The Sunshine Project recently closed up shop. While it was operational, I had certain questions in my mind about it. The following is a copy of my original (2005) post.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
The following appeared on the “Conspiracy Theory” page of al-Jazeera today. It is credited to Edward Hammond, Director of The Sunshine Project:
an Austin, Texas and Hamburg,Germany –based Non-Profit organization,said to be dedicated to the elimination of bio-terror.
(What follows is an excerpt .)
U.S. military to buy huge quantities of Anthrax- Director of the Sunshine Project
9/28/2005 9:14:00 AM GMT”
“It has been revealed that the U.S. army plans to buy large quantities of Anthrax, raising questions over its commitment to treaties aimed at controlling the spread of biological weapons.
Newscientist.com reported that Edward Hammond, director of the Sunshine Project, a U.S.-German organisation that designed to prevent the use of biological and chemical weapons, discovered numerous contracts that relate to the U.S. army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, in which they ask companies to tender for the production of huge quantities of a non-virulent strain of anthrax, and equipment to produce of other biological agents. “
The article goes on to identify the anthrax as the Sterne strain – which , a simple search shows, is used in recombinant form as a veterinary vaccine against anthrax.
So: What’s the problem ?
Hammond is apparently concerned because the equipment used to produce this non-virulent strain can also be used to produce a virulent one. (It might also be used to produce a more effective human vaccine for anthrax – something the Sunshine Project does not seem to like.)
When you search Sunshine Project press releases , online statements,etc.,you will find a strong suggestion the Project feels being able to protect one’s population ( or –worse still – one’s troops ) from potentially lethal biowarfare agents is BAD –BAD – BAD !
You may also reach the conclusion the Project feels research facilities used for Bio-defense are a form of Bio-warfare…because they could be misused.
(In other words, a butter knife is evil, because –if you sharpen it enough- it can be used to hurt somebody .)
Here is a link to the Sunshine Project’s American website (which also links to its German version):
I was curious about The Sunshine Project, and its Director, Edward Hammond. I found the following on Mr. Hammond:
He apparently holds two Masters Degrees (field unspecified) from the University of Texas.
In the United States, Mr. Hammond is assisted by Susana Pimiento:
who holds a Law degree from University of the Andes, Bogota,Colombia, and a Masters degree in Public Policy from the Institute for Social Studies,located at the Hague.
In Germany , the Sunshine Project is headed by Jan Van Aken, PhD : a cell biologist , and former Green Party activist. Dr. Van Aken’s biography indicates he received training for the UN’s UNMOVIC bioweapons discovery program , and is on the UN’s roster; but does not disclose whether he was ever deployed to Iraq or any other “hotspots” – or indeed if he actually served in that capacity.
A brief bio may be found here:
Also in Germany, a relatively new member , Sabine Schupp handles German-language communications and publications. Ms Schupp holds a Masters degree in anthropology ,was fourmerly with BUKO – a non-profit foundation concerned with agricultural trade and biodiversity. She most recently worked with the genetics department of the Greenpeace Foundation-from which she is stated to be on sabbatical.
Her bio is here: http://www.sunshine-project.org/
These four individuals appear to make up The Sunshine Project - but wait ! (As the commercial says.) There seems to be more .
The Project has volunteers – seemingly embedded in the Department of Defense , in the nation’s most sensitive weapons /countermeasures labs, in University-run biodefense programs , at Dugway , in Fort Detrick , and Lord knows where else.
Before it folded its cards , the KGB spent a fortune acquiring scientific and technical intelligence from the West – but, from what I’ve seen , the old KGB spymasters would have turned green with envy over the volume and quality of information the Project is getting for free !
Here’s an example. During the countdown to Operation Iraqi Freedom – before US troops had their boots on the ground – the Sunshine Project was telling the world the US might employ non-lethal chemical weapons.
Here’s an earlier (2002) example. Note the huge number of Freedom of Information requests that have been filed, or denied, or which are still pending.(Note also the website carrying this report.)
As most people know, you can’t just file a “shotgun” Freedom of Information request ; eg: “Send me information on all military small arms research conducted in the last 5 years.”
You pretty much have to know in advance exactly what you are seeking, where it may be found,and generally what is apt to be found if the archive is released to you. That means you have to have hard information from your contacts ; and , if the military is involved , you have to protect your sources by getting the information – seemingly new to you – through a FOI request.
The Sunshine Project is spectacularly good at gathering intelligence.
Of late, I’ve found myself wondering what else they’re good at !