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

Archive for December 2nd, 2010

* selected extracts from the presentation of Dr. Meryl Nass at the Nov 29, 2010 anthrax seminar

Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 2, 2010

Dr. John Ezzell, Lew Weinstein, Ross Getman, Dr. Meryl Nass, Paul Kemp, Dr. James Van de Velde at the Anthrax Mailings Investigation seminar ... UC Washington Center Nov 29, 2010

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The full text of Dr. Nass’ presentation has been posted on her blog site …

http://anthraxvaccine.blogspot.com/2010/11/fbis-anthrax-letters-investigation.html

Here are selected extracts …

  • FBI tried to close this case on August 1, 2008, 3 days after Bruce’s death.  The FBI orchestrated a crescendo of leaks about Bruce over several days, full of lurid details that aimed to create a picture of a “lone nut” for the American public.  Much of this material was inaccurate or exaggerated … a tawdry attempt to bury one of the most important cases the FBI has ever investigated.
  • the anthrax letters helped pave the way for passage of the USA Patriot Act, for going to war with Iraq … and for expansion of the federal biodefense budget to 50 billion dollars and counting.
  • Were aspects of Bruce’s death orchestrated as well?  Although the anthrax letters case was one of the FBI’s biggest ever, Bruce’s death somehow didn’t warrant an autopsy or an inquest. I have seen no report or evidence that the FBI informed anyone, especially Bruce’s medical providers, of his Tylenol ingestion.   Doing so in a timely manner would have almost certainly saved Bruce’s life and allowed the FBI to bring its case against him to its legal conclusion. Nor did FBI intervene to hasten Bruce receiving medical attention after his ingestion.

SOME FAILURES IN THE FBI’S CASE …

1.    FBI sent a letter to Bruce in April 2007, stating that he was not a target of the investigation.

2.    Why was no DNA obtained from Bruce until the week before his death?

3.    Why did Bruce retain his security clearance until 19 days before his death?

4.    FBI has failed to find evidence placing Bruce in New Jersey where the letters were mailed.

5.    FBI has failed to show how Bruce could have been at the mailbox during the window of time in which the letters were sent.

6.    FBI failed to find any anthrax contamination in Bruce’s car, home or possessions, although the simple act of placing a letter in the mailbox would have led to massive spore contamination of everything in the area, including the mailer. (See paper by FBI’s Doug Beecher)

7.    FBI’s February 2010 report tries to have it both ways.  It claims that flask RMR1029 was under Bruce’s exclusive control between its 1997 creation and the anthrax letter attacks.  The report claims that “only a very limited number of individuals had access” to the flask.  Later it admits that approximately 400 people at USAMRIID and a Midwest contractor laboratory had access to the spores.

8.    FBI claims Bruce had the know-how to produce the weaponized spores found in the Leahy-Daschle letters.  But FBI itself has failed to reverse engineer the spore production method, does not know what that method entails, and therefore cannot possibly know if Bruce had either the knowledge or access to all the equipment needed to produce such spores.

9.    FBI has failed to find any trace of the strain of Bacillus subtilis that contaminated the anthrax spores in the first set of letters, at USAMRIID or anywhere else.  Had the contaminated batch of anthrax been made at USAMRIID, the Bacillus subtilis strain would have contaminated the work space and been identified.

10.    FBI claims it ruled out 400 people who had access to the spores, but fails to explain anything about the processes used to rule these people out.

11.    Bruce passed two FBI polygraph tests, but later FBI claimed he used “classic” countermeasures to thwart the polygraphs.  Experts dispute this FBI claim.

12.    FBI’s report claims Bruce had access to a photocopier, but fails to note it was not the copier used to produce the anthrax letters.

13.    FBI initially reported that the water the spores were grown in came from the Frederick, Maryland area.  FBI later backed off this claim.

14.    FBI initially said that minor deviations in the pre-franked envelopes used for the anthrax letters showed they were purchased from the Frederick, Maryland post office.  Later FBI acknowledged they were sold widely in Maryland and Virginia.

15.    Nowhere in the February 2010 FBI report is there any acknowledgement that the crime could have involved more than one person.  Yet in my opinion, the logistics are such that it is almost a certainty more than one person was involved.

16.    The FBI obtained nearly all its 1,000 anthrax samples voluntarily from labs in the US and abroad.  This assumed that theanthrax mailer fully complied with the FBI request, even though it might incriminate him.  I’d call this a risky assumption, which undermines the foundation of the FBI’s entire case.

17.    FBI’s report postulates that two one-week windows of opportunity existed in which each batch of anthrax letter spores could have been grown, processed and mailed.  The time period for the first set of letters was September 11 through 18, 2001.  The period for the second set was October 1 through 8, 2001 (see page 6 of the FBI report).  FBI therefore reported focusing its investigation on individuals who had access to flask RMR 1029 and an anthrax “hot room” (a.k.a. BL 3 or 4 high containment laboratory) during these periods, in its attempt to identify and investigate all potential perpetrators. However, there are several problems with this assumption.  First, the US government did not know how many high containment labs existed in the US and abroad in 2001, as they did not have to be registered or inspected.  Some may have belonged to private companies or individuals. Second, although the anthrax letters were mailed during short windows of time, and the text included with the letters was probably written shortly before mailing, there is no reason to think that the spores had to be grown and processed during these periods. Since the FBI was unable to duplicate the process used to produce the spores, it is uncertain whether production in a particular lab could be completed during a one-week period. Spore production and processing could have taken place considerably earlier, and/or the spores might have been supplied to the mailer by another person.

NAS review of FBI’s anthrax science

The National Academy of Science panel will issue its report on the FBI’s microbial forensics soon.  But given the lack of information available for evaluation in the open literature, the NAS panel is handicapped by its overwhelming reliance on briefings by the FBI and its contracted scientists.  Until the standard procedures of peer review described above are completed, it will be very difficult to determine the validity and usefulness of the FBI’s research.

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LMW COMMENT …

The FBI’s case against Dr. Ivins is clearly bogus: no evidence, no witnesses, an impossible timeline, science that proves innocence instead of guilt. So what really happened? And why doesn’t the FBI offer America a credible story?

I can imagine only 3 possible “actual” scenarios …

  1. The FBI has more evidence against Dr. Ivins but is, for some undisclosed reason, withholding that evidence … POSSIBLE BUT NOT SO LIKELY
  2. The FBI, despite the most expensive and extensive investigation in its history, has not solved the case and has no idea who prepared and mailed the anthrax letters that killed 5 Americans in 2001 … EVEN LESS LIKELY
  3. The FBI knows who did it (not Dr. Ivins) but is covering up the actual perpetrators, for undisclosed reasons … THE MOST LIKELY SCENARIO

The “fictional” scenario in my novel CASE CLOSED has been judged by many readers, including a highly respected official in the U.S. Intelligence Community, as perhaps more plausible than the FBI’s unproven assertions regarding Dr. Ivins.

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

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