What is Prof. Dr. Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ward
Casscells' mission in the Middle East?
In February 2002, Ambassador Joseph Wilson was sent by the CIA on a mission
to Africa. This became publicly known in July 2003, when he published a New
York Times OpEd,
"What I Didn't Find in Africa." Joseph Wilson's failure to find evidence
of alleged Saddam's efforts to procure nuclear material from Niger undermined
the administration's case for war on Iraq based on a supposed nuclear threat,
and might have prevented the Iraq invasion if it had become public before March
S. Ward Casscells
was deployed on a mission to the Middle and Far East late
last year, and may be deployed to Iraq this year. Will we
learn about the results of his mission imminently,
and will it provide justification for an attack on Iran?
Or will we find out that it yielded negative results a year or two from now,
a US attack on Iran has occurred?
The US State Department accuses Iran
of having an
"offensive biological weapons program."
UNSC resolution 1540
affirms the Security Council's resolve to take "appropriate and effective actions"
against "any threat to international peace and security caused by the
proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and their means of delivery."
Since it was adopted under
Chpt. VII, "appropriate and effective actions" may include military action.
If a US attack against Iran is launched under the pretext of an imminent biological weapons
threat, using UNSC 1540 as a justification,
Dr. Casscells is likely to play a key role in these events.
In the case of Iraq, before the invasion
the US State Department also alleged that
"Iraq has biological weapons and a significant offensive biological weapons program."
was hyped before the invasion (eg.
Colin Powell's speech to the UN in February 2003)
to justify it. Why aren't we hearing speeches about Iran's biological
weapons danger now? Because such information was made classified in March 2003
Executive Order 13292, so that
it could avoid public scrutiny during
preparation for the Iran attack.
Who is Dr. S. Ward Casscells?
Ward Casscells, III, M.D. is Chief of Cardiology and holder of an endowed
Distinguished Professorship at University of Texas-Houston, Vice-President for
Biotechnology, Director of Clinical Research at the Texas Heart Institute, Director
Center for Advanced Imaging, on the editorial boards of six scientific journals,
author of numerous scientific papers, and a
bioterrorism/chemical terror expert . He is
involved in patient care, teaching, and research on detection and prevention
of heart attack and stroke. His research also deals with
new methods of gene transfer into cells. From all appearances, Dr. Casscells
is an extremely busy man. He also has a wife and three young kids.
In June 2005, at the age of 53, Dr. Casscells did an odd thing:
he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He had to get
and a history of
cancer. His enlistment
commits him to serve
a weekend a month, two weeks each summer, and he is subject to
90-day call-up every two years.
What motivated Dr. Casscells to join the Army, and what motivated the Army to
Why did the Army want Dr. Casscells?
The Army tells us why they were so interested
in Dr. Casscells that they were willing to give him three health waivers:
So the Army is interested in Dr. Casscells because of his expertise in avian
flu. Indeed, Casscells has done research into the
role of influenza and
influenza vaccination in causing and preventing cardiovascular disease.
There are however numerous other people that are vastly more expert in avian
flu, that could help the Army. Yet Dr. Casscells was appointed the
"U.S. Army Medical Command's senior medical advisor for avian influenza and
pandemic influenza." What is it that makes Dr. Casscells expertise
in avian flu so special?
Dr. Casscells' Special Expertise
What distinguishes Dr. Casscells' expertise in
avian flu from that of others is that Dr. Casscells has been interested in the
that avian flu could be used as a bioweapon. In his 2003 paper
"Influenza as a bioweapon," he writes:
"The Spanish flu epidemic in 1918 killed 20-40 million people.
...In addition to such spontaneous mutations, we must, since the terrorist attacks of
September and October 2001, consider the possibility of malicious genetic engineering to
create more virulent strains."
- "[T]he possibility for genetic engineering and aerosol transmission suggests an enormous potential for bioterrorism."
- "CDC should advance influenza as a critical agent in priority as a bioterrorism threat."
In addition he states in this paper that "Influenza is a very different virus
from smallpox, and the public health implications of influenza as a bioweapon
differ from those for smallpox: influenza is readily available, whereas known
stocks of smallpox are secured at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
in Atlanta and at a facility in Russia (though there is reason to suspect its
leakage to weapons programs elsewhere)." Iran has been accused of drawing
Russia's experts and
supplies of smallpox for
Two of the four coauthors of that paper,
Dr. Mohammad Madjid
Dr. Parsa Mirhaji,
received their medical training in Iran
. Madjid and Casscells coauthored a second paper on the subject,
"Influenza as a bioterror threat: the need for global vaccination."
The fourth coauthor of the "Influenza as a bioweapon" paper,
Dr. Scott Lillibridge, was hired at UT-Houston as a
"bioterrorism expert," after being
"the top government official for responding to bioterrorism attacks."
He led the CDC's operations
in response to the sarin gas terrorism in the Tokyo subway in 1995, and
coordinated the response of the Department of Health and Human Services to the
anthrax letters in October 2001. His wife
Kristy Lillibridge worked at the CDC focusing on "develop[ing] techniques
for screening animals and humans" to "[prevent] infectious diseases from entering
the United States," and on "Bioterrorism Preparedness."
Casscells and his coauthors have led several efforts in disaster preparedness
and chemical and bioterrorism prevention:
"Defense of Houston,"
, and most recently the
TexSHIELD program with focus on avian influenza prevention and response.
"also assist in the war on terrorism." Casscells
was the principal architect of these Army-funded programs and has also
been involved in numerous task forces and commissions on bioterrorism.
What motivated Casscells to join the Army?
Dr. Casscells says he joined the Army because:
Dr. Casscells never says that he joined the Army because he
recognized that his special skills and expertise in avian flu and in bioterrorism
prevention could be useful to it. Perhaps those considerations never crossed his mind.
But it is somewhat peculiar that a high profile person with a myriad of responsibilities and
commitments that rely on his special expertise, plus a
busy family life,
decides to join the Army at the age of
53 for purely sentimental reasons. And apparently the decision
"seemed abrupt to many of his family and friends,"
"surprise[d] many friends and acquaintances."
So let's assume there is another reason why Dr. Casscells decided to join the Army.
If he doesn't talk about it, it must be classified.
Perhaps he was asked by
somebody in a high position to make this sacrifice, and he couldn't refuse.
Does Dr. Casscells know people in high places?
So it looks like Dr. Casscells has a lot of friends in high places.
Perhaps he was asked by one of those friends, possibly
his number one patient, President Bush,
enlist in the Army for a service that only he
could provide to the country. A service that could not be talked about, so
to come up with
other "credible" reasons.
The Army, Avian Flu, and Bioterrorism
In November 2005, a few months after enlisting,
Casscells was given a medal for exceptionally meritorious service as
"the U.S. Army Medical Command Senior Medical Advisor for Avian Influenza and
Pandemic Influenza." He had made several trips to the Middle East and
Southeast Asia in the preceding months in that capacity.
The same news release mentions that Casscells directs TexSHIELD, which places
"special emphasis on avian influenza."
According to Casscells, TexSHIELD will "facilitate[s] the global involvement
of American doctors, nurses and other allied health professionals in our response
to global emergencies, such as the recent tsunami, flu epidemics and the possibility
In March 2006, there were reports that
"bird flu threatens American troops in Iraq," stating that
"bird flu mutation is more threatening than terrorist attacks."
were warned. A
bird flu alert was declared in Southern Iraq.
There have been news reports since 2003 that
US Army scientists have recreated in the laboratory the highly infectious 1918 Spanish Flu virus
that killed millions
Dr. Casscells laboratory research work
"is focused on new methods of gene transfer." Gene transfer is a
major route to creating new disease agents, and it certainly could be used
build effective biological weapons
[1 (doc)]. Casscells' paper on influenza as a bioweapon warned about the
possibility of deliberate malicious genetic engineering. As he was finishing
his Army training in February 2006, Casscells
"volunteered to go to Iraq."
Iranian scientists do
work on genetic engineering,
and may well be creating mutations of the H5N1 influenza virus that make it
human-to-human transmissible to develop antidotes against them,
just as US scientists are.
Iran is the "most active state sponsor of terrorism"
according to the US State Department.
Without being aware of the existence of Dr. Casscells,
I wrote in this column that
bird flu would offer a perfect "casus belli"
for an attack on Iran. My hypothesis was based on the fact that the US administration
alarm over the
dramatic consequences of a bird flu outbreak well beyond what is scientifically
and that the alleged enormous potential consequences
to 150 million deaths worldwide) fits with
the administration's statements "The greater the threat, the greater
is the risk of inaction and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory
action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place
of the enemy's attack. There are few greater threats than a terrorist attack
So let us apply some
my wild speculation
is wrong, what is the probability that:
- The Army's top expert on avian flu is also the
main US scientist that has written papers on influenza as a bioweapon?
- The Army's top expert on avian flu
also has a close relation to President Bush, being his personal physician?
- The single senior US scientist that has worked on
prevention of bioterrorism and on influenza as a bioweapon enlists in the Army at
age 53, with three medical waivers?
This person's two closest collaborators
in research on bird flu pandemic and bioterrorism
are of Iranian origin?
Without doing the math, I argue that these facts taken together represent extremely
remarkable coincidences, i.e. have an extremely low probability of occurrence,
if my wild speculation is incorrect. Instead, they are no longer coincidences
if Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush entrusted this highly respected scientist with
a top secret mission of the greatest importance to national security, on what
an obsession of the Bush administration.
Dr. Casscells' mission
The evidence suggests that Dr. Casscells was asked
to enlist in the Army to
build up a "casus belli" against Iran: that Iran is engaged in biological
weapons work, specifically creating a mutation of the H5N1 virus that is human-to-human
transmissible; that Dr. Casscells was deployed last year to the Middle East
and the Far East and this year to Iraq to assemble the evidence, to examine
bird flu cases on the spot and analyze their genetic makeup and differences
in the different regions of the world, and perhaps do some genetic manipulation
of his own. If Iran developed such a mutation and it was transmitted to Iranian
birds, the first cases are likely to show up in neighboring countries like Iraq,
before they spread to the rest of the world.
If Dr. Casscells had spent a considerable time in the Middle East working
for the Army without enlisting, it would have been more obvious that his activity
was related to his previous
work funded by the Army, namely bioterrorism. In order to conceal this fact he was asked to enlist.
There may be "evidence" from "intelligence" that such bioterrorism work is
going on in Iranian underground facilities. Dr. Casscells has the necessary
high scientific standing, as well as the right background, to provide credibility
to such a claim. It will be far stronger "evidence" than the
feeble Colin Powell's claims on Iraq bioweapons trailers, against which
Americans have been inoculated by now.
Finding different genetic sequences in bird flu viruses in the Middle East and
other regions of the world would of course not be a fingerprint of
deliberate genetic manipulation,
since random mutations occur naturally. However given Dr.
Casscells history of intense preoccupation with bioterrorism, he is likely
to be inclined to interpret it as such.
Especially if he is concerned about the health of
his number one patient,
since as he wrote in the
"Influenza as a bioweapon" paper,
"influenza poses a greater threat to world leaders than does smallpox, because they are
older and prone to influenza and its cardiovascular complications...."
would also arguably be obvious targets.
Because the potential for
catastrophic loss from a worldwide influenza pandemic is so high,
the administration will argue that a military strike is justified, "even
if uncertainty remains...." The arguments will be made after the bombing
The appointment of Michael Hayden as head of the CIA also makes sense in this
strengthen the connection of Defense Department and CIA intelligence operations
and thwart any independent CIA effort that could run counter to the buildup
of damning evidence against Iran. According to intelligence expert John Pike,
"Hayden is coming on board as the CIA is gearing up to overthrow the mullahs."
Hayden will also ensure that
intelligence activities will not become public,
"The CIA needs to get out of the news as source or subject."
I don't know whether Dr. Casscells is a knowing participant in the
plan to attack Iran, or merely an unwitting key facilitator. Perhaps, just
as ElBaradei states that he cannot
"provide assurance" of the nonexistence of a nuclear weapons program in
Iran, it will be enough for the administration if Dr. Casscells testifies that
he "cannot rule out" that the "scientific evidence" he gathers on avian flu
in the Middle East could point to a hidden underground Iranian bioweapon program
to create a deadly mutation of the H5N1 virus.
Then what? HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt often emphasizes the importance of
early local detection of dangerous mutations of the avian flu virus:
"Think of the world as a vast dry forest that's susceptible to fire".
"It only takes one spark and the fire starts. But if you're there when the
spark happens, you can very simply put it out with your foot..."
"Nuclear weapons could be employed against targets able to withstand non-nuclear
attack, (for example, deep underground bunkers or bioweapon facilities)."
"Geographic combatant commanders may request
Presidential approval for use of nuclear weapons for a variety of conditions. Examples include:
...Imminent attack from adversary biological weapons that only effects from
nuclear weapons can safely destroy."
"All options are on the table..."
An Open Plea to Dr. Casscells
assume that Dr. Casscells is a good man and a patriotic American.
So far I have no reason to believe otherwise.
I very much doubt that he has fully considered the possible consequences of his actions.
Colin Powell now regrets
his February 2003 UN speech, just like Joseph Wilson
may now regret
not having written his OpEd earlier, Dr. Casscells may come to regret his role in these events.
the Iran plans
carried through, the case for war against Iran will fall apart in the aftermath,
the one for Iraq
did. But this time the perpetrators, aiders and abettors
will be prosecuted
and will face
penalties that fit the crime.
Dr. Casscells has only a partial vision of the facts. I doubt very much that
considered the detailed evidence presented in this column that it is a deliberate
purposeful goal of this administration to strike Iranian facilities with
earth-penetrating nuclear weapons, which has been recently supported by
Seymour Hersh's and
other news reports, and explicitly
not ruled out by President Bush.
The fact that
I can deduce the existence of a plan to accuse Iran of developing a mutated H5N1 virus,
without having access to any classified intelligence, should make it
clear to Dr. Casscells that such intelligence is bogus.
Just like in the case of Iraq, it is likely
to originate in
unfounded claims from Iranian dissidents.
It is imperative that any evidence that is claimed to exist on an Iranian biological weapons
threat that could be used to justify a US attack be made public. Then it can be subject to
public scrutiny and to the scrutiny of other independent scientists.
Others may have information that contradicts such intelligence claims. Dr. Casscells, you
know full well that no scientific
evidence has ever a claim to validity unless confirmed by independent scientific studies.
The nation's most eminent physicists have asked President Bush
take the nuclear option against Iran off the table.
American Physical Society, representing
over 30,000 American physicists, has
expressed deep concern over the possible use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state.
The administration is not responding, and
the nuclear option is still on the table.
Congress is silent.
The use of nuclear weapons by the US against a non-nuclear country will usher
in a different world. A world on a direct path to global nuclear annihilation.
Dr. Casscells: please let America know what is your mission in the Middle East. Please refuse to
carry out your duties. Please resign from your
job as a key facilitator of what will be a heinously criminal illegal and immoral act,
that will shatter America's standing in the world and lead America and the world into a path of
Please help prevent the
upcoming US nuclear attack on Iran.
You have an enormous responsibility on your shoulders. Don't fail America's
future generations. Don't fail Lily, Henry, and Sam.