Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bio storage - weapons labs in Georgia: Bechtel National and US government again involved in a witch’s brew?

Tbilisi biolab - why worry?

Georgian authorities have built a new laboratory on the outskirts of Tbilisi near the international airport, assisted by American defense authorities, such as Bechtel National and various subcontractors. It is suppose to be associated with bird flue and a bio storage facility of Soviet era germs but few fully buy into that story. Something is going on - not because of the official nature of the facility but because of the cock and bull stories being written about it that insults anyone's intelligence.

1)      What kind of lab is it, and why has there been so much speculation about it?

2)      It lies at a place called Alekseevka, an abandoned Soviet military base, today a suburb with a few thousand people living within a mile of the new building.

3)       Is it purely defensive, as the U.S. government and Bechtel National claims, or some more sinister – or is research being carried out on some of the most terrifying weapons ever created

I think for something like this the only place is a news service looking for a feature or a documentary. I am trying to piece the information together, one source writes, "The safety woman was American, name of Carol, but I can't remember much else about what you mention below. And then there was a Brit that used to run a bar, he got a fat contract to go and fix all the bad welds for the bio stew vats, tubing and even the structural steel of the building was not to standard.

Now that got me scratching my head on that one. As another source recalls, "there was a Turk contractor working with various projects in Tbilisi, who set up his own company and did some work for Bechtel, but that's as much as I can remember. I remember a job and that was a long time ago for someone to go in there in some sort of monitoring or evaluation role, but that's as much as I can remember. I don't know anyone who actually took that position."

I have been asking around and the story is that while they have 'archived' the weapons stuff, the facility - as all such research is about counter/response to biological/chemical agents, so getting ready for anthrax type attacks and the angle is counter terrorism preparedness. However, and here is the interesting catch, to build counter-agents you have to first have the weaponized or 'infecting' agent, which means they have to predict what someone might use (so the archive they got is important for this) and then build a counter-agent."

So to make an analogy, you need cobra venom before you can manufacture the anti-venom. I so as is the case with all dual-use technology there is the potential here, and in developing wider defense strategy such 'capacity' is taken into account. I - and friends - however believe that there is little chance that the US would keep such high security information as would be contained in the archive in such a precarious location. Maybe they do some research as a part of the wider program and maybe it's a place to set up early warning, or something that needs a lab close to Russian or Central Asian territory - what link might there be to Iraq here, or Afghanistan?

However, in government circles this is not considered exceptionally sinister or clandestine either. But the public might feel different I suspect....! There is the important caveat though, as you well know the genie is out of the bottle with this stuff so I personally would expect a government to prepare for an attack. Lots of nutters around who would love to hit the US or UK, etc, talk about panic if they were able to pull it off!

Anyway, I will see what I can dig up. There is actually a lot out there about this facility, it is in a few books as well, that cover biological weapons and terrorism and historical writing about the Cold War. Some of the material is rather dated, take for instance an blog entitle Bechtel: skeletons in the Iraqi cupboard that speaks about what everybody knows, Bechtel's involvement in making of chemical weapons – its direct involvement in chemical weapons programs, as reported about 20 years ago in the financial times during the ongoing investigation of the notorious Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, the Italian bank clandestinely funding the arms-to-Iraq programme with the secret involvement of sections of the then Bush administration.

Bechtel was the lead contractor for the PC2 petrochemical complex, producing chemicals with dual civil-military use including a precursor used in mustard gas. The deal was up and running after the Kurds were gassed at Halabja in 1988, the incident frequently cited as justification for this year's war to topple Saddam.  It should be noted the connection between former Secretary of State, having been a Bechtel board member, and Georgia. The nexus between Bechtel and the Iraqi chemical weapons program are well documented, in spite of all efforts, to bury the information, as reported in the German newspaper Die Tagezeitung and was widely reported, and described all the dealings about the company that Supplied Iraq's Weapons Program.

Out of a total of 24 US companies and their area of involvement. Number 21 is Bechtel, shown as involved in the chemical weapons program. Bechtel had another finger in the Iraqi pie during the 1980's. They sought, without success as it turned out, to build an oil pipeline via Jordan to Aqaba, intended to carry a million barrels per day of Iraqi exports. The deal was to be financed through the US Exim Bank. The current Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfield lobbied Saddam for permission while the White House pressured the Exim Bank. Details are given in a report from the Institute for Policy Studies, which "reveals that the diplomatic pressure from Rumsfeld and the Reagan administration happened during and despite Hussein's use of chemical weapons. Behind the scenes, these officials worked for two years attempting to secure the billion dollar pipeline scheme for the Bechtel Corporation."

Clearly, the highest levels of the administration placed tremendous importance on the Aqaba pipeline project. On June 19, 1984, the Eximbank's Board met and not surprisingly approved a preliminary commitment of $484 million for the Aqaba pipeline for Bechtel. It is no wonder that EXIM Bank does not complete with private sector lenders as the private sector would be unable to accept the risk and legal ramifications of such deals, and in terms of political and commercial risks, and that they could be deemed as terrorist involved in biological warfare.

Under normal peaceful circumstances, as such project as funded by the EXIM would not be economically viable, or morally acceptable – and if done locally, the masses would be screaming "not in my backyard." However, to play about with bio agents in Georgia is like what has been done in Iraq with the Kurds – and who will be the next white rabbits. It is doubtful if there will be much fanfare unless there is a pile of bodies with a US and Bechtel flag waving on top of it – a gift of the American People and Bechtel National.




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