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

Archive for February 15th, 2011

* Congressman Holt reintroduces Anthrax Commission bill … we cheer !!!

Posted by DXer on February 15, 2011

a video of Lew’s recent interview is now available at …

** NEW ** Lew’s interview 2-7-11 … mostly about the anthrax case

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Congressman Rush Holt may be Dr. Bruce Ivins only chance at posthumous redemption

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see … http://holt.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=765&Itemid=18

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Congressman Holt said …

“Too many questions remain about the anthrax attacks and the government’s bungled response to the attacks. A high level commission, like the 9/11 Commission, would be a start-to-finish examination of the many outstanding questions, and it would help American families know that the government is prepared to protect them and their children from future bioterrorism attacks.”

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The purposes of the Anthrax Commission are to …

(1) examine and report upon the facts and causes relating to the anthrax letter attacks of September and October 2001;

(2) ascertain, evaluate, and report on the evidence developed by all relevant governmental agencies regarding the facts and circumstances surrounding the attacks;

(3) determine whether all credible leads and information regarding the potential perpetrator of the attacks were pursued with due diligence by Federal investigators;

(4) ascertain the full range of individuals who could have had access to the type of anthrax used in the attacks, and determine the full extent to which all such individuals were thoroughly investigated for any potential involvement in the attacks;

(5) make a full and complete accounting of the circumstances surrounding the attacks, and the extent of the Federal Governments’ preparedness for, and immediate response to, the attacks; and

(6) investigate and report to the President and Congress on its findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures that can be taken to prevent and respond to acts of bioterrorism.

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LMW COMMENT …

We applaud Congressman Holt, and will do everything possible to support his effort to get to the bottom of the anthrax case and the FBI’s so utterly flawed investigation.

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CASE CLOSED is a novel about the FBI’s failed investigation

of the 2001 anthrax attacks

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read the opening scene of CASE CLOSED …

* CASE CLOSED – opening scene … the DIA re-investigates the FBI’s failed case

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* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

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* FBI and Justice Department Response to NAS Review: it was not the science alone but the totality of the investigative process that led to the identification of Dr. Bruce Ivins as the sole perpetrator … * LMW: which part of the “totality of the investigative process” was that? was it the absence of any physical evidence? or perhaps the lack of a single witness to anything? or maybe the impossibility of the FBI’s alleged timeline? … Congressman Holt, please keep pushing … there’s a terrible secret at the end of this trail

Posted by DXer on February 15, 2011

NOTE: a video of Lew’s recent interview is now available at …

** NEW ** Lew’s interview 2-7-11 … mostly about the anthrax case

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Congressman Rush Holt seems to be the only one who can give Dr. Bruce Ivins a chance at posthumous redemption

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from the FBI web site … FBI and Justice Department Response to NAS Review

  • Ultimately, the late Dr. Bruce Ivins was determined to be the perpetrator of the deadly mailings. The FBI and Department of Justice were preparing for prosecution at the time of Dr. Ivins’ death.
  • The investigation necessarily moved at a rapid pace, proceeding on two parallel fronts: a traditional investigation, involving tracking leads and conducting interviews, and a scientific one, led by the FBI Lab and included scientists from outside of law enforcement.
  • From the outset, the scientific and traditional investigations were mutually reinforcing. Each helped guide and direct the other.

The FBI has long maintained that

while science played a significant role,

it was the totality of the investigative process

that determined the outcome of the anthrax case.

  • The scientific findings in this case provided investigators with valuable investigative leads that led to the identification of the late Dr. Bruce Ivins as the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks.
  • “Over the course of the investigation,
    • the FBI and the Postal Inspection Service devoted 600,000 investigator work hours to the case
    • and assigned 17 special agents to a task force, along with 10 U.S. Postal Inspectors.
    • The investigation spanned six continents;
    • involved over 10,000 witness interviews, 80 searches, 26,000 e-mail reviews, and analyses of 4 million megabytes of computer memory;
    • and resulted in the issuance of 5,750 grand jury subpoenas.
    • Additionally, 29 government, university, and commercial laboratories assisted in conducting the scientific analyses that were an important aspect of the investigation.
  • “The FBI and Justice Department investigative summary of evidence developed in the ‘Amerithrax’ investigation and numerous attachments are accessible to the public and were posted last year to the Justice Department website at www.justice.gov/amerithrax under the Freedom of Information Act. In addition, roughly 2,700 pages of FBI documents related to the Amerithrax case are accessible to the public and were posted last year to the FBI website athttp://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex/amerithrax.htm under the Freedom of Information Act.”

read the entire statement at …

http://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-and-justice-department-response-to-nas-review-of-scientific-approaches-used-during-the-investigation-of-the-2001-anthrax-letters

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LMW COMMENT …

  • Which part of the totality of the investigative process was was it that pointed to Dr. Ivins?
    • Was it the absence of any physical evidence?
    • Was it the absence of any witnesses?
    • Was it the impossibility of several aspects of the timeline?
  • It’s really time for the FBI to admit its case doesn’t hold water. Either they have no idea who did this heinous crime or they do but won’t tell us. Either way it’s a travesty.
  • Congressman Holt … please keep pushing. There’s a terrible secret at the end of this trail.

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As regular readers of this blog well know, 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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* comments during the NAS press conference and in the media … the science does not support the FBI’s case that Dr. Ivins was the sole perpetrator (or even involved) in the anthrax mailings

Posted by DXer on February 15, 2011

a video of Lew’s recent interview is now available at …

** NEW ** Lew’s interview 2-7-11 … mostly about the anthrax case

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was Dr. Bruce Ivins driven to suicide?

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see these recent DXer posts based on the NAS report…

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comments made during the press conference

DR. GAST … “any statements which rely solely on the science for definitive conclusions (ie, as to the guilt or innocence of Dr. Ivins) cannot be made.”

DR. GAST …  ”we asked repeatedly for a written summary of conclusions by the FBI, which we  did not receive”

DR. RELMAN … “we don’t have all the information we would like”

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early reporting in the media

New York Times (Scott Shane) … ”Review Faults FBI’s Scientific Work in Anthrax Investigation” … http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/16/us/16anthrax.html?_r=1&ref=us … A review of the F.B.I.’s scientific work on the investigation into the anthrax letters of 2001 concludes that the bureau overstated the strength of genetic analysis linking the mailed anthrax to a supply kept by Dr. Bruce E. Ivins, the late Armymicrobiologist whom the investigators blamed for the attacks.F.B.I.A review of the

CNN (Carol Cratty) … “Scientists find no answer to Anthrax Mystery” …  http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/02/15/anthrax.source/index.html?iref=allsearch … Using the available scientific evidence, “it is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion” about the source of the anthrax used in the 2001 anthrax letter attacks which killed five people, according to a report issued Tuesday by the National Academy of Sciences.

NPR (Joe Palca) … ”FBI Faulted For Overstating Science in Anthrax Case” … http://www.npr.org/2011/02/15/133775495/fbi-faulted-for-overstating-science-in-anthrax-case … A group of independent scientists convened by the National Academies of Sciences has concluded in a report released Tuesday that scientific evidence alone is not enough to prove that Bruce Ivins was the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks that killed five people in 2001.

Science Insider (Yudhijit Bhattacharjee) … Study Questions Government Case on Anthrax Attacks … http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/ … The science behind the U.S. government’s investigation into the 2001 anthrax mailings does not rule out the possibility that the spores used in the attacks came from a source other than the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Frederick, Maryland.

Washington Post (Jerry Markon) … Anthrax report casts doubt on scientific evidence in FBI case against Bruce Ivins … http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/15/AR2011021502251.html?hpid=topnews … The National Research Council, in a report issued Tuesday (read the 39-page summary), questioned the link between a flask of anthrax bacteria in Ivins’s lab at Fort Detrick, Md., and the anthrax-infested letters that killed five people and sickened 17 others.

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LMW COMMENT …

  • does anyone now believe the FBI’s case? This is too important to allow the FBI case to stand!
  • We must support Congressman Holt’s efforts to re-investigate this entire matter
  • like I had the DIA do in my novel (see below)

the opening scene of Lew Weinstein’s novel

CASE CLOSED …

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* NAS: Scientific data could not rule out other sources

Posted by DXer on February 15, 2011

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* NAS: cannot conclude that FBI’s approach on identification of labs with Ames strain was comprehensive

Posted by DXer on February 15, 2011

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* NAS weighs in on April 2002 submission of slants by someone from Ivins’ lab

Posted by DXer on February 15, 2011

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* NAS: FBI believes positive finding in hijacker remains from Flight 93 was due to laboratory contamination

Posted by DXer on February 15, 2011

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* Washington Post … Anthrax report casts doubt on scientific evidence in FBI case against Bruce Ivins

Posted by DXer on February 15, 2011

a video of Lew’s recent interview is now available at …

** NEW ** Lew’s interview 2-7-11 … mostly about the anthrax case

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Dr. Bruce Ivins

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Anthrax report casts doubt on scientific evidence

in FBI case against Bruce Ivins

By Jerry Markon, Washington Post Staff Writer, Tuesday, February 15, 2011; 11:19 AM

  • A panel of prominent scientists is casting new doubt on scientific evidence that was a key part of the FBI’s case against Bruce E. Ivins, the deceased Army scientist accused of carrying out the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks.
  • The National Research Council, in a report issued Tuesday, questioned the link between a flask of anthrax bacteria in Ivins’s lab at Fort Detrick, Md., and the anthrax-infested letters that killed five people and sickened 17 others.
  • “The scientific link between the letter material and flask number RMR-1029 is not as conclusive as stated in the DOJ Investigative Summary,” said the $1.1 million report by the council, which was commissioned by the FBI. The report, while praising the FBI’s energetic pursuit of emerging science in the investigation, offered another possible explanation for the apparent link between the letters and the Ivins flask and said it “was not rigorously explored.”
  • The 190-page document by the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences also said the FBI’s scientific methods in collecting samples of the strain of anthrax used in the attacks were “not optimal,” and it said the authors could not verify the government’s contention that only Ivins and a select group of scientists possessed the required expertise to prepare the spore-laden letters.

“This shows what we’ve been saying all along:

that it was all supposition based on conjecture based on guesswork,

without any proof whatsoever,” said Paul Kemp,

a lawyer who represented Ivins in negotiations with federal prosecutors

who were preparing to charge him before his death.

Kemp called for congressional hearings into the investigation.

  • But the long-anticipated report reignited a debate that has been simmering among some scientists and others who have questioned the strength of the FBI’s evidence against Ivins.
  • The extensive eight-year FBI probe, which spanned six continents, has included missteps, including the public naming of Ivins’s colleague Stephen Hatfill as a “person of interest” in the investigation. The FBI later apologized to Hatfill.

“This report entirely undercuts the conclusion

that RMR-1029 was the source

and that Ivins was the perpetrator,”

said Meryl Nass, an anthrax expert and physician

  • “That evidence was totally critical to their case,” said Nass, who added that hundreds of people had access to the flaks in Ivins’s lab. Federal investigators have said they investigated and ruled out all possible other suspects.

Staff reporter Joby Warrick and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this story.

read the entire article at … http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/15/AR2011021502251.html?hpid=topnews

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* NAS: The FBI did not provide the NAS the data it needed regarding the overseas sample

Posted by DXer on February 15, 2011

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* Selected extracts from the NAS Report on the FBI’s anthrax science: RMR-1029 was not the immediate source … Other sources not ruled out … the FBI’s public scientific conclusions were not the same as those provided to NAS … MORE …

Posted by DXer on February 15, 2011

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RMR-1029 was not the immediate source

  • The flask designated RMR-1029 was not the immediate, most proximate source of the letter material.
  • If the letter material did in fact derive from RMR-1029, then one or more separate growth steps, using seed material from RMR-1029 followed by purification, would have been necessary.
  • Furthermore, the evidentiary material in the New York letters had physical properties that were distinct from those of the material in the Washington, D.C. letters.
  • This possible explanation of genetic similarity between spores in the letters and in RMR-1029 was not rigorously explored during the course of the investigation, further complicating the interpretation of the apparent association between the B. anthracis genotypes discovered in the attack letters and those found in RMR-1029.
  • The genetic evidence that a disputed sample submitted by the suspect came from a source other than RMR-1029 was weaker than stated in the Department of Justice Amerithrax Investigative Summary.

Other sources not ruled out

  • The scientific data generated by and on behalf of the FBI provided leads as to a possible source of the anthrax spores found in the attack letters, but these data alone did not rule out other sources.
  • It is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the origins of the B. anthracis in the mailings based on the available scientific evidence alone.
  • The scientific link between the letter material and flask number RMR-1029 is not as conclusive as stated in the DOJ Investigative Summary
  • The results of the genetic analyses of the repository samples were consistent with the finding that the spores in the attack letters were derived from RMR-1029, but the analyses did not definitively demonstrate such a relationship
  • Some of the mutations identified in the spores of the attack letters and detected in RMR-1029 might have arisen by parallel evolution rather than by derivation from RMR-1029.

the FBI’s public scientific conclusions were not the same as those provided to NAS

  • The committee found it challenging to identify a definitive set of scientific conclusions drawn by the FBI investigators because they did not provide them in written form and because the conclusions provided publicly by DOJ in its briefings and Investigative Summary varied from those provided by FBI officials in presentations to the committee.

the letter anthrax was not genetically engineered

  • The B. anthracis in the letters was the Ames strain and was not genetically engineered. … The genome sequences of the letter isolates that became available later in the investigation strongly supported the FBI’s conclusion that the attack materials had not been genetically engineered.

it was not determined if all 4 letters had all 4 genetic markers

  • Biological material from all four letters should have been examined to determine whether they each contained all four genetic markers used in screening the repository samples.

there was no evidence of intentional Silicon addition of silicon-based dispersants

  • Silicon was present in the letter powders but there was no evidence of intentional addition of silicon-based dispersants.
  • Although significant amounts of silicon were found in the powders from the New York Post, Daschle, and Leahy letters, no silicon was detected on the outside surface of spores where a dispersant would reside.
  • Instead, significant amounts of silicon were detected within the spore coat of some samples.
  • The bulk silicon content in the Leahy letter matched the silicon content per spore measured by different techniques.
  • For the New York Post letter, however, there was a substantial difference between the amount of silicon measured in bulk and that measured in individual spores.
  • No compelling explanation for this difference was provided to the committee.
  • Surrogate preparations of B.anthracis did reproduce physical characteristics (purity, spore concentration, dispersibility) of the letter samples, but did not reproduce the large amount of silicon found in the coats of letter sample spores.

no conclusions were drawn regarding the time required to prepare the spore material or the skill set required

  • It is difficult to draw conclusions about the amount of time needed to prepare the spore material or the skill set required of the perpetrator.
  • The committee finds no scientific basis on which to accurately estimate the amount of time or the specific skill set needed to prepare the spore material contained in the letters.
  • The time might vary from as little as 2 to 3 days to as much as several months.
  • Given uncertainty about the methods used for preparation of the spore material, the committee could reach no significant conclusions regarding the skill set of the perpetrator.

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CASE CLOSED is a novel about the DIA’s (fictional) re-investigation

of the FBI’s failed investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks

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click here to read the opening scene of CASE CLOSED …

* CASE CLOSED – opening scene … the DIA re-investigates the FBI’s failed case

******

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

 

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