Recent headlines about dead fish along the world’s shores and birds falling from the sky has plenty of people shouting from the hilltops. Some take their cue from the predictable biblical rehash, while others strike a more contemporary note by pointing their judgmental fingers at us from the church of climate change.
There was one headline which didn’t generate such apocalyptic furor, and yet the man in the paper might have something to say about all those dead blackbirds if he himself wasn’t sleeping with the fishes.
Former Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force between 2005 and 2008.2, John P. Wheeler III, had a special interest in biological warfare and, while still an army officer, penned the first Biological and Chemical Joint Munitions Effectiveness Manual3. During his tenure at the Air Force, Wheeler came to hold the position of Assistant to the Acting Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Logistics and Environment, dealing mainly with data gathering, liaison and analysis4.
A background like that would certainly make him privy to sensitive information. Indeed, information is rumored to be the reason behind his assassination. Of course, no one is officially claiming homicide yet. However, anomalies have begun to emerge, as they tend to do in the first hours and days of newsworthy events before being buried under a mountain of spin. On the last day of 2010, Delaware Police received a report that a man’s body had been dumped out of a refuse truck coming from Newark, Delaware, onto the landfill in Wilmington5. Mr. Wheeler was 66 years old.
Witnesses later confirmed that Mr. Wheeler had been in Wilmington the day before, blocks away from his lawyer’s office, in the city’s downtown area. A video6 shows a very disoriented Wheeler trying to find his car in a parking lot one day earlier, which turned out to be parked at another location7.
His body was found at 3:30 pm on New Year’s Eve at the Cherry Island landfill and police, though confessing to having discerned no motive or coming across a lead, is looking into a row Wheeler was having with a neighbor over a property dispute, after it was disclosed that a smoke bomb had been found under the neighbor’s home8.
The Russians Are Coming
Enter Vladimir Putin and the Geneva Protocol9, a nearly hundred-year old treaty signed just as Lenin was running out of czarist gold and jewels to sell. Less known by its more formal name “Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare”, the Geneva Protocol counted 38 original signatories, the United States and Russia among them. The communist regime ratified it in 1928, the United States only did so in 1975 and then only with the reservation that [It] “Ceases to be binding as to the use of chemical weapons in regards to any enemy state which does not observe the prohibitions of the protocol.”10 Russia also ratified with reservations, but withdrew them in 2000. Since then, two other conventions have been called to address issues not considered in the original, such as the production, storage and transfer of biological and chemical weapons. These follow-up treaties, the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 and the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1992 were also signed and ratified by both the U.S. and Russia.
Just a few months ago, in a report issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the government of Vladimir Putin accused the U.S. of failing to report the full extent of chemical weapons removed from Iraq between 2003 and 2008 (curiously contemporaneous with Mr. Wheeler’s term at the Air Force). From a translated edition of the report issued in the summer of 2010, we read the following excerpt:
“2. The US government submitted a report to the Technical Secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the elimination of a part of Iraq’s chemical weapons (CW) in the period 2003-2008. According to the submission, within the specified time US forces in Iraq had found chemical samples of chemical agents (CA) and chemical munitions. All the samples and a portion of the munitions with an unknown CA were sent to the US for identification where they were then disposed of. However, the Americans provided no timely information to the OPCW either on the discovery or on the elimination of the CW. Data on area decontamination is absent in the documents.”11
A few weeks ago, Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdiukov responded to a ‘wikileak’ regarding the possibility of a NATO troop deployment along the Russian border, saying he would be prepared for such an eventuality, but that in his estimation, the cable had no credence.12 Wikileaks, Serdiukov inferred, are no better than rumors, and rumors should be fought with rumors.
An intelligence report prepared for Putin reveals that one of America’s “top experts in biological and chemical weapons was brutally murdered after he threatened to expose a US Military test of poison gas that killed hundreds of thousands of animals in Arkansas this past week.”13 Ostensibly, this refers to one Mr. John P. Wheeler. I don’t think Putin has had any conversations with Julian Assange to release any Russian intelligence reports, so I don’t expect this rumor to go any further than it has to go.
Stop The Madness
For most people, or at least the loudest among us, the most implausible explanations are never as ridiculous as the most probable. Whenever something goes wrong, the last thing they want to suspect is that it went wrong on purpose; not some ‘higher’ purpose, but rather your neighbor’s purpose. Perhaps Mr. Wheeler was poisoned by his neighbor and thrown in a trashcan over a blocked view of his driveway. Or, maybe he was a good neighbor after all, willing to expose evil and got killed for it.
1- The Washington Post – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/03/AR2011010304847.html
2- Time Magazine – http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2011/01/04/john-p-wheeler-iii-1944-2010/