Mainstream news accounts have finally fingered Battelle Memorial Institute, the spooky Dr. Strangelove Institute in Columbus, as ground zero in our domestic military-industrial anthrax scare. With five people dead and eighteen ill, Battelle’s role in directing the Defense Department’s “joint vaccine acquisition program” is now coming under heavy scrutiny.

Battelle, in partnership with Michigan-based Bioport, has a virtual monopoly on military anthrax vaccine production in the U.S.. British and U.S. news accounts describe Bioport’s owner as a top secret British biowarfare consortium, Porton Down. Perhaps not ironically, the Chairman and CEO of the Porton Down company is Fuad El-Habri, a bin Laden family associate. Laura Rozen’s interesting article for the website Salon is must reading on the subject.

Admiral William J. Crowe, Jr., a former Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, is one of the four-person Board of Directors of Bioport and holds a 13% interest in the company. Some investigators link the multinational investment firm and defense contractor, the Carlyle Management Group -- that was involved in managing the bin Laden family fortune prior to Sept. 11 to Bioport. Former CIA Director Frank Carlucci, Bush the Elder’s Chief of Staff James Baker III and the former President himself are all associated with the Carlyle Group.

As I reported in the Columbus Alive immediately after the anthrax scare began, Battelle is involved in developing a new and stronger strain of anthrax at its West Jefferson, Ohio labs. Don’t be deceived by the fake farmland facades of the W. Jefferson complex. It’s the center of a top secret defense project going under the name “Project Jefferson,” according to the New York Times. The actual lab is BL-3 Anthrax Lab. The Times also confirmed that the CIA is also involved with its own top secret anthrax project called code name “Clear Vision.”

As I noted in the Alive, the former No. 2 man in the Soviet biochemical warfare operation, Kanatjan Alibekov (now going by the alias Ken Alibeck) is a classified consultant with both the CIA and Battelle. A 1998 New Yorker article pointed out the work between William C. Patrick III and Alibeck on the anthrax project.

Battelle emerged during WWII as a top secret facility because of its work on the Manhattan Project. Battelle was responsible for innovations in uranium ore that was actually milled in Columbus. Battelle and Bioport stood to get massively rich off an anthrax scare and, more than any other organization, Battelle controlled access to the Ames strain of anthrax used in the top secret military tests.

The Baltimore Sun reported that the Ames strain was also being produced at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, but more importantly, Battelle directs that program as well. The FBI investigation has led them in the direction of Patrick and Alibeck. But whether they have the will, or the authority, to investigate spook central headquarters in Columbus is another question. The New York Times on Nov. 9 already reported that the FBI made an error in the “anthrax probe” by allowing the “destruction of university” samples that “may have caused clues to be lost.”

Alibeck, who arrived in the U.S. in 1992, needs to be looked at very closely since news reports suggest that he had possible financial stakes in a biochemical scare. On Oct. 29, the Washington Post reported that Alibeck “has hooked up with an Alexandria, VA company, and, supported by federal grants, opened a laboratory of 35 people. The article notes that he’s “learning to be a capitalist.”

“Hadron Advanced Biosystems Inc., Alibeck’s company, sports an unusual provenance for a biotechnical venture. No other company, doing any kind of work, can claim to be headed by a former No. 2 man in a vast program aimed at turning anthrax, plague, smallpox, tularemia and many other germs into weapons of war,” noted the Post.

The Post explains that “Alibeck’s venture is a subsidiary of Hadron Inc. . . . a publicly traded 37-year-old government contractor specializing in defense and espionage work.” Rozen in Salon, pointed out that Porton Down made a “fortune” during the Gulf War selling anthrax vaccine.

The FBI’s investigation should focus on who stood to gain financially from the acknowledged domestic military-industrial anthrax terrorism.

The convergence of the Strangelovian Battelle with Bioport, the Porton Down and the role of prominent individuals like Alibeck, Crowe, El-Habri and the Carlyle Group suggests that much of this is likely to be covered up. Ironically, this summer, President George W. Bush renounced long-standing calls by the Russians for mutual inspections of biochemical weapons sites like Battelle. Bush claimed that mutual inspection of U.S. biochemical technology sites by foreign scientists could risk revealing commercial trade secrets – secrets that would be worth “a fortune” if a few people controlled the commercial rights to them during an anthrax scare.