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

* about FOIA

Posted by DXer on August 5, 2009

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Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

  • signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 6, 1966 (Public Law 89-554, 80 Stat. 383; Amended 1996, 2002, 2007).
  • The act allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the U.S. Government.
  • The Act defines agency records subject to disclosure, outlines mandatory disclosure procedures and grants nine exemptions to the statute.

Scope

  • The act explicitly applies only to federal government agencies.

NOTE: there are also FOIA for some state governments

  • Along with making public and accessible all bureaucratic and technical procedures for applying for documents from that agency, agencies are also subject to penalties for hindering the process of a petition for information.

Exemptions

In 1976, Exemption 3 of the FOIA was amended so that several exemptions were specified:

1) information relating to national defense,

  • 2) related solely to internal personnel rules and practices,
  • 3) related to accusing a person of a crime,
  • 4) related to information where disclosure would constitute a breach of privacy,
  • 5) related to investigatory records where the information would harm the proceedings,
  • 6) related to information which would lead to financial speculation or endanger the stability of any financial institution, and
  • 7) related to the agency’s participation in legal proceedings.

read the entire Wikipedia article at … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_Information_Act_(United_States)

see related post …

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

5 Responses to “* about FOIA”

  1. DXer said

    Here is an article illustrating the role FOIA can play.

    http://www.hstoday.us/content/view/9715/150/

    AL QAEDA SEEN AS THE PRIMARY TERRORIST THREAT FOR MANY YEARS
    Friday, 07 August 2009

    Blair described the best he could in his unclassified answers to the Committee members’ questions what the Intelligence Community currently believes about Al Qaeda. His answers were obtained in response to a Freedom of Information Act request to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence by Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy.

    ***

    Dr. Walid Phares, an adjunct professor at the National Defense University School for National Security Executive Education, director of the Future of Terrorism Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and author of, “Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against the West,” and “The War of Ideas: Jihadism against Democracy,” said earlier this month that “there are three models of Jihadists operating in North America: The ones sent by Al Qaeda, the ones who seek Al Qaeda, and those who have no connection to Al Qaeda but act along its goals.”

    The threat of Al Qaeda sleeper cells in the United States, especially cells operationally linked to Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Somalia, two strongholds for the terrorist organization, are particularly worrisome.

    Blair said “the FBI continues to investigate individuals with ties to militants in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), a region that Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other militant groups have been able to exploit as a safe haven and use as a training ground for internal and external operations programs.”

    Continuing, Blair told lawmakers that “in years past, Al Qaeda’s adaptable decision-making process, bench of skilled operatives, and operational redundancies have enabled the group to maintain planning efforts, and quickly identify and appoint effective replacements in the event of the death or capture of key individuals.”

    Buttressing what Brennan said about Al Qaeda’s desire to obtain WMDs, Blair told the Committee that “we continue to receive intelligence indicating that Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are attempting to acquire chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons and materials.”

    Blair said “we assess Al Qaeda will continue to try to acquire and employ CBRN material, and that some chemical and radiological materials and crude weapons designs are easily accessible. Al Qaeda is the terrorist group that historically has sought the broadest range of CBRN attack capabilities, and we assess that it would use any CBRN capability it acquires in an anti-US attack, preferably against the homeland.”

    Last January, Charles Faddis, a 20-year veteran CIA officer who was a National Counterterrorism Center department chief overseeing “worldwide operations against the terrorist WMD target” when he retired from the clandestine services last year, told HSToday.us that “biological weapons are the most likely” terrorist WMD threat right now.”

    Faddis said terrorists are probably more likely to try to use biological weapons in the near future, noting that such an attack would “be devastating and it would totally cause catastrophic casualties.”

    Speaking at a Washington Institute Special Policy Forum in January, Ken Wainstein, then Assistant to President Bush for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, stressed that the gravest terrorism threat right now is from “terrorist organizations [acquiring] weapons of mass destruction and [using] them against us, our homeland, or our allies.”

    Blair said that while “we assess that the death of Al Qaeda’s leading CBRN expert, Abu Khabab Al Masri, last July will cause temporary setback to the group’s efforts … its ability to shift responsibility to other senior leaders and existing trained replacements will enable it to recover.”

    Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden made clear more than a decade ago that it’s the duty of the jihadist organization to use WMDs in catastrophic attacks against the US and its allies if it is able to get its hands on such weapons.

    Ken Wainstein, referenced in the article above, was Chief of Staff to FBI Director Mueller, US Attorney for the District of Columbia, and first head of the National Security Division. President Obama’s top adviser is CIA Director Tenet’s former Chief of Staff, John Brennan.

    From Attorney Wainstein’s bio:

    “In 2001, Ken was appointed Director of the Executive office for U.S. Attorneys, where he provided oversight and support to the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices. The next year, Ken joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation to serve as General Counsel, and later, as Chief of Staff to Director Robert S. Mueller. At the FBI, Ken was involved in a myriad of sensitive national security and criminal enforcement matters, as well as a variety of civil litigation, managerial, and Congressional oversight issues. Two years later he was appointed, and later confirmed as, U.S. Attorney in DC,…

    Ken was confirmed by the Senate again in 2006, after being nominated as the first Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the Justice Department. He stood up and led the new National Security Division, which consolidated DOJ’s law enforcement and intelligence activities on counterterrorism and counterintelligence matters, and he oversaw the Department’s role in regulatory mechanisms such as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS). He also led several national security initiatives, including the launch of the national, inter-agency Export Control Enforcement Initiative targeting illegal exports of sensitive technology and weapons components. That same year, Ken was named President Bush’s Homeland Security Advisor, with a portfolio covering the coordination of the nation’s counterterrorism, homeland security, infrastructure protection, and disaster response and recovery efforts.

    “My concern is that select agents in B3 or B4 may have been taken or altered.” Bruce Ivins wrote some years ago to a superior. Did Ken share the concern that someone connected to the Bush Administration might have taken or gained access to virulent Ames from Bruce Ivins’ stocks? If so, what decisions did he make — what actions did he take?

    The chief counterterrorism adviser to President Obama is now CIA Director Tenet’s former chief of staff, John Brennan. Did John Brennan share the concern that someone connected to the Bush Administration might have taken or gained access to virulent Ames from Bruce Ivins’ stocks? If so, what decisions did he make — what actions did he take?

    John Ezzell, the FBI’s anthrax specialist who first examined the finely powderized anthrax sent to the United Senators Leahy and Daschle, returned my call in July 2009 and confirmed that he made dry powdered anthrax at USAMRIID’s Ft. Detrick in 1996 for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (“DARPA”). Were Ken and John concerned that the FBI’s chief anthrax expert was the one who had made dry powdered anthrax at Ft. Detrick for DARPA — even though the information had never been shared and the public was being told that dry powdered anthrax had never been made at Ft. Detrick? Beginning in 1996, to add to the awkwardness, Dr. Ezzell also worked for the FBI’s Hazardous Materials Response Unit.

    Years later, Dr. Bruce Ivins later wrote an email to his colleague and friend Patricia Fellows saying that he had heard that the anthrax made by Dr. Ezzell for DARPA was the closest match to the anthrax mailed in Fall 2001 that Dr. Ezzell had examined. Dr. Ivins emailed a superior in December 2006 about what he heard about the FBI at a party and expressed concern that something might have been taken or altered from his B3 stocks. He was told by email from the superior to not talk about it — that the FBI situation was under control. But it turned out not to be under control. In July 2008. a half year after his colleagues had been ordered not to talk to him about Amerithrax and he was removed from the base by armed escort, Bruce Ivins took his life in late July 2008. The trail of evidence that should have led Amerithrax investigators to the infiltration of DARPA and US biodefense and withdrawal from Dr. Ivins’ stock, however, dated back to the time of the mailings and was discernable from “open source” intelligence. It should have been discernable to both Ken and John — both of whom had access to much more. Given that Bruce’s colleagues had been forbidden to talk to him and to “connect the dots,” what did Ken and John, as representatives of the Bush Administration, do to connect the dots?

    Ali Al-Timimi’s current defense counsel, MSNBC commentator and First Amendment scholar Jonathan Turley, says the FBI considered his client an “anthrax weapons suspect,” and confirms that Al-Timimi worked with White House chief of staff Andrew Card. Ali worked alongside researchers at the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense who invented a process to concentrate using silica in the culture medium which then was removed from the surface of the spore by repeated centrifugation. Professor Turley wrote: “Al-Timimi is the spiritual adviser to many Muslims across the country. He has worked with the government, including White House chief of staff Andrew Card, …” Remember that showdown between FBI Director Mueller and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card concerning warrantless wiretapping of Ali Al-Timimi and a broader Salafist network? Well, there was a lot adding to the tension of the moment. Amerithrax is a prime example of the perils of both warrantless wiretapping and politicization of justice at the US Department of Justice.

    New York Times journalist Scott Shane and FBI’s genetic consultants Claire Fraser-Liggett have each asked: What if Hatfill had committed suicide instead of defending himself? Bruce Ivins had been just escorted by armed guard off the workplace he had known all his adult life — the place where his friends and colleagues were and had been forbidden to talk to him. His life’s work had been seized and he expected to be indicted. He was on anti-depression medication along with 27 million other Americans. He had already spent much of his savings on his lawyer. He loved his wife but was unhappy. Is it really so surprising he committed suicide notwithstanding his guilt or innocence? Why is it fair for the United States government to pronounce him guilty of the multiple murders while gagging those friends and colleagues from coming forward with what they know? The best information is that think the FBI’s stated Ivins Theory is a total crock — as do those who have left USAMRIID before the gag was instituted. Ivins was extremely angry at others who he thinks had done him wrong. Given, for example, the altered document produced under the Freedom of Information Act — and the fact that the National Security Council at the White House has prevented even Al-Timimi’s defense counsel and the judge’s clerk from seeing ex parte filings in the Al-Timimi prosecution — doesn’t the American public have a right to get to the bottom of things insofar as they relate to the accusations against Dr. Ivins? By way of a single example, Dr. Heine’s testimony before the grand jury apparently did not support its FBI’s Theory. Yet he is being prevented from coming forward to testify how Dr. Ivins was spending his time when on October 6, 2001 he withdrew virulent Ames from flask 1029 for a project Dr. Heine was working on. If Ivins turns out to be another Jewell in the rough, so be it. It is time for it to be known.

    Justice at the US DOJ was politicized and it is still suffering a bad hangover. It is time for the DOJ to swallow its medicine so it can recover.

  2. DXer said

    Ali Al-Timimi’s current defense counsel, MSNBC commentator and First Amendment scholar Jonathan Turley, the one who says the FBI considered his client an “anthrax weapons suspect,” also confirms that Al-Timimi worked with White House chief of staff Andrew Card.

    Professor Turley wrote: “Al-Timimi is the spiritual adviser to many Muslims across the country. He has worked with the government, including White House chief of staff Andrew Card, …”

    Source: Jonathan Turley, “When is violent speech still free speech?,”

    http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:1z-UvdcIGp0J:www.jewishworldreview.com/jonathan/turley050405.php3+%22Ali+Al-Timimi%22+%22Andrew+Card%22&cd=9&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    Remember that showdown between FBI Director Mueller and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card concerning warrantless wiretapping of Ali Al-Timimi and his broader network?

    Well, there was a lot adding to the tension of the moment and perils of politicization of the warrantless wiretapping that NYT correspondent Eric Lichtblau is not yet clued in on.

  3. DXer said

    This video includes a clip from the video of civil deposition of Investigator Lambert, at 5:40 then head of investigation, complaining of compartmentalization of investigation.

    He wrote a memo outlining his objection to FBI Director Mueller that the compartmentalization would prevent investigators from “connecting the dots.” (5:47)

    He argued to Director Mueller that they would not be able to “connect the dots.”

    The video ends with clip by Senator Grassley who explains that if you have three squads who can’t talk to each other, they aren’t going to be to able to do their job. (6:33)

    Anyone who took to heart to learn the lessons of events leading up to 911 will seek to avoid compartmentalization that prevents investigators from being able to “connect the dots.”

    FOIA officers who do not understand the FOI statute need to have their interpretation overturned on administrative appeal or in court.

    History will show who was part of the solution and who was part of the problem or roadblocks to analysis.

  4. DXer said

    FOIA is useful in obtaining handwriting exemplars of Dr. Bruce Ivins.

    Let’s consider writing on the letter and Ed’s argument that it is 95% certain that a First Grader, and not Ivins, wrote the the anthrax letters. The documentary evidence produced under FOIA to date provides no support for a Hatfill or Ivins theory except insofar as it expressly contradicts Ed’s theory.

    The FBI states:

    PSYCHOLINGUISTIC ASSESSMENT
    “While the text in these letters is limited, there are certain distinctive characteristics in the author’s writing style. These same characteristics may be evident in other letters, greeting cards, or envelopes this person has written. We hope someone has received correspondence from this person and will recognize some of these characteristics.
    The characteristics include:
    1. The author uses dashes (“-“) in the writing of the date “09-11-01.” Many people use the slash (“/”) to separate the day/month/year.
    2. In writing the number one, the author chooses to use a formalized, more detailed version. He writes it as “1” instead of the simple vertical line.
    3. The author uses the words “can not,” when many people prefer to spell it as one word, “cannot.”
    4. The author writes in all upper case block-style letters. However, the first letter of the first word of each sentence is written in slightly larger upper case lettering. Also, the first letter of all proper nouns (like names) is slightly larger. This is apparently the author’s way of indicating a word should be capitalized in upper case lettering. For whatever reason, he may not be comfortable or practiced in writing in lower case lettering.
    5. The names and address on each envelope are noticeably tilted on a downward slant from left to right. This may be a characteristic seen on other envelopes he has sent.
    6. The envelopes are of the pre-stamped variety, the stamps denoting 34 cents, which are normally available directly from the post office. They are not the traditional business size envelopes, but the smaller size measuring approximately 6 1/4″ x 3 1/2.”

    “The author uses dashes (“-“) in the writing of the date “09-11-01.” Many people use the slash (“/”) to separate the day/month/year.”

    Hatfill: NOT A MATCH: On the 2001 Purchase Orders, he used the European style rather than popular American style such as used in the anthrax letters.
    (In US government circles, the “European style” is known as the “military style” of writing dates).
    Instead of March 30, 1996, Hatfill rendered the date 30 March 1996. The anthrax letters, in contrast, used the popular American style of writing.
    Ivins: NOT A MATCH: On the page of entries in 2001 re the anthrax, he used the European or military style (e.g., 6 Apr 01, 1 May 01) rather than the popular American style of the anthrax letters (“09-11-01”)
    Ed’s First Grade accomplice who addressed the envelopes and letters NOT A MATCH. No such individual exists; Ed’s claim that there was a Daycare at the home in 2001 is contradicted by the documentary evidence.

    For example, on March 13, 2000, Dr. Ivins wrote:

    “Here is what we have for the next several weeks as far as guinea pig necropsies on the B97-03 protocol:
    21-24 March (Challenged on 20 March)
    11-14 April (Challenged on 10 April)
    25-28 April (Challenged on 24 April)”

    “In writing the number one, the author chooses to use a formalized, more detailed version. He writes it as “1” instead of the simple vertical line.”
    Hatfill : NOT A MATCH Dr. Hatfill makes the number one with a single vertical line
    Ivins: NOT A MATCH Dr. Ivins writes the number as a simple vertical line. (See RMR Record kept over a course of years and using numerous dates that use the numeral as a straight line).
    Ed’s First Grade accomplice who addressed the envelopes and letters. NOT A MATCH No such individual exists; Ed’s claim that there was a Daycare at the home in 2001 is contradicted by the documentary evidence.

    The author uses the words “can not,” when many people prefer to spell it as one word, “cannot.”
    Hatfill : NOT A MATCH
    Ivins : NOT A MATCH (Dr. Ivins’ extensive email correspondence demonstrates good spelling and Ed can point to use use of the words “can not” rather than “cannot”).
    Ed’s First Grade accomplice who addressed the envelopes and letters. NOT A MATCH No such individual exists; Ed’s claim that there was a Daycare at the home in 2001 is contradicted by the documentary evidence.

    Used nine-digit zipcodes.
    Hatfill: NOT A MATCH
    Ivins: NOT A MATCH
    Ed’s First Grade accomplice who addressed the envelopes and letters. NOT A MATCH No such individual exists; Ed’s claim that there was a Daycare at the home in 2001 is contradicted by the documentary evidence.

    Anthrax Mailer: Put a zero in front of month – “09-11-01.”
    Hatfill: NOT A MATCH. Used single digits for months months up to and including September.
    Ivins: NOT A MATCH. Used single digits for months months up to and including September.
    Ed’s First Grade accomplice who addressed the envelopes and letters. NOT A MATCH No such individual exists; Ed’s claim that there was a Daycare at the home in 2001 is contradicted by the documentary evidence. A First Grader would not add a “0”, use a nine-digit zipcode or even know how to address an envelope. Kids don’t learn how to address envelopes until later.

  5. DXer said

    Here are links to the statutes in all 50 states.

    http://www.nfoic.org/state-foi-laws

    In each state, attention should be paid by non-media requesters whether there is a provision for waiver of copying fees if the request is in the public interest. Non-profits generally are more easily able to avoid such expenses under particular statutes. Typically, there is only a copying charge above a certain number of pages (e.g., the first 100 pages are free, or the first $25 of copying is free). The link previously given for the Form Letter Generator will customize any state request to reference the state statutory provisions. In Virginia, if the agency is not amenable to production, you’ll want to have the request submitted by a state resident.

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