Once again, it’s time to play “Six Degrees of Adnan Khashoggi”! As Chatterbox explained in two earlier items (click here and here), the shadowy international arms merchant holds the distinction of being connected to every scandal since 1960, usually by no more than one or two degrees. (This is not meant to suggest that Khashoggi has committed any crimes.) Previously, Chatterbox has shown Khashoggi to be linked one way or another to participants in the following events:
- Bill Clinton’s pardons for Marc Rich and Adolph “Al” Schwimmer
- “Madame Butterfly” Theresa LePore’s ballot boo-boo
- Katharine Hepburn’s 1991 Senate endorsement of Harris Wofford
- The Marcos Philippine Kleptocracy
- The death of Princess Di
- The vulgar excess of Donald Trump
- The Synfuels fiasco
- The Kennedy assassination
- The breakup of the Beatles
- Charlie Chaplin’s seductions of young girls
Now Khashoggi has turned up, Zelig-like, in a new scandal involving the possibly illegal coverup of environmental contamination in Washington, D.C. For some years, it’s been known that the Spring Valley area in upper northwest Washington–a leafy and prosperous neighborhood near American University–was a burial ground for mustard gas and other World War I-era chemical weapons. Until now, though, we thought that the presence of the chemical weapons was first discovered in 1993, when a home-builder dug up an unexploded shell. (Obviously, the Army had known about the toxic chemicals back in 1918 when they buried them in what then were woods adjacent to AU. Apparently, though, they’d forgotten a couple of decades later when builders started erecting houses on the site.) An article by Steve Vogel in the July 8 Washington Post reveals that the federal government’s rediscovery of the buried weapons dates back not to 1993, but to 1986, when AU
embarked on the largest construction project in its history, the Adnan Khashoggi [italics Chatterbox’s] Sports and Convocation Center. A preconstruction examination of the site’s history found [a] 1921 university publication’s reference to a chemical weapons burial pit on campus, and a study by the university’s history department also concluded that there was a very good possibility that chemical weapons were buried on campus.
The Environmental Protection Agency was notified and passed the buck to the Army, which concluded that notifying the public “wasn’t necessary,” according to Deputy Army Secretary Lewis Walker. AU kept quiet about it, too. AU’s student newspaper, the Eagle, reported in 1988 that chemical weapons might be buried near campus, but the Army said at that time that “all the chemicals were removed.” Even when that was found not to be true in 1993, the Army Corps of Engineers conducted what appear to have been ridiculously inadequate tests, so that the true extent of the contamination is only coming to light now. The most obvious lesson is the reminder that the federal government is the nation’s most irresponsible polluter. A more subtle lesson, though, is that Adnan Khashoggi’s tentacles extend everywhere.