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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The second bullet?

Salon has an article on detection of tularemia in Washington on September 24, the day of the big anti-war march. The government says that nobody ended up with a case of tularemia, but Salon isn't so sure:
Mike Phelps, 45, says he attended the rally in Washington that day, traveling round trip by bus from Raleigh, N.C. On Sept. 27, he came down with a fever, sore throat and headache. Within days, he was coughing up dark phlegm. When he blew his nose, it would bleed. "It was gross," he says. "I literally vomited out cup loads of phlegm. Most of it was dark-colored. I've never had anything like this before."

Phelps' doctor said he had pneumonia and prescribed antibiotics. A few days later, Phelps read about the tularemia scare and called his doctor. His doctor told him that if it was tularemia, he would have prescribed him the same antibiotics. Phelps says he called the CDC but was transferred to an automated system. Frustrated, he hung up.

Several members of the women's peace group, Code Pink, also from North Carolina, who attended the march, say they got sick afterward. Stephanie Eriksen, a 46-year-old network engineer for AT&T, says she developed swollen glands and cold symptoms in her throat and chest. She developed a persistent cough that still lingers. "My throat has still not recovered completely," she says. Eriksen says her 14-year-old daughter marched in Washington and got sick. She was tested for strep throat. Eriksen said the results were negative.

Aimee Schmidt, a Code Pink member and student at North Carolina State, says that she developed flu-like symptoms and a raging headache that lasted three days after the march. She says her eyes hurt and her whole body ached. She never went to the doctor. "I made a choice, wise or not, to just deal with it," she says.
The government's response was Katrinish--public health officials weren't notified until six days later. What actually happened is left to conjecture--was it a terrorist act from the supposed external enemy, or maybe from an internal one (like the 2001 anthrax attacks)? Perhaps terrorists were just testing the system, seeing if the bioweapon sensors actually work.

Here's my theory, in which I don't have a lot of confidence: There wasn't any tularemia there. The reports are the actual act of terrorism, a threat to the anti-war movement that the government is ready to get as serious as necessary to keep us in line. Like the second bullet in Garry Webb's "suicide," it's a message just subtle enough for the corporate media to ignore. As Salon admits in the article, the chances of a few people out of 200,000 coming down with something nasty a few days after the march are pretty high. Since the symptoms of tularemia are apparently not terribly distinctive, easily diagnosed as flu or pneumonia, whether or not tularemia was actually released on the mall just hangs there, an unanswered question. Releasing the reports, like vague reports of possible terror attacks, just raises the fear--which is the key element of terrorism, no matter who does it. In addition, actually releasing tularemia on the Mall might have killed some pals of the Bushies--John Roberts or Dennis Hastert, for example (aWol himself was out of town, as usual). This way, they put that nagging fear into everybody's head without any real evidence available to confirm or deny it, and without any actual bodies to get rid of.

Again, I'm not placing any big bets on my theory. But the only thing we actually KNOW in this case is that the government announced that tularemia was detected in Washington on September 24. Maybe everyone in the government performed his or her job in a totally proper fashion--except for one spook who sprayed a little bit of tularemia into the bioweapon sensors.