Skip to content
Subscriber Only

A U.S. Gift to Iraq: Deadly Viruses

A 1995 letter from the Centers for Disease Control lists all the biological materials sent to Saddam's scientists for 10 years

As the West Nile Virus spreads nationwide, some congressional leaders are asking whether the mosquito-borne illness could be linked to terrorism or to Iraq's bioweapons program. If so, a more troubling question may be whether Iraq's weapons efforts were unwittingly helped by U.S. scientists.

In a obtained by BusinessWeek, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention admitted that the CDC supplied Iraqi scientists with nearly two dozen viral and bacterial samples in the 1980s, including the plague, West Nile, and dengue fever. The letter, written in 1995 by then-CDC director David Satcher, was in response to a congressional inquiry.