New York City Virus

October 1999

The New Yorker article referenced in the reports included here -- Richard Preston, "West Nile Mystery: How Did It Get Here? The C.I.A. Would Like to Know," New Yorker, 18 Oct. 1999, 90-107 -- is available at http://cryptome.org/west-nile.htm.

Loeb, Vernon. "CIA Finds No Sign Virus Was an Attack." Washington Post, 12 Oct. 1999, A2. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to senior CIA officials on 11 October 1999, the Agency "examined allegations that an outbreak of West Nile fever in New York might have been an act of terrorism ordered by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein but concluded that there was no evidence of a biological attack." A story in the New Yorker magazine "cited an account by Mikhael Ramadan, an Iraqi defector who says Saddam Hussein told him in 1997 that the Iraqi regime was planning to weaponize West Nile virus. Ramadan's account, excerpted from his new book, 'In the Shadow of Saddam,' first appeared in April in the London Daily Mail."

NewsMax.com. 2"Hussein Researched West Nile Virus, But Not for Terror Attack: Scott Ritter." 12 Oct. 1999. [http://www.newsmax.com]

"In an exclusive interview with Inside Cover, former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter said on [11 October 1999] that he doubts Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has launched a West Nile virus bio-terror attack on New York City.... Ritter said: 'The Iraqis did do work on vaccines for a variety of things like West Nile encephalitis. But that was a standard protective measure. There's no evidence that they ever tried to convert that into an offensive program.'"

Preston, Richard. "West Nile Mystery: How Did It Get Here? The C.I.A. Would Like to Know." New Yorker, 18 Oct. 1999, 90-107. [http://cryptome.org/west-nile.htm]

"The mystery of how a West Nile-like virus got to New York City has been troubling the Central Intelligence Agency." At CIA headquarters, "there is a group of analysts and officers who concern themselves with biological weapons -- the C.I.A.'s bioweapons-analysis section.... After the New York diagnosis was changed to West Nile, on September 27th, the top officers in the bioweapons-analysis section suffered a lurch of uneasy recognition: they recalled a report that a self-described defector from Iraq had declared last April that Saddam Hussein was developing a strain of the West Nile virus as a biological weapon and was preparing to release it."

Steinhauer, Jennifer, and Judith Miller. "In N.Y. Outbreak, Glimpse of Gaps in Biological Defenses." New York Times, 10 Oct. 1999. [http://www.nytimes.com]

"'The encephalitis outbreak in New York is a powerful lesson for public health authorities,' said Alan Zelicoff, a senior scientist at the Center for National Security and Arms Control at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico. 'It is a sobering, not so reassuring, demonstration of the inadequacies of the U.S. detection network for emerging diseases.'"

Tucker, Jonathan B. "Bioterrorism Is the Least of Our Worries." New York Times, 16 Oct. 1999. [http://www.nytimes.com]

In this Op-Ed piece, the author, "a former biological weapons inspector in Iraq," argues that "a bioterrorist attack in the United States in which thousands of people are killed remains extremely unlikely. While planning for such an event is warranted, government authorities should pay attention to a far more probable scenario: small-scale incidents involving food or drug contamination, which could cause widespread fear and economic disruption."

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