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

* Why hasn’t NAS heard a witness on the FBI’s extensive reliance on polygraphs in Amerithax?

Posted by DXer on April 12, 2010

The FBI’s case against Dr. Ivins is clearly bogus: no evidence, no witnesses, an impossible timeline. The real question is why the FBI persists in sticking to such a pathetic story. What are they hiding? I offer one “fictional” scenario in my novel CASE CLOSED, judged by many readers, including a highly respected official in the U.S. Intelligence Community, as “quite plausible.”

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *


9 Responses to “* Why hasn’t NAS heard a witness on the FBI’s extensive reliance on polygraphs in Amerithax?”

  1. DXer said

    A recurring thread in Kurkjian’s MASTER THIEVES is how seriously the people taking the polygraph seem to credit its validity — so that they change their story (as in the case of Robert Gentile) when they are told by investigators that deception is indicated.

    Although its use has not been validated, it works insofar as people mistakenly think that it works — and accordingly tell the truth where otherwise they might lie.

    In this interview of the security guard that night at Isabella Gardner, NPR did not ask the hard questions. Why did Mr. Abath open the door — before the robbers dressed as patrolmen approached.

    Former Security Guard Reflects On What He Lost One Fateful Night
    MARCH 13, 2015

    In Amerithrax, Bruce Ivins passed both polygraphs. The FBI’s treatment of the polygraph issue demonstrates its misuse of science in Amerithrax. Years later, the FBI just reinterpreted the results to suit its conclusion.

    • DXer said

      FBI has not put its house in order on the wide-ranging subject of forensics. Consider the subject of polygraphs and their use in Amerithrax. As recently as today’s press, the same nonsense continues:

      “The result showed a likelihood of less than 0.1 per cent that he was truthful. Gentile claims the examination was conducted improperly.”

      Prosecutors then become defense counsel so it is natural that on subjects they sometimes take the same misguided approach to polygraphs and treat them as validated science.
      “Less than 0.1 per cent” sounds straight out of the testimony on a subject like the FBI Lab’s hair analysis. If we don’t learn from history, we are bound to repeat it.

      Indeed, in Isabella Gardner, this defense counsel has a 1/3 contingency, through his father, for the paintings he insists his client doesn’t have. In Amerithrax, the lead prosecutor’s daughter came to represent anthrax suspect Ali Al-Timimi for free.

      In New York State, Cuomo key aide Percoco says he was paid $50,000 by COR Development and COR insists he wasn’t.

      Police search gangster’s home in connection with $500m unsolved 1990 art heist
      Harriet Alexander
      Published 03/05/2016

  2. DXer said

    In his new manuscript on Amerithrax, Vahid Majidi writes:

    “Investigators recognize that polygraphs are highly controversial in nature and they are not used to collect information admissible for the court system.”

    Now go to the Amerithrax Investigative Summary, on which Dr. Majidi and his colleagues closed the Amerithrax investigation and see the extensive discussion and rationalization relating to Dr. Ivins’ PASSING his two polygraphs!

    AUSA Lieber took the fact that he passed and explained that it must have meant he used countermeasures and thus his passing was evidence of guilt!

    Given that “[investigators recognize that polygraphs are highly controversial” it should not have been argued to be evidence of Dr. Ivins’ guilt.

    The reinterpretation of his passing the two polygraphs is evidence of the unprincipled use of the data points available to the FBI from the various traditional and non-traditional forensic methods.

    The FBI attempted to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear — under Dr. Majidi’s watch.

    The FBI failed to provide the questions and answers which might have been substantively important.

    The obscene rationalization relating to the polygraphis in support of an “Ivins Theory” represented zealous prosecution in the court of opinion … all because the prosecutors and investigators were motivated by CYA — and were glad to have a boss who had their back (Rachel especially).

  3. DXer said

    The lead investigator explains that part of the science relied upon by the FBI was the fact that Bruce Ivins passed his polygraphs.

    Under the FBI’s reasoning, that meant he must have been a sneaky liar (even though questions about medication would have been part of the test).

    Use of these after-the-fact expert opinions relating to the fact he passed the polygraphs was right up there with the FBI’s reliance on anthrax smelling bloodhounds.

    Polygraphs are a great a way to set people down and get verbatim answers to questions. The questions asked and the answers given should be disclosed.

    Why is it okay for the FBI to rely on polygraphs without having to disclose the polygraphs and the expert opinions so that outside scientists assess the science relied upon by the FBI.

    The NAS previously has reviewed the reliability of polygraphs — and so the GAO has a wealth of authoritative expertise to rely upon in assessing the issue.


    How does that relate to the polygraphs?

    [Ed Montooth]

    If you’re on medications and we don’t know it, the polygrapher may not really give an accurate decision on the results of the polygraph.

    That’s when we took all this information from what we could find out through e-mails and through other records. We presented that to our polygraphers’ unit, [which] monitors for quality control and things, and that caused them concern.

    So then they went back to Department of Defense, who has more experience in counterintelligence. … We went and asked them for their assistance and their opinion, and they came back and told us that they felt that countermeasures had been used during the polygraph test.

    Countermeasures by Bruce Ivins?



    Meaning that he had purposely tried to give a false reading as a response to his questions.

    Was another polygraph given then?

    No. At that point it was determined that we weren’t going to go with another polygraph. We were just going to go with the traditional investigation. …

  4. DXer said

    Some of the science relied upon by the FBI in its conclusions were the polygraphs that the FBI says Dr. Ivins passed. GAO should prod the FBI to disclose the transcript of his Q and A to see what he said in the question and answer. The disclosure should include the report at the time when the examiners concluded there was no evidence of deception.

  5. DXer said

    Why would the FBI bother to polygraph all the scientists with access to Ames without asking them to recollect what they were doing at the time?

    Polygraphs are by no means validated, but their usefulness is that they permit focused questioning by someone who might be naive enough not to know that he can lie without detection.

    Rather than offering up recollection of events on a particular night or nights 7 years later, the prosecutor would have an account close to the event — before contemporaneous documents were destroyed due to passage of time.

    In fact, you could ask people to bring documents they have showing what they were doing and ask them about them.

    If GAO is doing a gap assessment of science, then it might address the utility of the FBI’s reliance on polygraphs — right after its reliance on anthrax smelling bloodhounds.

  6. DXer said

    Ivins case’s inconvenient issue: his polygraph

    By Jeff Stein
    The FBI and the National Academy of Science today jousted over the quality of science applied to solve the 2001 anthrax attacks, but another inconvenient piece of the puzzle seems to have been artfully swept under the rug: the fact that Bruce E. Ivins passed a polygraph.

    Polygraph advocates, not the least of which are the national security agencies that rely on the tests despite their many well-known miscues, refer to what they do as “science.”

    But polygraph critics, including a retired senior FBI laboratory official, often deride the test as little more than witchcraft, a mechanism that measures emotions, not “lies,” and is entirely dependent on the widely varying skills of its operators. The rig may be fine as an investigative tool to “sweat” a suspect, they say, but entirely unreliable as a mechanism to ferret out skilled criminals, spies or deceptive job applicants. Indeed, it not infrequently declares the innocent “guilty.”

    Almost a year ago the Justice Department said in its review of the case that Ivins, an Army scientist at Ft. Detrick, Md., employed “classic countermeasures” to defeat his 2002 polygraph test, among them getting a prescription for “psychotropic medications.” A Newsweek report also said Ivins employed “controlled breathing to fool the examiners.”

    But as an organization of polygraph critics noted at the time, “there are no studies on the effects of such medications on polygraph results.”

    The FBI’s own case file on Ivins, moreover, contradicted the DoJ report.

    Ivins “did not research anything about the test, to include ways to defeat its accuracy,” the FBI’s 2002 report on Ivans said. (See here, page 199.)

    “Likewise, he did not take any steps to defeat the tests [sic] accuracy or use countermeasures. In fact, IVINS stopped taking his anti-depression/anti-anxiety medication 48-72 hours before the polygraph, and he offered to provide blood and/or urine specimens at the time of the test to prove he was not medicated.”

    An obvious question might be whether, of the many other possible suspects who were eliminated, any were eliminated solely on the basis of polygraph examinations.

    An intriguing possibility, if not likely. As the FBI said in response to the NAS report Tuesday, the totality of an investigation renders suspects, not any one test. Or as the bureau put it Tuesday in regard to the anthrax tests, “Although there have been great strides in forensic science over the years, rarely does science alone solve an investigation.”

    The “science of polygraphs” included, it might have added.

  7. DXer said

    “The Wrong Man” in the May 2010 issue explains:

    “The pressure on American law enforcement to find the perpetrator was enormous. Agents were compelled to consider any and all means of investigation.”

  8. DXer said

    There’s a reason this sort of hooey is inadmissible.

    “In some sense, Dr. Ivins’s efforts to stay ahead of the investigation began much earlier. When he took a polygraph in connection with the investigation in 2002, the examiner determined that he passed. However, as the investigation began to hone in on Dr. Ivins and investigators learned that he had been prescribed a number of psychotropic medications at the time of the 2002 polygraph, investigators resubmitted his results to examiners at FBI Headquarters and the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute for a reassessment of the results in light of that new information. Both examiners who independently reassessed the results determined that Dr. Ivins exhibited “classic” signs of the use of countermeasures to pass a polygraph. At the time the polygraph was initially examined in 2002, not all examiners were trained to spot countermeasures, making the first analysis both understandable under the circumstances, and irrelevant to the subsequent conclusion that he used countermeasures. The discovery of Dr. Ivins’s use of this tool was the Task Force’s first glimpse into the level of counter-surveillance in which he engaged.”

    Why is it in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary?

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