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

* DXer: why should we trust NAS when they don’t comply with the statutory obligation to release the materials submitted by the FBI?

Posted by DXer on December 13, 2010

 

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see also …

* hints of conflict between the NAS and the FBI are found in the unexpected delay of the NAS report on the FBI’s anthrax science … the FBI is obviously trying to hide the truth as long as possible and the NAS is witholding documents it is required by law to release

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DXer reports (12/11/10) …

Why should we trust the NAS reading of issues that are arcane and not even probative of anything when they can’t even read the plain language of the statute?

They are obligated to make available for inspection and copying ” written materials presented to the committee by individuals who are not officials, agents, or employees of the Academy”

Under controlling on-point District of Columbia precedent that I’ve previously cited and discussed at length, that has been found to mean it needs to be produced contemporaneous with its production to NAS by the agency — so that the public’s participation can be informed by the documents and thus meaningful.

Federal Advisory Committee Act

• UNITED STATES CODE ANNOTATED
• TITLE 5. GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION AND EMPLOYEES
• APPENDIX 2. FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ACT
§ 15. Requirements relating to the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Public Administration

(a) In general.–An agency may not use any advice or recommendation provided by the National Academy of Sciences or National Academy of Public Administration that was developed by use of a committee created by that academy under an agreement with an agency, unless–

(1) the committee was not subject to any actual management or control by an agency or an officer of the Federal Government; (2) in the case of a committee created after the date of the enactment of the Federal Advisory Committee Act Amendments of 1997, the membership of the committee was appointed in accordance with the requirements described in subsection (b)(1); and (3) in developing the advice or recommendation, the academy complied with–

(A) subsection (b)(2) through (6), in the case of any advice or recommendation provided by the National Academy of Sciences; or (B) subsection (b)(2) and (5), in the case of any advice or recommendation provided by the National Academy of Public Administration.
(b) Requirements.–The requirements referred to in subsection (a) are as follows:

(1) ***  The Academy shall make available to the public, at reasonable charge if appropriate, written materials presented to the committee by individuals who are not officials, agents, or employees of the Academy, unless the Academy determines that making material available would disclose matters described in that section.

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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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35 Responses to “* DXer: why should we trust NAS when they don’t comply with the statutory obligation to release the materials submitted by the FBI?”

  1. DXer said

    If the photocopy toner examination report by Dr. Bartick et al. is not produced, everyone who might have seen that it was produced should be fired.

    Conviction Tossed on FBI Lab Misconduct

    By JOHN SOLOMON
    The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) – The conviction of an inmate who spent 10 years in prison has been overturned because an FBI scientific expert gave inaccurate testimony and withheld evidence – one of the first reversals arising from an investigation of the FBI lab.

    ***

    Whitehurst, the former FBI whistleblower, said the delay of four years from the end of the internal investigation until Bragdon was notified was “appalling.”

    “It takes so long because everybody is covering for everybody else in the government. They wait until everyone retires and gets their pension,” he said.

    Malone had testified at the trial that carpet fibers he found on a woman’s clothing linked her to Bragdon’s apartment. It was the only scientific evidence corroborating the victim’s allegation she had been raped, according to court records.

    ***

    The government argued Bragdon’s conviction should be allowed to stand, saying prosecutors had no prior knowledge the testimony was wrong. The judge scoffed.

    “The government should not be able to escape the gravity of such a situation by asserting lack of knowledge,” wrote Judge Stephanie Duncan-Peters.

    Despite the FBI’s changes at the lab, the AP reported recently that one technician has since mistested more than 100 DNA samples and another of its expert witnesses has been charged with knowingly giving false testimony.

    Bragdon’s appeals lawyer, Michael Imbroscio, credits the government for coming forward and disclosing Malone’s problems but said the case shows scientific expertise introduced in courts is still ripe for abuse.

    “I think this case demonstrates that the expert analysis system is especially susceptible to human manipulation,” he said. “This kind of expert evidence is very powerful and without strong oversight authority it really gave an agent who thought in their heart they were doing the right thing by putting away bad people the chance to embellish their testimony.”

    • DXer said

      Mr. Lake is willing overlook the FBI not providing the photocopy toner report.

      Here is one of Ed’s recent forensic cases.

  2. Anonymous said

    Interesting editorial by Coleen Rowley. Is it time for the scientists who have knowledge of the Amerithrax science results to start leaking them, now that the FBI appear to be overtly hiding from the facts? The only reasonable conclusion at this point is that, in the words of the authors “that the failure to share information within and between government agencies — and with the media and the public — led to an overall failure to “connect the dots.”
    In other words, the FBI are playing CYA – for fear of invividual career-ending revelations.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/oct/15/opinion/la-oe-rowley-wikileaks-20101015

    WikiLeaks and 9/11: What if?
    Frustrated investigators might have chosen to leak information that their superiors bottled up, perhaps averting the terrorism attacks.
    October 15, 2010|By Coleen Rowley and Bogdan Dzakovic
    If WikiLeaks had been around in 2001, could the events of 9/11 have been prevented? The idea is worth considering.

    The organization has drawn both high praise and searing criticism for its mission of publishing leaked documents without revealing their source, but we suspect the world hasn’t yet fully seen its potential. Let us explain.

    There were a lot of us in the run-up to Sept. 11 who had seen warning signs that something devastating might be in the planning stages. But we worked for ossified bureaucracies incapable of acting quickly and decisively. Lately, the two of us have been wondering how things might have been different if there had been a quick, confidential way to get information out.

    One of us, Coleen Rowley, was a special agent/legal counsel at the FBI’s Minneapolis division and worked closely with those who arrested would-be terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui on an immigration violation less than a month before the World Trade Center was destroyed.

    Following up on a tip from flight school instructors who had become suspicious of the French Moroccan who claimed to want to fly a jet as an “ego boost,” Special Agent Harry Samit and an INS colleague had detained Moussaoui. A foreign intelligence service promptly reported that he had connections with a foreign terrorist group, but FBI officials in Washington inexplicably turned down Samit’s request for authority to search Moussaoui’s laptop computer and personal effects.

    Those same officials stonewalled Samit’s supervisor, who pleaded with them in late August 2001 that he was “trying to keep someone from taking a plane and crashing into the World Trade Center.” (Yes, he was that explicit.) Later, testifying at Moussaoui’s trial, Samit testified that he believed the behavior of his FBI superiors in Washington constituted “criminal negligence.”

    The 9/11 Commission ultimately concluded that Moussaoui was most likely being primed as a Sept. 11 replacement pilot and that the hijackers probably would have postponed their strike if information about his arrest had been announced.

    WikiLeaks might have provided a pressure valve for those agents who were terribly worried about what might happen and frustrated by their superiors’ seeming indifference. They were indeed stuck in a perplexing, no-win ethical dilemma as time ticked away. Their bosses issued continual warnings against “talking to the media” and frowned on whistle-blowing, yet the agents felt a strong need to protect the public.
    The other one of us writing this piece, Federal Air Marshal Bogdan Dzakovic, once co-led the Federal Aviation Administration’s Red Team to probe for vulnerabilities in airport security. He also has a story of how warnings were ignored in the run-up to Sept. 11. In repeated tests of security, his team found weaknesses nine out of 10 times that would make it possible for hijackers to smuggle weapons aboard and seize control of airplanes. But the team’s reports were ignored and suppressed, and the team was shut down entirely after 9/11.

    In testimony to the 9/11 Commission, Dzakovic summed up his experience this way: “The Red Team was extraordinarily successful in killing large numbers of innocent people in the simulated attacks …[and yet] we were ordered not to write up our reports and not to retest airports where we found particularly egregious vulnerabilities…. Finally, the FAA started providing advance notification of when we would be conducting our ‘undercover’ tests and what we would be checking.”

    The commission included none of Dzakovic’s testimony in its report.

    Looking back, Dzakovic believes that if WikiLeaks had existed at the time, he would have gone to it as a last resort to highlight what he knew were serious vulnerabilities that were being ignored.

    The 9/11 Commission concluded, correctly in our opinion, that the failure to share information within and between government agencies — and with the media and the public — led to an overall failure to “connect the dots.”

    Many government careerists are risk-averse. They avoid making waves and, when calamity strikes, are more concerned with protecting themselves than with figuring out what went wrong and correcting it.

    Decisions to speak out inside or outside one’s chain of command — let alone to be seen as a whistle-blower or leaker of information — is fraught with ethical and legal questions and can never be undertaken lightly. But there are times when it must be considered. Official channels for whistle-blower protections have long proved illusory. In the past, some government employees have gone to the media, but that can’t be done fully anonymously, and it also puts reporters at risk of being sent to jail for refusing to reveal their sources. For all of these reasons, WikiLeaks provides a crucial safety valve.

    Coleen Rowley, a FBI special agent for more than 20 years, was legal counsel to the FBI field office in Minneapolis from 1990 to 2003. Bogdan Dzakovic was a special agent for the FAA’s security division. He filed a formal whistle-blower disclosure against the FAA for ignoring the vulnerabilities documented by the Red Team. For the past nine years he has been relegated to entry-level staff work for the Transportation Security Administration.

    • DXer said

      Yes, I think understanding CYA is the key insight. To take one example of how the principle might have operated:

      Jdey was detained as the same time as Moussaoui.

      The senior DOJ/ FBI officials who denied the FISA warrant for Moussaoui’s laptop were understandably concerned that Congress perceived that they had dropped the ball. Although the information about Moussaoui cam out, the FBI did not disclose that at the same time Moussaoui was detained with cropduster manuals, Jdey was detained with biology textbooks. (He apparently was visiting from Montreal). The officials may not have wanted to be blamed for Amerithrax like they were being blamed for 911.

      Someone should contact Cowleen Rowley to see if she has any additional information now that it is public that Jdey was detained at the same time as Moussauoi (and Jdey was carrying biology textbooks).

  3. DXer said

    “Army’s Anthrax Material Surprises Some Experts [FINAL Edition]
    The Washington Post – Washington, D.C. Author: Rick Weiss Date: Dec 14, 2001 Start Page: A.18 Section: A SECTION Text Word Count: 871

    It remains unclear whether Dugway scientists have the technical capacity to make anthrax spores as dangerous as those found in the letters to [Thomas A. Daschle] (D-S.D.) and [Patrick J. Leahy] (D-Vt.). The particles in those letters were extremely small and the formulation very pure, with far more spores per gram than the U.S. offensive bioweapons program had achieved at its pinnacle in the late 1960s. Small size and high purity are crucial if infectious quantities are to become airborne and inhaled to cause the most deadly form of anthrax.

    William Patrick, who led the Army’s offensive biological weapons program at Fort Detrick until the program ended in 1969, said yesterday that it was he who taught Dugway scientists how to dry deadly bacteria into a fine powdery form in 1998. Until then, Dugway had no means of converting wet batches of the anthrax bacterium, Bacillus anthracis, into the dry powder needed to test new defensive technologies, he said, such as systems that can detect the invisible spores in the air.”

    Comment:

    Dr. Ezzell, in contrast, under a gag order until recently, explained that his spores were BETTER — MORE PURE — than the anthrax mailed to Daschle. Yet it was never revealed that such powder was being made at USAMRIID for DARPA research and no evidence that the lead was ever pursued.

    Was the making of that dried powder material disclosed on any waiver of conflict interest form? Was the use of the corona plasma discharge described?

    The former Zawahiri associate had his decontamination agent tested at Dugway in aerosol tests after Patrick instructed them on how to make a dried powder. The two scientists pointing to Dr. Ivins as being capable are the two people who made the dried powder — the FBI’s anthrax expert JE and Dugway scientist Jeff Mohr.

    The NAS incredibly does not even have an aerosol expert on its panel — and did not have one testify. The DOD biodefense expert says that the Pentagon had recommended that the NAS hear testimony from an aerosol expert. If there had been such an expert, they could have been asked whether the behavior of the powder was consistent with use of a corona plasma discharge. My good friend, a PhD experienced with use of silica in work for DARPA, says that use of a corona plasma discharge is indicated. A high level DARPA program manager said privately in fall 2001 that the USG even knew the piece of equipment was used. I look forward to the day that actual experts in aerosol science determine whether that piece of equipment of a corona plasma discharge (rather than the US Army Microbial Vac).

    • DXer said

      Imagine how an editor informed by the facts might have tweaked Marilyn’s book passage..
      The Killer Strain

      By Marilyn W. Thompson
      Posted 5/18/03
      When a series of letters packed with anthrax spread terror along the East Coast in late 2001, the FBI turned to the 42,000-member American Society for Microbiology, asking scientists to seek out clues that might lead to the arrest of the bioterrorist. The bureau also turned to one microbiologist in particular, John Ezzell, then head of the special pathogens division at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Md., to help them understand this deadly bacterium. In this excerpt from The Killer Strain: Anthrax and a Government Exposed (HarperCollins), Ezzell confronts what he called “The Face of Satan”–the most refined anthrax he had ever seen.

      CLARIFICATION AND CORRECTION: RATHER THAN BEING THE MOST REFINED ANTHRAX JOHN HAD EVER SEEN, JOHN FORTHRIGHTLY REPORTS THAT IT WAS NOT AS PURE OR REFINED AS THE ONE HE MADE USING AMES FROM BRUCE IVINS’ FLASK 1029, THE “MURDER WEAPON,” THAT THEN WAS USED FOR RESEARCH INVOLVING A CORONA PLASMA DISCHARGE AND SONICATOR BY DARPA. HE SAYS IT WAS COMMON TO LEAVE UNUSED VIRULENT ANTHRAX IN UNLOCKED REFRIGERATORS.

      DARPA, BTW, FUNDED THE WORK OF A FORMER ZAWAHIRI ASSOCIATE TAREK AND PROVIDED FACILITIES SHARED BY ALI AL-TIMIMI. AL-TIMIMI WAS COORDINATING WITH ANWAR AWLAKI, SUPERVISING THE FOUNDER OF THE EGYPTIAN ISLAMIC JIHAD, AND WAS COORDINATING WITH BIN LADEN’S SHEIK ON THE SUBJECT OF MOUSSAOUI’S DEFENSE.

      THE WITHHOLDING OF FBI DOCUMENTS BY NAS WOULD LATER BE OVERSEEN BY THE FORMER COLLECTIONS SCIENTIST (BANNAN) AT THE BACTERIOLOGY DIVISION AT ATCC, WHICH CO-SPONSORED AL-TIMIMI’S PROGRAM AND GRANTED HIM UNFETTERED ACCESS TO THE LARGEST MICROBIOLOGICAL REPOSITORY IN THE WORLD (AND INCLUDED SECRET PATENTS). SUCH ACCESS WAS PERMITTED EVEN THOUGH UPON 9/11 ALI-AL-TIMIMI WAS IMMEDIATELY DESCRIBED TO HIS BROTHER BY FBI AGENTS AS CONNECTED TO BIN LADEN’S NETWORK.

      JOHN EZZELL STOOD BY THE GUARDED ENTRANCE TO USAMRIID waiting for the FBI to arrive with the evidence, as he had so many times before during the anthrax scares. Ezzell and his team knew that this package, coming straight from Capitol Hill, would focus the eyes of the world on his Special Pathogens Sample Test Laboratory. He did not consider its danger until later, when he opened the envelope and out burst a spore powder so pure that it evaporated in midair.

      CLARIFICATION: BRUCE IVINS THOUGHT IT WAS AN INCREDIBLE COVER-UP THAT HE WAS NOT ALLOWED TO SWAB THE DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES DIVISION LAB AT THE SAME TIME HE SWABBED HIS LAB IN 2002. IT IS NOT SOUND TO ALLOW THE DECONTAMINATION OF THE BACTERIOLOGY LAB TO SERVE AS EVIDENCE WHEN THE LAB OF THE FBI SCIENTIST WOULD HAVE SHOWN THE SAME CONTAMINATION — AND MORE TO THE POINT THAT WAS WHERE A DRIED POWDER USING THE “MURDER WEAPON” WAS ACTUALLY MADE.

      Comment: If the NAS does not address whether these conflcts of interest were subject to a waiver (and adequate disclosure), then the NAS will have left its assigned task of determining whether there is a “taint” on the evidence undone.

      The good faith of the scientists will be presumed. Ayman Zawahiri is the bad guy — not these scientists. But they do have to comply with the rule of law — to include all document production laws.

  4. Old Atlantic said

    DOJ/FBI are saying they don’t have to follow the law on the NAS and disclosing public documents, etc. because they have a good reason. They are protecting national security.

    The reply to that is they have a bad reason, its to cover up that they adopted a theory of a lone preparer/mailer out of their own psychology of Richard Jewel type fixations. The science now doesn’t support it. The NAS is undermining the single preparer/mailer theory.

    The DOJ/FBI are not protecting national security, they are endangering it. They have adopted false scientific positions in order to pursue their idee fixe on lone nuts. This has become a lone nut witch hunt.

    In the meantime, the science is pointing to a group effort and this is what DOJ/FBI want to keep NAS from saying. Thus the DOJ/FBI motive for violating NAS law is not upholding national security its to undermine it.

    • DXer said

      No, that’s not what the DOJ/FBI is saying. The obligation to produce the documents falls as a legal matter on the NAS and NAS alone. It is the NAS that is the proper defendant in a suit for the violation of FACA.

      I do agree that national security is endangered by an incorrect result in Amerithrax just like it was endangered by the failure of intelligence relating to Samit’s application of a FISA warrant for Moussaoui’s laptop. (Moussaoui had a connection to Ibn Khattab which sufficed under existing standards for grant of the subpoena; but hindsight is 20/20). At the same time, the FBI detained Jdey but released them. While Moussaoui had cropdusting manuals, Jdey had biology texts. But as I said, the DOJ/FBI is not violating “NAS law.” NAS is violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act (“FACA”). I’ve briefed the NAS Director on the precedent but never heard back. Unless some non-profit is prepared to bring suit, then we will just have to wait.

      More broadly, though, folks inexperienced in forcing the production of documents should not focus on the 500 pages belatedly produced — the focus should be on the thousands of pages still being provably withheld. The withholding will be apparent when and if GAO obtains the database summary containing the abstracts of the batestamped numbers. Armed with that sort of documentary evidence, the issue of the FBI’s withholding can better be addressed.

  5. Old Atlantic said

    The law and facts are not separable. If the family is seen as guiltily trying to cover up their own culpability in not exposing the anthrax mailer, whom they must have known was guilty, they will get nothing.

    If the DOJ/FBI is seen as pursuing an irrational fixation on a single maker/mailer when the letter anthrax would require the actions of more than one person, then they are seen as
    guilty of a host of actions. DOJ/FBI is determined to paint Ivins as guilty and those around him as having ignored or covered up the signs.

    DOJ/FBI then pressure NAS and break the law to make that pressure more effective by keeping the documents from the public. If the documents were made public, if the public
    could comment, if the Nov 2010 report were published now, then the FBI could not control the NAS as effectively. That is why the law is as it is. The law is to prevent the DOJ/FBI doing things to people and then getting the NAS to provide cover in the court of public opinion.

    DOJ/FBI know that their only chance is to control public opinion. They show that by their actions to manipulate the NAS process against the statute. They are using NAS as an option contract and then pressuring it when it doesn’t go their way. They show their guilt by the methods they use with NAS, which is, after all, not guilty for the anthrax mailings or the investigation methods of DOJ/FBI.

    • DXer said

      Hey, I’m the guy pointing to the fact that Dr. Bannan was the collection scientist in the bacteriology division at ATCC, which co-sponsored ali Al-Timimi’s program. … and that Al-Timimi shared a suite with the leading Ames researchers who used a BL-3 lab at SRI to work with virulent Ames.

      So I agree facts are important.

      For example, it is important to know that the FBI anthrax scientist JE / his lab made a dried Ames aerosol out of the Ames supplied by Bruce Ivins from Flask 1029 — and then shot out the sample that Ivins submitted (which had all 4 morphs). Knowing facts is important to understanding whether a scientific argument is valid or whether the evidence is tainted.

      But you are mistaken in not appreciating that the NAS production of documents is purely a question statutory interpretation (settled under controlling precedent). No FBI contract with the NAS can supersede that obligation. To the extent the contract states otherwise, it is null and void and the NAS is still statutorily obligated to produce the documents now (except to the extent not yet declassified).

      • Old Atlantic said

        Suppose you are the attorney to release the documents. The DOJ/FBI joins as a party and they insist on a secret session with the judge that you and the NAS can’t join. There they tell the judge that national security requires keeping the documents secret.

        After the secret session, you are not even told what was said. DOJ asks for a ruling in its favor at that point. What do you say?

  6. Old Atlantic said

    In 2001, the USG decided without sufficient basis, that a single person had done the entire job of production and mailing. At that point it could not prove that a single person could have produced the anthrax.

    It then proceeded to find the person who came closest to this notion. Whatever person at the time was the closest, they treated as if guilty and then engaged in a coordinated sequence of actions to ruin them and to isolate them from the community and even their family. In Ivins case, the offers to family member(s) constitute such an act.

    Whoever was the individual of the moment, was subject to an onslaught of actions. This included running over a person’s foot, illegal searches as reported by many people, telling people they can’t talk to Ivins or they risk losing their job, etc.

    If the government tells person A, you can’t talk to person B or you you person A lose your job that is an extrajudicial action. If the government takes persons A_1,…,A_50 and tells them that if you person A_i talk to B you lose your job that is a coordinated action. If they start with B and then find everyone who knows B and tells them you lose your job or you get treated the same way if you have social relations to B, then its a coordinated sequence to isolate B from the community.

    That resulted in B committing suicide. This is a partially predictable as a consequence of social isolation. The government choosing B and pivoting on B to find all links to B and tell them they lose their job if they talk to B and face the same isolation treatment is an action. It has as a predictable outcome a chance of suicide.

    The government did this without proof that a single person could have done the anthrax production. It made that a requirement of the investigation without first proving it. It should have been an outcome of the investigation. It then applied systematic coordinated pressure to the single person who came closest at each time point that included having them shunned, imposing financial cost, etc.

    The actions against Hatfill show the same method. Hatfill was chosen as the single person who came closest in the government’s view at the time.

    The government is trying to get NAS to validate the theory that it was a single person. They are applying various pressures to NAS to keep documents secret, give them extra chances after the report is written, exclude the public, etc.

    Its all part of their decision in 2001 that they would pin this on a lone individual. That is the common basis if action from 2001 from Hatfill to Ivins to NAS.

    They now won’t admit that this root decision in 2001 was done without foundation. They won’t admit that because of this they hounded and ruined the lives of innocent men one after the other. Now they are using improper means to pressure NAS to validate their 2001 decision to pursue a single person.

    NAS’s report undermines the initial 2001 decision that a single person did it, and thus invalidates the entire sequence of actions by DOJ/FBI from 2001 to the present. This includes obstructing Congress. It includes all sorts of pressure.

    Pressure applied to government employees to go along with this including DOJ/FBI employees is also part of this sequence. That pressure then is applied through them as a mechanism to Hatfill, Ivins, NAS, and others.

    • Old Atlantic said

      Suppose the DOJ decided the federal deficit must be the fault of one person. So they pick Bill Gates and run over his foot and tell everyone who ever met him not to do deals with him. Then after they get through with Gates, they decide Buffet is the lone deficit causer. They continue this until they get to people taking unemployment benefits.

      The courts can then go back to the top person at DOJ who decided that a single person was responsible for the deficit and did all these things to one person after another to make them pay for the deficit and say this whole sequence is an abuse of power that is not allowed under the Constitution and that all the things done were prohibited and illegal.

      This includes bringing pressure on an accounting group to certify that the deficit is the result of one person’s actions.

      • Old Atlantic said

        By their actions, DOJ/FBI have shown this is exactly how they think of this sequence of actions by them. They think this is why they had to pay Hatfill. This is why they are breaking the law in regards to the NAS in concealing documents and having an extended period to give more documents after the report is done and still without the public having any chance to see the current report.

        If the report is changed in the DOJ/FBI favor, then even though the Nov 2010 is published, the DOJ/FBI still have the new report to point to as final. So the public impact of the Nov 2010 will be much lower.

        This is their motive. This is their consciousness of guilt. They know what they did and they know the law. Based on that they break the law. That law breaking is then illegal. It also shows that their whole sequence is one giant illegal and unconstitutional abuse of power. Its the same as Watergate in that sense.

        Abuse of power is unitary when its a set of coordinated actions to abuse power and then intimidate those whose job it is to expose it. NAS’s job is to partly expose the basis of the DOJ/FBI sequence of actions. That then leads to the public’s view that the Ivins suicide was a result of an abuse of power and of an irrational fixation on a single maker/mailer theory.

        When DOJ/FBI break the law in order to control public opinion, that is abuse of power. That is what Nixon did in part.
        Breaking the law to control what the public knows about a sequence of acts that include everything done to Hatfill, and Ivins and others undermines the public’s ability to exercise their votes and that of Congress. It undermines democracy and nullifies it. That is against the Constitution. So is every part of it. Its a conspiracy to control public opinion with illegal acts. That is a violation of the Constitution, and each person harmed by it has a right to restitution for the damage done to them as part of this coordinated sequence of abuse of power to control public information and thus to limit and undermine the democratic process.

        The ones who know it are the ones who show it, DOJ/FBI by their actions towards NAS and many others as well.

      • DXer said

        Old Atlantic,

        The profiler from Quantico, Fitz, wrote a profile. It was just a profile. I personally don’t think it was a good profile or informed by what should have been known by someone in his position and doing that work. But, no, he is not responsible for the result in Amerithrax — he is only responsible for the profile which was just a profile. Harry Samit referred to the “quacks” at Quantico, illustrating that field agents conduct investigations based on the evidence rather than a profile.

        As for why “they think they had to pay Hatfill,” given that they have top lawyers working for them, they know exactly why the had to pay Hatfill. Violation of the Privacy Act. Leaks. So don’t be too quick to fault them for great care in disclosures. They are regularly damned if they do and damned if they don’t. It’s not easy to chart a course navigates all the reefs.

        On the question of documents, the relevant question is not the reason the have not produced them or they are sought. The issue is purely a legal question involving the interpretation of the statute as governmed by controlling precedent in the District of Court Columbia of Appeals. Your thinking that such a purely legal question instead of involves a “sequence of actions” or what “[t]hey think” or “their motive” seriously misconceives the issue and undermines the argument in support of their production. The entire point of the rule of law is so that people who don’t share your worldview can arrive at the same correct answer on the rule that applies. Here, the rule requires the NAS to provide the documents in a timely manner so that participation can be meaningful (by being informed by the documents available from the agency). The NAS panel did not even have an aerosol expert on the panel — the DOD urged that they allow an aerosol expert to testify but they declined.

        • Old Atlantic said

          Which view do you think informs DOJ/FBI in its interaction with the NAS? Are DOJ/FBI looking at the case decisions you refer to, or have they seen the NAS report and realizes it undermines the likelihood of the lone nut theory they have pursued since the fall of 2001?

    • DXer said

      Old Atlantic, writes: “In Ivins case, the offers to family member(s) constitute such an act.” Paul Kemp reports that Andy denied that any offer of a sports car was made. The reward is $2.5 million. No other offers were reported. Instead, the suggestion was that horrible things were said to Diane and Amanda — in public settings no less. Attorney Kemp, however, defends the professionalism of the FBI agents and AUSAs (and notes that there may have been deception on a single occasion).

      As I best recall, he seemed to suggest that a Postal Inspector was the source of early August 2008 leaks. But the video is the best record of what he said on the issue.

    • Msneuropil said

      Has anyone figured out an estimate of the cost of a project such as the 2001 mailing? I assume that if it took 26 gals of liguid culture, it took a lot of other supplies to get it to a dried form. Where’s the bookkeepers? Lord knows when I worked at a hospital everything we used was bar coded and scanned before using or dispensing.

      Any ideas on the cost of say one crop dusting terrorism flight if Moussaui had been successful.

      How much dried anthrax would be needed for such a crop dusting flight even assuming it would be “cut” with some type of powder for dispersal.

      How long would it take to produce enough dried anthrax for a crop dusting flight? IF it would have taken Ivins a year to produce amount needed for those letters…can we assume that it would take AT least a year or more even with mass production?

      Sometimes following the money cracks the case.

      Obviously…the terrorists have considered the cost of such an operation as Moussaui planned. They have a will, and they certainly thought they had a way.

      • BugMaster said

        You can follow the money, but one has to be careful these days when making assumptions as to what what resources were needed to have been able to commit this crime.

        Google, Ebay, and Amazon.com. Quite a bit of time and planning. Not as much money as one would initially suspect.

        Oh, and access to the Ames strain, originally derived from flask RMR-1029.

      • Msneuropil said

        In my mind I would like to know that it is cost prohibited for someone outside of a lab with all the equipment available to produce anthrax in the future??

        In other words…is it impossible for home grown terrorist or even foreign ones to produce anthrax in enough quantity to cause significant disruption to a large community?

        Without access to lab equipment…is it possible for a crime like this?

        I’m saying no…but am I wrong?

        • DXer said

          Many would reason that access and an attack is more likely — not less likely — given the proliferation of labs. See, e.g., Martin Hugh-Jones’ comments and Richard Ebright’s learned comments on the proliferation of labs and researchers.

          http://www.economist.com/node/17849189?story_id=17849189&fsrc=rss

          A bug’s life
          How safe are health laboratories in developing countries?

          Bioterror, Africa and security

          Jan 6th 2011 | LONDON AND NAIROBI | from PRINT EDITION

          Prevention is better than cure
          AFRICA is home to the world’s nastiest diseases, such as the Ebola and Marburg viruses, and to laboratories that study them. Could that be a tempting target for terrorists? Late last year Senator Richard Lugar and a team of Pentagon arms-control experts visited Burundi, Uganda and Kenya. What they found prompted alarm, and calls for big spending on lab security.

          For example, a Kenyan research lab housing anthrax, Ebola and Marburg backs onto a slum and has low, easily scaled cement walls.

        • DXer said

          Homeland Security’s head of biosecurity says we should start thinking very seriously about what we would actually do the day after an attack by Al Qaeda with anthrax.

          NTI: Global Security Newswire – Federal Government Must Focus More ..
          .
          Jun 10, 2010… we do have to start thinking very seriously about what we would actually do the day after an attack,” Tara O’Toole, the department’s …
          http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100610_4195.php

        • BugMaster said

          It’s easier today than in 2001. Once again, think Google, Ebay, and Amazon, all have grown since in subject matter covered and a wide range of dual-use materials offered for sale.

          Also, locating the seed spores is no longer a problem (locations have been published).

          I wouldn’t say $2500. $1000 should be more than enough.

          Of course, we can all rest easy seeing how the FBI bought the last anthrax investigation to a swift, concise, and decisive end, in a professional manner that sends a clear message to any future bioterrorists.

  7. Old Atlantic said

    The DOJ/FBI only went to NAS after Ivins committed suicide. They had taken his job and security clearance. These were extra-judicial actions.

    They had signaled to him that he would have expenses larger than he could pay from their ongoing extra-judicial actions for the rest of his life. Based on that information, he committed suicide.

    Then DOJ/FBI went to NAS to get cover for their series of extra judicial actions that meant Ivins faced financial ruin from their ongoing extra judicial actions.

    This means it is not just statutes that apply but the Constitution. The public and Ivins’ heirs have a right to scrutinize the extra judicial actions that ruined Ivins financially and presented him with ongoing financial ruin that would spread to his family.

    DOJ/FBI have a motive for secrecy in dealing with NAS. They want an option. If NAS says they were right in their extra-judicial actions against Ivins, then they want a public report. If not they want to keep the documents and report secret or delay the discovery to the public.

    The statute does not give agencies an option. It doesn’t say, take executive action and if it runs into trouble, go to the NAS to get a blessing for what you did, but if they won’t bless it, then keep the report secret and all the documents and don’t let the public into comment on the ongoing process.

    This is the context to interpret the statute. That is informed by the Constitution which does not want people subject to an ongoing series of extra-judicial action to convince them they face a financial ruin to spread to their family and have to commit suicide as the only way out for the family finances. The Constitution also wants the public to be able to watch in public actions that deprive a person of property and income to the point of giving them a choice of bankruptcy for their family or suicide.

    • DXer said

      December 12, 2010 at 3:40 pm
      The DOJ/FBI only went to NAS after Ivins committed suicide. They had taken his job and security clearance. These were extra-judicial actions.

      Comment: I’m not sure what you mean by extra-judicial. Everything followed procedure. With threats of violence, he certainly was justifiably barred from base on an emergency basis. If you read his emails, though, and put yourself in his shoes, a lot of people would have acted in the exact same way as he did. USAMRIID was preventing his lawyer even from interviewing his colleagues on non-proprietary matters.

      “They had signaled to him that he would have expenses larger than he could pay from their ongoing extra-judicial actions for the rest of his life. Based on that information, he committed suicide.”

      Well, it is true that he was cashing in EE savings bonds, had already laid out $70,000, and envisioned having to be a Walmart greeter. But I don’t think the word “extra-judicial” really serves if you mean that barring him from the base was wrong. And certainly prosecutors are not required to concern themselves with an accused’s need to arrange for counsel. There came a point he needed to be barred from the base because of his rage. An organization, moreover, will understandably try to shield at least managerial agents from interviews by lawyers (who typically cause trouble, take action that lead to legal liability etc.) The need is especially acute if the command had allowed a dried Ames to be made and then denied it to the American public.

      But I do agree with you that he had reason to be very distraught and commit suicide — totally apart from his guilt or innocence. In fact, it would be even more hurtful if you were innocent. I would think if you were guilty, it is a simple matter to flee. It is a very very simple matter to go to Mexico and spend your retirement drinking coronas on a beach. Defending yourself from these false charges — when there is no evidence against you — just contrived bullshit argument that you were one of up to 377 at Ft. Detrick alone — would be devastating. To have your superior tell all your friends not to talk to you? Wouldn’t you be depressed? To have the fact that they threw out your sample and did acrobats to contrive on how that fact should be used as evidence against you? To have the fact that you worked overtime in Fall 2001 (including November and December ) and didn’t after the two person rule was enacted? That’s all such ridiculousness. For the US Attorney Taylor to suggest it was sold uniquely at his post office rather than throughout Maryland and Virgina is a moral outrage.

      “Then DOJ/FBI went to NAS to get cover for their series of extra judicial actions that meant Ivins faced financial ruin from their ongoing extra judicial actions.”

      He could have retired. He could have defended himself in court with public defenders. I think it was the sense of emotional betrayal he felt from Pat, Mara and the federal undercover agents that just hurt him to the core. I feel very bad for him. But I think the FBI’s real fault lies in arranging for the NAS to withhold documents for 2 years. Their bullshit would not have survived scrutiny had the documents been produced. For example, the photocopy toner examination actually EXCLUDES the photocopier they claim he used (in a footnote).

      “This means it is not just statutes that apply but the Constitution.”

      There is no constitutional right to a security clearance. There is no constitutional right to access to a BL-3 lab. There is no constitutional right to access to the base. He was not fired. So I don’t see why you think the Constitution is invoked. all indications are that he was in a rage and that the base leadership needed to take action to safeguard whoever Ivins was really, really angry towards.

      “The public and Ivins’ heirs have a right to scrutinize the extra judicial actions that ruined Ivins financially and presented him with ongoing financial ruin that would spread to his family.”

      Why not blame lawyers who charge $70,000 instead? The FBI was tasked with leaving no stone unturned. The undercover operation was not improper. What is it about how they conducted themselves do you think was improper? Moving in next doors? I can’t think of anything. Just because their analysis was mistaken does not suddenly make them villains. In the case of the NAS, it just makes NAS in violation of the federal statute and not worthy of funding if it is not going to comply with FACA. Don’t blame the FBI. Blame the NAS. With the documents, we’ll be able to explain to the FBI the nature of their mistake(s). It will be far easier to be persuasive if we pay them respect and recognize that this was a very difficult investigation. It was especially difficult if they were acting within three compartmentalized squads.

      “DOJ/FBI have a motive for secrecy in dealing with NAS. They want an option. If NAS says they were right in their extra-judicial actions against Ivins, then they want a public report. If not they want to keep the documents and report secret or delay the discovery to the public.”

      I don’t think people realize how totally irrelevant the science is to a theory against Ivins. The genetics only narrowed things from 1000 to up to 377 — and that’s just at USAMRIID alone! So it’s a big deal over nothing. If they had been forthright that the FBI anthrax expert had made a powder that was better than Daschle and used a corona plasma discharge, then 10 years ago meaningful scientific investigation could have been done instead of the CYA one that was done … all intended to protect the FBI scientists who had very extreme conflicts of interests.

      “The statute does not give agencies an option. It doesn’t say, take executive action and if it runs into trouble, go to the NAS to get a blessing for what you did, but if they won’t bless it, then keep the report secret and all the documents and don’t let the public into comment on the ongoing process.

      This is the context to interpret the statute. That is informed by the Constitution which does not want people subject to an ongoing series of extra-judicial action to convince them they face a financial ruin to spread to their family and have to commit suicide as the only way out for the family finances. The Constitution also wants the public to be able to watch in public actions that deprive a person of property and income to the point of giving them a choice of bankruptcy for their family or suicide.”

      On issues of document production, there is never a need to consider the broader context or the motive of the requestor. The statutory disclosure obligation — as interpreted by the recent controlling District of Columbia Court of Appeals decisions — applies regardless of considerations of such things as “extra-judicial” actions or the guilt or innocence of Dr. Ivins.

      It relates to the public policy favoring Government in the Sunshine. So we basically agree but government in the sunshine is the law of the land even crediting that the USG did nothing wrong (other than violate the document disclosure law).

      • DXer said

        And as for the NAS, it is not a matter of trusting the NAS or not (notwithstanding Lew’s unfortunate headline) — it is a matter of advising them that they are in violation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act and that the District of Columbia has held that the remedy is preliminary and permanent injunctive relief. If such an order is entered next year, whoever made the decision to withhold the documents will in hindsight realize she made a big mistake.

      • Old Atlantic said

        A causal sequence is not an aggregation. The entire
        sequence is an act. This act is analyzable under
        statutes and the Constitution.

        The sequence starts from 2001 and goes up to the present. DOJ/FBI understand that. This is their motive in secrecy with NAS. Their motive is the entire sequence from 2001 to 2010 as an act. That includes identifying the flask, the actions against Ivins, their actions with the NAS prior to the Nov 2010 report and their actions with NAS since. That entire sequence as an act is cognizable under statues and the Constitution and its cognizable as not allowed under both. (This is why they paid a settlement to Hatfill.)

        • DXer said

          What specific provision of the Constitution do you think was violated?

          Do you think he was deprived of some property right without due process? If so, what vested property right?

          Who do you think has standing to bring such a claim? Can you cite any precedent? Why do you think such a claim survived his death?

          The USG conducted the November 2007 search pursuant to a judicially authorized warrant and thus there was no violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures.

          I have no idea as to the nature of the constitutional theory you imagine but have not researched it. I’ve always wondered, in contrast, whether the First Amendment rights of his supporters who happen to still be employed by the federal government are violated by continuing gag orders. Those individuals, I think, have an action under Section 1983 for violation of his First Amendment.

          Is it your suggestion that a Section 1983 action Dr. Ivins might survive his death? If so, do you have any precedent to cite or do you just think it would be nice. Charles, Bruce’s brother, tells me he would certainly want Diane to be able to pursue any claim that might lead to a recovery. But wishing it so does not make such a claim viable. The government and press have led Charles to believe that Flask 1029 was kept under lock and key and that only he had access. Ha!

        • DXer said

          The FBI is damned if they do and damned if they don’t. It’s time to appreciate that they have a tough and thankless job.

          Moreover, if your lawyer can’t text you the answers to the open book exam (as was done for the head of the FBI DC Field Office head of Amerithrax — with that being protected attorney-client privilege — then our FBI agents are going to have to be wasting their time learning the rules that apply instead of catching the bad guys who pulled a college prank a quarter-century ago.

          Statutes relating to document production are to be safely ignored so long as the Washington Post will feature you striking a cool, manly pose.

  8. DXer said

    Let’s turn to MICROBIAL FORENSICS, 2d ed. (Sept. 30, 2010) starting with the issue of identification of morphological variants.

    The anthrax mail investigation, one of the most intense and expansive investigations to date by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Postal Service (http://www.fbi.gov/anthrax/amerithraxlinks. htm), is now considered closed yet provides lessons learned on what should be done in microbial forensics to support an investigation and equally important what should be avoided. (p.xx)

    Morphological variation was observed among colonies grown from spores found in the anthrax letters early in 2002. Handling and culturing of these spores were carried out at USAMRIID by experienced microbiologists. It was fortuitous that these staff members were very experienced at spotting and
    characterizing morphological variants of B. anthracis colonies. As the spores were being cultured, they observed morphological variants similar to what had been characterized previously at USAMRIID (18). The color of the colonies differed from the gray/white appearance of the wild-type Ames strain
    toward yellow and yellow/gray. Some variant colonies also had a more spreading and flat morphology than the wild-type Ames, with concentric rings of growth. In another variant, the colonies were more opaque and shiny, with a very compact shape. Perhaps most importantly was that these variants exhibited
    altered sporulation phenotypes. All of the anthrax-letter variants studied were poorly sporogenic when compared to the wild-type Ames ancestor. This characteristic is referred to as an oligosporogenic phenotype, which has secondary effects upon other phenotypes, including colony morphology (18). In
    all, four morphological variants were purified, studied extensively, and used investigatively to eliminate potential sources of the letter spores (Figure 2.3).

    Morphological variation was observed among colonies grown from spores found in the anthrax letters early in 2002. Handling and culturing of these spores were carried out at USAMRIID by experienced microbiologists. It was fortuitous that these staff members were very experienced at spotting and
    characterizing morphological variants of B. anthracis colonies. As the spores were being cultured, they observed morphological variants similar to what had been characterized previously at USAMRIID (18). The color of the colonies differed from the gray/white appearance of the wild-type Ames strain
    toward yellow and yellow/gray. Some variant colonies also had a more spreading and flat morphology than the wild-type Ames, with concentric rings of growth. In another variant, the colonies were more opaque and shiny, with a very compact shape. Perhaps most importantly was that these variants exhibited
    altered sporulation phenotypes. All of the anthrax-letter variants studied were poorly sporogenic when compared to the wild-type Ames ancestor. This characteristic is referred to as an oligosporogenic phenotype, which has secondary effects upon other phenotypes, including colony morphology (18). In
    all, four morphological variants were purified, studied extensively, and used investigatively to eliminate potential sources of the letter spores (Figure 2.3). (pp. 21-22)

    Comment:

    In this discussion of MORHOLOGICAL VARIANTS on pp. 21-22, the treatise does not identify the USAMRIID experienced microbiologists who handled and cultured the spores. The staff members were very experienced at spotting and characterizing morphological variants of B. anthracis colonies. As described in a Washington Post article, John Ezzell’s assistant, Terry Abshire, played the key role. Now if the NAS had complied with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (“FACA”), it could have been pointed out that John and Terry were thanked by the DARPA researchers who had asked John’s lab to make a dried powdered anthrax out of the anthrax supplied by Bruce Ivins — from Flask 1029, which the US Attorney has described as the “murder weapon.” Under standard scientific principles, doesn’t this constitute a disqualifying taint on the evidence notwithstanding their good faith and undisputed expertise?

    • DXer said

      Dr. Fenselau was working on the contract for DARPA involving testing the effect of a sonicator and corona plasma discharge on the Ames spores from Flask 1029 — which had been rendered into a dried powder by FBI anthrax John Ezzell.

      Now, as a nonscientist, I have to ask: does it constitute a “taint” on the evidence — notwithstanding her good faith and expertise — to have been working with the murder weapon in a dried powder form in her mass spec work (prior to 9/11)?

      Dr. Velsko writes:

      Presence of Agar in Spore Preparations

      Another topic of interest early in the investigation was whether the
      Amerithrax spore preparations were grown on agar plates rather than in liquid
      culture. This information might aid an investigation by indicating that certain
      resources and specific training on agent preparation methods were available
      to the perpetrator. The effort focused primarily on the idea that when harvesting
      spores grown on agar plates, agar itself can be entrained into the samples.
      Initially Fenselau (17) developed an assay that uses liquid phase extraction
      and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to identify trace quantities
      of 3,6-anhydrogalactose (AGal). This method is based on the observation
      that AGal is a characteristic component of agar and thus is expected to
      be a chemical signature indicating the presence of residual agar in a spore
      preparation. There are several versions of this analytical method reported in
      the literature (18–20). Each version uses a chemical extraction procedure that
      converts the AGal into a unique stable derivative that can be detected using
      GC-MS instrumentation. The protocol was shown to be nearly quantitative
      when applied to agar standards (17).

      Subsequently, Wunschel and colleagues (21) found that spores grown in
      broth (where AGal is initially absent) yielded detectable amounts of AGal
      when subjected to the Fenselau protocol, leading to false-positive detections.
      Therefore, they developed an alternative analysis method that permitted them
      to avoid this problem and detected the AGal marker readily, despite its partial
      destruction during hydrolysis. An analysis of a wide range of spore preparations
      provided preliminary validation that this new protocol could be used to
      identify agar-grown spores with high detection probability and low false-positive
      probability.

      Note, however, that strictly speaking, the analysis does not directly answer
      the question “Was the agent grown on agar medium?” Drawing this inference
      from detection of AGal in an agent sample would be incorrect, for example,
      if agar were added deliberately to the agent after it had been grown in

    • DXer said

      Trail of Odd Anthrax Cells Led FBI to Army Scientist

      By Joby Warrick
      Washington Post Staff Writer
      Monday, October 27, 2008

      In late October 2001, lab technician Terry Abshire placed a tray of anthrax cells under a microscope and spotted something so peculiar she had to look twice. It was two weeks after the country’s worst bioterrorism attack, and Abshire, like others at the Army’s Fort Detrick biodefense lab, was caught up in a frenzied search for clues that could help lead to the culprit. Down the hall, Bruce E. Ivins, the respected vaccine specialist, was looking, too.

      Abshire focused her lens on a moldlike clump. Anthrax bacteria were growing here, but some of the cells were odd: strange shapes, strange textures, strange colors. These were mutants, or “morphs,” genetic deviants scattered among the ordinary anthrax cells like chocolate chips in a cookie batter.

      Unknowingly, Abshire had discovered a key to solving the anthrax case. But it would take nearly six years to develop the technology to allow FBI investigators to use it.

      Ultimately the evolving science led investigators to Ivins and a strikingly original collection of anthrax spores that became the focus of the FBI’s probe. In a series of interviews over the past month, FBI agents and scientists described, in ways that the bureau has not previously revealed, how the pieces of the forensic puzzle came together — often in Ivins’s very shadow — and how they eventually concluded that the eccentric vaccine specialist was the culprit.

      Ivins, the FBI discovered, had spent more than a year perfecting what agents called his “ultimate creation” — his signature blend of highly lethal anthrax spores — and guarded it so carefully that his lab assistants did not know where he kept it. When the FBI later asked Ivins for anthrax spores from his lab, he deliberately bypassed his prize spore collection, agents said, and gave them a false sample.

      Ivins’s talents also helped give him away, they said. Exceptionally pure concentrations of anthrax spores were Ivins’s trademark and placed him in an exclusive class. In the end, the FBI concluded, he was the only one with access to the deadly spores who also possessed the skills and equipment needed to create the extraordinarily powerful bioweapon that was mailed to U.S. Senate offices and news organizations in the fall of 2001.

      “He wasn’t an expert. He was the expert,” said a senior FBI investigator, who answered questions about the still-open case on the condition of anonymity.

      Yet the forensic search that started in the glare of Abshire’s microscope turned out to be far more arduous and costly than anyone could have predicted. Conducted almost entirely out of the public eye, it was a journey that required use of techniques that had never been tried in a criminal investigation. Some of the technology needed to solve the case had not been invented. And the FBI’s top science advisers were warning that the effort would fail.

      “We were looking for a needle in a haystack,” said Scott Decker, a geneticist who became the FBI’s science team leader, “and no one knew if there was even a needle there.”

      Many outside experts and some lawmakers dismiss the government’s case against Ivins as circumstantial, while Ivins’s former colleagues and friends argue that he was incapable, technically and constitutionally, of committing an act of mass murder. “Bruce Ivins was a victim of a vicious plot,” said Ayaad Assaad, a toxicologist who once worked with Ivins at Fort Detrick, in Maryland.

      The questions have prompted an independent review of the FBI’s forensic case by a panel of the National Academy of Sciences. In an Oct. 16 letter to the academy, Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.), a member of the House intelligence committee, asked the panel to investigate whether the bureau’s scientific discoveries were “inconsistent with the FBI’s conclusions.”

      The FBI defends its case against Ivins as well as the seven years it took to solve the crime — an unavoidable delay, officials say, given that the bureau had to invent an entirely new investigative field, microbial forensics, to accomplish it. Investigators say more evidence will be revealed in the coming weeks, some of it in peer-reviewed scientific journals and the rest in documents that will shed new light on Ivins himself. “A lot of [the investigators] probably know Dr. Bruce Ivins better than his own family,” the senior investigator said.

      Comment: The FBI investigator said of Ivins: “He wasn’t an expert. He was the expert.”

      This is all such nonsense. The FBI knew that its own FBI anthrax expert had made a dried powdered aerosol using Ames from Flask 1029 — whereas it had NO information that Dr. Ivins had. The FBI experts shot out Ivins’ sample and then tried to construe that as part of the evidence of Ivins’ guilt. The spin by these same FBI experts and investigators — and their failure to disclose that its expert made a dried powdered aerosol that was BETTER than the Daschle product — is an absolute travesty of justice. Instead of posing for the camera, they should produce the documents that they and the NAS have been wrongfully withholding in violation of the rule of law. Controlled experiments can show whether a corona plasma discharge – such as used in the DARPA experiments — resulted in a unipolar charge being imparted on the dried powdered aerosol particle.

      These access-hungry reporters should start doing their job and leave the X-File poses until after the FBI has proved its case and complied with document disclosure requirements.

      Photo:
      Jason D. Bannan, left, supervisory special agent Scott Decker and supervisory special agent Matthew Feinberg took part in the FBI’s anthrax probe.

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