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

Archive for April 15th, 2009

* Ivins could not have been in Princeton when the FBI said he was

Posted by DXer on April 15, 2009

In response to criticisms that the FBI’s case contains no evidence placing Ivins in New Jersey, where the anthrax letters were sent, The Washington Post published an article — headlined “New Details Show Anthrax Suspect Away On Key Day” — which, based on leaks from “government sources briefed on the case,” purported to describe evidence about Bruce Ivins’ whereabouts on September 17 — the day the FBI says the first batch of anthrax letters were mailed from a Princeton, New Jersey mailbox. The Post reported:

 A partial log of Ivins’s work hours shows that he worked late in the lab on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 16, signing out at 9:52 p.m. after two hours and 15 minutes. The next morning, the sources said, he showed up as usual but stayed only briefly before taking leave hours. Authorities assume that he drove to Princeton immediately after that, dropping the letters in a mailbox on a well-traveled street across from the university campus. Ivins would have had to have left quickly to return for an appointment in the early evening, about 4 or 5 p.m.

The fastest one can drive from Frederick, Maryland to Princeton, New Jersey is 3 hours, which would mean that Ivins would have had to have dropped the anthrax letters in the New Jersey mailbox on September 17 by 1 p.m. or — at the latest — 2 p.m. in order to be able to attend a 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. meeting back at Ft. Detrick. But had he dropped the letters in the mailbox before 5:00 p.m. on September 17, the letters would have borne a September 17 postmark, rather than the September 18 postmark they bore (letters picked up from that Princeton mailbox before 5 p.m. bear the postmark from that day; letters picked up after 5 p.m. bear the postmark of the next day). That’s why the Search Warrant Affidavit (.pdf) released by the FBI on Friday said this (page 8):


If the Post‘s reporting about Ivins’ September 17 activities is accurate — that he “return[ed to Fort Detrick] for an appointment in the early evening, about 4 or 5 p.m.” — then that would constitute an alibi, not, as the Post breathlessly described it, “a key clue into how he could have pulled off an elaborate crime,” since any letter he mailed that way would have a September 17 — not a September 18 — postmark. Just compare the FBI’s own definition of “window of opportunity” to its September 17 timeline for Ivins to see how glaring that contradiction is.

The FBI’s theory as to how and when Ivins traveled to New Jersey on September 17 and mailed the letters is simply impossible, given the statement in their own Probable Cause Affidavit as to “the window of opportunity” the anthrax attacker had to mail the letters in order to have them bear a September 18 postmark. Marcy Wheeler and Larisa Alexandrovna have now noted the same discrepancy. That is a pretty enormous contradiction in the FBI’s case.

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* chronology of the anthrax attacks & FBI investigation

Posted by DXer on April 15, 2009

Anthrax Attack Timeline from National Public Radio …

Sept. 11, 2001: Terrorists hijack four airline jets and crash them into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Virginia and a field in rural Somerset County, Pa.

Sept. 18, 2001: The first letters containing anthrax are mailed.

Oct. 4, 2001: Bob Stevens of American Media in Florida is hospitalized with inhalation anthrax.

Oct. 5, 2001: Stevens, 63, dies. It’s the first anthrax death in the U.S. in 25 years.


Oct. 9, 2001: More letters laced with anthrax are posted, and the FBI begins investigating the incidents.

Oct. 12, 2001: An NBC employee in New York City tests positive for anthrax poisoning.

Oct. 15, 2001: Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) tells reporters anthrax was found in his office.

Oct. 23, 2001: Two postal workers from the Brentwood facility in Washington, D.C., are confirmed to have died from inhalation anthrax.

Nov. 21, 2001: Ottilie Lundgren, 94, of Connecticut, becomes the fifth person to die from inhalation anthrax.

June 25, 2002: FBI agents search the residence of Steven Hatfill, a scientist who worked in the government’s biodefense labs at Fort Detrick, Md.

August 2002: Hatfill is named a “person of interest” by law enforcement officials.

July 13, 2004: The New York Times is sued by Hatfill for defamation. He also sues the Justice Department.

Jan. 12, 2007: A federal judge dismisses Hatfill’s libel suit against The New York Times.

June 27, 2008: Hatfill receives a $5.8 million settlement in his suit against the government.ivins3

July 29, 2008: Bruce E. Ivins, another government scientist suspected in the 2001 anthrax attacks, commits suicide. 

August 6, 2008: Department of Justice and FBI hold a press conference at which they announce that Dr. Ivins was the sole perpetrator of the 2001 attacks, and that the FBI will soon close the case.




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* FBI may have botched the anthrax investigation

Posted by DXer on April 15, 2009

August 5, 2008 … The anthrax case may be the latest botched investigation by the bureau … LA Times – by Gabriel Schoenfeld

The FBI’s investigation of the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks was the most complex and important in the bureau’s history. Immense resources were invested in the search for the perpetrator

Yet for all that, the “Amerithrax” investigation, as the FBI dubbed the case, dragged on for seven years and, until quite recently, got nowhere

If Bruce E. Ivins, the Ft. Detrick, Md., microbiologist who died in an apparent suicide last week, was indeed the perpetrator, the prime suspect was directly under the FBI’s nose for years

If he was not the perpetrator, as many of his fellow scientists at Ft. Detrick are insisting, we’re back at square one

The bureau’s horrific track record before 9/11, and its single-minded focus on Hatfill after the anthrax attacks, raises the suspicion that, in the dramatic events of last week, we are glimpsing yet another monumental screw-up, one fully worthy of the FBI’s inglorious recent past.

read the entire article at …,0,3360861.story


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* FBI’s circumstantial anthrax case doesn’t add up

Posted by DXer on April 15, 2009

August 8, 2008 … Identifying the Anthrax Killer – New York Times Editorial

The F.B.I. seems convinced that it has finally solved the long-festering case of who mailed the anthrax letters that killed five people in 2001. 

Yet its description of the evidence pointing to a mentally disturbed Army bioweapons expert as the sole culprit leaves us uncertain about whether investigators have pulled off a brilliant coup after a bumbling start — or are prematurely declaring victory, despite a lack of hard, incontrovertible proof. 

None of the investigators’ major assertions  have been tested in cross-examination or evaluated by outside specialists. It is also critical for officials to explain more fully how they eliminated the many other people with access to the material. 

The investigators came up with lots of circumstantial evidence to bolster their case.

… But there is no direct evidence of his guilt. 

… No witness who saw him pouring powdered anthrax into envelopes.

… No anthrax spores in his house or cars.

… No confession to a colleague or in a suicide note.

… No physical evidence tying him to the site in Princeton, N.J., from which the letters are believed to have been mailed. 

Because Dr. Ivins killed himself before he could be indicted, there will be no opportunity for an adversarial testing of the F.B.I.’s conclusions. 

The bureau, unfortunately, has a history of building circumstantial cases that seem compelling at first but ultimately fall apart. Congress will need to probe the adequacy of this investigation — and to insist that federal officials release as much evidence as possible, so the public can be assured they really did get the right person this time.

read the entire editorial at …



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* the FBI’s anthrax case is misleading, full of gaps and omissions

Posted by DXer on April 15, 2009

August 9, 2008 … The Case Still Isn’t Closed – Michael Isikoff – NEWSWEEK

(there are) a number of seemingly misleading passages, gaps and omissions that are raising questions about just how airtight the government’s case against Ivins actually is

Many of Ivins’s former colleagues are unconvinced, noting unanswered questions about the FBI’s scientific tests, most of which have not been peer-reviewed, as well as the lack of direct evidence showing Ivins actually mailed the fatal letters

Despite repeated searches, for instance, the FBI could not find any trace of the deadly anthrax in Ivins’s home, cars or clothing  … the FBI omitted evidence that might have been exculpatory, including that Ivins kept his security clearance after passing a polygraph in which he was questioned about the anthrax investigation.

read the entire article at …


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* Keith Olbermann interviews investigative reporter Gerald Posner … the FBI anthrax case is severely flawed

Posted by DXer on April 15, 2009

August 9, 2008  … FBI investigation – Keith Olbermann interview with investigative reporter Gerald Posner on MSNBC’s Countdown

Keith Olbermann

This is a devastating interview which argues that the FBI did not make the case against Dr. Bruce Ivins and also draws the connection of the anthrax case to the invasion of Iraq.

watch the entire interview at …


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* nagging questions in the FBI’s anthrax case

Posted by DXer on April 15, 2009

August 13, 2008 … Nagging Questions in Anthrax Case – TIME – By Laura Fitzpatrick

The FBI says the government biodefense researcher acted alone in the 2001 anthrax mailings that killed five people and sickened 17. But as anthrax experts begin seeking hard data behind the eerie and suggestive details of the case, they are left with nothing but questions

… For one thing, the FBI says its anthrax evidence is based on “new and sophisticated scientific tools”

… No scientist has ever been able to accomplish a feat of such precision before, not even those familiar with the subtle variations of the anthrax genome — but the FBI won’t reveal its methods

… Equally troubling, scientists say, is the complete lack of forensic evidence in the FBI dossier. Documents reveal, for instance, that investigators swabbed Ivins’ home and cars for anthrax DNA and spores, but they don’t say whether the subsequent lab tests linked those samples to the 2001 envelopes

The scientists’ best hope to budge the FBI may be through Congress. Iowa Senator Charles Grassley and New Jersey Congressman Rush Holt — whose district is home to the Princeton, N.J., mailbox from which the FBI says Ivins mailed the anthrax letters — are pushing for a government inquiry into the FBI investigation.

read the entire article at …,8599,1832646,00.html?xid=rss-topstories


Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann

Keith Olberman interviews Gerald Posner – Aug 2008

Lone scientist theory doesn’t cut it

to hear the interview CLICK >>> Olbermann-Posner audio

NOTE: after listening to the audio clip …

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* no proof FBI’s anthrax suspect was in Princeton

Posted by DXer on April 15, 2009

August 14, 2008 … Hair Samples in Anthrax Case Don’t Match – By Carrie Johnson, Washington Post Staff Writer

Federal investigators recovered samples of human hair from a mailbox in Princeton, N.J., but the strands did not match the lead suspect in the case

Defense lawyer Paul F. Kemp yesterday said he wonders “where Ivins could have possibly stored this anthrax without any employees seeing it, or if he took it home, why there was no trace” of the deadly spores, despite repeated FBI searches over the past two years of Ivins’s car, his work locker, a safe-deposit box and his house

investigators have come up dry in their efforts to find direct evidence to place Ivins at the Nassau Street mailbox in September and October 2001.

read the entire article at …

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* FBI focused on wrong anthrax suspect

Posted by DXer on April 15, 2009

August 14, 2008 … Anthrax scientist Bruce Ivins slipped under the radar because of FBI obsession – Los Angeles Times – By David Willman

As federal authorities pursued the wrong suspect in the deadly anthrax mailings of 2001, they ignored or overlooked a series of early clues that pointed to Army scientist Bruce E. Ivins

Several officials told reporters last week that they did not turn to Ivins as a suspect until last year because they had lacked the breakthrough scientific data and other recently gathered evidence tying him to the mailings

The government in June agreed to pay Hatfill $5.8 million to settle a lawsuit in which law enforcement officials admitted that they leaked investigative information about him to the news media

The investigation’s years-long fixation with Hatfill angered some FBI agents who believed that, as a result, other potential leads and suspects received inadequate attention. 

read the entire article at …,0,7898836.story?track=rss

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* FBI keeps changing its anthrax case

Posted by DXer on April 15, 2009

August 19, 2008  … Anthrax suspect’s attorney chides FBI’s ‘evolving’ case – Neal Augenstein, WTOP Radio

While the FBI and federal prosecutors are confident the case against the sole suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks would have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, Bruce Ivins’ attorney says the government is not providing enough information to allow the public to judge for itself.

Attorney Paul Kemp tells WTOP the FBI and prosecutors are tweaking the case against Ivins in a way that wouldn’t be allowed in court. “They get to control the flow of information and are doing so selectively and speculatively in a way that they’re trying to implicate Dr. Ivins.”

read the entire article at …

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