The Iraq Smallpox Attack Scare Tactic

Do you remember The Fear? The constant terror alerts, the talk of “dirty bombs” or terrorists attacking shopping malls, even instructions on what to do if there is a nuclear explosion nearby? But that was all before the 2002 election and the following invasion of Iraq. That was then, this is now.

One of the scares used to prepare the public for invading Iraq was that Iraq might strike at us with their stockpiles of smallpox. I searched and found hundreds of articles. Here are just a few examples to remind you:

July 7, 2002, US plans mass smallpox vaccination,

The plan to increase the number of workers vaccinated comes amid talk of an attack on Iraq, which some experts suspect of hiding smallpox stocks.

August, 2002, Israel Preparing for Worst: Begins Smallpox Vaccinations (NewsMax),

Israel is preparing for mass destruction attacks, and has begun the first phase of inoculating its population against a smallpox attack.

Fearing that Saddam Hussein may attack Israel before war breaks out with the U.S., Israel has also begun distributing anti-radiation pills.

November, 2002, Is Attacking Iraq Worth Risking Smallpox?

According a recent administration intelligence review, four countries, including Iraq, possess covert stocks of the deadly smallpox virus. The CIA’s Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Center (WINPAC) has “high confidence” that Iraq has the virus. At least one person who has access to the intelligence information offered to “bet my next year’s salary” that Iraq has smallpox.

December 3, 2002, C.I.A. Hunts Iraq Tie to Soviet Smallpox (Judith Miller),

The C.I.A. is investigating an informant’s accusation that Iraq obtained a particularly virulent strain of smallpox from a Russian scientist who worked in a smallpox lab in Moscow during Soviet times, senior American officials and foreign scientists say.

The officials said several American scientists were told in August that Iraq might have obtained the mysterious strain from Nelja N. Maltseva, a virologist who worked for more than 30 years at the Research Institute for Viral Preparations in Moscow before her death two years ago.

The information came to the American government from an informant whose identity has not been disclosed. The C.I.A. considered the information reliable enough that President Bush was briefed about its implications. The attempt to verify the information is continuing.

December 9, 2002, The smallpox scenario,

As the U.N. and member governments seek to uncover whatever illicit weapons programs Iraq might have, few tasks are as urgent as determining whether Baghdad has obtained the smallpox virus.

The only declared reserves of the 120 known strains of smallpox are in two labs, in the U.S. and Russia, but fears that Iraq may possess the virus have lately come to a head.

Why the suspicions? As the New York Times first reported last week, the CIA is investigating the possibility that a Russian scientist, Nelli Maltseva, ferried a nasty strain of smallpox from the Research Institute for Viral Preparations in Moscow to Iraq in 1990. She died two years ago.

December 13, 2002, White House FAQ, Smallpox Response Teams

Does Iraq have smallpox? Do you believe that Iraq may use a smallpox weapon if attacked by the United States?

It is possible, but not confirmed, that Iraq possesses the virus that causes smallpox. By protecting ourselves to respond to any smallpox attack, including through pre-exposure and post-exposure vaccination plans, we also help deter such attacks.

[. . .] If someone receives that vaccine now or before an attack, will they need to be revaccinated if there is an attack?

In a post-attack emergency, to ensure everyone is protected as rapidly as possible, all exposed persons will be vaccinated regardless of smallpox vaccine history.

December 18, 2002, Rumsfeld says he’ll take smallpox vaccine. Careful steps would precede Iraq war, he tells Larry King,

In an interview Wednesday with CNN’s Larry King, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld revealed his plans to take the smallpox vaccine, which can carry severe side effects, including death.

“I certainly intend to, simply because it’s hard to ask people to do something that you’re not willing to do yourself,” Rumsfeld said, responding to a question posed by King.

President Bush has said he, too, will take the vaccine after ordering vaccinations for some military personnel. The vaccine will be administered to about 500,000 troops deployed in high-risk parts of the world under the first phase of the vaccination plan. The inoculations began this month, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The Defense Department said vaccinations will be mandatory except for those who have medical exemptions.

Because about half of U.S. residents have never been vaccinated and those who were vaccinated are believed to have limited, if any, immunity, the country is considered by some to be especially vulnerable to a biological attack. It is feared that Iraq might have smallpox that could be used for weapons.

Shortly after the invasion, Smallpox Vaccinations Moving Slowly

The U.S. government is shrinking by 90 percent the number of people it believes it will vaccinate for smallpox, the Washington Post reports.

Just a few months after President Bush said he wanted 500,000 emergency workers to receive smallpox shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says that 50,000 vaccinations might be a more reasonable target. Only 35,000 people have rolled up their sleeves to date.

Oh yeah, by the way, here is how it turned out: September 19, 2003, No smallpox in Iraq – team,

Top American scientists assigned to the weapons hunt in Iraq found no evidence Saddam Hussein’s regime was making or stockpiling smallpox, according to senior military officers involved in the search.

Smallpox fears were part of the case the Bush administration used to build support for invading Iraq – and they were raised again as recently as last weekend by vice-president Dick Cheney.
But a three-month search by “Team Pox” turned up only signs to the contrary: disabled equipment that had been rendered harmless by United Nations inspectors, Iraqi scientists deemed credible who gave no indication they had worked with smallpox, and a laboratory thought to be back in use that was covered in cobwebs.


7 thoughts on “The Iraq Smallpox Attack Scare Tactic

  1. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
    Is it starting to make sense yet?

  2. There are actually two hoaxes mentioned in the above quotes: smallpox and the “anti-radiation” pill. The ‘anti-radiation” pill is potassium iodide, which would in fact protect the thyroid against radiation, provided that any radioactive iodine that could get into the thyroid happened to be released, which is highly unlikely. It would not protect any other part of the body. Nuclear explosions on the whole don’t release radioactive iodine, so conning people into thinking they’d actually be protected against any kind of nuclear attack, or for that matter nuclear plant accident, is a complete lie.
    As for the smallpox scare, since I was one of the zillions of people who worked on the research that led to the elimination of this disease, this one has always made me froth at the mouth. THERE IS NO SMALLPOX EXTANT IN THE WORLD! I’m not going to go into the complete biology of this, but unless the US managed to somehow cheat, once smallpox was eliminated, both the US and the Soviet Union did keep small amounts of VACCINIA, the virus used to vaccinate against SMALLPOX, just in case. To back-engineer the actual smallpox virus from vaccinia would be next to impossible, and there are so many other dangerous diseases that would make much better biological weapons with much less difficulty it’s hard to imagine why anyone would bother with smallpox.
    The reason why the decision was made to eliminate smallpox was that vaccinating people against it was killing more people than than the disease itself. That’s the aspect of the disease that I worked on. The situation is much worse now than it was then, because anyone with the AIDS virus or other conditions that weaken the immune system, like those who have had organ transplants whose immune systems have to be repressed, who even came into contact with someone freshly vaccinated would be put at risk at death — from the VACCINIA virus used in the vaccination, not from actual smallpox. Vaccinia does cause a minor infection, which the vast majority of people can handle with ease. When the decision was made to eliminate smallpox and stop vaccinating people those at-risk populations did not even exist!
    So the Bush decision to put THE FEAR into everyone, and make millions for those who would manufacture the vaccine, was not only a con but would have put many thousands of American lives at risk.

  3. The information came to the American government from an informant whose identity has not been disclosed. The C.I.A. considered the information reliable enough that President Bush was briefed about its implications. The attempt to verify the information is continuing.
    What do you bet that this informant was the poor Mr. Al-Libi who had been the recepient of the US “enhanced interrogation” that led to the charge that Saddam was secretly training al Qaeda terrorists to handle biological weapons? That was before the CIA decided he was “deliberately misleading” them because he didn’t give enough detail to back up the charge. Since Judy was one of the prime recipients of Rendon info, it’s fit that she is the one writing this crap.

  4. No matter where the supposed “information” came from, the administration had plenty of access to the truth. All it had to do was consult its own experts at the NIH and CDC, who were bug-eyed and bewildered when ordered to start vaccinating everybody. At first they didn’t quite dare refuse a direct order from the government, but luckily for everyone sanity and common sense took over pretty quickly. I’m sure they must have tried to explain to the administration that there was no risk of smallpox, what the normal protocol would have been if there were, which would not have been to try to vaccinate the entire country, or even every health care provider, and what the dangers were. Health care providers all over the country had the guts to refuse to take part in this dangerous farce. That’s what finally brought it to a halt. This may have been one of the first times some genuine information made its way past the administration and out to the public. I remember the details about the danger to those with damaged immune systems actually got on at least CNN and the local nightly news.

  5. While I’m at it, keep in mind that this is the same crew that’s gonna “save” us from avian flu by changing the way flu vaccine is manufactured while providing the drug companies immunity from any lawsuits if it kills people, based on the Bush idea of how the vaccine should be mass produced. This while we’re having yet another year of flu vaccine shortages, blamed on “distribution problems.”
    There’s plenty of genuine, well thought out and well proven SCIENCE behind the methods now used to make the flu vaccine. Changing the manufacturing methods without years of experimentation, testing, and small trials on first animals and then humans, is exceptionally dangerous. That’s why they want immunity from lawsuits for the manufacturers. If they get away with this, it will be the biggest experiment ever, directly carried out on the American public. This really gives me a terrible case of THE FEAR. Genuine fear. Would I let anyone give me that vaccine? HELL NO!

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