In March of 2023, I picked up a book that I had bought several months earlier, Norman Baker’s The Strange Death of David Kelly, published in 2007. A few days later, I started to hear news of the twentieth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq that ended the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was a curious coincidence to choose this book, but it was probably an unconscious choice driven by talk that was in the air. It was good to revisit this time period and note the connections to recent events—Russiagate, the Skripal incident, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the US occupation of Syrian territory, the pandemic, and the proxy war in Ukraine that involves Russian allegations of illegal bioweapons labs built by the US on Ukrainian territory.

Norman Baker, The Strange Death of David Kelly (Methuen Publishing, 2007)

Video: Norman Baker speaking about his book in 2009.

David Kelly was the British scientist and United Nations weapons inspector who died in July 2003 during an afternoon walk in the countryside. His death occurred at a time when the British and American government were being revealed as having manufactured an excuse for their illegal invasion of Iraq. They had assured the world that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction, but none had been found and weapons inspectors had been talking to the media about the official lies before and after the invasion. David Kelly was one of these inspectors.

Norman Baker, writing long ago in 2007, provided no solid evidence to accuse specific persons responsible for the faked suicide of David Kelly, but his book excels at two things: describing the world of bioweapons scientists and the international WMD inspection teams; and considering all of the possible suspects in the case: bioweapons programs in various countries (US, Russia, Britain, Israel, Iraq, South Africa), security and military agencies from these countries, pharmaceutical corporations, government bureaucracies, and heads of state. All of them are implicated as possible suspects in the strange death of David Kelly, and Norman Baker did a fair job of exploring all of these possibilities and dismissing the ones that couldn’t be sustained.

In the end, he concluded that the most plausible hypothesis is that the crime was carried out either by pro-Saddam Iraqi agents who wanted revenge for what David Kelly did in Iraq during his inspections there or by Iraqis from the present regime (pro-British and pro-American) who were taking revenge for the exposure of the WMD lies. Baker writes in his conclusion:

The key question is whether the actions of the Iraqi group were self-generated, and subsequently covered up by the government, or whether a tiny cabal within the British establishment commissioned the assassins to undertake this. Perhaps it was somewhere in between, with a nod and a wink being unofficially offered. That would, after all, be very British (p. 348)

Nowadays, Norman Baker would be dismissed as a “conspiracy theorist,” or a good man who sadly “went down the rabbit hole.” I suspect that in 2007, there was probably wider acceptance of his claim that David Kelly obviously did not kill himself. Like many of the sources from intelligence agencies that he spoke to, much of the public accepted as commonplace the fact that government agencies kill people with impunity when they threaten state interests. What was surprising was that Norman Baker himself was slow to come around to this realization. Perhaps it is a filtering mechanism that works on people who go into politics (Norman Baker was a member of parliament from 1997-2015). You have to be self-deceived in order to join the system. People who are awake at a younger age don’t go into politics. Mr. Baker began his epilogue by stating:

I had always recognized that brutality, immorality, and deception were to be found in totalitarian regimes across the world. What I had not appreciated fully was how those qualities can also be easily found in western democracies too, bubbling just below the surface. We fool ourselves to think: “It can’t happen here.” It can, and it does. (p. 349)

Even though he was now awakened to this reality, and he made references to CIA assassinations in foreign countries, a curious omission in the book is that there is no mention of investigations and books, similar to his own, written about the assassinations of JFK, Malcom X, MLK, and RFK in the 1960s. In such books there is a trove of research about the sorts of crimes discussed in The Strange Death of David Kelly, so it is odd that after all of the author’s work, this field remained off the radar for him.

One of the interesting things to learn from this book is that it is not the story of just one bioweapons specialist or one political scandal. It turns out that this profession is dangerous not only because of the pathogens but because of the pathologies of the institutions that bioweapons experts must work in. One is reminded that David Kelly died within two years of the anthrax scare of 2001. It was a dangerous time for government scientists. Genetic research was taking off at a time when the public was being made to fear bioterror and programs to fight bioterror were being given massive increases in funding. The infamous Anthony Fauci amassed more power as he managed to put himself and the NIAID at the center of it (see the previous post on this topic).

One interesting passage connects the past to the present with a list of bioweapons scientists who died violently within a few months of the anthrax scare. I cite the passage below to conclude this article. What stands out in 2023 is the mention of pharmaceutical companies’ resistance to any scientific discovery of simple cures for diseases which Big Pharma has vaccines for. In 2007, this was an unremarkable observation about the financial interests behind vaccine promotion. Today it would be denounced as wild and irresponsible “anti-vaxx” ideology.


Scientists alleged to have died in mysterious or violent circumstances, from Norman Baker’s The Strange Death of David Kelly,  pages 222-223, 234-236, 239

By the time I had assembled a list of those scientists alleged to have died in mysterious or violent circumstances, it contained ninety-six names, and I could detect a wild goose chase in the offing. It seemed to me therefore that the best way to test this theory was to select the cases based on the greatest professional overlap with Dr. Kelly, and the most suspicious circumstances of death. The final list looked like this:

Benito Que, 52, an expert in infectious diseases, found comatose on 12 November 2001, died on 6 December 2001.

Don Wiley, 58, a professor of biochemistry, who supposedly fell from a bridge in Memphis and was reported missing on 16 November 2001.

Vladimir Pasechnik, 64, a leading microbiologist, who allegedly had a stroke. Died on 21 November 2001.

Dr. Robert M. Schwartz, 57, found murdered in his Virginia home on 8 December 2001.

Set Van Nguyen, 44, found dead in an airlock in an Australian laboratory on 14 December 2001.

Ian Langford, 40, an expert on environmental risk, who was found half-naked under a chair at his Norfolk home on 11 February 2002.

Paul Norman, 52, Dr. Kelly’s successor at Porton Down, who died in a plane crash on 27 June 2004.

It can be seen that there was a cluster of deaths at the end of 2001. (pages 222-223)

It is certainly interesting that a number of the scientists were involved in cutting-edge work on DNA sequencing, the two of them—Don Wiley and Vladimir Pasechnik—appear to have met shortly before their demise, that the deaths themselves were close together in time, and that each had certain singular features. Michael Ruppert, in his book Crossing the Rubicon, suggests that Dr. Wiley, Robert Schwartz and Benito Que also had a further matter in common, namely that they had been working for medical research facilities that received grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

According to Mr. Ruppert, the institute has long been used by the CIA for “black ops” medical research. One theory is that the work the scientists were engaged upon might have led to the development of ways to treat diseases such as smallpox or anthrax without a requirement to use conventional vaccines or antibiotics. Such a breakthrough would not have been popular with those companies who produce vaccines.

And producing vaccines is big business. According to a 2003 report for Reuters, sales of vaccines were expected to top $10 billion by 2006. The year before, President Bush had signed into law the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, which anticipated a spend of some $4.6 billion, much of which was to be used to produce and stockpile vaccines.

The deaths of all of the scientists considered above, with the exception of Paul Norman, came shortly after the arrival of anthrax-contaminated letters at news media offices and the offices of two US Senators, Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. This anthrax, it was subsequently confirmed, was all derived from a single bacterial strain, the Ames strain, and was traced back as originating n an American military laboratory, specifically the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Maryland. The crime remains unsolved [as of 2007].

In 2001, the US Government announced that it intended to offer a vaccine manufactured by a Michigan-based pharmaceutical company, BioPort, to thousands of people who might have come into contact with the US-manufactured anthrax. This was a curious move, given that vaccines are designed to be taken before exposure rather than after. Furthermore, it transpired that the vaccine in question had not been subject to proper testing. (pages 234-236)

Dr. Wouter Basson… suggested that sometimes government-ordered killings were deliberately made to look botched in order to take suspicion away from any professional body. He cited the now famous case of Aleksandr Litvenenko, poisoned in a sushi bar with rare polonium. In his view, the use of this material told him that the Russian authorities were not to blame and were being framed by political opponents. Supplies of polonium are so limited that use of it is to give the killing an autograph. (p. 339)


Video: Fran Scott speaking about the 9/11 Anthrax Attacks and Bruce Ivins, May 2016 (25 minutes)

Source cited in the above passage

Ruppert, Michael C., Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire and the End of the Age of Oil (New Society, 2004), 517.

Sources on the assassinations of the 1960s (partial list)

Douglass, James W., JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters (Touchstone, 2008).

Garrison Interview, “Some Unauthorized Comments on the State of the Union” (May 27, 1969), Kennedys and King, August 6, 2019.

Kondo, Zak A. and Kondo, Nia N., Conspiracys (Conspiracies): Unravelling the Assassination of Malcolm X (Zubia Press, 1993) (out of print).

Kuzmarov, Jeremy, “Who Ordered the Killing of Malcolm X?Covert Action Magazine, July 2, 2021.

Pease, Lisa, A Lie Too Big to Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy (Feral House, 2018).

Pepper, William F., The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016).