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

Archive for June 19th, 2009

* Senator Grassley pushes for FBI answers to questions about its anthrax investigation asked in September 2008; FBI Director Mueller says the questions have been answered and sent to the DOJ

Posted by DXer on June 19, 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)

***

Senator Grassley pushes for answers

***

June 17, 2009 … Senator Chuck Grassley, in a written statement prepared for the Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the Department of Justice, questioned Attorney General Eric Holder, and warned the department that “until we start getting some answers to these outstanding requests, I’m noticing my intention to hold certain Justice Department nominees.” Grassley said he has had letters go unanswered and questions for the record from hearings a year ago have yet to be answered.

Extracts from Senator Grassley’s statement are presented here (the entire statement is below) …

  • During the last three oversight hearings—with the department and FBI—I’ve started off my questions with a
    Senator Grassley

    Senator Grassley

    request for an explanation as to why I have not received answers to QFRs from both the FBI and the department.

  • I asked FBI Director Mueller at the March FBI Oversight hearing why the FBI has questions outstanding from the March 2008 and September 2008 hearings.
  • Director Mueller stated that the FBI had answered the questions and provided them to the department for approval.
  • He added that those responses were forwarded by the FBI to the department by December of 2008, some as early as June 2008.
  • I find this unacceptable and contrary to the repeated promises from nominees from the department to provide answers to Congress in a timely fashion.
  • Mr. Attorney General, at your confirmation hearing in January, you stated that you would “try to do all that we can, to make sure that we respond fully.  And in a timely fashion…”
  • You also asked for time to “check on the internal workings of the department to make sure that we’re doing it as quickly as we can.  And if we’re not, if I can’t give it to you, at least I can give you an explanation.”
  • Well it has now been five months since you’ve been confirmed, so I want to hear an explanation to why these answers are outstanding.

Here are the 18 questions asked in Senator Grassley’s September 2008 letter to FBI Director Mueller …

  1. What is the date (month and year) that the FBI determined that the anthrax came from a specified flask in Ivins’s
    FBI Director Mueller

    FBI Director Mueller

    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?

Related Post …

* Who will lift the veil of secrecy

regarding the FBI investigation

of the 2001 anthrax attacks?

Here is the complete text of Grassley’s June 17, 2009 statement …

Prepared Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley

Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Oversight hearing on the U.S. Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chairman Leahy, thank you for calling this hearing today on oversight of the Department of Justice.  I appreciate you holding these oversight hearings to keep an open dialogue between the department and the committee.  I also appreciate Attorney General Holder appearing today.  Everyone on the committee knows that oversight is important to me and I’ve repeatedly asked tough questions of the department, regardless of who’s sitting in the White House.  While my duties as the Ranking Member of the Finance Committee will keep me away from today’s hearing, I will submit this prepared statement and some questions for the record (QFRs) for Attorney General Holder.

First, I am requesting information from Attorney General Holder about the role the acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California—and the department—had in referring allegations of misconduct by Inspector General Gerald Walpin, the Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), to the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE).  Specifically, I want to know whether department regulations require a U.S. Attorney to obtain prior approval of any allegations of misconduct by non-department government officials prior to a referral for investigation or sanction.  If there are regulations, I want to know if they were followed in this instance by the acting-U.S. Attorney and who at the department knew of and who approved the allegations of misconduct prior to the referral.

I also want to ask the Attorney General about a letter I sent him about the department’s implementation of recommendations issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) earlier this year in a report about cooperation between the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  The GAO report made specific recommendations for both agencies, including: (1) DOJ and DHS rework existing memorandums of understanding (MOUs) to clarify their jurisdiction in counternarcotics investigations (2) DOJ and DHS develop a more efficient cross-designation procedure for counternarcotics agents, and (3) increase ICE participation at DOJ run fusion centers.

As GAO noted, these “long-standing jurisdictional disputes have led to conflicts between DEA and ICE, with the potential for duplicating investigative efforts and compromising officer safety.”  It is my understanding the departments are close to an agreement, but that it is not yet finalized.  If and when that agreement is complete, I expect all the recommendations GAO made to be fully implemented.  Failure to implement all of these recommendations increases the risk to federal law enforcement agents and our ability to combat the flow of illegal narcotics.  I want to see leadership from Attorney General Holder and Secretary Napolitano to fix this problem immediately.

Finally, I want to point out my serious concerns with the department’s continued failure to respond in a prompt manner to letters and other inquiries from members of the Judiciary Committee.

During the last three oversight hearings—with the department and FBI—I’ve started off my questions with a request for an explanation as to why I have not received answers to QFRs from both the FBI and the department.  I asked FBI Director Mueller at the March FBI Oversight hearing why the FBI has questions outstanding from the March 2008 and September 2008 hearings.  Director Mueller stated that the FBI had answered the questions and provided them to the department for approval.  He added that those responses were forwarded by the FBI to the department by December of 2008, some as early as June 2008.  It has now been well over a year since those first QFRs were sent to the department by the FBI.

I also have a number of letters that have gone unanswered by the department.  I say unanswered because I’ve received a response to some of the letters and believe they fail to answer the questions asked.  In fact, I presented a full binder of outstanding letters and document requests I’ve made to the department and its subordinate agencies to Mr. Holder when he was making the rounds during his nomination.  I told Mr. Holder that he may want to clean up these outstanding requests from by the last administration so the new administration could start fresh.  So far, the responses I’ve received to those letters are insufficient and in some cases fail to answer the questions.

I find this unacceptable and contrary to the repeated promises from nominees from the department to provide answers to Congress in a timely fashion.  For example, Mr. Attorney General at your confirmation hearing in January, you stated that you would “try to do all that we can, to make sure that we respond fully.  And in a timely fashion…”  You also asked for time to “check on the internal workings of the department to make sure that we’re doing it as quickly as we can.  And if we’re not, if I can’t give it to you, at least I can give you an explanation.”  We’ll it has now been five months since you’ve been confirmed, so I want to hear an explanation to why these answers are outstanding.

I also questioned Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs, Ron Weich, about responding to congressional inquiries.  I asked Mr. Weich for his commitment to timely, responsive, and complete answers.  He stated that if he was confirmed he looked forward to responding to requests in a timely fashion.  Well, we confirmed Mr. Weich and it still seems to be business as usual at the department.

I’m tired of hearing nominees say one thing and do another.  At the March FBI Oversight hearing, the Chairman stepped out for a minute and I asked his staff to take note of something I’ve learned over the years.  I’ve learned that holding up nominees for an executive branch agency is an effective tool to get answers.  I don’t take the decision to hold up nominees lightly.  That said, I believe it’s time that the department got down to business and answered our questions.  So, until we start getting some answers to these outstanding requests, I’m noticing my intention to hold certain Justice Department nominees.  I’ll make sure my holds are open and transparent so that the department knows what they need to produce before I release the nominee.  Hopefully, this will get the attention of the Attorney General and the rows of Justice Department staffers sitting behind him.

I hope the Attorney General will provide answers to these important questions and work to provide the committee with the outstanding document and information requests I have.

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* details of the proposed NAS-FBI $880,000 study are (so far) difficult to come by

Posted by DXer on June 19, 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)

* details are (so far) difficult to come by …

NAS Publications

publications of the National Academy of Sciences

In May 2009, it was announced that the National Academy of Sciences would review the FBI’s anthrax inquiry. (see the stated objectives of the study below)

There is considerable difference of opinion as to what the NAS will actually review and what light it may shed on the FBI’s assertion that Dr. Bruce Ivins is the sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks.

There is no information on the NAS website regarding the NAS-FBI $880,000 study …

  • Despite the NAS statement on its own web site … http://www8.nationalacademies.org/cp/ … that it provides “descriptions of project scope…” there is not a word on the NAS web site regarding the NAS-FBI $880,000 study, not even an announcement that it has been commissioned.
  • NAS says “We have established a Public Access Records Office to provide access to project materials available to the public.” As of this writing, no project materials regarding the NAS-FBI study are available to the public.

Thus disappointed in my search for information regarding the NAS-FBI $880,000 project, I sent an email (6-19-09) to the NAS News Office (news@nas.edu), asking 11 questions, as follows:

NAS NEWS OFFICE

It has been announced that NAS will be paid $880,000 to review the FBI’s science used in its investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks. Yet a search of the NAS web sites, including the site for current news, yields not a word about this study.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am an author, having written a novel CASE CLOSED about what I regard as the FBI’s failed anthrax investigation. I also maintain a blog site which has become a host for intense discussion of the anthrax attacks and the FBI’s investigation … https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/

Here are my questions …

  1. May I have a copy of the contract between the NAS and the FBI for the proposed anthrax related study?
  2. Who is heading the study for NAS and who else will be working on it?
  3. How will the study team coordinate with the FBI during the course of the study?
  4. Who has been designated by the FBI to coordinate and monitor the study from their end?
  5. What role will the FBI  play in directing the study?
  6. Will the FBI have any opportunity to censor or otherwise limit the course of the study or the results reported to the public?
  7. Has the study begun and if not, when will it begin?
  8. When is the study expected to be completed?
  9. Will the complete report of the study be made available to the public? If not, how was the decision to withhold the report made and by whom?
  10. Will there be progress reports available to the public as the study goes on? Will the study team be made available for questions and interviews?
  11. Why is the project not listed in the Current Projects System (CPS) intended to provide information about current committee activities?

NOTE: If it is not possible at this time to answer all of the questions listed above, please answer whichever of the questions can be answered at this time.

LEWIS WEINSTEIN

Media Reports (which are all we have so far) state that the NAS-FBI $880,000 study will not address the FBI’s conclusions regarding Dr. Ivins …

Science agency to review FBI’s anthrax inquiry … May 9th, 2009 By DAVID DISHNEAU , Associated Press Writer … The National Academy of Sciences said Friday it will review the lab work behind the FBI’s conclusion that Army scientist Bruce Ivins was responsible for the anthrax mailings that killed five people in 2001. The review, which was requested by the FBI, won’t assess the evidentiary value of the bureau’s detective work or the FBI’s conclusion that Ivins acted alone, the academy said. http://www.physorg.com/news161084970.html

F.B.I. to Pay for Anthrax Inquiry Review … By SCOTT SHANE … New York Times … May 7, 2009 The Federal Bureau of Investigation has agreed to pay $879,550 to the National Academy of Sciences for a 15-month review of its scientific work on the anthrax investigation, academy officials said, but the review will not assess the bureau’s detective work or its conclusion that an Army microbiologist, Bruce E. Ivins, sent the deadly letters in 2001http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/07/us/07brfs-FBITOPAYFORA_BRF.html

stated objectives of the NAS-FBI study …

the areas of scientific evidence to be studied include but may not be limited to:

  1. genetic studies that led to the identification of potential sources of B. anthracis recovered from the letters;
  2. analysis of four genetic mutations that were found in evidence and that are unique to a subset of Ames strain cultures collected during the investigation;
  3. chemical and dating studies that examined how, where, and when the spores may have been grown and what, if any, additional treatments they were subjected to;
  4. studies of the recovery of spores and bacterial DNA from samples collected and tested during the investigation;
  5. the role that cross contamination might have played in the evidence picture.

The committee will not, however, undertake an assessment of the probative value of the scientific evidence in any specific component of the investigation, prosecution, or civil litigation and will offer no view on the guilt or innocence of any person(s) in connection with the 2001 B. anthracis mailings, or any other B. anthracis incidents.

related post …

* Who will lift the veil of secrecy regarding the FBI investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks?


Posted in * anthrax science, * FBI refusal to testify, * NAS review of FBI science, * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »