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

* 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 DXer 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 *

22 Responses to “* 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?”

  1. DXer said

    Terror Threat ‘Most Heightened’ Since 9/11, Napolitano Says

    Homeland Security Officials Call Homegrown Radicalism a Game Changer

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/janet-napolitano-warns-terror-threat-heightened-sept-11/story?id=12874207&page=2

    Asked by chairman King to compare Osama bin Laden and Awlaki, Leiter said he considers Awlaki and the group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which he leads, “probably the most significant risk to the U.S. homeland.”

    “He’s an extremely dangerous man. He has shown a desire to harm the United States, a desire to strike the homeland of the United States,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in December. “He is a person who — as an American citizen — is familiar with this country and he brings a dimension, because of that American familiarity, that others do not.”

    Holder said that as a threat to the United States, Awlaki ranks alongside bin Laden.
    “He would be on the same list with bin Laden,” the attorney general said. “He’s up there. I don’t know whether he’s one, two, three, four — I don’t know. But he’s certainly on the list of the people who worry me the most.”

    Napolitano and Leiter sought to reassure members of Congress and the public today that the agencies were actively working to counter the evolving dangers, including Awlaki.

    Leiter said the agency’s new “pursuit groups,” created after intelligence officials failed to connect the dots and detect the 2009 Christmas Day bomb plot, have “repeatedly identified key leads that would have otherwise been missed amidst a sea of uncorrelated data.”

  2. Reply to Dxer on FBI 302.

    You have done a great job following this up. My Internet searches failed to turn up a link to the one you reference. Is this 302 available on the Internet, the January 2007 one you reference?

    • DXer said

      If you go to

      http://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex/amerithrax.htm

      then scroll down to
      USAMRIID Section 21 – (1/2007) – Interviews (51 pages)

      and click, and

      then scroll down to the 302 interview on 1/25/2007, it states in pertinent part:

      ____________ perceived the normal laboratory hours to start between the morning hours of 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM and last through 5:00PM, although there would be occasions when someone would come in later. If someone came in on the weekend it was to look at the animals/count the dead animals.
      This could take approximately two hours and was usually a one-person job.

      AUSA Ken Kohl and DOJ have failed to provide copies of the contemporaneous notes that Dr. Ivins made regarding these animals.

      That withholding is inexcusable and is done to avoid it becoming known that the key evidence is being mischaracterized. The record evidence in fact points to the time of 2 1/4 hours each of the three key nights is directly explainable not only by the interview statements, but by the documentary evidence being withheld in a game of hide-the-ball.

      • Old Atlantic said

        http://foia.fbi.gov/amerithrax/847425.PDF

        Page 23, I found it. Thanks. this is a very important find. It shows very close reading of many documents. Terrific work.

        Page 26 also has an interesting discussion. The person doesn’t think the job was possible there.

        “blank believered that getting Ba to aerosolize for the challenges was difficult enough.”

        ” blank believed that the most difficult aspect of growing enough spores to commit the mailing would be finding enough space in the shakers.”

        “There was one shaker in blank, one in blank and one in blank believed that in order to obtain the room needed to accomplish such a growing, someone would have to borrow other laboratory space.”

        “blank signed a non-disclosure agreement at the beginning of the interview.”

        These should all be abrogated subject to classified information.

        • DXer said

          I’ve read all 2700 pages and I’m telling you there is no evidence of Ivins’ guilt.

          They have not even done a credible job of outlining a theory because the DOJ summary is contradicted by the documents it relies upon.

          For example, compare the DOJ Summary’s discussion of the October 4, 2001 email with the actual email — which was withheld until AFTER the report issued due to DOJ/FBI interference.

          The media has been very sloppy — the NYT editorial refers to 100 with access when the DOJ Summary refers to the 350 with access. The difference is that US Attorney misleadingly relied upon the 100 with access in August 2008. That points to the heart of the problem. The documents do not support the DOJ’s claimed facts. Whoever heard of a DOJ briefing memorandum without citation to the record? And without providing a copy of the documents being discussed? It’s total and utter crap and if the NYT had any cojones they would not take the violation of FOIA lying down.

        • Old Atlantic said

          Excellent work Dxer. Also on the shakers.

          1. Was there a sign up sheet for the shakers?

          2. Were they full up on the weekends Ivins was thought to use them in 2001?

          3. Are they typically full on weekends because you get a 48 hour run?

          4. Where are the shakers?

          5.It sounds like one shaker is the maximum in BSL-3 where Ivins had the hours on the weekends.

          The 2 hour 15 minute blocks on the first weekend were all in the evening as I recall.

          The 2 hours 15 minutes in solid blocks on 3 days in the evening makes sense for checking animals. It does not make sense for lab procedures to grow and process anthrax in a weekend.

          For example, it takes several hours to sporulate, I think 5 to 8 I read. So Ivins would have come in Sunday morning or early afternoon and switched the anthrax into media to cause sporulation. (Ed Lake discussed the need for such a transfer earlier.)

        • Notice how the FBI agent doesn’t follow up when these technical problems in production are raised. He doesn’t ask why it was difficult to aerosolize for challenges. He doesn’t ask for a quantitative measure.

          He doesn’t ask how many flasks go on a shaker? What size flask can fit? How long do they usually run? Are the shakers usually full over the weekend?

          Do you ever reduce the shaker to powder to measure the yield? Does anyone? Is there a lab document that gives approximate yields for different methods? Is there a lab document that gives the yields depending on how long you run on the shaker? And for other parameters? What about variability of the yields?

  3. If you take the statement linked to by Dxer which is quoting from the FBI report D. Motive, you can see why Ivins would spend extra time in the lab in August through early October.

    Ivins was under intense pressure. He was under public criticism. The project was not going well the FBI says. He might have to work on something other than Anthrax. Ivins was an anthrax scientist in his own words.

    These are reasons to sit around the lab even if you are just trying to think of strategy.

    “1. Dr. Ivins�s life�s work appeared destined for failure, absent an unexpected event.”

    What do you do? What would Lombardi tell Ivins to do? Give up. Lombardi would tell Ivins to go to the lab and try to think of something.

    “Pressure on the project increased throughout the summer”

    So he had more reason to spend time in the lab trying to think of a Hail Mary play.

    “In addition, during the summer of 2001, Dr. Ivins was being considered by management at USAMRIID for a move to an entirely new area of research, that of Burkholderia mallei, also known as Glanders. ”

    ” One of these managers recalled that when Dr. Ivins learned that he might transition to Glanders work, he became upset and said things like: �I am an anthrax researcher! This is what I do.�”

    So when Ivins learned he might not work on anthrax again, he went to the anthrax lab and hung out to say goodbye to that part of his life. He didn’t do that before Summer 2001 because he hadn’t been told he would stop working on anthrax. He didn’t do that after October 2001 because anthrax work was secure.

    Ivins didn’t know that the anthrax attack was coming when he spent the hours in August and September. Even early October, he was not aware that this dramatic change had come. That became evident after the Senate attacks. So this explains why Ivins had the spike in hours only during the times he did.

    “2. Dr. Ivins was being subjected to increasing public criticism for his work.”

    So Ivins could just give up and go to the movies or he could go to the lab and try to think of something. He chose to go to the lab.

    “Finally, lawyer Mark S. Zaid filed the greatest number of FOIA requests related to the anthrax vaccine. Zaid, Executive Director of The James Madison Project,27 represented military clients who were refusing to take the anthrax vaccine. Zaid began sending e-mails to Dr. Ivins and others at USAMRIID as far back as 1999 requesting information regarding the vaccine.”

    So Ivins went to his office when he got an unprecedented number of FOIA requests. The FBI finds that inexplicable. Dxer can attest to that.

    “3. Dr. Ivins was feeling abandoned in his personal life. At the same time that his life�s work was falling apart and he was enduring increasing public criticism, Dr. Ivins was also under significant stress and pressure in his personal life.”

    The FBI claim is that this stress came during Summer 2001 and early Fall 2001, ie when the hours spiked. So this explains why he went to the office and lab.

    So the FBI has fully explained the late night hours of Dr Ivins in August to October 2001. The FBI explains why the hours spiked in August through early October and then went down and never came back up. The FBI has supplied reasons why Ivins would specifically go to the lab during the months of August through October and why those reasons no longer applied after mid October 2001.

    If one assumes Ivins didn’t know of the letters coming or was involved, then the reasons cited by the FBI perfectly explain why he spent late night hours. As a schema in logic

    A => B

    A = Ivins didn’t know of the anthrax attacks and had all the reasons cited by the FBI to go to the office and lab.

    B = Ivins went to the office and the lab.

    He was under intense pressure to get results in a failing program. Anyone who has ever experienced that knows a logical reaction is to go to the office even if the chances seem hopeless.

    He was bombarded with FOIA requests. So he went to the office and lab to think about how to respond to them using those resources. Surely the FBI has spent time figuring out how to deal with heavy FOIA requests. That is an experience they have had. According to the FBI when you get FOIA requests you lash out at someone. That says more about the FBI Than Ivins.

    Ivins was told he would shift to other work than anthrax. So this was his chance to say goodbye to what the FBI calls his life’s work. That explains late night hours in the lab if you assume Ivins didn’t know the anthrax attacks were coming. Ivins was saying goodbye to his life’s work.

    Ivins was under personal stress so he went to the office. That is an explanation sufficient to explain it.

    Once the Senate letters created a crisis, Ivins knew that he would still be working on anthrax and that answering FOIA requests would not be a burden on him, and that criticism of the vaccine would be muted, and even that others would expect him to focus on his work so that personal stress would go down. So assuming Ivins didn’t know of the anthrax attacks together with the FBI list explains the hours and the unique timing of them. Therefore, the late night hours in the lab at that time are not evidence of guilt, because innocence together with the factors cited by the FBI explain the late night hours.

    • What would distinguish the innocent reasons for Ivins late night hours supplied by the FBI and the guilty one? Physical evidence tying Ivins to the crime. That is Evidence 101.

      But the physical evidence does the opposite. It excludes Ivins from the crime because of the foreign subtilis, the production time exceeds the hours in the lab, and the silicon of 1.45 percent in one letter has defeated the efforts of one of our top labs to replicate using equipment available to Ivins. That would imply undue experimentation at a minimum which Ivins didn’t have time or possibly the lab equipment for making the measurements for.

      • DXer said

        It is more basic than that. The 302 interview on the issue has a scientist in January 2007 — who is obviously disinterested and objective — explaining that checking the health of the animals and counting the dead — is a 2 hour, 1-person job.

        That explains why Ivins went alone.

        It explains why he took 2 hours.

        The DOJ has failed to produce the Lab Notebook 4010 entries reflecting his contemporaneous observations.

        The lawyer who did this is Kenneth Kohl who was lambasted just recently for mischaracterizing the evidence and then testifying implausibly about what he had done. Everyone should join in a chorus and demand that the DOJ PRODUCE THE LAB NOTEBOOK 4010 ENTRIES MADE ON THE DATES THE DOJ SAYS HE HAD NO REASON TO BE IN THE LAB. THE RECORD EVIDENCE ESTABLISHES PRECISELY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT DOJ CLAIMS — THE EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT THE OBSERVATION OF THE ANIMALS WOULD TAKE 2 HOURS. THERE IS NO CONTRARY EXPERT OPINION — JUST A LAWYER’S UNSUPPORTED CLAIM.. AND THAT LAWYER HAS DELIBERATELY FAILED TO PROVIDE THE ON-POINT DOCUMENTS FROM LAB NOTEBOOK 4010 JUST AS KENNETH KOHL HAS DELIBERATELY FAILED TO PROVIDE THE HIGHLY PERTINENT DOCUMENTS REFERENCED IN THE AMERITHRAX-GENERATED LIST OF WHAT WAS DONE IN AMES FROM FLASK 1029. THAT EXPANDED LIST POSTED BY LEW IS FAR, FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN IVINS’ OLD RMR-RECORD (BECAUSE HE DID NOT LIST USES WITHIN HIS OWN GROUP). THE MISCHARACTERIZATION OF HOW IVINS SPENT HIS LAB IS EGREGIOUS! DEMAND PRODUCTION OF THE PERTINENT 302s (see Amerithrax expanded Flask 1029 record) AND LAB NOTEBOOK PAGES.

        • DXer said

          USAMRIID FOIA people tell me that the FBI physically removed Notebook 4010 thus preventing USAMRIID from complying with FOIA.

        • DXer said

          That is not justice. That is obstruction of justice. Anyone preventing Lab Notebook 4010 from being produced pursuant to FOIA should be fired for obstructing justice. (The usual FOIA exemptions would apply).

        • DXer said

          USAMRIID of course is a proper defendant notwithstanding its excuse for nonproduction. I wrote Lt. Col. Laurel and USAMEDD’s John Peterson and asked that they preserve their email that reflects who at DOJ/FBI interfered with and delayed FOIA production, to include Lab Notebook 4010 and the remaining 7 years of Ivins’ emails. Dr. Burans is a proper defendant in his official capacity given his central role on the issue.

        • I support your demand that “DOJ PRODUCE THE LAB NOTEBOOK 4010 ENTRIES MADE ON THE DATES THE DOJ SAYS HE HAD NO REASON TO BE IN THE LAB.”

        • DXer said

          I appreciate your support. People are not appreciating the gross, in-your-face mischaracterization going on here.

          The 1/2007 302 on point says that the person checking the animals would (1) be doing it alone, and (2) would take about 2 hours each night.

          Ivins did it alone and took just over 2 hours each night. Those were 3 key nights where it looked so odd that it seemed to take him the same amount of time each night.

          Therefore, this BS about patterns is nonsense.

          The New York Times requested the Lab Notebook 4010 and has been around the block on this issue of violation of FOIA. Scott Shane submitted a FOIA in September 2008. Hopefully, the NYT will force USAMRIID and DOJ to comply with the law. The NYT is so influential that I expect all Scott needs to do is ask firmly.

          If litigation is necessary (I submitted a piggybacking FOIA that encompasses Scott’s FOIA), the record will show the names of all the officials, such as Dr. Burans and AUSA Ken Kohl, responsible for failure to produce Lab Notebook 4010.

    • Old Atlantic said

      Further along lines of above argument. If Ivins was told that he would switch to non-anthrax work then he had further reason to finish up his anthrax work. If he was checking animals on the weekend as Dxer has pointed out is likely, then this would make sense if the anthrax project was being wound down. Ivins was finishing up that work and clearing it up to get ready for his new assignment, even though he would rather continue with his old work.

      • DXer said

        ” Ivins was finishing up that work and clearing it up to get ready for his new assignment, even though he would rather continue with his old work.”

        As Dr. Andrews has explained, the glanders discussion did not come up until 2002. There is no basis to the suggestion that “the anthrax project was being wound down.”

        Stop repeating the summary and instead rely on the actual emails.

        • Old Atlantic said

          Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Can you provide the link and reference?

          The FBI summary is the summary you are talking about, and that is the one that claims that Ivins was told the anthrax project would wind down?

        • DXer said

          Dr. Ivins emails are online at

          https://mrmc-www.army.mil/index.cfm?pageid=foia_reading_room.overview

          It took the USAMRIID CO to intervene with Lt. Col. Laurel to get these post-September 11 emails uploaded. (see batch #35). USAMRIID has 7 years to go.

          At the time the DOJ issued its “Summary,” the post-September 11 emails had been withheld due to the DOJ’s interference.

          Let me send Lew for proposed posting an example of an email that shows how Dr. Ivins was spending his time — this specifically relates to how he was spending his time in the B3 at night when the DOJ, without any basis, claims he was aerosolizing anthrax.

  4. DXer said

    http://WWW.NYTIMES.COM/2010/02/28/OPINION/28SUN2.HTML
    EDITORIAL
    The F.B.I.’s Anthrax Case
    Published: February 27, 2010
    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.

    The scientist — Dr. Bruce Ivins, an Army biodefense expert — killed himself in 2008 as the investigation moved ever closer to an indictment. That means the evidence and the F.B.I.’s conclusion that he was the culprit and acted alone will never be tested in court.

    At least five letters containing powdered anthrax were addressed to two United States senators and to news organizations in New York and Florida. Their deadly spores killed five people, sickened 17 others and forced the temporary closure of Congressional offices, the Supreme Court, postal facilities and private offices.

    The F.B.I.’s conclusion rests in large part on pioneering laboratory techniques that matched genetic mutations in the anthrax that was mailed with identical mutations in a batch of anthrax created and maintained by Dr. Ivins. The National Academy of Sciences will complete a review of that lab work in coming months. But the techniques were devised with the aid of some of the country’s most sophisticated scientists, so they are presumably reliable.

    More 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 evidence tying 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, just opaque ramblings in e-mail that the F.B.I. interprets as evidence of guilt.

    The agency’s 92-page report sets forth a mass of circumstantial evidence that points to Dr. Ivins. He worked alone in the laboratory at night and on weekends just before the mailings, outside his usual pattern. He often made long drives to mail letters from distant post offices using pseudonyms.

    Although he was a vaccine expert, not a weapons expert, he apparently had the skill and equipment to produce the highly purified spores used in the letters. That conclusion in particular ought to be validated by independent analysis.

    The cumulative weight of the evidence seems persuasive. But 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.

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