The recent wave of deaths of animals around the world - of fish, birds and, as a new story at today's Anomalist reveals, hundreds of cattle - has generated a wealth of theories for the deaths that range from perfectly natural "die-offs" to a coming apocalypse of Biblical proportions, and just about anything and everything in between.
An issue that has not been addressed at length, however, is that relative to concerns that elements of the government may have with respect to these events. Is there official, behind-the-scenes worry about what is presently afoot? Very possibly.
And I say "very possibly" because official, governmental concerns about the nature of sudden animal deaths - and animal disease - have been in evidence for decades. If, that is, one knows where to go looking for that same evidence.
Bacteriological Warfare in the United States is a fascinating FBI document – declassified into the public domain via the terms of the Freedom of Information Act - that covers the years 1941 to 1950. Notably, of the file’s original 1,783 pages, no less than 1,074 have been firmly withheld from declassification by the FBI.
The file reveals a wealth of illuminating and disturbing data on animal disease and death, and their potential, theoretical links to bacteriological warfare and sabotage by enemy nations and individuals.
For example, J.R. Ruggle, the FBI Special-Agent-in-Charge at the Savannah, Georgia office of the Bureau in the early-to-mid 1940s, wrote thus to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover on February 3, 1943: “This office has received a copy of a communication from JOHN T. BISSELL, Colonel, General Staff, Assistant Executive Officer, Military Intelligence Service, Washington, D.C., dated December 29, 1942, to directors of intelligence in all Service commands…”
Colonel Bissel’s communication read: “It has been brought to the attention of this division the possibility in the immediate future of an attempt on the part of the enemy to plant bombs containing germs or to endeavor to create an epidemic, such as hoof and mouth disease, among cattle and other livestock. It is requested that should any information concerning the above come to the attention of the Directors of Intelligence of the Service Commands or the A.C. of S. [Assistant Chief of Staff], G-2 [Army Intelligence], Western Defense Command, that the same be transmitted by the most expeditious means to the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 War Department.”
Evidently, such matters were of keen concern to U.S. Intelligence. And that concern did not go away any time soon. In 1944, the FBI prepared a document that dealt with the scenario of a widespread attack on the U.S. cattle herd via unconventional, bacteriological warfare. The document states:
“A review of the book entitled ‘Sabotage’ by Michael Sayers and Albert E. Kahn, which was published in September of 1942, discloses the following data:
“The complete record of sabotage carried out by Chernov, supposedly of the German Intelligence service in Russia during 1930 to 1936 is too long to put into the book according to the authors, but includes - killing off pedigree breed-stock and raising cattle mortality by artificially infecting cattle with various kinds of bacteria – effecting a shortage of serum to counteract epidemics of anthrax so that, in one instance, 25,000 horses perished as a result of Chernov’s sabotage – infecting tens of thousands of pigs with erysipelas and with certain plagues by having virulent bacteria placed in medicinal sera.
“In another point, the authors have asked the question: ‘Could such wholesale sabotage of agriculture as took place in the Soviet Union take place in the United States of America?’ They then answer the question that, regardless of how fantastic it might sound, such diabolical sabotage was actually practiced by German saboteurs in 1915 in the United States of America.”
The FBI elaborated further: “Anton Dilger, a German-American medical graduate from John Hopkins University, was in Germany when the First World War broke out. He offered his services to the Kaiser, and was promptly detailed by Colonel Nicolai to do secret service work in the United States. Dilger returned to America with a supply of cultures of glanders and anthrax germs. Financed by von Papen, he set up a laboratory in Chevy Chase, near Washington, and started breeding germs on a large scale for infecting mules, horses, and cattle awaiting shipment to the allies.
“This man then organized a band of some twelve assistants to travel around the country, carrying Dilger’s germs in small glass phials stopped with corks through which a needle extended. This roving band jabbed their deadly needles into the livestock.
“They also spread germs by placing them in fodder and drink. Thousands of soldiers, as well as horses and cattle, died as a result of Dilger’s germs. At last Dilger revolted against his mission of silent death. He was murdered by German spies a few months before the end of the war. Could it happen here? It did happen here!”
The FBI’s declassified records from 1945 reveal that the issue of cattle being potentially affected by bacteriological warfare was a major one. A memo to Hoover dated July 6, 1945 states: “You may be interested in the following information which was reported by the SAC [Special-Agent-in-Charge] of the Norfolk Field Division following a Weekly Intelligence Conference on June 28, 1945.”
The document refers to the work of a man (whose identity is concealed to this day within the pages of the declassified documents) employed by the then-Army Air Force at Langley Field, Virginia, and who had “been assigned to handling investigations concerning the landing of Japanese balloons in the states of North and South Dakota and Nebraska.”
In a summary report, the SAC at Norfolk informed Hoover: “I was interested to learn that recently several Japanese balloons were found in that territory which were determined to have been carrying bacteria. The bacteria consisting of anthrax, are placed in the hydrogen. I was told that such bacteria mainly affects cattle. When the bacteria lands on wheat or other types or farm land where food is being raised for the cattle, the bacteria remain in the food when it is eaten by the cattle, and upon human consumption of the milk or meat, the bacteria can be passed on.”
Particularly notable is a July 11, 1949 document that refers to the FBI’s desire to acquire “world-wide information on animal diseases and animal population.”
And, one year later, the FBI was still collecting such data. On October 19, 1950, the FBI prepared a document titled Abnormal Loss of Hogs in Nebraska and Illinois that dealt with an unusually high number of hog deaths in the aforementioned states - as a result of cholera. The files, however, make it clear that, in official, FBI quarters, the nature of the animals’ deaths had been viewed with deep suspicion.
It was concluded that the deaths were due to a “variant virus” or “atypical virus” that stemmed from “local conditions and the physical conditions of the hogs.” The important factor, however, is that this document was found within a file specifically focused upon bacteriological warfare. In other words, the FBI was still looking closely at any and all animal deaths that might not have wholly conventional explanations.
Of great significance is the fact that one of the cases that the FBI examined – and that is described in a heavily-redacted memo of May 29, 1950 – dealt with the discovery of plague-infected rats at the highly sensitive Sandia Base, New Mexico, and which was viewed in some quarters as being the result of nothing less than a deliberate attempt to clandestinely introduce a widespread plague on Sandia by hostile, unknown sources. Significantly, the Sandia Base was, from 1946 to 1971, the primary nuclear weapons installation of the Department of Defense.
Moreover, a document prepared by the FBI’s Special-Agent-in-Charge at its Albuquerque, New Mexico office on June 22, 1950, titled Bacteriological Warfare – Espionage-Sabotage (Bubonic Plague), refers to rumors then flying around the official world that an outbreak of bubonic plague in New Mexico’s rat population may have been the result of deliberate, bacteriological warfare-related activities by – once again - hostile, unknown forces.
The FBI noted with respect to its interview with a plague expert, who is identified only as a “Miss Greenfield”: “[She] is acquainted with the presence of the plague among wild rodents in New Mexico and in the United States for several years. It has now reached an area from the West Coast to a line running north and south at approximately the border of New Mexico.”
The FBI continued: “From August 1949 there were four cases among humans in New Mexico. Briefly, these four cases, one of which was fatal, were reported in New Mexico. Each case indicated that the victim had shortly before the illness, handled wild rodents which he had killed. The one case in New Mexico which was fatal was not diagnosed as the plague until after death.”
Notably, the FBI subsequently received from the Public Health Service two charts displaying the outbreaks of plague in both New Mexico and the continental United States during that period. And as the FBI noted with respect to the Public Health Service: “…they have found positive evidence of the plague among wild rodents in the states lying west of a line directly north of the east boundary of the state of New Mexico.”
The FBI’s Special-Agent-in-Charge at Albuquerque concluded his report thus: “Miss Greenfield has been requested to advise this office concerning any pertinent developments of the plague in New Mexico or in the United States that may come to her attention. In the event such developments are received, the Bureau will be immediately advised.”
And, in essence, those are the significant, declassified portions of the file that relate to animal disease and death that some perceived as potentially sinister in nature.
We now know that senior elements of, and agencies within, the government were taking a deep – and secret – interest in cases of potentially unusual disease and death in the U.S. animal population in the 1940s and 1950s.
We may also consider it highly likely that very similar, secret interest and concern is afoot today with respect to the recent wave of bird, cattle and fish deaths that have so dominated the news in the last month or so - regardless of the ultimate reasons behind the deaths.