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

* Sen. Leahy on anthrax case: ‘It’s not closed’

Posted by DXer on February 16, 2011



Paul Kane writes in the Washington Post (2/16/11) …

  • Senator Patrick Leahy has never accepted the FBI’s decision to close the case in the series of anthrax-laced letters mailed to public officials in fall 2001.”I still wonder who sent it and why they sent it.”
  • In a brief interview Tuesday, he said he has “extreme doubts” about the case. “I’ve expressed those concerns to the FBI ,and this report (the NAS report) adds to those concerns,” Leahy said.
  • On Tuesday, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), a longtime FBI critic, called for an independent review, and Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.), from whose district the letters to Leahy and others were mailed, called for Congress to create an independent commission to examine the entire case.
  • For years the targets of the Capitol Hill-bound letters felt shut out of the anthrax investigation, which included an official blackout of any congressional briefings ordered by the Bush administration in 2004.
  • A huge collection of former Daschle staff members now occupy the highest echelon of posts in the Obama administration. Pete Rouse, then the chief of staff to the majority leader, is President Obama‘s deputy chief of staff. Laura Petrou, the top aide in Daschle’s suites in the Hart Senate Office Building, where an anthrax letter was opened Oct. 15, 2001, is now chief of staff at the Department of Health and Human Services. Mark Patterson, then Daschle’s top policy adviser, is chief of staff at the Treasury Department.
  • “It is mystifying. Given the limited number of people who have experience with anthrax, you just wouldn’t think it would be this hard,” said another official who had been briefed on the Amerithrax investigation.

read the entire article at …


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

of the 2001 anthrax attacks


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 *



35 Responses to “* Sen. Leahy on anthrax case: ‘It’s not closed’”

  1. DXer said

    U.S. Embassy in Ukraine : Biological Threat Reduction Program

  2. DXer said

    Dr. Meryl Nass is in trouble with a licensing board because she has self-reported that she told a pharmacist that her patient had Lyme disease because the pharmacist would not otherwise dispense hydroxychloroquine.

    I personally have very orthodox views about vaccines and the science. I find Dr. Fauci (and President Biden) are doing a great job under extremely challenging circumstances. Heck, I have a Fauci bobblehead on the counter.

    But I also have great respect for Dr. Meryl Nass. Her self-reporting on the issue as to the false statement to a pharmacist is a demonstration of her integrity. (I would go further and say that I have great affection for Meryl.)

    I understand that a licensing board has its own important role to play. But reporters should take care in their reporting. And the licensing board should take care in its decision-making. We all should value validation under the scientific method. At the same time, we should be able to appreciate that often in life we will disagree with people who are good people who just have a different substantive understanding of an issue.

    In addition to taking guidance from Dr. Fauci’s public comments, I take my guidance from former FDA Commissioner Gottlieb on CNBC. But I don’t think CNBC should have as its commentator someone on the Pfizer Board of Directors. Someone like Dr. Michael Osterholm is an infectious disease expert available to comment who likely is not In the same position.

    On the issue of financial conflicts of interest more broadly, I cheered Dr. Fauci’s comment on a hot mic “What a moron”. A famous jurist once said that consistency is the hobgoblin of petty minds.

  3. DXer said

    More info on lame Chinese Zodiac Killer letters to media outlets. TheDay in New London, CT published an excerpt of the letter it received. The Netflix has a creditable show “Zodiac”, based on Robert Graysmith’s book. The forensics of the mailings, rather than the murders in the 1960s, will lead to this idiot’s arrest. New London has a population of 27,000.

    FWIW, there is a Naval base in New London.

    “‘This is the Zodiac speaking’: Newspaper receives cryptic letter”

  4. DXer said

    Marina Pitofsky and Joel Shannon, FBI says Zodiac Killer case is still ‘open and unsolved’ despite new theory on suspect’s identity, USA Today, Oct 6, 2021

  5. DXer said

    Anthrax Attack on Senator Leahy, Dec 7, 2021

  6. DXer said

    Tony Goldwyn on shooting The Hot Zone: Anthrax during COVID: ‘It gave me some pretty crazy dreams!’

  7. DXer said

    The Hot Zone: Anthrax’ Review: Tony Goldwyn’s Unhinged Performance Can’t Elevate Bacteria Drama
    “The Hot Zone: Anthrax” is a formulaic look back at the anthrax scare with nothing new to say.

    Kristen Lopez

  8. DXer said

    Senator Leahy, 81, will not run for reelection. He will be retiring, having served 8 terms.

  9. DXer said

    Op-Ed: The 2001 anthrax attacks, a tough history lesson
    By Mark Holman

  10. DXer said

    Senator Patrick Leahy Swears In As President Pro Tempore Of The United States Senate

    • DXer said

      Senator Leahy is reported to be feeling better after feeling unwell and visiting the hospital last night briefly for observation. He is perhaps the most distinguished member of the Senate and has long stood gallantly for the rule of law.

  11. DXer said

    Someone mentioned to me today that Laurie Garrett was interviewed by Nicole Wallace.

    Congressman Mike Pence & Pulitzer prize winning science writer Laurie Garrett agree on Anthrax Mailings.. Pence: “I don’t know who sent it” — I am afraid we may have missed the off-ramp to the truth.” … Garrett: “I get outraged because the FBI completely botched the investigation on the anthrax.”
    Posted by DXer on September 11, 2011

    Laurie Garrett: FBI did not fully pursue evidence that might link the attacks to al-Qaida
    Posted by DXer on September 22, 2012

    Laurie Garrett in Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: Reporting on Biosecurity from America to Zaire (January / February 2012) (subscription required) … Ms. Garrett Calls For Thorough Investigation Of Attacks Comparable to The 9/11 Commission Report
    Posted by DXer on January 16, 2012

    Laurie Garrett … the FRONTLINE program has convinced me that Dr. Bruce Ivins is innocent of the 2001 anthrax mailings
    Posted by DXer on October 13, 2011

  12. DXer said

    Now a staffer of Pence has tested positive in addition to the personal valet of President Trump.

    What brand antibody test does the White House use? Abbott? Roche?

    FDA publishes first validation results of 12 COVID-19 antibody tests
    by Conor Hale | May 8, 2020 11:39am

    • DXer said

      The staffer infected is Katie Miller, Mr. Pence’s Press Secretary. Was she at Mayo with him for the press photo op? Did she wear a mask? Did she address the criticism of him not wearing a mask?

      • DXer said

        Katie Miller said that it was not a mistake for Pence to forego wearing a mask at the Mayo Clinic. “We don’t feel it was a mistake,” spokeswoman Katie Miller tells @Acosta [see Ana Carbrera tweet on Apr 29, 2020 at 8:34 a.m.]

  13. DXer said

    Trump contradicts nurse in testy Oval Office exchange over coronavirus protective gear

    I have a relative who had to reuse her N95 mask until she was infected. Trump disgusts me. He should be ashamed of himself.

    Trump lacks character. He is a lousy manager. He is immature and narcissistic. He is incompetent. The GOP is ruining its brand. Trump’s failure of leadership will cost tens of thousands of lives and greatly damage the reputation of the United States. He will bankrupt the country just like he ran his companies into the ground.

    His bribes to the mafia are a matter of public record — dating back to the demolition of Bonwit Teller building. He was a C student. But history will give him a D for his Presidency.

  14. DXer said

    President Trump should not seek reelection because he is not qualified for the job. A good man knows his limitations. He should go back to his life of cheating at golf and bankrupting the organizations he runs.

    Coronavirus: U.S. ‘wasted’ months before preparing for COVID-19 pandemic
    Updated 6:41 AM; Today 6:40 AM

  15. DXer said

    Donald Trump is not a good manager. He lacks integrity and is self-interested and narcissistic. He has never been the adult in the room. He should have been making preparations instead of playing golf. The GOP should draft an alternative candidate who is a good manager. For example, Romney.

    Biden should consider Cuomo as a running mate, under all the circumstances. Biden can soften the choice of not naming a woman by naming Harris, Klobuchar, Warren and Abrams to his cabinet or comparable positions.

  16. DXer said

    The District Judge today granted the US DOJ’s motion for summary judgment.


    For the reasons stated in the Court’s Memorandum Opinion separately and
    contemporaneously issued, Defendant’s renewed motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 38) is
    GRANTED and Plaintiff’s cross-motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 42) is DENIED.

    Dated: March 16, 2020 RUDOLPH CONTRERAS
    United States District Judge

  17. DXer said

    Juan Williams: Trump must be held to account over coronavirus

    Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel

  18. DXer said

    The president acknowledged that the virus was “very contagious” but asserted that his administration had “tremendous control” over the spread of the disease.

    You can’t fix stupid and narcissistic. But what he did have control over was how he spent his time. Trump should not have been playing golf last Saturday and Sunday.

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, buddy.

    Biden says he will name a woman as VP. Although I predict he will name Kamala Harris, I recommend Elizabeth Warren. She gave a very articulate answer on economics in response to a question by Rachel Maddow in an interview last week. Senator Amy is also a creditable choice and has shown she can be bipartisan.

    But I think Elizabeth Warren would show he is willing to be inclusive of progressives. She was a Republican in her 50s.

    Trump claims coronavirus is under control — contradicting reality and his own top expert
    Stephen Collinson Profile
    Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
    Updated 12:11 AM ET, Mon March 16, 2020

    • DXer said

      Trump is increasingly irrelevant
      By Jennifer Rubin
      Opinion writer
      March 15, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. EDT


      As he has done for his entire career, he makes all sorts of declarations, exaggerating the speed and scope of his plans. ***

      Trump is incapable of mastering any level of detail or accurately conveying it to the public. He either cannot remember, or never understood, what he is supposed to roll out and instead often chooses to make himself look better. His penchant for ad-libbing (as he did with disastrous result during his Oval Office speech Thursday night) causes more chaos and confusion.

      Trump has neither the mental capacity nor the emotional tools to lead in a crisis. Increasingly, the best course of action seems to be to let him blather, but then hand off matters to the real adults who can correct his misstatements or take action in the real national interest.
      We certainly are not relying on Trump to help us get through this. To the contrary, we will come through this horror only by working around an entirely unfit president.

      Comment: Republicans should draft an alternative candidate and give convention delegates a choice. What is needed is a competent manager. The reason Romney occurs to me is Bain & Co, the management consultant firm he founded, was hot stuff back in the 1980s when I was in Boston at Harvard Law. But the media should give more exposure to Weld so voters know of him.

  19. DXer said

    The GOP should draft Mitt Romney (as President) and Nikki Haley (as Vice President) to run in the Presidential election.

    Donald Trump is not qualified or suited for the job. Republicans are seriously damaging their brand. If Trump runs for reelection, he will lose.

    And so it is in the interest of Republicans to field a qualified candidate.

  20. DXer said

    Paul Kane in the Washington Post draws a comparison to the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings in reporting discussions about whether to shut down Congress.

    Congress in grip of confusion, fear over coronavirus unsure whether to stay or go
    Paul Kane, The Washington Post Published 11:50 am EDT, Tuesday, March 10, 2020
    “We just don’t know where we are, how serious this is going to be,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who said he appreciates daily updates sent to his office from Vice President Mike Pence, who is coordinating the response. “There’s a group of senators who say we ought to shut down, for our employees’ standpoint.”
    It’s dramatically different from the congressional response to anthrax attacks in October 2001, when letters sent to a pair of Democratic senators were laced with the bacteria that contained the deadly disease.

    A few dozen were exposed to anthrax, including two postal workers who died, and thousands took antibiotics as a precaution. The Hart Senate Office Building – in which half the senators have their personal legislative offices – shuttered for more than three months at a cleanup cost of $27 million.
    Yet the Senate continued its business without any lengthy break, pushing ahead with the national security agenda following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

    On Oct. 15, 2001, a Monday, a staffer to then-Majority Leader Thomas Daschle, D-S.D., opened a letter in his Hart office, discovering a threatening note and the anthrax.
    Shortly after 5:30 p.m. the same day, the Senate held a procedural vote on a government funding bill. Two days later, as health officials realized the anthrax had spread deep into the ventilation system, they ordered the Hart building shut indefinitely.

    But 4 o’clock that afternoon, the Senate plowed ahead and approved, on a 95-to-3 vote, a bill to fund the Interior Department. That same day investigators uncovered traces of anthrax in a mail room in a House office that processed all congressional mail, prompting the GOP majority to adjourn the chamber for the rest of the week.
    They were ridiculed for ending the week so quickly.

    “WIMPS,” the New York Post declared in a mocking headline.

    The next morning, the Senate voted, 96 to 1, to fund military construction projects. Early the next week, the Congress was back in session, going almost full-bore until a few days before Christmas to handle the large post-9/11 agenda.
    Veteran lawmakers say the coronavirus has created more uncertainty than even those early days of the war in Afghanistan when the anthrax letters started arriving in the Capitol.

    “It was an entirely different thing. There, we knew exactly what we had. Here, we don’t know what we have. What’s going to be decided, I don’t know,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Monday.
    Leahy was the second Democrat targeted with an anthrax letter back in 2001, but he had already put a hold on all his mail arriving at the Capitol because three other letters – sent to the National Enquirer and TV news personalities – had been uncovered before his and Daschle’s letters were received.

    Now, more than 3,700 have died worldwide, including at least 22 Americans, from the flu-like virus. While no lawmaker or congressional aide has contracted coronavirus yet, the nationwide ranks continue to grow each day as more Americans get access to tests for the virus.

    Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told reporters Monday that he has allowed some staff to telework to avoid any health threats.
    Others confess they are simply following advice from health experts about whether Congress should stay around.
    “I think if the medical personnel and the scientists think that that’s important, then I would go by what they think,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said Monday afternoon.
    Still, one key difference between anthrax in 2001 and the coronavirus today is the national political mood.
    In the fall of 2001, uncertainty dominated the Washington psyche. For months afterward, mail to the Capitol complex, along with the surrounding neighborhood, was redirected to a plant that zapped letters to make sure any potential chemical or biological agent was neutralized. Investigators could not determine who sent the letters, with initial probes focusing on overseas terrorists.
    Yet, in the wake of 9/11, Congress had rallied together, even singing “God Bless America” in bipartisan fashion a few hours after the attacks on New York and Washington.
    After the anthrax attacks closed the largest Senate office buildings, senators and staff shared space with other offices. Leahy recalled a few senators setting up in his hideaway office in the Capitol.
    Today, coming amid the 2020 presidential campaign, Republicans are accusing Democrats of trying to pin the blame on President Donald Trump. “We might want to stop trying to politicize the damn pandemic, not a good thing. We haven’t done that before,” Roberts said.
    Other lawmakers just want the public to know that members of Congress face the same threat from the virus as other Americans.
    “Everyone needs to know that no one is exempt from this,” Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said.

  21. DXer said

    Book Review: ‘Senator Leahy: A Life in Scenes’ by Philip Baruth

    By Paul Heintz @paulheintz

    The new crime-fighting caper from Burlington writer Philip Baruth begins with great drama and mystery: A young woman opens an unusual envelope in a Washington, D.C., office building. A puff of poison powder fills the room. It lingers there, refusing to dissipate, and clings to the air “as if the particles themselves have acquired the power of flight.”

    The mysterious tan powder, military-grade anthrax, will kill five, injure 17 and terrify the nation — though, inexplicably, the young woman will survive. Authorities will finger a disturbed biodefense researcher, but he will end his own life before he can be charged. The protagonist of this unlikely tale, whom Baruth refers to throughout as the “Top Cop,” will suspect that something more sinister is afoot.

    “I don’t think it’s somebody insane,” he confides to the narrator. “And I think there are people within our government … who know where it came from.”

    Fantastic though it may seem, this is no work of fiction. It is the first biography of veteran Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), a top target of the so-called “Amerithrax” attacks in late 2001.

  22. DXer said

    New FBI Wanted App

    Federal Bureau of Investigation (press release) (blog)-18 hours ago
    You grab your cell phone, open the FBI Wanted app, search your city name, and quickly locate the individual’s profile with additional pictures …

  23. DXer said

    Jeff Sessions, I believe, was ranking minority member of the Senate Committee of the Judiciary, when the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, said “It’s not closed.”

    I agree with Senator Leahy that “It’s not closed.” I hope Jeff Sessions, slated to be new Attorney General, does too — and will ask that it be formally reopened.

    I am not familiar with his particular views stated on the subject of the investigation and look forward to being educated.

    Anthrax, Al Qaeda and Ayman Zawahiri: The Infiltration of US Biodefense

  24. DXer said

    The FBI says Amerithrax has been solved. The public and media and key officials and experts commonly disagree.

    The FBI says Isabella Gardner heist has been solved. The public and media commonly disagree.

    “Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham acknowledged in a separate court filing that the FBI “tasked” a mob informant “to go see Gentile and engage him in general conversation” in 2010. The informant was instructed to “pay particular attention to anything Gentile might say about the Gardner Museum theft, but not to initiate any conversation on that topic.” …

    The infamous heist remains unsolved.”

    I think the best approach is to be slow to begrudge the FBI turning over additional rocks.

    If the oil tank turns out to have only stored oil, it still seems an interesting possibility to have run down.

    Personally, I would hide my loot in a septic tank because of the removable lid. All I would need is a shovel to retrieve it.

    Now quick, go find me some loot to hide. Urge the FBI to search Gentile’s 1992 place of business in nearby S. Windsor — the abandoned used car lot that has concrete slabs and asphalt that shows signs of digging.

    Being an empty lot, a federal court would be willing to issue a warrant, I expect. Privacy interests involved are minimal.

    My source says the small building was razed at the time Elene Guarente first began pointing to Bobby Gentile.

  25. DXer said

    The USAMRMC FOIA officer who thinks me impolite today may not know about the September 10 email urging Washington for access to Moussaoui’s laptop but I do.

    ISIS terror cells ‘plotting chemical weapon attacks on UK’ made from everyday products
    • 10:56, 4 Apr 2016
    • Updated 11:17, 4 Apr 2016

    ISIS terror thugs are plotting to unleash chemical and biological weapons on Britain and Europe, a senior spy has claimed.

    Abdelhak Khiame, Morocco’s head of counter-terrorism, said his agents had foiled an ISIS cell planning to attack four Moroccan cities with the deadly compounds.


    Now this is waking up on the wrong side of bed.

  26. DXer said

    Army JAG is determined public not know where records show Ames anthrax was shipped by Ivins—and who had access. #Army #FOIA #JAG #SenatorLeahy If the wonderful FOIA officer Rogers thinks I’m mad, she should hear the clip by Senator Leahy. He’s livid.

  27. DXer said

    Senator Leahy has said that he still wonders who sent the anthrax and why. He says the case is not closed. Leahy, a former prosecutor, strikes me as one of the most distinguished Senators the country has ever had serving on the Judiciary Committee. He deserves answers.

    Relying on the Al Hayat letter bombs in 1997 as the model, I once ventured an explanation for the symbolic targeting.

    Why US Senator Leahy Was Targeted With Anthrax

    Tuesday, 17 April 2007
    Why US Senator Leahy Was Targeted With Anthrax: The Need To Treat Detainees Humanely

    Senator Leahy recently emphasized to Attorney General Gonzales that he wanted to know why he was targeted with letters containing anthrax. He wanted justice for the postal workers who died handling the letter addressed to him. Attorney General Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee:

    “Senator, Director Mueller, I believe, has offered to get the chairman a briefing. And we’re waiting to try to accommodate the chairman’s schedule to make that happen. We understand the frustration and the concern that exists with respect to the length of time. This is a very complicated investigation. I know that the director is very committed to seeing it to some kind of conclusion in the relatively near future.”

    For a half decade now, the media has inexplicably overlooked the fact that Senator Leahy is author of the “Leahy Law,” a provision that prohibits appropriations to military and security units if there is credible evidence of human rights violations — evidence of torture. The amendment has been interpreted to permit continued appropriations to security units under “extraordinary circumstances” — such as, say, the Global War on Terror. Senator Leahy separately was head of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, the panel in charge of aid to Egypt and Israel. The other Senator targeted was Senator Daschle, who as Senate majority leader had a key role in all appropriations. The media and public has superficially understood Leahy and Daschle as “liberals” without seeing things through the eyes of the head of Al Qaeda’s anthrax weaponization program, Ayman Zawahiri. That has led to a situation where the public has been less strident than they might have been in insisting that the United States do the one thing that might avoid additional anthrax — treat all detainees according to the Geneva Convention and cut off appropriations to the military and security units of any ally that continues to torture detainees.

    “Leahy Law” and Darkened Runways

    It was 1 a.m. in the morning on October 23, 2001. Parts of the airport runway were pitch black. Masked Pakistan Inter Services Intelligence (“ISI”) agents in a rented white Toyota sedan sped up with a shackled and blindfolded man. In the empty corner of the Karachi airport, a soldier with his face covered filmed the transfer of Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed, age 27. Two weeks earlier a postal worker had died in the US from exposure to mailed anthrax. Authorities were rounding up the usual suspects — using a Gulfstream V jet registered to people in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. who existed only on paper. Mohammed had first come to Karachi in 1993 from Yemen’s capital city, Sana’a, and had recently been studying microbiology at the University of Karachi.

    After the September 11 attacks, Pakistani intelligence agents started checking on Arab university students in the area. Mohammed’s teachers told investigators that they had not seen him on campus since late August. Agents staked out his apartment in Karachi and nabbed him upon his return. Mohammed was wanted in connection with the bombing of the USS Cole. In 1996, Pakistani authorities officials had arrested Mohammed in connection with the November 1995 bombing of the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad. That attack was financed by the Canadian islamist and charity worker, Khadr and his charity Mercy International, a charity funded by Osama Bin Laden’s late brother-in-law Khalifa and founded by Saudi dissident Sheik Al-Hawali. Ayman Zawahiri, speaking for the military wing of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, known as the Vanguards of Conquest, claimed responsibility for the bombing. Mohammed was released without being charged. Mohammed re-enrolled at university in 1999. He was one of at least two microbiologist lab technicians who were rendered by the CIA. Saeed Mohammed was not particularly expert — and spent most of his time in Karachi procuring equipment. Washington announced Saeed had been rendered, but senior Pakistani officials continued to deny that the transfer had taken place.

    The scene would repeat itself at a different airport two months later with the rendition of Ahmed Agiza, former head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad before Zawahiri. Swedish officials prepared an expulsion order at 4 p.m. on December 18, 2001. Agiza, a 39-year old physician, was picked up on the street by 6 p.m. and he was in the air by 10 p.m. In a small room at the airport, six-hooded figures took Agiza and another prisoner and changed them into dark red overalls. The men cut off his clothes, without having to remove his handcuffs and leg irons. They inserted a suppository containing a sedative while putting on diapers. Then they hung him, blindfolded and hooded, in a harness in the plane. Dr. Agiza had been convicted in his absence in 1999, together with 106 others, by a military court in Cairo for membership in the Vanguards of Conquest (“Talal al-Fateh”), the military wing of the EIJ. The crew of the plane did not use the term “extraordinary rendition” — they just referred to the process as “snatches.” The Egyptian government had promised not to torture the suspects, but Agiza claims that they applied electric shocks through electrodes fastened to sensitive parts of his body — to his genitals, nipples, tongue, ear lobes, and underarms.

    These renditions were just two of the opening volleys in what would prove to be a 5 year effort to find the parties responsible for the letters containing anthrax sent to US Senators and media outlets. The anthrax was mailed shortly after the planes attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. In 1999, captured leaders of Zawahiri’s Vanguards of Conquest had said that Ayman was going to use weaponized anthrax against US targets in retaliation for the rendering of EIJ leaders and supporters to places like Cairo and Amman. The letter to the Senator Leahy, author of the “Leahy Law” that permitted continued appropriations to security units under “extraordinary circumstances”, read: “We have this anthrax. You die now. Are you afraid?”

    Tortured Logic

    The founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad Kamal Habib and a writer for the quarterly magazine of the Islamic Assembly of North America (“(ANA”) told scholar Fawaz Gerges:

    “The prison years also radicalized al-shabab [young men] and set them on another violent journey. The torture left deep physical and psychological scars on jihadists and fueled their thirst for vengeance. Look at my hands — still spotted with the scars from cigarette burns nineteen years later. For days on end we were brutalized — our faces bloodied, our bodies broken with electrical shocks and other devices. The torturers aimed at breaking our souls and brainwashing us. They wanted to humiliate us and force us to betray the closest members of our cells.

    I spent sleepless nights listening to the screams of young men echoing from torture chambers. A degrading, dehumanizing experience. I cannot convey to you the rage felt by al-shabab who were tortured after Sadat’s assassination.”

    An August 29, 2001 opinion column on Islamway, the second most read site for english speaking muslims, illustrates that the role of “Leahy Law” was known by well-read islamists: “There is an intolerable contradiction between America’s between America’s professed policy of opposition to state-sponsored terrorism, exemplified by the Leahy Law, and the U.S. Congress’ continuing sponsorship of Israeli violence against Palestinians.” The article cited “References: CIFP 2001. “Limitations on Assistance to Security Forces: ‘The Leahy Law'” 4/9/01 (Washington, DC: Center for International Foreign Policy) Center for International Foreign Policy Accessed 8/28/01.Hocksteader, Lee 2001. ”

    In a videotape that circulated in the summer of 2001, Zawahiri said “In Egypt they put a lot of people in jails — some sentenced to be hanged. And in the Egyptian jails, there is a lot of killing and torture. All this happens under the supervision of America. America has a CIA station as well as an FBI office and a huge embassy in Egypt, and it closely follows what happens in that country. Therefore, America is responsible for everything that happens.” .

    But to more fully appreciate why Leahy — a distinguished human rights advocate and liberal democrat — might have been targeted as a symbol, it is important to know that Senator Leahy has been the head of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, the panel in charge of aid to Egypt and Israel. In addition to the Senate majority leader, anthrax was mailed to the position symbolic of the 50 billion in appropriations that has been given to Israel since 1947 (and the equally substantial $2 billion annually in aid that has been keeping Mubarak in power in Egypt and the militant islamists out of power). In an audiotape received by al-Jazeera and published in October 2002, Zawahiri again pointed to the weapons bought by US appropriations: “As for America, it must expect to be treated the same way that it has committed crimes, like the destruction of the Palestinians’ homes by the Jews using US weapons and like the murder of Muhammad Al-Durra and other Palestinian children by the Jews with US weapons. Then the American people will curse Bush and his administration dead or alive due to the extremely high price they are repaid with.”

    That aid goes to the core of Al Qaeda’s complaint against the United States. (The portion going to Egypt and Israel constitutes, by far, the largest portion of US foreign aid, and most of that is for military and security purposes.) Pakistan is a grudging ally in the “war against terrorism” largely due to the US Aid it now receives in exchange for that cooperation. The press in Pakistan newspapers regularly reported on protests arguing that FBI’s reported 12 agents in Pakistan in 2002 were an affront to its sovereignty. There was a tall man, an Urdu-speaking man, and a woman — all chain-smokers — who along with their colleagues were doing very important work in an unsupportive, even hostile, environment. The US agents — whether CIA or FBI or US Army — caused quite a stir in Pakistan along with the Pakistani security and intelligence officials who accompanied them.

    Blanket Disregard Of “Leahy Law” Prohibition Of Torture After 9/11

    Within a couple weeks after September 11, a report in the Washington Post and then throughout the muslim world explained that the President sought a waiver that would allow military assistance to once-shunned nations. The militant islamists who had already been reeling from the extradition of 70 “brothers”, would now be facing much more of the same. President Bush asked Congress for authority to waive all existing restrictions on U.S. military assistance and exports for the next five years to any country where the aid would help the fight against international terrorism. The waiver would include those nations who were currently unable to receive U.S. military aid because of their sponsorship of terrorism (such as Syria and Iran) or because of their nuclear weapons programs (such as Pakistan). In mid-March 2003, Washington waived sanctions imposed in 1999 paving the way for release in economic aid to Pakistan. Billions more would be sent to Egypt, Israel and other countries involved in the “war against terrorism.”

    In late September 2001, the Washington Post quoted Leahy: “We all want to be helpful, and I will listen to what they have in mind.” The article noted that he was chairman of both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee, which were considering the legislation. “But we also want to be convinced that what is being proposed is sound, measured and necessary and not merely impulsive.”

    The options being considered in response to the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington included potential cooperation with virtually every Middle Eastern and South and Central Asian nation near Afghanistan. “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists” would be the only test for foreign aid. The “Leahy Law” plays a key role in the secret “rendering” of Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Al Qaeda) operatives to countries like Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Algeria where they are allegedly tortured. Richard Clarke, counterterrorism czar during the Clinton Administration, has quoted Vice-President Gore saying: “Of course it’s a violation of international law, that’s why it’s a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass.” Although humanitarian in its intent, the Leahy Law permits continued appropriations to military and security units who conduct torture in the event of “extraordinary circumstances.”

    In an interview broadcast on al-Jazeera television on October 7, 2001 (October 6 in the US) — about when the second letter saying “Death to America'” and “Death to Israel” was mailed — Ayman Zawahiri echoed a familiar refrain sounded by Bin Laden: “O people of the U.S., can you ask yourselves a question: Why all this enmity for the United States and Israel? *** Your government supports the corrupt governments in our countries.”

    A month after 9/11, late at night , a charter flight from Cairo touched down at the Baku airport. An Egyptian, arrested by the Azerbaijani authorities on suspicions of having played a part in the September 11 attack was brought on board. His name was kept secret. That same night the plane set off in the opposite direction. Much of the Amerithrax story has happened at night with no witnesses, with the rendering of Saeed Mohammed merely one example. Zawahiri claims that there is a US intelligence bureau inside the headquarters of the Egyptian State Security Investigation Department that receives daily reports on the number of detainees and those detainees that are released. At the time Ayman Zawahiri was getting his biological weapons program in full swing, his own brother Mohammed was picked up in the United Arab Emirates. He was secretly rendered to Egyptian security forces and sentenced to death rendered in the Albanian returnees case.

    Throughout 2001, the Egyptian islamists were wracked by extraditions and renditions. CIA Director Tenet once publicly testified that there had been 70 renditions prior to 9/11. At the same time a Canadian judge was finding on October 5, 2001 that EIJ shura member Mahmoud Mahjoub was a member of the Vanguards of Conquest and would be denied bail, Bosnian authorities announced on October 6, 2001 they had handed over three Egyptians to Cairo who had been arrested in July. In Uruguay, a court authorized the extradition to Egypt of a man wanted in Egypt for his alleged role in the 1997 Luxor attack. Ahmed Agiza, the leader of the Vanguards of Conquest (which can be viewed as an offshoot of Jihad), was handed over by Sweden in December 2001. Al Qaeda’s military commander, Atef, and Dr. Ayman Zawahiri, both took these renditions personally. They were ultimately in charge of who would be targeted with anthrax.

    When Doing the Right Thing Might Avoid More Anthrax

    The commentators who suggest that Al Qaeda would have had no motivation to send weaponized anthrax to Senators Daschle and Leahy as symbolic targets — because they are liberal — are mistaken. The main goal of Dr. Zawahiri [was] to topple President Mubarak. He views the US Aid as the chief obstacle and is indifferent to this country’s labels of conservative and liberal. Having a humane foreign policy — and being firm with our allies on the issue of torture — might just help avoid the next 9/11. Or as Senator Leahy has said: “Moral leadership in defense of democracy and human rights is vital to what we stand for in the world. Acts of terrorism are violations of human rights. Now is the time to show what sets us apart from those who attack us.”

    • DXer said

      In a new biography of Leahy, Baruth mainly relies on an earlier interview that Senator Leahy gave, and previously published accounts, to include Mr. WIllman’s book. Mr. Baruth evidences no understanding of — and does not mention — the Leahy Law and its effect on the jihadists.

      • DXer said

        Philip Baruth, in his biography of Senator Leahy, at page 215 writes:

        “Even as the Amerithrax task force laid its thick dossier of evidence before the public, even as a skeptical Tom Daschle came to accept the bureau’s conclusion as solid, Leahy remain convinced — and very publicly so — that the FBI had failed to ferret out the entire network behind the attacks. That alone was an explosive thought, and an even more explosive statement to enter into the public record.

        But after having been briefed in Vermont by FBI director Mueller on August 7, 2008, Leahy chose a packed Judiciary Committee oversight hearing nine days later to amplify the allegations he had first laid out for me the previous September.

        Voice low but steady, and pausing throughout for emphasis, Leahy alleged the existence of a full-blown criminal conspiracy, in language borrowed very deliberately from his days as a courtroom prosecutor. He had always had the instructs of a performer; he had spent long years honing his capacity for the sound bite. But behind this particular bite lay long years of resentment and anger and fear for his family. All of which gave five of Leahy’s sentences in particular a palpable force:

        “If [Ivins] is the one who sent the letter, I do not believe in way way, shape or manner that he is the only person involved in this attack on Congress and the American people. I do not believe that at all. I believe there are others involved either as accessories before or accessories after the fact. I believe there are others out there. I believe there are others who can be charged with murder.”

        Comment: Although Senator Leahy is the former prosecutor, not me, I don’t believe there is a statute of limitations for murder. A murder charge can be filed even decades after the alleged murder was committed. So it seems that Senator Leahy may be correct when he said that the case was not closed.

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