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

* some have alleged (but not proven) the FBI is covering up the truth in the anthrax case to protect illegal bioweapons research; until we know the whole truth about the anthrax attacks, this allegation cannot simply be dismissed

Posted by DXer on August 30, 2009

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Martin Matishak writes in Global Security Newswire (8/28/09) …

  • The Obama administration recently convened the first in what could be a series of meeting with dozens of biological scientists and research analysts in an effort to bolster the White House’s evolving strategy on bioterrorism.
  • The Aug. 13 meeting at the White House Conference Center brought together roughly 40 participants to discuss “policies to prevent intentional biothreats,” according to one international analyst who attended the session and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
  • The discussion was led by Laura Holgate, the National Security Council’s senior director for WMD terrorism and threat reduction, and James Petro, a top official in the office, one expert told GSN early last week.
  • “The administration is trying to think through what the agenda will be for addressing the challenges of bioterrorism,” Brian Finlay, a senior associate at the Henry L. Stimson Center who attended the meeting, told GSN.
  • “The focus of the conversation was on the prevention of biothreats, so I believe that is their general strategy,” according to the research expert … their emphasis was on prevention instead of crisis management.”
  • Concerns regarding certain research have grown since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the anthrax mailings that followed.
  • Participants also offered their opinions on the Biological Weapons Convention and its upcoming review conference, in which member states will review the operations of the pact.
  • The treaty, which entered into force in 1975 and today has 162 member nations, prohibits development, production, stockpiling and use of weaponized disease agents such as anthrax, smallpox or plague, as well as equipment and delivery systems intended for hostile use.
  • The treaty has no provisions for verification or for monitoring compliance.

read the entire article at … http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0809/082809gsn1.htm

LMW COMMENT …

There have been several comments on the CASE CLOSED blog alleging (but not proving) that the FBI’s failure to solve the 2001 anthrax case is related to protecting the interests of those who are illegally engaged in precisely the kind of bioweapons research which is prohibited by the 1975 Biological Weapons Convention. The FBI’s willingness to convict innocent men in the Boston case (recent $101 million verdict against the government) suggests that there may be times when the FBI is willing to break the law in pursuit of what it sees as a larger objective.

see related posts …

* more details about the FBI hiding evidence to convict the innocent in Boston case … who is safe when those responsible for upholding the law can break it to gain a conviction?

This is one more compelling reason why our elected officials must insist that the FBI either admit the anthrax investigation is still ongoing (i.e., Dr. Ivins is not the sole perpetrator) or else close the case and make its documents available under FOIA.

Kudos to the Obama administration for taking what might be the first step down the path of evaluating our bioweapons defense capabilities as well as any illegal bioweapons research and development.

2 Responses to “* some have alleged (but not proven) the FBI is covering up the truth in the anthrax case to protect illegal bioweapons research; until we know the whole truth about the anthrax attacks, this allegation cannot simply be dismissed”

  1. DXer said

    “My concern is that select agents in B3 or B4 may have been taken or altered.” — Bruce Ivins

    My concern is that the lead FBI scientist coordinating the work of the outside labs, Dr. Bannan, was the collections scientist at the Bacteriology Division at American Type Culture Collection in 2001 and that Al-Timimi used to be Andrew Card’s assistant, and so that relevant documents relating to the DARPA-funded “Microdroplet Cell Culture Technique” developed by Al-Timimi’s suitemates won’t be produced to the NAS. The patent relates to the concentration of anthrax using silica in the culture medium. — DXer

    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”). Beginning in 1996, he also worked for the FBI’s Hazardous Materials Response Unit. After coming under suspicion, Dr. Bruce Ivins 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 on December 18, 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. After his colleagues were ordered not to talk to him 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.

    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.

    After an October 2001 bombing raid at a Qaeda camp in Darunta, Afghanistan US forces found 100+ printed, typed, handwritten pages of documents that shed light on Al Qaeda’s early anthrax planning. The Defense Intelligence Agency provided me the documents under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents confirmed that it was Zawahiri’s plan to use established specialists and the cover of universities and charities as cover for weaponizing anthrax. From early on, the evidence suggested that charity is as charity does. 90 of the 100 pages are the photocopies of journal articles and the disease handbook excerpts. It was not clear whether or they had yet acquired virulent anthrax or weaponized it, but it was clear that the planning was well along. When Vice President Cheney was briefed on the documents in late 2001, he immediately called a meeting of FBI and CIA. “I’ll be very blunt,” the Vice President started. “There is no priority of this government more important than finding out if there is a link between what’s happened here and what we’ve found over there with Qaeda.” At one point, security personnel thought that the home belonging to Elizabeth Cheney, his daughter had been hit by an anthrax attack. A June 1999 memo from Ayman to military commander Atef said that “the program should seek cover and talent in educational institutions, which it said were ‘more beneficial to us and allow easy access to specialists, which will greatly benefit us in the first stage, God willing.’ ”Thus, in determining whether Al Qaeda was responsible for the anthrax mailings in the Fall of 2001, the FBI and CIA had reason to know based on the growing documentary evidence available by mid-December 2001, that Al Qaeda operatives were likely associated with non-governmental organizations and working under the cover and talent in universities.

    It was not until seven years later that we even learned that MIT-graduate Aafia Siddiqui — post-9/11 — worked at Karachi Institute of Technology as a lab technician after being tasked to research germ warfare. She worked there even though the FBI had announced up to a $5 million reward for her capture. Dr. L. Thomas Kucharski, psychiatrist for the defendant, explained in his affidavit filed July 2, 2009 that a man known as “Abu Lubaba” had tasked her to research germ weapons. When Aafia Siddiqui was captured, her thumb drive had e-mail correspondence referencing US-based cells and prior attacks. Sometimes rather than being truly invisible or on the “dark side,” an enemy is merely hiding in plain sight — or hidden by inappropriate redactions, improper withholdings under FOIA, or highly classified, compartmentalized, operations intended to avoid embarrassment to decision-makers or to further personal agendas. Most intelligence is “open source.” Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

  2. DXer said

    Who makes the decisions at the White House? Let’s consider the channels under the Bush Administration.

    Al-Timimi’s counsel says he was an “anthrax weapons suspect.” Such issues are currently
    being briefed in a highly classified ongoing federal court proceeding that involves the Presidential
    Surveillance Program begun at the time of the anthrax mailing to the Senators. Al-Timimi’s defense
    committee and counsel (in his opening oral argument) explained that he had been Andrew Card’s former
    assistant.

    Do you think that Andrew Card presented this issue whether he had served as
    a reference for Al-Timimi in gaining a high security clearance and access to the DARPA-funded
    Center for Biodefense and a program sponsored by the most diverse microbiological repository in
    the world? (The ATCC would manage the Critical Reagents Program which controlled virulent
    Ames for testing). That would have been a powder keg given Al-Timimi was known to be
    coordinating with the 911 imam and Bin Laden’s sheik who was the express subject of Bin Laden’s
    declaration of war. Al-Timimi’s worked at the Iraqi embassy.

    As explained by Chris Matthews, Tom Ridge notes that Card and his colleagues at the White House
    were guided by political considerations related to the 2004 elections.

    He also makes clear how Card controlled access to the President.

    Tom Ridge writes:

    “A couple of hours later Card called. He claimed that he had discussed the matter with
    the president [involving a bureaucratic disagreement] and then claimed the president told
    him to remind me, ‘We are in a war.” I didn’t respond immediately. My first thought was
    that he certainly did not take this bureaucratic dustup to the president. And then I thought
    was that he certainly did not take this bureaucratic dustup to the president. And then I
    thought of saying, “Well, this is my second war, however many have you been in?” But
    I didn’t. Instead, I told Card that when decisions are made about my agency — and there
    are obviously two sides to the story — I would like to be heard.”

    Amerithrax never stood a chance.

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