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“There is something curious about Hatfill’s claim, on his resume, to have worked concurrently with the U.S. Army Institute for Military Assistance in Fort Bragg and with the Rhodesian Special Air Squadron. Indeed, several of his associates have told the Prospect that Hatfill bragged of having been a double agent in South Africa — which raises some intriguing questions. Was the U.S. military biowarfare program willing to hire and give sensitive security clearances to someone who had served in the apartheid-era South African military medical corps, and with white-led Rhodesian paramilitary units in Zimbabwe’s civil war two decades earlier? Or did Hatfill serve in the Rhodesian SAS, and later in the South African military medical corps, at the behest of the U.S. government?”
Kristof revisited the anthrax issue in a July 2 column, but seemed unaware of the Rozen piece as he continued to refer to Hatfill not by his real name:
“Almost everyone who has encountered the F.B.I. anthrax investigation is aghast at the bureau’s lethargy. Some in the biodefense community think they know a likely culprit, whom I’ll call Mr. Z. Although the bureau has polygraphed Mr. Z, searched his home twice and interviewed him four times, it has not placed him under surveillance or asked its outside handwriting expert to compare his writing to that on the anthrax letters…
“People in the biodefense field first gave Mr. Z’s name to the bureau as a suspect in October, and I wrote about him elliptically in a column on May 24.
“He denies any wrongdoing, and his friends are heartsick at suspicions directed against a man they regard as a patriot. Some of his polygraphs show evasion, I hear, although that may be because of his temperament.
“If Mr. Z were an Arab national, he would have been imprisoned long ago. But he is a true-blue American with close ties to the U.S. Defense Department, the C.I.A. and the American biodefense program. On the other hand, he was once caught with a girlfriend in a biohazard ‘hot suite’ at Fort Detrick, surrounded only by blushing germs.
“With many experts buzzing about Mr. Z behind his back, it’s time for the F.B.I. to make a move: either it should go after him more aggressively, sifting thoroughly through his past and picking up loose threads, or it should seek to exculpate him and remove this cloud of suspicion.”
Now in fairness to Kristof he does not come right out and say that the man in question is Steven Hatfill, but by this time anyone who’d followed the case with any degree of detail — as evidenced by Laura Rozen’s online piece — would know exactly to whom he’s referring. In addition, might it be asked just what the FBI was doing leaking details on an ongoing investigation to a columnist for the New York Times? And can someone explain what inspired Kristof to attempt a cheap imitation of David Brock by reporting on “Mr. Z” allegedly being caught with a girlfriend in a “biohazard ‘hot suite’ at Fort Detrick” — and how such an interlude would have made “Mr. Z” or anyone else any more or any less likely to have committed the anthrax mailings.
In his news conference and with testimony provided by his friend and former CNN reporter Pat Clawson, Steven Hatfill emphasized his research was in the area of such viral agents as Ebola and not anthrax. Nonetheless, all the media speculation regarding his alleged guilt has seen him suspended from his job as an associate director at Louisiana State University’s National Center for Biomedical Research and Training. His attorneys have filed an official complaint with the Justice Department regarding the FBI’s defamatory leaks to the media concerning Mr. Hatfill. Which brings us to Mr. Kristof’s column of August 13th, written after Hatfill’s public appearance.
In it Kristof does a good deal of hasty backpedaling and, to put it politely, derriere-covering, claiming “it’s time for me to come clean on Mr. ‘Z’” — as if anyone who’d followed the story would not have known by then exactly to whom he was referring. But as in the Rozen story one paragraph probably explains Kristof’s obsession with Hatfill, particularly since it also connects to something mentioned prominently in Kristof’s July 2nd column. Here are the two relevant sections:p>July 2nd: br> “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?”
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