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

* The FBI’s continued secrecy regarding the 2001 anthrax attacks is a major impediment to developing an effective bioterrorism policy today

Posted by DXer on October 21, 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  …

“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?”

“Fiction?? Maybe?? But I don’t think so!! More likely an excellent interpretation of what may have really happened.”

******

The FBI’s continued secrecy

regarding the 2001 anthrax attacks

is a major impediment

to developing an effective bioterrorism policy today

******

Mimi Hall writes in USA TODAY (10/21/09) …

  • The Obama administration is working hard to curb nuclear threats but failing to address the more urgent and immediate threat of biological terrorism, a bipartisan commission created by Congress is reporting today.
  • The government’s efforts “have not kept pace with the increasing capabilities and agility of those who would do harm to the United States,” the report says.

read the entire article at … http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2009-10-21-WMD-threat_N.htm

LMW COMMENT …

I didn’t read the entire report, so I can’t say for sure it doesn’t include criticism of the FBI’s investigation of the 2001 anthrax attack, although this was not mentioned in the USA TODAY article.

  • But how can we hope to understand what needs to be done to protect us from bioterrorism when the only example of an actual bioterrorist attack remains unsolved and shrouded in a veil of secrecy that extends even to the Congressional and Senate Committees who are supposed to exercise oversight responsibility over the FBI.

It is a national disgrace that the FBI continues to be allowed to defy Congress and leave the anthrax case unresolved more than a year after they stated that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the SOLE PERPETRATOR.

  • If the FBI really has conclusive proof that Dr. Ivins was the SOLE PERPETRATOR or EVEN INVOLVED AT ALL, then they should close the case and make that proof available for serious review. Failing to close the case leads to speculation that they don’t have proof, or even worse, that the FBI is in fact shielding some other perpetrator(s).

The FBI’s continued secrecy regarding the 2001 anthrax attacks is a major impediment to developing an effective bioterrorism policy in 2009.

see related posts …

* it is now 442 days since the FBI said it expected to close the anthrax case “tomorrow”

* Is the FBI’s anthrax case ongoing or not? … I’ve been asking for two months … the FBI refuses to answer … here’s the email trail

30 Responses to “* The FBI’s continued secrecy regarding the 2001 anthrax attacks is a major impediment to developing an effective bioterrorism policy today”

  1. Lew Weinstein said

    Here’s my source for the statement that the FBI didn’t check personnel records at Ft. Detrick.

    Is a U.S. bioweapons scientist behind last fall’s anthrax attacks, By Laura Rozen
    http://archive.salon.com/news/feature/2002/02/08/anthrax/index.html

    Perhaps responding to a growing chorus of criticism, on Thursday unnamed FBI sources were quoted telling the Wall Street Journal that they are in fact zeroing in on U.S. weapons labs in their anthrax investigation.

    But the article also revealed a startling fact: The FBI has not yet (as of 2/8/02) subpoenaed employee records of the labs where Ames strain anthrax is worked with.

    Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a biological arms control expert at the State University of New York at Purchase and chair of a bioweapons working group at the independent Federation of American Scientists, believes the FBI has intentionally dragged its heels on the weapons-lab angle, most likely for political reasons. “For more than three months now the FBI has known that the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks is American,” Rosenberg wrote to Salon on Tuesday. “This conclusion must have been based on the perpetrator’s evident connection to the U.S. biodefense program.” Rosenberg has become convinced that the FBI knows who sent out the anthrax letters, but isn’t arresting him, because he has been involved in secret biological weapons research that the U.S. does not want revealed. “This guy knows too much, and knows things the U.S. isn’t very anxious to publicize,” Rosenberg said in an interview. “Therefore, they don’t want to get too close.”

    Here’s what I said about the employee records in CASE CLOSED (fiction!)…

    “Here’s who they didn’t talk to,” O’Malley said. “In the beginning, you might have thought Fort Detrick was a high school chem lab for all the attention it got. It took the FBI six months before they even asked for employee records.

    • DXer said

      That’s not adequate authority for the statement that the FBI didn’t check personnel records at Ft. Detrick. As press explained, much information was provided voluntarily the labs participating in the investigation. A subpoena was not necessary. If it were BONES, Agent Booth would just walk down the hall. Indeed, by way of example, Bruce Ivins was polygraphed in 2001 and an individual’s file would have been a useful basis for questioning. His personnel file is online. As for the genetics angle pointed out by BHR, it shows how astute her December 2001 analysis. She was way ahead of the learning curve here. Some of that genetics work was done, for example, by Bruce Ivins’ confidante, Patricia Fellows, published in the PhD thesis by LSU lab director Pamala Coker. It involved cloning the virulence plasmids and increasing the virulence of the Ames strain. It simultaneously made a more effective vaccine and as Dr. Coker explained in the NYT at the time, made a more effective bioweapon. But as I noted yesterday, subpoenas issued for personnel records to LSU and University of Michigan in October 2001 (the researchers there thanked Bruce Ivins for supplying virulent Ames and they separately worked with virulent anthrax at LSU’s B3). So BHR’s concern that the FBI was not firing on all pistons was merely an outsider’s perspective — an understandable but unwarranted concern. By analogy, those that say that Battelle was not aggressively considered apparently are unaware of the search warrant affidavits filed in connection with Perry M, who died in October 2002 or the 37 (or so) Battelle scientists that the DOJ advised Ivins (by letter) that needed clearing in 2007 and 2008.

  2. BugMaster said

    DXer:

    Have you posted any of the 2001 emails? All I could find were from 2000.

    • DXer said

      In the affidavit I cited yesterday (I don’t have it handy but it mentioned the July 18, 2000 review of records by an unnamed forensic psychologist), there are numerous emails from 2000 and 2001. Those are the only ones I’ve seen from 2001. Dr. Ivins sounds very troubled. But it truly is easy as an advocate to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear if you can selectively draw from material. We would be able to judge the emails they highlight in context if USAMRIID provided the 1000 pages of emails it is withholding in violation of FOIA. We need to also take into account that he often was drunk when he wrote the late-night emails to his confidante.

      What was the name of the psychiatrist he consulted in 2000 and 2001? There was an instance involving a young woman who played soccer. In trying to nail down this issue that Anonymous Scientist fairly raises, we have to consider whether Dr. Irwin was the one who consulted at that time. What was his name? Dr. Ivins had contacted the office to consent to release of his earlier records.

      • BugMaster said

        Drinking, and also taking Ambien and SSR antidepressents.

        A very volatile combination. Individuals that abuse alcohol and take Ambien have been known to sleepwalk, eat excessive quantities of food while in a sonambulant state, and even carry on hours-long conversations that they couldn’t recall the next day.

        So who knows what was behind some of what Ivins emailed and stated. He may not have even been in a lucid, concious state at the time.

  3. Anonymous Scientist said

    All I’m trying to do is present the facts here. There is no evidence that Irwin was ever “Dr Ivins psychiatrist”. This was spun by the FBI to the media from court documents that none of us have ever seen.
    The fact is that Irwin is not a personal psychiatrist – he is a forensic psychiatrist.
    The fact is that the FBI likely do not want the details of their involvement with Irwin to be precisely known. They certainly do not want it to be known that Irwin never met Ivins.

    These details are just one of a smorgasbord of details that show the FBI has deliberately set out to mislead, exaggerate, withold, twist and fabricate information to support their pitiful case aganist Ivins.

    They announced that Ivins must have driven to Princeton at a certain time, only to read the blogs the next day to find out this was impossible. So they quickly leaked a new version the next day.

    They leaked to Scott Shane at the NYT that a “chemical signature” in the water showed the spores had to be grown at Detrick. This was thoroughly rebutted scientifically on the internet and elsewhere – and the FBI were forced to discredit their leaker to the NYT journalist.

    The list goes on and on. And your only defense is that they are not “liars”. They have constructed a fairy-tale of breathtaking audacity. If they have done that for reasons of national security, that’s fine. But did Haftill and Berry have to be tortured for this? Did 2 other scientists at Detrick have to be mentlaly tortured? Did Perry and Ivins have to die. Did taxpayers have to pay $5.8M to Hatfill as a result of the FBI’s fairy-tale?

    If the whole thing can’t be talked about becasue it is secret, why not just say so?

  4. DXer said

    This is what Dr. Hassell explained at the briefing:

    “DR. HASSELL: There are some aspects of this, too, that we have to be careful of for
    countermeasures. We need to make sure we don’t give the bad guys every single bit of our whole
    strategy so as to be used against us in the future. So I saw we’re going to publish this and disclose as
    much as we can. I’m sure there will still be individuals out there who will think we’re being evasive and
    I have to say, it’s just what we have to do for national security.”

    So Anonymous Scientist agrees that the FBI is not lying and the FBI agrees that there are things that it is not disclosing.

  5. DXer said

    Anonymous Scientist writes:

    “The above implies that the pyschiatrist at Sheppard Pratt who examined Ivins called him homicidal. But that is not the case at all. The FBI paid a forensic pyschiatrist who had never met Ivins to read his therapist’s ( the ex-biker drug addict who spelled therapist “therispist” in her court complaint) notes on Ivins.”

    Anonymous provides no authority for the above and just states an implication he draws.

    Anonymous Scientist has not yet identified the psychiatrist who said Ivins was homicidal. Authority for his claim requires that he provide the name of the psychiatrist she named in court as having diagnosed Ivins as homicidal and then provide the circumstance of his diagnosis. (his employer, whether he knew Ivins etc.)

    • DXer said

      Yes, I see the link you cite as authority and it describes Dr. David Irwin was his (Ivins) psychiatrist.

      What I am suggesting is required is that you provide support for your claim that Dr. David Irwin was NOT his psychiatrist as stated in the article you link.

      “Dr. David Irwin, his psychiatrist, called him homicidal, sociopathic with clear intentions,” the document states. “Will testify with other details.”

      • DXer said

        So let’s see. I asked Anonymous Scientist repeatedly for authority for his claim that David Irwin was not his psychiatrist as claimed in court papers and AS’ best response was to repeatedly link different articles confirming that (citing court records). So, absent information to the contrary, I guess Anonymous has confirmed that David Irwin was Dr. Ivins’ psychiatrist.

        • Anonymous Scientist said

          Yes, I’m sure that does confirm it for you. The FBI would never write anything misleading, right? 😉

          They are god-like and incapable of wrongdoing.

          Ivins was in care in at least 3 mental health institutes and presumably was seen by several pyschiatrists – none of which made any statements about his mental health to the FBI or the courts. Then we have this forensic pyschiatrist contractor who won’t answer the phone and whom the FBI ae relying upon to convince the public that Ivins was “homicidal”.

          Just in case you don’t know what a forensic psychiatrist does for a living and WHO HE REPRESENTS I suggest you read this:
          http://www.reidpsychiatry.com/reidfaq.html

          Hint: If you think you have a mental illness you don’t go see a forensic psychiatrist for help. A forensic psychiatrist would never be “your psychiatrist”.

          You must be bursting with pride at the impeccable professionalism shown by your FBI heroes.

  6. DXer said

    Aren’t Lew and Anonymous Scientist being unfair to the FBI when they don’t acknowledge that secrecy in an ongoing confidential investigation is to be expected? In instances where neither FOIA nor FACA applies (and a specific FOIA exemption under 554(b) does not apply), doesn’t the law require secrecy?

    Isn’t secrecy required by the Privacy Act, grand jury secrecy laws, and the due process considerations on which our country was founded — with those obligations being in addition to what is good investigative technique? For those of us with no experience in law enforcement matters, don’t television shows like CLOSER, BONES, LAW & ORDER regularly involve secrecy and/or even deception?

    It seems that outside critics are regularly placing impossible demands on the FBI and US DOJ, which are placed between a rock and a hard place in trying to balance conflicting interests and obligations.

    For example, a recent raid involving 100 agents is a case in point. Isn’t secrecy to be expected — out of fairness to the individuals given that it may prove that no evidence may turn up in the search.

    http://cbs2chicago.com/local/Chicago.FBI.First.2.1256226.html

    Oct 19, 2009
    Federal Agents Raid Goat Meat Plant
    Authorities Confirm Raid, No One Taken Into Custody
    KINSMAN, Ill. (CBS) ―

    Federal agents conducted a raid at a goat meat processing plant near Morris, Illinois.

    Federal agents conducted a raid Sunday afternoon at a goat meat processing plant near Morris, Illinois. The secretive operation was led by the Chicago FBI office. CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports that on Monday, the Feds are being very tight-lipped on what they found and why they were even there.

    ***

    Neighbors who saw the raid on Sunday told CBS 2 it was a huge operation, involving more than 100 agents, police officers and even what one believed to be National Guard troops.

    Sources say during the raid, the driveway was filled with more than 50 government vehicles. There was a helicopter flying overhead and a command center set up. On top of it were government sharpshooters with rifles at the ready.

    George Jackson III is an attorney hired by one of the plant operators, Dr. Syed Hamid. Jackson and Dr. Hamid spoke briefly while on their way to a meeting with the federal prosecutor Monday.

    Jackson says it’s too early to say why there was such a huge show of force at the plant.

    “Obviously, it was more than what was needed here, but why they felt the need to come forward with that much manpower allegedly, it’s too early to say,” Jackson said.

    Jackson said federal agents confiscated the company’s computers, effectively shutting down the business. Dr. Hamid chose not to weigh in Monday.

    “I don’t want to comment at this point,” Dr. Hamid said.

    • Lew Weinstein said

      I do not deny that secrecy and deception are appropriate tools to counter terrorism and indeed for many other aspects of police work. But that’s not the issue here.

      The issue, as you (DXer) have also pointed out, is not that the FBI is honestly saying “we have an ongoing matter here that requires secrecy,” which is something I could surely accept.

      No. What the FBI has said, and is still saying, is “we have solved this case and Dr. Bruce Ivins is the sole perpetrator.”

      I believe we all agree that the FBI has not proven its case against Dr. Ivins, and that it is highly likely that although his flask may be involved, he is probably not, and surely not alone. It is now 445 days since the FBI said it would soon close the case, and 90 days since they said the closing was imminent.

      So what is the FBI actually doing?

      … Are they hiding information because, although they are sticking to their Ivins’ story, there is actually an ongoing case that requires secrecy?

      … Are they hiding information to cover the mistake they made when they jumped on Ivin’s suicide to proclaim him the perpetrator?

      … Are they hiding information because they haven’t solved the case and don’t have a clue who murdered five Americans by anthrax in 2001?

      … Are they hiding information to protect the identity of the actual perpetrators?

      … Are they hiding information to protect the complicity of the Bush/Cheney group in the anthrax investigation, the use of anthrax to justify the Iraq War, and a subsequent (and still ongoing) coverup for political (not national security) reasons?

      None of these options speaks well for the FBI nor bodes well for America.

      I asked and answered all of these questions in my novel CASE CLOSED. But that is fiction. I suspect the actual truth will be even more horrifying than my novel.

      • DXer said

        Identify the sentences that you are say are lies.

        Transcript: DOJ News Conference On Bruce Ivins
        Hear The Press Conference
        U.S. District Attorney Jeffrey Taylor and the FBI’s Joseph Persichini’s opening statements

        “August 8, 2008
        Following is a transcript of the Aug. 6, 2008, news conference by U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor, FBI Assistant Director Joseph Persichini and other officials to discuss the government’s investigation of Bruce Ivins, an Army microbiologist suspected in the 2001 anthrax-letter attacks. Ivins committed suicide last month. Source: Department of Justice

        U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor: Good afternoon. I’m Jeff Taylor, the United States attorney for the District of Columbia. I am joined here today by Joseph Persichini, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Chief Postal Inspector Alexander Lazaroff; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Kohl.

        As the department indicated last week and has been widely reported, substantial progress has been made in the Amerithrax investigation in recent years.”

        This is true.

        “As you know, this investigation into the worst act of bioterrorism in U.S. history has been one of the largest and most complex ever conducted by the FBI. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has also made an extraordinary contribution to this investigation. Over the past seven years, hundreds of thousands of agent-hours have been dedicated to solving this crime as well as, I may add, many hours of prosecution time.”

        This is true.

        “Ordinarily, we do not publicly disclose evidence against a suspect who has not been charged, in part because of the presumption of innocence. But because of the extraordinary and justified public interest in this investigation, as well as the significant public attention resulting from the death of Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins last week, today we are compelled to take the extraordinary step of providing first, the victims and their families, as well as Congress, and the American public with an overview of some recent developments as well as some of our conclusions.

        Earlier today, several search warrant affidavits were unsealed in federal court in the District of Columbia. Among other things, these search warrants confirm that the government was investigating Dr. Ivins in connection with the attacks, which killed five individuals and injured 17 others in 2001. Dr. Ivins was a resident of Frederick, Md., and a longtime anthrax researcher who worked at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, known as USAMRIID.

        Dr. Ivins died of an overdose on July 29, 2008, and, at the time of his death, was the sole suspect in the case. Our investigation had begun to shift to a particular laboratory at USAMRIID in 2005 and began to focus on Dr. Ivins as a suspect in 2007. In the weeks prior to his death, we had been in conversations with his attorneys regarding the direction of the investigation because we believed that based on the evidence we had collected, we could prove his guilt to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.”

        There is no basis to call someone’s confidence a lie, is there? You can only say that they are mistaken that they would have prevailed.

        “Based upon the totality of the evidence we had gathered against him, we are confident that Dr. Ivins was the only person responsible for these attacks.”

        There is no basis to call someone’s confidence a lie, is there? You can only say that they are mistaken that they would have prevailed.

        “We are now beginning the process of concluding this invest”igation. Once this process is complete, we will formally close the case. Had Dr. Ivins been indicted, he would have been presumed innocent until proven guilty as is the case of any other criminal defendant. We regret that we will not have the opportunity to present the evidence to a jury to determine whether the evidence establishes Dr. Ivins’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

        We have provided you copies of the court documents, which give details about our evidence. I encourage you to read through them carefully.

        I will summarize from these documents and then I’ll turn the podium over to the FBI to go into greater detail. I will also note that, for a variety of reasons, there may be some questions and details we simply may not be able to discuss publicly today. I hope you respect these boundaries, given the extraordinary steps we’re taking with this disclosure today.

        Now, turning to the evidence.”

        So far I don’t see any lie, do you? All I see is a political appointee who had never been confirmed by the Senate or argued before a federal Court of Appeal expressing his confidence that they would prevail at trial.

        “First, we were able to identify in early 2005 the genetically unique parent material of the anthrax spores used in the mailings. As the court documents allege, the parent material of the anthrax spores used in the attacks was a single flask of spores, known as “RMR-1029,” that was created and solely maintained by Dr. Ivins at USAMRIID.”

        This is true, isn’t it? Ed Lake just totally misunderstood what Taylor was saying. The genetics finding limited things to the 100-300 (depending on the estimate you credit) of people with known access. If the US DOJ was relying on the fact, as claimed by US Attorney Taylor that it was stored in 1425, rather than 1412, then those who estimate 300 have the better of the argument.

        “This means that the spores used in the attacks were taken from that specific flask, regrown, purified, dried and loaded into the letters. No one received material from that flask without going through Dr. Ivins.”

        He is mistaken on this, correct? Someone could just take some. He would leave outgoing samples on his desk unsecured. Is there any indication at all the refrigerators were locked? (No)

        “We thoroughly investigated every other person who could have had access to the flask and we were able to rule out all but Dr. Ivins.”

        And on its face this is not compelling, is it? For example, once one credits that the mailer could be different from the processor, one realizes that one could have no confidence in such a process of exclusion. As a hypothetical, someone could have access and then Jdey could have been the mailer. How would Jeff Taylor suggest they excluded Jdey when they have no idea where he is?

        “Second, as a renowned expert in the production and purification of anthrax spores, Dr. Ivins was one of a handful of scientists with the capability to create spores of the concentration and purity used in the attacks. The affidavits allege that, not only did Dr. Ivins create and maintain the spore batch used in the mailings, but he also had access to and experience using a lyophilizer. A lyophilizer is a sophisticated machine that is used to dry pathogens, and can be used to dry anthrax. We know others in Dr. Ivins’ lab consulted him when they needed to use this machine.”

        This was a mistake, correct? It was a lyophilizer that he had signed out for vaccine work called a SpeedVac. The microbiologists explain it did not have a hood and was too small for the purpose. But this is not a lie, is it? Isn’t it just a mistake on US Attorney Taylor’s part? With resolution requiring expert testimony? (And I won’t presume our experts are correct without first hearing from the experts that Taylor presumably was relying on). But no “lie” — at most, a mistaken assertion.

        “Third, in the days leading up to each of the mailings, the documents make clear that Dr. Ivins was working inordinate hours alone at night and on the weekend in the lab where the flask of spores and production equipment were stored. A review of his access records revealed that Dr. Ivins had not spent this many “off hours” in the lab at any time before or after this period. When questioned about why he was in the lab during those off hours prior to each of the mailings, Dr. Ivins was unable to offer any satisfactory explanation.”

        Now on this it is unfair for Taylor to have relied on an interview in 2005? Not really. The best evidence would be his 2001 explanation, his Log Notebook, and his emails from September and October 2001. In violation of FOIA, those have not been produced. If there is a basis for denial — an applicable exemption from production — it should be claimed. USAMRIID is in violation of FOIA. But it is not a lie. I wouldn’t be able to reconstruct what I did years earlier on particular nights either. Often our presence is not needed — or we are not productive — and yet we are working.

        “Fourth, the affidavits indicate Dr. Ivins had engaged in behavior and made a number of statements that suggest consciousness of guilt. For example, one night shortly after a search warrant was executed on his house, Dr. Ivins took highly unusual steps to discard a book and article on DNA coding while under 24-7 surveillance.”

        Is it surprising that the normal person would do a little tidying up in advance of an anticipated FBI search? Once I missed a garbage pick-up and took my garbage to a business. Once I put garbage out in front of a relative’s house because I didn’t want to have too much, lest the city not pick it up. And I shred and delete as part of a document retention policy. The more sensible inference is that given the underlining of As and Ts in the letter, we know that it points away from someone involved and knowledgeable about such things — such as Dr. Ivins was known to be (it was regularly the subject of presentations at conferences by Keim and others attended by Dr. Ivins).

        “In addition, he had submitted a questionable sample of anthrax from his flask of parent spores to the FBI, presumably to mislead investigators.”

        Given that the guy who was the FBI’s expert and collecting samples was the fellow who provided Zawahiri’s former associate lab space to work with virulent Ames, I think the FBI might best leave this issue alone. Even if Dr. Ivins were guilty, there would be a disqualifying and confounding conflict of interest on the part of its expert, however well-intentioned.

        “He had also made far-reaching efforts to blame others and divert attention away from himself, and had made threatening e-mail statements to a friend regarding the case.”

        This of course is bogus. Ed has blamed everyone from a First Grader to a drunken bowler in Wisconsin who thought anthrax was a virus. But we don’t suspect him. It is to be expected that someone in the field would have opinions.

        And as for his email suggesting that he had heard that FBI’s own scientist (JE) made the closest to the anthrax — well JE has confirmed to me personally that in fact he did aerosolize Ames at the request of DARPA. So rather than accuse of Dr. Ivins of attempting to mislead the investigation, he might instead question why the FBI has not acknowledged the fact (and instead it took a leaked email written by Dr. Ivins to surface).

        “Recently, he had detailed threats in his group therapy session to kill people who had wronged him, after learning he might be indicted.”

        Wouldn’t it be even more enraging to be falsely accused? How is that probative?

        “Fifth, as reflected in the court documents, Dr. Ivins had a history of mental health problems and was facing a difficult time professionally in the summer and fall of 2001 because an anthrax vaccine he was working on was failing. The affidavits describe one e-mail to a co-worker in which Dr. Ivins stated that he had “incredible paranoid, delusional thoughts at times,” and feared that he might not be able to control his behavior.”

        I did see the cute poem. And I did hear from the addictions counselor who was under house detention for her DWI charge. And I did learn of the diagnosis by the doctor who I believe was the FBI forensic psychiatrist. But I would have to learn more on this. All I’ve seen are hundreds of emails written by Dr. Ivins from the period.

        “Sixth, throughout his adult life Dr. Ivins had frequently driven to other locations to send packages in the mail under assumed names to disguise his identity as the sender. He had also admitted to using false names and aliases in writings. In addition, he was a prolific writer to Congress and the media, the targeted victims in the anthrax attacks. Law enforcement recovered 68 letters to such entities from his house in a Nov. 1, 2007, search.”

        Heck, I have a lot more screen names and have written more letters to the editor than that. Is this supposed to be a participatory democracy or not?

        “I’ll conclude with one more point. The envelopes used in the attacks were all pre-franked envelopes, sold only at U.S. Post Offices during a nine-month window in 2001. An analysis of the envelopes revealed several print defects in the ink on the pre-printed portions of the envelopes. Based on the analysis, we were able to conclude that the envelopes used in the mailings were very likely sold at a post office in [the] Frederick, Md., area in 2001.

        Dr. Ivins maintained a post office box at the post office in Frederick, from which these pre-franked envelopes with print defects were sold.”

        Now this is just a grievous mistake. There was nothing limited things beyond all of Maryland and Virginia. But let’s rack this up to Mr. Taylor not having mastery of the facts and his lack of mastery of the facts having led him to a faulty conclusion or a confidence that was not well-founded. Yikes, the man had multiple screen names, kept secrets from his wife, and had a P.O. Box. Book em, Dano.

        “During the course of the seven-year investigation, Dr. Ivins was interviewed by federal authorities several times — three times in 2008 alone. His statements were inconsistent over time and failed to explain the evidence against him.”

        Um, what evidence? He was supposed to explain away his multiple screen names, the fact he kept secrets from his wife, had a P.O. Box?

        “The points I have just gone over are only a summary of the court documents we have provided you.”

        Actually, it was an inept summary. For example, the prefranked envelope error was a really big mistake.

        “There are additional details in the documents, which again, we encourage you to read thoroughly. All the information contained in this statement is now public information.”

        Thanks. We did. Your errors were corrected. Even with the errors and characterizations, we saw there wasn’t any good evidence. Lawyers are wrong all the time. No reason to assume Taylor’s conclusions were lies, rather than mistakes.

        “We are able to give you this information because the United States followed proper procedures and formally requested that a federal court unseal several search warrants in this investigation, and that court approved the request. In addition, we consulted and received express permission of the Justice Department to do so.

        I’d now like to introduce Mr. Persichini to provide you with some greater detail on the evidence and how the investigation was conducted. Thank you.”

        Bottom-line. Mr. Taylor was a very busy man with many responsibilities. To err is human.

        “FBI Assistant Director Joseph Persichini: Thanks Jeff, Chief Inspector Lazaroff. Good afternoon.

        As assistant director in charge of the Washington Field Office of the FBI, I was able to be with Director Mueller this morning as he met with the families of those who died, and many of the surviving victims of these attacks. I was able to once again offer my sincere and heartfelt condolences, and provide them some of the answers they have waited for with such patience and understanding for seven years.

        As U.S. Attorney Taylor pointed out, over the past seven years, the members of the Amerithrax Task Force, comprised of FBI agents and U.S. Postal Service inspectors, put forth a herculean effort to identify the origin of the anthrax spores contained in the mailings. And, together with career prosecutors from the Department of Justice, prepared to bring the person responsible for these crimes to justice.

        The Amerithrax Task Force members worked tirelessly on a case that quickly became a global investigation spanning six continents, and required that new scientific techniques be created. Postal inspectors, FBI agents, analysts and scientists worked this investigation 24-7, with unwavering dedication and perseverance.

        For example, at the time of the anthrax attacks, the protocols for genetic tests to determine the DNA fingerprint of individual batches of anthrax had not been developed. The FBI sought out the best experts in the scientific community and, over time, four highly sensitive and specific tests were developed that were capable of detecting the unique qualities of the anthrax used in the 2001 attacks.

        That is to say, this investigation took our agents and scientists to new territory. An extraordinary amount of research and testing needed to achieve these groundbreaking accomplishments required months and years of trial and error analysis and review.

        We were then able to trace that to an individual lab, a single flask, and one individual who controlled it. Further, painstaking investigation lead us to the conclusion that Dr. Bruce E. Ivins was responsible for the death, sickness and fear brought to our country by the 2001 anthrax mailing, and that it appears, based on the evidence, that he was acting alone.

        In closing, I sincerely hope that the documents we have released today provide an overview of our investigation of the 2001 anthrax mailings, our scientific accomplishments and the conclusion made regarding Dr. Ivins.

        Thank you.

        Taylor: We’re happy to take some questions.”

        You grossly underestimate the US DOJ’s and FBI’s ability to get things just as wrong — just like that EPA FOIA Officer. All of your possibilities assume the FBI and DOJ is “hiding” something. You make the mistaken assumption that they were ever able to figure out anything that they then had motive to hide. Proving such a crime — dropping an envelope into a mailbox 8 years ago — is not exactly easy. To the extent they are hiding their hypotheses about other POIs, that’s their job and responsibility under the law.

        • Lew Weinstein said

          I don’t believe I used the word “lie” in my comment in this stream to which you responded, although I may have used it elsewhere. In any case, it is a bad choice of words since I have no way to know what people knew when they said what they said.

          However, I stand by my contention that the FBI is hiding something.

          Your conclusion that I underestimate the FBI’s incompetence is perhaps true. I do think the FBI is fundamentally competent. I also think the investigation, when it was originally undertaken, was not as complicated and difficult as it may seem now. The trail was relatively fresh in 2001, and the number of places the anthrax might have come from was quite limited.

          I do not think the FBI has failed, in the most extensive investigation in its history, to learn who the real perpetrators are.

          You can assert that early decisions – destruction of Ames anthrax, failure to even look at Ft. Detrik personnel records, turning away from Dugway and Battelle, were the reuslt of incompetence, but it seems to me more likely that other factors were in play. What they were I do not know, although I speculated (fiction!) in CASE CLOSED.

          I will allow this: if the FBI is truly investigating other perpetrators, and is using its standing accusation of Dr. Ivins as a ploy to make the real perpetrators think they are in the clear, then this is a legitimate deception, although one unlikely to produce the desired result. I don’t think this is the reason for not closing the case. Do you?

        • DXer said

          You are correct. My framing it around the “lie” was a straw man argument I made in mistake.

          You say: “However, I stand by my contention that the FBI is hiding something.”

          And if they did not maintain confidentiality of the investigation, we would give them bloody hell as everyone did for years over the Hatfill leaks — in connection with which the DOJ was sharply rebuked for the leaks. That is to say, even if they all think Ivins was involved and the sole perpetrator, they can’t discuss other theories or POIs.

          “I do think the FBI is fundamentally competent. I also think the investigation, when it was originally undertaken, was not as complicated and difficult as it may seem now. The trail was relatively fresh in 2001, and the number of places the anthrax might have come from was quite limited.”

          I agree.

          “I do not think the FBI has failed, in the most extensive investigation in its history, to learn who the real perpetrators are.”

          I agree.

          “You can assert that early decisions – destruction of Ames anthrax, failure to even look at Ft. Detrick personnel records, turning away from Dugway and Battelle, were the reuslt of incompetence, but it seems to me more likely that other factors were in play.”

          There is no evidence that I know of that they failed to look at Ft. Detrick personnel records.

          “I will allow this: if the FBI is truly investigating other perpetrators, and is using its standing accusation of Dr. Ivins as a ploy to make the real perpetrators think they are in the clear, then this is a legitimate deception, although one unlikely to produce the desired result.”

          I agree. I don’t think — taking the hypothetical Dr. Ivins was not responsible — that the bad guys suddenly say, “Yippee!! We got away with it.”

          “I don’t think this is the reason for not closing the case. Do you?”

          I think undercover operations and electronic surveillance are ongoing — to include mail trashing, mail interception, warrantless NSA wiretapping, FISA warrants and Title III warrants.

        • DXer said

          Here is one approach to the timeline:

          The FBI obtained the personnel records of the Ann Arbor resident, a former Zawahiri associate, pursuant to subpoena issued in October 2001. See Newsday article below.

          The DOJ took prompt action in closed immigration proceedings against Ann Arbor-resident Rabih Haddad, founder of the Al Qaeda front GRF, that they sought to keep secret. US Attorney Fitzpatrick was outraged of leaks/ NYT call that led to shredding of documents. (NYT reporter would meet with Scooter Libby who was known as “Germ Boy.”) Press at time of investigations/prosecutions related to WMD suspicions that they could not prove. (See Det. News)

          Rep. Conyers actively intervened on behalf of Haddad and forced a partial opening of proceedings and visited him in jail.

          The FBI declined to brief Rep. Conyers and his colleagues about Amerithrax.

          Ed argues for 7 years a First Grader is responsible for the letters.

          The National Security Council, even after the Bush Administration leaves office, requires that all documents relating to Al-Timimi (to include those relating to the warrantless NSA wiretapping and anthrax) remain highly classified. Al-Timimi was former assistant to the White House Chief of Staff who orchestrated the Presidential Surveillance Program involving warrantless wiretapping of Al-Timimi, Fowzia Siddiqui, etc.

          The FBI indicts Rep. Conyers wife on bribery charges but he doesn’t think to recuse himself from oversight of the FBI.

          Lew gets frustrated that they won’t brief Rep. Conyers and other members of Congress.

          Anonymous Scientist gets frustrated that members of Congress are just going to let a sleeping dog lie.

          Intelligence agency uses cut-outs to get the information out.

          Ed still thinks a child wrote the letters.

          FBI Subpoenas Labs And
          Universities In Anthrax Probe
          By Earl Lane
          Washington Bureau
          NewsDay.com
          10-31-1

          WASHINGTON – The FBI has been using subpoenas from a Florida grand jury to obtain information from universities and research institutions, including Long Island’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, as part of its search for possible sources of contraband anthrax or people with the expertise to make it.

          While investigators still do not know the origin of the pure, fine-grained anthrax mailed to the office of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), some experts have said it could be the work of a competent, doctorate-level microbiologist.

          At least two laboratories that continue to do active research on anthrax said they have received subpoenas and others likely have been issued. The FBI also has been contacting many of the nation’s more than 100 laboratories that handle hazardous biological agents.

          ***

          A subpoena was delivered Oct. 16 to the lab of Martin Hugh-Jones, an anthrax specialist at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. According to Richard Hidalgo, assistant to the dean of the school of veterinary medicine at LSU, it asked the school to provide by Oct. 23 a log of all visitors and employees at the Hugh-Jones lab since Jan. 1, 2000, including their Social Security numbers and dates of birth. The subpoena also asked for information on shipments of pathogens to and from the lab.

          “Besides Dr. Hugh-Jones and his lab director, only three others have been in the lab” during the time in question, Hidalgo said. “I’ve never been there myself.” Hugh-Jones, who questioned the necessity of using subpoenas to obtain information from research labs, said LSU’s reply was sent to the FBI last week.

          A subpoena also was delivered to the University of Michigan, according to a source who asked not to be identified. “All research institutions are being contacted by the FBI and asked for information,” the source said. “They were seeking personnel records for those who may be working with select agents.”

        • DXer said

          Barbara, who I think very highly of, was just not aware that she was mistaken that they were not zeroing in — that they were casting too wide a net.

          Instead, they were targetting the former Zawahiri associate who had been supplied virulent Ames by USAMRIID’s Bruce Ivins.

        • DXer said

          Unproven weapons claim led to Islamic charity raid in ‘01, Detroit News, September 04, 2004
          http://www.islamdaily.org/EN/Contents.aspx?AID=1771

          “The CIA feared that an Islamic charity chaired by an Ann Arbor man was plotting to attack the United States with weapons of mass destruction, according to a report by the 9/11 commission. The extraordinary claim was based on intelligence the agency gathered from a separate FBI investigation.

          The worries prompted federal agents and NATO troops to raid offices of the charity, Global Relief Foundation, on Dec. 14, 2001, and swab some of them for residues of weapons of mass destruction. None were found, and the attack allegations were never proved, the 9/11 commission review says.”

          But the claim led to the arrest of Rabih Haddad, an Ann Arbor cleric who became the center of a national debate over security and civil rights in a post-9/11 world. The commission’s report reveals for the first time why investigators cracked down on Haddad and shrouded details of his arrest from the public. …

          Haddad’s attorney, Ashraf Nubani, first heard of the weapons claim when contacted this week by the Free Press. “That doesn’t make any sense,” Nubani said. “How can you be both a humanitarian organization and even remotely involved in weapons of mass destruction? It’s literally impossible.”

          Rabih Haddad’s attorney, Ashraf Nubani, was the Northern Virginia attorney who arranged for pro bono representation for the Virginia Paintball defendants.

          The Go-To Lawyer of ‘Northern Virginiastan’ | ABA Journal – Law …
          Muslim-American attorney Ashraf Nubani dreams of building an ordinary law practice. Meanwhile, there are terrorists—alleged and otherwise—to defend.
          abajournal.com/…/the_go_to_lawyer_of_northern_virginiastan/

          Al-Timimi’s pro bono lawyer, who recently withdrew (in February 2009) from the ongoing criminal matter in which highly classified ex parte proceedings are addressing the issues at bar, was the daughter of the lead prosecutor in Amerithrax (the head criminal guy at the US Attorney DC Field Office). (His sister-in-law and brother were Palestinian activists who on their own time advocated that terrorism should not be attributed to Bin Laden.) The prosecutor, Daniel Seikaly, according to the biography on his present law firm’s webpage, had come over from the CIA in late September 2001.

          That lead prosecutor, Daniel Seikaly, pled the Fifth Amendment at civil deposition for all the Hatfill leaks.

          Amerithrax may be a mess but it is by no means clear that the House Judiciary Committee is part of the solution rather than a part of the problem.

          Now I don’t see anything in the House Code of Conduct that would require his stepping down. But he is in the position of overseeing the Department of Justice that reached a plea agreement with his wife on charges related to bribery. The investigation is ongoing and I don’t believe she has yet been sentenced. It would seem to be common sense that he temporarily turn over his duties until his wife’s legal difficulties are resolved.

          Reply

      • Anonymous Scientist said

        They are hiding something, that is for sure. DXer uses a straw-man argument by invoking the word “lie”. In reality outright lies rarely get told – it’s more sophisticated than that.
        The FBI spent years trying to delay Hatfill’s lawsuit. Hatfill had been publicly accused of terrorism – and the FBI used excuse after excuse to delay his lawsuit against the DOJ. Did they tell lies in making hese delays? Probably they did – or certainly they exaggerated that they had “super secret evidence” that, if disclosed in court if the lawsuit was allowed to go forward, would harm national security. They were probably careful not to tell outright lies. But they knew their claims to the judge were exaggerated and bogus. In the end Judge Walton rebuked them – saying, with respect to leaving Hatfill in legal limbo for years “This is not an America I want to live in”. Apparently DXer wants to live in such an America.
        DXer apparently wants to live in an America where it is perfectly acceptable to hound innocent government scientists to death (Ivins) – all for the sake of covering up what he believes is a super secret Al-Qaeda plot that none of us can ever know about.
        I don’t know what is being hidden by the FBI exactly – but I do know that the fact they are hiding something is obvious. The case is still open and the AFIP lab reports are still under wraps. Until that changes something is being hidden.

        • DXer said

          Anonymous Scientist,

          What is the evidence you have that they acted inappropriately toward Dr. Ivins? Dr. Ivins’ lawyer has publicly said that they at all times acted appropriately. Is there something you know about how they acted toward Dr. Ivins that was not known by Dr. Ivins’ lawyer? Isn’t he a better judge given that he was meeting with Dr. Ivins on an ongoing basis?

        • Anonymous Scientist said

          I suppose in your world offering a sports car to Ivins son to turn in his old man was acceptable as long as the Al Qaeda cover-up could continue smoothly.

        • DXer said

          Are you suggesting that Paul Kemp was not aware of that at the time of the statements reportedly widely in his press defending the FBI? BTW, there is a $2 million reward. The entire purpose of the reward is to encourage a confidante to supply information. Do you even know whether the son was at the home the night of the mailings? Whether he provided an alibi? Your information is third or fourth-hand on the issue of a sports car comment and nonexistent on the issue of alibi. Yet here is attorney Kemp speaking directly and available for questions. He disagrees with you and met repeatedly with Dr. Ivins — billing at one point, I believe, $68,000. His job was to zealously protect Dr. Ivins and yet, in a better position to know the facts, he disagrees with you.

          Anthrax suspect’s lawyer speaks up for FBI

          WASHINGTON (CNN) — In an unusual move, an attorney for anthrax suspect Bruce Ivins, who committed suicide last month, is speaking up for the government, saying it should not be blamed for his death.

          Former U.S. Army researcher Bruce Ivins killed himself in his Frederick, Maryland, home in July.

          “Some press accounts have contained statements faulting the FBI for Dr. Bruce Ivins’ suicide. We disavow such speculation,” attorney Paul Kemp said Thursday in a statement obtained by CNN. He said the statement was issued in reaction to reports on Web sites and blogs talking about the death.

          Some of Ivins’ friends have said the FBI harassed him and his family and that could have led to his taking of his own life.

          Although the defense attorneys have said that they think Ivins is innocent and say the government’s evidence has many holes, Kemp said, “both [Ivins] and counsel were treated fairly and professionally” by the prosecutors and FBI agents overseeing the case.

          The Justice Department and the FBI laid out evidence this month that they said led them to believe that Ivins was the man responsible for the anthrax-laced mailings that killed five people and injured 17 in fall 2001.

          The evidence included scientific data linking the strain of anthrax used in the attacks to a flask in the researcher’s lab and information showing that the scientist had worked long hours right before the mailings.

          On July 7, federal prosecutor Rachel Lieber contacted defense attorneys regarding reports she had received from personnel at Fort Detrick, Maryland, where Ivins worked, regarding his “deteriorating medical condition,” Kemp said. “We believe that Ms. Lieber acted out of concern for his welfare.”

          Kemp says that although speculation has been aimed at Ivins regarding the attacks, “it is wrong to answer such speculation with similarly unfounded accusations and innuendo” against prosecutors and FBI agents.

        • Anonymous Scientist said

          That confirms what I thought. In your world it is perfectly acceptable to harrass and intimidate the teeenage children of suspects when no hard evidence is available and your team is, at the same time, similarily harrassing 2 other innocent Detrick scientists.
          It’s also perfectly OK to covertly interview a suspect’s therapist, then, when you find there is some dirt on her, manipulate her into filing court documents and later on anonymously leak that a psychiatrist called Ivins a homicidal maniac when no such psychiatrist who ever personally met with Ivins said anything of the sort.
          But to justify the Al Qaeda cover-up, innocent people are expendable, right? 😉

        • DXer said

          How old were the teenage children you mention? Was one old enough to fight in Afghanistan? Was he an alibi witness? Did he provide an alibi? Is it your thought he could not be told of the reward? Cross-examined closely on his alibi? What is the harassment you perceive? And if you perceive it, why didn’t Paul Kemp? Your beef is with him, not me. Given the son hasn’t even come forward to provide an alibi (or not), I certainly wouldn’t presume to know anything about his interactions with the FBI.

          On the therapist, are you suggesting a privilege applied when he had expressed an intent to harm himself and others? Under what state law do you imagine that such a privilege is not waived under the circumstances?

          What is the name of the psychiatrist who called him a homicidal maniac? Who did he work for? When did he examine Dr. Ivins?

          Anonymous, if this is akin to Big Time Wrestling, who gets to win?
          And can you even tell me how many “e’s” are in “pledge of allegiance” without looking?

          FBI Lab Director Chris Hassell expressly said in the closed briefing to the Science media that there would be information that they would not be sharing in order to avoid tipping off countermeasures. So it’s good that you now agree (1) that the FBI is not lying and (2) you agree that the FBI lived up to its expressed and clearly stated intention to hide things.

        • Anonymous Scientist said

          This what the FBI leaked in the early days:
          http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?StoryID=78270
          “A psychiatrist described Bruce E. Ivins, a leading military anthrax researcher who worked at Fort Detrick, as homicidal and sociopathic, according to court documents. Ivins was committed to Sheppard Pratt Hospital early last month after making threats of homicidal intent, according to a peace order reviewed by The Frederick News-Post this morning.
          Sheppard Pratt is a psychiatric hospital in Baltimore County.”

          This was the narrative that the FBI wanted to paint. But it was all smoke. The above implies that the pyschiatrist at Sheppard Pratt who examined Ivins called him homicidal. But that is not the case at all. The FBI paid a forensic pyschiatrist who had never met Ivins to read his therapist’s ( the ex-biker drug addict who spelled therapist “therispist” in her court complaint) notes on Ivins. From these notes he concluded that the person must be homicidal.

          The FBI may be your heroes for this, and you may think the above was conducted with impeccable professionalism. You are free have that opinion. I prefer to stick to the facts.

  7. DXer said

    Mike Rolince, once head of DOJ international terrorism and briefly acting head of Amerithrax as acting head of the DC Field Office, once told the White House National Security Council folks under Clinton that they had the Ali Mohammed situation under control. The White House folks were alarmed that Ayman Zawahiri had visited the United States in the mid 1990s and taken on a tour by San Jose physician Ali Zaki and his friend Ali Mohammed.

    In 1995, Ayman came once again to the United States where he was accompanied by US Army Sergeant Ali Mohammed on his travels to California, then Brooklyn, then the Washington, D.C. area in an attempt to develop the US infrastructure (as had been decided was the plan at a meeting in Khartoum). Who did Ayman visit in Washington, D.C.? Zawahiri traveled to the US in 1991 and 1995 under an alias (though the dates are disputed). Zawahiri sometimes was accompanied by two brothers, a New Jersey pharmacist and a California doctor, Ali Zaki (a fellow Cairo Medical alum who denies knowing who Zawahiri was). They were joined by a former US Army sergeant and key Al Qaeda operative, Ali Mohammed. In Santa Clara, Ayman reportedly stated at the home of Ali Mohammed, even though Mohammed had recently been subpoenaed to testify about what he knew about Bin Laden’s activities. Dr. Zaki says he was a good friend of Ali Mohammed and that it was widely known that Ali Mohammed was a liaison between the islamists in Afghanistan and the CIA. In one of his trips, he also reportedly went to Texas. One of the most important starting points of the FBI’s Amerithrax investigation should have been to trace the contacts that al-Zawahiri made on his last trip to the United States. He met with supporters associated with the Maktab Khidmat al-Mujahidin (the Al-Mujahidin services office) in the US.

    All of this was known by the CIA in December 2001 and I have the documents to prove it. 7 years later we are handed this cockamamie Kappa Gamma story after the Hatfill Theory didn’t fly. Make whatever decisions you like (in good faith) in conducting the War of Terror. But lie to the American public and then fail to correct course — and be prepared to leave office.

    TOP SECRET – DON’T READ THIS UNLESS YOU HAVE A NEED TO KNOW

    The troubles of Cairo Medical School graduate (’71), San Jose physician Ali Zaki, over taking Ayman Zawahiri and Bin Laden’s head of intelligence around the US in 1995 had just about faded from memory when in January 2000, a new problem then reared its head involving viagra to be shipped overseas.

    In 1999, he had prescribed $164,000 in prescriptions for Viagara, a syringe of a drug for renal insufficiency and a vial for hypogonadism. (Bin Laden suffered from renal insufficiency.) The California Board governing physicians found that Dr. Zaki violated regulations because no patient was named and he had kept no records. The drugs were ordered ostensibly for a fictitious business MedChem.

    When an investigator went to check out the listing it was the address at 550 Bevans Drive it turned out to have been a recently closed deli called Landmark Gourmet Delicatessen. Owned by Hasan Ibrahim, the business had been evicted. According to the decision, the drugs reportedly were for resale abroad. If they were intended for Afghanistan, someone must have expected a lot of action with some virgins. Perhaps erectile dysfunction was common there because of the cold, harsh conditions and the stress in that line of work. One of the allegations in the January 21, 2000 “Accusation” alleged that “On or about June 15, 1999, respondent ordered 100 bottles of Viagara, 30 tablets per bottle, at 100 milligram strength.” Cost: $164,000. Memories: Priceless. The public reprimand issued in August 2001.

  8. DXer said

    The FBI would explain that in counterterrorism investigations it is their job to keep secrets. They would say that they are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.

    October 19, 2009 11:42 AM
    Mukasey WSJ Op-Ed: No Terror Trials in Civilian Courts

    Posted by Brian Baxter
    In an opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, former U.S. attorney general Michael Mukasey argues against the Obama administration’s plan to try several prisoners currently detained at Guantanamo Bay in civilian courts in the U.S.
    Mukasey, who spoke with The Am Law Daily earlier this year about his decision to join Debevoise & Plimpton following two years at Main Justice, writes that civilian courts are ill equipped to handle such prosecutions.
    Citing the multidefendant trial of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and several others before him more than a decade ago–Mukasey was a federal judge in Manhattan from 1988 to 2006–Mukasey writes that a list of coconspirators made its way to Osama bin Laden.
    “It is not simply the disclosure of information under discovery rules that can be useful to terrorists,” Mukasey says. “The testimony in a public trial, particularly under the probing of appropriately diligent defense counsel . . . can be used to press government witnesses to either disclose information they would prefer to keep confidential or make it appear that they are concealing facts.”
    Mukasey also cites problems over the prosecution of Tanzanian Al Qaeda operative Ahmed Ghailani, captured in Pakistan in 2004, who was transferred to the U.S. from Guantanamo earlier this year to face trial.
    In closing, Mukasey writes that the prosecutions of terrorists responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and East Africa embassy bombings in 1998 in U.S. courts did not engender the future global goodwill that many believe will be headed our way after closing Guantanamo.
    Instead we got the 9/11 attacks and the murder of 3,000 people, which begat their own acts of benevolence toward the U.S. by those abroad horrified by the violence.
    “That is the kind of goodwill we can do without,” Mukasey writes.

    • DXer said

      Of course, there is the small matter of OBL’s head of intelligence, Ali Mohammed, who was an FBI informant and Army sergeant (and briefly worked for the CIA). The FBI agent handling him was more focused on his future son-in-law who had murdered his parents and impeding that investigation. See Peter Lance’s TRIPLE CROSS. If Ali’s penetration had been uncovered, 911 could have been avoided. Indeed, if his name had been on the list of unindicted co-conspirators 911 might have been avoided.

  9. DXer said

    It is the National Security Council at the White House, not the FBI, that ordered the high level of secrecy surrounding the briefing in the United States v. Al Timimi. The prosecutor advised the judge by letter available on PACER that the NSC had been told of his request to be allowed assistance by his clerk, but that the Council refused the request. Even defense counsel, eminent First Amendment scholar at GWU and regular MSNBC commentator Turley, was not allowed to see the briefing. That is extraordinary ex parte briefing. Some might argue that it relates merely to NSA wiretapping that began on or about October 7, 2001 under the Presidential Surveillance Program. Defense counsel, however, has explained in a court filing unsealed a year or two ago that Al-Timimi was considered an “anthrax weapons suspect.” Thus, don’t blame the Amerithrax consulting scientists or members of the investigative squad pursuing Ivins for seeming so clueless. The National Security Council has also refused to authorize them to be read into the matter. Which, of course, makes it hard to effectively investigate the matter. As former lead investigator Lambert explained, such compartmentalization would prevent them from “connecting the dots.” After 8 years about the only information being suppressed relate to the missteps that prevented Amerithrax from being solved.

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