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Book Review: Biowarfare and Terrorism by Francis A. Boyle

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Covered by virtually every media outlet in the world, Saddam Hussein was executed in Iraq for crimes against humanity. Now Saddam Hussein's cousin "Chemical Ali" and 14 other co-conspirators are on trial for the same crimes against humanity, the brutal crushing of a Shiite uprising after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. They are charged with perpetrating systematic brutal attacks against civilians. Missing from the charges is the role President George H. W. Bush played in this uprising against the dictator, Saddam. As we all are aware, the current President Bush made a huge commotion right before the start of the invasion of Iraq over Saddam's use of chemical and biological weapons against his own people, but he failed to mention that these crimes date back to a period when Saddam was Washington's valued ally in the Middle East replacing the Shah of Iran who had been driven into exile.

Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense, was instrumental in establishing a close alliance with Baghdad during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. In a December 1983 meeting with Saddam as a special presidential envoy, he paved the way for the normalization of U.S.-Iraqi relations. Declassified documents show that Rumsfeld traveled to Baghdad at a time when Iraq used chemical weapons on a daily basis in total defiance of international conventions. None of this mattered to US officials at the time, as Iraq was an ally. In recent years, all the focus has been on the use of chemical and biological weapons by Iraq and the use of these kinds of weapons by United States has not been adequately covered by the established media. So we need to know more about chemical and biological weapons.

The goal of Francis Boyle, Professor of international law at the University of Illinois, in Biowarfare and Terrorism is to provide the general public with a succinct historical perspective on chemical and biological weapons in the United States. Boyle is no Johnny come lately to this debate. He has years of experience and was responsible for drafting the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, the American Legislation of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention. This is his second book.

According to Boyle, the United States government initiated, sustained, and then dramatically expanded an illegal biological arms buildup. The new billion dollar US Chemical and Biological Defense Program has been reoriented to mesh neatly with the neo-conservative, preemptive strike agenda, this time by biological and chemical warfare. The United States has always had an extremely aggressive, offensive biological warfare program dating back to World War II, and that it was none other than "Tricky Dick" Richard Nixon who terminated this program in 1960, not for moral reasons, but for reasons of Machiavellian realpolitik.

Hard to imagine that Nixon would put an end to chemical and biological warfare based on moral reasons. He felt that chemical and biological weapons were counterproductive militarily and could potentially blow back on our own troops in the field. Second, he felt that we already possess overwhelming nuclear forces. Thus, Nixon's objective in banning chemical and biological weapons was to take it out of the hands of third world leaders. So he ordered the complete destruction of all biological agents and munitions. However, the CIA, using a loop in the act, was able to maintain an active biological weapons research program in complete violation of international law.

However, political conditions changed in 1981. The Reagan Administration came to power, and many neo-conservatives came to Washington along with the new president. Their new position was that American must exploit its technological superiority in all fields of scientific endeavor across the board for war related purposes, including chemical and biological weapons.

This book also sheds new light on the nature of the dreaded anthrax attack on Congress and raises some important questions that remain unanswered. Why did this unprecedented event disappear so swiftly from public media discussion? Why has Congress itself failed to pursue both the specific instance and the ramifications of this terrorist attack upon it, and the failure to find a perpetrator? Why has there been no outcry at that failure? For what reasons might the true perpetrators never be found?

According to Boyle, President Bush and former Attorney General Ashcroft used the anthrax attacks on Congress to stampede the American people and push the Congress into enacting into law the totalitarian USA PATRIOT Act with almost no congressional input whatsoever. Boyle believes that the FBI knows exactly who was behind the terrorist anthrax attacks upon the US Congress in the fall of 2001, and the culprits are US government related scientists involved in a criminal US government biowarfare program that violated both the BWC and US domestic legislation implementing the same.

As if this is not enough, he goes on to argues that the Bush Administration is gearing up to fight and win a conflict based on biowarfare. For example, the amounts of money being poured into the US biowarfare industry are staggering. Something is happening here. For fiscal years 2001 to 2004 the United States Government has funded a sum total of 14.5 billion for civilian biowarfare related research alone with an additional 7.6 billion requested for 2005.

Boyle ends by saying that we must defend ourselves against these irresponsible developments being forwarded by an administration which, simply put, does not care about the well being of the great masses of the American people, and this defense is impeachment. Given that Bush only has a short time remaining in office, it is highly unlikely that he will be impeached.

Biowarfare and Terrorism is an excellent jargon free book written with the general reading audience in mind. This book should raise public concern over the Bush administration's vastly expanded US biowarfare research and civilian preparedness programs.

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  • Robert

    From the review, this book seems a little conspiracy minded. Alright, more than a little. Why did the anthrax attack disappear from the media? Huh?!? It is THE event that kicked off the massive biodefense budget increase and no new funding is announced without bringing up the anthrax attacks. Why has no one been caught? Good question. Because they are too smart? Because they got lucky? Because the FBI is incompetent? All of the above?

    Come on folks. Buy a clue. I’ve worked for the government for years. The whole thing is far too big, far too disorganized to have a conspiracy last very long. There is no covert U.S. offensive biological warfare effort. Those secrets are the most fleeting of all.