Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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Monday, November 13, 2006
Mythbusting all round. Whittle on the right, Wardytron of Harry's Place on the left. (Scroll down to "we armed him".)

Someone in the comments nails another one. This was started by "resistor", who says:

For those who still deny that the Americans supplied Saddam

From that famous Stopper journal USA Today

Report: U.S. supplied the kinds of germs Iraq later used for biological weapons

WASHINGTON (AP) — Iraq's bioweapons program that President Bush wants to eradicate got its start with help from Uncle Sam two decades ago, according to government records getting new scrutiny in light of the discussion of war against Iraq.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent samples directly to several Iraqi sites that U.N. weapons inspectors determined were part of Saddam Hussein's biological weapons program, CDC and congressional records from the early 1990s show. Iraq had ordered the samples, claiming it needed them for legitimate medical research. (Related story: A look at U.S. shipments of pathogens to Iraq)

The CDC and a biological sample company, the American Type Culture Collection, sent strains of all the germs Iraq used to make weapons, including anthrax, the bacteria that make botulinum toxin and the germs that cause gas gangrene, the records show. Iraq also got samples of other deadly pathogens, including the West Nile virus.

The transfers came in the 1980s, when the United States supported Iraq in its war against Iran. They were detailed in a 1994 Senate Banking Committee report and a 1995 follow-up letter from the CDC to the Senate.

The exports were legal at the time and approved under a program administered by the Commerce Department.

Resistor quotes more of the article - including the bit where Senator Robert Byrd, whose opinions have moved on since he was in the Klan without ever stopping anywhere near sense, questions Rumsfeld on the matter.

Stonking good reply from "DocMartyn":

No [I think this is a typo for "Not"-NS] the "American Type Culture Collection" again. Look, the American Type Culture Collection, is a not-for-profit organisation that holds and supplies micro-organisms to researchers all over the world. In the early mid-80's when I started my M. Sc. in biochemistry/microbiology I used to flick through their catalogue and lokk [look] at all the nasties you could order. It would supply pathogens to ANY RESEARCHER in any INSTITUTION in ANY NATION.

With twenty-twenty hindsight this was perhaps a bit silly, but it cetainly not racist. Moreover, the supply of these pathogens does have a public health role as they are used to investigate the exact nature of an outbreak. The American Type Culture Collection was nothing to do with the US Government, and the CDC is dedicated to eradicating dieases, not spreading them.

"It sent samples in 1986 of botulinum toxin and botulinum toxiod — used to make vaccines against botulinum toxin — directly to the Iraqi chemical and biological weapons complex at al-Muthanna, the records show."

That what it does. You can get small amount of botulinum toxin to this day. It has a number of uses, for raising antibodies, for vaccination or antidotes, has been used to paralyse specific muscles in some disease states and more recently in cosmetic's. The amout sent to Iraq could not be used to make weapons.

"[T]he American Type Culture Collection, sent strains of all the germs Iraq used to make weapons, including anthrax, the bacteria that make botulinum toxin and the germs that cause gas gangrene, the records show. Iraq also got samples of other deadly pathogens, including the West Nile virus."

The point is what? I could go outside now and dig up a spade full of earth and isolate anthrax spores in a couple of days, botulism is easily contracted and the bug can be obtained from the same source. West Nile virus is not common in the us and enter the country in a consignment of car tyres. You need slides and antibodies to it if you aregoing to test for it.

Microbiologists need miro-organisms, they get them from a catalogue. The best collection is the American Type Culture Collection. If the American Type Culture Collection refused to deal with third world countries the US would be treated as a bunch of racists. Biological weapons are more than bacteria cultures. To weaponize a mirco-organism you need many more things which the US and UK NEVER supplied. So cut the crap and write about something you understand.