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

* Congressman Holt finds the FBI’s request for revision of the completed NAS report “disturbing”

Posted by DXer on December 9, 2010

Scott Shane writes in the NYT (12/9/10) …

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has requested a last-minute delay in the release of a report on the bureau’s anthrax investigation by the National Academy of Sciences, prompting a congressman to say the bureau “may be seeking to try to steer or otherwise pressure” the academy’s scientific panel “to reach a conclusion desired by the bureau.”

Representative Rush D. Holt, Democrat of New Jersey and a physicist who has often been critical of the investigation, made the remarks in a letter Thursday to the F.B.I.’s director, Robert S. Mueller III, saying that he found the bureau’s request for a delay “disturbing.”

The F.B.I. has told the committee that it wants to turn over an additional 500 pages of investigative documents not provided previously, despite the committee’s request for all relevant material when it began the review in April 2009.

“If these new documents were relevant to the N.A.S.’s review why were they previously undisclosed and withheld?” Mr. Holt wrote.

E. William Colglazier, the NAS’s executive officer, said the F.B.I.’s request was a surprise and came after the bureau saw the panel’s peer-reviewed final report, which was scheduled for release in November.

He said the committee’s 15 members, top scientists who serve as volunteers, were “exhausted,” but that the panel agreed to extend the study and consider revising the report in return for an additional fee, probably about $50,000, beyond the $879,550 the F.B.I. has already paid for the study.

read the entire article at … http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/10/us/10anthrax.html?hpw

******

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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7 Responses to “* Congressman Holt finds the FBI’s request for revision of the completed NAS report “disturbing””

  1. DXer said

    A three-month delay in the publication of the NAS report results in new studies appearing in the peer-reviewed literature. It will be interesting to see what journal articles appear in January or February bearing on these questions.

    Did any of the promised peer-reviewed articles promised by the FBI ever appear?

    If not, why not? Mr. Harmon, in MICROBIAL FORENSICS, reports an example where the materials relating to the rejection of the article were discoverable under Daubert principles (relating to whether scientific evidence is reliable enough to be relied upon in a criminal prosecution).

    1. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2010 Dec 30. [Epub ahead of print]

    Development of an Aerosol Surface Inoculation Method for Bacillus Spores.

    Lee SD, Ryan SP, Gibb Snyder E.

    U.S. EPA, Office of Research and Development, National Homeland Security Research Center, Research Triangle Park, NC, United States.

    Abstract

    A method was developed to deposit Bacillus subtilis spores via aerosolization onto various surface materials for biological agent decontamination and detection studies. This new method uses an apparatus coupled with a metered dose inhaler to reproducibly deposit spores onto various surfaces. …

    2. J Microbiol. 2010 Dec;48(6):771-7. Epub 2011 Jan 9.

    Comparative proteome analysis of Bacillus anthracis with pXO1 plasmid content.

    Shahid S, Park JH, Lee HT, Kim SJ, Kim JC, Kim SH, Han DM, Jeon DI, Jung KH, Chai YG.

    Division of Molecular and Life Sciences, Hanyang University, Ansan, 426-791, Republic of Korea.

    Abstract

    …. Two plasmid encoded proteins and 12 cellular proteins were identified and documented as potential virulence factors.

    3. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2011 Jan 7. [Epub ahead of print]

    Recovery of Bacillus spore contaminants from rough surfaces: A challenge to cleanliness control of space missions.

    Probst A, Facius R, Wirth R, Wolf M, Moissl-Eichinger C.

    Institute of Microbiology and Archaea Center, University of Regensburg, Universitaetsstrasse 31, 93053 Regensburg, Germany; Lander Systems & Space Robotics, Astrium Space Transportation, Airbus Allee 1, 28199 Bremen, Germany; German Aerospace Center, Linder Hoehe, 51147 Cologne, Germany.

    4. Mol Microbiol. 2011 Jan 4. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2011.07519.x. [Epub ahead of print]

    Papillation in Bacillus anthracis colonies: a tool for finding new mutators.

    Yang H, Sikavi C, Tran K, McGillivray SM, Nizet V, Yung M, Chang A, Miller JH.

    Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, and the Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, and the David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA. Department of Biology, Texas Christian University, Forth Worth, Texas 76129, USA. Division of Pediatric Pharmacology & Drug Discovery, UCSD School of Medicine, and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.

    Abstract

    Colonies of Bacillus anthracis Sterne allow the growth of papillation after 6 days of incubation at 30°C on LB medium. The papillae are due to mutations that allow the cells to overcome the barriers to continued growth. Cells isolated from papillae display two distinct gross phenotypes (group A and group B). We determined that group A mutants have mutations in the nprR gene including frameshifts, deletions, duplications, and base substitutions. We used papillation as a tool for finding new mutators as the mutators generate elevated levels of papillation. We discovered that disruption of yycJ or recJ leads to a spontaneous mutator phenotype. We defined the nprR/papillation system as a new mutational analysis system for B. anthracis. The mutational specificity of the new mutator yycJ is similar to that of mismatch repair-deficient strains (MMR(-) ) such as those with mutations in mutL or mutS. Deficiency in recJ results in a unique specificity, generating only tandem duplications.

  2. DXer said

    Here is audio clip from UCLA Professor Michael Intrilligator. (I lost the video in a trimming accident).

  3. anonymous said

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/12/09/105060/fbi-seeks-delay-in-outside-review.html

    FBI seeks delay in outside review of its anthrax probe

    By Greg Gordon | McClatchy Newspapers

    WASHINGTON — The FBI has asked the National Academy of Sciences to delay the release of its review of the bureau’s highly controversial, seven-year investigation into the deadly 2001 anthrax mail attacks that killed five people and panicked the nation.

    A New Jersey congressman has called the request “disturbing” and asked the FBI for an explanation.

    In a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller Thursday, Democratic Rep. Rush Holt said that it appears that the FBI “may be seeking to try to steer or otherwise pressure the NAS panel to reach a conclusion desired by the bureau.”

    Holt, a scientist and the chairman of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, said the academy recently shared with the bureau its draft report on the “Amerithrax” investigation, a narrow scientific review that the FBI requested in 2008 in an effort to quell controversy over its findings that a disgruntled government scientist was behind the attacks.

    “This week I was informed by the NAS that the FBI would be releasing an additional 500 pages of previously undisclosed investigative material from the Amerithrax investigation to the NAS,” he wrote. Holt said he understands that the “document dump . . . is intended to contest and challenge the independent NAS panel’s draft findings.”

    “If these new documents were relevant to the NAS’ review, why were they previously undisclosed and withheld?” Holt wrote. He requested a meeting with the FBI director.

    An FBI spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The FBI inquiry was highly controversial because it concluded, based on circumstantial evidence, that Army researcher Bruce Ivins mailed the letters that killed five, sickened another 17, and paralyzed mail operations in businesses and government offices throughout the country, including the U.S. Capitol. Ivins committed suicide in 2008. No criminal charges were filed.

    The bureau found that the letters were mailed in the fall of 2001 from a mailbox in Princeton, N.J., in Holt’s congressional district, to two Democratic senators — Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who is no longer in office, and Patrick Leahy of Vermont — and to two media outlets in New York and Florida.

    Holt noted that the FBI had “consistently botched and bungled this case from the beginning,” a reference to its earlier focus on another former Army scientist, Steven Hatfill, who filed a suit accusing the bureau of falsely defaming him and won a $4.6 million settlement.

    The bureau’s scientific findings were based on genetic fingerprinting that concluded that the mailed anthrax matched lots in Ivins’ laboratory at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md.

    MORE FROM MCCLATCHY

  4. anonymous said

    Will the original report NAS delivered to the FBI in November be eventually obtainable by FOIA ??

    • DXer said

      Yes. Draft reports are discoverable. Under FACA, the NAS was obligated to produce the documents in a timely manner — at a time when participation would be meaningful. I wrote a non-profit group today, with a copy to the NAS Director:

      “Under the recent on-point District of Columbia, the National Academy of Sciences is required to produce documents submitted to it by the FBI at a time when participation in the proceeding could be meaningful. The withholding of documents has prevented outside experts — for example, government scientists having actual aerosol experience who have done controlled experiments and scientists who actually worked on the matter — from submitting comments informed by the documents. In a question and answer at a recent conference where the FBI’s leading anthrax expert John Ezzell addressed my various questions relating to the mailed anthrax, he had to give extended comments without the benefit of the documents submitted by the FBI to NAS (including the many he had authored). ***

      The NAS has extended its deadline by a few months and the public wishes them well in sorting out the highly technical matters requiring their expertise. But the Federal Advisory Committee Act does not permit the continued withholding of documents submitted to it by the FBI in connection with its review of the science in Amerithrax. The NAS should have been producing the documents submitted to it at a time when participation would have been meaningful. The Amerithrax matter was closed last February 2010.”

  5. anonymous said

    http://holt.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=659&Itemid=18

    Holt Questions Last Minute FBI Efforts to Influence Scientific Review of “Amerithrax” Case PDF Print
    Thursday, 09 December 2010 15:47
    On Eve of National Academy of Sciences Report’s Release, FBI Appeals To Panel For New Hearing, Dumps Hundreds Of Previously Undisclosed Documents

    (Washington, D.C.) –U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) today wrote Robert S. Mueller, Director of the FBI, expressing his concerns about the Bureau’s decision to document dump to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) an additional 500 pages of previously undisclosed investigative material from the 2001 anthrax attacks. The FBI evidently provided the new materials after the NAS shared a draft report with the FBI for its review.

    The anthrax attacks evidently originated from a postal box in Holt’s Central New Jersey congressional district, killing five, and disrupting the lives and livelihoods of many of his constituents. The attacks greatly contributed to the national fear of terrorism and has affected the response of our nation to these attacks to this day. Holt has consistently raised questions about the federal investigation into the attacks.

    “Despite the FBI’s original charge to the NAS to examine only the scientific data and conclusions in the case, it now appears that the FBI—which has consistently botched and bungled this case from the beginning—may be seeking to try to steer or otherwise pressure the NAS panel to reach a conclusion desired by the Bureau,” Holt wrote. “I ask that you meet with me this week to explain the FBI’s troubling conduct in this matter.”

    A copy of Holt’s letter is below (a PDF can be found here ):

    December 9, 2010

    Robert S. Mueller, III

    Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation

    J. Edgar Hoover Building

    935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

    Washington, D.C. 20535-0001

    Dear Director Mueller,

    I have long been troubled by the FBI’s investigation and final conclusions to the 2001 Anthrax attacks. This week more disturbing information has come to my attention.

    As you know, in September 2008, the FBI requested that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to examine a relatively narrow range of scientific questions about the FBI’s scientific conclusions in the so-called “Amerithrax” case. Recently, the NAS shared their draft report with the FBI for review.

    This week I was informed by the NAS that the FBI would be releasing an additional 500 pages of previously undisclosed investigative material from the Amerithrax investigation to the NAS.

    My understanding is that this document dump, taking place after the FBI’s review of the NAS draft report, is intended to contest and challenge the independent NAS panel’s draft findings. If these new documents were relevant to the NAS’s review why were they previously undisclosed and withheld?

    Despite the FBI’s original charge to the NAS to examine only the scientific data and conclusions in the case, it now appears that the FBI—which has consistently botched and bungled this case from the beginning—may be seeking to try to steer or otherwise pressure the NAS panel to reach a conclusion desired by the Bureau.

    I ask that you meet with me this week to explain the FBI’s troubling conduct in this matter.

    Sincerely,

    RUSH HOLT

    Member of Congress

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