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

Archive for June 12th, 2009

* the FBI’s answers to questions posed by members of the House Judiciary Committee in September 2008 as to certain aspects of the FBI’s investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks are insulting and demeaning to the U.S. Congress and to the American people

Posted by DXer on June 12, 2009


* the FBI’s answers …

Congressman Conyers’ office referred me to Renata Strauss at the House Judiciary Committee of which Congressman Conyers is Chairman. Ms. Strauss provided a copy of the FBI’s answers, dated April 17, 2009, to questions posed by members of the Committee during testimony of FBI Director Robert Mueller on September 16, 2008. Three of those questions had to do with the FBI’s anthrax investigation.

Rep. Conyers

Rep. Conyers

Question Posed bv Chairman Conyers …

When did the FBI originally inform the Defense Department that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the prime suspect in the Amerithrax investigation?

This is the FBI’s complete verbatim response:

  • In October 2007, when Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors and FBI SAs (Special Agents) accumulated sufficient evidence to demonstrate probable cause to believe Ivins was involved in the mailings, the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) was notified of this possible involvement.
  • USAMRIID was additionally notified when a United States District Judge approved search warrants for Ivins’ home, office, and vehicles, and it is the FBI’s understanding that USAMRIID immediately restricted Ivins’ access to areas containing biological agents and toxins.
  • The Department of Defense (DoD) was notified when the FBI began the anthrax investigation, well before Ivins was identified as the main suspect, and worked cooperatively with FBI investigators throughout the investigation.
  • From 2002 through 2005, the FBI had numerous contacts with USAMRIID regarding those who had access to the Ames strain of anthrax.
  • In November 2006, the focus of the anthrax investigation was on the universe of employees who had access to a flask of Bacillis anthracis spores at USAMRIID.
  • As the investigation continued, senior personnel at USAMRIID were informed in January 2007 that the spores in the letter attacks genetically matched spores at USAMRIID and that the FBI believed someone from USAMRIID was the mailer.
  • Senior officials at USAMRIID offered continued cooperation in the investigation and took steps both to increase operational security and to assist the investigation.
Nadler

Rep. Nadler

Questions Posed by Representative Nadler …

Rep. Nadler: What is the percentage of weight of the silicon in the powder used in the 2001 anthrax attacks?

This is the FBI’s complete verbatim response:

  • FBI Laboratory results indicated that the spore powder on the Leahy letter contained 14,479 ppm of silicon (1.4%).
  • The spore powder on the New York Post letter was found to have silicon present in the sample; however, due to the limited amount of material, a reliable quantitative measurement was not possible.
  • Insufficient quantities of spore powder on both the Daschle and Brokaw letters precluded analysis of those samples.

Rep. Nadler: How, on what basis, and using what evidence did the FBI conclude that none of the laboratories it investigated were in any way the sources of the powder used in the 2001 anthrax attacks, except the U.S. Army Laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland? Please include in your answer why laboratories that have publicly identified as having the equipment and personnel to make anthrax powder, such as the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Grounds in Dugway, Utah and the Battelle Memorial Institute in Jefferson, Ohio, were excluded as possible sources.

This is the FBI’s complete verbatim response:

  • Initially, the spores contained in the envelopes could only be identified as Bacillus Anthracis (Anthrax).
  • They were then sent to an expert, who “strain typed” the spores as Ames.
  • Once the strain type was identified, the FBI began to look at what facilities had access to the Ames strain.
  • At the same time, science experts began to develop the ability to identify morphological variances contained in the mailed anthrax.
  • Over the next six years, new scientific developments allowed experts from the FBI Laboratory and other nationally recognized scientific experts to advance microbial science.
  • This advancement allowed the FBI to positively link specific morphs found in the mailed anthrax to morphs in a single flask at USAMRIID.
  • Using records associated with the flask, the FBI was able to track the transfer of sub samples from the flask located at USAMRIID to two other facilities.
  • Using various methods, the FBI investigated the two facilities that received samples from the parent flask and eliminated individuals from those facilities as suspects because, even if a laboratory facility had the equipment and personnel to make anthrax powder, this powder would not match the spores in the mailed envelopes if that lab had never received a transfer of anthrax from the parent flask.

LMW COMMENT

If you carefully parse the answers to Congressman Conyers’ question, you will see that the FBI said essentially nothing. The words “prime suspect” which were the essence of the question appear nowhere in the answer. Instead there is reference to “probable cause to believe Ivins was involved in the mailings” and “numerous contacts with USAMRIID regarding those who had access to the Ames strain of anthrax” and that (in January 2007!) “the FBI believed someone from USAMRIID was the mailer.” No mention is made of the fact that Dr. Hatfill, also of USAMRIID, was considered a “person of interest” right up until the FBI paid him $5.8 to settle his lawsuit, in the summer of 2008, shortly after which Dr. Ivins is alleged to have committed suicide.

These are not answers to the simple question that Congressman Conyers asked.

Regarding the first of Representative Nadler’s question, the FBI mentions only four letters, and of those, the percentage of silicon is indicated just once. The other anthrax letters are not even mentioned, so the FBI doesn’t tell the Congressman if they knew what the silicon content was in those letters.

The FBI never answered Rep. Nadler’s question as to how other laboratories were excluded as possible sources, never mentioned any other laboratories which were investigated and then excluded, and totally ignored Rep. Nadler’s specific question regarding the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Grounds in Dugway, Utah and the Battelle Memorial Institute in Jefferson, Ohio.

If I was a U.S. Congressman asking the questions posed by Representatives Conyers and Nadler and receiving the answers given by the FBI, after six full months had elapsed, I would be absolutely furious. It is insulting and demeaning for the FBI to answer in such an incomplete and unforthcoming manner. How is the Congress to perform its constitutional oversight role in the face of such intransigence?

It is impossible not to believe that, even in these simple questions dealing with relatively small parts of the FBI’s enormously extensive and expensive anthrax investigation, the FBI is purposely refusing to tell Congress what went on.

Why does Congress, and why should the American people, put up with this refusal of the FBI to answer straightforward questions about an investigation that cost the American taxpayers millions of dollars and has failed to produce conclusions which are acceptable to almost anyone?

What dark secrets is the FBI hiding?  Why didn’t the FBI solve the case?

It is terrifying to think that the answer I proposed in my novel CASE CLOSED, a fictional scenario I invented in my imagination, with no access to any secret documents or witnesses, might indeed include elements of what actually happened.  Did the FBI fail to solve the case, and does the FBI still to this day refuse to reveal what they learned and when they learned it, because they were told not to solve the case?

That is so frightening I hope with all my heart that it is not true.

I have again asked the person I was referred to in Congressman Holt’s office (Patrick Eddington), by voice mail and email, the status of the legislation which would establish a Commission to investigate the anthrax case and the FBI investigation. But why should we believe that the FBI would be any more forthcoming at a Commission investigation than they have been so far before various committees of Congress?

******

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* 4 Congressional offices don’t seem to care if the FBI ever answers Congress’s questions about the 2001 anthrax attack

Posted by DXer on June 12, 2009

Lew’s new novel CASE CLOSEDCC - front cover - small

explores the FBI’s failed investigation of the 2001 anthrax case …

* see CASE CLOSED VIDEO on YouTube

* purchase CASE CLOSED (paperback)

* Congressional offices don’t seem to care …

So far, Congress seems to be just as secretive as the FBI regarding what really happened in the investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks.

I have called the offices of …

  • Senator Charles Grassley
  • Congressman Rush Holt
  • Congressman Jerrold Nadler
  • Congressman John Conyers

grassley-holt-nadler-conyers

I have left detailed messages in all 4 offices. My questions were quite simple …

  • has the FBI answered the questions your Senator/Congressman asked during 2008?  … YES? NO?
  • if so, can you share those answers with me … YES? NO?
  • if the FBI has not answered, what is your Senator/Congressman doing about it?  … SOMETHING? NOTHING?

So far, not one of these offices has given me the courtesy of any response at all.

It seems to me that the Congressional noise about the FBI’s investigation may be just that – noise.

Ask the questions, grab a few headlines … forget about it. And I think that’s a disgrace.

In 2001, someone carried out a mass murder using anthrax. Five people died, 17 more were infected, the country was thrown into panic.

There seems to be a general concensus on this blog and elsewhere that the FBI has not solved the case, that Dr. Bruce Ivins is not the sole perpetrator and perhaps not involved at all.

Congress doesn’t seem to care.

This complete lack of response from 4 Congressional offices makes me think that the premise I proposed in my just-published novel CASE CLOSED may be even more plausible than I supposed when I constructed my fictional scenario.

My premise in CASE CLOSED is that the FBI didn’t solve the case because it was told not to.

Wouldn’t it be absolutely terrifying if what I wrote as fiction turns out to be true?

And how will we ever know, since Congress doesn’t seem to care if it ever gets answers to the (excellent) questions it has raised?

CASE CLOSED

* purchase CASE CLOSED (paperback)

* see CASE CLOSED VIDEO on YouTube

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