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[casi] The Kay report: dissecting biological weapons claims

To call the Kay speech to Congress a " report" is paying way to much respect for what appears 
essentially a media management exercise.  The speech pushes lots of buttons but provides very few 
specifics so it is impossible to judge how well based its claims are.  Ones response will depend on 
how honest you believe CIA officials and reports are.

Nevertheless as a biologist by training I thought it worthwhile examining the biological weapons 
section, and here it is patently obvious that the report contains such gross distortions that it 
can only have been issued in bad faith.  This in turn casts doubt on its other claims that it is 
impossible for us to verify and must be taken on trust, if at all.

Specifically, the report makes claims that
"New research on BW-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and 
continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin were not declared to the UN."  As no further details are 
given on this work beyond that assertion its difficult to assess how valid it is.  It should be 
noted that CCHF (a tick borne disease) is a disease that is found in Iraq
Al-Tikriti S.K.
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus in Iraq: isolation, identification and electron microscopy. 
Acta Virol;24(6)464-467(1980)
Tantawi H.H. et Al.
Antibodies to Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus in domestic animals in Iraq: a 
seroepidemiological survey.
Int J Zoonoses,8(2)115-120(1980)
Tikriti S.K. et al.
Congo/Crimean haemorrhagic fever in Iraq: a seroepidemiological survey.
J Trop Med Hyg.,8(4)117-120(1981)

As such it would be incumbent on the health officials to keep reference stocks of the organism as a 
public health issue.  Its use of as a bioweapon is completely unknown (and almost certainly 
ineffectual - bombing opposing troops with tick infested blankets?).  Similar, the claim for ricin 
and aflatoxin is later amended to "surrogate work with .....and medicinal plants with ricin" - 
translation - we found some castor beans, as that is the major ricin producing plant.  Its 
difficult to make much of a threat out of a "hill of beans" to quote Casablanca, but that is what 
David Kay has succeeded in doing.

However the distortions in bad faith really begin when discussing Bt toxin and its applicabilty to 
anthrax production.
"Discussions with Iraqi scientists uncovered agent R&D work that paired overt work with 
nonpathogenic organisms serving as surrogates for prohibited investigation with pathogenic agents. 
Examples include: B. Thurengiensis (Bt) with B. anthracis (anthrax), and medicinal plants with 
ricin. In a similar vein, two key former BW scientists, confirmed that Iraq under the guise of 
legitimate activity developed refinements of processes and products relevant to BW agents. The 
scientists discussed the development of improved, simplified fermentation and spray drying 
capabilities for the simulant Bt that would have been directly applicable to anthrax, and one 
scientist confirmed that the production line for Bt could be switched to produce anthrax in one 
week if the seed stock were available."
The ease in which it is suggested that Bt toxin (the very word toxin of course raises alarm bells 
in people's minds) is equated to anthrax is simply staggering.  The Bt industry in the US has a 
multi million dollar market as a liquid based pesticide for agricultural spraying.  The Bt organism 
producing a toxin that attacks the digestive gut of many crop pests.  This toxin is supposed to be 
harmless to humans, to the extent that the toxin has been introduced into many GE food crops, 
including maize, and regularly ingested by all Americans, except those who insist on organic, GE 
free food.  However, in the hands of Iraqis it is being promoted as a surrogate Weapon of Mass 

It is entirely plausible that Iraq should wish for an develop a BT pesticide industry - many many 
other countries have and it is a very basic technology.  The toxin is not purified, but rather a 
wet mix of entire bacterial culture is used as a spray.  Considering the limitations on Iraqi 
chemical manufacture it is clean, affordable and environmentally friendly form of controlling crop 
pests.  To equate the production of this liquid mix with the production of weaponised anthrax is 
absurd.  In the only known attack using anthrax conclusively proved to be US military stocks in 
October 2001, it was shown to be effective, anthrax had to be weaponised.  That is, first grown, 
then dried and finally milled and aersolised to a fine powder suitable for aerial dispersion.

To pretend this is in any form similar to Bt pesticide production is a deceitful claim made in bad 
faith.  To pretend that it would be easy to switch from pesticide production to production of 
anthrax weapons is simply wrong and a claim that the reporting parties know is wrong.  Iraq has 
every right to manufacture and use Bt sprays.  To me, it casts into doubt the veracity of the 
entire report.

This report from a former UN chief inspector highlights the totally partisan and propaganda nature 
of the UN weapons inspectorate.  A fitting ending to a decade long charade.

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