The Steven Hatfill Case: Government And Press Combine To Smear A Citizen As A Terrorist—Is VDARE.com Next? Are You?

[See also

Government And The Left Combine In Anthrax Lynching,

By Sam Francis, August 15, 2002
]

VDARE.COM contributor
Nicholas Stix
deserves recognition for his

early investigative work
uncovering one of the most
scandalous smear campaigns in recent memory: the sliming
of bioweapons researcher Steven Hatfill.
 

Unfortunately, similar smear
campaigns rage on, orchestrated against immigration
reformers and patriots by left wing groups in alliance
with government bureaucrats and a corrupt media.

The just-published May issue of
The Atlantic magazine contains

The Wrong Man
, David Freed`s powerful 8,600-word account of Hatfill, whose life
was turned upside down by federal authorities,
journalists, a

Vassar professor
, and a left-wing scientist after
five
anthrax-laced letters
were mailed in the wake of the
9-11 terrorist attacks, eventually causing five deaths.
 

But Stix had sorted this smear out
back when the campaign to convict Hatfill was in full
swing. He called me one morning while I was

working as managing editor at
Human Events

and asked if the D.C. conservative weekly would be
interested in his lengthy article.

I thought Stix`s article was well
researched and broke important new ground when others in
the Main Stream Media seemed absolutely convinced of
Hatfill`s guilt. So I approached Tom Winter, the
newspaper`s editor and former co-owner (Human
Events
had recently been bought out by Phillips
Publishing) and forwarded it along to him.

Winter had reservations about
publishing long pieces that required fact checking to
verify the author`s claims. Plus, in this instance, he
lacked the nerve to publish what he deemed a
“very risky” story because he feared there was some chance that the
MSM consensus was right.

So
Human Events
never published Stix`s scoop—which would have been a
tremendous coup for the small publication.

What we now know about the Hatfill
case and its coverage, thanks to the hard work of Stix,
Freed, and other independent writers, is devastating. It
exposes not only
flimsy
MSM standards of
“proof”
and
“verification”
but also how MSM reporters and
columnists were complicit in spreading government leaks
that caused an innocent individual tremendous personal
turmoil, the loss of a lucrative career, friendships,
and almost his sanity.

During this same period, I was also
working part-time for
Newsweek, my
former employer, usually on weekends substituting for a
vacationing colleague on the support staff in the
Washington Bureau. I was there one Friday and Saturday
stretch when
Newsweek
`s reporters were pursuing critical leaks
(or “breaking
developments”
in journalistic jargon) from federal
investigators working on the Hatfill case.

Out of curiosity, I asked
Newsweek`s investigative reporter
Michael Isikoff
why he seemed so convinced of the evidence against
Hatfill.

Isikoff cited, among other things,
what supposedly was Hatfill`s
“far right”
background, most notably during his time in

Rhodesia.

In other words, I was witnessing
firsthand what Freed accurately describes —guilt by
innuendo, assumptions, and associations. He writes:

“Much of what authorities discovered, they leaked anonymously to
journalists. The result was an unrelenting stream of
inflammatory innuendo that dominated front pages and
television news. Hatfill found himself trapped, the
powerless central player in what
[his lawyer] describes as `a story about the two most powerful institutions in the
United States, the


government
and the
press
, ganging up on an innocent man. It`s Kafka."

No one pursued Hatfill more
aggressively than
New York Times
columnist Nicholas Kristof.
 Freed describes
how Kristof urged the FBI to act against Hatfill by
investigating “loose threads”:

One of those threads, Kristof
reported, pointed to the possibility that Mr. Z


[Hatfill] was a genocidal racist who had carried out germ warfare to slaughter
innocent black Africans
.
Kristof addressed his column directly to the FBI:

`Have you examined whether Mr. Z
has connections to the biggest anthrax outbreak among
humans ever recorded, the one that sickened more than
10,000 black farmers in



Zimbabwe in
1978–80
?
There is evidence that the anthrax was released by the
white Rhodesian Army fighting against black guerrillas,
and Mr. Z has claimed that he participated in the white
army`s much-feared



Selous Scouts.

Could rogue elements of the American military have
backed the Rhodesian Army in anthrax and cholera attacks
against blacks?`
[Anthrax?
The F.B.I. Yawns
,
By Nicholas D. Kristof,
New York Times,
July 2, 2002]

But, as Freed
points out:



“Kristof didn`t mention that the majority of



soldiers in the Rhodesian army,

and in Hatfill`s unit, were black; or that many
well-respected scientists who examined the evidence
concluded that the Rhodesian anthrax outbreak emerged
naturally when cattle herds went unvaccinated during a
turbulent civil war. Kristof also failed to mention that
Mr. Z had



served in that war

as a lowly private. To have been involved in some sort
of top-secret Rhodesian germ-weapons program `would`ve
been like a



Pakistani
army private being brought in
to work on a project at Los Alamos,` Hatfill says
today.”

Hatfill now finds himself in the
same situation as Ray Donovan, former Labor Secretary in
the Reagan administration, when a jury

acquitted Donovan of fraud and grand larceny charges

in May 1987. As Donovan put it memorably:

“Which office do
I go to get my reputation back?“

Nevertheless, the lessons of the
Hatfill case seem utterly lost on the media elite.
Parallels abound in the latest wave of hysteria over the
rise of militias, hype over
extremist political
rhetoric, and the unsettling notion that many
independent-minded Americans are

organizing at the grassroots level

(“community
activists”
but apparently of an undesirable sort) to
oppose our bipartisan political establishment.

Thus
Newsweek
magazine`s recent coverage of the fifteenth anniversary
of the

Oklahoma City Bombing again
shows the press
complicit in projecting politically hyped and dubious
assertions as facts.



“Antigovernment
extremists are on the rise—and on the march”

claim

Newsweek`s
Evan Thomas
and Eve Conant in the April 19, 2010
issue. What`s one primary source behind this statement?
None other than

Mark Potok
of the Southern Poverty Law Center
($PLC), quoted prominently as an authority on (sit down
for this one!)
“patriot”
groups!

Yes, patriot groups, according to
Newsweek (and Potok), are
“roaring back”. ["Meet
The Patriots"
,
SPLC website, April 2010]

So who exactly are these so-called
“antigovernment patriot” groups? Well, upfront is

“Oath Keepers”,

led by Yale Law School graduate and former congressional
staffer
Stewart Rhodes.
The organization of 6,000 is
composed of active and retired police officers and
servicemen. Its primary aim is, horror of horrors, to
“uphold the Constitution and defend the American people from
dictatorship”
.

Someone notify Homeland Security!
As Joe Sobran

once quipped
, “the

Constitution
poses
no serious threat
to our current form of government”
.

The Thomas-Conant piece ricochets
a number of questionable assertions: Death threats to
members of congress are on the rise; soldiers use the
Internet (“a dark
social network”
) to blog or
“boast”
“white
supremacist”
doctrine;
“hate”-filled
extremist groups on the
“march”;
Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh push a
“steady stream of
conspiracy theories”
and
“paranoia”;
Sarah Palin

tweets
,
“Don`t Retreat, Instead—RELOAD”.

Evan Thomas is an experienced
editor and gifted author. I find it especially difficult
to criticize him—as my former boss he gave me my first
real raise and even went out of his way to attend my
wedding). But why he could not see through Potok`s
self-serving fantasies?

Where`s the hard evidence for what
Potok claims is a
“revival”
of
“patriot” groups, “from 149
in 2008 to 512 (127 of them militias) in 2009″
?

What methods does Potok use to
gather information and verify the accuracy of these
numbers?  

Isn`t the fact that the FBI
intervened before
a
rag-tag group of nine Hutaree militia members
could
carry out an (alleged) violent conspiracy actually proof
that the government has heavily infiltrated such groups?

What specific criteria does Potok
use to classify and identify various individuals and
groups along the spectrum of the political right?

Do
Chuck
Baldwin
,
Ron Paul,

Joseph Farah
,

Cliff Kincaid,
and Michelle Bachmann, classed as
suspect
“patriots”
by the SPLC,
constitute a
threat to the U.S. government?

Should
law
enforcement agencies
keep tabs on these
“patriots”—just as the FBI tracked Steven Hatfill?

Whatever happened to the
indignation with liberals notoriously greeted a

prominent public figure
who publicly claimed to have
a list of “subversive” groups that threatened domestic tranquility and
national security back in the 1950s?

But then again, maybe
Newsweek will
claim that the truth doesn`t really matter—perceptions matter—which it did in 1983, when it excused itself for
perpetuating a hoax by arguing

“Hitler`s
diaries—genuine or not, it almost doesn`t matter in the
end.”

As Steven Menzies concludes in the
next Social Contract Magazine, which is entirely devoted to the $outhern
Poverty Law Center:




“Were SPLC merely using its




flimsily devised `hate` list to

bedevil obscure fringe groups in quest of further
largesse from its long-suffering donors—in much the same
way various private red-hunting enterprises did in the
McCarthy years—its tactics would be an affront to
scholarship, fair play, and civil liberties. But in fact
the SPLC employs its shoddy research techniques to
mislead the public, through a compliant media that has
almost always served as its ventriloquist`s dummy, and
more alarmingly, to misinform and misinstruct police
agencies at the federal, state, and local levels. Last
year SPLC`s urging a blind eye to the terror threat from
militant Islam, Latin American drug cartels, and the
radical left found echo in reports from the Department
of Homeland Security and a



Missouri state agency

that



claimed

that GI`s returning from Iraq



were a major terror threat

and that bumper stickers for Texas Congressman Ron Paul
could identify likely threats.




“And SPLC has let its own mask slip enough to show that
it is American democracy that the Center fears most of
all. Increasingly, mainstream America itself has come
under SPLC`s fire. In a chummy interview he gave to




the communist


Socialist Worker

in 2006,

Potok revealingly characterized the immigration control
movement as: `a rush of people identifying themselves
with a nation-state and its borders, combined with
immigration, and it can be a bad mix`—a description of
what most Americans would see as ordinary patriotism.
 Only last
year, Potok admitted that `every poll shows that three
out of four Americans think the immigration system is
broken and must be fixed immediately.` Indeed, in its
recent report `Rage on the Right,` SPLC was constrained
to acknowledge that a large majority of Americans
believe that their country is in decline and their
government isn`t to be trusted—though it is probably a
little too early for the Center to brand the American
people a `hate` group.”


Kevin Lamb (
email
him), managing editor of

The Social
Contract
,
is a former library assistant for

Newsweek
and


managing editor

of
Human Events.
He was also
assistant editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.