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

* 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

* buy CASE CLOSED

******buy CC graphic

the anthrax case cannot be closed

until someone forces the FBI

to come forward with

all of the facts

******

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.

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

  1. DXer said

    A massive amount has just been produced under FOI.

    Let these reporters sort it out.

    I had planned a picnic.

    I asked the wonderful, hardworking FOI officer today for the third version of the flask 1029 I know exists — the one the Army produced to the FBI in late 2001. The lawyers are on notice that it really really needs to be produced or else they will be sued and it will not go well for the Army.

    http://www.anthraxandalqaeda.com

  2. DXer said

    Here is an example of an email produced by the Army today illustrating what happened to those cute Covance bunnies. I’ll add emails as they come in to a supplemental FOI index at
    http://www.anthraxandalqaeda.com

    From: Ivins, Bruce
    To: [Redacted]
    Subject: BIOPORT
    Date: April 6, 2000

    I am in the hot suite [redacted] aerosolizing rabbits until 1430 on Monday. Anytime after 1500
    would be fine. [Redacted] and I would be more than willing to help Bioport with the guinea pig
    potency test. I think that almost all of it can be handled by phone, FAX and email. We’ve already
    made a number of suggestions about how to get their test in line.

    – Bruce

    • BugMaster said

      Let me know when the supplemental material is available on the website, and where I need to go to find it.

      Thanks.

  3. DXer said

    “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. Andrews and George Mason University professor and former Soviet bioweapons researcher Sergei Popov believe the silicon was purposely added, due to unnaturally high levels of the mineral in the spores.

    Kathryn Crockett, Ken Alibek’s assistant — just a couple doors down from Ali Al-Timimi — addressed these issues in her 2006 thesis, “A historical analysis of Bacillus anthracis as a biological weapon and its application to the development of nonproliferation and defense strategies.” She expressed her special thanks to bioweaponeering experts Dr. Ken Alibek and Dr. Bill Patrick. Dr. Patrick consulted with the FBI. Dr. Crockett successfully defended the thesis before a panel that included USAMRIID head and Ames strain researcher Charles Bailey, Ali Al-Timimi’s other Department colleague. In 2001 he said he did not want to discuss silica because he did not want to give terrorists any ideas. Oops! Too late. The scientist coordinating with the 911 imam and Bin Laden’s Sheik was 15 feet away.

    Dr. Crockett in her PhD thesis says that scientists who analyzed the powder through viewing micrographs or actual contact are divided over the quality of the powder. She cites Gary Matsumoto’s groundbreaking “Science” article in summarizing the debate. She says the FBI has vacillated on silica. Gary nows has data from AFIP showing there was massive silica in the first batch of letters.

    On the issue of encapsulation, Crockett reports that “many experts who examined the powder stated the spores were encapsulated. Encapsulation involves coating bacteria with a polymer which is usually done to protect fragile bacteria from harsh conditions such as extreme heat and pressure that occurs at the time of detonation (if in a bomb), as well as from moisture and ultraviolet light. The process was not originally developed for biological weapons purposes but rather to improve the delivery of various drugs to target organs or systems before they were destroyed by enzymes in the circulatory system” (citing Alibek and Crockett, 2005). “The US and Soviet Union, however, ” she explains, “used this technique in their biological weapons programs for pathogens that were not stable in aerosol form… Since spores have hardy shells that provide the same protection as encapsulation would, there is no need to cover them with a polymer.“ She explains that one “possible explanation is that the spore was in fact encapsulated but not for protective purpose. Encapsulation also reduces the need for milling when producing a dry formulation.” She wrote: “If the perpetrator was knowledgeable of the use of encapsulation for this purpose, then he or she may have employed it because sophisticated equipment was not at his disposal.”

    Or as Dr. Michael told National Geographic (using the word “weaponized” to narrowly refer to aiding dispersability) he does not think the silica was used for that purpose of “weaponization”, whether under the historical Dugway method from the 1990s or otherwise. Michael told FOX News, “I don’t think this exonerates (Ivins) at all.” He added, “I don’t think it’s not enough to say that he did it, as well.”

    One military scientist who has made anthrax simulants described the GMU patents to me as relating to an encapsulation technique which serves to increase the viability of a wide range of pathogens. More broadly, a DIA analyst once commented to me that the internal debate seemed relatively inconsequential given the circumstantial evidence — overlooked by so many people — that US-based supporters of Al Qaeda are responsible for the mailings. (Most of Dr. Ivins’ colleagues have thought Al Qaeda was responsible.)

    “Anonymous Scientist” correctly explains:

    “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 and Gary refuses to share) clearly demonstrate that the silica was massive. I provided the data yesterday but need the documentary support. Once released, it can then be meaningfully addressed by the Sandia scientists. Presently, they are making inferences and conclusions about whether the silica would be useful in making mailed anthrax — and whether it would be highly probative — that go far beyond both their field of expertise and the data apparently available to them. It is the FBI’s Dr. Bannan, formerly the collections scientist at the American Type Culture Collection (“ATCC”) at GMU which sponsored Al-Timimi’s program, who is withholding the AFIP data from the Sandia scientists. That makes Gary M’s withholding of the information even more ridiculous. Failure to give the data to the Sandia scientists — by any party — is just really wrong.

    The FBI labs were uncomfortable enough releasing the record breaking 1.45% silicon in the Leahy sample. The silica in the first batch was truly massive.

    Once it is released, we can consider the source of the silica such as whether it was putting virulent Ames soil (silica) suspension such as the FBI scientist John Ezzell did in 1996 for DARPA when he made dry powdered anthrax at Ft. Detrick. And we can turn to the “Microdroplet Cell Culture” patent filed by Ali Al-Timimi’s Discovery Hall colleagues at the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense and see if there is a connection. The silica would be in the culture medium used to concentrate the anthrax and then would be removed by repeated centrifugation.

    I’m not a scientist which is why the data and pictures need to be released so that we can have experts like the Center for Biodefense’s Sergeui Popov (who I have total confidence in) and the government’s John Kiel (who I have total confidence in) review it.

    If we learned anything from 9/11, it is that there are times that information needs to be shared so that people can connect the dots. This is such a time.

    • DXer said

      Yesterday Joe Michael was the keynote speaker “Microbial Forensics: Microanalysis of the 2001 Anthrax Letter Attacks” at the opening plenary session at the M&M conference in Richmond.

      Now consider the additional light Dr. Michael might have shed on the anthrax mailings if he and his colleague Paul G. Kotula had all the relevant data for the dramatically different first batch of letters with much higher levels of silica detected.

      It is not that it would have changed their identification of the location of the source of the Silicon Signature in the Daschle and Leahy letters. But it would have put in context that information and allowed meaningful conclusions to be drawn by experts who have experience making anthrax aerosols. Compartmentalization in analysis leads to flawed conclusions — both in true crime analysis and microanalysis of mailed anthrax.

      Due to the withholding information, a US Attorney who was part of a highly politicized Department of Justice was able to stand up and confidently assert the dead guy did it.
      And then due to a failure of moral courage and clarity of thinking, the mistake was not corrected by the current decision-makers.

      The people on Constitution Avenue should be sure to know that it is important that they support their conclusions with evidence — and be sure that they either have access to the information available to all 3 squads and also the CIA. The excuse “I was not privy to that information” will not be an acceptable excuse.

  4. DXer said

    Thought Question: Apart from the white out used on the first page, is the entire second page a redo? Look at the change in format on the dates. Does the entire page look like it was done at the same time and with the same pen? Was it all done (presumably by Bruce) at the same time?

    Is it reasonable to overlook the missing 100 ml and just assume it represents a mathematical mistake? Did Bruce want to hide where the 100 ml had gone? (Although it is worth noting that it is a round number and not a specific number which perhaps argues against this hypothesis).

    Wouldn’t he notice the difference between the 37 ml and 137 ml at the time of the last entry? Do the missing 100 ml represent anthrax that was transferred to someone without registering it with the CDC under post-1997 regulations? That would make him chargeable as an accessory before the fact notwithstanding a pure heart. He could be charged with the full weight of the crime, I would think, for the unregistered transfer and the subsequent obstruction of justice relating to the alteration of the document.

    http://cryptome.org/ivins/ivins-docs.htm

    I expect to upload the AFIP data and some nice pictures. Don’t they support the argument explained here:
    http://www.anthraxandalqaeda.com

  5. DXer said

    I think the FOI officer’s sister is my third cousin. I’m researching the family tree now.

    Anyway, here are the results obtained by AFIP in October 2001 for the Daschle powder and the NYP powder.

    They took readings at 3 different spots on the powder material. The Daschle powder shows silicon peaks that correspond to elemental concentrations of silicon ranging from about 3% to 10%. This can be obtained by running an EDS simulation.

    But the NYP powder has elemental silicon greater than 50% and even up to 90%.

    The difference between the powders is as simple as repeated centrifugation.

    Si in the culture medium serves to concentrate the anthrax and was subject of March 14, 2001 patent that was confidential at the time of the anthrax mailing. (http://www.anthraxandalqaeda.com)

    Like Ken Alibek has always said, it isn’t rocket science. The presence or absence of silica does not tell you whether it is from a state program or not, contrary to what some imagine. Indeed, the simulant used after the threat to use mailed anthrax relating to the detention of Mohammad Mahjoub involved mixing with silica at a Wisconsin dairy processor. The key is that such know-how travels in the minds of individuals, not a state.

    According to what Bruce Ivins had heard, the closest match to the attack anthrax was made by the FBI’s anthrax expert, John Ezzell. That made the folks on that compartmentalized Amerithrax squad squeamish. He was their target and he seemed to be giving them the finger right back.

    It is all explained here:
    http://www.anthraxandalqaeda.com

    __________
    Daschle powder:
    Reading (1): C=120, Si=275, O=50
    Reading (2): C=1600, Si=500, O=400
    Reading (3): C=1200, Si=500, O=400

    NYP powder:
    Reading (1): C=500, Si=18,000, O=500
    Reading (2): C=50, Si=17,000, O=50
    Reading (3): C=100, Si=16,000, O=100

  6. DXer said

    American Buddhist Net

    http://66.84.23.86/us-verge-closing-anthrax-probe-after-8-years

    There must be something of greater importance than truth, respect for Ivins’ family, prudent judgment, fostering respect for the law, good science, and effective public relations. What is it? ABN

  7. DXer said

    Ed,

    Now that we’ve established your oft-repeated (see cites) claim he had multiple connections to New Jersey is not well-founded by any evidence, let’s consider your fact-checking on your central theory — that it is 95% certain that Dr. Bruce Ivins had a First Grader write the anthrax letters.

    What is your authority for your claim that the daycare center was operational by September 2001?

    And what is your authority for your claim that the daycare center included any First Graders?

    Do you argue it without ever checking your facts? Why? Why bother arguing such a thing without checking your facts? He taught older kids to juggle and was good with the choir at church.

    You are entitled to your theory it is 95% certain that Bruce Ivins did not write the letters (and that a First Grader did instead) — but you should check your facts on such basic questions. Good luck with your First Grader Theory, though.

    Ed Lake said,
    in December 9th, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    ***

    It is at least a 95% certainty that a First Grader wrote the anthrax letters. The FACTS are clear on that, even if some people find it impossible to believe.

    Dr. Ivins’ wife ran a daycare center. Daycare centers routinely take care of young children “before and after” school, when the children are too young to be at home alone and their parents work, e.g. kindergartners and first graders.

    Dr. Ivins worked close to where he lived. So, he would be home before all the children would be picked up.

    He was “remembered” in his eulogy for helping children. There are numerous articles about how his house was always full of children, how he’d teach them to juggle, etc.

    He had serious mental problems.

    None of this PROVES that Dr. Ivins used a first grader to write the letters, but it makes a good case for it.

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