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

* FBI & DOJ slam the door: you cannot have Dr. Bruce Ivins’ Lab Notebook containing Ivins’ handwritten notes about what he was doing on the dates the DOJ speculates he was preparing powderized anthrax for mailing

Posted by DXer on March 4, 2010


The New York Times says the FBI’s anthrax case has “too many loose ends.” Find out where some of those looses ends might have originated in my novel CASE CLOSED. Sure it’s fiction, but many readers, including a highly respected member of the U.S. Intelligence Community, think my premise is actually “quite plausible.”

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *



you cannot have Dr. Bruce Ivins’ Lab Notebook 4010

containing Ivins’ handwritten notes

about what he was doing on the dates the DOJ speculates

he was preparing powderized anthrax for mailing


Dr. Bruce Ivins

DXer sent a letter to Assistant US Attorney Rachel Lieber …

Could you have DOJ upload the contemporaneous handwritten passages in Lab Notebook 4010 detailing his observations on the health of the animals?  I don’t understand why they were not provided.

the response from Ben Friedman, Public Information Officer, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia …

AUSA Lieber forwarded your e-mail to me for response.  Although I appreciate your interest in the Amerithrax case, we are unable to respond to specific requests for investigative information, beyond what was released in the lengthy Investigative Summary that was already released to the public.

DXer is not happy …

DXer suggests that a lawyer who won’t provide the underlying documents he or she characterizes is playing hide-the-ball, a game unworthy of the United States Department of Justice.



14 Responses to “* FBI & DOJ slam the door: you cannot have Dr. Bruce Ivins’ Lab Notebook containing Ivins’ handwritten notes about what he was doing on the dates the DOJ speculates he was preparing powderized anthrax for mailing”

  1. DXer said

    AUSA Rachel Lieber is the one defending the case even though she is the one who personally, through a DOJ spokesperson, told this blog that we would never obtain the lab notebooks from September and October 2001 that DOJ is withholding — and that FBI agents removed (the only copy) from USARMIID.

    In considering the “big picture” she urges, she should understand that the jury and the country is going to hear about that and yesterday I urged that she reconsider. I told her that DOJ might win defenders if they expedited the long pending FOIA requests. She should understand that we are going to get them anyway and she might as well be on record as favoring prompt production before any investigation of the withholding.

    Here are what her leading experts say about her case:

    -After collecting swabs from Ivins’ home, vehicles and office and finding not a single spore from the attack powder, prosecutors said that a microbiologist trained to handle dangerous germs would have been able to hide its traces. But Claire Fraser-Liggett, a genetics consultant who oversaw work that provided some of the most important evidence linking Ivins to the attack powder, found that dismissal troubling. She questioned how someone who perhaps had to work “haphazardly, quickly” could have avoided leaving behind tiny pieces of forensically traceable DNA.

    “You think about all the efforts that had to go into decontaminating postal facilities, and the volatility of those spores and the fact that they were around for so long,” she said. “I think it represents a big hole, really gives me pause to think: How strong was this case against Dr. Ivins?”

    Read more:

    Prosecutors contend that Ivins at first thought his anthrax spores were pure and therefore morph-free. But Paul Keim, an anthrax expert at Northern Arizona University who helped the FBI identify the attack strain, said that was implausible. The Dugway culture that Ivins provided included dozens of separate batches, most of which were grown in fermenters, an ideal breeding ground for morphs. Keim said Ivins likely understood this.

    At the time Ivins committed suicide, Keim said, the groundbreaking lab method that the FBI used to trace the attack powder to Ivins’ flask wasn’t “ready for the courtroom.” A member of the “Red Team” of experts the FBI convened in March 2007, Keim didn’t learn that its call for further research had been rejected until a year later, after Ivins had killed himself and prosecutors were hastily organizing a news conference to describe the science.

    Read more:

    Who does she think she has to put on the stand? Ed?

  2. DXer said

    Prosecutors clearly should have obtained the lab notes Dr. Ivins made from the dates they speculated he was making a dried powdered anthrax. There is no indication that they were familiar with them — at least they never produced them.

    3 years later the US Army produced a notebook that had notations from those days.

    Today the US Army has produced to me minutes a meeting in which he reports his findings.

    Journalists: Keep pressing for documents. We don’t need more opinions — we need more documents.

  3. DXer said

    It is beyond outrageous for the government to speculate about how he was spending his time without at least providing his CONTEMPORANEOUS notes on those evenings. In the Amerithrax Summary, it is noted that he made observations of the health of the animals. He was tending both mice and guinea pigs. And his co-worker in a 302 says it was a one-person job and would tend to take a couple of hours.

    The government on the other hand without citation to authority says it would only take a 1/2 hour.

    Yet, the CONTEMPORANEOUS NOTES STILL HAVE NOT BEEN PRODUCED. (It apparently is a notebook other than Lab Notebook 4010; it would be one of those subpoenaed for the grand jury in April 2007).

    Whatever pages from whatever lab notebook contained his observations on the health of the mice and guinea pig he was tending should not be produced. There is zero grounds for withholding the documents. AUSA Rachel, when I emailed her, refused to provide them.

  4. DXer said

    Vyšetřování skončilo, zapomeňte

    Kolem identity pachatele anthraxových útoků v USA z roku 2001, které vyvolaly celosvětovou paniku, zůstávají stejné otazníky jako po atentátu na Kennedyho.

    V roce 2008 se skupina vědců z Dugway Proving Ground v Utahu pokusila reprodukovat práškový anthrax, který v roce 2001 v USA v dopisech zabil pět lidí a dalším sedmnácti způsobil vážné zdravotní potíže. Experti zjistili, že výroba takových spór sněti slezinné si žádá zdlouhavý a náročný proces s použitím speciálních technologií. Udělali tak další velkou díru do zprávy FBI, která na 92 stranách tvrdila, že výrobcem a odesílatelem anthraxových dopisů byl dr. Bruce Ivins z armádního chemického střediska v marylandském Fort Detricku. Potíž byla ovšem v tom, že v tamních laboratořích příslušné přístroje a zařízení nemají, a že Ivins tudíž anthrax vyrobit nemohl, i kdyby, jak popisuje FBI, „často pracoval dlouho do noci”.

    Chabost důkazů proti Ivinsovi zvýraznila i sama FBI, když ve svém šetření z roku 2008 připustila, že pokud dopisy se snětí slezinnou opravdu rozeslal, musel na to následně zcela zapomenout, nebo je musel odeslat během záchvatu náměsíčnosti, aniž by tak o svém činu sám věděl.

    Během vyšetřování bylo prověřeno přes tisíc podezřelých a vyslechnuto více než 10 tisíc svědků. Ivins v roce 2008 ale v roce 2008 spáchal sebevraždu a úřady hned na to s konečnou platností oznámily, že anthraxové útoky páchal on a sám. Ještě před Ivinsem přitom FBI v médiích obvinila jiného vědce, dr. Stevena Hatfilla. Ten se ale úspěšně ubránil u soudu, kde za křivé obvinění získal od státu odškodné ve výši 5,8 milionu dolarů.

    Nyní americké ministerstvo spravedlnosti osm let trvající vyšetřování anthraxových útoků z roku 2001 formálně uzavřelo a za oficiálního viníka si ponechalo Ivinse. „Netvrdím, že pan Ivins pachatelem nebyl, možná, že ano,” napsal v New York Times komentátor Richard Bernstein. „Některé dohady FBI ale vypadají jako závěry, zatímco další části její zprávy jsou podezřele neúplné.” A Bruce Ivins už se svému zápisu do dějin bránit nemůže.

    • DXer said

      While my Czech is as bad as my Russian, translation of the first sentences from the Czech article illustrates the importance of complying with FOIA by an upload today:

      “In 2008 a group of scientists at Dugway Proving Ground Utah tried to reproduce the anthrax powder, which in 2001 in the USA in letters killed five people and a further seventeen caused serious health problems. Experts found that the production of these spores of anthrax requires a lengthy and difficult process, using special technology. They made yet another big hole in the FBI report, which at 92 pages argued that the producer and shipper anthraxových letters were dr. Bruce Ivins the Army Chemical Center in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Trouble was, however, that in their own laboratories, the equipment and facilities do not, and that Ivins was unable to produce anthrax, therefore, even if, as described in the FBI, “often working late into the night.”

      Now if even Czech writers are going to be upset that the US DOJ has (1) mischaracterized Ivins’ reasons for his work in the B3, (2) failed to note the overtime for Operation Noble Eagle, (3) failed to note that the 2-person rule explains why the pattern did not continue into 2002, (4) failed to note that his late hours (though limited to his office) continued even to his last year at USAMRIID, (5) prevented compliance with FOIA by physically removing the documents written on the dates they spuriously speculate he was powderizing anthrax, and (6) is relying on as its key scientist/witness the woman thanked by the former Zawahiri associate for providing technical assistance concerning work with virulent Ames,

      then there is more than an esoteric, technical violation that can be left to a FOIA officer who says she just hadn’t “turned to it.”

      Today is the time to come into compliance with FOIA.

      It goes to the heart of whether the Department of Justice is going to have the credibility that is critically important to maintain. No one will fault the DOJ attorneys and FBI agents for having a different theory — but a patent violation of the Freedom of Information Act is extremely serious. My favorite television character, Special Agent Seely Booth, would immediately drive or fax the pages over.because that is the kind of stand-up guy he is.

      Just as the lead Amerithrax AUSA Kenneth Kohl was criticized in a scathing federal district court opinion in the dismissal of numerous murder indictments a month or two ago (in the Blackwater case), he and his collagues are going to be criticized again only if things are not brought into compliance with FOIA immediately. A lawyer simply does not spin documents while refusing to provide them. It is not done.

      • DXer said

        Edward Montooth says the Third Squad was on on board with the DOJ conclusion.

        The former lead investigator, Agent Lambert, told FBI Director Mueller in a memo posted online, that the compartentalization of squads would lead to an inability to connect the dots.

        It was Ed Montooth’s responsibility to let the Third Squad see the relevant documents including the handwritten notes by Ivins on the date the one squad speculates, without basis and contrary to all the forensic evidence (e.g., subtilis contamination, Iron Signature, Tin Signature etc.), that he was making a dry powdered anthrax to mail.

        They then might have said “NO!”

        Booth should’ve said NO!

  5. Old Atlantic said

    “Congressman Holt’s questions include:

    * Why did the FBI believe very quickly that the source of the material used in the attacks came from a domestic lab?
    * Why was Steven Hatfill the focus of the FBI’s investigation for so long?
    * Are the FBI’s assertions about Ivins’ activities and behavior accurate?
    * Have the involved agencies learned lessons from the attacks and implemented measures to prevent or mitigate similar future bioterror attacks?

    ““Lacking the testimony of Lee Harvey Oswald, it has been necessary to reconstruct painstakingly all of the facts that led the Commission to the conclusion that Oswald assassinated President Kennedy, acting alone and without advice or assistance.”

    “Lacking the testimony of Bruce Ivins it is necessary for Congress, some Commission, and the Public to reconstruct painstakingly all of the facts that led the FBI/DOJ to the conclusion that Ivins produced and mailed the anthrax, acting alone and without advice or assistance.”

    Which requires full disclosure.

  6. Old Atlantic said

    Reply to Dxer

    The parallel is not the Kennedy Assassination to the FOIA, its the WC to the FOIA.

    “The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as amended, represents the implementation of freedom of information legislation in the United States.[1] It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 6, 1966 (Public Law 89-554, 80 Stat. 383; Amended 1996, 2002, 2007),[2] and went into effect the following year.”

    Wiki FOIA

    “President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, commonly called the Warren Commission, by Executive Order (E.O. 11130) on November 29, 1963. ”

    “On December 13, 1963, Congress passed Senate Joint Resolution 137 (Public Law 88-202) authorizing the Commission to subpoena witnesses and obtain evidence concerning any matter relating to the investigation. The resolution also gave the Commission the power to compel the testimony of witnesses by granting immunity from prosecution to witnesses testifying under compulsion. ”

    The same parties created the Warren Commission as the FOIA, Congress and President Johnson. The mandates are parallel.

    The WC wrote an 888 page summary report, and issued 26 volumes of supplementary information. The WC did not ignore alternative theories, but instead it investigated them and disclosed what it found.

    The DOJ report on Ivins ignores basic issues and conceals evidence. The evidence being requested. The DOJ report ignores silicon for example. It does not expose the lab books. This is the opposite of the WC and the FOIA.

    The same parties did the WC and FOIA for the same purpose. The FOIA is a permanent Warren Commission in a limited sense. Just as the Chief Justice chaired the WC, which disclosed 26 volumes, so judges today police the FOIA to see that information is disclosed.

    “From the first, the Commission considered its mandate to conduct a thorough and independent investigation. The Commission reviewed reports by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service, Department of State, and the Attorney General of Texas, and then requested additional information from federal agencies, Congressional committees, and state and local experts. The Commission held hearings and took the testimony of 552 witnesses. On several occasions, the Commission went to Dallas to visit the scene of the assassination and other places.”

    The 552 witnesses were to investigate fully alternative theories and disclose the information. The WC did not ignore alternatives, it investigated them, called 552 witnesses, reported on them in its summary, and disclosed information from them in the supplementary volumes and other evidence in the archives.

    “In the National Archives, the records of the Warren Commission comprise Record Group 272: Records of the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy. The record group contains about 363 cubic feet of records and related material. Approximately 99 percent of these records are currently open and available for research. The records consist of investigative reports submitted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, and the Central Intelligence Agency; various kinds of documents such as income tax returns, passport files, military and selective service records, and school records relating to Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby; transcripts of testimony, depositions, and affidavits of witnesses, correspondence; manuals of procedures of federal agencies; administrative memorandums; records relating to personnel; fiscal records; agenda, proceedings, and minutes of Commission meetings and minutes of staff meetings; exhibits; tape records, newspaper and press clippings, and films; indexes; drafts and printer’s proofs of the Report and Hearings of the Commission; a chronology of events in the lives of Oswald, Ruby, and others, 1959-1963; records relating to the interrogation and trial of Jack Ruby; and other records. Most of these records relate to the period of the investigation of President Kennedy’s assassination, November 1963 to September 1964, but some records of earlier and a few later dates are included. ”

    FOIA is the permanent WC. WC was the model for FOIA for the same president and essentially same Congress who approved both.

    • DXer said

      On the one hand, you have a Commission that heard 552 witnesses. On the other hand, you have some people who need to take a few pages and upload them by 5 p.m. today. In trying to encourage someone to provide the handwritten notes of Bruce Ivins on the day that they say he was making powderized anthrax, it would be behoove everyone to understand that these are all good, well-meaning and hard-working people — and they work very hard in both fulfilling the mandate of FOIA and embodying the rule of law. Typically, they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Not including these pages likely was an oversight — and the FBI’s removal of them from USAMRIID was perhaps due to the view that it was part of the record that would be used at trial and thus at the time not subject to being produced under FOIA. Opponents of an Ivins Theory are undermining themselves by invoking issues tied in the public imagination to conspiracies. This is far simpler. A lawyer who says in a report that they were mice when they were apparently rabbits perhaps has not even read the pages. The DOJ Summary says that his time would not have been justified, citing his vague statement in an interview 4 years later about whether “things were good at home.” The DOJ, then, would also benefit from the pages being produced and being the subject of focus and expert opinion. The relevant 302 interview (1/25/2007) states that it was a one-man job that would take approximately 2 hours. The DOJ, in contrast, without citing any support, says his time in the B3 was unexplained. The documents produced go directly to that single, most-important question. There is no evidence against Dr. Ivins — none at all — but this time in the lab for the animal studies — goes to the heart of the mountain of innuendo heaped upon Dr. Ivins.

      The 2-person rule was enacted in 2002 — making US Attorney Jeff Taylor’s claim he did not have similar hours alone in the lab particularly specious. In fact, once when in 2002 when he went in 15 minutes ahead of his colleague while the colleague was changing, he was formally reprimanded. See USAMRIID FOIA page. So the entire bar graph about time spent is garbage. Of course, his time spiked in Fall 2001
      — his vaccine work and Operation Noble Eagle prompted him to be working hard. See documents and USA Today article. At one Pentagon meeting, concern was expressed that he was being taken away from his important vaccine work. His emails that were withheld until after the report show how busy he was and 302 interviews (and even the janitor) say he regularly worked late.

      The former associate of Professor Zawahiri at Cairo Medical pharmacology department thanked Patricia Fellows for her technical assistance. (He also thanked Mara Linscott and Art Friedlander and the FBI genetics expert Kimothy Smith). Dr. Fellows may have insights on the lab notations once they are uploaded to the USAMRIID or DOJ website. Or expert Henry Heine may also.


    Chief Justice Warren’s report:

    “Lacking the testimony of Lee Harvey Oswald, it has been necessary to reconstruct painstakingly all of the facts that led the Commission to the conclusion that Oswald assassinated President Kennedy, acting alone and without advice or assistance. The Commission has found no credible evidence that he was a member of a foreign or domestic conspiracy of any kind. Nor was there any evidence that he was involved with any criminal or underworld elements or that he had any association with his slayer, Jack Ruby, except as his victim. The evidence on these issues has been set forth in great detail in this report.

    In addition the Commission has inquired into the various hypotheses, rumors, and speculations that have arisen from the tragic developments of November 22-24, 1963. It is recognized that the public judgment of these events has been influenced, at least to some extent, by these conjectures.

    Many questions have been raised about the facts out of genuine puzzlement or because of misinformation which attended some of the early reporting of the fast-crowding events of these 3 days. Most of the speculation and attempted reconstruction of these events by the public centered on these basic questions: Was Lee Harvey Oswald really the assassin of the President; why did he do it; did he have any accomplices; and why did Ruby shoot Oswald? Many of the theories and hypotheses advanced have rested on premises which the Commission feels deserve critical examination.

    Chief Justice Warren’s statement above applies exactly to the current case. Dxer’s request simply repeats what Chief Justice Warren approved in these paragraphs.

    • DXer said

      I don’t see any comparison to the Kennedy assassination and my request at all. Obviously, the DOJ needs to produce them subject to applicable FOIA exemptions. They can either produce them before or after an award of attorneys fees.

      Please don’t bring things like the Kennedy assassination up when the issue presented is a violation of FOIA — where USAMRIID could not comply according to John Peterson and James Ferraira because the FBI removed the Notebook from USAMRIID. Scott Shane also made a request for the notebook not long after Dr. Ivins death. Frankly, I don’t see USAMRIID denying Mr. Shane the pertinent passages from Lab Notebook 4010, especially those handwritten notes made on the dates that the government speculates Dr. Ivins was aerosolizing anthrax. I mentioned to AUSA Lieber that the animals were rabbits, I believe, not mice.

      Interviews and Ivins’ emails have been mischaracterized in the DOJ’s Summary. Why didn’t the DOJ provide the Lab Notebook 4010 pages detailing the observations Ivins made on the health of the animals the nights the DOJ speculates he was preparing powderized anthrax to mail?

  8. I join in Dxer in asking DOJ to change its mind. DOJ should set an example of transparency in these times. Is this not the reason that Eric Holder decided to try KSM in the US? If we can have the disclosures of a trial, why not the lab book pages which would have been disclosed at a trial if one had been held for Ivins.

    Also the Warren Commission one volume 888 page summary is online. They also issued 26 volumes all by 1964.

    Appendix 12 of the summary discusses speculation and rumors by presenting the best evidence the commission had on each one.



    They had to use typewriters as well in those days.

    • DXer said

      Again, Old Atlantic, it is incredibly counterproductive for you to talk about the Kennedy assassination.

      You need to read the record and press for documents. Stand for the rule of law embodied under FOIA.

      It is black and white stuff. The DOJ is going to be paying attorneys fees for removing documents from USAMRIID subject to FOIA, mischaracterizing them, and then not producing the documents — where they represent a contemporaneous handwritten account of Dr. Ivins of how he spent his time when they falsely and without any basis speculate he was creating a powder that killed five people.

      There is simply no parallel with the Warren Commission.

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