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

* the (apparent) refusal of the FBI to answer Sen. Grassley’s September 2008 questions raises further suspicions of a continuing FBI cover-up of its failed anthrax investigation

Posted by DXer on May 29, 2009

Televangelists Finances

Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)

LMW COMMENT … 

Last September, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to the then Attorney General Michael Mukasey and FBI Director Robert Mueller, asking 18 excellent questions (see below) about the FBI’s investigation of the anthrax case and the FBI’s determination that USAMRIID scientist Dr. Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks.

Eight months have passed.

I have recently called Senator Grassley’s office several times, asking …

  • has the FBI responded to the Senator’s questions?
  • if yes, will you release the FBI’s answers?
  • if no, what are you going to do about the FBI’s unwillingness to answer?

To date, I have been shunted around by the Senator’s staff but have received no answers to my questions. What’s going on here? Who’s covering up what?

If the FBI has refused to answer, that is a disgrace; Senator Grassley and the Congress should not let the FBI get away with that. 

If the FBI has answered, why haven’t their answers been made known?

If the FBI truly believes the case is solved, what more could they possibly have to hide?

Of course, if the FBI knows it has not solved the case, as I and many others believe, they have much to hide.

Senator Grassley is of course from Iowa, where Iowa State University had the infamous Ames Anthrax and then destroyed it soon after the first of the 2001 anthrax attack mailings. There has never been an adequate explanation for the destruction of the Ames Anthrax and the FBI’s role in “ordering” or “approving” or “not objecting” to that destruction, and this subject was, curiously, not among those addressed by Senator Grassley’s questions.

Marcia Chamber’s excellent series of posts on this blog (see * MARCIA’S STORY ) tells her story of what she saw at Iowa State University in 1990, and expresses her belief that it was anthrax stolen in 1990 from a lab at Iowa State University which was later used in the 2001 mailings. Marcia’s observations have never been adequately investigated, despite her numerous attempts to convince the FBI and Postal Inspectors of the potential importance of what she saw. There is no question in my mind that the destruction of the Ames Anthrax by Iowa State University remains a puzzling and troubling aspect of the case which has not received sufficient investigative attention.

CC - front cover - small

The longer such information is withheld, the more it appears that the FBI investigation was indeed a sham and that their case against Dr. Ivins is one which could not be proven in court.

It was my anger at the FBI’s August 2008 announcement naming the recently deceased Dr. Ivins as the sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks that prompted me to write my latest novel CASE CLOSED.

CASE CLOSED picks up where the facts of the actual anthrax case leave off and presents a fictional scenario to explain who committed the anthrax attacks and, equally important, why the FBI failed to solve the case. My premise in CASE CLOSED is that the FBI didn’t solve the case because they were told not to.

Does CASE CLOSED tell what actually happened in the anthrax attacks and subsequent FBI investigation. Of course not. It’s a novel!

But many early readers, including a well placed member of the Intelligence Community, have told me that my story, while fiction, is all too plausible.

A video introducing CASE CLOSED may be seen on YouTube at …

* see CASE CLOSED VIDEO on YouTube

CASE CLOSED may be purchased at amazon.com (in Kindle format) …

* purchase CASE CLOSED at amazon (Kindle format)

CASE CLOSED paperback edition is scheduled to be available at amazon.com and other bookselling locations within the next week.

 

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Here are the 18 questions asked in Senator Grassley’s September 2008 letter …


  1. What is the date (month and year) that the FBI determined that the anthrax came from a specified flask in Ivins’s lab (“RMR-1029”)?
  2. When (month and year) did the FBI determine that Dr. Hatfill never had access to the anthrax used in the killings?
  3. How did the FBI determine that Dr. Hatfill did not have access to the anthrax used in the killings?  Was that because the FBI determined that Dr. Hatfill no longer worked at USAMRIID when the powder was made?
  4. Was Dr. Hatfill or his counsel informed that Dr. Hatfill had been cleared of any involvement in the anthrax killings before the Department of Justice offered a settlement to him?  Was he informed before signing the settlement agreement with him?  If not, please explain why not.
  5. Was Judge Walton (the judge overseeing the Privacy Act litigation) ever informed that Dr. Hatfill had been eliminated as a suspect in the anthrax killings?  If so, when.  If not, please explain why not.
  6. Was Dr. Ivins ever polygraphed in the course of the investigation?  If so, please provide the dates and results of the exam(s).  If not, please explain why not.
  7. Of the more than 100 people who had access to RMR 1029, how many were provided custody of samples sent outside Ft. Detrick?  Of those, how many samples were provided to foreign laboratories?
  8. If those with access to samples of RMR 1029 in places other than Ft. Detrick had used the sample to produce additional quantities of anthrax, would that anthrax appear distinguishable from RMR 1029?
  9. How can the FBI be sure that none of the samples sent to other labs were used to create additional quantities of anthrax that would appear distinguishable from RMR 1029?
  10. Please describe the methodology and results of any oxygen isotope measurements taken to determine the source of water used to grow the spores used in the anthrax attacks.
  11. Was there video equipment which would record the activities of Dr. Ivins at Ft. Detrick on the late nights he was there on the dates surrounding the mailings?  If so, please describe what examination of the video revealed.
  12. When did the FBI first learn of Dr. Ivins’ late-night activity in the lab around the time of the attacks?  If this is powerful circumstantial evidence of his guilt, then why did this information not lead the FBI to focus attention on him, rather than Dr. Hatfill, much sooner in the investigation?
  13. When did the FBI first learn that Dr. Ivins was prescribed medications for various symptoms of mental illness?  If this is circumstantial evidence of his guilt, then why did this information not lead the FBI to focus attention on him, rather than Dr. Hatfill, much sooner in the investigation? Of the 100 individuals who had access to RMR 1029, were any others found to suffer from mental illness, be under the care of a mental health professional, or prescribed anti-depressant/anti-psychotic medications?   If so, how many?
  14. What role did the FBI play in conducting and updating the background examination of Dr. Ivins in order for him to have clearance and work with deadly pathogens at Ft. Detrick?
  15. After the FBI identified Dr. Ivins as the sole suspect, why was he not detained?  Did the U.S. Attorney’s Office object to seeking an arrest or material witness warrant?  If not, did anyone at FBI order a slower approach to arresting Ivins?
  16. Had an indictment of Dr. Ivins been drafted before his death?  If so, what additional information did it contain beyond the affidavits already released to the public?  If not, then when, if ever, had a decision been made to seek an indictment from the grand jury?
  17. According to family members, FBI agents publicly confronted and accused Dr. Ivins of the attacks, showed pictures of the victims to his daughter, and offered the $2.5 million reward to his son in the months leading up to his suicide.  These aggressive, overt surveillance techniques appear similar to those used on Dr. Hatfill with the apparent purpose of intimidation rather than legitimate investigation.  Please describe whether and to what degree there is any truth to these claims.
  18. What additional documents will be released, if any, and when will they be released?

14 Responses to “* the (apparent) refusal of the FBI to answer Sen. Grassley’s September 2008 questions raises further suspicions of a continuing FBI cover-up of its failed anthrax investigation”

  1. The hijacker didn’t train at Glendale Aviation School near Phoenix but at another school near Phoenix. Glendale is near Phoenix.

    • DXer said

      The return address on the letters to the Senators was “Greendale School” at “Franklin Park”.

      ”In December 2002, the Arabic paper London Al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that correspondence on Zawahiri’s computer (which was obtained by the Wall Street Journal) shows Zawahiri uses “school” as code for Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The letter was found on Al Zawahiri’s computer.

      The letter was designed to look innocent. It was dated 3 May 2001 and signed “Dr. Nour, Chairman of the Company.” Nour is one of Zawahiri’s aliases. In this context, it was Egyptian Islamic Jihad, not Al Qaeda, of which he was Chairman.

      “We have been trying to go back to our main, previous activities. The most important step was the opening of the school. We have made it possible for the teachers to find openings for profitable trade.”

      The letter read:
      “To: Unknown
      From: Ayman al-Zawahiri
      Folder: Letters
      Date: May 3, 2001

      The following is a summary of our situation: We are trying to return to our previous main activity. The most important step was starting the school, the programs of which have been started. We also provided the teachers with means of conducting profitable trade as much as we could. Matters are all promising, except for the unfriendliness of two teachers, despite what we have provided for them. We are patient. [This refers to an internal dispute with two senior London Egyptian islamists].

      The CIA factbook explains that the color green — such as used by anthrax lab technician Yazid Sufaat in naming his lab “Green Laboratory Medicine,” and by the mailer who used the return address “Greendale School” – is the traditional color of islam. Green symbolizes islam, Mohammed and the holy war. In its section on Saudi Arabia, and the “Flag Description,” the CIA “Factbook” explains that the flag is “green with large white Arabic script (that may be translated as There is no God but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God) above a white horizontal saber (the tip points to the hoist side); green is the traditional color of Islam.”

      An intelligence document first released in 2007 involves an operation by EIJ members headed by Atef and including Saif Adel in which the group headed to Somalia to work at developing a new base of operations. The group was called THE GREEN TEAM. “Greendale School” was used as the return address in the letters and likely is code referring to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The stamp on the prestamped envelopes was of a green bird. For a video depicting the Green Bird’s point of view and invoking Allah’s guidance to “the straight path,” see this video “The 3D Kabah – A green birds eye view.” The koranic “Green Birds” reference is from the sentence relating to being set on “The Straight Path.” Timimi, the graduate student who had access to the Alibek/Bailey patent about concentration using hydrophobic silica, advised the EIJ founder Kamal Habib in writing for the publication called Assirat Al-Mustaqeem (“The Straight Path”).

      Likely for the same reason, Al Qaeda anthrax lab technician Yazid Sufaat and Zacarias Moussaoui used the name GREEN LABORATORY MEDICINE as the name of the company that he used, for example, to buy 4 tons of ammonium nitrate, and that he used to cover his anthrax production program. Green dale refers to green “river valley” — Egypt, Cairo, Egyptian Islamic Jihad and/or Egyptian Islamic Group. Put it all together and you have their new official name (though the American press does not use it) — Qaeda al Jihad. At the Darunta complex where jihadis trained, recruits would wear green uniforms, except for Friday when they would be washed.

      Given that using the same address helps the second recipient receiving the letter to identify it and avoid opening it, the perp would have no reason to use the same address unless he was communicating something and wanted to draw attention to it.

      Adham Hassoun and Kassem Daher used “SCHOOL” as code. Canadian businessman Daher is an associate of EIJ member Jaballah, who was detained in Canada and had maintained regular contact with Ayman by satellite telephone after coming to Canada in 1996. “Is there a school over there to teach football?” Hassoun asked, using what the FBI says is code for jihad. Even a recent supporter of Aafia Siddiqui, before being arrested, was using “school” as code.

      On the return address, Greendale School purported to be in Franklin Park. Padilla, the former Broward man suspected of plotting to explode a ‘’dirty bomb’’ to spread radiation in the United States, worshipped at a Broward County mosque, Masjid Al-Iman, in Fort Lauderdale. That mosque was across the street from FRANKLIN PARK. It’s address was 2542 Franklin Park Drive. Padilla was a former gang member who converted to islam while in South Florida and became an extremist while in Egypt beginning in 1998. He attended al Azhar University in Egypt and started a family there after leaving his American wife. In 1999, Padilla left for Pakistan. Authorities detained him May 8, 2002 when he got off a plane at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The FBI has found no ties between Padilla and the September 11 hijackers, even though several of them had lived in Broward County.

      While in Pakistan, Padilla had reported to KSM, the al Qaeda’s No. 3 leader who had anthrax production documents on his laptop when he was arrested. It appears that in April 2002, Khalid Mohammed dispatched Padilla to the United States, with several thousand dollars for a mission to disperse a radiological device that was still in the thinking stage. He was placed in a military brig in North Carolina and was held incommunicado for years, forbidden from contacting his family or attorney.

      A Padilla acquaintance, Adham Hassoun, was detained in June 2002 in Sunrise by federal agents. His home had been searched in November 2001 but authorities laid back, not arresting him and hoping surveillance would lead to insights. Hassoun once served as distributor of a magazine published in Australia advocating Muslim holy war and was associated with one or more charities accused by the Bush administration of funding terrorists. Padilla reportedly had contacted Hassoun from overseas and was apparently en route to meet Hassoun when he was arrested. Investigators monitored the communication between Padilla and Hassoun and arrested Hassoun after he was called by a reporter from Miami about his acquaintanceship with Padilla. State records indicate that he was the Florida registered agent of the Chicago-based Benevolence International Foundation. The leader of the mosque across from Franklin Park was Awad, the Florida representative of Holy Land Foundation.

      Hassoun had established Benevolence International Foundation in Plantation, Florida in 1992. In 1993, the headquarters was moved to Chicago area. A man named Mohammed Loay Bayazid was its president in 1993 and 1994. He was arrested while visiting Northern California in December 1994 along with Osama Bin Laden’s brother-in-law. Bayazid, according to authorities, had been looking to purchase enriched uranium for Bin Laden. On his driver’s license, his listed address was BIF headquarters. Thus, things had quickly come full circle for BIF to once again be involved in an investigation relating to Al Qaeda’s attempt to obtain weapons of mass destruction.

      In late 2002, it was announced that authorities were urgently seeking a Florida pilot El Shukrijumah, who worshipped at this same Fort Lauderdale mosque across from Franklin Park and had possible ties to Adham Hassoun. The pilot El Shukrijumah is said to be at the level of Mohammed Atta and is thought to have been associated with Aafia Siddiqui, an MIT-trained biologist. Aafia Siddiqui reportedly also has a yet-undisclosed connection to Adham Hassoun. Mohammed Atta lived 11 miles away from this mosque across from Franklin Park, where these members of the Egyptian Islamic Group worshipped. Holy Cross hospital –where Dr. Tsonas treated Flight 93 hijacker Ahmad al-Haznawi for a suspicious leg lesion that he and other experts think was due to cutaneous anthrax — is only 7 miles from the mosque. Is it all a coincidence? Possibly.

      But remember: Given that using the same address helps the second recipient receiving the letter to identify it and avoid opening it, the mailer would have no reason to use the same address unless he was communicating something and wanted to draw attention to it.

      There was a detailed description at a June 1, 2004 press conference of Padilla’s plot and his relationship with Jafar the Pilot by a senior DOJ official. The official also described Padilla’s relationship with Atef, Zubaydah, KSM, and Ramzi Binalshibh. He emphasized that there is an urgent need to find Adnan (Jafar).

      Ali Al-Timimi’s mentor, Bilal Philips, was a good friend of Jafar the Pilot’s father. According to his lawyer, a famed First Amendment scholar, the FBI has suspected Al-Timimi as an anthrax weapons suspect. He was in the building at the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense in the suite with former Russian bioweaponeer Ken Alibek and former USAMRIID Commander Charles Bailey, co-inventors of the process to concentrate anthrax using silicon dioxide.

    • DXer said

      Coincidences can be surprising. But the Greendale conjecture based on map reference rather than documentary or wiretap evidencing showing use of the name as code is not sound as illustrated by the “Hatfill Theory.”

      There are 18 Greendales in the US. 6 Greendale Elementary Schools. As well as a Greendale Elementary School in Maryland near Andrews AFB in Prince George’s County that was closed.

      On June 26, 2002, ABC’s Brian Ross first reported on the Morning Show,

      “Hatfill, who has worked closely with the military and CIA anthrax experts, has frequently shocked colleagues with his statements and demonstrations of how easily terrorists could make biological weapons. In this photo in 1998, he demonstrated how a terrorist could make a deadly plague in a common kitchen.

      Investigators also are intrigued by the fact that Hatfill lived for years near a Greendale Elementary School while attending medical school in Zimbabwe. Greendale School, as you recall, was the phony return address used in the anthrax letters. Hatfill has told ABC News he had nothing to do with the deadly anthrax mailings, but he says he understands his background and comments make him a logical subject of the investigation.”

      Dr. Bedlington, who reports that he came up with the Greendale point, in 1998 in a full-length interview argued that not only could anthrax be simply made, but could be dispersed aerially.

      In the Fall of 2001, political scientist and former senior CIA counterterrorism analyst, Dr. Stanley Bedlington, said: “Frankly, when I heard the news [of 9/11], I thought, ‘It’s got to be biochemical.” “This is frightening enough and yet, you could take a small plane and sprinkle anthrax over New York City and wipe out half the population.” He wrote a very insightful Op Ed piece in the Washington Post, dated October 28, 2001, in which he discusses the importance of piercing Osama Bin Laden’s myth of invincibility. He evidenced the sophistication of his knowledge by pointing to the influence of the Egyptian writer named Qutb later quoted by Al-Timimi on his sentencing on the Al Qaeda leaders.

      But by August 2002 (in an interview with CNN’s Paula Zahn) he was talking about anthrax-smelling bloodhounds and the fact that Dr. Hatfill lived near a place (Greendale) used in the return address. He curiously said the “evidence was mounting.”

      From an August 4, 2002 interview:

      BLITZER: Stan Bedlington, take a look at this, I want to put it up on the screen, the return address of one of the letters. Look at this, fourth grade, Greendale School, Franklin Park, New Jersey, then the zip code. Greendale School — there is no Greendale School in Franklin Park, New Jersey. But, Greendale, as far as you know, did ring an alarm bell, when you heard that mention of that word.

      BEDLINGTON: Yes, it did. Steve Hatfill got his MD at what is now the University of Zimbabwe. It had another name in those days. And I looked it up on the Internet. And, in fact, it is located in Greendale, which is a suburb of Harare. So you have what I think is an amazing coincidence between the two names.

      Dr . Bedlington knew Dr. Hatfill from weekly lunches at a bistro in McClean where former work colleagues get together to swap stories, and once had been shown, privately, a scrapbook of mock pictures of Dr. Hatfill preparing plague in his kitchen (Dr. Bedlington recalls the discussion as relating to anthrax).

      There is no Greendale School in Zimbabwe — even though there are many in the United States. No Greendale Primary School or Greendale Elementary School. There never has been. ABC led the pack repeatedly getting it wrong in suggesting that there was a Greendale School that Hatfill lived nearby, in a neighborhood of Harare. ABC’s Brian Ross has relied on a source named Pete Velis who has spent his own money urging his biodefense insider theory with a twist. Velis argued that the CIA was framing Hatfill. Hartford Courant followed on the Greendale point, relying on ABC. My posting in June 2002 of the City Atlas listing and the numbers of the two Greendale schools did little to stem the false reports. The closest in name is Greengrove, which was a considerable ways from the University. And if you started counting Greendales rather than Greendale Schools, then perhaps most people in the United States are just as closely connected to some Greendale. Most important of all, a perp simply has zero reason to use a name from his past. Indeed, the only reason to use the same address on both envelopes — which helped the second letter be identified before being received — is if something is being intentionally communicated.

      • The FBI should consider the null hypothesis that Ivins didn’t do it. Thus the test for them is to compare the likelihood ratio of all others, even though contradictory, to Ivins.

        The point of the Glen, Green, Dale, etc. references near the hijackers is that they were seeing this over and over on roads, schools, neighborhoods, etc. everywhere they were. So if they wanted a fictional return address that would sound convincing to any Senate office, using Greendale School would work. There is something called Greendale, Glendale, etc. in every state. So a Senate office receiving the letter would not know for sure there was no Greendale school in their state. That is something that the hijackers would realize from the many places they were. Thus it makes sense for them to use Greendale School because no Senate office from any state could instantly know there was no such school. Instead the staffer would open the letter and spread the anthrax.

        The hijackers had the information base to know that no Senate office could know for sure there was no Greendale School in New Jersey.

        Islamic interpretations of Greendale increase the probability of the hijackers together with this reason, that a Senate staffer would think Greendale School is a plausible school name for a school in New Jersey, even if they were from that area.

        I think the Islamic code explanation is also valuable, but they would still want a school name that would sound plausible to any Senate office from any state.

        If the code was Magnificent 19, a Senate staffer might have thought there is no such school.

      • DXer said

        To summarize, the documentary evidence show the WMD planners used phrases to include

        Green Team = Egyptians led by CBRN plotter and Saif Adel, who was leading a team sent by military commander Atef, to whom Ayman Zawahiri later wrote memos reporting on the anthrax plannning.

        Green Laboratory Medicine = lab run by anthrax lab tech who gave Zacarias Moussaroui reference

        School = Egyptian Islamic Jihad (used on wiretaps and/or written correspondence by Ayman Zawahiri, the “Canadian cell”, “the Florida cell,”and a supporter of Aafia Siddiqui)

        Atta and Ramzi Binalshibh (Tenet says Ramzi Binalshibh was involved in CBRN planning), used coded phrases as they approached 9/11 to include:

        Jenny = Ramzi (see Jennifer Lopez letter)
        Faculty of Fine Arts/arts = Pentagon
        Faculty of Town Planning/architecture = World Trade Center
        Faculty of Law / law = The Capitol
        politics = White House
        White Meat = Americans
        Terminal = Indonesia
        Market = Malaysia
        Hotel = Philippines
        Village = Egypt

        Old Atlantic is correct that the sender would want the Senate Staff office to think that they were receiving a letter from the 4th Grade of an elementary school. As Ed Lake once noted in 2002, “4th Grade” one theory may refer to Sergeant. Al Qaeda military commander Atef, to whom the documents show Zawahiri wrote memos reporting on the anthrax planning, was a former Cairo sergeant.

      • DXer said

        2002 thread on subject of address:

        http://groups.google.com/group/alt.true-crime/browse_thread/thread/5b40a90fc077f6a2/d9ddd4bba0ffddde?hl=en&q=%22Ed+Lake%22++sergeant++%224th+Grade%22

        Ed Lake wrote in message …

        >Calla,
        >Greendale, Wisconsin, is a suburb of Milwaukee. It has a “Greendale
        >Elementary School” with a 4th grade. As far as I know, it is the only
        >school by that name in the U.S.

        [This was during the 7 years Ed insisted that a particular guy at Battelle was responsible and in a conspiracy with a First Grader in New Jersey even though the FBI had said they had long since determined the theory that the guy at Battelle was involved was baloney and closed the file (see Dec. 21 news]. The guy did not even work with anthrax and was not a microbiologist; he thought anthrax was a virus.]

        >Ed
        >http://www.anthraxinvestigation.com/

        [Calla responded]

        “Ed, it’s now obvious that you are discarding any information that
        doesn’t prove whatever point you’re trying to make. I posted a
        list of Greendale Elementary schools last year (9 Nov 2001 to
        be exact).

        Let me introduce you to a handy investigative tool, called a
        search engine.”

        Later in the thread, Ed wrote:

        “Why not look for a sergeant in the military. 4th grade could mean a sergeant.

        People looked for that, too. … Then start playing around with the name of the town. There I think you could find some meaning.”

        Ed continued: “I think the anthrax mailer had some reason to create that return address…”

      • DXer said

        On October 5, 2001, the bail of Egyptian Mahmoud Mahjoub, the # 2 of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad military wing (Vanguards of Conquest) was denied.

        Aerosolized anthrax then was mailed just as the CIA told President Bush in an early February 2001 Presidential Daily Brief (”PDB”) that these supporters of the blind sheik Abdel-Rahman had threatened to do.

        In late January 2001, the Immigration Minister in Canada and the Justice Minister had received an anthrax threat in the form of anthrax hoax letters. The letters were sent upon the announcement of bail hearing for a detained Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader Mahmoud Mahjoub. Mahjoub had managed Bin Laden’s farm in Sudan. Minister Caplan had signed the security certificate authorizing Mahjoub’s detention. After arriving in Canada in 1996, Mahjoub had continued to be in contact with high level militants, including his former supervisor, an Iraqi reputed to be Bin Laden’s chief procurer of weapons of mass destruction. In February 2001, the CIA briefed the President in a Presidential Daily Brief (”PDB”) on “Bin Laden’s Interest in Biological and Radiological Weapons” in a still-classified briefing memorandum.

        On October 5, 2001, Mahjoub’s bail was denied. Someone then mailed a finely powdered anthrax to the two United States Senators they deemed most responsible for the rendition of Egyptian Islamic Jihad leaders and appropriations to Egypt and Israel. President-Elect Obama now needs to ask for CIA’s February 2001 PDB to President Bush on the planned use of anthrax in retaliation of rendering and detention of IG and EIJ leaders.

        Lethal letters were not merely the modus operandi of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad/Vanguards of Conquest, it was their signature.

        This was not the first time the Egyptian islamists sent letter bombs to newspaper offices in connection with an attack on the World Trade Center. NPR set the scene. It was January 2, 1997, at 9:15 a.m. at the National Press Building in Washington, D.C. The employee of the Saudi-owned newspaper Al Hayat began to open a letter. It was a Christmas card — the kind that plays a musical tune. It was white envelope, five and a half inches by six and a half inches, with a computer-generated address label attached. It had foreign postage and a post mark — a postmark appearing to be from Alexandria, Egypt. It looked suspiciously bulky, so he set it down and called the police. Minutes later they found a similar envelope. These were the first two of four letter bombs that would arrive at Al Hayat during the day. A fifth letter bomb addressed to the paper was intercepted at a nearby post office. They all looked the same. Two similar letter bombs addressed to the “parole officer” (a position that does not exist) arrived at the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth. It seemed evident how some Grinch had spent the holidays in Alexandria, Egypt. The man EIJ intelligence head Ali Mohammed had taught to make booby trapped was from Alexandria and was visiting. In interrogation, he has said he and Ali Mohammed recruited 10 Americans to join their cause as sleeper cell operatives.

        Egyptian Saif Adel (Makawwi), thought to be in Iran, was involved in military planning. He was leader of the “Green Team” that had been organized by Al Qaeda military commander Atef, a former Cairo police sergeant. Adel was in the Egyptian Army’s Special Forces before joining Al Qaeda. He helped plan the 1998 attacks on the US embassies in Africa. He was also a planner in the attack on the USS Cole. Adel assisted Atef, who had overall responsibility for Al Qaeda’s operations and to whom Zawahiri reported on anthrax planning.

        According to Cairo Attorney Al-Zayyat, Makkawi had many times claimed responsibility for operations that were carried out inside Egypt but when the perpetrators were arrested, it would be al-Zawahiri’s name whose name they shouted loyalty to from the docks, according to the blind sheik’s lawyer Al Zayat. Al-Zayat at the time said Zawahiri intended to use anthrax against US targets in retaliation for the rendering and torture of senior Egyptian jihadists.

        On December 31, 1996 Mohammed Youssef was in Egypt — having gone to Egypt months before. The al Hayat letter bombs related to the detention and alleged mistreatment of the blind sheikh and the WTC bombers were sent 10 days earlier — on the Day of Measures. In 2006, he was named as co-defendant with Hassoun, Daher, Padilla and Jayyousi. Youssef was born in Alexandria. Do authorities suspect the “Florida cell” of being involved in the al Hayat letter bombs? Kifah Jayyousi’s “Islam Report” over the years — distributed by Adham Hassoun in Florida and Kassem Daher in Canada — expressed outrage at detention/extradition due to terrorism law and also what he perceived as attacks on his religion by some newspapers. From Detroit and then DC, his headlines on the internet groups blazed “Just In! First Muslim Victim of New Terrorism Law!: US Agents Arrest Paralegal Of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman Without Charge Prepares To Hand Him To Egyptian Regime,” soc.religion.islam, dated April 27, 1996 and “Islam Report (Newspaper Attacks Our Religion! Act Now!,” soc.religion.islam, Apr. 16, 1996

        After the Al Hayat letter bombs to newspapers in DC and NYC and people in symbolic positions, in January 1997, both the Blind Sheikh and his paralegal, Sattar, were quoted in separate articles in Al Hayat (in Arabic) denying that they or their supporters were responsible. The Blind Sheikh commented that al Hayat was fair and balanced in its coverage and his supporters would have no reason to “hit” them. The same sort of counterintuitive theory was raised in connection with the earlier letter bombing of newspapers to DC and New York City and people in symbolic positions. Post Office employee Sattar noted that the bombs were mailed on December 20, one day before the brief in support of the blind sheik on appeal. He questioned whether someone (like the FBI) was trying to undermine the appeal’s prospects. But this time, Mr. Sattar did not need any help making the argument with respect to the anthrax letters. Numerous people with political agendas rushed to do it for him. In accusing Dr. Ivins on the occasion of his death, the FBI embraced the same sort of theory — that is, when it was not grasping at other untenable theories relating to college sororities, incorrectly perceived anti-abortion news, or perceived financial motive.

        In September 2006, in a Sahab Media production called “Knowledge is for acting,” there is a clip in which Al Quds editor Atwan refers to his visit with Bin Laden in 1996. Bin Laden was planning to attack America “and America prisons in particular.” That was an apparent reference to the Al Hayat letter bombs sent to newspapers and prisons in which the WTC 1993 plotters were held in January 1997. There were recurrent references to Abdel-Rahman in the tape.

        After the January 2001 anthrax threat, a Canadian research team undertook to assess the risk. The report titled “Risk Assessment of Anthrax Threat Letters” issued September 2001. In contrast to the 1998 study by William Patrick that had been requested by Dr. Hatfill’s employer SAIC, the Canadian study found considerable exposure to those in the room resulted when such a letter was opened. Bacillus globigii spores (in dry powder form) were donated by the US Department of Defense (Dugway Proving Ground, Utah). Stock concentration powder was -1 x 10 11 cfu/gm. The anthrax sent to the Senators had a smaller particle size –tending toward a uniform 1 micron, subject to clumping that easily broke apart. Bacillus globigii (BG) spores are routinely used as a simulant for Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) spores. “The letter was prepared by putting BG spores in the center of a sheet of paper, folding it over into thirds, placing the folded sheet into the envelope and sealing using the adhesive present on the envelope. The envelope was then shaken to mimic the handling and tumbling that would occur during its passage through the postal system.”

        The aerosol, produced by opening the BG spore containing envelope, was not confined to the area of the desk but spread throughout the chamber. Values were almost as high at the opposite end of the chamber, shortly after opening the envelopes. 99% of the particles collected were in the 2.5 to 10 µm size range. The report explained: “In addition, the aerosol would quickly spread throughout the room so that other workers, depending on their exact locations and the directional air flow within the office, would likely inhale lethal doses. Envelopes with the open corners not specifically sealed could also pose a threat to individuals in the mail handling system.”

        More than 80% of the B anthracis particles collected on stationary monitors were within an alveolar respirable size range of 0.95 to 3.5 µm. Thus, the simulant performed very well. Those who continue to argue that the Daschle product was so advanced beyond what the US could do are mistaken. Indeed, the more notable question is why such a good product was prepared in response to a threat letter sent to an immigration minister. The reason perhaps is that authorities suspected that it was Al Qaeda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad that sent the letter. The CIA and CSIS apparently feared that the Vanguards of Conquest would use the good stuff. Documents later showed that Zawahiri’s anthrax planning involved using universities and charities as cover to infiltrate US biodefense.

        The CIA knew EIJ intended to use anthrax — from the proclamations the captured military commander Mabruk and Attorney al-Zayat, as well as others. Al-Zayat, in addition to the blind sheik’s lawyer, was the former law partner of the head of EIJ special operations Shehata, who was the brother-in-law of Canadian cell member Jaballah. (Jaballah kept in touch with Zawahiri from Canada by satellite phone). Authorities knew Al Qaeda was getting technical assistance from scientists — and that many of the senior Egyptian leaders had advanced or technical degrees. The specifications provided by Dugway perhaps involved treated fumed silica and a spraydryer.

        Canadian officials explained they e-mailed the study to the CDC soon after reports of the discovery of anthrax at the American Media Inc. headquarters in Florida. The e-mail, however, was never opened, reports the lead CDC anthrax investigator, who regrets that he never read the email. Bail was denied by decision on October 5, 2001. Then highly potent anthrax was sent the next day just as had been promised. But Ayman had returned to the target of his greatest interest — rather than a Canadian immigration minister, he and Shehata and their colleagues targeted the minister who oversaw the Department of Justice and appropriations to Egypt and Israel, and who gave his name (”the Leahy Law”) to the law that permits continuing appropriations to Egypt in the face of allegations of torture.

        Bill Patrick, who often worked with George Mason University students in northern Virginia, had written a report in 1999 for a consultant SAIC at the request of Dr. Steve Hatfill. As one bioterrorism expert commented about the report: “Anytime you pick something up like this, and it seems to layout the whole story for you months or years before the fact, your immediate response is to step back and say ‘whoa, something may be going on here. “Our attacker may very well have used this report as something of a — if not a template, then certainly as a rule of thumb.”

        The Canadian experiments in 2001 showed that if anthrax spores were finely powdered, a letter could release thousands of lethal doses of the bacteria within minutes of being opened. Furthermore, large amounts of material leaked out of sealed envelopes even before they were opened. By then, more than two dozen federal government employees knew of the Canadian studies, which showed that a real anthrax threat letter was a far more dangerous weapon than anyone had believed. Within days, a dozen more people were informed of the now highly relevant experimental findings. One FBI squad was focused on people who may have known of the study — such as William Patrick’s friend, Dr. Steve Hatfill. Another squad would be focused on the usual suspects and their friends. For the next seven years, the investigation would be shrouded in great secrecy. The CIA, FBI and even Battelle counterintelligence would play a role. DIA was left on the sidelines, pointing out what could be observed from the open source intelligence.

        The reason the FBI does not brief the Hill is because Congressman Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee advocated for and visited Rabih Haddad in prison in Ann Arbor — forcing the proceedings to be unsealed. It was Rabih Haddad’s attorney who arranged for pro bono representation for the Virginia Paintball Defendants. The daughter of the Amerithrax prosecutor represented Ali Al-Timimi pro bono until she withdrew last month. Her father is the one who has pled the Fifth Amendment regarding the leaking of the sensational but insubstantial Hatfill pond and bloodhound stories. He came over from the CIA on September 29, 2001. The ongoing proceeding is so highly classified that the DOJ’s ex parte briefs on the NSA wiretapping of Andrew Card’s former assistant, Ali Al-Timimi, cannot even be viewed by the District Judge’s clerk.

        Bottom-line: Senator Grassley is correct. The public deserves some answers. The family of Bruce Ivins and the families of the victims deserve justice.

  2. I should have said that the Oct 9 mailings from Trenton were to the Senate. In the probability calculation I didn’t, however, treat these as multiplicative. I.e. we have 10^{-8} for the Sep 18/Sep 20 coincidence and then some factor smaller than 10^{-2} for the Oct 9, linking those back to Sep 18/Sep 20. It actually will be much smaller than that and the total joint probability will likely end up lower than 10^{-10}. This depends on what sort of assumptions one makes. It may be a lot lower than 10^{-10}.

    • DXer said

      Let’s consider the dates of mailing. Anthrax was sent on the date of the Camp David Accord and the related Sadat assassination (Armed Forces Day).

      The FBI Counterterrorism Division sent out a warning to law enforcement in August 2001 that Al Qaeda or related groups might attack on an anniversary date.

      NLETS MESSAGE (ALL REGIONS)
      8/1/01
      A MESSAGE FROM FBI COUNTERTERRORISM DIVISION, WASHINGTON, D.C.
      ***
      AT THIS TIME, THE FBI DOES NOT POSSESS ANY SPECIFIC INFORMATION INDICATING THAT INDIVIDUALS SYMPATHETIC TO THE EAST AFRICA BOMBERS OR USAMA BIN LADEN ARE PLANNING AN ATTACK TO COINCIDE WITH THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF THE BOMBINGS. HOWEVER, IN RECENT WEEKS, THE U.S. INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY HAS BEEN TRACKING AN INCREASED VOLUME OF THREAT REPORTING EMANATING FROM GROUPS ALIGNED WITH OR SYMPATHETIC TO USAMA BIN LADEN. THE MAJORITY OF THIS REPORTING INDICATES A POTENTIAL FOR ATTACKS AGAINST U.S. TARGETS ABROAD; HOWEVER, THE POSSIBILITY OF AN ATTACK IN THE UNITED STATES CANNOT BE DISCOUNTED.

      CONCLUSION: RECIPIENTS ARE BEING NOTIFIED AT THIS TIME BECAUSE THE U.S. INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY CONSIDERS ANNIVERSARY DATES AS A KEY THREAT INDICATOR. ALTHOUGH LAW ENFORCEMENT AND SECURITY PERSONNEL ARE CAUTIONED NOT TO EXCLUSIVELY RELY ON SUCH DATES TO ‘PREDICT’ ACTS OF TERRORISM, ANNIVERSARY DATES CERTAINLY WARRANT INCREASED ATTENTION IN ROUTINE SECURITY PLANNING.

      RECIPIENTS WHO RECEIVE OR DEVELOP ANY INFORMATION CONCERNING THIS MATTER SHOULD CONTACT THEIR LOCAL FBI OFFICE OR FBI HEADQUARTERS IMMEDIATELY.

      Expert Michael Scheuer, formerly with the CIA, has said that Al Qaeda does not plan attacks around important dates, so far as the CIA can glean. But let’s distinguish between Al Qaeda and Zawahiri and with the benefit of events subseqent to Scheuer’s analysis, take Ayman Zawahiri at his word when he says he at least plans some of his messages around anniversaries, as he and Islambouli did by sending messages in 2004 on the third anniversary of 9/11 and then in 2005 on the third anniversary of the transfer of prisoners to Guantanamo. He said: “These days we are marking three years since the transportation of the first group of Muslim prisoners was sent to the Guantanamo prison. ”

      The Vanguards of Conquest did the same thing in the late 1990s. Just as Zawahiri’s thinking on weaponizing anthrax was gaining traction in emails to Atef in the Spring of 1999, the Vanguards invoked an anniversary relating to the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and issued a statement marking its 20th anniversary. The group said at the time it was reiterating its enmity toward the US and Israel to mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of the treaty in March 1979. Signed on March 26, 1979, the Egypt-Israel peace treaty was a direct result of the Camp David Peace Accords, signed in September 1978.

      The first round of letters was sent to ABC, CBS, NBC, the New York Post, and the publisher of the National Enquirer and Sun. Letters were sent to Senators Daschle and Leahy in a second batch, using a much more highly refined product. The mailing dates were of special importance to the man in its December 4, 1998 PDB that the CIA told President Clinton was planning the attack the US using aircraft and other means — Mohammed Islambouli, the brother of Sadat’s assassin. The letters to the news organizations were mailed — coincidentally or not — on September 17 or September 18, either the day the Camp David Accord was signed in 1978 or the next day when it was approved by the Israeli knesset. Abdel-Rahman, the blind sheik, in the early 1980s, said: “We reject Camp David and we regret the normalization of relations with Israel. We also reject all the commitments that were made by the traitor Sadat, who deviated from Islam.” He continued: “As long as the Camp David Agreement stands, this conflict between us and the government will continue.”

      At the time of the anthrax mailings, Sadat’s assassination and the Camp David Accord still dominated Zawahiri’s thinking. In Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet, Al-Zawahiri argued in the Fall of 2001 that the Camp David Accord sought to turn Sinai into a disarmed area to serve as a buffer zone between Egypt and Israel. He cites the peace treaty between the two countries, particularly issues related to the armament of the Egyptian Army inside Sinai. He claims that Egypt has restored Sinai formally but it remains in the hands of Israel militarily. Al-Zawahiri cites many examples about the US flagrant support for Israel, including the US pressure on Egypt to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty at a time when Israel publicly declares that it will not sign the treaty because of its special circumstances.

      Despite this, Zawahiri says, the United States sympathizes with Israel and overlooks its actions. This means that the United States has deliberately left the nuclear weapons in the hands of Israel to threaten its Arab neighbors. Al-Zawahiri argues in his book that the western states have considered Israel’s presence in the region a basic guarantee for serving the Western interests.

      The Wall Street Journal explained in August 2002: “Oct. 8 last year was Columbus Day, a public holiday on which mail wasn’t collected from letter boxes. That may mean the letters could have been posted as early as the Saturday before.” Taking into account the fact that there was no mail postmarked with a Trenton postmark on Columbus Day, October 8, the letter to Senator Tom Daschle postmarked October 9 may actually have been mailed October 6. (The FBI, of course, may know the date it was mailed based on information that has not been disclosed.) October 6 was the day Anwar Sadat was assassinated for his role in the Camp David Accord. President Sadat was assassinated on the national holiday called “Armed Forces Day.” He was killed during an annual holiday parade which marks the day, October 6, 1973, that Egypt made a critical successful surprise attack on Israel during the 1973 war.

      “Death to Pharaoh!” the young Army officer shouted. He and his confederates jumped off the truck shot into the reviewing stand where Sadat had been watching the annual parade. “I killed the Pharaoh, and I do not fear death.” Sadat’s detention of Muhammad Shawqi al-Islambouli had spurred his brother, Khalid, to seize an opportunity presented on short notice to assassinate Anwar Sadat. Kamal Habib, founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad and writer for the IANA quarterly magazine, who spent 10 years in prison in connection with the assassination, told academic Fawaz Gerges: “It was not a well-coordinated operation, and it succeeded by a miracle.” A street was named after Khalid Islambouli in Iran, with Iran having been upset at Egypt for granting the Shah safe haven. After leaving Egypt in the mid-1980s, Muhammad Islambouli operated in Pakistan recruiting Egyptian fighters for the war in Afghanistan, and headed a branch of Bin Laden’s Maktab al-Khidmat (‘Bureau of Services’) in Peshawar. Muhammad Islambouli was the subject of the December 4, 1998 Presidential Daily Brief titled “Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks” explaining that Bin Laden planned an attack on the US involving airplanes and that the motivation was to free the blind sheik Abdel-Rahman and a dissident Saudi sheik.

      US Postal employee Ahmed Sattar, in a 1999 interview, said of Sadat’s assassination: ” I felt good. It was a shock to me at first because I never expected the pharaoh to be assassinated in front of his army. Sure, the pharaoh, yes. And but really, after absorbing the shock, I said, “Well, that was well done.”

      The aide to blind sheik Abdel-Rahman explained: “What the Western mentality does not understand that your measurement is different — your measurement of good and bad. Yes, President Sadat was a media star as what you said. Civilized, smoking a pipe, always referred to Barbara Walters as “my friend Barbara,” and “my friend Carter” — they were all his friends. But what did he do to the normal man in the slums of Cairo or in upper Egypt? He deceived them. When he signed the peace treaty with Israel, he promised, “This will be the end of suffering. Things will change dramatically for the Egyptian people.” He promised democracy, freedom, and people believed him.”

      In his Fall 2001 Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet, Zawahiri explained that the US support for Israel (at Egypt’s expense) was well-illustrated by the historic 33-day airlift to Israel after this October 6 attack. He argues that the US support for Israel made the difference between success or failure for Egypt. Al-Zawahiri describes how the United States shipped weapons, ammunition, and tanks to Israel for 33 days, with the goal being to compensate Israel for its war losses and to swiftly upgrade the combat capabilities.

      He explained in his Fall 2001 book: “The animosity to Israel and America in the hearts of islamists is indivisible. It is an animosity that has provided the ‘al-Qa’dia’ and the epic of jihad in Afghanistan with a continuous flow of ‘Arab Afghans.'” Regarding the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, Zawahiri adds: “Whoever examines the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty will realize that it was intended to be a permanent treaty from which Egypt could not break loose. It was concluded in an attempt to establish on the ground, by force and coercion, a situation whereby it would be difficult to change by any government hostile to Israel that comes after Al-Sadat.” The militants were especially angry that Sadat had not fully implemented shariah law.

      Complicating consideration of the issue somewhere, on October 5, 2001, the shura member of EIJ and former head of Bin Laden’s farm in the Sudan, Mahjoub, had his bail denied on October 5. Mahmoud Mahjoub was second in command of the Vanguards of Conquest. A letter containing nonpathogenic bacteria had been sent in late January 2001 threatening use of mailed anthrax to the immigration minister signing his security certificate. Mahjoub was bin Laden’s farm manager in Sudan. Al-Hawsawi, KSM’s assistant with the anthrax spraydrying documents on his laptop, kept the books.

      The CIA and FBI analysts should have pored over translations of the journal Al-Manar Jadeed published by the Ann Arbor-based Islamic Assembly of North America from 1998 – 2002 by writers based in Cairo. It mainly concerned Egyptian politics and planned the strategy based on all that had gone on before. There was a change in tone between the first piece by Gamal Sultan and the second installment. The first (before his letter to Abdel-Rahman) urged a pluralistic tolerant approach to differing views. The second issue (after his letter to Abdel-Rahman and Abdel-Rahman’s rejection of softening the Islamic Group’s approach) contained his piece that seems to have resorted to the familiar intransigent neo-Salafist view. Analysts should pay special heed to the terms dar al-harb (abode of war), dar al-salam (bode of peace) and dar al-’ahd (abode of the treaty). The religious doctrines were applied to the relationships between Islamic and non-Islamic countries. What the liberal and leftist antiwar activists who have rallied to support IANA defendants do not realize is that the central belief of these Salafists is that Israel must be destroyed and there can be no peace with Israel. The Camp David Accords are central to the beef they have with the US. The neo-Salafists are not at all peace-loving. It’s just that the public relations debacle of the reckless invasion of Iraq and mistreatment of some detainees played right into Bin Laden’s hands.

      The 2005 bombing in Egypt at a Sinai resort was on July 23, which is Revolution Day, a national holiday in Egypt celebrating the Egyptian revolution. It commemorates the 1952 overthrow of King Farouk’s monarchy, led by Gamal Abdel Nassar. Perhaps a holiday weekend was chosen in order to maximize the number of casualties. The bombing last year at Taba resort in Egypt was on October 7. In September 2006 video, in a messagg on yet another 5-year anniversary of 9/11, Zawahiri explained: “Among the most prominent of these conspirators are the rulers of Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula and Jordan and the traitors in Iraq who shade themselves with the cross of America, the Great Satan…[For these regimes] the slogan ‘death to America, death to Israel’ has gone to be replaced by ‘rule from America and peace with Israel.'”

      • The FBI’s hypothesis is that Ivins did it. The FBI then has to calculate the probability of the coincidences under that hypothesis.

        On that basis, its a question of how many letters are mailed per day with anthrax claims to what targets, etc. to determine the probability of these coincidences under the FBI’s hypothesis Ivins did it. For that calculation, the coincidences to Camp David don’t seem relevant.

        Assuming Ivins did it, what is the probability these letters from St. Petersburg with the nearness in dates and the similar or same targets in the same set of target states, etc. would be sent. The St. Petersburg letters were only sent to states that the real anthrax letters were sent to. Since DC also got letters, we have the St. Petersburg letters were sent to 2 states out of the 3 sent real anthrax letters and no others. There were 3 St. Petersburg letters. This by itself is then a low probability event.

        Under the FBI hypothesis that Ivins did it, the chance that the same source would send letters within 1 or 2 days either way of the real anthrax letters to a subset of the states that got real anthrax letters is a small number.

        Here we just count what states they were sent to. Its also unlikely that the source state of the hoax letters would be a state that got a real anthrax letter. That gives us another number of the size of 3/50 or 2/50 to multiply. 3 letters and the source state, we have 4 numbers less than 1/10 to multiply, so we get 1 in 10,000.

        The FBI has to take the hypothesis that Ivins did it as true, and then calculate the probability of everything that happened. The smaller that probability is, the lower the likelihood ratio to an alternative will be (FBI hypothesis prob as numerator, other hypothesis prob as the denominator).

        The LL ratio falls as there are improbable coincidences assuming the FBI hypothesis that Ivins did it is true.

        Given that the hijackers were in Florida, DC area, and NJ, its not so unlikely they would choose the targets they did. We can take as given that the 9/11 hijackers attacked New York City, making that city a logical target one for anthrax letters or hoax letters. Same with DC.

        It is possible to try to argue that a hoax mailer and Ivins would pick NY, DC and Florida for the same reasons. But it is necessary for them both to have picked those targets, and send them near in time, etc. So its possible to argue different numbers for the probabilities. The FBI should however do the calculation the most favorable way to their side they can and then argue the validity of it, and then give alternative ways to calculate it.

        The hijackers were in other states than just Florida, so just picking Florida as a hijacker state is weak since there were several such states. Florida was a target of the real anthrax letter and a hoax one.

  3. Some questions for NAS and FBI as well as other government science labs involved.

    1. Publish the full text and envelopes of the St. Petersburg hoax letters.

    2. How many anthrax hoax letters were sent each day and to what type of recipient in 2001 and 2002. Types are media in each city. It would be nice to have the letters published as well. They could, if needed withhold the name of recipient, unless they consent to waive that, and simply indicate the city and type of recipient, e.g. news media, whether it contained powder, and the note with the personal info of recipient, if any, blacked out. This is a good FOIA request.

    3. Calculate the probability that one of the St. Petersburg letters sent c. Sep 20 to Tom Brokaw and one of the Trenton actual anthrax letters c. Sep 18 sent to Tom Brokaw were random coincidences?
    (FOIA on whether they calculated this probability.)

    4. The St. Petersburg letters were sent to news media in Florida or NYC. Of the Trenton letters sent to media they were sent to news media in Florida and NYC. What is the probability of this? (FOIA on whether this was calculated.)

    Note that letters from Florida were sent to news media in Florida or NYC and letters from Trenton were sent to NYC news media or to Florida. So Florida sent them local and to NYC and Trenton sent them to NYC and to Florida. All media in both cases (ignoring the Senate letters).

    This seems a highly improbable set of coincidences.

    Ed Lake has said approximately 100 anthrax hoax letters are sent per year. That works out to 1 every 3 days. Lake also says that the targets include schools, court houses, etc. That would mean over 10,000 targets and likely many more.

    The chance that the St. Petersburg letter from Sep 20 to NYC would be to Tom Brokaw and one of the Sep 18 Trenton letters would go to Brokaw
    is thus proportional to 10^{-8} or smaller. Note that Sep 20 is within 3 days of Sep 18.

    Then we have the Oct 9 mailings also about the same time as St. Petersburg, all sent to similar targets, i.e. news media. This is a sort of near miss. We should expect the probability is still low.

    All told the probability of these being coincidences with Trenton letters containing anthrax appears to be less than 10^{-10}. There are many ways to do these calculations, but this seems one way to get an upper bound on the probability.

    Notice that there is a U pattern. A person could mail them in Trenton Sep 17, drive to Florida, mail them Sep 20, mail them from Florida a bit before Oct 9, and drive up to Trenton and mail them Oct 9.

    Ivins couldn’t do that. But al Qaeda could have easily had a person do that. Al Qaeda had physical presence in Florida, DC area (where envelopes were sold) and NJ. One al Qaeda was treated in Florida and its thought this was anthrax.

    If you search Greendale, Glendale or just Green, Glen, Dale as parts of names in the areas the hijackers were, there are lots of streets, etc. names. Glendale Aviation School Arizona as a search finds a school near Phoenix where one of the hijackers trained. The hijacker who may have had anthrax also traveled between Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and UAE in the late spring early summer time frame of 2001. He could have been a carrier of anthrax with him.

    • DXer said

      Dr. Tara O’Toole of the Biodefense Center at John Hopkins, and now head of biosecurity for the Homeland Security Department. She concluded one of the Florida hijackers likely had a lesion from anthrax. The former head of that group, Dr. Henderson, now director of the office of public health preparedness at the Department of Health and Human Services, explained: “The probability of someone this age having such an ulcer, if he’s not an addict and doesn’t have diabetes or something like that, is very low. It certainly makes one awfully suspicious.” In late 2002, I was corresponding with Dr. O’Toole in detail about all the issues discussed in this forum — except for the details of who Bruce Ivins gave virulent Ames from RMR 1029 and Al-Timimi’s access to the DARPA-funded know-how relating to the concentration of anthrax using silicon dioxide — and so I know she is well-informed.

      One of the Florida hijackers, Ahmed Al-Haznawi, went to the ER on June 25, 2001 with what now appears to have been cutaneous anthrax, according to Dr. Tsonas, the doctor who treated him, and other experts. “No one is dismissing this,” said CIA Director Tenet. Alhaznawi had just arrived in the country on June 8. He had traveled with Wail al Shehri from Dubai, United Arab Emirates via London-Gatwick, England to Miami, Florida. His exposure perhaps related to a camp he had been in Afghanistan. He said he got the blackened gash-like lesion when he bumped his leg on a suitcase two months earlier. Two months earlier he had been in camp near Kandahar (according to a videotape he later made serving as his last Will and Testament). His last will and testament is mixed in with the footage by the al-Qaeda’s Sahab Institute for Media Production that includes Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Sulaiman Abu Ghaith. There are some spiders that on rare occasions bite and cause such a blackened eschar (notably the Brown Recluse Spider found in some parts of the United States).

      The FBI says no anthrax was found where the hijackers were. (The FBI tested the crash sites where the planes came down and found no traces of anthrax). Although no doubt there are some other diseases that lead to similar sores, it is reasonable to credit that it was cutaneous anthrax considering all the circumstances, to include the finding by the 9/11 Commission that ” in 2001, Sufaat would spend several months attempting to cultivate anthrax for al Qaeda in a laboratory he set up near the Kandahar airport.” Now that we know Kandahar is where the extremely virulent anthrax was located, it makes it more likely that the John Hopkins people were correct that the lesion was caused by anthrax.

      At the time, CBS reported that “U.S. troops are said to have found another biological weapons research lab near Kandahar, one that that was eyeing anthrax.” But CBS and FBI spokesman further noted that “Those searches found extensive evidence that al-Qaida wanted to develop biological weapons, but came up with no evidence the terrorist group actually had anthrax or other deadly germs, they said.” Only years later did we learn that there was in fact extremely virulent anthrax at Kandahar. (Though some senior officials at the CIA and FBI knew this in Autumn 2003). Thus, a factual predicate important to assessment of the John Hopkins report on the leg lesion needed to be reevaluated after Hambali’s interrogation in Jordan.

      If the FBI is allowed to screw the pooch on Amerithrax, it will not only be a failure on the part of the FBI and Postal Inspector Service, it will also represent a failure of the CIA and Homeland Security Department and the present Administration. President Obama and his new biosecurity chief Dr. O’Toole will not be able to say, “Oh, that was just Jeff , Gonzales’ former attorney, who got it wrong.”

  4. DXer said

    Let’s consider the profile of this angry man — and I don’t mean Senator Grassley or Senator Leahy.

    Given the importance of knowing your enemy, it is important to walk in his shoes and come to know the man. It’s part of what is known as “Red Teaming.” Tenet in his memoirs said that after 9/11, they set up a small team of analysts — he wanted them not to think just “out of the box.” He wanted them to do their thinking from an entirely different zip code. It was called the “red cell.” One of their first challenges was to figure out who Ayman would have recruited to send mailed anthrax to US newspapers and Senators.

    Al-Zawahiri’s family has its roots in a small town in Saudi Arabia “where the first battle between Prophet Muhammad and the infidels was fought and won by the Prophet.” With 9/11 and the anthrax mailings, he essentially is seeking to recreate the taking of Mecca by a small band. Al-Zawahiri’s great grandfather came to the Nile Delta in the 1860s to a city where there is a mosque that still bears his name. His grandfather on his mother’s side was president of Cairo University and the Egyptian ambassador to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. His grandfather was known for being pious and nicknamed “the devout ambassador.” Two of Ayman’s sisters are on the faculty at Cairo University Medical School. His uncle was the Dean of Cairo’s medical school at one point. His father, who passed away in 1995, was Profesor of Pharmacy. Including in-laws, he has 40 doctors of various sorts in his family.

    Born June 1, 1951, he grew up in Cairo’s Al-Ma’adi neighborhood. He graduated cum laude from Cairo University’s medical school in 1974 with an MD degree. He received a master’s degree in surgery in 1978 and was married the next year to Izzat Ahmad Nuwair who had graduated with a degree in philosophy from Cairo University. His wife and children were killed in a bombing raid in Afghanistan and an obituary mourning their loss appeared in Cairo. He has a younger brother Hassan, an engineer, and had an older brother Muhammad. (Muhammad was in Al Qaeda until being extradited to Egypt pursuant to a death sentence imposed in the “Albanian returnees” case; Hassan was once extradited but released). Without his family, Zawahiri is a fanatic guided only by his faith and his literal interpretation of a book written many years ago that he memorized as a child.

    Al Qaeda’s spymaster al-Hakaymah wrote “The History of the Jihadist Movements in Egypt.” When asked why Al-Zawahiri started his group, he explained that Al Zawahiri thought of Sayyid Qutb as a coroner who dissects a body with a high degree of professionalism and talent that suits someone who knows it inside out. In his youth, Zawahiri was influenced by Sayyid Qutb, one of the spiritual leaders of Islamic religious groups. After a two year stay in the United States where Qutb gained a contempt for American culture, the secular writer Qutb returned to his religious roots and wrote extensively supporting violence against Christians and Jews, and even muslim leaders deemed infidel. The introduction of Milestones linked at IANA’s Islamway website states: “I have written Milestones for this vanguard, which I consider to be a waiting reality about to be materialized.” Zawahiri traces the origin of the modern islamist movement to the hanging of Qutb in 1966. (It was Sayyid Qutb’s brother, Muhammad, who supervised the research of the masters thesis of Saudi dissident sheik Safar Al-Hawali. Al-Hawali wrote a book on secularism as part of his master thesis at Umm Al-Qura University.)

    Ayman and his young colleagues would go to the Al-Kikhya mosque in Abidin area in Cairo and read books from the Salafist library at the mosque, such as books by Ibn Taymiyah, whose religious rulings greatly influenced him. The group felt ashamed by Egypt’s defeat in the 1967 war with Israel and attributed the defeat to Egypt’s failure to follow Shariah rule.

    George Mason University microbiology grad student Al-Timimi years later would invoke both Sayyid Qutb and Ibn Taymiyah in an eloquent speech upon his indictment for sedition. Mohammad Qutb spoke alongside GMU microbiology graduate Al-Timimi at the 1993 conference along with the blind sheik’s son Mohammad Abdel-Rahman (from Afghanistan). Former EIJ member and current Cairo activist Gamal Sultan was also a speaker. Al-Hawali was Al-Timimi’s religious mentor at university.

    In 1968, his group in high school brought together Nabil al-Bura’i, Ismail Tantawi, Dr. Sayyid Imam and others. They were all in the last year of high school in the Cairo suburb of Maadi. Sayyid Imam, who issued revisions in November 2007, was thought to be more charismatic than Ayman, who tended to be shy. Zawahiri later would form a military wing under the guidance of Al-Qamari, an Egyptian army officer. Zawahiri formed his first cell from students at Maadi High school and other schools. By 1974, the year he graduated from medical school, it had 40 members. Ayman deemed infiltrating the military the most effective and least costly means of seizing power. Known for their extreme secrecy, the group avoided growing beards like most Islamists and were thus known as “the shaven beards.” Ayman’s friend Kamal Habib, who later would contribute to the quarterly journal of the Ann Arbor-based Islamic Assembly of North America, explained to CNN through a translator: “We thought at the time that the goal to apply the laws of Islam can’t be achieved with ways other than violence.” It would remain Zawahiri’s tactic to recruit members of the Egyptian army because of their training and expertise. After graduating medical school in 1974, he served three years as a surgeon in the Egyptian Army, at a base outside Cairo, before establishing a clinic at the same duplex he shared with his parents. He got his masters in surgery in 1978 based on book learning, according to his mentor Sayyid Imam. At a Saudi clinic, Sayyid Imam reports that he needed to cover for his friend and colleague’s lack of clinical experience.

    During the 1975-1979 period, radical but not revolutionary study groups spread quickly through the Cairo, Ayn Shams and al-Azhar universities and elsewhere. Al-Jihad began as such a student organization. The student groups were one of the main targets of Sadat’s crackdown in 1979. Hundreds were arrested and their campus groups dissolved. The revolutionary ideas of Qutb influenced these student groups, which were known as jam’iyat. Courses of study in Egyptian universities are narrow, preventing many from acquiring a liberal education as they acquired technical skills. Thus, many fundamentalists are highly educated in technical fields but do not have a broader educational background. Life as a student in Egypt is hard and job prospects are poor. In the late 1970s, an estimated 85% of al-Jihad’s members were students.

    At Cairo Medical School, Ayman, while a postgraduate, Ayman spoke fervently to members of Islamic Group, which operated openly within the school and had great influence among the students. A former student there, Tawfiq Hamid, explains that Jamaah Islamiyah, then approved by both the Egyptian government and the university, was not classified as a terrorist organization until a few years later. The group “built a small prayer room in our medical school that later developed into a mosque with an associated library.” He reports that “The mosque was behind the physiology and biochemistry departments, and members of Jamaah came there daily before science classes to lecture us on Islam. They warned us about the punishments awaiting us after death if we did not follow Islam strictly and were effective in advancing Islamism among many of the students, including me. He continued: “Our fear of being punished after death was exacerbated by our work in the cadaver room, where we dissected dead bodies. Seeing death regularly during anatomy and physiology courses made us feel that the life of this world was meaningless compared to ‘real’ life after death.”

    Dr. Hamid met Zawahiri, “Dr. Ayman” as he was known, at an afternoon prayer session. He was one of the fiercest speakers he had ever heard. Ayman fervently condemned the West for the freedom of its women. Ayman, Dr. Hamid explains, was exceptionally bright, one of the top postgraduate students in the medical school. When they met him, Zawahiri greeted him warmly through his coke bottle glasses. Dr. Hamid explains that one of Ayman’s achievements was to personalize jihad—that is, to have transformed it from a responsibility of the Umma, the Islamic collective, to an individual duty of Muslims. Within several months of meeting Dr. Ayman, he was invited to travel to Afghanistan to join other young Muslims in training for jihad. It was fairly common, he said, to be recruited after the end of Friday prayers. Dr. Hamid explains: “We viewed both the Soviets and the Americans as enemies.” “The Soviets were considered infidels because they did not believe in the existence of God, while the Americans did not follow Islam. Although we planned to fight the Soviets first, our ultimate objective was to destroy the United States—the greatest symbol of the infidel’s freedom. ” Prophet Mohammed served as their role model. The harshest edicts of the koranic verses were to be followed and criticism of those verses was punishable by death. Dr. Hamid explains: “I passed through three psychological stages to reach this level of comfort with death: hatred of non-Muslims or dissenting Muslims, suppression of my conscience, and acceptance of violence in the service of Allah.”

    In 1979, while working at a Muslim Brotherhood clinic, Al-Zawahiri was asked if he wanted to go to Afghanistan and he jumped at the opportunity. Even then, Afghanistan represented a possible secure base from which to wage jihad. He would later write: “It is as if 100 years were added to my life when I came to Afghanistan.” He spent 4 months in Peshawar, Pakistan.

    Three hundred al-Jihad activists were arrested after Sadat’s assassination. Almost all of those arrested were between the ages of 20 and 28. Most were medical, law or pharmacy students at either the Universities of Asyut or al-Minya. Of those prosecuted for Sadat’s assassination, five were sentenced to life, twelve were given long prison terms and two were acquitted, including the blind sheik, who had purported to authorize the assassination on the basis of Islamic doctrine. According to Professor Fawwaz Gerges, who conducted extensive interviews with Mr. Habib, IANA writer Kamal Habib played a key operational role in the assassination of Anwar Sadat.

    Zawahiri was imprisoned for a few years after Sadat’s assassination in 1981 and allegedly tortured. Attorney Al-Zayat maintains that after his arrest in connection with the murder of President Sadat, Al-Zawahiri was tortured by the Egyptian police, and disclosed where his close friend and ally Al-Qamari was hiding. Zawahiri has burned with bitterness over the humiliation ever since. In the long run, torture merely tends to lead to more terrorism. “They don’t seem to understand the cult of pain they’re creating,” al-Zayat has said. After being released from prison in 1984, he went to Saudi Arabia in 1986, returning to Pakistan by the next year.

    One co-defendant who said of him: “While in prison, I used to meet him in court during the trial sessions. He is a very calm person and polite and has more of a strategic thought than being an intellectual or the owner of jurisprudence interpretations or even a student in search of knowledge.” Attorney al-Zayyat, who was in prison for three years along with Ayman, had a similar view. Even back then, Zawahiri placed great weight on the religious authority of the blind sheikh, Abdel-Rahman.

    A powerful 5 minute excerpt from the PBS/Frontline, “Looking for Answers” shows Zawahiri delivering an impassioned speech (in English) from jail. His statement sheds light on the motive underlying the anthrax mailings (and the reason the two dates of mailing were chosen). The choice of targets related to US appropriations to Egypt and Israel, the extradition or “rendering” of Egyptian Islamic Jihad members pursuant to the “Leahy Law,” retaliation for the detention and alleged mistreatment of the Blind Sheikh and others, and what Ayman views as “lies” about these issues in the media. The two mailing dates were (1) the signing of the agreement between Egypt and Israel and (2) the assassination of Sadat for signing the agreement. The choice of mailing dates was not surprising when one realizes that the subject of the December 4, 1998 Presidential Daily Brief to President Clinton was Islambouli, the brother of Sadat’s assassin. The PDB described the plan to attack the US using aircraft and other means. Islambouli was part of a cell with Khalid Mohammed who not only led the “planes operation,” but would come to lead the effort to attack the US with weaponized anthrax upon Atef’s death in November 2001.

    Al-Zayyat writes of Ayman:

    “I visited him in the Ibn al-Nafees hospital, where he was working in Jeddah. He looked very sorrowful. The scars left on his body from indescribable torture he suffered caused him no more pain, but his heart still ached from it.”
    “The torture he suffered was not proportionate to his comparatively minor role in the assassination of Sadat. The authorities were particularly harsh with him not because of his deeds, but because of his connections. They discovered after arresting him that he was in contact with a number of officers from the Egyptian Armed Forces. These included the martyr ‘Esam al-Qamari, an Armed Forces officer. Qamari fled from the army when, in March 1981, the authorities discovered his Islamist orientations.”

    Al-Zayyat continues:

    “Despite all that he had suffered physically, what was really painful to Zawahiri was that, under the pain of torture, he was forced to testify against his fellow members in the case against ‘Esam al-Qamari and other officers. Zawahiri was taken from the Tora prison to the Higher Military Court to give testimony against other jihadi members from the army. Under these conditions, he admitted that they formed a movement inside the army to topple the regime and institute an Islamic government.”

    After he was arrested on October 15, 1981, Zawahiri informed the authorities of Qamari’s whereabouts. He had taken a refuge in a small mosque where he used to pray and meet Zawahiri and other members of the group. It was this painful memory which was at the root of Zawahiri’s suffering, and which prompted him to leave Egypt for Saudi Arabia. He stayed there until he left for Afghanistan in 1987. During the three years following his arrival in Afghanistan, his leadership among jihadi Islamists became more prominent, as he worked to regroup the disoriented group members.

    Zawahiri left Egypt in late 1985 after he filed a lawsuit and obtained a stay of a decision of the minister of interior banning his travel. He spent a year working at a medical clinic in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Al-Zawahiri started the Islamic Jihad Bureau in 1987. He published a monthly magazine called “al-Fath” [conquest]. When Bin Laden’s spiritual leader Azzam was assassinated, al-Zawahiri assumed the role. In Afghanistan and later Sudan, Zawahiri would control Bin Laden by surrounding him with members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad group. As a result, Bin Laden’s financial support flowed to Egyptian Islamic Jihad but not the Egyptian Islamic Group.

    Zawahiri opposes democracy because then people could choose their own religion rather than adhere to the religious beliefs he was taught as a young boy before he reached the Age of Reason. He thinks democracy must be overcome through violence. He knows best based on words written many years before — words he learned by rote memory. Although soft-spoken and outwardly calm, he is a fanatic. The humiliation he felt upon betraying his former mentor al-Qamari still rages within him. He is not constrained by what most would view as ethical limits. Beware the quiet, deep thinker who thinks he knows best, particularly after you’ve killed his wife and child. In Bitter Harvest, he was very critical of the Muslim Brotherhood for its growing accommodation of secular rulers, though he softened his views somewhat in Prophets under the Banner. Zawahiri’s friend, IANA magazine writer Kamal Habib, says that, in contrast to Zawahiri, he has renounced violence and embraced democracy as a pragmatic means of establishing sharia law.

    In the mid-1990s, Al-Zawahiri sought to coordinate the activities of the various Islamic terrorist movements to carry out sabotage activities against the United States. A series of meetings included representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah. In a meeting held in Khartoum in April 1995, one direction Al-Zawahiri charted was to develop the effectiveness of the Islamic networks in London and New York, especially Brooklyn, where he visited the Blind Sheik’s Services Organization.

    Zawahiri visited the US in 1995 and visited mosques with Ali Mohammed and San Jose physician Ali Zaki. Apparently, however, it was the planned visit by a representative from Saudi Arabia sent by Mohammed Islambouli several years later that more recently was key to laying groundwork for the planned attacks using aircraft and other means. The planned visit was the subject of the CIA’s December 4, 1998 Presidential Daily Brief to President Clinton. Islambouli, brother of Sadat’s assassin, was in a cell with KSM, who upon Atef’s death assumed leadership of the cell planning to attack the US with weaponized anthrax. Islambouli was head of the blind sheik’s Services Organization in Peshawar. In addition to his numerous videotaped messages and his October 2001 book “Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet,” Zawahiri in 2003 wrote “Loyalty to Islam and Disavowal to Its Enemies.” Perhaps the best measure of a man’s anger and intention to seek revenge is his own words.

    Zawahiri announced in 2007 that Islambouli was head of the Islamic Group members who had joined Al Qaeda. Islambouli may know the identity of the mailer even though KSM does not.

  5. DXer said

    WEDNESDAY AUG. 20, 2008 11:42 EDT

    Salon Radio: Charles Grassley on the anthrax investigation
    (updated below – Update II)

    For today’s edition of Salon Radio, I spoke with GOP Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa who, to his credit, has been the leading critic in the Senate of the FBI’s anthrax investigation. Sen. Grassley wrote an August 7 letter to Attorney General Mukasey and FBI Director Muellercomplaining about the FBI’s secrecy and botched investigation and demanding answers to multiple key questions.

    In the interview, Sen. Grassley reveals that the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Pat Leahy (of which Grassley is a member), will now hold hearings to investigate the FBI’s case against Bruce Ivins. Grassley demands that the FBI send officials who are able and willing to answer all questions, and also calls for full and complete public disclosure of all of the evidence in the FBI’s possession regarding its investigation. I also discuss with Grassley whether the environment created by Congress over the last seven years (first under GOP control and now under Democratic control) — whereby the Executive has virtually unlimited power and Congress has meekly relinquished its prerogatives — is to blame for the FBI’s stonewalling and refusal to account thus far to Congress for what it has done in the anthrax case.

    WEDNESDAY AUG. 20, 2008 11:42 EDT

    Salon Radio: Charles Grassley on the anthrax investigation

    Glenn Greenwald: My guest this morning is Charles Grassley, the Republican Senator from Iowa, who, among other things, is a member of the Senate Finance and Judiciary Committees, and we’re speaking today about the numerous question surrounding the anthrax investigation. Senator Grassley, thanks very much for joining me this morning.

    Charles Grassley: Thank you very much. Glad to be with you, and thank you for your interest in this issue.

    GG: Absolutely. You’ve been very persistent in demanding answers from the FBI about the anthrax investigation – answers which haven’t really been forthcoming. I want to begin with a general question. There are lots of unsolved, garden-variety cases that the FBI works on. Do you look at the anthrax attacks as being of greater significance than the ordinary crime, meriting more accountability, more Senate oversight, and if so can you talk about why you see it that way?

    CG: Yeah, I think it is very much more important because, one thing, as a member of Congress and an attack on an institution of our government, through which the anthrax was when senators were attacked, ought to be something that has high priority, because if people get away with that, there’s other things that can be done, even other anthrax things that can be done, and consequently somebody might do it, and it could have the effect of shutting down a branch of government, which has an impact on the entire nation as a whole. And also I see it from the stand-point of a test of the FBI’s credibility.

    GG: Speaking of that, on August 7th, just a couple weeks ago, you wrote a letter to Attorney General Mukasey, and FBI Director Mueller, in which you stated:

    This has been a long investigation, full of missteps and mistakes. There’s been too much secrecy up to this point, and it deserves a full and thorough vetting. There are clearly a lot of unanswered questions, and it’s time to start a dialog so we get answers.

    And you then listed 18 questions that you have about the investigation, the last one of which was, quote: “What additional documents will be released, if any, and when will they be released?” Now, first of all, have you received a response from either the Justice Department or the FBI to that letter?

    CG: No, and I assume one of the reasons I haven’t is because in the meantime, the FBI has consented to a hearing that Senator Leahy’s having, and a hearing is one instrument of doing it. At the time I wrote the letter, I didn’t know whether there’d be a hearing or not, and I wanted to make sure, as one individual senator who’s not chairman of the Judiciary Committee, that I would do my own oversight and get answers to questions. It could be that the forum for answering my letter would be the hearing, but I want to make sure my 18 questions are answered one way or the other, and I want to ensure that every document’s out.

    If this case is solved the way the FBI wants us to believe that it’s been solved, is it closed? And if it’s closed, then everything ought to be brought out into the open. One of the problems we have right now is, with the FBI, there’s just too much secrecy. Getting all the documents out, getting all the information out is important.

    I just recently read where Senator Daschle, who is one of the people hit by anthrax, was briefed and news reports seem to indicate some level of satisfaction. We’re all entitled to a level of satisfaction; the entire country wants to know that the FBI is doing its job, and that their lives, from anthrax being in letters, is not in danger. So, getting all this information out, less secrecy – there’s no reason for any point not to be answered.

    GG: Absolutely, and that’s interesting about the hearing that will be before the Judiciary Committee; I hadn’t read about that. Two questions about that: will that be a hearing designed to fully examine both the circumstantial and scientific aspects of the FBI’s accusations against Bruce Ivins, and is it your expectation that that hearing will be a public hearing, so that not only Senators but also the American people can learn about whether or not this is a really credible case that the FBI has put together?

    CG: Obviously, I think it should be, but I can’t really answer your question whether that’s what’s intended by Senator Leahy, and I probably ought to refer you to Senator Leahy on that issue. But it would be my intent to get all that information out, either through the hearing, or through answers to my letters.

    GG: One of the big unanswered questions that I think a lot of people have been asking – and you’re right, Senator Daschle said he found some of the evidence convincing, though he and others, including scientific experts and Congressman Holt, who were briefed on the same material, said there were a lot of questions still.

    And one of the big question marks you allude to in your letter is: could an anthrax researcher, working at Fort Detrick like Bruce Ivins, really have, on his own, created what the FBI originally said was this high-level, weaponized anthrax, coated with silica, that they had trouble for years even creating themselves? Do you have some thoughts about whether or not someone like Bruce Ivins would have been able to create anthrax like that? And aren’t there a lot of other private and public institutions that do research into very high-grade anthrax that ought to be looked at carefully?

    CG: I don’t have the information to answer your question, but that information, now that the case is closed, ought to be available to the entire public. At the very least it ought to be entitled to anybody that’s got oversight of the FBI if there’s some reason that the entire public should not be notified of it. And I can’t think of any interest other than national security interest that it should not be totally open to the public, that same information.

    One of the things that we have a problem here with, considering information that our staffs have gotten in briefings, or Congressman Holt got in briefings, compared to what Senator Daschle got in briefings – we’re finding that the people that have come to the Hill may not be fully informed to answer all of our questions, and that’s why maybe there’s a difference between what Senator Daschle got reported to him, and what my staff got reported to me, and Congressman Holt. It’s just stupid for the FBI to be sending people to the Hill that can’t answer any question that’s been asked.
    GG: Now, one of the hallmarks of the government’s campaign against terrorism over the past seven years has been to use fairly aggressive techniques against suspected terrorists, many of which have been controversial. They’ve done things like detain US citizens without charges, of course there are some “enhanced interrogation techniques” that have been highly controversial. Very aggressive maneuvers on the part of the federal government whenever there’s suspected terrorism involved. And yet here you have a case where there’s clearly terrorism, that’s clearly what the anthrax attacks were, no matter who did them, and yet the government seems to have gone to the opposite extreme; that is, to almost have been very lax.

    They claim now that they’ve had this mountain of evidence compiled against Dr. Ivins for several years at least, and yet there’s no indication that they switched their focus away from Steven Hatfill to him, they didn’t even detain him or cut off his access for quite some time to the most dangerous pathogens at Fort Detrick.

    Do you have any insight as to why the FBI, by their own claims, seem to have had this evidence against Ivins for so many years and yet did very little if anything to remove him from access to the lab, or even detain him?

    CG: Pure speculation on my part, but in the middle of this investigation, they set up a whole new team to look at it. And probably the answer to your question is the incompetence of the first team, and presuming the competence of the second team if they’ve solved the case, and in between a lot of lost time.

    GG: That new team was a team that was put in at the end of 2006 or early 2007, is that the change that you’re talking about?

    CG: I don’t know whether it’s… it could have been 2005 and 2006, so I don’t know for sure.

    GG: Right. The last issue I wanted to ask you about – you’ve complained, and I think rightfully so, that the FBI has been very secretive about this investigation, hasn’t answered inquiries, hasn’t revealed very much at all, even still about the evidence that they possess. A lot of the controversies over the last seven years have been very similar in nature – that the executive branch has done things in secret, refused to really account to the legislative branch for what they’ve been doing, and both and Republicans and Democrats have seemed to have gone along with that.
    Do you agree that over the last seven years there’s been a significant increase in executive power and executive secrecy at the expense of Congress, and isn’t that part of why the FBI feels like it can just ignore inquiries from Congress, and keep such important matters to itself?

    CG: I think that throughout the executive branch of government, not just in this administration, but in too many administrations, Republican or Democrat, there has been an effort to not fully cooperate with Congress on hearings. Now, that would tend to be a statement on my part, blaming the executive branch entirely, but I also, as a person who’s been very aggressive in oversight myself, feel that all of Congress has come up short of doing the proper checks and balances of government that our Constitution requires, and doing that through more aggressive oversight.
    So, it could look like the executive branch under both Republicans and Democrats has been more aggressive assuming power etc. etc., but it could be as well, and from my standpoint it is, an issue of Congress not being aggressive enough doing its job and protecting its own prerogatives.

    GG: Absolutely. Do you perceive that that sense exists among your colleagues, and that trend is starting to reverse a little bit, that Congress is willing to reassert itself a little bit more in terms of compelling cooperation with its own prerogatives?

    CG: Yeah, and some of that’s because there’s a Democratic Congress and we have a Republican president. Now the real test of that is, and you will remember this next year if we have an Obama presidency – we’re surely going to have a Democratic Congress – are they going to be as aggressive in oversight of the new administration as they are of a Republican administration?

    Now, if we have a McCain presidency, and a Democratic Congress, I expect not a whole lot of change to be made. But I found after twelve years of Republicans, through Reagan and Bush, I was doing a lot of oversight, being applauded by Democrats, and when we had a Clinton presidency, I found that the Democrats were a little less willing to oversight their own party’s president.
    GG: Well, how about during the five years the Republicans controlled the Congress during the Bush presidency – would you say there was any form of meaningful or aggressive oversight when the Republicans controlled the Congress and the White House?

    CG: The criticism that I’ve just given to Congress as a whole applies to the five years that the Republicans held the Congress. I hope it doesn’t apply to Chuck Grassley, because I think I’ve been fairly consistent in my oversight whether we had Republicans or Democrats.

    GG: Right. Well, you’ve certainly been outspoken and a leading member of the Senate in demanding what I think are very needed questions regarding this anthrax investigation, and I’m glad to hear there’s going to be a hearing before the Judiciary Committee and I certainly hope you keep up your efforts to demand from the FBI a genuine and full accounting of what they claim took place here with these attacks, and I really appreciate your taking the time today.

    CG: I think your interest in this and the publicity that you help give to it along with other journalists helps the process along.

    GG: Thanks very much, Senator. I appreciate it.

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