Ten years ago today, George W. Bush signed the Patriot Act into law in what many consider to be the single biggest blow to civil liberties our country has seen. I will leave it to others to detail the damage done to our rights, but a quick list of that damage can be seen here on the History Commons website. Instead, what I want to focus on is the prominent role played by the anthrax attacks in the passage of the Patriot Act.
Although most would say that the Patriot Act was a direct result of the 9/11 attacks, timeline analysis shows that key events in the anthrax attacks took place during the critical days leading up to passage of the act. The timeline I have assembled here draws on data in timelines prepared by Marcy Wheeler, History Commons (anthrax), History Commons (Patriot Act) and Ed Lake, along with my own contributions.
September 4, 2001 Exactly one week before the 9/11 attacks, Judy Miller disclosed Project Bacus, in which the Defense Threat Reduction Agency demonstrated that they could construct a functional small bioweapons facility at the Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah for under $1 million. The facility is capable of both growing and weaponizing biowarfare agents.
September 18, 2001 Letters containing anthrax mailed to the New York Post and Tom Brokaw were postmarked one week after the 9/11 attacks. It is presumed that the letter that lead to the death of Robert Stevens of American Media in Boca Raton, Florida was also mailed around this time but the letter itself was never recovered.
September 30, 2001 Robert Stevens begins to feel ill. Read more