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

* the FBI, so certain a year ago, may now be terrified to expose its unconvincing case to public scrutiny, or may now have reason to believe that Dr. Ivins may not have been the SOLE perpetrator, or even involved at all

Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 1, 2009

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

buy CC - why, who, readers

FBI-DOJ press conference

It’s been …

over a week since I was last sent on the FBI obfuscation merry-go-round

(see related post … * LMW to FBI … is the Amerithrax investigation still ongoing or not? The FBI’s answers, while trying to say nothing, strongly suggest that the investigation is in fact still ongoing, over a year since the FBI/DOJ press conference accusing Dr. Ivins and stating that the case would soon be closed.),

… and over a year since the FBI announced that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the SOLE perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks and that, after completing a few administrative details the case would be closed,

… and well over a month since the FBI again said that it would soon close the case.

What’s going on?

Here are the options that seem plausible to me …

  1. The FBI is just taking its time to close the case, mindful of impending FOIA requests when it does, and wanting to be sure they have everything in order before opening up their documents to public and Congressional scrutiny.
  2. The FBI has no ongoing investigation underway, but is terrified to expose its unconvincing case to public scrutiny, and is delaying that day as long as possible while it figures out how to keep its documents hidden.
  3. The FBI anthrax investigation is still ongoing, which means the FBI may now thinks there is reason to believe that Dr. Ivins may not have been the SOLE perpetrator, or even involved at all.

Maybe there are other explanations; if you have one, please post a comment.

I’d also like to know which of the options readers of this blog think is most likely. Post a comment and let us know what you think.

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31 Responses to “* the FBI, so certain a year ago, may now be terrified to expose its unconvincing case to public scrutiny, or may now have reason to believe that Dr. Ivins may not have been the SOLE perpetrator, or even involved at all”

  1. Anonymous Scientist said

    We are now at T+ 51 days since the FBI announced they were “on the verge” of closing the anthrax case.

  2. Anonymous Scientist said

    We are now at T+ 48 days since the FBI announced they were “on the verge” of closing the anthrax case.

  3. Anonymous Scientist said

    We are now at T+ 46 days since the FBI announced they were “on the verge” of closing the anthrax case.

  4. DXer said

    BTW, given the large number of files on Al-Hussayen relating to Al-Kidd, is it significant that he was not called as a witness? Given he clearly had relevant information? (I don’t know the law relating to material witness warrants but he clearly had information and was headed to a country for which there was no extradition treaty). As one trial observer notes: “Large numbers of the files on the computer seized from Sami Al-Hussayen’s apartment weren’t his – suggesting the computer was used by others, too, and may not always have been at Al-Hussayen’s Moscow home.”

    “That information, brought out in cross-examination by defense attorneys this morning, followed earlier testimony that the computer contains articles about suicide attacks and records of thousands of financial transactions.

    “Lead defense attorney David Nevin, cross-examining government computer expert Curtis Rose, pointed to a document found in the computer that appeared to be a letter from another person about child support and parenting issues regarding that person’s son, Jalani Kidd.”

    The “Jalani” file was part of a long list of files in a category within the computer hard drive named “Al-Ked.” Among the many file names flashed on a large courtroom screen in that Al-Ked list were files entitled “fatwa” and “jihad images.”

    Other testimony was about IANA speaker and “anthrax weapons suspect” (his counsel’s phrase) Ali Al-Timimi:

    “Terrorist recruit Khwaja Hasan changed his story somewhat when he testified in front of the jury this afternoon – this time, he said directly that viewing a web site about the Chechnyan conflict and watching the graphic video “Russian Hell 2000” more than a year beforehand were part of the reason he went to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.

    “Were the Qoqaz news reports and the video of Russian Hell 2000 part of the reason that you went to the … camp?” prosecutor David Deitch asked Hasan. “Yes,” Hasan replied.

    However, on cross-examination, Hasan repeated that he went to the camp at the urging of a trusted Muslim cleric, Sheikh Ali Al-Timimi, at a meeting shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. “What happened in September, the meeting, was the final part of me deciding to go,” he said.

    “It was your personal relationship with the cleric, your personal relationship with a very, very persuasive man, yes?” asked defense attorney David Nevin. “I would say that, yes,” Hasan replied.

    The 28-year-old Virginia man also acknowledged that he hopes for a reduction in his 11-year, three-month prison sentence in exchange for his testimony against Sami Omar Al-Hussayen. Al-Hussayen is charged with aiding terrorists, in part by operating and maintaining various Islamic web sites.”

  5. DXer said

    The Amerithrax letters were always inextricably linked to the detention of senior Egyptian leaders — to understand that, though, requires a basic understanding Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Egyptian Islamic Group.

    Although it has not been publicly revealed because of the pretexts used in the various charity investigations (such as the one involving Abdullah Al-Kidd), the Amerithrax investigative squad not chasing the skirts and storage units of former college sorority co-eds, was focused in part on Egyptian Islamic Group and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The leading Cairo-based writer, Kamal Habib, of the Ann Arbor-based IANA, was interviewed in 2005 (and has been interviewed this past year in a broadcast) on these general issues.

    http://www.egypttoday.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=7430

    “The Islamist: Kamal Habib

    …[Egyptian Islamic Group’s] very public and very courageous reviews opened the door for [Egyptian Islamic Jihad] to start reviewing their own stance, but they are different, primarily because the make-up of Al-Jama’a and Al-Jihad are different. Al-Jihad groups are closed, while Al-Jama’a is an open organization — it started out as a student group.

    Al-Jihad is a secret group made up of compartmentalized cells. People in one Jihad cell did not know those in others. It had diversity in its thought and inclinations. Al-Jama’a was a hierarchical group with one leader and a patrilineal, spiritual cast where all people were channeled toward one aim. In Al-Jihad, most members belong to the same age group and there was no clear leader.

    Even Aboud El-Zumor [the man who organized the assassination of Sadat] moved from Al-Jihad to Al-Jama’a and was undecided between them.

    Of course the reviews are similar in their most basic lines, such as the condemnation of the murder of civilians and tourists, the idea of not condemning the population [of so-called infidel states] and possibly, the stance regarding non-Muslims.

    ***

    Shariah accepts such reviews, so long as the ijtihad [quest for knowledge or interpretation] does not touch the basic core of Shariah. The door of review must always be open because this is fiqh with real-life impacts — people can be killed because of it. A group may launch a jihadi operation that could lead to the death of innocents, and this is a very sensitive issue for them. Intellectually, they believe it is not acceptable to harm or kill a Muslim — or even judge them as being apostates. I am talking to you about the psychological processes that take place.

    When Parliamentary Speaker Rifaat El-Mahgoub was assassinated in 1990, the photos of murdered guards, the bloodiness, were published in Al-Ahram. You are looking at a group that manipulated people’s destinies — they did more than just talk in closed rooms.

    In the 1990s, the violent operations on both sides escalated, blood was spilt on both sides and more than 1,000 people were killed. This is a huge figure for Egypt, which had experienced very little violence. In 1964, only five people were killed and in 1965 only five people were killed. In addition to the killings of the 1990s, over 100 Islamists were sentenced to death. This extremely violent scene seemed pointless. Since 1994, Al-Jihad proclaimed it would cease operations inside Egypt. The attempted assassination operations of former Interior Minister Hassan El-Alfi and ex-Prime Minister Atef Sidqi were very violent and brutal.
    [Note: the view by Amerithrax talking heads that leaders of the US legislature would not be targeted as symbols because Al Qaeda likes the “big bang” is contradicted by the history of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad].

    ***

    I believe these reviews will eat away at Al-Qaeda’s intellectual ground and will open intellectual debate within it. This is a major and primary development, one that requires time and an epistemological approach to work through its ramifications.

    There are currently thousands of Al-Jihad members in the nation’s prisons. Some estimate there are 3,000, but I believe there are no less than 6,000, in addition to 3,000 Salafiyyin [Wahhabis]. This means there are 7,000 to 9,000 in jails. Over 95 percent of them are detainees, they have not been to trial. They have been there for years. They must be released, and their release must not be seen as a barter deal. Their new intellectual reviews must be respected.

    They have reached this stance on their own, despite the pressures. The moral thing to do is to endorse these reviews without coercion. State Security must not push them too hard, but rather wait for them to be ready to join the initiative. It is a matter of national security, in view of the widespread influence of Al-Qaeda all over the world. State Security is trying to get all the answers and resolve all the issues before the people are released.

    Once they are out, I believe they will fall out with the group. As I said before, there is a lot of diversity in the make-up of Al-Jihad. There will be a wide gap between El-Sherif and the younger generations. If things change [in the country], some people may want to become active in public life. But as I see it, Al-Jihad will cease to exist as a unified entity.

    As this magazine went to press, the Interior Ministry quietly confirmed that it had released 135 members of Al-Jihad and Al-Jama’a — some of whom had been in prison for nearly a decade — citing their positive participation in the review process.”

  6. DXer said

    Abdullah Kidd, who is now being allowed to sue former Attorney General Ashcroft for his detention under a material witness warrant that he alleges was based on pretextual grounds, reports that he did the newsletter for the charity Islamic Assembly of North America. The lead speaker for IANA was Ali Al-Timimi who worked on the hall with leading anthrax scientist Ken Alibek and forrmer deputy USAMRIID Commander Charles Bailey.
    Let’s connect some dots.
    Al-Timimi’s attorney explained in a court filing that unsealed in April 2008 that Ali “was a participant in dozens of international overseas calls to individuals known to have been under suspicion of Al-Qaeda ties like Al-Hawali” and “was described during his trial by FBI agent John Wyman as having ‘extensive ties’ with the ‘broader al-Qaeda network.” Al-Timimi was on an advisory board member of Assirat al-Mustaqueem (”The Straight Path”), an international Arabic language magazine. Assirat, produced in Pittsburgh beginning in 1991, was the creation of a group of North American muslims, many of whom were senior members of IANA. Its Advisory Committee included Bassem Khafagi and Ali Al-Timimi.
    ”As Al-Timimi’s counsel explained in a court filing unsealed in April 2008:
    “[IANA head] Bassem Khafagi was questioned about Dr. Al-Timimi before 9-11 in Jordan, purportedly at the behest of American intelligence. [redacted passage ] He was specifically asked about Dr. Al-Timimi’s connection to Bin Laden prior to Dr. Al-Timimi’s arrest. He was later interviewed by the FBI about Dr. Al-Timimi. Clearly, such early investigations go directly to the allegations of Dr. Al-Timimi’s connections to terrorists and Bin Laden.”
    Two staff members who wrote for Assirat then joined IANA’s staff when it folded in 2000. They had been members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and were activists in the movement. One of the former EIJ members, Gamal Sultan, was the editor of the quarterly IANA magazine in 2002. Mr. Sultan’s brother Mahmoud wrote for Assirat also. The most prominent writer was the founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Kamal Habib. He led the Egyptian Islamic Jihad at the time of Anwar Sadat’s assassination when young doctor Zawahiri’s cell merged with a few other cells to form the EIJ. Two writers for Assirat in Pittsburgh had once shared a Portland, Oregon address with Al Qaeda member Wadih El-Hage. Wadih al Hage was Ali Mohammed’s friend and served as Bin Laden’s “personal secretary.”
    Kamal Habib had been a founding member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad and had spent 10 years in jail for the assassination of Anwar Sadat. In the late 1970s, the cell run by the young doctor Zawahiri joined with three other groups to become Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) under Habib’s leadership. After a visit in 2000, Gamal Sultan said Pittsburgh was known as the “American Kandahar,” given its rolling hills. In Egypt he formed the Islah (“Reform”) party with Gamal Sultan. While contributing to Al Manar al Jadeed, the Ann Arbor-based IANA’s quarterly journal, the pair sought the blind sheik’s endorsement of their political party venture in March 1999. They were not seeking the official participation of organizations like the Egyptian Islamic Jihad or the Egyptian Islamic Group. They were just hoping the groups would not oppose it. The pair wanted members of the movement to be free to join in peaceful partisan activity. They were not deterred when the blind sheik responded that the project was pointless, at the same he withdrew his support for the cease-fire initiative that had been backed by the imprisoned leaders of the Egyptian Islamic Group.
    In early April 2001, Nawaf Alhazmi and Hani Hanjour rented an apartment in Falls Church, Virginia, for about a month, with the assistance of a man they met at the mosque. Nawaf Al-Hazmi had been at the January 2000 meeting at Yazid Sufaat’s Malaysian condominium in January 2000. Hijackers Nawaf and Hani Hanjour, a fellow pilot who was his friend from Saudi Arabia, attended sermons at the Dar al Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, where Al-Timimi was located until he established the nearby center. The FBI reports that at an imam named Awlawki who had recently also moved from San Diego had closed door meetings with hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in 2000 while all three of them were living in San Diego. Police later found the phone number of the Falls Church mosque when they searched the apartment of 9/11 planner Ramzi bin al-Shibh in Germany. In his 2007 book, Center of the Storm, George Tenet noted that Ramzi bin al-Shibh had a CBRN role.
    Yusuf Wells, who was a fundraiser for the Benevolence International Foundation, visited Northern Virginia over the April 14-15, 2001 weekend. The previous month he had been at Iowa State University on a similar visit. On April 15, 2001, he was brought to a paintball game. In the second season, they had become more secretive after an inquiry by an FBI Special Agent was made in 2000 of one of the members about the games. Part of BIF fundraiser Wells’ job involved writing reports about his fund raising trips. In his April 15, 2001 report he writes:
    “I was taken on a trip to the woods where a group of twenty brothers get together to play Paintball. It is a very secret and elite group and as I understand it, it is an honor to be invited to come. The brothers are fully geared up in camouflage fatigues, facemasks, and state of the art paintball weaponry. They call it ‘training’ and are very serious about it. I knew at least 4 or 5 of them were ex US military, the rest varied.
    Most all of them young men between the ages of 17-35. I was asked by the amir of the group to give a talk after Thuhr prayer. I spoke about seeing the conditions of Muslims overseas while with BIF, and how the fire of Islam is still very much alive in the hearts of the people even in the midst of extreme oppression. I also stressed the idea of being balanced. That we should not just be jihadis and perfect our fighting skills, but we should also work to perfect our character and strengthen our knowledge of Islam. I also said that Muslims are not just book reading cowards either, and that they should be commended for forming such a group.
    Many were confused as to why I had been ‘trusted’ to join the group so quickly, but were comforted after my brief talk. Some offered to help me get presentations on their respective localities.”
    A man named Kwon recalled driving Al-Timimi home from the mosque Sept. 11, 2001 after the terrorist attacks. He said Al-Timimi and another scholar argued, with Al-Timimi characterizing the attacks as a punishment of America from God. “He told me to gather some brothers, to have a contingency plan in case there were mass hostilities toward Muslims in America.” Kwon said Al-Timimi told the group that the effort to spread Islam in the United States was over and that the only other options open to them were to repent, leave the U.S. and join the mujahadeen —be preparing to defend Afghanistan against the coming U.S. invasion.
    After 9/11, although a dinner that night was cancelled in light of the events of the day, Al-Timimi sought “to organize a plan in case of anti-Muslim backlash and to get the brothers together.” The group got together on September 16. Al-Timimi when he came in told the group to turn of their phones, unplug the answering machine, and pull down the curtains. Al-Timimi told the group that Mullah Omar had called upon Muslims to defend Afghanistan. Al-Timimi read parts of the al-Uqla fatwa to the group and gave the fatwa to Khan with the instructions to burn it after he read it. Al Timimi said the duty to engage in jihad is “fard ayn” — an individual duty of all Muslims. Over a lunch with two of the group on September 19, Al-Timimi told them not to carry anything suspicious and if they were stopped on the way to Pakistan to ask for their mother and cry like a baby. He told them to carry a magazine. The next day the pair left for Pakistan. The group from the September 16 meeting met again in early October, and a number left for Pakistan immediately after that meeting.
    Al-Timimi’s lawyer explains that Al-Timimi was in telephone contact with Al-Hawali on September 16, 2001 and September 19, 2001:
    “The conversation with Al-Hawali on September 19, 2001 was central to the indictment and raised at trial. Al-Timimi called Dr. Hawali after the dinner with Kwon on September 16, 2001 and just two hours before he met with Kwon and Hassan for the last time on September 19, 2001.”
    Al-Timimi was urging the young men go defend the Taliban against the imminent US invasion. Later, an open letter to Ayman Zawahiri from a senior Libyan jihadist, Bin-Uthman, now living in London, confirms that Ayman Zawahiri and Atef, at a several day meeting in Kandahar in the Summer of 2000, viewed WMD as a deterrent to the invasion of Afghanistan.
    Kwon, who had just become a U.S. citizen in August 2001, went to the mountain training camps of Lashkar-e-Taiba. The U.S. placed on its terrorist list in December 2001. Kwon practiced with a semi-automatic weapons and learned to fire a grenade launcher, but he was not able to join the Taliban. The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan closed as U.S. forces took control of Afghanistan shortly before Kwon completed his training. His trainers suggested that he instead go back to the United States and gather information for the holy warriors. Kwon told jurors at al-Timimi’s trial how he first heard Al-Timimi speak in 1997 at an Islamic Assembly of North America conference in Chicago and then found that Al-Timimi lectured locally near his home in Northern Virginia. “Russian Hell” — a jihad video that featured bloody clips of a Chechen Muslim rebel leader executing a Russian prisoner of war — was a favorite among the videos that the group exchanged and discussed. “They (the videos) motivated us. It was like they gave us inspiration,” Kwon told the jurors.
    In 2001, Al-Timimi kept the personal papers of IANA President Khafagi at his home for safekeeping. His taped audio lecturers were among the most popular at the charity Islamic Assembly of North America in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He knew its President, Khafagi, both through work with CAIR and IANA. The same nondescript office building at 360 S. Washington St. in Falls Church where Timimi used to lecture at Dar al Arqam housed the Muslim World League.
    Al Timimi was close to his former teacher Safar al Hawali, the dissident Saudi sheik whose writings hail what he calls the inevitable downfall of the West. (Under pressure from authorities after 9/11, Al Hawali has played a public role in mediating between Saudi militants and the government.) Al-Timimi sought to represent and explain the views of radical sheik Al-Hawali in a letter he sent to members of Congress on the first anniversary of the mailing to the US Senators Daschle and Leahy. The Hawali October 6, 2002 letter drafted by Al-Timimi was hand delivered to every member of the US Congress just before their vote authorizing the use of force against Iraq, warning of the disastrous consequences that would follow an invasion of Iraq. Dr. Timimi’s defense committee explained on their website:
    “Because Dr. Al-Timimi felt that he did not have enough stature to send a letter in his name on behalf of Muslims, he contacted Dr. Al-Hawali among others to send the letter. Dr. Al-Hawali agreed and sent a revised version which Dr. Al-Timimi then edited and had hand delivered to every member of Congress.”
    In addition to the lucidly written October 6, 2002 letter, drafted by Al-Timimi, Hawali had sent a lengthy October 15, 2001 “Open Letter” to President Bush in which he had rejoiced in the 9/11 attacks. One Al-Hawali lecture, sought to be introduced in the prosecution of the IANA webmaster, applauded the killing of Jews and called for more killing, praised suicide bombings, and said of Israel that it’s time to “fight and expel this hated country that consists of those unclean, defiled, the cursed.”
    Bin Laden referred to Sheik al-Hawali in his 1996 Declaration of War on America. Prior to the 1998 embassy bombings, Ayman’s London cell sent letters to three different media outlets in Europe claiming responsibility for the bombings and referring to Hawali’s imprisonment. In two of the letters, the conditions laid out as to how the violence would stop were (1) release of Sheik al-Hawali (who along with another had been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia in 1994) and (2) the release of blind sheik Abdel Rahman (who had been imprisoned in connection with WTC 1993). Hawali was released in 1999 after he agreed to stop advocating against the Saudi regime.
    Al-Timimi sent out a February 1, 2003 email in Arabic containing an article that said:
    “There is no doubt Muslims were overjoyed because of the adversity that befell their greatest enemy. The Columbia crash made me feel, and God is the only One to know, that this is a strong signal that Western Supremacy (especially that of America) that began 500 years ago is coming to a quick end, God willing, as occurred to the shuttle.”
    As Ali later explained to NBC, “To have a space shuttle crash in Palestine, Texas, with a Texas president and an Israeli astronaut, somebody might say there’s a divine hand behind it.”
    His defense counsel says Al-Timimi, who counsel years earlier once worked as an assistant to White House Chief of Card, was an “anthrax weapons suspect.” Now Abdullah Al-Kidd is suing Attorney General Aschroft for the government’s failure to not admit the real reason for the material witness warrant. Being a staunch liberal, I had never been a fan of Attorney General Ashcroft — but when he came to speak at the University here after he had stepped down, he was quite masterful in explaining the balancing of competing interests.

  7. DXer said

    Today’s news –

    Appeals court rules against Ashcroft in 9/11 case
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hRh2OMc1xO2GJ2_AXd8y0PJ6iuHAD9AGR3SG0

    Al-Kidd argues that the material witness warrant was a pretext — it was not to ensure that he testify against Al-Hussayen on the issue of visa violations but was for some unstated national security investigation. The Court held that Ashcroft could be sued personally for his detention under a material witness warrant.

    Al-Kidd, represented by the ACLU, says he was denied a security clearance at a government contractor as a result and suffered other economic and personal hardships.

    What was the government contractor?

    The broader context was the continuing anthrax investigation and an operation called IMMINENT HORIZON.

    The decision by the Ninth Circuit is here:

    http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2009/09/04/06-36059.pdf

    “Al-Kidd and Al-Hussayen both worked on behalf of the Islamic Assembly of North America, a Michigan-based charitable organization that federal investigators alleged funneled money to activities supporting terrorism and published material advocating suicide attacks on the United States.”

    In footnote 3, the Court of Appeals states that
    “The IANA is identified in the al-Hussayen indictment as an organization with the “purpose of Da’wa (proselytizing), which included the website dissemination of radical Islamic ideology the purpose of which was the indoctrination, recruitment of members, and the instigation of acts of violence and terrorism.”

    The IANA’s web site currently disseminates a list of goals which include, inter alia, to “[u]nify and coordinate the efforts of the different dawah oriented organizations in North America and guide or direct the Muslims of this land to adhere to the proper Islamic methodology”; “[s]pread the correct knowledge of Islam”; “[w]iden the horizons and understanding… among Muslims concerning different Islamic workers and Muslim masses in any locality” ; and “[c]create programs and institutions that will serve the English-speaking Muslims of North America… Al-Hussayen, then a computer science graduate student at the University of Idaho, was accused of registering and running the IANA’s web site. He was acquitted on most charges and a mistrial was declared on others. He was deported to Saudi Arabia.

    IANA was headed by the Ann Arbor-based Egyptian Bassem Khafagi.

    What was the context of Al-Kidd’s arrest in February 2003? One broader context that included the IANA investigation was a national security operation codenamed “Operation Imminent Horizon.” The same thing — arrest pursuant to a material witness warrant — was done to an animal geneticist Ismail Diab who was worked for IANA. He was arrested the same time Al-Timimi’s townhouse was searched on February 26, 2003 (the Tenth Anniversary of WTC 1993). He never testified.

    In 2000, IANA announced that it had signed a cooperative agreement with the Cairo based publisher and distributor Dar Al-Manar Al-Jadeed. “Jointly they will publish in Cairo and distribute around the world the quarterly Al-Manar Al-Jadeed magazine.” The editor in chief is the well-known Cairo-based writer, Gamal Sultan. Another key IANA writer was Ayman Zawahiri’s longtime friend, the Cairo-based founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Kamal Habib.

    Al-Manar Al-Jadeed magazine was published in Arabic and available online. In early 2001, the IANA website announced that the Help The Needy website was open. The Cairo-based Gamal Sultan had previously written for the Pittsburgh-based Assirat Almustaqueem Magazine, which also was connected to IANA. Thus, there had been a close connection between (1) Ann Arbor, MI (2) Syracuse, NY, (3) DC-Falls Church, VA, (4) Moscow, Idaho-Pullman, Washington, (5) and Cairo, Egypt.

    On February 26, 2003, at the same time the FBI was searching the townhome of PhD candidate Ali Timimi, searches and arrests moved forward elsewhere. In Moscow, Idaho, FBI agents interviewed Nabil Albaloushi (they searched his apartment at the same time they searched the apartment of Sami al-Hussayen, who they had woken from bed at 4:00 a.m. (6:00 a.m. EST) Albaloushi was a PhD candidate expert in drying foodstuffs. His thesis in 2003 was 350 pages filled with charts of drying coefficients. “About me there is nothing suspicious,” Albaloushi told a reporter while the agents were still in his home. “I live in this country, my children were born in this country, I love this country.” In Syracuse, they arrested an animal geneticist and food researcher as a material witness.Probers exploring a possible terror connection focused on Sami Omar Al-Hussayen, a 34-year-old computer scientist and doctoral candidate who was researching cyber-intrusion techniques at the University of Idaho in Moscow. On February 25, 2003, computer expert Sami a-Hussayen’s brother in Canada, asked him about where to give a charitable contribution pursuant to Muslim religious obligations. According to an electronic intercept read into the Court record at Sami al-Hussayen’s trial. (Al-Hussayen was acquitted and other remaining charges were dropped): “There’s this organization called Help The Needy. They are IANA’s organization for the needy.” Al-Hussayen noted that the group had been around for close to a decade. As explained in a Spokesman Review trial blog, his brother noted that Help the Needy sends relief to Iraq, and asked, “Maybe they are an organization that has issues nowadays?” to which Al Hussayen answered “I don’t think so, since this is a relief organization and a registered organization. As I said, it is 9 to 10 years old and has branches in Britain and Australia.” He added, “The most important is for the organization to be clean, without any question marks on it. In addition, it was not listed on the list (of) organizations that were supporting terrorism. This is the most important thing. You don’t want to be in trouble.”

    Less than 24 hours later, Al-Hussayen was arrested, and Syracuse, NY Help The Needy’s director and three others had been jailed. In the predawn hours of February 26, 2003, in several coordinated raids, a computer graduate Al-Hussayen was arrested by FBI agents in Idaho and agents in and around Syracuse arrested three of the four suspects in the Help the Needy case. In March 2004, Hussayen was indicted on additional charges relating to support for a terrorist group by reason of being the sole administrator of a website that urged suicide attacks. He was acquitted of most charges in late Spring of 2004. The government agreed to drop the remaining charges, with the result that he would be deported rather than imprisoned. Sami al-Hussayen, an Idaho PhD student, provided funding and internet services for the Islamic Assembly of North America. From 1995 to 2002, IANA received $3 million in support from sources related to Sami al-Hussayen. Sami served on the IANA Board of Trustees. Interceptions showed a very close link between IANA’s al-Hussayen and Sheikh al-Hawali, to include the setting up of web sites, the providing of vehicles for extended communication, and telephone contact with intermediaries of Sheikh al-Hawali. Al-Hussayen had al-Hawali’s phone number upon the search of his belongings upon his arrest. IANA was characterized in a press release by the Saudi Arabian Embassy in the District of Columbia as following the beliefs of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    The Syracuse charity run by an oncologist, “Help The Needy,” was an IANA spin-off. The doctor, Rafil Dhafir, was the IANA Vice-President. The President of HTN, in name only, was Dhafir’s medical technologist. The Vice-President was Ali-Al-Timimi’s colleague and co-founder of the Society for the Adherence to the Sunnah in Washington, D.C. Al Qaeda recruiter and Bosnian fighter Sheik Abu Abdel Aziz Barbaros had spoken at the 1993, 1994 and 1995 annual IANA conferences, as did IANA lecturers Dr. Dhafir from Syracuse and Ali and Al Timimi, from Washington, D.C. Sheik Abu Abdel Aziz Barbaros from Bosnia told an interviewer in 1994 that he had first arrived in Afghanistan in 1984 and had then begun his “journey with Jihad.” The January 2000 edition of Assirat carried an editorial titled “In the Land of Ice Cream” by “Abdallah Abd’ al Aziz.” Two writers for Assirat in Pittsburgh had once shared a Portland, Oregon address with Bin Laden’s secretary Wadih El-Hage.

    The stated purpose of the”Help the Needy” charity in Syracuse, NY was to help the “starving children and muslims of Iraq.” Some years ago, two Chicago-area charities — the Global Relief Foundation and the Benevolence International Foundation — received checks totaling $42,000 from Help the Needy. Global Relief returned the favor, contributing $18,000 to Help the Needy. “Help the Needy” is not a sleeper cell, and it won’t carry out murderous attacks on the United States,” said Rita Katz, director of the SITE Institute, a counterterrorism think tank in Washington. “But its friends are capable of mounting such attacks,” she asserts. The respected Dr. Rafil Dhafir, 55, a founder of Help the Needy, was practicing in upstate Rome and has been a member of the medical staff at Rome Memorial Hospital since 1982. Osameh Al Wahaidy, 41, was a popular math professor at the State University of New York at Oswego and a Muslim prison chaplain at the Auburn Correctional Facility. Ayman Jarwan, 33, was a capable fund-raiser who served as Help the Needy’s executive director. Maher Zagha, 34, was an ex-graduate student who had attended schools in Utica and Syracuse before returning to his native Jordan where he received the bank checks from the “Help The Needy” charity. The four were accused of conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions against Iraq by transferring cash to unidentified people in Baghdad without a license. Former Washington State University animal geneticist and nutrition researcher Ismail Diab was charged and released as a material witness. After the government failed to take Dr. Diab’s deposition for nearly 3 months, the judge removed the electronic monitoring and curfew requirements.

    The charity allegedly diverted at least $4 million to Iraq, out of $5.6 million that passed through its accounts since 1995. Prosecutors said that only a small portion of the funds they could trace were used to feed Iraqis. But the indictment provides no evidence of links to terror and no suggestion the money went to Saddam or his regime. Prosecutors said they don’t know where the money went. Dr. Dhafir was jailed without bail after he talked in an email about his imagined daughter’s upcoming wedding. (The Buffalo case demonstrated that the CIA has this thing about weddings; in his defense, he would argue that code was being used to prevent Saddam’s regime from seizing relief intended for charity as it entered the country).). Authorities took away his medical license, and threw him in prison without bail. His detention without bail was the subject of protests. In mid-November 2003, 100 rallied for his freedom. His lawyer explained that to get a permit would cause the Saddam regime to seize money intended for needy muslims in Iraq.

    In March 2002, federal agents began intercepting e-mails to and from Dhafir’s home Time Warner Road Runner account under a federal search warrant. In May 2002, for the next four months, they began intercepting faxes pursuant to a warrant. Eight e-mails, most of them to or from Dhafir, provided ambiguous evidence that some of the money raised by the charity may not have gone to the charity’s stated purpose. For example, in May 2002 emails suggested that up to $50,000 had been funneled to Al Wahaidy’s family through Help the Needy accounts. In July 2002, emails indicated that other money — $500 per month — was going to other individuals in Jarwan’s family. In media reports, the individuals were described with the loaded term “operatives.” But, at bottom, the charity was doing what it said it was doing — providing money to individuals in Iraq. After intercepting the August e-mail, FBI agents rummaged through Help the Needy’s trash after it left the charity’s East Brighton Avenue office and found donation receipts from 1994, 1995 and 1996. Some donation receipts from the mid-1990s listed Islamic Assembly of North America’s tax exempt number even though the IANA was not designated a charitable organization for IRS purposes until 1999.

    In October 2002, investigators obtained a warrant to copy the contents of an envelope Dhafir mailed to himself from Egypt to the hospital at Rome. It contained two ledgers — one for the relief account and another for a private account. The ledger relating to the relief account detailed more than $3.9 million was spent from February 1996 to September 2002. Two of the people identified in the ledger and e-mails were individuals who Help the Needy had been paying — and both were in Iraq. In January 2003, investigators intercepted an overnight envelope at Kennedy International Airport in New York City that Dr. Dhafir addressed to Zagha Trading Establishment in Amman, Jordan. The packet was forwarded to postal inspectors in Syracuse for inspection. Agents got 29 search warrants in all. The e-mail search warrants had to be renewed every 30 days. But what was the crime investigated? Not having a permit to provide for the needy? That’s morally wrong but invading the country based on ambiguous or falsified evidence morally compelled? Over the last year of the investigation, there were 12 investigators from eight law enforcement agencies working full-time on the case. Clearly, investigators had to suspect that $2.73 million was going to fund terrorism rather than provide for the needy. But where’s the beef? Where’s the proof? It’s not of special moment that the funds went in a circuitous course — first going to Amman, Jordan. On February 26, 2003, 110 officers from the various agencies massed. The got their assignments the day before. The plan was to interview 150 people the same day, many of whom were donors. The massive raid coincidentally was scheduled for the Tenth Year Anniversary of the World Trade Center bombing. The agents asked the donors whether they were told their money would be going to a militant Islamic group or to help starving widows and children. They were not otherwise asked questions about their religion, the US Attorney said.

    Dhafir and Help the Needy sought to “promote a strain of Islam known as Salafism” in Iraq, the affidavit filed by an IRS agent said. Some have described Salafism as a form of Islam followed by Osama bin Laden. After the arrests, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brenda Sannes told the federal magistrate in a letter that investigators intercepted “a disturbing series of apparently coded e-mails” from Dhafir recently about “some currently unknown plan” involving someone in Iraq who had received $358,000 from Help the Needy between August 2000 and September [of 2002]. She wrote “It is not believed that these e-mails refer to relief efforts by HTN since Dhafir has communicated openly in e-mails about possibly aiding relief efforts in Iraq in the event of a war.” “There are many common threads” between the Syracuse and Idaho cases, said Terry Derden, first assistant U.S. attorney in Idaho. Michael Olmsted, one of the prosecutors in the Syracuse case, would not comment on any possible connections. Ismail Diab, arrested as a material witness, has a Ph.D. in animal genetics and worked as a nutrition researcher at Washington State University before he moved to Syracuse, the government said. (8 miles from Pullman, it has joint programs with the university there). He was released on bail.

    Among 500 pages eventually unsealed was this quote from the transcript at the hotel in Washington, D.C.

    “To us it is the issue of feeding and rescue. It is a good idea. But that’s not the major goal. Our major goal is the issue of Al-Dawah (Islamic mission work) so that people get back to the right path that makes Allah happy for their benefit in life and after life. To us that’s most important. Is the change (as a result of the expected U.S. invasions) going to allow (us) to do that? Even under the cover of charity, that’s the most important question.”

    The “Help The Needy” work sounded a lot like the President Bush’s faith-based initiative. Dhafir faced nearly three dozen counts of tax and health care fraud. The jury found him guilty in February 2005. He has top-flight appellate counsel (the briefs are online) who now estimates he has about a one-third prospect of success on appeal.

    Al-Kidd’s recent success on appeal may be a harbinger of things to come.

    • DXer said

      errata – I believe Al-Kidd’s arrest at Dulles when he went to board a flight to Saudi Arabia was in March rather than February.

      FWIW, tying his experience in with the discussion above, they found a program for the 1994 IANA conference I mention and Bassem Khafagi’s phone number. He had gone to Sa’ana, Yemen in August 2001 and was there until mid-2002. Dr. Diab, the other charity worker arrested as a material witness who never testified, left Pullman/Moscow in August 2002, according to a news account at the time, upon reports that the FBI was investigating Sami Al-Hussayen. Dr. Diab, according to a former colleague, was experienced with a spraydryer and mixing with silica in making animal feedstuffs and so — although the FBI is now confident that Dr. Ivins was the culprit given the redhot sorority connections — Al-Kidd may have been swept up in the concerns relating to the expressed support in one IANA support for flying planes into buildings. For all the talk of the sophistication of anthrax made at Dugway, it actually in the 2001 simulant testing had been spraydried in Denmark and then mixed with silica at a dairy processor in Wisconsin.

      By way of update, notwithstanding the excellent briefs, Dr. Dhafir late last month in a decision dated August 18, 2009 appears to have lost his appeal.

      United States of America, Appellee, -v.- Rafil Dhafir, Defendant-Appellant.
      Nos. 05-5965-cr,06-0949-cr
      UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
      August 18, 2009, Decided

      NOTICE: PLEASE REFER TO FEDERAL RULES OF APPELLATE PROCEDURE RULE 32.1 GOVERNING THE CITATION TO UNPUBLISHED OPINIONS.

      FOR APPELLEE: Michael C. Olmsted, Assistant United States Attorney (Brenda K. Sannes, Stephen C. Green, Assistant United States Attorneys, on the brief), for Andrew T. Baxter, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York, Syracuse, NY.

      JUDGES: PRESENT: HON. GUIDO CALABRESI, HON. BARRINGTON D. PARKER, Circuit Judges. *
      * The Honorable Sonia Sotomayor, originally a member of this panel, was elevated to the Supreme Court on August 8, 2009. The two remaining members of the panel, who are in agreement, have determined this matter. See 28 U.S.C. § 46(d); Local Rule 0.14(2); United States v. Desimone, 140 F.3d 457 (2d Cir. 1998).

      OPINION

      SUMMARY ORDER
      UPON DUE CONSIDERATION, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the judgment of conviction is AFFIRMED. The order of restitution is also AFFIRMED.

      We assume familiarity with the underlying facts and procedural history of this case. On February 10, 2005, a jury convicted Defendant-Appellant Rafil Dhafir of numerous charges relating to his operation of a fraudulent charity, Help [*2] the Needy (“HTN”), and improper Medicare billings. The United States District Court for the Northern District of New York (Mordue, J.) principally sentenced Dhafir to 264 months’ imprisonment and ordered restitution in the amount of $ 865,272.76. Dhafir makes a number of contentions on appeal, most of which lack merit. We address his challenge to the district court’s application of the Sentencing Guidelines in a separate opinion.

      Dhafir first claims that the district court violated his Confrontation Clause rights by limiting his counsel’s cross-examination of witnesses about the government’s supposed bias in prosecuting him. Dhafir sought to argue at trial that the government was frustrated by its failure to connect him to terrorist activities and its expenditure of resources on his case. We review the district court’s limitations on cross-examination for abuse of discretion. See United States v. Crowley, 318 F.3d 401, 417 (2d Cir. 2003). We have also held that “the right to confront and cross examine witnesses is tempered by a trial judge’s ‘wide latitude’ to impose ‘reasonable limits’ in order to avoid matters that are confusing or of marginal relevance.” United States v. Stewart, 433 F.3d 273, 311 (2d Cir. 2006) [*3] (quoting Howard v. Walker, 406 F.3d 114 128-29 (2d Cir. 2005)). We find that the court did not abuse its discretion in limiting Dhafir’s cross-examination. Dhafir’s unsupported theories about the government’s bias were of only marginal relevance to the charges against him, and the district court’s restrictions on those questions were well within its latitude in conducting a trial.

      We also conclude that the government presented sufficient evidence to convict Dhafir on the mail and wire fraud charges. *** The government put forth ample evidence, largely through the testimony of government agents, that donations to HTN were misused, such that a reasonable jury could conclude that the elements of the charges had been demonstrated. The government also produced sufficient evidence of Dhafir’s misrepresentations to donors through his own statements and through HTN literature.

      ***
      Dhafir’s arguments regarding joinder of claims also lack merit. He contends that the district court erroneously joined the Medicare fraud counts with the HTN-related counts. We again apply plain error review, as Dhafir raised no objection to the joinder below. Under this standard and given the strength of the government’s case on the HTN-related charges, we determine that, even if the joinder were improper, Dhafir has not shown “prejudice so severe that his conviction constituted a miscarriage of justice.” United States v. Joyner, 201 F.3d 61, 75 (2d Cir. 2000) (internal quotation marks omitted).

      Neither are we persuaded that Dhafir’s convictions on Counts One (conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act) [*6] and Fifteen (conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding the IRS) were multiplicitous because both counts alleged conspiracies in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. Dhafir concedes that this issue too may be reviewed only for plain error. We find that this claim has no merit. Counts One and Fifteen clearly charged two separate conspiracies with different underlying objects and non-overlapping elements and overt acts. The two conspiracies also involved different participants. We have held that where “separate counts of a single indictment allege that the defendant participated in more than one conspiracy in violation of the same statutory provision . . . and that the defendant, in each alleged conspiracy, had different groups of coconspirators, the question of whether one, or more than one, conspiracy has been proven is a question of fact for a properly instructed jury.” United States v. Jones, 482 F.3d 60, 72 (2d Cir. 2006). In this case, the jury found that both conspiracies had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Dhafir made no argument then or on appeal that the jury was improperly instructed. The district court did not commit plain error in allowing trial to proceed on the [*7] indictment as it stood. Further, the district court was permitted to impose overlapping, partially consecutive sentences. See United States v. Reifler, 446 F.3d 65, 113 (2d Cir. 2006); United States v. McLeod, 251 F.3d 78, 83-84 (2d Cir. 2001).

      ***
      For the foregoing reasons, the judgment of conviction and order of restitution are AFFIRMED.

      • DXer said

        ACLU mentions that Abdullah Al-Kidd was denied a security clearance for work at a government contractor and thus lost his job.

        His earlier employment, I thought, had been a Seattle working with homeless teens, and so perhaps the ACLU just means that the arrest caused problems with a background check.

  8. Anonymous Scientist said

    We are now at T+ 40 days since the FBI announced they were “on the verge” of closing the anthrax case.

  9. Anonymous Scientist said

    http://media.www.thebrownandwhite.com/media/storage/paper1233/news/2009/09/04/News/Gast-Heads.Review.Panel.For.01.Anthrax.Scare-3762737.shtml

    Gast heads review panel for ’01 anthrax scare
    By Elaine Hardenstine

    Almost eight years ago to the day, letters containing anthrax powder began showing up in the mailboxes of several high-profile American citizens and media outlets.

    Over several weeks, 17 people became infected and five people died of the infectious disease.

    In 2008, Bruce Ivins, a government scientist, was investigated as the “sole” anthrax-mailing suspect, according to authorities at the time. Before a criminal investigation was held, he committed suicide.

    Throughout the entirety of the anthrax scare, offices closed down as hospitals tested for more cases and public fear ran rampant. But the forensic evidence in the case was never compiled and analyzed to the satisfaction of the government.

    Now, in an effort to understand what truly happened in 2001, the National Academy of Sciences is running a panel to study and form conclusions about the anthrax scare.

    “We are holding information gathering meetings, in order to hear evidence,” said President Alice Gast, who is heading the investigation panel filled with scientists from a wide variety of fields, including chemists, technicians, a justice and specialists in infectious disease.

    “The group members were chosen for their balanced, unbiased views,” Gast said. “It was a privilege to take an in-depth look at an important subject with such a diverse, informed group of people.”

    The panel met once in July and will meet several more times, including this month, until they finish formulating a report.

    Although Gast cannot currently disclose the opinions of the panel, the full report detailing its conclusions will be released within the year.

    The report, which will be reviewed by outside experts and presented on Capitol Hill, will contain guidelines for handling bioterroristic threats in the future.

    Officials will gain advice on how to properly manage microbial forensic cases, including law enforcements’ collection of bacteria and medical experts’ identification of disease.

    “It will be a service to agencies for the future, in the chance that bioterroristic threats arise again,” Gast said. “They will be able to respond more quickly to an urgent situation that is consistently new and changing.”

    Gast compared the anthrax case to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARS, epidemic in China several years ago.

    “The situations are parallel because the national and world community needed to come together to identify the problem,” she said. “No one expected someone in a hospital to have SARS or anthrax.”

    This is the third panel Gast has worked on for the National Academy of Sciences.

  10. Mondaine said

    Michael Chertoff already knew of the tip relating to Ali Al-Timimi as of the time of this interview in October 2001.

    http://www.anthraxandalqaeda.com

    CNBC News Transcripts

    October 17, 2001 Wednesday

    SHOW: Hardball with Chris Matthews (8:00 PM ET) – CNBC

    Michael Chertoff, assistant US attorney general, discusses the anthrax investigation, ties to bin Laden

    ANCHORS: CHRIS MATTHEWS

    LENGTH: 984 words

    CHRIS MATTHEWS, host:
    Michael Chertoff is the assistant attorney general for the criminal division at the Justice Department and he's head of the September 11th task force.

    Michael, thank you for joining us. It's quite a responsibility. Let's hear from you officially. What might be the connection between these anthrax attacks and bin Laden?

    Mr. MICHAEL CHERTOFF (Assistant United States Attorney General): Well, Chris, we're obviously looking very carefully at all aspects of this anthrax episode. And I–I might add that it's not just a law enforcement investigation, it's an investigation that brings together the best scientific and medical minds that we have to trace both the manner in which the anthrax was sent and also the composition of the anthrax.
    MATTHEWS: We just had Richard Butler on who headed up UNSCOM for all those years. He's very familiar with the Iraqi production of weapons of mass destruction, particularly the one we're talking about, anthrax. He thinks it's either–Iraq or Russia is the source. What do you make of that?

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Well, I mean, I–clearly, we have to look at what we can determine from analyzing the material itself and what intelligence information we gather, and what we know historically about sources of anthrax, in order to make that determination. There's no question that a critical question here is how and where this was produced, as well as who delivered it.

    MATTHEWS: In your case–in your position, Mr. Chertoff, you must be familiar with what they call in "Casablanca" the usual suspects. Who are they this time…

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Well, I…

    MATTHEWS: …with this anthrax stuff?

    Mr. CHERTOFF: I–I don't think we want to put a list of suspects out. One thing I can tell you is…

    MATTHEWS: Generically though. Generically, who are they?

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Well, I think generically we want to look at people who have the capability to produce it, whether it be people who produced it abroad or people who might produce it in this country. One of the things which the scientists will tell us is the quality of the anthrax. Is it something that requires a sophisticated laboratory? Or is it something that can be comparatively homegrown? I think when we have the definitive answers to those questions, we can start to narrow the trail down and–and focus in on the–on the most likely perpetrators.

    MATTHEWS: Let's talk about the usual suspects from a–from a–a recent point of perspective, which is September 11th. The sleepers, so-called, agents, perhaps, of bin Laden in this country legally or illegally awaiting orders. Where–where do you stand with tracking them down?

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Well, one of the things we've done is we've tried to be as comprehensive as possible in following all of the leads that have generated, not only from the identities of the hijackers on September 11th, but from other sources, whether they're law enforcement sources or civilian tips, anything that comes our way, because we're trying to establish connections to determine whether there are people in this country who are aiders and abetters of September 11th or who are lying in wait to commit further acts. The emphasis that we have, and it comes right from the top, is prevention, disruption and interdiction. What we're most interested in doing is stopping any further acts, and secondarily, obviously, bringing to justice those who have committed past acts.

    MATTHEWS: What do you make of that New York Post report today, that one of the–one of the hijackers, who obviously committed suicide as part of the process of September 11th, their credit card is still being used?

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Well, one of the things we–we obviously want to do is to track financial information, and that can be a valuable source of leads, both in terms of what happened in the past, but more important, who might be out there in the future. So, I mean, we are very alert to all kinds of connections, and we're using all of the–the tactics and all of the weapons at our disposal in tracking these things down.

    MATTHEWS: Do you think it would be harder for bin Laden's crowd to do what they did September 11th, tomorrow morning?

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Well, I hope it would be harder in the sense that I think we're at a heightened state of alertness. Certainly, the airports, other forms of transportation, even ordinary civilians, I think, are making a point of being aware of suspicious activity. That's not by any means to suggest that we have a guarantee against something, but it–it is to suggest that being wary, being cautious without being panicked is one of the things we can do on a day-to-day basis to prevent future harm.

    MATTHEWS: Are you closer to making a connection between the anthrax cases–the attacks of anthrax on Tom Brokaw, on Tom Daschle and others, and the–and the bin Laden forces? Or are you moving away from that supposition?

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Well, I–one of the…

    MATTHEWS: Which way are you headed?

    Mr. CHERTOFF: I think one of the things, Chris, that I have learned in–over time and I think other people agree with, is that you don't want to jump to conclusions. Clearly we're talking about two different kinds of attacks. In some ways they've both had the effect of terrorizing people in the country.

    MATTHEWS: Right.

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Bin Laden's an obvious place to look, but I think we would be making a mistake if we tried jump to a conclusion before we have all the facts.

    MATTHEWS: It's great to have you on, Michael Chertoff. I remember you when. You got a great appointment.

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Yeah, it's good to see…

    MATTHEWS: And thank you for coming on tonight.

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Good to see you, Chris.;. All the best!!

  11. Ike Solem said

    Anonymous Scientist says:

    “The delay reason seems to be the most likely one. Certainly keeping the whole thing in a state of limbo has been the FBI’s MO for the last 8 years in this case. Why change a tactic that has been succesful?”

    This seems to be correct. By keeping the case in limbo, they keep the gag order on everyone involved in the initial investigation, which allows them to keep up the ever-more-implausible claim of a low-tech spore preparation made with common laboratory equipment and no secret additives, a key requirement for the Bruce Ivins hypothesis.

    The 18-month National Academy of Sciences investigation of FBI claims on the science has to be completed before they can make any determination, a decision which could be used to keep the case in limbo for another two years or so, by which time political pressure for a complete Senate investigation might have waned – but that assumes that the press coverage will be minimal.

    As far as the press goes, this entire sequence of events since the death of Bruce Ivins provides a case example of media manipulation – if some aspiring scholar wants a case study of undue government influence over the media to examine, this one is it.

    While this really goes all the way back to the early 2002 leaks to the NYT and others about Stephen Hatfill, the last year has really been something, starting with this first breaking press report by David Willman, LAT:

    http://articles.latimes.com/2008/aug/01/nation/na-anthrax1

    “The FBI’s new top investigators — Vincent B. Lisi and Edward W. Montooth — instructed agents to reexamine leads or potential suspects that may have received insufficient attention. Moreover, significant progress was made in analyzing genetic properties of the anthrax powder recovered from letters addressed to two senators.”

    However, the FBI also had to explain Hatfill:

    “The payout to Hatfill, a highly unusual development that all but exonerated him in the mailings, was an essential step to clear the way for prosecuting Ivins, according to lawyers familiar with the matter. Federal investigators moved away from Hatfill — for years the only publicly identified “person of interest” — and ultimately concluded that Ivins was the culprit after FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III changed leadership of the investigation in late 2006.”

    The story has no mention of the original FBI theories about the crime or the initial Amerithrax 1 & 2 investigations, c. Oct 2001 – Jan 2001, as covered in these stories:

    Dec 21 2001 Defense Labs at Center Of FBI Anthrax Probe – Newsday
    “According to various sources, the FBI is investigating the possibility that someone who worked at one of those three institutions stole a sample of the Ames…”

    Dec 21, 2001 FBI Investigates Possible Financial Motive in Anthrax Attacks – The Washington Post.
    “Although investigators have not ruled out other possible motives, they have conducted dozens of interviews in at least two labs to determine whether potential profit from the sale of anthrax medications or cleanup efforts may have motivated the bioterrorist believed responsible for the attacks, the officials said.”

    Jan 1 2002 Dugway Under PR Pressure as Maker of Weapons-Grade Anthrax – Salt Lake City Tribune

    The story was also picked up by NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof, who pointed out that there was no way this could have come from Iraq or the Middle East – but who also floated a ‘lone-wolf’ theory:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/04/opinion/profile-of-a-killer.html

    Five months later, Kristof was promoting a large increase in biodefense contracting. He also claimed that Iraq was capable of genetically engineering a ‘camelpox-smallpox hybrid’ – wildly out of touch with reality, but perhaps he was relying on unreliable sources:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/24/opinion/connecting-deadly-dots.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/02/opinion/02KRIS.html

    Those articles also included claims about Mr. Z (Hatfill), which led to Hatfill’s libel suit against the NYT. Notably, Kristof entirely ignores the first theory of the crime that the FBI came up with, and makes no mention of pharmaceutical contracts linked to the anthrax attacks, something he had earlier promoted.

    Put those two columns by Kristof side by side with the rest of the press’s sudden silence on the anthrax case after Jan 2002, and you see what looks like a coordinated FBI/political effort to pin the blame on a ‘lone wolf’ on one hand, and another concomitant effort to boost biological warfare funding by billions of dollars in order to tackle a threat created by previous ‘biodefense’ programs – Alice in Wonderland. That strategy persisted from about 2002-2006 – and the press largely complied by ignoring all of their earlier reporting from Oct 2001 – Jan 2002.

    Likewise, the reporting since Aug 2008 is only plausible if you ignore everything presented before then. If these media outlets would simply look at what they’ve published since 2001, they’d find large inconsistencies and unexplained storyline reversals – you’d think they’d publish retractions, but instead it’s all consigned to the memory hole.

    Many smaller papers have done a much better job of investigating the facts and informing the public.

    • DXer said

      Some minor points:

      “The story was also picked up by NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof, who pointed out that there was no way this could have come from Iraq or the Middle East – but who also floated a ‘lone-wolf’ theory:”
      http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/04/opinion/profile-of-a-killer.html

      NK does not mention Iraq or Middle East in the link you cite.

      There was no sudden silence after Jan 2002. To the contrary, there was an explosion in press in the Summer 2002 due to the theory NK had advocated (without bothering to contact Dr. Hatfill to hear his side of things). People who say the press has ignored Amerithrax just weren’t reading the press (Ed does a good job of collecting it).

      It wasn’t a “coordinated FBI/political effort.” Instead, Van Harp was strongly resisting the theory in a March 2002 interview. The political activists (e.g., Sherwood Ross) continued to make the argument you are making.. A closely allied accomplished political activist, law Professor Boyle, wrote a book. On the legal front, Battelle was sued for $50 million by Mrs. Stevens.
      If it was dismissed voluntarily by counsel, it perhaps was due to a lack of any evidence that Battelle was responsible. It is not the job of reporters to report the theories of political activists in a criminal matter where the due process of individuals is at issue and where there is pending litigation — including litigation against the news outlets who last reported one of the theories.

      The Hatfill leaks stemmed from the head of the criminal prosecutors at US Attorney’s office — born in Haifa — whose sister-in-law and brother were Palestinian activists prominently arguing that terrorism should not be attributed to Bin Laden and whose daughter represented Al-Timimi pro bono.

      The FBI pursued Battelle aggressively — as Perry Miksell’s experience demonstrates.

      The FBI, by all indications, has left no stone unturned.

      Dr. Ivins appears to have altered his records relating to flask 1029 and there is 100 ml unaccounted for in the records.

      There is no evidence the non-profit Battelle is responsible.

      But following the money is always a good idea.

      The problem with a political theory that focuses on a big bad corporation, though, is that such crimes are done by an individual or two or three. Which non-profit employee do you suggest had a sufficient financial motive to commit multiple murders?

      Basically, any theory that does not start with the personal knowledge that someone travelled on those dates is weak.

      • DXer said

        Hundreds of pages have been released detailing the Hatfill leaks and so it is not fairly subject to vague political theories about a “coordinated FBI/political effort” but instead the narrative is established by documentary evidence and points to a single man who pled the Fifth Amendment in connection with the leaks and has been identified as the leaker.

        In early August 2002, the head of the District of Columbia Field Office initiated a leak investigation related to Amerithrax information. The first leak investigation concerned leak of bloodhound story to Newsweek (according to email discussed in deposition of lead prosecutor Daniel Seikaly in which he repeatedly pled the Fifth Amendment). A memo from DC Field Office head Van Harp read:

        TO: OPR
        NSD
        From: Washington Field
        ADIC’s Office: Harp Van A (202) xxx-xxxx
        ***

        Title: UNSUB
        UNAUTHORIZED DISCLOSURE AND/OR
        MEDIA LEAK IN CONNECTION WITH THE
        AMERITHRAX INVESTIGATION

        ***

        [REDACTED]

        [REDACTED]

        The appearance of this information in the media affects the conduct of this investigation as well as the morale of the dedicated personnel who have expended enormous energy and effort on this investigation.

        As such, I am requesting that either a media leak or OPR investigation be initiated. In the event a leak investigation is initiated then the enclosed LRM should be hand delivered to AAG Chertoff. [REDACTED]

        The investigation was closed in October 2002. The memo read:

        Date: October 8, 2002

        To: Mr. H. Marshall Jarrett

        Counsel

        Office of Professional Responsibility

        United States Department of Justice

        From: David W. Szady
        Assistant Director
        Counterintelligence Division
        Subject: [REDACTED[

        The purpose of this memorandum is to notify your office of the closing of the FBI’s criminal investigation of the captioned media leak matter. It is the understanding of the FBI that your continued investigation of this matter will be pursued by your office.

        [REDACTED]

        After a January 9, 2003 “exclusive” report by ABC’s
        Brian Ross that the FBI was focusing on Hatfill and was going to conduct a second round of interviews with other former and current government scientists so that they might rule them out by the process of elimination, the FBI initiated a second media leak investigation. This time it was to proceed with “extreme zeal.”

        The memo read:

        Precedence: PRIORITY Date: 1/13/2003

        To: Director’s Office

        Washington Field
        From: Washington Field
        Contact Richard L. Lambert 202-xxx-xxxx
        Approved by: Harp Van
        Lambert Richard L
        Title: AMERITHRAX
        MAJOR CASE 184
        00: WFO

        Synopsis: To request the opening of new OPR media leak investigation regarding captioned case.

        [large redacted passages]

        To demonstrate the seriousness with which the FBI views this matter, it is requested that the OPR inquiry commence with an interview of IIC Rick Lambert who will waive all Fifth Amendment privileges and accede to a voluntary polygraph examination to set a tone of candor, forthrightness and cooperation.

        [redacted]

        The instant matter is the second unauthorized media disclosure to occur in this investigation. Its potential detriment to the effective prosecution of the case is substantial. Accordingly, in the interests of both specific and general deterrence, the Inspector in Charge requests that this OPR inquiry be pursued with unprecedent zeal.”

        A June 2003 email then shut the barn door long after the horse had walked through that barn door:

        From: DEBRA WEIERMAN
        To: Lisa Hodgson
        Date: Wed, June 4, 2003 12:18 PM
        Subject: AMERITHRAX INVESTIGATION

        Lisa: Please disseminate to all WFO employees. Thanks, Debbie

        For the information of all recipients, Director Mueller has ordered that no one discuss the AMERITHRAX case with any representative of the news media. The WFO and Baltimore Media Offices have released several media advisories, which were coordinated with the US Attorney and FBIHQ, to explain specific milestones in the case. However, NO FBI WFO EMPLOYEE, INCLUDING MYSELF AND INSPECTOR RICK LAMBERT, WHO IS IN CHARGE OF AMERITHRAX, IS TO RESPOND TO ANY MEDIA INQUIRIES, THE ONLY EXCEPTION IS DEBBIE WEIERMAN IN THE MEDIA OFFICE. All inquiries from reporters or journalists received by any WFO employee are to be immediately referred to Debbie at xxx-xxxx, and she will handle.

        I thank everyone at WFO for their dedication to the job and to this office. I also thank you for your cooperation in this very important matter.

        Mike Rolince

        In October 2007, the former Criminal Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, Daniel Seikaly, was deposed in the civil rights action by Steve Hatfill about whether he was the source of leaks relating to Steve Hatfill in connection the use of bloodhounds in the anthrax investigation and the draining of ponds in Frederick, Maryland. Key stories appeared in Newsweek and Washington Post. Attorney Seikaly pled the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination in connection with most substantive questions.

        Attorney Seikaly has had a very distinguished career. In 2001, Mr. Seikaly went from being Assistant Inspector General for Investigations at the Central Intelligence Agency to Criminal Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. There he supervised eighty-five Assistant United States Attorneys involved in the prosecution of all federal offenses in the District of Columbia. He also served as a technical expert for U.S. Department of State funded rule of law programs in Croatia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, and Thailand. Before accepting the appointment to Criminal Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, Mr. Seikaly was Assistant Inspector General for Investigations at the Central Intelligence Agency. While with the CIA, a profile at his current law firm’s webpage explains, “he conducted and supervised numerous investigations concerning allegations of misconduct by employees, contractors and vendors involved in CIA programs. In that position, he routinely interacted with senior officials within the intelligence community, other executive branch agencies and Congress concerning intelligence investigations.” The profile continues: “From 1996 to 1998, Daniel served as an Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice and was Director of the Department’s Executive Office for National Security. There he was responsible for the coordination and oversight of the national security activities of the Department of Justice, including intelligence operations, international law enforcement, relations with foreign countries and the use of classified information. Reporting directly to the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General and acting with their authority in national security matters, Daniel was a primary point of contact between the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies with national security interests such as the National Security Council, the Department of State and the Department of Defense.”

        His daughter has represented Ali Al-Timimi pro bono in defense of his prosecution for sedition.

        One USA article concluded: “One of the law enforcement sources says investigators sometimes wonder whether they focused on Hatfill too soon and ignored someone who deserved more attention. So much has gone into investigating Hatfill, the source says, that abandoning the focus on him ‘would be like starting all over.’ ” The press has been so focused in defending itself from the charge that it was unfair to Dr. Hatfill — and law enforcement officials have been so chastened by the civil rights suit brought by Dr. Hatfill — that five years ago there stopped being meaningful coverage of Amerithrax by the mainstream press altogether. Given that it seems the press nowadays only ever has the budget to take spin handed under the table to them by government officials anyway, perhaps the First Amendment is not as worth prioritizing, in the balance of competing interests, as it used to be.

  12. Anonymous Scientist said

    Of the 3 options:…………..

    (1)The FBI is just taking its time to close the case, mindful of impending FOIA requests when it does, and wanting to be sure they have everything in order before opening up their documents to public and Congressional scrutiny.
    (2)The FBI has no ongoing investigation underway, but is terrified to expose its unconvincing case to public scrutiny, and is delaying that day as long as possible while it figures out how to keep its documents hidden.
    (3)The FBI anthrax investigation is still ongoing, which means the FBI may now thinks there is reason to believe that Dr. Ivins may not have been the SOLE perpetrator, or even involved at all. ……………….

    (1) Does not seem plausible. The FBI have had over a year to redact names from pieces of paper to be released. If they had any real evidence linking Ivins to the mailings they would have released it a long time ago. It was obvious to experienced media reporters that the leaks they were making surrounding Ivins were nothing more than innuendo smears designed to create the impression of guilt, but none of them had any real actual substance. See the video here of an exchange between Catherine Herridge and Shepard Smith which demonstrates precisely what these 2 reporters thought of the FBI’s case: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIJfyevTVNM (lot’s of good stuff here, especially on the other scientist at Detrick who had made a dry powder)

    (2) The delay reason seems to be the most likely one. Certainly keeping the whole thing in a state of limbo has been the FBI’s MO for the last 8 years in this case. Why change a tactic that has been succesful? Let’s cast back to August 2003 when Hatfill’s attorney said “…the American public deserves a real investigation.”

    http://www.anthraxinvestigation.com/Connolly.pdf

    When you think about it, that’s a pretty powerful statement. It’s not as if this attorney was some ambulance-chaser making a frivilous statement. This attorney was previously an experienced DOJ attorney who prosecuted high level espionage cases for the US government.

    After years of keeping Hatfill’s status in limbo, delaying lawsuits with frivilous reasons “National security, it will tip off the killers, the dog ate it, etc”, Judge Reggie Walton had finally had enough of the FBI’s delay tactics and he allowed the lawsuit to proceed. Almost every top government official involved in Amerithrax got deposed, but it was forbidden to ask them questions on the criminal case or criminal evidence.

    But, really, the DOJ got what it wanted – they manged to delay for 4-5 years and keep things in limbo.

    At this rate they will get another 4-5 years of limbo, and hopefully nobody will care after that – exactly, of course, what they want.

    (3) I seriously doubt there will be a conviction of another person. Once the FBI make their mind up about something they will never back down. Even if those inside the bureau believe other parties are guilty, the investigation will not be allowed to proceed. That’s just not the FBI way. Admitting errors is not in their nature.

    • DXer said

      Did FBI Director Mueller ever get back to Senator Grassley on the silicon issue and how it related to the evidence they claim to have against Dr. Ivins?

      If Director Mueller, given his many responsibilities, was too busy to be prepared on the issue for the oversight committee hearing a month-and-a-half after Dr. Ivins death and a month after the FBI’s briefing on the science issues, perhaps the US DOJ could simply cease in its interference in the FOIA production by USAMRIID so we can inform ourselves on the issue. Lab Notebook 4010 – which addresses both flask 1029 and 1030 — may be all we need.

      Why has Senator Grassley or his staff not shared Director Mueller’s further response?

      SEN. GRASSLEY: I have just one more question in regard to Dr. Ivins; then I’ll move on. According to information released by the FBI, the material in the anthrax attack envelopes contained silicon. I understand that scientists at Sandia National Labs conducted a series of blind tests on samples of the material taken from the flask in Dr. Ivins’ lab at Fort Detrick. Unlike materials in the attack envelope, the material in the flask did not contain silicon.

      Can you confirm that testing found no silicon in the flask from Dr. Ivins’ lab in Fort Detrick? And if there was no silicon in the flask material, then can you explain how silicon ended up in the attack envelopes?

      MR. MUELLER: Well, you’re a little bit out of my expertise at this juncture. I do know that there was an issue of silicon or silica at the outset, and it was determined that the silica was not on the exterior of the spore but was part of the growth process. Now, in terms of how that related to the anthrax and the flask maintained by Dr. Ivins, I would have to get back to you on that.

      SEN. GRASSLEY: Okay. And I’ll be glad to have you do that. Thank you very much.

      September 17, 2008 Wednesday

      HEARING OF THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE; SUBJECT: OVERSIGHT OF THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION;

      CHAIRED BY: SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT); WITNESS: ROBERT S. MUELLER, III, DIRECTOR OF THE FBI

      • DXer said

        FBI Director Mueller appears to have been relying on the scientific experts coordinating the investigation — notably the former collections scientist for the American Type Culture Collection, which sponsored Ali Al-Timimi’s program at GMU, where the scientists who co-invented in 2001 the process of concentrating anthrax by using silica in the culture medium.

        It seems that Director Mueller should bone up on the issue before addressing the issue further.

        http://www.anthraxandalqaeda.com

      • DXer said

        Dr. Bannan was a collection scientist for bacteria, including anthrax.

        Al-Timimi full access to the ATCC collection.

        Coincidentally, if Ivins was not guilty but Al-Timimi was and access was at ATCC, Dr. Bannan might have personal civil liability or at a minimum be subject to being called as a witness.

        Given this as background, the FBI should provide its explanation of the silicon issue without further delay.

        Not the marginally relevant issue of the location of the silicon, but under what theory they think it implicates Dr. Ivins.

        It would seem that the Boston $100 million verdict for intentional infliction of distress, all individuals within the government should urge that all evidence that may be exculpatory of Dr. Ivins be disclosed — the fact that some of the Boston criminal defendants had passed was not a bar to the recovery by their estate. I realize that there are numerous conflicting considerations and don’t presume to have all the information required to balance all the many competing interests. But from the outside, all I see is a matter that has been plagued by self-conflict of decisionmakers from the outset (and it has only worsened).

    • Anonymous Scientist said

      We are now at T+ 38 days since the FBI announced they were “on the verge” of closing the anthrax case.

  13. DXer said

    Michael Chertoff already knew of the tip relating to Ali Al-Timimi as of the time of this interview in October 2001.

    http://www.anthraxandalqaeda.com

    CNBC News Transcripts

    October 17, 2001 Wednesday

    SHOW: Hardball with Chris Matthews (8:00 PM ET) – CNBC

    Michael Chertoff, assistant US attorney general, discusses the anthrax investigation, ties to bin Laden

    ANCHORS: CHRIS MATTHEWS

    LENGTH: 984 words

    CHRIS MATTHEWS, host:
    Michael Chertoff is the assistant attorney general for the criminal division at the Justice Department and he’s head of the September 11th task force.

    Michael, thank you for joining us. It’s quite a responsibility. Let’s hear from you officially. What might be the connection between these anthrax attacks and bin Laden?

    Mr. MICHAEL CHERTOFF (Assistant United States Attorney General): Well, Chris, we’re obviously looking very carefully at all aspects of this anthrax episode. And I–I might add that it’s not just a law enforcement investigation, it’s an investigation that brings together the best scientific and medical minds that we have to trace both the manner in which the anthrax was sent and also the composition of the anthrax.
    MATTHEWS: We just had Richard Butler on who headed up UNSCOM for all those years. He’s very familiar with the Iraqi production of weapons of mass destruction, particularly the one we’re talking about, anthrax. He thinks it’s either–Iraq or Russia is the source. What do you make of that?

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Well, I mean, I–clearly, we have to look at what we can determine from analyzing the material itself and what intelligence information we gather, and what we know historically about sources of anthrax, in order to make that determination. There’s no question that a critical question here is how and where this was produced, as well as who delivered it.

    MATTHEWS: In your case–in your position, Mr. Chertoff, you must be familiar with what they call in “Casablanca” the usual suspects. Who are they this time…

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Well, I…

    MATTHEWS: …with this anthrax stuff?

    Mr. CHERTOFF: I–I don’t think we want to put a list of suspects out. One thing I can tell you is…

    MATTHEWS: Generically though. Generically, who are they?

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Well, I think generically we want to look at people who have the capability to produce it, whether it be people who produced it abroad or people who might produce it in this country. One of the things which the scientists will tell us is the quality of the anthrax. Is it something that requires a sophisticated laboratory? Or is it something that can be comparatively homegrown? I think when we have the definitive answers to those questions, we can start to narrow the trail down and–and focus in on the–on the most likely perpetrators.

    MATTHEWS: Let’s talk about the usual suspects from a–from a–a recent point of perspective, which is September 11th. The sleepers, so-called, agents, perhaps, of bin Laden in this country legally or illegally awaiting orders. Where–where do you stand with tracking them down?

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Well, one of the things we’ve done is we’ve tried to be as comprehensive as possible in following all of the leads that have generated, not only from the identities of the hijackers on September 11th, but from other sources, whether they’re law enforcement sources or civilian tips, anything that comes our way, because we’re trying to establish connections to determine whether there are people in this country who are aiders and abetters of September 11th or who are lying in wait to commit further acts. The emphasis that we have, and it comes right from the top, is prevention, disruption and interdiction. What we’re most interested in doing is stopping any further acts, and secondarily, obviously, bringing to justice those who have committed past acts.

    MATTHEWS: What do you make of that New York Post report today, that one of the–one of the hijackers, who obviously committed suicide as part of the process of September 11th, their credit card is still being used?

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Well, one of the things we–we obviously want to do is to track financial information, and that can be a valuable source of leads, both in terms of what happened in the past, but more important, who might be out there in the future. So, I mean, we are very alert to all kinds of connections, and we’re using all of the–the tactics and all of the weapons at our disposal in tracking these things down.

    MATTHEWS: Do you think it would be harder for bin Laden’s crowd to do what they did September 11th, tomorrow morning?

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Well, I hope it would be harder in the sense that I think we’re at a heightened state of alertness. Certainly, the airports, other forms of transportation, even ordinary civilians, I think, are making a point of being aware of suspicious activity. That’s not by any means to suggest that we have a guarantee against something, but it–it is to suggest that being wary, being cautious without being panicked is one of the things we can do on a day-to-day basis to prevent future harm.

    MATTHEWS: Are you closer to making a connection between the anthrax cases–the attacks of anthrax on Tom Brokaw, on Tom Daschle and others, and the–and the bin Laden forces? Or are you moving away from that supposition?

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Well, I–one of the…

    MATTHEWS: Which way are you headed?

    Mr. CHERTOFF: I think one of the things, Chris, that I have learned in–over time and I think other people agree with, is that you don’t want to jump to conclusions. Clearly we’re talking about two different kinds of attacks. In some ways they’ve both had the effect of terrorizing people in the country.

    MATTHEWS: Right.

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Bin Laden’s an obvious place to look, but I think we would be making a mistake if we tried jump to a conclusion before we have all the facts.

    MATTHEWS: It’s great to have you on, Michael Chertoff. I remember you when. You got a great appointment.

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Yeah, it’s good to see…

    MATTHEWS: And thank you for coming on tonight.

    Mr. CHERTOFF: Good to see you, Chris.

  14. DXer said

    In addition to being one of three homeland security chiefs, Michael Chertoff headed the Criminal Division after 9/11. He was the federal judge who handled the prosecution of blind sheik Abdel-Rahman’s followers. In his new 196-page book published by the University of Pennsylvania press, he says that the new Administration should turn a new page and show more candor about biopreparedness including about legal matters.

    • DXer said

      Chertoff interview-
      http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/speeches/sp_1224524493787.shtm

      Question: Nick, sociology major. On the issue of internal security, in the wake of the 2001 anthrax attacks which were initially pinned on al-Qaeda, until a few months afterwards it became evident that it was not an al-Qaeda attack but rather some sort of internal security breach because the particular strain of anthrax that was used was one of 118 strains, one of which that came out of Fort Detrick, Maryland, the Department of Defense program in the 1980s, Project Jefferson had developed, it was essentially a derivation of a military grade weapon, and then they tried to put it on to Steven Hatfield, one of the engineers or the technicians out at the department but he was later exonerated and he won a $5 million settlement. Then more recently we had Bruce Ivins, who was pinned as the perpetrator and he conveniently committed suicide, the real issue here — the real issue is he wouldn’t have been able to create this weaponized grade of an anthrax because he needed a static charge and a machine with infrared capabilities that was well outside of his purview.

      So this really looks to be to be furthermore an inside job, but the question is who particularly is involved, and we know from 1962 and Operation Northwoods that criminal elements in the U.S. Government have planned and staged terrorist attacks as a way of justifying political agendas and furthering whatever aims they have.

      So the question is — the question is what — what has the Department of Homeland Security done to further investigate this issue?

      Secretary Chertoff: Well, first let me say that it is incorrect to say that — I don’t know that anybody seriously thought that al-Qaeda might have been responsible. I don’t think anybody officially ever asserted that.
      The FBI has done a very comprehensive review of this. Now that’s — you know, the risk that the government, based on a 1962 program [Operation Northwoods], launched an anthrax attack, it was put in the basic non-existent risk category and that’s actually a great example — if that’s the kind of risk we worry about, then we’re moving away from the real risks into the realm of imaginary risks because that’s not the risks.

      • DXer said

        link to April 2009 Chertoff interview on biothreat and risk of theft from labs.

        http://www.federalnewsradio.com/index.php?nid=142&sid=1659656
        at about 20-21 min.

        He urges pre-distribution of countermeasures. Now that’s far-sighted of him. That’s now his business venture in the private sector. Is there profit in failing to solve Amerithrax? How about the cheaper approach to avoiding the anthrax threat: Clear thinking, correct analysis, and candor.

        http://www.federalnewsradio.com/index.php?nid=142&sid=1659656

        “Chertoff Points To Possibilities Of Biological Attack
        April 30, 2009

        Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says the biggest threat from terrorists may come in the form of biological weapons.

        In an interview segment aired Thursday on the FederalNewsRadio program Homeland Security: Inside and Out, the ex-DHS head said concerns about the possibility of a biological attack should outweigh fears of an attack using a nuclear weapon, chemical agents or conventional explosives.

        “The natural ingredients of a biological threat are not difficult to come by, and it’s just a question of the know-how in terms of fabricating them to make a weapon,” said Chertoff.

        While he did not dispute the idea that a nuclear attack would have the most far-reaching and devastating consequences, the likelihood of terrorists getting a nuclear bomb is “very remote at this point,” Chertoff said.

        The former Homeland Security chief told program co-host Dave McIntyre that, far from being a theoretical possibility, a biological attack has already occurred in the United States. “Only someone who has a very short memory and doesn’t recall what happened in the fall of 2001, when we had an anthrax attack, albeit one on a small scale, can say it hasn’t happened,” Chertoff said.

        And – while terrorists would have to go to some lengths to obtain nuclear material – anthrax and plague are naturally occuring and thus far more readily available for nefarious use, according to Chertoff.”

    • DXer said

      Here is another 196-page book assessing Homeland Security, the first 5 years. This one was published by the US government.

      Nationwide Plan Review, Department of Homeland Security: Report to Congress on the First Phase more books like this
      by Michael Chertoff (Pf) other copies of this book

      Binding: Paperback Date Published:2006 ISBN-13: 9781422312568 ISBN:1422312569

      Description: New in no jacket. pp. 36. This report by the Dept. of Homeland Security provides the status of catastrophic planning in all States & 75 of the Nationís largest urban areas, & reviews emergency plans for the Nationís major cities. Each State & urban area certified the status of its Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs) & identified when plans were last updated & exercised. The Phase 1 results presented in this report are the initial findings based on the self-assessments received from the States, ..

      • DXer said

        He continued to write on the same subject while he was making the decisions

        The state of U.S. homeland security

        Author: Michael Chertoff; Brookings Institution
        Publisher: [Washington, DC : Brookings Institution, 2006].

        Department of Homeland Security : charting a path forward

        Author: Michael Chertoff; Heritage Foundation (Washington, D.C.)
        Publisher: Washington, DC : Heritage Foundation, 2006.
        Series: Heritage lectures, no. 933

    • DXer said

      Here is what Michael Chertoff, when he was head of the US DOJ criminal division and then head of Homeland Security, does not tell you in his book published by the University of Pennsylvani — and still is not telling you now that Chertoff Group is profiting from biosecurity issues:

      The Other “Anthrax Weapons Suspect”: White House Chief of Staff’s Former Assistant Ali Al-Timimi

      One supporter of the detained Vanguards of Conquest leader Mohammad Mahjoub was the former assistant of the White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card. The scientist’s name was Ali Al-Timimi, who worked in the building housing the Center for Biodefense funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (“DARPA”). In a filing unsealed this Spring, Dr. Ali Al-Timimi’s lawyer, Professor and MSNBC commentator Jonathan Turley, explained that his client “was considered an anthrax weapons suspect.” Al-Timimi was a computational biologist who came to have an office 15 feet from the leading anthrax scientist and the former deputy commander of USAMRIID. A motion filed in early August 2008 seeking to unseal additional information in federal district court was denied. The ongoing proceedings are highly classified.

      Dr. Al-Timimi’s counsel summarizes:

      “we know Dr. Al-Timimi:

      * was interviewed in 1994 by the FBI and Secret Service regarding his ties to the perpetrators of the first World Trade Center bombing;

      * was referenced in the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing (“Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US”) as one of seventy individuals regarding whom the FBI is conducting full field investigations on a national basis;

      * was described to his brother by the FBI within days of the 9-11 attacks as an immediate suspect in the Al Qaeda conspiracy;

      * was contacted by the FBI only nine days after 9-11 and asked about the attacks and its perpetrators;

      * was considered an anthrax weapons suspect;

      [redacted]

      * was described during his trial by FBI agent John Wyman as having “extensive ties” with the “broader al-Qaeda network”;

      * was described in the indictment and superseding indictment as being associated with terrorists seeking harm to the United States;

      * was a participant in dozens of international overseas calls to individuals known to have been under suspicion of Al-Qaeda ties like Al-Hawali; and

      * was associated with the long investigation of the Virginia Jihad Group.

      ***

      The conversation with [Bin Laden’s sheik] Al-Hawali on September 19, 2001 was central to the indictment and raised at trial. ***

      [911 imam] Anwar Al-Aulaqi goes directly to Dr. Al-Timimi’s state of mind and his role in the alleged conspiracy. The 9-11 Report indicates that Special Agent Ammerman interviewed Al-Aulaqi just before or shortly after his October 2002 visit to Dr. Al-Timimi’s home to discuss the attacks and his efforts to reach out to the U.S. government.

      [IANA head] Bassem Khafagi was questioned about Dr. Al-Timimi before 9-11 in Jordan, purportedly at the behest of American intelligence. [redacted ] He was specifically asked about Dr. Al-Timimi’s connection to Bin Laden prior to Dr. Al-Timimi’s arrest. He was later interviewed by the FBI about Dr. Al-Timimi. Clearly, such early investigations go directly to the allegations of Dr. Al-Timimi’s connections to terrorists and Bin Laden — [redacted]”

      The letter attached as an exhibit notes that in March 2002 Al-Timimi spoke with Al-Hawali about assisting Moussaoui in his defense. Al-Hawali was Bin Laden’s sheik who was the subject of OBL’s “Declaration of War.” Moussaoui was the operative sent by Bin Laden to be part of a “second wave” who had been inquiring about crop dusters. The filing and the letter exhibit each copy defense co-counsel, the daughter of the lead prosecutor in Amerithrax. That prosecutor has pled the Fifth Amendment concerning all the leaks hyping a “POI” of the other Amerithrax squad, Dr. Steve Hatfill. His daughter withdrew as Al-Timimi’s pro bono counsel on February 27, 2009.

      ‘Dr. Ali Al-Timimi’s Support Committee’ in an email to supporters dated April 5, 2005 explained: “This is a summary of the court proceedings that took place yesterday April 4th 2005. We will send a summary everyday inshallah. *** “In his opening statement, Defense attorney Edward B. MacMahon Jr. said that Al-Timimi was born and raised in Washington DC. He has a degree in Biology and he is also a computer scientist, and a mathematician. He worked for Andrew Card, who’s now the White House chief of staff, at the Transportation Department in the early 1990s.”

      Bruce Ivins had supplied the virulent Ames strain of anthrax to Ann Arbor researchers. One of the researchers, Dr. Hamouda, obtained his PhD in microbiology from Cairo Medical in 1994. He and his wife came to the United States to settle that year. By 1998, he was working on a DARPA-funded project involving nanoemulsions and a biocidal cream. In December 1999, he and two colleagues travelled to a remote military installation in Utah to test its effectiveness in killing aerosolized anthrax surrogates. An April 2001 report describing testing at Dugway concluded that the best performing decontamination agents were from University of Michigan, Sandia National Laboratories, and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory (LLNL). The FBI and CIA may have been concerned that there might have been unauthorized access to the Ames strain. That would explain their aggressive prosecution of various matters related to Al-Timimi’s charity IANA charity which was in Ann Arbor 1 mile from the NanoBio office. IANA promoted the views of Bin Laden’s sheiks. Al-Timimi was IANA’s most celebrated speaker. He was in active contact with one of those sheiks, who had been Ali’s religious mentor at university in Saudi Arabia. IANA speaker Ali Al-Timimi worked in the same building as two other DARPA-funded researchers — famed Russian bioweapons scientist Ken Alibek and former USAMRIID Deputy Commander and Acting Commander Charles Bailey. Al-Timimi was a current associate and former student of Bin Laden’s spiritual advisor, dissident Saudi Sheik al-Hawali. Ali Al-Timimi preached on the end of times and the inevitability of the clash of civilizations. He was in active contact with the sheik whose detention had been the express subject of Bin Laden’s 1996 Declaration of War. At GMU, Dr. Bailey would publish a lot of research with the “Ames strain” of anthrax. The anthrax used in the anthrax mailings was traced to Bruce Ivins’ lab at USAMRIID, where Ivins, according to a former colleague, had done some work for DARPA. Al-Timimi would speak along with the blind sheik’s son at charity conferences. The blind sheik’s son served on Al Qaeda’s WMD committee. Al-Timimi’s mentor Bilal Philips was known for recruiting members of the military to jihad. The first week after 9/11, FBI agents questioned Al-Timimi. He was a graduate student in a program jointly run by George Mason University and the American Type Culture Collection (”ATCC”). Ali, according to his lawyer, had been questioned by an FBI agent and Secret Service agent in 1994 after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He had a high security clearance for work for the Navy in the late 1990s. The defense webpage reported he hadonce served as the assistant for the White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card. (Mr. Card had been Secretary of Transportation in 1992-1993; from 1993 to 1998, Mr. Card was President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Automobile Manufacturers Association.) As time off from his university studies permitted, Ali was an active speaker with the charity Islamic Assembly of North America.

      A laptop evidencing Al Qaeda’s intent on weaponizing anthrax was seized in Baku in July 1998. Two months later, Dr. Ken Alibek, then Program Manager, Battelle Memorial Institute, testified before the Joint Economic Committee on the subject of “Terrorist and Intelligence Operations: Potential Impact on the U.S. Economy”about the proliferation of know-how. Dr. Alibek noted that “[t]here are numerous ways in which Russia’s biological weapons expertise can be proliferated to other countries.” Indeed. Sometimes such proliferation is funded by DARPA and any student who wants to apply to work in the building can submit an application. One applicant accepted was this Salafist preacher seeing signs of the coming day of judgment and the inevitable clash of civilizations. He had been mentored by the sheik named in Bin Laden’s declaration of war in 1996. In 1999, Al-Timimi had a high security clearance for work for the Navy. His father worked at the Iraqi embassy.

      Dr. Alibek testified before the House Armed Services Committee Oversight Panel on Terrorism again on May 23, 2000 about the issue of proliferation of biological weapons. He explained: “Terrorists interested in biological weapons are on the level of state- sponsored terrorist organizations such as that of Osama bin Laden; on the level of large, independent organizations such as Aum Shinrikyo; or on the level of individuals acting alone or in concert with small radical organizations.” Dr. Alibek in 2003 told me he knew Ali was a hardliner. More recently he described Ali as a fanatic. Dr. Alibek continued: “Although these groups will produce biological weapons with varying levels of sophistication, they all can potentially cause great damage. *** Furthermore, there is no doubt that we will see future uses of biological weapons by terrorist groups, as there have been several attempts already.” Dr. Alibek explained to the Congressional Committee in May 2000: “When most people think of proliferation, they imagine weapons export. In the case of biological weapons, they picture international smuggling either of ready-made weapons material, or at least of cultures of pathogenic microorganisms. However, this area of proliferation is of the least concern. Even without such assistance, a determined organization could obtain virulent strains of microorganisms from their natural reservoirs (such as soil or animals), from culture libraries that provide such organisms for research purposes, or by stealing cultures from legitimate laboratories.” American Type Culture Collection, the largest microbiologist depository in the world, co-sponsored Ali’s bioinformatics program. Dr. Alibek explained: The proliferation issue is particularly complex for biological weapons. In many cases, the same equipment and knowledge that can be used to produce biological weapons can also be used to produce legitimate biotechnological products ***”

      By 2001, Al-Timimi was allowed access to the most diverse microbiological repository in the world and allowed to work alongside staff at the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense. The Center for Biodefense personnel were working under the largest biodefense award in history. Delta (avirulent) Ames was supplied by NIH. Raymond H. Cypess, president of the germ bank, said of the Ames strain, “We never had it,’ and we can say that on several levels of analysis.” ATCC refuses to confirm to me whether its patent repository, as distinguished from its online category, had Ames, but we can assume government scientists would have ensured that the patent repository was considered at the same time as the online catalog and excluded as a source of the Ames. Dr. Bailey, who may be under a gag order similar to that imposed on USAMRIID personnel, refuses to confirm Ali was not much more than 15 feet from both Dr. Alibek and Dr. Bailey. Through the university counsel, he similarly has failed to address this issue of access to virulent Ames.

      Al-Timimi had supervised Cairo-based militants writing for the Pittsburgh-based Assirat and then for IANA. One of them, Kamal Habib, was the founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and a friend of Ayman Zawahiri. The Cairo-based writers Kamal Habib and Gamal Sultan, approached the blind sheik Abdel Rahman about starting a political party in early 1999. On March 1 and 2, 1999, Lynne Stewart and translator Yousry visited Abdel Rahman in prison in Rochester, Minnesota and relayed the proposal. On March 6, 1999, the first press reports appeared quoting the blind sheik’s Cairo lawyer, Montasser al-Zayat, and detainees in a massive trial al-Zayat was defending, stating that Ayman likely was going to use weaponized anthrax against US targets to retaliate against the rendering and detention of the Egyptian militants. On March 9, 1999 following the visit in prison at which the political idea had been proposed, Abdel Rahman issued a statement rejecting a proposal that the Islamic Group form a political party in Egypt. That day, the Islamic Group military commander Mustafa Hamza spoke with the blind sheik’s liaison, US Post Office employee Abdel Sattar. The next month, the Blind Sheik’s publicist Sattar spoke with Taha, the IG head close to the Taliban and Bin Laden, in a three-way call with Cairo attorney Al-Zayat. Sattar also spoke on the telephone with Vanguards of Conquest spokesman Al Sirri (based in London). From the beginning, the weaponization of anthrax for use against US targets was inextricably linked to the detention of senior militant Egyptian leaders, including the blind sheik.

      Michael Chertoff, in his new book ‘HOMELAND SECURITY,” says that the Obama Administration should show new candor in addressing issues of biopreparedness as well as new candor about related pending legal matters.

      While that is sound advice it is curious — because it was his job to do precisely that.

      • DXer said

        Lee Hamilton, who writes the foreword of the book, has always been another of my favorite Senators. But we need him to write the foreword to the actual history of what happened.

        In Monk-like voice, “Here’s what happened.”

        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.

      • DXer said

        Chertoff view on how we cannot turn a page on the threat that anthrax is stolen from a lab:

        “Officials are most concerned about biological agents stolen from labs or other storage facilities, such as anthrax. ‘The threat of terrorism and the threat of extremist ideologies has not abated,’ Chertoff said in his year-end address on December 18. ‘This threat has not evaporated, and we can’t turn the page on it.'”

        So was the solution the proliferation of opportunities to steal it from a lab?

        Was the solution to tell the American public bedtime stories about the crazy guy editing Wikipedia about alums of a sorority?

        United States Homeland Security forecasts 5-year threat view (from December 2008)
        * Report says chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks considered most dangerous threats that can be carried out against the US
        * Intelligence officials predict terrorists will try to conduct a destructive biological attack in the next five years
        * Assessment says terrorists will continue to try to evade US border security measures
        * Says people from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Somalia and Sudan are expected to migrate to the US

        WASHINGTON: The terrorism threat to the United States over the next five years will be driven by instability in the Middle East and Africa, persistent challenges to border security and increasing Internet savvy, says a new intelligence assessment obtained by The Associated Press.

        Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks are considered the most dangerous threats that could be carried out against the US. But those threats are also the most unlikely because it is so difficult for Al Qaeda and similar groups to acquire the materials needed to carry out such plots, according to the internal Homeland Security Threat Assessment for the years 2008-2013.

        The Al Qaeda terrorist network continues to focus on US attack targets vulnerable to massive economic losses, casualties and political ‘turmoil’, the assessment said.

        Earlier this month, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction remains “the highest priority at the federal level”. Speaking to reporters on December 3, Chertoff explained that more people, such as terrorists, would learn how to make dirty bombs, biological and chemical weapons. “The other side is going to continue to learn more about doing things,” he said. Marked “for official use only”, the report does not specify its audience, but the assessments typically go to law enforcement, intelligence officials and the private sector.

        Biological attack: When determining threats, intelligence officials consider loss of life, economic and psychological consequences. Intelligence officials also predict that in the next five years, terrorists will try to conduct a destructive biological attack.

        Officials are concerned about the possibility of infections to thousands of US citizens. There could also be dire economic impacts caused by workers’ illnesses and deaths. Officials are most concerned about biological agents stolen from labs or other storage facilities, such as anthrax. “The threat of terrorism and the threat of extremist ideologies has not abated,” Chertoff said in his year-end address on December 18. “This threat has not evaporated, and we can’t turn the page on it.”

        More challenges: These high-consequence threats are not the only kind of challenges that will confront the US over the next five years. Terrorists will continue to try to evade US border security measures and place operatives inside the mainland to carry out attacks, the 38-page assessment said.

  15. DXer said

    Michael Chertoff has a new book out this week titled “Homeland Security: Assessing the First Five Years” (University of Pennsylvania Press, $24.95).

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