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

Archive for July, 2009

* Congressman Rush Holt meets with NAS panel, says their work is important but their mandate is too narrow; calls for passage of Anthrax Investigation Commission legislation he introduced in March 09

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 31, 2009

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Congressman Holt

Congressman Holt

Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) today met with a committee of the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) and asked them to conduct a thorough, wide-ranging investigation of the FBI’s scientific methods in response to the 2001 anthrax attacks.

Holt has consistently raised questions about the federal investigation into the attacks.

Earlier this year, Holt introduced the Anthrax Attacks Investigation Act of 2009, legislation that would establish a Congressional commission to investigate the attacks and the federal government’s response to and investigation of the attacks. The bipartisan commission would make recommendations to the President and Congress on how the country can best prevent and respond to any future bioterrorism attack.

“Simply stated, our government – and specifically, the FBI – suffers from a credibility gap on this issue,” Holt said.

“Answering all the doubts and questions about the handling of this case is beyond the purview of this panel, which is why I’ve introduced legislation that would create a national commission to ‘investigate the investigation.’

In the meantime, this (NAS) panel has an opportunity to answer some of the key questions that I and so many other Americans have about the science behind the FBI’s investigation.”

Holt reiterated his belief that the questions posed by the FBI in calling for an independent review were narrowly focused and do not test the FBI’s conclusions in the case.

In a previous letter to the NAS, Holt listed a number of questions he recommended be answered as part of review of the Bureau’s scientific methods and conclusions in the Amerithrax case, including its assertion that the spores used in the attacks could only have come from the flask used by Dr. Bruce Ivins, the Army biological warfare researcher who committed suicide shortly before the FBI planned to charge him as the perpetrator of the attacks.

“Collectively, my questions are designed to determine whether the FBI has taken every opportunity to challenge their hypothesis rather than pursuing reasoning and collection of evidence intended to confirm their hypothesis,” Holt said.

see related post * LMW: The end of the NAS trail, I suspect, will be that the FBI’s anthrax science was a mess that couldn’t convict anyone

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Posted in * NAS review of FBI science, * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

* Frederick News Post editorial calls for creation of Congressman Rush Holt’s Anthrax Investigation Commission

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 31, 2009

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Frederick News Post editorial – 7/31/09

  • The FBI’s case against Ivins is almost wholly circumstantial. 
  • In March, Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., introduced the Anthrax Investigation Act in Congress. The bill would establish a national commission akin to the one created to study the 2001 terrorist attacks. Unfortunately, this bill remains stalled in Congress.
  • We urge our congressional representatives to support this legislation.

read the entire editorial at … http://mail.google.com/mail/#inbox/122cfea37b0369fe

LMW COMMENT …

One small correction … “The FBI’s case against Ivins is almost wholly circumstantial.” is not correct. The FBI’s case against Ivins is entirely circumstantial.

  • There are no witnesses who saw Dr. Ivins prepare the huge quantity of anthrax that would have been required (see prior post …  * 55 flasks of anthrax prep … now where can I hide these?)
  • no witnesses who saw Dr. ivins mail the letters in Princeton,
  • no physical evidence in Dr. Ivins’ home, car, clothes or anywhere else that ties him to the crime.

In the absence of real evidence, and in the certain knowledge that hundreds of people had access to the flask RMR-1029, for the FBI to assert that Dr. Ivins is the sole perpetrator is ludicrous on its face. That assertion is something the FBI cannot prove.

Senator Specter was right; the FBI would never get a conviction on what they had.

So what is the FBI up to?

First of all, the FBI is not stupid. They know as well as we do that their evidence is non-existent. They know full well that they could never prove there pitiful case in court. They avoided that problem by charging a dead man, so they would never have to testify in court, under oath, and subject to the sharp questions of a capable defense attorney.

It is the terrifying prospect that the FBI is purposely hiding the true perpetrators, or covering up some other dark secrets, that prompted me to write my novel CASE CLOSED, in which I present a fictional scenario to explain the FBI’s failure to solve the case.

If you care about the truth in the anthrax case, and the lack of truth in the FBI’s anthrax investigation, you will be challenged by the scenario I present in CASE CLOSED. You will, like many other readers, find my story “all too plausible” and it will terrify you to think that something like what I describe could very likely have occurred.

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Posted in * NAS review of FBI science, * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

* Silicon evidence is crucial to whether Dr. Bruce Ivins made the anthrax used in the 2001 attacks; the FBI has so far refused to provide relevant evidence (the AFIP lab results ) on this point

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 31, 2009

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Yesterday (7/30/09) was the first public session in the National Academy of Sciences review of anthrax science used by the FBI in its investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks.

The first FBI witness was Chris Hassell, Assistant Director, Laboratory Division, Science and Technology Branch.

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Hassell’s testimony regarding silicon (from LMW notes) …

  • the silicon content in the Leahy letter was 1.5%

the New York Post letter also had silicon, but there was not enough powder to allow a reliable % measurement

  • no exogenous silicon was ever found; there were no silicon signatures

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DXer, in two comments posted after the NAS hearing, said the following …

  • “The FBI used Inductively Coupled Plasma mass spectrometry (ICP) to determine the silicon content of the Leahy spores.
    • They admitted that they found the record breaking level of 1.45% silicon.
    • They apparently don’t believe this is significant at all (especially since it doesn’t provide any link whatsoever to Ivins or Detrick).
  • But let’s consider what it means when they claim the NYP analysis by ICP was somehow “unreliable” as Chris Hassell said today to the NAS.
    • When ICP is performed a tiny fraction (less than 1ml) of sample is nebulized in a chamber:
    • The first step in analysis is the introduction of the sample. This has been achieved in ICP-MS through a variety of means.
    • The most common method is the use of a nebulizer. This is a device which converts liquids into an aerosol, and that aerosol can then be swept into the plasma to create the ions. Nebulizers work best with simple liquid samples (i.e. solutions).
    • So, if they are claiming in their response that ICP DID provide the result that there WAS silicon in the NYP sample, then they must have a number for this. ICP is not a “yes or no” analysis. It provides a number. The record breaking number of 1.45% was provided for the Leahy sample – but for some reason the NYP number was NOT given.
    • It is no excuse to say that they ran out of sample. As described above – once a sample of solution is made up it can be used to provide HUNDREDS of small volume nebulized aliquots into the ICP machine.

The REAL reason that the NYP analysis is not being provided is because it is massive. The % of silicon is more than 10% – in fact it’s above to 50%. The NYP sample is actually MOSTLY silicon.

  • The AFIP lab results (the results that the FBI refused to provide to Sandia) clearly demonstrate this.
  • The FBI labs were uncomfortable enough releasing the record breaking 1.45% silicon in the Leahy sample.
  • They are now stonewalling in producing the AFIP report under FOIA.

“The silicon is probably the most important scientific evidence that would lead anybody to question whether Bruce was capable of making these spores,” says Gerald P. Andrews, Bruce Ivins’ former boss.

read the complete DXer comments below the post … * Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) … background documentation related to National Academy of Sciences (NAS) silicon testimony today

Posted in * FBI refusal to testify, * NAS review of FBI science, * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

* FBI Lab Director testifies at opening session of the National Academy of Sciences review of FBI anthrax science

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 30, 2009

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see below for more about CASE CLOSED

LMW NOTES from the National Academy of Sciences 1st open session, Review of the Scientific Approaches used During the FBI’s Investigation of the 2001 Bacillus Anthracis Mailings. Witness: Chris Hassell, Assistant Director, Laboratory Division, Science and Technology Branch, FBI

NAS logoFBI SHIELD

Mr. Hassell said the following in his formal presentation …

  • the FBI’s case is still open
  • the NAS review is limited to whether the FBI’s use of science was appropriate, and not the FBI’s investigative process or the probative value, or the guilt or innocence of any person
  • when the case closes, further documentation will be made available by the FBI
  • the FBI did not use groundbreaking science, but did apply established tools in groundbreaking ways
  • the FBI will provide to NAS all relevant documents in its hands or in the hands of other government agencies
  • anthrax was recovered from 4 envelopes only
  • the anthrax powder in the Leahy letter was very different from the powder in the New York Post letter
  • all 4 samples of recovered anthrax were devoid of aerosolizing enhancers
  • the 4 letters reflected 2 separate production batches
  • the silicon content in the Leahy letter was 1.5%
  • the New York Post letter also had silicon, but there was not enough powder to allow a reliable % measurement
  • no exogenous silicon was ever found; there were no silicon signatures
  • the anthrax material recovered from the 4 envelopes was produced within a “reasonable” time frame of the mailings themselves
  • there was but one source identified for all 4 recovered samples
  • mutations found in the recovered anthrax were used to identify the source of material used in attacks
  • the FBI assembled a collection of 1070 Ames anthrax samples, later known as the FBI Repository
  • sequence analysis identified 4 mutations which were deemed suitable for further analysis – these became known as the 4 morphs

In response to questions from panel members, Mr. Hassell added the following …

  • the FBI found no evidence (in the recovered samples) of genetic engineering
  • of the 1070 samples of Ames anthrax assembled by the FBI, 8 samples had all 4 markers
  • other of the assembled samples had 1 or more markers, but only 8 contained all 4 markers found
  • the FBI assumed from the physical evidence that the recovered anthrax was the result of re-growth, that is, it did not come from any single original flask
  • Mr. Hassell did not respond to a question regarding procedures used and the effectiveness of those procedure, to insure that recovered anthrax material was not contaminated before it reached the FBI labs; he said the FBI would answer that question at a later date.
  • Mr. Hassell said that the initial collection of Ames strains wasn’t controlled as well as later collection.
  • Mr. Hassell did not know how many of the 1070 samples in the FBI Repository had been sequenced; he said someone would answer that question later.

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buy CC graphic #2 - what readers say.

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CASE CLOSED is a novel which addresses the reasons why the FBI failed to solve the 2001 anthrax case.

CASE CLOSED asks …

who benefited from the failure to solve the case?

who had the power to divert the FBI from the truth?

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Posted in * NAS review of FBI science, * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

* 55 flasks of anthrax prep … now where can I hide these?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 29, 2009

CASE CLOSEDCASE CLOSED is a novel which answers the question “Why did the FBI fail to solve the 2001 anthrax case?” … click here to … buy CASE CLOSED by Lew Weinstein

Here’s what readers say about CASE CLOSED  …

“Lew’s  story is a quick read. In July 2008 a physician employee of the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases dies. The FBI immediately not only declares the death a suicide, but also announces that the doctor had been their prime suspect in the 2001 anthrax murders by mail. “I don’t @#$%ing think so!” says the director of the nation’s Defense intelligence Agency (DIA) and a covert investigation of the FBI itself begins.”

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Anonymous Scientist writes …

  • I calculated that it would take at least 55 litres of liquid preparations to make enough spores for the attacks.
  • You would use a 2 liter flask half full – so you’d need 55 of them.
  • This pictorial representation demonstrates the enormity of the task of keeping such work concealed.
  • The alternative would be to prepare one flask at a time over an estimated 35 weeks as Jeff Adamovicz calculated.

Dr. Bruce Ivins

Dr. Bruce Ivins

55 flasks******

RELATED POSTS …

* there are so many ways to demonstrate that the FBI’s case against Dr. Bruce Ivins is simply not convincing

* even if the FBI now finally “closes” the anthrax case, it cannot be a CASE CLOSED until we know what needs to be known.

* What does a novel have to do with the real anthrax case?

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Posted in * anthrax science, * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation | Tagged: , , | 72 Comments »

* more from Dr. Bruce Ivins

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 29, 2009

More from Dr. Bruce Ivins  (courtesy of DXer) …

Dr. Bruce ivins

Dr. Bruce Ivins

May 10, 2002

Picture 126

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Posted in * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation | Tagged: , , | 24 Comments »

* Bruce Ivins’ emails … “we can’t make any assurances … that we have exactly what we’re supposed to have”

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 28, 2009

Dr. Bruce ivins

Dr. Bruce Ivins

“… we can’t make any assurances

… that we have exactly what we’re supposed to have”

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documents received from DXer …

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Picture 118

Picture 117

Picture 121

ref …  http://www.anthraxandalqaeda.com/

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Posted in * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

* even if the FBI now finally “closes” the anthrax case, it cannot be a CASE CLOSED until we know what needs to be known.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 27, 2009

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the anthrax case cannot be closed

until someone forces the FBI

to come forward with

all of the facts

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Devlin Barrett writes in the Washington Times (7-27-09) …

  • A year after government scientist Bruce Ivins killed himself while under investigation for the lethal anthrax letters of 2001, the Justice Department is on the verge of closing the long, costly and vexing case.
  • Officials told AP that the decision to close the case has been put off for what may be weeks, as the FBI and Justice Department continue to wrestle with an investigation that has led many to question the quality of their work and the certainty of their conclusions.
  • In preparation for an announcement that prosecutors had decided to close the “Amerithrax” case, investigators wrote a 110-page summary of their work, laying out the timeline of events over the past eight years, officials said.
  • That 110-page review was pared down to about 40 pages and then a still-shorter version.
  • Now it’s unclear whether any of those documents will be released.

read the entire article at … http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jul/27/anthrax-case-near-closure/

LMW COMMENT …

After mounting what is said to be the largest investigation in the FBI’s history, the FBI still seem to have serious doubts about what to do.

  • They paid their first suspect (Dr. Hatfill) $5.8 million to go away, and then just a few weeks later charged a dead man (Dr. Ivins), conveniently avoiding the need to ever present their case in court, under oath.
  • The FBI has consistently refused to answer legitimate questions from Senators, Congressmen and the press; they have also apparently failed to release documents which should be available under FOIA guidelines.
  • Now they cannot even write a report to properly summarize their work.

Why does the FBI continue to have such monumental struggles with this case?

Any cop anywhere in the world knows the answer.

  • Maybe when you are making up a story on the fly, it is very difficult to keep all the pieces in order; maybe the FBI is just confused.
  • Maybe different FBI agents and others who worked on the case know different things, and maybe the FBI wants to make sure those different things don’t get clearly associated, because they are contradictory, and because they raise serious doubts that Dr. ivins was the sole perpetrator, or even involved at all.
  • Maybe it’s very hard for the FBI to explain their case in any more detail than just blatant assertions, because real proof demands a consistent factual pattern, and those blasted details keep getting in the way of the simple story the FBI wants us to believe.
  • Maybe the whole investigation was compromised by forces not unlike those I described in my novel CASE CLOSED, and the FBI and others are terrified that the real truth will emerge.

Absent full disclosure, and certification of that full disclosure by someone who is widely trusted, the FBI’s version of this case will never be accepted by anyone who understands the many glaring holes and inconsistencies they have put forth over the years.

Here’s what we need …

  • We need a comprehensive report from the NAS that reaches into all the scientific issues, not just the ones the FBI wants to focus on.
  • We need the NAS, despite its protestations to the contrary, to render judgment as to whether the science does in fact lead exclusively to Dr. Bruce Ivins, as the FBI claims.
  • We need Congressman Rush Holt’s Anthrax Investigation Commission
  • We need Congressman John Conyers to move Congressman Holt’s bill from its stalled position in the House Judiciary Committee (of which Conyers is Chairman) into law.
  • We need the press and media in this country to stop accepting the FBI’s spoon fed conclusions and do some real investigative reporting.

Why do we need all this, you ask. The case is 8 years old. It’s over.

  • If the real perpetrators have not been apprehended, the case is not over.
  • If we don’t know for sure where the attack anthrax came from and how it was prepared, the case is not over.
  • If we’re not convinced that there wasn’t an FBI cover up directed from higher up in the government, the case cannot be over.

Even if the FBI now finally “closes” the case, it cannot be a CASE CLOSED until we know what needs to be known.

Posted in * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

* the CASE CLOSED blog keeps questioning the FBI’s anthrax case

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 26, 2009

WHY did the FBI fail to solve the 2001 anthrax case?CASE CLOSED

WHO had the power to divert the FBI from the truth?

CASE CLOSED offers a fictional scenario that answers those questions

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the CASE CLOSED blog keeps questioning the FBI’s anthrax case

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Adam Behsudi wrote several stories about the anthrax case in today’s (7-26-09) FrederickNewsPost.com. The story excerpted below, headlined Anthrax Case: Amerithrax debate lives online, shows the important role our CASE CLOSED blog is continuing to play in raising relevant questions about the FBI’s anthrax investigation …

  • For the past year, government officials have remained quiet on the case accusing Fort Detrick scientist Bruce Ivins of the deadly anthrax letter attacks.
    • Not so on the Internet, where a handful of people have turned Amerithrax into an ongoing discussion.
    • … bloggers have been filing Freedom of Information Act requests and working sources just as any experienced reporter would.
  • “I think it’s kept it alive. Its provided a place for reporters and others to go from time to time and look for facts and opinions,” said Lew Weinstein, who wrote a fictional novel based on the Amerithrax case titled “CASE CLOSED.”
  • Weinstein said the facts, or what he perceives as a lack thereof, infuriated him to the point of writing CASE CLOSED. He maintains a blog with the same name, trying to debunk the FBI case against Ivins.
  • Weinstein, who splits his time between Key West, Fla., and Collioure, France, was once a congressional candidate, has degrees from Princeton and the Harvard Business School and retired in 2005 as the CEO of a biomedical research organization.
  • “I am amazed at the level of scientific discourse that’s taking place on the CASE CLOSED blog,” said Weinstein, who called from a trip he was taking with his wife to Lithuania. “This is not simply a crime story. There’s more to it than that,” he said.

read the entire article at … http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?StoryID=93061

Posted in * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

* AP reports FBI/DOJ will soon close anthrax case; will evidence now be made available or will the FBI continue to keep its case hidden?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 26, 2009

WHY did the FBI fail to solve the 2001 anthrax case?CASE CLOSED

WHO had the power to divert the FBI from the truth?

CASE CLOSED offers a fictional scenario that answers those questions

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon

.

.

FBI SHIELD

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AP reports FBI/DOJ will soon close anthrax case;

will evidence now be made available

or will the FBI continue to keep its case hidden?


AP reports (7-26-09)

  • A year after government scientist Bruce Ivins killed himself while under investigation for the lethal anthrax letters of 2001, the Justice Department is on the verge of closing the long, costly and vexing case.
  • Several law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the department had tentatively planned last week to close the case, but backed away from that decision after government lawyers said they needed more time to review the evidence and determine what further information can be made public without compromising grand jury secrecy or privacy laws.
  • For years, the FBI chased leads.
    • Authorities tried to build a case against biowarfare expert Steven Hatfill, but ultimately had to pay him a multimillion-dollar settlement.
    • Then, last year, they announced that the mystery had been solved, but the suspect was dead.
    • After Ivins’ suicide, FBI Director Robert Mueller said the investigation found Ivins was the culprit, and prosecutors said they were confident he acted alone. Officials insisted they were on the verge of indicting him and could have convicted him.
  • Rep. Rush Holt, whose New Jersey district is home to some of the stricken postal workers, said, “Most people
    Congressman Holt

    Congressman Holt

    affected — the families, the post office workers — will not feel there’s closure in this case, and the people of New Jersey will not be able to be confident that there isn’t still a murderer in their midst.”

    • Holt said the FBI built an “entirely circumstantial” case against Ivins.
    • “I watched as they went off on wild goose chases and then conveniently have a suspect who isn’t around to defend himself,” the New Jersey Democrat said.

read the entire article at … http://blog.taragana.com/n/us-on-verge-of-closing-anthrax-killings-investigation-dead-scientist-still-seen-as-culprit-121256/

LMW COMMENT …

FBI credibility, based on their own secretive and unexplainable actions, has reached so low a level that whatever they do, short of full sharing of all information, will not be believed.

Rep. Conyers calls for investigations, but he is so far sitting on the one he controls within his own House Judiciary Committee, that is, Rush Holt’s bill to establish an Anthrax Investigative Commission.

Pressure needs to be brought on Conyers to act.

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