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

* former Amerithrax lead investigator Richard Lambert … “compartmentalization within the Amerithrax task force would inhibit our ability to connect the dots … among the three squads investigating the case.”

Posted by DXer on October 17, 2009

CASE CLOSEDCASE CLOSED is a novel which answers the question “Why did the FBI fail to solve the 2001 anthrax case?” … click here to … buy CASE CLOSED by Lew Weinstein

Here’s what readers say about CASE CLOSED  …

“The whole Anthrax episode is unquestionably a dark moment in American history. But what makes it fascinating is how it was handled (or should I say mishandled) by the administration and the various agencies involved. CASE CLOSED is a must read for anyone who wondered … what really happened? … who did it? … why?”

… and finally, why didn’t they tell us the truth?”

******

In the case of Steven J. Hatfill vs the U.S. DOJ,

the former Amerithrax lead investigator Richard Lambert

testified as follows …

NOTE: This case ended with a $5.8 million settlement paid by the U.S. government to Dr. Hatfill

******

compartmentalization 0



compartmentalization 1

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7 Responses to “* former Amerithrax lead investigator Richard Lambert … “compartmentalization within the Amerithrax task force would inhibit our ability to connect the dots … among the three squads investigating the case.””

  1. DXer said

    Former F.B.I. Agent Sues, Claiming Retaliation Over Misgivings in Anthrax Case

    By SCOTT SHANEAPRIL 8, 2015
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/09/us/ex-fbi-agent-claims-retaliation-for-dissent-in-anthrax-inquiry.html?_r=0

    Mr. Lambert, who was himself criticized for pursuing Dr. Hatfill for so long, has now offered, in his lawsuit and in an interview, an insider’s view of what hampered the investigation.

    “This case was hailed at the time as the most important case in the history of the F.B.I.,” Mr. Lambert said. “But it was difficult for me to get experienced investigators assigned to it.”

    He said that the effort was understaffed and plagued by turnover, and that 12 of 20 agents assigned to the case had no prior investigative experience. Senior bureau microbiologists were not made available, and two Ph.D. microbiologists who were put on the case were then removed for an 18-month Arabic language program in Israel. Fear of leaks led top officials to order the extreme compartmentalization of information, with investigators often unable to compare notes and share findings with colleagues, he said.

  2. DXer said

    Senate Committee Criticizes Several Agencies in Wake of Fort Hood Shooting
    By Catherine Herridge
    Published February 03, 2011
    FoxNews.com

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/02/03/senate-committee-criticizes-agencies-wake-fort-hood-shooting/

  3. DXer said

    http://news.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view/20091022feds_terror_suspect_is_qaeda_reject/srvc=home&position=also

    “Federal prosecutors paint a picture of a bizarre and disorganized plot as Mehanna and Abousamra used code words such as “peanut butter and jelly” for fighting in Somalia and “culinary school” for terrorist camps.”

    Once again, as is customary, “school” is used as code for jihadist group.

    “Greendale School”

    ”Greendale School” is the return address of the anthrax letters to Senators Daschle and Leahy. In December 2002, the Arabic paper London Al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that correspondence on Zawahiri’s computer (which was obtained by the Wall Street Journal) shows Zawahiri uses “school” as code for Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The letter was found on Al Zawahiri’s computer. The letter was designed to look innocent. It was dated 3 May 2001 and signed “Dr. Nour, Chairman of the Company.” Nour is one of Zawahiri’s aliases. In this context, it was Egyptian Islamic Jihad, not Al Qaeda, of which he was Chairman.

    “We have been trying to go back to our main, previous activities. The most important step was the opening of the school. We have made it possible for the teachers to find openings for profitable trade.”

    The letter read:

    “To: Unknown

    From: Ayman al-Zawahiri

    Folder: Letters

    Date: May 3, 2001

    The following is a summary of our situation: We are trying to return to our previous main activity. The most important step was starting the school, the programs of which have been started. We also provided the teachers with means of conducting profitable trade as much as we could. Matters are all promising, except for the unfriendliness of two teachers, despite what we have provided for them. We are patient. [This refers to an internal dispute with two senior London Egyptian islamists].

    As you know, the situation below in the village [Egypt] has become bad for traders [jihadis]. Our Upper Egyptian relatives have left the market, and we are suffering from international monopolies. Conflicts take place between us for trivial reasons, due to the scarcity of resources. We are also dispersed over various cities. However, God had mercy on us when the Omar Brothers Company [the Taliban] here opened the market for traders and provided them with an opportunity to reorganize, may God reward them. Among the benefits of residence here is that traders from all over gather in one place under one company, which increases familiarity and cooperation among them, particularly between us and the Abdullah Contracting Company [bin Laden and his associates]. The latest result of this cooperation is the offer they gave. Following is a summary of the offer: Encourage commercial activities [jihad] in the village to face foreign investors; stimulate publicity; then agree on joint work to unify trade in our area. Close relations allowed for an open dialogue to solve our problems. Colleagues here believe that this is an excellent opportunity to encourage sales in general, and in the village in particular. They are keen on the success of the project. They are also hopeful that this may be a way out of the bottleneck to transfer our activities to the stage of multinationals and joint profit. We are negotiating the details with both sides.”

    The full message, decoded, is thought to say:

    “We have been trying to go back to our military activities. The most important step was the declaration of unity with al-Qaeda. We have made it possible for the mujahideen to find an opening for martyrdom. As you know, the situation down in Egypt has become bad for the mujahideen: our members in Upper Egypt have abandoned military action, and we are suffering from international harassment.”

    “But Allah enlightened us with His mercy when Taliban came to power. It has opened doors of military action for our mujahideen and provided them with an opportunity to rearrange their forces. One benefit of performing jihad here is the congregation in one place of all mujahideen who came from everywhere and began working with the Islamic Jihad Organization. Acquaintance and cooperation have grown, especially between us and al-Qaeda.”

    In December 2002, the Arabic paper London Al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that correspondence on Zawahiri’s computer (which was obtained by the Wall Street Journal) shows Zawahiri uses “school” as code for “Al Qaeda.”

    Dr. Jean Rosenfeld, a researcher associated with the UCLA Center for the Study of Religion, and an expert on the symbolism of religious extremist movements, wrote me: “Greendale’ to me signified a conscious choice to use the symbolic color of Islam.” She continued: “The franked eagle on the envelope of the anthrax letters was identical to the one I caught on a documentary that showed a one-second shot of the site where Sadat was assassinated –- the huge eagle above the podium where he was when he died. That assassination was of great significance to Egyptian Jihad and produced the pamphlet by Faraj that justifies “fard ‘ayn”/individual duty as the basis of jihadist doctrine.” She explained that Al Qaeda “is rooted in Egypt and Salafism, not Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism. Al-Zawahiri, I believe, is intensely nostalgic for the Nile Valley.”

    The CIA factbook explains that the color green — such as used by anthrax lab technician Yazid Sufaat in naming his lab “Green Laboratory Medicine,” and by the mailer who used the return address “Greendale School” – is the traditional color of islam. Green symbolizes islam, Mohammed and the holy war. In its section on Saudi Arabia, and the “Flag Description,” the CIA “Factbook” explains that the flag is “green with large white Arabic script (that may be translated as There is no God but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God) above a white horizontal saber (the tip points to the hoist side); green is the traditional color of Islam.”

    An intelligence document first released in 2007 involves an operation by EIJ members headed by Atef and including Saif Adel in which the group headed to Somalia to work at developing a new base of operations. The group was called The Green Team. “Greendale School” was used as the return address in the letters and likely is code referring to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The stamp on the prestamped envelopes was of a green bird. For a video depicting the Green Bird’s point of view and invoking Allah’s guidance to “the straight path,” see this video “The 3D Kabah – A green birds eye view.” The koranic “Green Birds” reference is from the sentence relating to being set on “The Straight Path.” Timimi, the graduate student who had access to the Alibek/Bailey patent about concentration using hydrophobic silica, advised the EIJ founder Kamal Habib in writing for the publication called Assirat Al-Mustaqeem (“The Straight Path”).

    Likely for the same reason, Al Qaeda anthrax lab technician Yazid Sufaat and Zacarias Moussaoui used the name Green Laboratory Medicine as the name of the company that he used, for example, to buy 4 tons of ammonium nitrate, and that he used to cover his anthrax production program. Green dale refers to green “river valley” — Egypt, Cairo, Egyptian Islamic Jihad and/or Egyptian Islamic Group. Put it all together and you have their new official name (though the American press does not use it) — Qaeda al Jihad. At the Darunta complex where jihadis trained, recruits would wear green uniforms, except for Friday when they would be washed.

    Given that using the same address helps the second recipient receiving the letter to identify it and avoid opening it, the perp would have no reason to use the same address unless he was communicating something and wanted to draw attention to it.

    Adham Hassoun and Kassem Daher used “school” as code. Canadian businessman Daher is an associate of EIJ member Jaballah, who was detained in Canada and had maintained regular contact with Ayman by satellite telephone after coming to Canada in 1996. “Is there a school over there to teach football?” Hassoun asked, using what the FBI says is code for jihad.

    The Amerithrax Task Force explanation of Greendale is as follows:

    “The investigation into the fictitious return address on envelopes used for the second round of anthrax mailings, “4th GRADE,” “GREENDALE SCHOOL,” has established a possible link to the American Family Association (AFA) headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi. In October 1999, AFA, a Christian organization, published an article entitled “AFA takes Wisconsin to court.” The article describes a lawsuit filed in federal court, by the AFA Center for law and Policy (CLP), on behalf of the parents of the students at Greendale Baptist Academy. The articles focuses on an incident that occurred on December 16, 1998, in which case workers of the Wisconsin Department of Human Services went to the Greendale Baptist Academy. The article focuses on an incident that occurred on December 1, 1998, in which case workers of the Wisconsin Department of Human Services went to the Greendale Baptist Academy in order to interview a fourth grade student. The case workers, acting on an anonymous tip that Greendale Baptist Academy administered corporal punishment as part of its discipline policy, did not disclose to the staff why wanted to interview the student. The case workers interviewed the student in the absence of the student’s parents and informed the school staff that the parents were not to be contacted. The AFA CLP filed suit against the Wisconsin Department of Human Services, citing a violation of the parents’ Fourth Amendment rights.”

    ____________ donations were made to the AFA in the name of “Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Ivins” on eleven separate occasions beginning on December 31, 1993. After an approximate two year break in donations, the next donation occurred on November 11, 1999, one month after the initial article referencing Greendale Baptist Academy was published in the AFA Journal. It was also discovered that the subscription to the AFA Journal, in the name of ‘Mr. & Mrs. Bruce Ivins,’ … was active until March 2005.”

    The logical fallacy is Ivins would have had no reason to use the same address unless he was sending a message he wanted to be received. There was no audience that reasonably would have perceived the message being sent. He had no reason to send such a message. The theory was fine for an affidavit in support of a search of a residence — but not on which to close a case. If Task Force members on the squad pursuing an Ivins Theory had benefit of what FBI counterintelligence and CIA knew of use of “school” as code by the Salafist-Jihadis, it might not have understood its interpretation to be viable. This may be yet another example of one of the problems foreseen by lead investigator Lambert that would arise due to compartmentalization between the investigative squads.

  4. DXer said

    Larry F. Gottesman, National FOIA Office, of the EPA has denied my request for a fee waiver saying

    “After reviewing the justification provided, your request for a waiver of fees is denied. You have not expressed a specific intent to publish or disseminate the information to the general public.”

    To the contrary, I did precisely that.

    The original request, by the way, sought documents that had already been processed even though EPA never provided a response on the substance of the request and just gave contradictory oral responses. Every time the FOIA officer Patrick came back from vacation I would get another request for a month extension.

    I have promptly made available all FOIA responses in the past — such as from the DIA and USAMRIID. For example, I had the production of hundreds of pages by USAMRIID uploaded within a day of receiving the documents (and the day prior had emailed them to everyone I knew).

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

    Heck, I not only upload the redacted copies but unredacted copies of the same documents where available.

    Unlike Ed, as soon as I get documents I email them to everyone and get them uploaded at places like Cryptome and this blog by Lew. Ed just keeps them to himself and does not distribute them — and then subjects us to his lay interpretation of what scientist said in the powerpoints.

    As an example, when I obtained Dr. Weber’s powerpoints I emailed them to Lake’s mailing list — and was merely amused (as everyone else likely was) when he made it seem like he had obtained them. Just watch as this week he does not circulate or upload the powerpoints and isntead just pontificates about them!

    For the EPA to not honor the public interest represented by the request shows the same fecklessness demonstrated by USAMRIID’s failure to produce the 1000 pages of Ivins emails in the year pending the request. This bullshit Ivins Theory has only survived for the year because of USAMRIID’s willful failure to provide Ivins’ emails.

    If Lew or I had been handling the EPA request, we would have had the EPA documents available immediately. The EPA FOIA Officer Patrick never even responded to the request and gave conflicting oral statements as to whether documents had previously been processed. The request sought documents that had previously processed under FOIA — making it so search costs would be zero.

    Throughout the government, FOIA needs to be staffed by can-do, make-it-happen types who when they see a request for anthrax documents should have had the reaction: “Ohmigosh! I can’t believe we haven’t already made them available to the public.” Not “Oops. The clock just ticked 5:00 p.m…. I’m outta here.”

    Here my request was for any documents already processed. Given the previously processed documents should have been placed in the FOIA room, the correct response by Patrick (even before he went off on vacation) should have been prompt and clear — the documents are available for inspection at such and such address.

    Hey, EPA: For you to refuse to produce the documents when I expressly committed to make them available to the public (and have always done so in the past) shows your FOIA operation to be totally incompetent. The request related to an attack using anthrax on the Capitol. You should have made them generally available to the public yourself ages ago.

    • DXer said

      From the EPA webpage:

      Fee Waivers and Reductions:
      The Freedom of Information Reform Act of 1986 provides that documents shall be furnished without any charge or at a reduced charge if disclosure of the information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to general public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.

      A fee waiver or reduction of fees must be requested and justified by supporting documentation. If you request a fee waiver, explain how the information will be used in the public interest and to what extent, if any, use of the information will be in your commercial interest. Include statements on how you plan to disseminate the information, as well as your qualifications that are relevant to any specialized use of the documents.

      This was a simple easy standard for the EPA FOIA office to understand and apply. Why should we expect the FBI to solve a difficult crime when FOIA officers cannot even comply with simple documents requests and apply simple standards?

      • DXer said

        If we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. John Farmer in his new book GROUND TRUTH (September 2009) illustrates why government agencies will withhold documents when you would expect them to do the right thing in the public interest. In the case of the FAA, the 911 Commission should have issued subpoenas at the start and not counted on the fact that the agency would serve the public interest and respond to a simple document request.

        From History Commons summary:

        “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tells the 9/11 Commission it has already given the Commission all the documents it asked the FAA for. John Farmer, head of the Commission team investigating what happened on the day of 9/11, finds this hard to believe, as the boxes of material the FAA has provided do not contain many tapes or transcripts of FAA communications on the day of the attacks. [Shenon, 2008, pp. 201] Later interviews of FAA staff will reveal there is a mountain of evidence the FAA is withholding from the Commission (see September 2003).

        September 2003: 9/11 Commission Discovers FAA Has Withheld Documents from Investigators

        Investigators for the 9/11 Commission discover that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has withheld a large amount of documents from it about the day of the attacks and falsely claimed it had provided everything the Commission asked for (see August 2003). The discovery is made on a day when the Commission’s investigators begin interviewing air traffic controllers at centers on the East Coast and in the Midwest. John Farmer, the staffer who leads the Commission’s team dealing with this aspect of its work, is only a few minutes into interviews at the FAA’s Indianapolis Center when he realizes, in the words of author Philip Shenon, “just how much evidence the FAA had held back.” His interviewees tell him that there is “extensive information the Commission has not seen, including tape recordings of conversations between the individual air traffic controllers and the hijacked planes.” He also discovers that what the FAA has provided is merely the “accident package,” rather than the much larger “accident file.” Farmer is “furious” and contacts the Commission’s lawyer in Washington. Asked to explain the situation, the FAA rapidly admits there is other material and, within days, several boxes of new material, including the air traffic control tapes, arrive at the Commission’s offices. [Shenon, 2008, pp. 201-202] However, the Commission has lost confidence in the FAA and will issue it with a subpoena next month (see October 14, 2003).

        October 14, 2003: 9/11 Commission Issues First Subpoena, to FAA

        The 9/11 Commission issues it first subpoena, to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Commission had initially decided not to issue subpoenas (see January 27, 2003), but found that the FAA had withheld documentation from it (see August 2003 and September 2003), prompting it to take this step.

        Request from Team Leader – The subpoena’s issue is the result of a request from John Farmer, leader of the Commission’s team investigating the day of the attacks. After receiving permission from the Commission’s chairman and lawyer, Tom Kean and Daniel Marcus, to address the full Commission, Farmer tells them: “My team and I have lost confidence in the FAA. We do not believe we have time to take any more chances on the possibility that they will act on good faith.” This leaves them with “no choice other than a subpoena.”

        Debate inside Commission – Some of the Democratic commissioners, such as Jamie Gorelick, then claim that this is a reason to subpoena all documents the Commission wants. However Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton are against this. Republican Slade Gorton proposes a compromise where the Commission subpoenas the FAA, but only issues a warning to other agencies that are not producing the documents the Commission wants. [Shenon, 2008, pp. 202-203] The Commission approves the subpoena unanimously. The Commission comments publicly, saying, “This disturbing development at one agency has led the Commission to reexamine its general policy of relying on document requests rather than subpoenas.” [Associated Press, 10/15/2003] It also warns other agencies that “document requests must be taken as seriously as a subpoena.” [Shenon, 2008, pp. 203]

  5. DXer said

    Institutional constraints prevented the FBI from allowing the 911 Commission documents it wanted to use in a prosecution of Moussaoui (according to author John Farmer in the September 2009 GROUND TRUTH). At the same time, a CYA approach caused the FAA to withhold documents, Attorney Farmer says. Witnesses, including US Generals, reportedly got facts wrong in formal testimony. In Amerithrax, the correct solution was not reached in part because of the secrecy surrounding the PRESIDENTIAL SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM. The Administration wanted to avoid criticism for allowing the infiltration by Al-Timimi and others. Temporary head of Amerithrax Mike Rolince (as head of the DC Field Office) had learned first-hand the second-guessing that had surrounded the denial of the warrant to get into Moussaoui’s laptop. At the same time, of course, there were — and are — legitimate national security and due process reasons to maintain confidentiality of the investigation.
    We can only wish the FBI well in solving a difficult case while being placed under many conflicting demands that require constant balancing.

    So a failure to connect the dots is understandable. Everyone wants to be reelected. Everyone wants to be promoted. Everyone wants a lucrative second career. Second-guessing can be totally unfair. But there’s that pesky matter of solving the national security matter involving the threatened use of anthrax. Jeff Taylor’s sorority explanation leaves the country at-risk to a mass casualty attack. The post-mortem on 911 was not nearly as important because that was an exercise in reconstructing what had already happened. Amerithrax represents an ongoing threat to use anthrax by Al Qaeda. If not motivated by millions and even billions in profit, the anthrax letters may have been in the nature of a threat and warning just as the al Hayat letter bombs were a threat and warning that predated the 1998 embassy bombings. Until Amerithrax is convincingly solved, we won’t know.

    The “Teflon Terrorist” And Risk Of Infiltration

    An article in George Mason University Gazette, in “CAS Holds Terrorism Briefing on Capitol Hill,” dated October 16, 2001 stated:

    “On Friday, October 12, the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) hosted a legislative briefing on terrorism, bioterrorism, and extremist movements on Capitol Hill. The briefing provided legislators and their staffs with comprehensive background information on Islam, al-Qaeda and the Taliban, bioterrorism, and information security.

    Ken Alibek, affiliate faculty member at George Mason and president of Advanced Biosytems Inc., addressed chemical and biological warfare issues. Alibek served as first deputy chief of defense of the civilian branch of the Soviet Union’s offensive biological weapons program.”

    Ali Al-Timimi was knowledgeable about Islam, the Taliban and information security. Indeed, he was actively recruiting for the Taliban and was communicating with Bin Laden’s sheik and the so-called fellow Falls Church “911 imam” at the time. Did Ali attend the briefing? The briefing of Senators and Congressman had about 100 people present including a lot of media.

    In 2000, IANA radio ran an item “CIA to Monitor Foreign Students.” The item as published on the IANA website read: “American anti-terrorism policies are ‘seriously deficient according to the US National Commission on Terrorism, a body created by Congress after the bombing of 2 US embassies in East Africa.'”

    “Al Qaeda is tremendously patient and thinks nothing about taking years to infiltrate persons in and finding the right personnel and opportunity to undertake an attack. And we cannot become complacent, because you look around the world, and whether it’s London or Madrid or Bali or recently Casablanca or Algiers, attacks are taking place.”

    In November 2007, FBI Director Mueller gave a speech in which he warned against the need to guard against spies at universities, who for example, may have access to pre-patent, pre-classification biochemistry information.

    Infiltrator Ali Mohamed — the fellow that Mike Rolince dismissively told the National Security Council in 1999 not to worry about because it was under control — was the “Teflon terrorist.” Ali Mohammed, an EIJ member who was associated with the unit that killed Sadat, had an alibi for the Sadat assassination. He was at an officer exchange program studying at the JFK Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina., Green Beret and Delta Force officers trained there. After he was forced out of the Egyptian Army for his radical beliefs, he went to work at Egyptair. As a security advisor, where he learned how to hijack airliners. He then joined the CIA and the US Army. He was a supply sergeant at the US Army’s Fort Bragg. He lectured Green Beret and Delta Forces on the middle east. He stole high resolution maps from the map shack and brought them to Zawahirii in Afghanistan. In 1989, Ali Mohamed traveled from Fort Bragg to train men that would later commit WTC 1993. When Ali Mohammed traveled to Brooklyn, he stayed with Islamic Group and Abdel-Rahman’s bodyguard Nosair, the man who would assassinate Rabbi Kahane in 1990.

    WTC 1993 prosecutor Andrew McCarthy concludes that “in small compass, [Ali Mohammed] is the story of American intelligence and radical islam in the eighties and nineties: the left hand oblivious not only to the right but to its own fingers … while jihadists played the system from within, with impunity, scheming to kill us all.” He emphasizes: “There is no way to sugar coat it: Ali Mohamed is a window on breathtaking government incompetence.” He writes: ”I raised holy hell … that I strongly suspected Mohamed was a terrorist, that the FBI should be investigating him rather than allowing him to infiltrate as a source … Because, you know what they say “IMAGINE THE LIABILITY.”

    After Nosair’s arrest, the FBI did not bother to translate or study the dozens of boxes of materials seized from Nosair’s home. The documents included maps and cables from the Joint Chiefs stolen by Ali Mohammed. In 1991, when Bin Laden wanted to move from Afghanistan to Sudan, Ali Mohammed served as his head of security and trained his bodyguards. Along with a former medical student, Khalid Dahab, Ali Mohamed recruited ten Americans for “sleeper cells.” After the 1998 embassy bombings, when FBI agents secretly swarmed his California residence, they found a document “Cocktail” detailing how cell members should operate. Even Al Qaeda central would not know the identity of members and different cells would not know each other’s identity. It was Ali Mohamed who was the source for the December 4, 1998 PDB to President Clinton explaining that the brother of Sadat’s assassin, Islambouli, was planning attacks on the US. In November 2001, did the Quantico profilers know of this egregious history of infiltration and harm flowing from treating the Nosair case as a “lone wolf” rather than an international conspiracy? One man’s “lone wolf” experiencing howling loneliness is another man’s Salafist operating under strict principles of cell security and “need-to-know.”

    A former FBI agent in the New York office who asked not to be identified, told author Peter Lance: “Understand what this means. You have an Al Qaeda spy who’s now a U.S. citizen, on active duty in the U.S. Army, and he brings along a video paid for by the U.S. government to train Green Beret officers and he’s using it to help train Islamic terrrorists so they can turn their guns on us. By now the Afghan war is over.” Steve Emerson once said of the former US Army Sergeant who was Ayman Zawahiri’s head of intelligence: “Ali Mohamed is one of the most frightening examples of the infiltration of terrorists into the infrastructure of the United States. Like a [character in a] John Le Carre thriller, he played the role of a triple agent and nearly got away with it.” Those officials who sought to minimize the security breach would have to explain away the classified maps of Afghanistan he stole from the map shack, and the classified cables and manuals found in such places as the home of Nosair, the assassin of Rabbi Kehane. Not even Ali Mohammed, however, could boast the letter of commendation from the White House once given Ali Al-Timimi, previous work for White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, or a high security clearance. Ali Mohammed did not even have a security clearance but was merely a supply sergeant at the base where Special Operations was located. ‘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.”

    There was an elephant in the rooom no one talked about. Mike Rolince especially did not want to talk about it as head of Amerithrax (while head of the DC Field Office) because he had just been burned by the failure to authorize a FISA search warrant on Moussaoui’s laptop that showed cropdusting materials.

    A colleague of famed Russian bioweaponeer Ken Alibek and former USAMRIID head Charles Bailey, a prolific Ames strain researcher, has been convicted of sedition and sentenced to life plus 70 years in prison. He worked in a program co-sponsored by the American Type Culture Collection and had access to ATCC facilities, as well as facilities of the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense at George Mason University then run by Dr. Alibek and Dr. Bailey. The bionformatics grad student once had a high security clearance for mathematical support work for the Navy. I spoke to William Livingstone, one of the officers of ExecutiveAction, in advance of the group’s release of the monograph they wrote for Pharmathene titled “Spores: The Threat of a Catastrophic Anthrax Attack on America.” I asked him, “How much more obvious does a case of infiltration have to be — does he need to be sitting on Dr. Ken Alibek’s lap?” Now in front of the NAS the panel is reviewing science with the unseen hand of the former ATCC Bacteriology Division collections scientist. Given NAS failure to comply with FOIA, the behind-the-scenes influence will never be made public.

    Many commentators have long held strong and divergent opinions of what has been published in the media about Amerithrax, what they knew and their political views. But it turns out that they apparently have just been seeing the elephant in the living room from a different angle. Actually, they’ve just been in a position to see the elephant’s rump from outside the living room door. One US law professor, Francis Boyle, who has represented islamists abroad, first publicized the theory that a US biodefense insider was responsible. He has served as legal advisor to the Palestinian Liberation Organization and as counsel for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Separately the theory was adopted by professor Barbara Rosenberg. But Professor Boyle and Rosenberg were not so far from the truth — just incorrect as to motive. Dr. Rosenberg was especially astute in pointing to genetics work being done and the distribution of Ames. We need to stop seeing such important issues through political lenses that lead to knee-jerk reactions rather than careful factual analysis. For example, the lawyer advocating for islamist clients, Professor Boyle, tells me that he assumes that the correspondence between Ayman Zawahiri and Rauf Ahmad provided me by the Defense Intelligence Agency under FOIA were forgeries. That is a baseless supposition. If that were true, Ayman Zawahiri who appears on television more often than Wolf Blitzer would ridicule the United States government for the fraud. Instead, the documentary shows that Zawahiri’s plan was to infiltrate the US and UK biodefense establishment, and the evidence shows that is exactly what he did. For Barry Kissin to appear on a radio show of a hardcore 911 truther who denies the jihadist responsibility for 911, Madrid, London, 1998 embassy bombings — alongside a supporter of the 911 imam (Aulaqi) was was coordinating with Al-Timimi, does not further analysis and merely understandably causes someone like Congressman Holt to bolt.

    In a June 2005 interview in a Swiss (German language) weekly news magazine, Neue Zurcher Zeitung, Ken Alibek addresses the anthrax mailings:

    A. “What if I told you Swiss scientists are paid by Al Qaeda? You could believe it or not. It has become somewhat fashionable to disparage Russian scientists. Americans, Iraqis, or whoever could just as well be involved with Al Qaeda. Why doesn’t anyone speculate about that?”
    Q. “But could one of your students build a biological weapon in the garage?”
    A. “Let me reply philosophically: Two hundred years ago, it was unthinkable to believe that people would be using mobile telephones, wasn’t it? Everything changes. Our knowledge grows, and technology develops incredibly quickly. These days even high-school kids can breed recombinant microbial strains. I am not saying that a student is in a position to build a biological weapon all by himself. But the knowledge needed to do it is certainly there.”

    No one who responded to my inquiries ever knew Al-Timimi to ever have been involved in any biodefense project. For example, former Russian bioweaponeer Sergei Popov did not know of any such work by Al-Timimi. Anna Popova had only seen him in the hall on a very rare occasion. Dr. Alibek thought of him as a “numbers guy” rather than a hands-on type. Given that the FBI knows what Al-Timimi had for dinner on September 16, 2001 and lunch on September 17, it is very likely that the past years have involved a continued search for the mailer and/or processor. His attorney emphasizes that while they searched for materials related to a planned biological attack when they searched his townhouse in late February 2003, they came up empty. It was Dr. Alibek who first told me that the FBI suspected Al-Timimi. It was Al-Timimi’s defense counsel who first formally confirmed he was an “anthrax weapons suspect.” Ed Lake did not even know there was a Third Squad focused on Al-Timimi.

    DOD official Peter Leitner, who also taught at GMU, supervised a 2007 PhD thesis by a graduate student that explores biosecurity issues at GMU. The PhD biodefense thesis on the vulnerability of the program to infiltration explains:

    “As a student in the biodefense program, the author is aware that students without background checks are permitted to work on grants, specifically Department of Defense, that has been awarded to NCBD under the Department of Molecular and Microbiology at GMU. Students are also permitted to do research separately from work in the lab for their studies. Work and studies are separate, but related by the lab. Thus, student access, research and activities go unchecked and unmonitored. Students have access to critical information and technology.”

    The author explains:

    “A principal investigator (PI) may hire a student based on a one on one interview, post doctoral or masters interest, technical abilities, publications, previous work and lab experience, whether student qualifications match the principal interrogators current research, whether there is a space, and if the timing is right. There is no formal screening process or background check that the author is aware of for teaching or research assistantships.”

    Other students took a “red cell” approach that have corroborated the findings of the thesis. The thesis points to a pretty big iceberg indeed. Proliferation leads to great risk of infiltration. LSU researcher Martin Hugh-Jones explained: “There were no more than ten labs in the nation working with the organism, and now it’s about 310—and they all want virulent strains. In the old days virtually everyone was paid by Department of Defense to do their research because that’s the only place where money came from because the organism wasn’t thought to be of economic importance. Now that it’s a bioterrorist threat and money’s available for research, experts have come out of the walls. The whole damn thing is bizarre.”A 2004 Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services report: “Serious weaknesses compromised the security of select agents at the universities under review. Physical security of select agents at all 11 universities left select agents vulnerable to theft or loss, thus elevating the risk of public exposure.”

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