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

* DXer proposes … get those FOIA requests moving … and here’s how …

Posted by DXer on August 4, 2009

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DXer tells us all we need to know

about FOIA requests …

Former FBI agent/CIA lead WMD analyst Jennifer Smith was quite wonderful in her talk to the NAS panel.  She urged the NAS panel to press the FBI for documents.

Given the score of labs, both government and private, that helped the FBI, we should take Dr. Smith’s advice and press for documents.

We should then share the documents for efficiency’s sake and so as to avoid duplicative requests.

Perhaps the first request should be to the US DOJ to ask for a copy of all documents provided to the National Academies of Sciences.

LMW NOTE: In order to keep track, if you submit cc’s of your FOIA requests to the CASE CLOSED blog, I’ll figure out some way to keep them organized and updated.

Here is a list of US DOJ subcomponents to which FOI requests should be addressed.  It includes other agencies.

Here are instructions for submitting DARPA FOIA requests online.

Don’t overlook state FOI statutes.  There are many state universities where labs are located that are subject to state FOI statutes for which the FOI Form Letter generator will quickly make your FOI request shine by referencing the particular state statutory provisions.

Here is FOIA Form Letter Generator

Here is the electronic form for DOE HQ.

The email for the FOI officer for Sandia National Laboratories is

Here is the website where USAMRIID responses to date are located.
USAMRMC Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Army has done an excellent job in making the processed documents available at a central location.  Despite pressing them for the documents currently not produced, they are demonstrating through their actions how the Freedom of Information Act should work and deserve praise for their hard and conscientious work.

Search costs are avoidable if as a non-media requester you commit to sharing the documents and making them generally available.  Under the federal statute, the first 100 pages are free.  Beyond that, there is the cost of copying.  But to date the fee has been waived given the public interest in the matter.

For more from Dxer, check out his web site at …

6 Responses to “* DXer proposes … get those FOIA requests moving … and here’s how …”

  1. anonymous scientist said

    Lake writes:
    “The science used in the Amerithrax investigation was developed and conducted by the TOP EXPERTS in each field.”

    Really? How many samples of spores had Joe Micheal at Sandia labs analyzed before the FBI sent him samples of the spores used in the nations worst bioterrorist attack?
    In fact, how many biological samples had metallurgist Joe Micheal ever analyzed in his life before?

    I wonder if we can obtain FOIAs for any email communications between Matthew Meselson and Joe Michael in the time frame October 2001 to July 2009?

    Are Sandia non-classified emails eligible for FOIA?

  2. DXer said

    If you mean to refer more narrowly to data, the fact that data is within the scope of FOIA was settled by the Shelby Amendment 10 years ago. (See the 9 published articles supported by underlying data).

    Differing policy views are immaterial; the law is the law. The US DOJ exists to stand for and embody the rule of law.

    Senator Richard Shelby, “Accountability and Transparency, Public Access to Federally Funded Research Data,” 37 Harv. J. on Legis. 368 (2000)

    Jonathan Sarnet, “Data: To Share or Not to Share?” (2009)

  3. DXer said

    Let’s take an example of the utility of FOIA.

    Under a FOIA a document was produced showing it listed as stored in Building 1425.

    When actually a different version of the same document shows it as stored in Building 1412.

    The unredacted document, moreover, shows to whom withdrawals from flask 1029 were given. That leads to a much more informed and accurate discussion.

    Similarly, the AFIP documentation, the Log Notebook 4010 and record to flask 1030 (especially unredacted) will also be highly illuminating.

    • DXer said

      Another example of the utility of FOIA — this one from a production to me from the Defense Intelligence Agency — was correspondence from infiltrating operative Rauf Ahmad reporting on a visit to a facility with BL-3 lab and 1,000s of pathogens. He attended conferences with Bruce Ivins (and Dr. Ivins’ email show he in fact was in charge of planning the one in June 2001 in Annapolis.) He told Ayman Zawahiri that he made internet connections and had learned tricks related to processing. These sorts of documents inform discussion. If you ignore documents, then you might wind up arguing that it is 95% certain a First Grader wrote the letters.

  4. DXer said


    Let’s take an example why document productions lead to a better understanding of factual claims. The reason to seek documents from agencies like the Post Office, DIA, DTRA, DARPA, EPA, CDC, NIH is to discover the facts of the matter. Armed with facts, anyone’s opinions would have greater weight and be more sound. It is called the Government in the Sunshine Act.

    Let’s take an example. You have said that it is 95% a First Grader wrote the letters and that Bruce Ivins got the First Grader to do it. You say he would have known First Graders in the day care center that you alleged was operating in her home in Fall 2001. AFter you refused to do so because you don’t believe (see above) in checking your facts, I requested through FOIA documents showing the date of first operation. It was produced we learned, that as reported in the papers, the day care did not start until the children were grown. It was operational 2003-2004. And so while you alleged these matters as fact, if you had checked your facts, you would have known you were mistaken. Instead, you just kept posting the claims repeatedly. You still have not changed your allegation even though I provided you a copy of the letter. Check your facts, Ed. Then your beliefs would have a sounder basis.

    • DXer said

      I do agree with you though there is no reason for non-scientists to be commenting on scientific matters. I have no idea why you have bothered to do so for the past 8 years. At best, you should have been obtaining expert opinions and quoting them.

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