Trump’s COVID-19 adviser was FBI’s “person of interest” in post-9/11 anthrax attacks

The Trump administration and, specifically, Donald Trump’s trade negotiator, the virulent anti-China Peter Navarro, relied initially on advice for the COVID-19 virus on Dr. Steven Hatfill, the individual named by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft as a “person of interest” in the post-September 11, 2001 anthrax attacks on political figures and the media.

In 2003, Hatfill successfully sued John Ashcroft, the Department of Justice, Justice employees Timothy Beres and Daryl Darnell, the FBI, FBI Supervisory Special Agent Van Harp and other FBI agents for defamation. After his exoneration by the Justice Department, Hatfill received an award of $2.825 million in cash and an annuity paying $150,000 a year for 20 years. Hatfill’s suit against The New York Times and reporter Nicholas Kristof was dismissed. Hatfill has been extremely litigious since his exoneration by the Justice Department. He has sued The Baltimore Sun, the Associated Press, Newsweek, CBS, ABC, The Washington Post, USA Today, Google, Condé Nast Publications, Vassar College, and The Reader’s Digest Association.

Hatfill is not the most virtuous member of the medical community. In the late 1970s, the St. Louis-born Hatfill chose to live in white minority-ruled Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa. A U.S. Marine from 1971 to 1972, Hatfill claims to have later served as a medic with the Rhodesian Selous Scouts and Rhodesian Special Air Service (SAS). Hatfill’s records show that he was attached to the U.S. Army Institute for Military Assistance from 1975 to 1978, while he was also purportedly serving with the Rhodesian military.

As previously reported by WMR, the Selous Scouts, with the help of South Africa’s bio-war program code-named PROJECT COAST, the latter run by Dr. Wouter Basson, nicknamed “Dr. Death,” used biological agents, including anthrax and the West Nile Virus against black African guerrillas fighting Rhodesia’s white minority government. There are allegations that Hatfill also worked for Basson. The Scouts reportedly used anthrax to kill off hundreds of thousands of cattle owned by the black population and botulinum toxin, cholera, typhus, and ricin to kill hundreds of black liberation fighters. From 1976 to 1979, the Scouts developed chem-bio agents at its “fort” in Bindura. Other research took place at a Rhodesian Special Branch laboratory in Borrowdale, a suburb of Salisbury (now Harare). Chem-bio agents were used by the Rhodesian government to poison the food, beverages, and medicines used by blacks in the country. In 2002, ABC News reported that FBI agents traveled to Zimbabwe and South Africa to investigate Hatfill’s role in the Rhodesian bio-war program. The FBI was specifically interested in the relationship between Hatfill and the late Dr. Robert Burns Symington of the University of Rhodesia Medical School. Symington, a white supremacist, was believed to have been one of the fathers of Rhodesia’s biological warfare program.

The Central Intelligence Agency’s longtime “Dr. Strangelove” for creating exotic methods to kill people, the club-footed Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, aka Joseph Schneider, saw Africa as a virtual “Petri dish” for carrying out his macabre experiments. In 1960, Gottlieb developed a deadly poison that was to be put on Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba’s toothbrush and cause instant death. Gottlieb also worked on various “exotic” medical means to dispatch Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Gottlieb also developed African swine fever, which is related to the coronavirus Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the deadly 1918 “Spanish” flu. CIA director Admiral Stansfield Turner admitted in a 1977 letter to Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) that “under the CIA’s Project MKNAOMI, the Army assisted CIA in developing, testing, and maintaining biological agents and delivery systems for use against humans, as well as against animals and crops.” Turner’s admission coincides with the presence of Hatfill in Rhodesia with the Selous Scouts. In 1976, the deadly Zaire strain of Ebola first appeared near the Ebola River in the Republic of Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Hatfill has falsely claimed to have been awarded a PhD in “molecular cell biology” in 1995 from Rhodes University in Grahamstown (now Makhanda) in Eastern Cape province, South Africa. He also claims post-doctoral fellowship credentials from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Hatfill’s attorney admitted that his client lied about his Rhodes PhD, stating to CBS “60 Minutes” that Hatfill “puffed on his resume. Absolutely. Forged a diploma. Yes, that’s true.”

After returning to the United States from white-ruled southern Africa, Hatfill conducted research at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Maryland, the military’s chief biological warfare center and a focal point of the investigation of the weapons-grade anthrax used in the post-9/11 attacks. The FBI later revealed that another USAMRIID researcher, Dr. Bruce Ivins, was their suspected source of the anthrax mailings. Ivins is said to have committed suicide under very suspicious circumstances on July 29, 2008. Ivins was never formally charged for the crime and Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA), the late Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA), and Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the current chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, all rejected the FBI’s assertions against Ivins.

Hatfill subsequently worked in the area of bio-war defenses for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a major intelligence contractor, in McLean, Virginia, and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, part of Louisiana State University, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Prior to the 2001 anthrax attacks using the U.S. Postal System, Hatfill began taking the anti-anthrax prescription medication Cipro (ciprofloxacin). Hatfill claimed it was for a “sinus infection.” In November 2019, Hatfill and two colleagues self-published the book “Three Seconds Until Midnight,” which deals with the world’s unpreparedness for a future influenza pandemic. Official data points to the first confirmed case of COVID-19 symptoms was diagnosed on December 1, 2019 in Wuhan, China.

In 2010, Hatfill was working as a professor of emergency medicine at the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, DC. Hatfill serves as the chairman of the Asymmetrical Biodiversity Studies and Observation Group (ABSOG) non-profit organization in Malaysia and founded the for-profit Templar Associates II, a for-profit corporation in Puerto Rico, the latter claiming to have contracts with the U.S. military. Hatfill is also a board member of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness, a far-right fringe science group based in Tucson, Arizona. It has ties to the extreme right-wing John Birch Society, Breitbart News, and the Heartland Institute, rejects climate change, gun control, the Green New Deal and renewable energy, marijuana legalization, COVID and other vaccines, and masking protections against COVID, and favors abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The group also bizarrely recommends “radiation treatment” for COVID.

Hatfill has been outspoken about the beneficial effects of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID and he has been outspoken against Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in interviews with Steve Bannon’s “War Room: Pandemic” podcasts and in the Falun Gong newspaper The Epoch Times, and on the Sinclair Broadcasting Group.

Considering Hatfill’s strong ties to the far-right, it should have come as no real surprise that his private ProtonMail e-mail exchange with Navarro at the White House were discovered by the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus. While the media’s attention has been focused on the House Select Committee on the January 6, 2021 siege of the U.S. Capitol by Trump mobs, the House committee looking into COVID-19 has been operating under the radar screen. But the real crimes of the Trump administration may be uncovered by Coronavirus Select Committee chairman James Clyburn (D-S.C.). In a letter to Navarro, Clyburn wants to know “what the leaders in the Trump Administration knew, when they knew it, and how their decisions may have contributed to the catastrophic loss of life.”

Specifically, Clyburn has inquired from Navarro about his use of private e-mail with Hatfill. Clyburn’s letter states: “These documents raise alarming questions about whether you and other Trump Administration officials were attempting to hide  information about the federal response to the coronavirus crisis from public view.” In May 2020, email between Navarro and Hatfill shows that they were pushing the use of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID remedy.

On February 29, 2020, Hatfill emailed Navarro the following: “In truth we do not have a clue how many are infected in the USA. We are expecting the first wave to spread in the US within the next 7 days.” Continuing, Hatfill expressed his fear to Navarro that COVID would become a political hammer used by the Democrats on Trump: “This will be accompanied by a massive loss of credibility, and the Democratic accusations are just now beginning. This must be countered with frank honesty about the situation and decisive direct actions that are being taken and can be seen in the broadcast news.” One of the actions recommended by Hatfill was calling out the National Guard to assist state public health officials in conducting testing for COVID.

Navarro wrote in one May 2020 email to Hatfill: “This politicization of QQ [hydroxychloroquine] in the media and ostensibly objective medical journals like Lancet— in truth, a highly partisan publication—may well turn out to be one of the great tragedies of the China virus  pandemic.”

Navarro, whose hatred for China has veered into anti-Asian racism, was one of those who falsely blamed the COVID pandemic on research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Navarro and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) have falsely and maliciously asserted that “gain of function” research on COVID was paid for Fauci, who Navarro has termed “the father of COVID-19.” Navarro’s bellicose accusations against Fauci and his close links to someone once thought by the FBI to be a “person of interest” in the anthrax attacks all fit the pattern of Trump and his underlings engaged in the gaslighting process of repeating the “big lie” to project attention away from their own sordid and criminal actions.

Navarro was one of the White House advisers urging Trump to take severe actions against China for COVID. Trump did not need much convincing as he termed the virus the “Wuhan flu,” “Kung flu,” and the “China virus.” But how far was Trump prepared to go in punishing China? We have recently learned from the new book “Peril,” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, that Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley was so alarmed by a mentally unstable Trump potentially launching a nuclear strike against China — to either assure his re-election or use it post-election as a ruse to remain in office beyond his term — that he found it necessary to call his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, to assure him that the U.S. would not launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against China; and, for the first time since the waning days of the Richard Nixon administration, the senior U.S. military commanders were instructed, in this case, by Milley, not to launch any nuclear attacks unless Milley was involved in the decision-making process. In 1974, it was Defense Secretary James Schlesinger who ordered military commanders to adhere to a similar emergency protocol.

Surrounded by far-right maniacs like Navarro, Hatfill, Stephen Miller, Mark Meadows, and others implanted inside the Pentagon and Directorate of National Intelligence, there is little wonder why then-CIA director Gina Haspel told Milley with regard to Trump’s actions: “We are on the way to a right-wing coup.”

If the Trump administration was looking for a casus belli against China, who really benefited from a virulent global pandemic being traced to Wuhan, a central hub for commerce and transportation inside and outside of China? Perhaps someone who would do or say anything to ensure his narcissistic continuation in power, all the time aided by sycophantic and mentally unstable advisers who shared in his political and racial extremism? You can bet on it.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright © 2021

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and nationally-distributed columnist. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

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