CASE CLOSED … what really happened in the 2001 anthrax attacks?

* PBS Frontline, McClatchy and ProPublica … The FBI’s false case against Dr. Bruce Ivins, built on obviously unproven innuendos and assertions, is beginning to unravel.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 19, 2011

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FBI Director Robert Mueller ... Congress must make hime testify ... and not re-appoint him until he provides satisfactory answers

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Mike Wiser, PBS FRONTLINE, Greg Gordon, McClatchy Newspapers, and Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica  write (July 18, 2011) …

  • The Justice Department has called into question a key pillar of the FBI’s case against Bruce Ivins, the Army scientist accused of mailing the anthrax-laced letters that killed five people and terrorized Congress a decade ago.
  • On July 15, Justice Department lawyers acknowledged in court papers that the sealed area in Ivins’ lab — the so-called hot suite — did not contain the equipment needed to turn liquid anthrax into the refined powder that floated through congressional buildings and post offices in the fall of 2001.
  • The government’s statements deepen the questions about the case against Ivins, who killed himself before he was charged with a crime.
    • Searches of his car and home in 2007 found no anthrax spores
    • the FBI’s eight-year, $100 million investigation never proved he mailed the letters
    • Earlier this year, a report by the National Academy of Science questioned the genetic analysis that had linked a flask of anthrax stored in Ivins’ office to the anthrax contained in the letters.
  • Paul Kemp, Ivins’ lead defense attorney said Monday that the department’s concession that the equipment wasn’t available “is at direct variance to the assertions of the government on July 29, 2008,” the day Ivins died, thus “invalidating one of the chief theories of their prosecution case.”

the PBS program FRONTLINE is working

on a forthcoming documentary

on the case with McClatchy Newspapers

and ProPublica, the investigative newsroom.

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LMW COMMENT …

  • The FBI’s false case against Dr. Bruce Ivins, built on obviously unproven innuendos and assertions, is beginning to unravel.
  • When the case does finally collapse, it will be necessary to explore why the FBI went to such lengths to accuse Ivins in the first place.
    • What really happened?
    • Does the FBI know what really happened?
    • If not, they are proven incompetents.
    • If so, who and what are they protecting by keeping the truth from the American people?

FBI Director Robert Mueller must be made to testify on these matters.

He must not be re-appointed until he does.

If he stonewalls like he has with Congressman Nadler and others,

he should be fired!

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18 Responses to “* PBS Frontline, McClatchy and ProPublica … The FBI’s false case against Dr. Bruce Ivins, built on obviously unproven innuendos and assertions, is beginning to unravel.”

  1. BugMaster said

    Pretty pathetic when the New York Times attacks Propublica using Ed Lake as their mouthpiece!

  2. DXer said

    The DOJ filed an errata today.

    • DXer said

      But how does what was filed square with Pete Williams’ description?

      He seems to be confusing the errata on minor details with the spin from the public affairs person.

      Government lawyers backtrack on anthrax case

      By Pete Williams
      Justice correspondent
      NBC News

      Red-faced Justice Department lawyers backtracked Tuesday on statements they made that undercut the FBI’s findings about who committed the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks.

      The FBI concluded well over a year ago that Ivins, a civilian scientist at the U.S. Army’s biohazard lab in Maryland, was responsible for the deadly mailings. But last week, Justice Department lawyers argued in a civil case in Florida that the Army lab where Dr. Bruce Ivins worked did not have the materials and equipment to prepare the fine powder of spores that was sent in the letters.
      The statements came in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the widow of Robert Stevens, a photo editor in Florida considered the first victim of the anthrax mailings. She claimed the federal government was negligent in failing to prevent the attacks, given that they were carried out using raw anthrax material prepared by the Army for research.

      In its zeal to defend the government, Justice Department lawyers made several statements in last week’s court filings that appeared to undercut the FBI’s own conclusions about Ivins. The attacker would have needed more liquid anthrax than Ivins had in his lab, they said, and the Army facility “did not have the specialized equipment in a containment laboratory that would be required to prepare the dried spore preparations that were used in the letters.”

      But Tuesday, the lawyers amended their original filing, listing 11 separate errors, in an apparent effort to backtrack on any impression that Ivins wasn’t responsible for the letters.


      Comment: The errors were just errors. With the scrutiny being paid, everyone wants to make it letter perfect.

  3. DXer said

    The Pulitzer goes to write-up of this issue of what Dr. Ivins was doing on those nights. The documents were only recently produced to me under FOIA.

    http://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/dr-ivins-lab-notebook-establishes-that-there-were-lots-of-dead-mice-and-dead-rabbits-on-the-precise-dates-that-the-prosecutors-and-investigators-speculate-without-basis-that-dr-bruce-ivins-was/

    http://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/the-newly-released-lab-notebook-pages-demonstrate-dr-bruce-ivins-was-tending-to-dead-animals-on-the-nights-he-alleged-was-preparing-dry-anthrax-in-light-of-an-ivins-theory-being-demolished-by-suc/

    http://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/there-is-a-protocol-to-follow-in-the-handling-of-animals/

    http://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/8464/

    http://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/dxer-the-key-premise-of-the-dojs-ivins-theory-unexplained-time-in-the-b3-was-always-unmitigated-crap/

    We uploaded the Worsham deposition a few days ago but at the same time uploaded the Little deposition which is also very strong on the point — and gives concrete particulars.

  4. DXer said

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2011/07/19/government-s-anthrax-case-in-doubt.html

    OOPS
    Anthrax Case in Doubt

    The FBI’s case against Bruce Ivins, the man accused of mailing anthrax-laced letters, is in doubt. The government’s circumstantial case said that Ivins had the means and the opportunity to make the lethal powder at his lab in Maryland, though the investigation never proved he mailed the letters or had any other location where he may have made the powder. Ivins committed suicide in 2008. On July 15, lawyers for the Justice Department acknowledged in court papers that the “hot suite” in Irvin’s lab did not contain the “specialized equipment” that “would be required to prepare the dried spore preparations that were used in the letters.”

  5. DXer said

    Main Justice

    DOJ Court Filing Raises New Questions in Anthrax Case
    http://www.mainjustice.com/2011/07/19/doj-court-filing-raises-new-questions-in-anthrax-case/

  6. DXer said

    U.S. questions 2001 anthrax accusation
    Published: July 19, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    WASHINGTON, July 19 (UPI) — The U.S. Justice Department is questioning the case against an Army scientist accused of sending anthrax in the mail in 2001, court papers show.

    After Bruce Ivins committed suicide in 2008, the FBI said he was the killer who sent the poisoned letters to senators and media figures. Officials said he had the means, motive and opportunity to make the deadly powder at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md.

    But now, in papers filed in federal court in West Palm Beach, Fla., Friday, Justice Department lawyers say the sealed area in Ivins’ lab lacked the equipment to turn liquid anthrax into the deadly refined powder. The documents were entered in a wrongful-death suit by Maureen Stevens, widow of Robert Stevens, a photo editor at The Sun tabloid, and uncovered by reporters for McClatchy Newspapers, ProPublica and PBS’ “Frontline.”

    The government said it still believes Ivins was “more likely than not” the killer but did not explain where or how he could have made the powder.

    Searches of Ivins’ car and home in 2007 found no anthrax spores, and the FBI never gave direct evidence that he mailed the letters.

    Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/07/19/US-questions-2001-anthrax-accusation/UPI-96551311086242/#ixzz1SZnbunZ5

  7. DXer said

    http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2011/07/19/questions-persist-about-the-investigation-into-the-2001-anthrax-attacks/
    • JULY 19, 2011, 8:28 AM ET

    Questions Persist About the Investigation into the 2001 Anthrax Attacks

    By Nathan Koppel

    Do you remember Bruce Ivins?

    He was an Army biodefense researcher who committed suicide three years ago as federal prosecutors were preparing to indict him for allegedly sending the anthrax-laced letters in the fall of 2001 that killed five people.

    The FBI and Justice Department came under fire for implicating Ivins, who once ranked as one of the world’s foremost anthrax experts, partly because they had only circumstantial evidence that he committed the attacks.

    The case has never been solved and questions about whether Ivins was involved in the matter continue to this day.

    Last week, the Justice Department made a court filing that called into question an element of federal investigators’ case against Ivins, according to this report from McClatchy Newspapers, ProPublica and Frontline.

    Justice Department lawyers acknowledged in court papers that an area in Ivins’ lab – identified as the hot suite – didn’t contain the equipment needed to turn liquid anthrax into the powder used in the letters, according to the report.

    In asserting that Ivins was the culprit, criminal investigators have in the past pointed to his access to specialized equipment in the hot suite of a laboratory at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md.

    The government said in the court filing that it continues to believe Ivins was “more likely than not” the killer, but the filing didn’t explain how the government had reached that conclusion. (Click here for Law Blog background on the government’s investigation into the anthrax attacks.)

    A Justice Department spokesman said the court filing last week, rejecting the hot-suite as the locus of the crime, was merely intended to rebut a claim that Ivins’ had been improperly supervised during his time at Fort Detrick, according to the report from McClatchey, ProPublica and Frontline.

    Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman, said yesterday that the court filing didn’t contradict the government’s conclusion that Ivins sent the letters.

    With the 10-year anniversary of the anthrax attacks fast approaching, we imagine that we will soon hear more discussion and debate about the government’s investigation of the crime.

  8. Anonymous said

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/07/19/documents-alleged-anthrax-killer-lacked-necessary-equipment/

    Court documents filed this week by the Department of Justice claim that Dr. Bruce Ivins, an army scientist who allegedly mailed packages of anthrax spores to government officials and members of the press in 2001, did not possess the equipment necessary to have orchestrated the attacks.

    Despite the admission, discovered by a reporter with PBS Frontline, officials say they still believe Ivins was behind the ordeal. Ivins was pronounced guilty in a case based largely on circumstantial evidence, decided shortly after he committed suicide in 2008.

    The anthrax attacks killed five people and took years to investigate. Even so, an independent panel of scientists said earlier this year that the FBI did not have enough scientific evidence to produce a conviction.

    Evidence, they said, proved only that he could have been behind the attacks, not that he was.

    Now that case has crumbled even further, with the Department of Justice filing documents in a Florida court this week claiming Ivins’ lab “did not have the specialized equipment that would be required to prepare the dried spore preparations that were used in the letters.”

    Specifically, Ivins’ “hot lab” lacked the equipment needed to dry liquid anthrax spores into a powder that could be mailed, leaving in serious doubt the FBI’s claim that he was the culprit.

    The department’s latest filings come as government attorneys defend against a case brought by one of the victims’ families, who argue for civil damages over the army’s lack of controls on anthrax spores.

    Government attorneys are arguing that Ivins did not produce the spores at the army facility, but they lack evidence that he produced them anywhere else.

    During the prosecution, the FBI had argued that Ivins was most likely the culprit because he spent a growing amount of time in his lab in the weeks before the anthrax attacks.

    An earlier effort to have an independent organization re-investigate the attacks was killed after President Barack Obama issued a veto threat, citing concerns among the intelligence community and a need to maintain the public’s faith in the FBI’s initial investigation.

    The department’s latest admissions are to be part of a forthcoming documentary by PBS Frontline, which said it was working with McClatchy Newspapers and Pro Publica on the project.

  9. DXer said

    http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20110719_6017.php

    Anthrax Mailing Suspect’s Lab Lacked Spore-Drying Gear
    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    The airtight “hot suite” in the laboratory of the final suspect in the 2001 anthrax mailings lacked systems capable of freeze-drying fluid anthrax samples into dry spores of the type used in the attacks, the U.S. Justice Department said in court documents filed on Friday (see GSN, May 20).

  10. DXer said

    DOJ CASTS SERIOUS DOUBT ON ITS OWN CLAIMS ABOUT THE ANTHRAX ATTACK
    BY GLENN GREENWALD
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/07/19/anthrax/

  11. anonymous said

    Bruce Ivins Maybe Didn’t Send the Anthrax, Government Admits in Court Papers
    By Joe Coscarelli Tue., Jul. 19 2011 at 8:12 AM

    ​Bruce Ivins, who committed suicide in 2008, was officially labeled the Anthrax killer posthumously, accused of killing five people with contaminated letters and spooking all of the post-9/11 United States. Though much of the U.S. press, including the Washington Post and CNN, initially accepted Ivins’s guilt as fact, certain media critics like Salon’s Glenn Greenwald have long questioned the FBI’s version of events. (The Post, along with the New York Times, would later call for further investigation on their opinion pages.) “[O]ne of the most glaring of the many deficiencies in the FBI’s case is the complete lack of evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, placing Ivins at the New Jersey mailboxes (the proverbial ‘scene of the crime’) on either of the two dates on which the anthrax letters were sent,” Greenwald wrote in the summer of 2008. Lo and behold, in February, the Times and others relayed the findings of a new report which concluded that “the bureau overstated the strength of genetic analysis linking the mailed anthrax to a supply kept by Bruce E. Ivins.” This month, a closer look casts even more doubts.
    PBS Frontline reports, “On July 15 … Justice Department lawyers acknowledged in court papers that the sealed area in Ivins’ lab — the so-called hot suite — did not contain the equipment needed to turn liquid anthrax into the refined powder that floated through congressional buildings and post offices in the fall of 2001.”

    Ivins is “more likely than not” the Anthrax killer, the government maintains. But! “Searches of his car and home in 2007 found no anthrax spores, and the FBI’s eight-year, $100 million investigation never proved he mailed the letters or identified another location where he might have secretly dried the anthrax into an easily inhaled powder.”

    A PBS documentary on the case, in association with McClatchy Newspapers and ProPublica, is currently in the works.

  12. anonymous said

    This is obviously great stuff. Methinks the team that wrote this have a lot more coming soon.

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