It is widely accepted that Saddam Hussein has Anthrax, Aflatoxin
and other bio-weapons and that he revels in an ability to harm
others. (For first hand accounts of the man and his regime
Much of the plausibility of the 'war is
killing us' claim rests on whether the DoD did do as described.
I have heard technically minded people express doubt that the
DoD in 1975 could engineer an immune system attacking 'agent',
and rule out the possibility that AIDS could be an engineered
The arguments usually rest on the fact
that even now we know very little about how to design proteins
for specific purposes. Secondly in 1975 our ability to cut and
splice DNA sequences was nothing like what it is now. Could
biological agents really have been engineered with the
technology available then?
Conspiracy theories about AIDS are
additionally often met with the further arguments that AIDS is a
'totally new' virus, and that given its occasionally long
latency period, developing it would have taken hundreds of years of experiments.
So lets have some counter arguments:
- It is very easy to 'engineer'
bacteria with specific simple properties such as antibiotic
resistance, without any access to DNA splicing technology.
Bio-engineering can be an awful lot less high-tech than one
might think. One does not need cut-and-splice
technology to make new bacteria or new viruses.
- The uniquenesss of AIDS can be met
by noting its similarity to BZV, a bovine virus. The
similarity of sequence is strong enough to be seen by eye
when the sequences are written out. It is far too high
a level of similarity to have arisen by chance - there must
be common ancestry.
- The long latency can be met by
pointing out that in mice, or in rapidly proliferating human
cell culture, the life cycle would
be much shorter
than in humans. Long latency is
also something that can be selected for after selection for immune suppression.
On the biotech side it is also possible
to specifically target the immune
system. The key is to use 'nude mice', that is mice with
deficient immune systems.
An account of how AIDS could have been
engineered - including some of the political dimension - is
produced by the Strecker group. The report has extensive
references to scientific literature and suggests a complex
picture - with military research interlinking with non-military
research particularly into animal models for infectious
immunosupressive cancers. The Strecker report leaves open
the possibility that AIDS arose as an accidental byproduct of
research into immune suppressive cancers, but does come down
firmly in favour of the virus being created 'in the
The objections on the net on scientific
grounds to the Strecker report which I have seen only re-iterate
the 'scientific counter arguments' of long latency and lack of
knowledge as to how. For me they are not convincing as
refutations of the Strecker claims.
As a background on plagues on a global
scale, Philip Ziegler's "The Black Death" (1969) ISBN
0 14 00.6076 6. is well worth reading. Ziegler estimates that
around one third of the population were wiped out. There were
many waves of the diseases, and there were several types, not
just one. Perhaps so too with the new plagues?