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

Archive for February, 2010

* New York Times … the FBI’s anthrax case against Dr. Ivins is not convincing … an independent assessment is needed

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 28, 2010

Why did the FBI fail to solve the anthrax case? Or did they solve the case but are hiding the truth? My novel CASE CLOSED presents possible answers to those important questions. CASE CLOSED is of course a fiction, but it has been described by many readers, including one respected member of the U.S. Intelligence Community, as a “quite plausible” scenario. You’ll be shocked when you read what could be the terrible truth about the FBI and our government.

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

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New York Times …

the FBI’s anthrax case against Dr. Ivins is not convincing …

an independent assessment is needed

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New York Times editorial (2/28/10) …

  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued a report that is supposed to clinch the case that a lone scientist mailed anthrax-laced letters in 2001, terrorizing a country already traumatized by the 9/11 attacks.
  • The agency cites voluminous circumstantial evidence that is largely persuasive, but its report leaves too many loose ends to be taken as a definitive verdict.
  • problematic is the investigative work that led the F.B.I. to conclude that only Dr. Ivins, among perhaps 100 scientists who had access to the same flask, could have sent the letters.
  • The case has always been hobbled by a lack of direct evidencetying Dr. Ivins to the letters.
    • No witnesses who saw him prepare the powdered anthrax or mail the letters.
    • No anthrax spores in his house or car.
    • No incriminating fingerprints, fibers or DNA.
    • No confession to a colleague or in a suicide note
  • the F.B.I. has a troubling history of building a circumstantial case against suspects who are later exonerated.
  • We are inclined to agree with Representative Rush Holt of New Jersey, who is calling for an independent assessment to validate the findings.
  • Americans need to be sure that the real culprit or possible accomplices are not still at large, waiting to do damage again.
  • And we need to head off conspiracy theories that are apt to be fostered if the only judgment available comes from an agency eager to clear its books.

Read the entire editorial at … http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/opinion/28sun2.html?emc=tnt&tntemail1=y

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Frederick News-Post …

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LMW COMMENT …

How gratifying for those of us who have long believed the FBI’s case is bogus, and could never produce a conviction. But still, the more important questions are …

  • why did the FBI fail to solve the case?
  • Or maybe they did solve it, and if so, why are they hiding the truth?

Which is why you should read CASE CLOSED …

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

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* from DXer … Attorney Jonathan Turley regarding his client Al-Timini … is this the kind of connection it is critical for the Holt/Bartlett House committee to investigate?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 27, 2010

graphic from DXer

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When I read about the FBI/DOJ press conference in August 2008, I was so upset by the lack of any real evidence against Dr. Ivins that, over the next 45 days, I wrote my novel to explain why  the FBI had failed to solve the anthrax murders. CASE CLOSED is of course a fiction, but it has been described by many readers, including one respected member of the U.S. Intelligence Community, as a quite plausible scenario .

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

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* U.S. House Seeks Further Review Of Anthrax Attacks … link to Congressman Holt video

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 26, 2010

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U.S. House Seeks Further Review Of Anthrax Attacks

Congressmen Bartlett & Holt

Congressman Holt … “The FBI botched this case from the very beginning, and now they have arbitrarily closed the investigation because they are sure they have their man – just as they were sure they had their first man, who they had to pay $6 million for false arrest,” Holt said. “Yet, there are too many questions that the victims’ families, law enforcement, and the general public deserve answered. This amendment would helpanswer one of those questions. Given that samples of the strain of anthrax that was used in the attacks may have been supplied to foreign laboratories, it is important to examine whether or not evidence of a potential foreign connection to the attacks was overlooked, ignored, or simply not passed along to the FBI.

Congressman Bartlett …  “His colleagues say that he would not have done it,” said Bartlett, who complained that Fort Detrick officials have refused to let him speak with scientists who work there.

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AP reports …

  • The House of Representatives is seeking further review of the 2001 anthrax mailings that killed five people.
  • House members approved an amendment to an intelligence authorization bill Thursday that would require the government to look for credible evidence of foreign involvement in the attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 others.
  • The action comes six days after the FBI closed its investigation by concluding Army scientist Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator of the attacks.
  • The amendment was offered by New Jersey Democrat Rush Holt, from whose state the letters were mailed, and Maryland Republican Roscoe Bartlett. Maryland is home to Fort Detrick, the Army installation where Ivins worked before he killed himself in 2008.
  • Both congressmen have expressed doubts about the FBI’s conclusions.

see Congressman Holt video …

http://article.wn.com/view/2010/02/26/Holder_Gates_Raise_Constitutional_Concerns_About_Terror_Tria/


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* Questions arising from a reading of the Summary of the FBI Investigation of Dr. Bruce E. Ivins

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 26, 2010

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When I read about the FBI/DOJ press conference in August 2008, I was so upset by the lack of any real evidence against Dr. Ivins that, over the next 45 days, I wrote my novel to explain why  the FBI had failed to solve the anthrax murders. CASE CLOSED is of course a fiction, but it has been described by many readers, including one highly respected member of the U.S. Intelligence Community, as a quite plausible scenario .

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

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Each of the numbered items below was taken directly from the Summary of the FBI Investigation of Dr. Bruce E. Ivins released 2/19/10

The items marked “Q” are questions that arose in my mind as I read the FBI report.

Items in blue are reader comments on specific items; thanks for the addditions.

  • NOTE: if you’d like your comment appended to this post, please indicate the item # to which it refers.

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1. This (new DNA science) was a groundbreaking development in the investigation. It allowed the investigators to reduce drastically the number of possible suspects, because only a very limited number of individuals had ever had access to this specific spore preparation that was housed at USAMRIID.

Q: Is the more than 350 individuals who apparently had or could have had access to RMR-1029 anthrax, plus others to whom the 350 could have given the anthrax, a “very limited” number of individuals?

DXer comments … Oh, by the way, the former Zawahiri associate who was working with virulent Ames from Flask 1029 alongside Bruce Ivins is from the University of Michigan. The very first person I asked about him was the University of Michigan scientist referenced by the FBI whose correspondence and field involved the codons.

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2. It was determined that Dr. Hatfill could not have been the mailer because he never had access to the particular bio-containment suites at USAMRIID that held the RMR-1029. In other words, although Dr. Hatfill had access to Ames strain anthrax while at USAMRIID, he never had access to the particular spore-batch used in the mailings.

Q: Were access and internal controls at USAMRIID so secure that those who were not supposed to be there could have gained access to RMR-1029 anthrax? Could others have received RMR-1029 anthrax from those who did have legitimate access?

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3. The Task Force focused its investigation on those researchers who had access to the lab at USAMRIID where RMR-1029 was being stored between September 11 and 18, 2001, and again between October 1 and 8, 2001 – the windows of opportunity to have processed and mailed the anthrax used to commit the crime.

Q: Why was the investigation focused on these two limited time windows? What evidence proves that the attack anthrax could only have been obtained at those times?

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4. Investigators learned that Dr. Ivins was alone late at night and on the weekend in the lab where RMR-1029 was stored in the days immediately preceding the dates on which the anthrax could have been mailed. Before the anthrax mailings, Dr. Ivins had never exhibited that pattern of working alone in the lab extensively during non-business hours, and he never did so after the anthrax attacks. When confronted, he was unable to give a legitimate explanation for keeping these unusual and, in the context of the investigation, suspicious hours.

Q: Since when does mere presence in a lab provide knowledge of what was done in the lab during those times? What explanation did Dr. Ivins give? When was he asked, since he apparently did not become a suspect until 2007, six years after the nights in question? Were there any emails or other written records that indicated what he might have been doing on the nights in question?

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5. As investigators reviewed Dr. Ivins’s voluminous e-mails, including e-mails during the time frame of the anthrax attacks, it became clear that he was suffering from significant psychological problems, which not only further concerned the investigators, but also contributed to their increasing scrutiny and monitoring of him. Investigators obtained authorization to place open registers on Dr. Ivins’s home and work telephones and e-mail accounts, and obtainedconsent to analyze his home computer hard drives. The Task Force examined his Internet searches and postings and reviewed his e-mail communications from both his personal and USAMRIID computer (with the approval of the Commander at USAMRIID). A GPS device was installed on his car, interviews with his associates were conducted, his trash was regularly searched, and confidential sources were used to gather further information.

Q: Can it then be assumed that these aggressive investigative measures were not used with respect to Dr. Ivins prior to 2007?

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6. By the fall of 2007, agents and prosecutors concluded that they had exhausted the results that could be obtained from using covert investigative tools. Increasingly persuaded that Dr. Ivins was involved in the anthrax attacks, agents obtained search warrants for his residence in Frederick, Maryland, his cars, and his office at USAMRIID, mindful that this would confirm for Dr. Ivins that he was a subject of the investigation.

Q: What specific information led investigators to become “increasingly persuaded” that Dr. Ivins was involved in the anthrax attacks?

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7. Searches of his trash and e-mail accounts in the spring of 2008 produced additional evidence linking Dr. Ivins to the anthrax letters.

Q: What was this “additional evidence?” Has it all been released?

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8. On July 12, 2008, Task Force agents again searched the Ivins residence, based on new evidence that he had made specific threats in a group therapy session on July 9, 2008. During the search of his residence they recovered a bullet-proof vest, together with a homemade reinforced body armor plate, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and smokeless handgun powder.

Q: What relevance do comments made in 2008 have to an action allegedly taken in 2001? What exactly did Dr. Ivins say and why does the FBI think there was a connection to the anthrax attacks? What does the FBI see as the connection  between the items found at Dr. Ivins’ house in 2008 and the anthrax attacks of 2001? Did Dr. Ivins have those items in his possession in 2001?

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9. Dr. Ivins was among the very few anthrax researchers nationwide with the knowledge and ability to create the highly purified spores used in the mailings.

Q: Has the FBI considered the statements of other scientists that Dr. Ivins did not in fact have such knowledge and ability, nor the equipment? What basis does the FBI have to discount such statements by respected scientists?

Bugmaster comments … BULLSHIT! I have reviewed two published papers by Ivins where he gives the protocol used to create material of such purity. If I had access to the Ames strain and the contrast agent used in the purification process, I could do it too!

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10. Motive. According to his e-mails and statements to friends, in the months leading up to the anthrax attacks in the fall of 2001, Dr. Ivins was under intense personal and professional pressure. The anthrax vaccine program to which he had devoted his entire career of more than 20 years was failing. The anthrax vaccines were receiving criticism in several scientific circles, because of both potency problems and allegations that the anthrax vaccine contributed to Gulf War Syndrome. Short of some major breakthrough or intervention, he feared that the vaccine research program was going to be discontinued. Following the anthrax attacks, however, his program was suddenly rejuvenated.

Q: Regardless of the status of the vaccine research program, does the FBI have any evidence to indicate that Dr. Ivins had any reason to to fear that his livelihood was in jeopardy? Is the FBI aware that all research programs, and particularly all vaccine research programs, are speculative in nature and prone to failure? In fact, many if not most such programs do fail, and Dr. Ivins surely knew this.

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11. In the month before his suicide, his homicidal tendencies became more pronounced, as he posted violent messages on the Internet regarding a reality TV star and made death threats during a group therapy session.

Q: How is Dr. Ivins behavior in 2008, even if accurately reported, relevant to his alleged actions in 2001. Is the FBI insidiously implying that the actions of a man driven almost to suicide in 2008 has anything to do with what he might have been thinking in 2001? By 2008, he had been subjected to the intense pressure of the FBI (described in this summary);  did the FBI ever consider the potential impact of such pressure on a person who they knew to be quite fragile?

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12. Scientific analysis by the USPIS, FBI, and United States Secret Service (“USSS”) revealed that the envelopes used in the attacks were part of a batch distributed in bulk to post offices in Maryland and Virginia, and envelopes from this same batch were sold at post offices in Frederick, Maryland, and surrounding communities.

Q: How many such envelopes were sold, near Frederick and elsewhere, in 2001 and before? Does the FBI have any evidence that Dr. Ivins actually purchased such envelopes? Did the FBI ascertain if any of the other 350 + persons with access to RMR-1029 anthrax also had access to these envelopes?

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13. They (the FBI) concluded that the envelopes most similar to those used in the attacks were also distributed to the Frederick, Maryland post office, which was located just a few blocks from the home of Dr. Ivins, and where Dr. Ivins maintained a post office box at the time of the mailings.

Q: What is the meaning of the expression “envelopes most similar” to those used in the attacks? Were the envelopes identical to those used in the attacks or just similar? How many other envelopes were similar to the attack envelopes and where could they be purchased?

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14. In an e-mail he sent to a colleague on September 26, 2001 – i.e., after the first anthrax letters were mailed, but before they had been discovered – Dr. Ivins wrote: “I just heard tonight that the Bin Laden terrorists for sure have anthrax and sarin gas” and “Osama Bin Laden has just decreed death to all Jews and all Americans.”

Q: DXer has already spoken to this email …

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15. Dr. Ivins was particularly fond of a book dealing extensively with coded messages, including codes conveyed in bolded letters and codes involving the letters “A” and “T” – both of which letters are significant in genetics.

Q: So what? Did the FBI ascertain if any of the other 350 were also interested in codes, or perhaps really liked The DaVinci Code?

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16. Dr. Ivins engaged in a series of actions and made several statements that were evidence of a guilty conscience. In the immediate aftermath of the anthrax attacks, he – one of the nation’s leading experts in anthrax – sent an e-mail to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) suggesting nonsensical explanations for why the first victim might have contracted inhalation anthrax. A few months after the anthrax attacks, he took environmental samplings for anthrax contamination in the building where he worked – an unauthorized procedure – and found it only in the area where he himself worked. He then decontaminated his office and his lab, and failed to report it. In the spring of 2002, when the Task Force undertook efforts to link known cultures of Ames anthrax to the mailed material, he submitted questionable samples of RMR-1029 to the FBI Repository.

Q: Does the FBI often present cases which rely on “evidence of a guilty conscience” rather than evidence that the accused person actually committed the crime? Why are any of the examples cited by the FBI an indication of a guilty conscience? How does the FBI define a guilty conscience? Would the FBI agree that its own complicity in the decision of scientists in Iowa to knowingly destroy the largest repository of “Ames” anthrax just days after the anthrax attacks might also be construed as evidence of a guilty conscience?

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17. In the week after the first search of his residence in connection with the anthrax investigation, he (Dr. Ivins) threw out in the trash a book about secret codes that included a passage about using a series of bolded letters to disguise a message, which was strikingly similar to the technique used in the attack letters. The night he threw out the book, he went out into the street in the middle of the night in his long underwear, immediately after the garbage truck came at about 1:00 a.m., and confirmed that his trash had been picked up.

Q: Again, what does this behavior in 2007 have to do with a crime committed in 2001? One would think that 600,000 investigator work hours would produce something better than this.

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18. As the investigation began to focus on him, Dr. Ivins made threatening statements related to the anthrax investigation to another scientist.

Q: So what? This was in 2008, after the FBI had been hounding the man, torturing him until finally he was driven to commit suicide.

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19. Dr. Ivins had a number of habits and strange proclivities consistent with the modus operandi of the anthrax mailer. He had a penchant for going on long drives to mail letters and packages from distant post offices, often using a pseudonym when doing so, thereby disguising his identity as the mailer.

Q: Who can read such statements, after 600,000 investigator work hours, without thinking that if this wasn’t all so serious, it would be laughable.

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* Jim White: I remain unconvinced of the guilt of Bruce Ivins and strongly suspect a [non-USAMRIID] Defense Department, or a [non-USAMRIID] Defense Department-contracted source for the attack material.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 26, 2010

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Jim White writes (2/25/10) …

  • The Investigative Summary published by the FBI in closing the Amerithrax investigation into the anthrax attacks of 2001 is curiously silent on the presence of a second species of bacteria found in theNew York Post and Brokaw letters.
    • Clearly, if the FBI could have identified the strain of B. subtilis detected in the attack letters as available to Ivins, that finding would have played a prominent role in the Investigative Summary.
  • I analyzed the available information about the amount of B. anthracis used in the attacks and found it highly unlikely that Ivins could have cultured the large amount of spores used in the attacks with the equipment and time he had available.
    • Much of the material in RMR-1029 was produced at Dugway.
    • On December 13, 2001, Judith Miller published an article in the New York Times, where she disclosed that “government officials have acknowledged that Army scientists in recent years have made anthrax in a powdered form that could be used as a weapon.” She further pointed out that this work occurred at Dugway in 1998. It should be noted that the anthrax produced at Dugway for Ivins that went into RMR-1029 was cultured in 1997.
  • Given what we know about the scientific analysis of the spores used in the attacks, culturing the spores is much more likely to have occurred at Dugway or Batelle than in Ivins’ lab.
  • I fail to see how the FBI has eliminated the possibility that the spores used in the attacks were cultured and dried at Dugway or Batelle, with the Dugway “demonstration” facility being the most likely because of its remote location and secret status.
  • We may never know what really happened …  discerning what is true in the various leaked reports on anthrax culturing and processing technology at the facilities at Dugway and Batelle will be difficult without Congressional hearings conducted under oath and threat of prosecution for perjury.
  • I remain unconvinced of the guilt of Bruce Ivins and strongly suspect a [non-USAMRIID] Defense Department, or a [non-USAMRIID] Defense Department-contracted source for the attack material.

Read the entire post at … http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/31691

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When I read about the FBI/DOJ press conference in August 2008, I was so upset by the lack of any real evidence against Dr. Ivins that, over the next 45 days, I wrote my novel to explain why  the FBI had failed to solve the anthrax murders. CASE CLOSED is of course a fiction, but it has been described by many readers, including one respected member of the U.S. Intelligence Community, as a quite plausible scenario .

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

******

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* Jim White believes a 100-fold math error in the Amerithrax investigation improperly excluded suspects … do you agree?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 25, 2010

Dr. Bruce Ivins

see related post … * Old Atlantic in response to Jim White

Jim White believes a 100-fold math error in the Amerithrax investigation improperly excluded suspects

  • Substantial flaws still remain in the FBI’s explanation of the technical analysis on which they concluded that Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator of the anthrax attacks of 2001.
  • I have found what appears to be an error in the analysis of how much material from RMR-1029 would have been required to produce the spores used in the attack letters.
  • The result of this error is an overestimate, by a factor of 100, of how much material from RMR-1029 would have been needed to be used for each letter.
  • Partially because of this overestimate, the FBI excluded as suspects other researchers who received samples from RMR-1029, claiming that they lacked the expertise both to produce such a large volume of material and to then prepare it as attack material.
  • With the smaller estimate, most of the basis for excluding these individuals goes away, as simple procedures could be used to dry such a small amount of material.
  • In doing his microscopic analysis, Ivins states clearly that he is working with a 100-fold (or, 1:100) dilution of material from the RMR-1029 flask. He also states that this dilution is at an approximate concentration of 3 X 108 spores per mL. From the information present on this page of the notebook, it is clear that the concentration of spores in RMR-1029 is approximately 3 X 1010 per mL.
  • Ivins recovered 0.013 grams of powder from the envelope. He suspended this powder in water and then plated it out to determine the concentration of bacteria. He then computed a concentration of 2.1 X 1012 colony forming units per gram of powder. For spores that are perfectly viable, one spore corresponds to one colony forming unit. That means that 0.013 g of the powder contains 2.7 X 1010spores.
  • A leading anthrax researcher who assisted the investigation expressed his expert opinion that 100 ml would have been required to create sufficient material to be used in one letter, for a total of 500 ml for the five letters. Nonetheless, we cannot say with certainty how much material was used in the letters.
  • One hundred mL of RMR-1029 would be 3 X 1012 spores, 100-fold more than Ivins recovered from the envelope he analyzed. The only way the opinion of the anthrax researcher makes sense is if they mistakenly took Ivins’ 3 X 108 notation in the notebook as the concentration of spores in RMR-1029, when Ivins clearly states that is the concentration of the diluted material he analyzed.
  • The lower concentration makes no sense as the spore concentration of RMR-1029 for several reasons.
    • First, the description of how many large cultures were produced at Dugway and small cultures in Ivins’ lab to produce RMR-1029 would suggest that the purification process resulted in the loss of most of the spores produced, if the lower concentration of RMR-1029 is correct.
    • In other words, the lower concentration for RMR-1029 would mean that the final concentration of RMR-1029 was approximately at or below the concentration of spores one achieves in a standard bacterial culture, even though over a hundred liters of culture were used to produce the one liter purified material in the RMR-1029 flask.
  • An alternate explanation for the discrepancy would be if Ivins collected only one percent of the material in the envelope for his analysis, but that would mean that there was so much material in the envelope that it would appear overly stuffed.
  • The bottom line, then, is that only one mL, not 100 mL of RMR-1029 would be required to produce the material in one envelope.
  • I can see that statement being accurate for someone drying 100 mL of RMR-1029 five times (or 500 mL once), but most of the concerns about equipment and space go away if only 5 mL needs to be dried to produce the attack material without a need to grow and purify a large new culture using the RMR-1029 material as inoculum. Rather than a lyophilizer, simple vacuum filtration or air drying could be used on such a small amount of material, and the procedure could be carried out without attracting much attention.

It appears to me that the FBI has excluded hundreds of potential suspects on the basis of a math error.

Read more at …http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/30737

see related posts …

* Dr. Bruce Ivins RMR-1029 inventory records, from 1997 to 2003, pursuant to a FOIA request

* tracking Dr. Ivins’ RMR-1029 anthrax; more questions for UM and LSU researchers

* USAMRIID RMR records – Dr. Bruce Ivins’ flask 1029 – two documents don’t match

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* Jim White … the FBI has not provided an adequate account of how Dr. Ivins was able to culture such a large number of spores without being detected.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 25, 2010

CASE CLOSED by Lew Weinstein

is the novel which answers the question …

why did the FBI fail to solve the 2001 anthrax case?

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

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Could Dr. Ivins have produced all of the anthrax spores used in the attacks?

Jim White’s conclusion (posted 2/22/10) …

In short, the FBI has provided a feasible account of how Ivins could have dried the spores and loaded them into letters, but it has not provided an adequate account of how he was able to culture such a large number of spores without being detected.

to read Jim White’s impressive analysis, click … http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/31071

see related posts …

* Jim White believes a 100-fold math error in the Amerithrax investigation improperly excluded suspects … do you agree?

* Old Atlantic in response to Jim White

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 36 Comments »

* from DXer … did the FBI rely in its Amerithrax Case Summary and in the August 2008 press conference on internet posts Dr. Ivins made about a television show — in which he discusses moles?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 25, 2010

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

* from DXer … no contact with Bruce by any methods or means

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 25, 2010

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

* from DXer … why is there a 100 ml discrepancy in Dr. Ivins RMR-1029 records?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 25, 2010

CASE CLOSED by Lew Weinstein

is the novel which answers the question …

WHY did the FBI fail to solve the 2001 anthrax case?

check out reader comments at amazon.com

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

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from DXer …

why is there a 100 ml discrepancy

in Dr. Ivins RMR-1029 records?

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