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

Archive for April, 2009

* Powell claims Saddam has anthrax and the means to deliver it

Posted by DXer on April 16, 2009

February 5, 2003 … Secretary of State  Colin Powell … Address to the United Nations Security Council (Extracts)

“My second purpose today is to provide you with additional information, to share with you what the United States knows about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction as well as Iraq’s involvement in terrorism.


“My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.

“We know from sources that a missile brigade outside Baghdad was disbursing rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agent[s] to various locations, distributing them to various locations in western Iraq.

“The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the threat that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction pose to the world.

“First, biological weapons …      

“Iraq declared 8,500 liters of anthrax, but UNSCOM estimates that Saddam Hussein could have produced 25,000 liters. If concentrated into this dry form, this amount would be enough to fill tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of teaspoons.

“The Iraqis have never accounted for all of the biological weapons they admitted they had and we know they had. And they have not accounted for many of the weapons filled with these agents such as there are 400 bombs. This is evidence, not conjecture.

This is true. This is all well-documented.

“Dr. Blix told this council that Iraq has provided little evidence to verify anthrax production and no convincing evidence of its destruction.

“One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq’s biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological agents. In a matter of months, they can produce a quantity of biological poison equal to the entire amount that Iraq claimed to have produced in the years prior to the Gulf War.

“…  a fourth source, an Iraqi major, who defected, confirmed that Iraq has mobile biological research laboratories, in addition to the production facilities I mentioned earlier.

“Ladies and gentlemen, these are sophisticated facilities. For example, they can produce anthrax and botulinum toxin. In fact, they can produce enough dry biological agent in a single month to kill thousands upon thousands of people. And dry agent of this type is the most lethal form for human beings.

“By 1998, U.N. experts agreed that the Iraqis had perfected drying techniques for their biological weapons programs. Now, Iraq has incorporated this drying expertise into these mobile production facilities.

“We know from Iraq’s past admissions that it has successfully weaponized not only anthrax, but also other biological agents, including botulinum toxin, aflatoxin and ricin.

“The Iraqi regime has also developed ways to disburse lethal biological agents, widely and discriminately into the water supply, into the air.

“There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more. And he has the ability to dispense these lethal poisons and diseases in ways that can cause massive death and destruction.


“Let me talk now about the systems Iraq is developing to deliver weapons of mass destruction, in particular Iraq’s ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs.

“There is ample evidence that Iraq has dedicated much effort to developing and testing spray devices that could be adapted for UAVs.

“The linkages over the past 10 years between Iraq’s UAV program and biological and chemical warfare agents are of deep concern to us. Iraq could use these small UAVs which have a wingspan of only a few meters to deliver biological agents to its neighbors or if transported, to other countries, including the United States.

And the record of Saddam Hussein’s cooperation with other Islamist terrorist organizations is clear … Al Qaida continues to have a deep interest in acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

“Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option, not in a post-September 11th world.

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* selective intelligence

Posted by DXer on April 16, 2009

May 12, 2003 … Selective Intellingence – by Seymour M. Hersh – New Yorker

They call themselves, self-mockingly, the Cabal—a small cluster of policy advisers and analysts now based in the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans.

In the past year, according to former and present Bush Administration officials, their operation, which was conceived by Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, has brought about a crucial change of direction in the American intelligence community.

These advisers and analysts, who began their work in the days after September 11, 2001, have produced a skein of intelligence reviews that have helped to shape public opinion and American policy toward Iraq.

They relied on data gathered by other intelligence agencies and also on information provided by the Iraqi National Congress, or I.N.C., the exile group headed by Ahmad Chalabi. 

read the entire article at …


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* ideologically driven intelligence

Posted by DXer on April 16, 2009

July 17, 2003 … The spies who pushed for war – The Guardian

According to former Bush officials, all defence and intelligence sources, senior administration figures created a shadow agency of Pentagon analysts staffed mainly by ideological amateurs to compete with the CIA and its military counterpart, the Defence Intelligence Agency.

The agency, called the Office of Special Plans (OSP), was set up by the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to second-guess CIA information and operated under the patronage of hardline conservatives in the top rungs of the administration, the Pentagon and at the White House, including Vice-President Dick Cheney.

The ideologically driven network functioned like a shadow government, much of it off the official payroll and beyond congressional oversight.

But it proved powerful enough to prevail in a struggle with the State Department and the CIA by establishing a justification for war. 

read the entire article at …


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* Office of Special Plans manipulated intelligence on Iraqi threat

Posted by DXer on April 16, 2009

July 25, 2003 … CIA Probe Finds Secret Pentagon Group Manipulated Intelligence on Iraqi Threat – Jason Leopold

A half-dozen former CIA agents investigating prewar intelligence have found that a secret Pentagon committee, set up by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in October 2001, manipulated reams of intelligence information prepared by the spy agency on the so-called Iraqi threat and then delivered it to top White House officials who used it to win support for a war in Iraq.

The ad-hoc committee, called the Office of Special Plans, headed by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and other Pentagon hawks, described the worst-case scenarios in terms of Iraq’s alleged stockpile of chemical and biological weapons and claimed the country was close to acquiring nuclear weapons, according to four of the CIA agents, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the information is still classified, who conducted a preliminary view of the intelligence.

The agents said the Office of Special Plans is responsible for providing the National Security Council and Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice and Rumsfeld with the bulk of the intelligence information on Iraq’s weapons program that turned out to be wrong.

But White House officials used the information it received from the Office of Special Plans to win support from the public and Congress to start a war in Iraq even though the White House knew much of the information was dubious, the CIA agents said.

read the entire post at …



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* no anthrax was ever found in Iraq

Posted by DXer on April 16, 2009

Powell’s Case for Iraq War Falls Apart 6 Months Later – AP – August 11, 2003 – by Charles Hanley

The most detailed U.S. case for invading Iraq was laid out Feb. 5 in a U.N. address by Secretary of State Colin Powell. How does Powell’s pivotal U.S. indictment look from the vantage point of today?

Powell noted Iraq had declared it produced 8,500 liters of the biological agent anthrax before 1991, but U.N. inspectors estimated it could have made up to 25,000 liters. No anthrax has been reported found.

The Defense Intelligence Agency, or DIA, in a confidential report last September, recently disclosed, said that although it believed Iraq had biological weapons, it didn’t know their nature, amounts or condition.

Three weeks before the invasion, an Iraqi report of scientific soil sampling supported the regime’s contention that it had destroyed its anthrax stocks at a known site, the U.N. inspection agency said May 30.

Iraq also presented a list of witnesses to verify amounts, the agency said. It was too late for inspectors to interview them; the war soon began.

read the entire article at …


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* 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.

Posted in * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

* 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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