was not easy, but I outfoxed them. I caught them red-handed. I found two test sites. They are inoculating tracts of land with anthrax, allowing wild animals to go there and observing them..."(5)

...Here, they were allowed to see autopsy slides of a key area between the lungs of the Sverdlovsk victims, which clearly showed the characteristic signs of damage found in cases of inhalation anthrax. This joined with other new evidence: the rediscovery of information from 1950s anthrax studies that indicated inhalation anthrax could take weeks to become symptomatic, not just days, and data on wind patterns and the clustering of anthrax victims around Sverdlovsk, which supported the airborne vector explanation.The 1993 visit allowed Meselson to fill in the final gaps, placing the identified victims clearly within the plume of deadly anthrax spores that the data on wind patterns at the time indicated.

Regarding the actual cause of the release, information later obtained from people involved with the Soviet biological warfare effort revealed that the cause of the anthrax release in Sverdlovsk was the failure by maintenance personnel to replace a critical filter in a vent serving the anthrax production facility.


Be pretty if you are,
Be witty if you can,
But be cheerful if it kills you.

Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

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