By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media
I am amazed by the conspiracy of silence, on the right and the left, about former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s bungling of the anthrax case. “In his years as FBI director and as a Justice Department official, Mueller gained a reputation for honesty, integrity, and being a ‘straight-shooter,’” writes Fred Barnes at The Weekly Standard.
This is pure hogwash, to use a family-friendly term.
Barnes, a veteran journalist, is not alone in offering such undeserved praise of Mueller. Commentators on the right and left have been repeating this garbage ever since Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel. Interestingly, Rosenstein also received high praise from various commentators. He, too, was seen as a straight shooter. With former FBI Director James Comey, they constitute an unholy alliance that is determined to take down President Donald Trump. With good reason, Trump calls it a witch hunt.
But since Rosenstein appointed Comey’s buddy Mueller as special counsel, people are beginning to see the whole process as a setup. Or as Barnes puts it, the deck is “stacked” against President Trump. Hence, “the sword of impeachment will be hanging over him,” says Barnes.
This didn’t have to happen, if journalists and commentators had been open and honest about Mueller’s real record. Simply put, Mueller can’t be trusted to arrive at the truth. The anthrax letters case proves it. He should never have received the appointment as special counsel. Barnes’ assertion that the deck has been stacked ignores the fact that he and his associates in the Never-Trump movement helped stack the deck. Why didn’t they blow the whistle on Mueller when he was appointed? Why do they ignore his real record now?
The trap has been set by those conservatives in the media, echoing their liberal colleagues, who wanted to pretend that Mueller is overflowing with honor and integrity. By showering him with praise, they have joined hands with the liberal media in setting the stage for Trump’s impeachment and forced resignation from office.
Call me a cynic, but I can’t help thinking that the Never-Trumpers in the media, such as Barnes, know precisely what is happening. They know Mueller is determined to take down Trump, but that he can only do so if he is given a clean bill of health as a first-rate investigator. Hence, they must whitewash Mueller’s corrupt record in advance of him filing charges against Trump and/or his associates.
Only in the swamp known as Washington, D.C. can a failed FBI chief be rehabilitated into a “straight-shooter,” qualified to bring down a president with the powers of a special counsel.
“In 2004,” retired Foreign Service officer and intelligence analyst Kenneth J. Dillon tells Accuracy in Media (AIM), “the FBI learned that the anthrax mailer was an al-Qaeda operative. Under White House pressure, Mueller suppressed this finding and continued to hunt for a domestic suspect. When scientist Bruce Ivins committed suicide in 2008, Mueller blamed him for the mailings, then lied to a Senate committee about it.”
Although the anti-Trump special counsel railroad is on schedule, pending a Trump decision to fire Rosenstein and Mueller, it is still important for the public to know some of the details about how Mueller botched the anthrax case by falsely blaming various American scientists for the letters that killed five people and injured dozens.
At the time of the anthrax attacks, I was working closely with AIM founder Reed Irvine, who never backed down from a search for the truth. A series of AIM Reports challenged the FBI’s handling of the case and examined how various members of the news media, most notably New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, pushed dubious theories targeting innocent American scientist Steven Hatfill. Kristof operated on the basis of a phony theory, fed to him by a leftist, speculating that the anthrax letters were mailed by a right-winger, probably a white guy working for a U.S. lab. The FBI went along with the false premise, ignoring the obvious evidence of an al-Qaeda role.
To illustrate how Mueller botched the case, consider that the FBI didn’t have a shred of evidence against Dr. Hatfill, but drove him out of two prestigious jobs and ruined his career. At one point, the FBI claimed to have fished a piece of Hatfill’s lab equipment, supposedly an anthrax weapons device, out of a pond. The FBI spent $250,000 to drain the pond but found no evidence of anthrax in it. The device was a minnow bucket.
Acting like the KGB, one FBI agent followed Hatfill as he went to buy some paint, and ran over his foot with a car. Hatfill was given a ticket by D.C. police for walking over to the FBI car and trying to take a picture of his tormentor. It appeared that the FBI was trying to provoke Hatfill so they could arrest him on some flimsy charge and claim they were right about him all along. This is similar to how a special counsel operates.
Comey took over for Mueller at the FBI and could have reopened the case in order to determine why, in the end, the Department of Justice awarded Hatfill nearly $6 million in damages. Comey could have cleaned house, purging corrupt agents. Instead, Comey decided to maintain the cover-up and keep Mueller’s so-called sterling reputation intact. As a result, the FBI still maintains that another scientist, Ivins, who was persecuted and driven to suicide, was the culprit.
Even before the embarrassment with the minnow bucket, columnist Dan K. Thomasson had written that the FBI’s handling of the anthrax case “has to be the most incredible display of bizarre ineptness since former FBI director Louis Freeh took personal charge of the investigation to nail Richard Jewell for the bombing in Atlanta’s Olympic Park” in 1996. Jewell wasn’t guilty of anything except some genuine heroism that saved lives.
Ignoring the anthrax investigation debacle, some commentators are noting that Mueller is staffing his operation with Democratic Party lawyers. What else did you expect? His assignment is to bring down Trump. In regard to the President, we said on May 24, “Mueller will produce evidence of a crime out of nothing if he has to.” That’s what they tried to do to Hatfill.
In Trump’s case, it doesn’t matter if the charges are legitimate. All that matters is that they give the appearance of impropriety, so that the impeachment process can get underway.
Since Comey continued the Mueller anthrax letters cover-up, we have to assume that the FBI culture hasn’t changed, and that Mueller, now in charge of dozens of FBI agents as part of his special counsel investigation, will order his investigators to frame President Trump and/or his top aides with some charge or another. This is a vendetta that constitutes revenge on a President they don’t like and who is suspicious of their work.
At first I was amazed by the continuing cover-up surrounding Mueller’s terrible record, which also includes letting Islamists rewrite FBI training materials. Then, I thought about it and considered a major human flaw which characterizes the work of commentators and journalists—they don’t ever want to admit they’re wrong. They accepted Mueller’s work on the anthrax case as legitimate at the time, and now don’t want to revisit the matter because it would put their own judgments under scrutiny. It’s much easier, under these circumstances, to say that Mueller’s work was exemplary, even though such a claim is a blatant lie.
Fake news is all around us, on the left and right.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.