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

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

  1. DXer said

    The New York Times has been making the same points as Lew for years.

  2. DXer said

    Dr. Vahid Majidi dismisses the opinion of the New York Times. Now the NYT doesn’t think the moon landing was faked. And the editorial board did not know Dr. Ivins. And so his basis for dismissing the independent opinion of the Editorial Board is unclear to me.

  3. DXer said

    To review the big picture, the New York Times agrees that the FBI’s “Ivins Theory” is unconvincing and that an independent assessment is needed.

  4. DXer said

    The New York Times editorial board found the FBI’s case unconvincing in February 2010.

  5. DXer said

    This note discusses the use of linguistic analysis — such as done by Don Foster in urging Dr. Hatfill’s guilt — in Amerithrax and finds that such evidence should not be admitted under Daubert. The same applies to the FBI’s “code” theory.

    Forensic Stylometric Authorship Analysis Under the Daubert Standard

    Alexander Michael Simon Clark
    University of the District of Columbia – David A. Clarke School of Law

    December 15, 2011

    Abstract:
    Forensic stylometric authorship analysis (‘FSAA’) is a subfield of applied linguistics concerned with the application of techniques which can determine whether two samples of text were written by the same author or, conversely, whether a sample of text attributed to one author is the genuine work of that author. The primary purpose of this article is to explain FSAA methodology to the legal practitioner and why, as it is usually used, FSAA should almost never be admitted under the Daubert standard of evidence in federal proceedings. The secondary purpose is to provide some practical advice and strategies to challenge FSAA in court. This article focuses on the history, methodology and law applicable to forensic stylometric authorship analysis. It outlines how some practitioners have stubbornly refused to abandon bogus, outmoded methodology while in other corners, practitioners are eagerly repeating the mistakes of their predecessors by adopting new methods like neural networking without considering the theoretical bases for importing these new techniques into FSAA. Looking ahead, as the methodology of FSAA becomes more refined and rigorous, decisions as to whether to include or exclude stylometry from the federal courthouse will become less cut-and-dry than they were in earlier cases. Practitioners should be advised to monitor this area closely, especially as methods for internet data mining gain a foothold among criminal investigators.

    Number of Pages in PDF File: 28

    Keywords: forensic evidence, evidence, linguistics, applied linguistics, stylometry, stylistics, authorship attribution, Daubert

    Working Paper Series
    Download This Paper
    Date posted: April 15, 2012 ; Last revised: April 16, 2012
    Suggested Citation

    Clark, Alexander Michael Simon, Forensic Stylometric Authorship Analysis Under the Daubert Standard (December 15, 2011). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2039824 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2039824

  6. DXer said

    On April 26, 2004, in an email inexcusably withheld for all the time since after the request was made after Dr. Ivins suicide, Dr. Ivins discussed Ames in Building 1412 and Building 1425. The documents contradict the claims speciously made by US Attorney Jeffrey Taylor who never acknowledged that virulent Ames was also in Building 1412 — expanding access to hundreds more.

    He writes:

    “I can look through my notebooks, but … the ___ subpoenaed and has 15 of them, including those of ____, ___________ _______________ ______________ and myself. Everybody in ____ who worked with Anthrax had the Ames strain, or had access to it. In 1412, the strain was taken for aerosol and held in rooms _______. TSA plates from AGIs were taken down to the trash area in the basement to be autoclaved out by animal caretakers. AGI dilution tubes — for space reasons — were held in the first floor coldroom until the AGI plates were counted, then the dilution tubes were autoclaved with the rest of the contaminated glassware (spreaders, beakers, pipets, pipet tips).

    I have some records which I can supply, and I’ll start getting them together on Tuesday.

  7. DXer said

    Dr. Byrne is in Africa presently but has this article today in the News-Post that highlights the approach that should be taken to the unsupported characterizations in the “Amerithrax Investigative Summary.” If defense counsel were given a day in court, he or she would show that the DOJ’s characterization of events is not supported by the documentary evidence. Fortunately, we have Lew to post pertinent documents.

    http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/opinion/display_lte.htm?storyid=101861

    Ivins deserves his day in court
    Originally published March 01, 2010

    The Amerithrax Investigative Summary recently released by the Department of Justice is not worthy of this country or the American people. It is a one-sided, gossipy piece of character assassination that belongs in a tabloid. It could never provide a grand jury with a basis for an indictment, let alone a prosecutor with a case.

    The citizens of this country may want to take sides on this case. Either this is what you want for yourself if the FBI thinks you have committed a crime, or it’s not.

    If this is the process you would choose for yourself, in which you are tried by leaks and reports to news media without an opportunity for defense, then you should say so and transmit your feelings to your congressman and senators.

    However, if you believe that you are entitled to something better than what happened to Bruce Ivins, like a chance to respond to the charges leveled against you by the FBI in their public relations campaign, then you should do the same.

    This case can only be adequately examined in Congress by an investigation that is, in essence, a trial. The prosecution — the FBI — has had plenty of time, people and money to make its case, ganging up on an individual citizen with few resources to defend himself. And this absurdly uneven war of the FBI’s choosing was not even waged in a court of law or before Congress, but in the news media.

    It’s time for Ivins to get his turn. He has a right to a defense. It’s in the Constitution.

    W. RUSSELL BYRNE, M.

  8. DXer said

    On February 18, 2005, someone from the Bacteriology Division faxed 17 pages to the FBI.

    The cover sheet stated “Enclosed fax are records/correspondence on visit with University of Michigan scientists, May 6-9 1998.”

    Now for years I’ve explained that one of those scientists working with Bruce Ivins using virulent Ames had a lifelong friend and medical schoolmate. “Tawfiq” Hamid, who has published his description of being recruited by Ayman Zawahiri into the Egyptian Islamic Jihad while at Medical School in a room set aside for that purpose. The book jacket and his biography notes that he consults with the IC.

    Why wasn’t it incompetent for the Washington Field Office to only be obtaining these documents in 2005?

    Given it was known since November 2001 that the Ames strain was used, why would the FBI not have immediately obtained the records relating to the research done by the Egyptian national who had received his PhD in microbiology from Cairo Medical just 3 years before being put in charge of a DARPA project involving virulent Ames? Just a few years before attending aerosol tests at Dugway? Just a few years before working alongside Bruce Ivins in a B3 lab using virulent Ames?

    Given Dr. Hamouda went through medical school at the time of Sadat’s assassination, at a time when Ayman Zawahiri and his chief of intelligence, Ali Mohammed, was actively recruiting at the medical school, why wasn’t it incompetent for the FBI not to have obtained these records in November 2001? Or December 2001 at the latest? Especially given that Ali Mohammed trained Dahab to make lethal letters and Ali Mohammed and Dahab reported to Bin Laden that they had recruited 10 sleepers in the US.

    In a recent Harvard report, the former CIA head said that Ayman Zawahiri used a parallell cells, which did not know of the existence of the other, and that the cells were compartmentalized at the highest level. The document titled “Cocktail” on Ali Mohammed’s computer said that not even cell members would know the identity of the other members in the particular cell and each would have a cover (e.g., student etc).

    So then given the nature of a cell operation, why would the DOJ naively deem an alibi sufficient to exclude the other 350 with access, where they had Salafi-Jihadi connections, given that they could have been working with one or more others? (see report)

    The fax was sent by someone using the fax number 301 619 2152. phone 619-7341. Why would that person delay in providing documents when it is known that the scientist working with virulent strains was an Egyptian national coming from the school where all of the leaders Vanguards of Conquest had graduated. Vanguards of Conquest was the group that had threatened to use anthrax to retaliate against the rendering of senior EIJ leaders. Was everyone really so distracted by the intentional hyped leaks about draining ponds and barking dogs by a man born in Haifa in 1948 whose daughter then represent “anthrax weapons suspect” Al-Timimi pro bono? (He pled the Fifth Amendment at civil deposition on the leaks). What happened to the “leave no stone unturned” mantra that Michael Mason was invoking? Was former Amerithrax head Michael Rolince not eager to have it thought that the FBI had dropped the ball on Amerithrax just as had been done on Moussaoui? Is that why the FBI did not disclose Jdey had been detained at the same time as Moussaoui– and released? And that Jdey was carrying bio books?

    Was it all because of the lousy profile that came from the basement of Quantico earlier in the month of November 2001?

    When Vice President Cheney in December 2001 pressed the FBI and CIA to share information and said that there was no greater priority than establishing whether the anthrax was related to 911, did the FBI not think that the fact that a former Zawahiri associate working with virulent Ames a relevant issue to explore? Pharmacology professor Heba Zawahiri at Cairo Medical was Ayman’s sister and was understandably distraught at the rendering and potential mistreatment of her brother Muhammad Zawahiri. Under the “Leahy Law,” appropriations continued to flow to security units even where there was evidence of torture. The Leahy Law had just been the subject of press in late August 2001 in connection with the detention of Zawahiri associate Jaballah, who was in touch with Zawahiri by satellite phone, and also had been in touch with the EIJ/VOC military commander Mabruk. Mabruk had announced Ayman’s plan to use anthrax to retaliate for the rendering of senior EIJ/VOC leaders in March 1999 and had explained the same in interrogation months earlier.

    These facts were all a reason for the Bush Administration to not torture detainees and to come clean that they had given a letter of commendation and a high security clearance to the Salafist-Jihadi who was working in the suite with leading anthrax scientist Ken Alibek. By failing to do so, the country has been put in grave peril of a mass attack using aerosolized anthrax.

    Does the record demonstrate that the DOJ/FBI was 4 years behind the ball? Or is Edward Montooth just pretending to be clueless given his expertise in the field of political terrorism. Doesn’t the DOJ Summary’s reference to alibi on its face show a hopeless naivete that totally explains why the DOJ was unable to solve Amerithrax?

    Is the FBI well-suited to handle national security matters given its titillation over things like editing Wikipedia — and the lack of any demonstrated sophistication on the network of educated professionals from the Cairo area that has supported the blind sheik and opposed the Egyptian regime since the late 1970s?

    But at less lofty a level, hasn’t Ken Kohl just out-and-out mischaracterized the documentary evidence while DOJ has withheld other key evidence, such as numerous key pages from Lab Notebook 4010?

    • DXer said

      Dr. Hamouda thanked Bruce Ivins, Patricia Fellows, Mara Linscott, Arthur Friedlander, and the staff of …

      The number above is Art Friedlander, a highly respected anthrax researcher. Did he send the correspondence or was it someone else? AF said not long after the mailings, that the FBI had questioned him about others who had access to virulent Ames. Why didn’t he think to provide this correspondence then?

      • DXer said

        http://www.dawn.com/2001/12/03/int13.htm

        December 2001 –

        Col. Arthur Friedlander, senior military research scientist at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Maryland, said the Ames strain was distributed by the military for research purposes under strict controls to “legitimate workers in the field.”

        ***
        “This is not a cavalier thing that one does,” Friedlander said. “When anyone isolates strains, they are shared through the scientific community. That’s how research gets done. It follows a long tradition of collaboration with people that we are well familiar with.”

        Comment:

        How familiar was Art with Tarek given that when he arrived Bruce didn’t even know that he was not a US citizen?

        What makes someone a legitimate researcher? $13 million in funding from DARPA? Given that someone mentored by Bin Laden’s sheik and coordinating with 911 imam (Ali Al-Timimi) was sharing the suite with the directors of the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense, maybe DARPA didn’t quite have this biosecurity thing mastered.

        Aren’t the biodefense community researchers mainly focused on funding and career? For that matter, hasn’t that been the pattern of the senior DOJ officials? Who cares if they solve Amerithrax and leave the country at risk — so long as they go on to a high-paying private sector job and no one discovers the failure in intelligence. Did the anthrax researchers even know or care jack about Ayman Zawahiri’s plan to infiltrate US biodefense using the cover of charities and universities? No. Why not?

        Because a failure to share information has led to a decades-long faiure in intelligence called AMERITHRAX.

        Isn’t the very existence of the United States threatened by precisely this “cavalier thing” that some did?

        Didn’t James Baker’s arrogance continue by his refusal to tell me when the research was done at USAMRIID and by University of Michigan’s failure to comply with FOIA and produce the documents?

        Where is the accountability?

        If we don’t learn from the lessons of the intelligence failure of 9/11 then we are bound to repeat it.

        Every single person who is not part of the solution is part of the problem.

        • DXer said

          Ayaad Assaad was Coptic Christian, a group long persecuted by the supporters of blind Sheik Abdel-Rahman. Was the Assaad letter part of the same operation? A red herring to divert analysis?

      • DXer said

        Martin Hugh-Jones, explained not long after the mailings, that

        Deadly Anthrax Moved Through Fort Detrick .
        … said it was fairly easy to get anthrax cultures from…. they kept the stuff there, and if you needed a culture, you called up Art” — Col. …
        news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2202&dat=20011126&id…

    • DXer said

      Consider this additional egregious example of DOJ withholding. The 302 filed 2/24/2005 describes the pages faxed about the University of Michigan researchers. Page 2 that was sent was an “Email reply from __________________ at _____ dated _______ to ____________ ____________ advised ________ via email
      [long redaction. The exemption claimed is b6, b7c and the email itself is not provided.

      The email must be provided under FOIA.

      Question: Why did the University of Michigan need to also send proof of vaccination for plague? Did they also have access to plague?

  9. DXer said

    Why are there no documents from 2002?

    What chance would law enforcement have in solving a burglary, for example, if they did not start investigating until 1 1/2 years after it was discovered?

    It was known to be the US Army strain by 11/2001 — so where are the 302s interview statements from 2001 and 2002?
    Where are Dr. Ivins’ polygraph answers?

    USAMRIID Section 1 (2/2005) – Interviews (75 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 2 (6/2008) – Interviews (26 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 3 (9/2006) – Biosurety Plan by DOD (1 page)
    USAMRIID Section 3b (2/2006) – Interviews (102 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 4 (3/2007) – Interviews and (7/2007) – Law Enforcement Operation Order of Environmental Survey (117 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 5 (9/2006) – Interviews and Periodic case updates (75 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 6 (4/2005) – Maryland DMV Records related to Dr. Ivins and additional interviews (46 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 7 (5/2005) – Summary of Unauthorized Environmental Surveys by Dr. Ivins (108 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 8 – (8/2005) – Interviews (151 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 9 – (4/2003) – Interviews (41 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 10 – (3/2003) – Interviews (44 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 11 – (7/2003) – Interviews (33 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 12 – (10/2003) – Interviews (52 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 13 – (12/2003) – Interviews (53 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 14 – (1/2004) – Interviews (66 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 15 – (3/2004) – Interviews (49 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 16 – (3/2004) – Interviews (107 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 17 – (6/2004) – Interviews (63 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 18 – (8/2004) – Interviews and Request for Documents from USAMRIID (10 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 19 – (9/2004) – Interviews (40 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 20 – (11/2004) – Interviews (127 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 21 – (1/2007) – Interviews (51 pages)
    USAMRIID Section 22 – (9/2004) – Interviews (9 pages)

  10. Old Atlantic said

    FBI misspells the name of the fermentor in the 302 report.

    New Brunswick Scientific BioFlo III fermentor is correct name. Can search on Internet for it and find used models.

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

    See page 1 of 51 page pdf. FBI spells it:

    “5 L Bio Flow III fermentor.”

    As above, its BioFlo III.

  11. Old Atlantic said

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

    page 44 interview of Ivins.

    “RMR-1029, which is a large preparation of Bacillus anthracis Ames spoers compiled from multiple productions grown in both, shaker flasks at USAMRIID and fermentors at Dugway Proving Ground.”

    So the Ba at USAMRIID was grown in the shakers which from a prior page in this same document, page 26, were at different places and only one shaker in any one place. These were hard to find space in according to the interview on page 26. Thus the type of run to produce 22 liters of anthrax used to help make RMR-1029 would be difficult to do. It would require many days on one shaker, if there is one in BSL-3. Ivins could not simply have put 11 flasks large enough to hold 2 liters of liquid and simply let them run together.

    Ivins estimated 20 liters to make 2 grams of anthrax. The two Senate letters were at least 2 *.871 grams if no allowance for wastage is made. So given the set up at USAMRIID, Ivins time of 2.15 hours a night in BSL-3 would not give him the ability to have the shaker space and time needed for the runs for either weekend.

    • The FBI should have asked these questions and more. Instead, when an interviewee raises these points, the FBI agent notes them down but doesn’t follow up with questions related to them.

      It appears the FBI agents think its someone else’s responsibility to figure out how it was done, not theirs individually or collectively. This appears to be part of an attitude of its not their job to think about the technical stuff.

      When its not the FBI’s job to think about the technical stuff, then they are reduced to the gossip. When this is not enough, they try to lean on the person to get them to break. This pattern was repeated with Hatfill and then Ivins.

      The FBI did not start out in 2001 with the question of how was this produced? Dxer mentions no 302’s from 2002. Is that because they asked the questions then and were told it required days and weeks with a good lab?

  12. Old Atlantic said

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

    Page 42.

    “Blank recalls Ba samples being kept in the walk-in freezer for very short periods of time surrounding experiments. However these samples were usually already diluted for aerosolization. Blank believes that all glass impingers containing Ba may have been stored in this walk-in, but only for very short periods. Blank does not recall storage of any larger stocks (e.g. 500 ml flasks) of Ba.”

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