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

Archive for March, 2011

* Several days after a challenge is done, such as the October 2, 2001 subcutaneous challenge reported by Bruce Ivins, necropsies are performed to determine the cause of death

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 31, 2011

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* After a subcutaneous challenge, the animals would be checked for survival/death 3X daily

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 31, 2011

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* the GAO review of the FBI’s anthrax investigation has begun … a report is expected to be issued by September 30, 2011 … *** UPDATE: a series of fascinating comments to this post suggest many pertinent questions that GAO might want to consider

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 30, 2011

UPDATE:

a series of comments to this post

by several CASE CLOSED blog participants

suggest pertinent questions for GAO to consider

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FBI INVESTIGATION OF 2001 ANTHRAX ATTACKS … Expected issuance–9/30/2011
Background / Key Questions:
In February 2010, the FBI closed its eight-year investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks and released a report concluding that the attacks were carried out by Bruce Ivins, an Army biodefense scientist. The FBI’s conclusion rested on new laboratory techniques that matched genetic mutations in the anthrax that was mailed with identical mutations in a batch of anthrax created and maintained by Dr. Ivins, and other circumstantial evidence. Questions, however, have been raised about the FBI’s scientific evidence. The FBI has funded the National Academy of Sciences to evaluate its scientific methods. We will perform independent gap analyses of the scientific and technical methods used by the FBI to identify the source of anthrax in the anthrax letters.
Scope and Methodology:
We will review documentation related to the case released by the FBI. We will meet with scientists who assisted the FBI in its investigation. We will also meet with the staff of the NAS panel evaluating the FBI’s scientific work to determine the scope of their work. We will convene a panel of experts to review our findings.

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About GAO … The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. Often called the “congressional watchdog,” GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars.

Our Work is done at the request of congressional committees or subcommittees or is mandated by public laws or committee reports. We also undertake research under the authority of the Comptroller General. We support congressional oversight by

  • auditing agency operations to determine whether federal funds are being spent efficiently and effectively;
  • investigating allegations of illegal and improper activities;
  • reporting on how well government programs and policies are meeting their objectives;
  • performing policy analyses and outlining options for congressional consideration;
  • and issuing legal decisions and opinions, such as bid protest rulings and reports on agency rules.

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click comments below for a fascinating discussion

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* Noah Shachtman writes: Did the Anthrax Attacks Kickstart the Iraq War? … Congressman Holt is quoted in Shachtman’s article saying: The anthrax attacks “made it possible to manufacture the argument that there was WMD in Iraq and links to Al-Qaeda” … LMW adds: Here are extracts from my novel CASE CLOSED regarding the potential linkage of “Saddam’s anthrax” to the invasion of Iraq

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 29, 2011

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Secretary of State Colin Powell at the UN on Feb 5, 2003

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Noah Shachtman writes for WIRED (3/29/11) …

  • Did the Anthrax Attacks Kickstart the Iraq War?
  • On February 5th, 2003, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell went to the United Nations, to make the case for war in Iraq.
  • A central plank of his presentation: the anthrax attacks that killed five people and helped send the country into a panic in the days after 9/11.
  • Less than a teaspoon-full of dry anthrax in an envelope shut down the United States Senate in the fall of 2001. This forced several hundred people to undergo emergency medical treatment and killed two postal workers just from an amount just about this quantity that was inside of an envelope,” Powell said.
  • “Saddam Hussein could have produced 25,000 liters. If concentrated into this dry form, this amount would be enough to fill tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of teaspoons..”
  • By the end of the following month, the invasion of Iraq was underway.

The anthrax attacks “made it possible

to manufacture the argument that there was WMD in Iraq

and links to Al-Qaeda,” Rep. Rush Holt said.

  • And long after any links between Iraq and the killer spores were disproven, the Bush administration used the mystery surrounding the anthrax mailer to press its case for war.
  • a few government officials (most notably, Sen. John McCain) publicly suggested that the Saddam Hussein regime may have been behind the anthrax letters.

read the entire article at … http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/03/did-the-anthrax-attacks-kickstart-the-iraq-war/#

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LMW COMMENT …

  • I have long thought that the anthrax attacks, the invasion of Iraq, and the failed FBI investigation of the anthrax attacks … may in fact be linked.
  • Like my characters in the excerpts from my novel CASE CLOSED, written in 2008 … the DOJ/FBI press conference sounded so implausible that it started me thinking about what might have happened.
  • I am not making any accusations. My novel is fiction.
  • But I do believe it is a possibility worth investigation, because it explains the otherwise inexplicable failure of the FBI to solve a case that should have been solved and then subsequently accusing Dr. Bruce Ivins without any of the evidence that would have been needed to convict him, had he been alive to defend himself.

Here are extracts from my novel CASE CLOSED

regarding the potential linkage of “Saddam’s anthrax”

to the invasion of Iraq

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… “After the nationwide panic caused by the anthrax mailings settled down, pretty much nothing happens in the FBI’s anthrax investigation. The next we hear about anthrax is in February 2003, when Secretary of State Abner Grant goes to the United Nations and holds up a vial of something – it wasn’t actually anthrax – claiming that Saddam can deliver weapons of mass destruction to the eastern seaboard of the U.S.

… Of course, we learn later that Saddam had neither WMD nor any way to reach our shores.

U.N. arms inspector Blix said something much like that a few days before we invaded Iraq.

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… “What do we know so far?” Hamilton began, ticking off the points on the fingers of his large hand. “One, the FBI took seven years and never proved who prepared and sent the anthrax letters. Two, the President wanted to invade Iraq and was seeking justification. Three, the threat of anthrax from Iraq was used to justify the invasion.

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… “The very best police force in the land is assigned to track down the person or persons who prepared and mailed the lethal envelopes. But even before any evidence is obtained, the great leader announces the desired result – there may be some possible link to Saddam, he says; I wouldn’t put it past him.

The great vice-leader also chimes in, saying that Saddam had henchmen who were trained how to deploy and use these kinds of substances, so you start to piece it all together.

“I would ask you to note that these instantaneous, unsupported allegations are directed at Saddam; Osama, who sent the planes, is not mentioned.

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… “Time passes. A truly massive investigation is put into ponderous motion by the greatest police force in the land. Although some think there are only a few real suspects who should be investigated, namely those people with the means and the access to actually prepare and send the anthrax laced letters, the best police force in the land looks everyplace but where these suspects are known to be. Not surprisingly, no arrests are made.

“Now why would the best police force in the land look in all the wrong places? You can answer, Aryeh.”

Kauffman answered with a question. “Because they don’t want to solve the crime?”

“Right!” Hamilton said. “At least not until the unsolved anthrax attack can be used to support an invasion of the country still ruled by Saddam. The case for invasion is made from many factors, with WMD first among them; anthrax is prominently mentioned among the supposed weapons of mass destruction. Why, the great and respected Secretary of State even goes to the U.N. and waves what looks like a vial of anthrax, scaring the shit out of everybody.

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… “You can’t prove that the FBI didn’t want to solve the case,” Kauffman said.

“Not yet,” Hamilton said.

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… Marilyn Sowickey spoke first. “So you think the anthrax letters were a purposeful part of the President’s deception to justify the invasion of Iraq, that he intimidated the FBI so they didn’t solve the anthrax case, and that Dr. Ingram was subsequently murdered by our government in order to finally close the case when it no longer suited the President’s need to keep it open.”

“I’m not saying that’s what did happen,” Hamilton said. “I’m suggesting it could have happened, that it’s a hypothesis worth investigating.”

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* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

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* “I wouldn’t want to be the lawyer taking this (the FBI case against Dr. Bruce Ivins) to court,” said U.S. Rep. Rush Holt

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 29, 2011

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Congressman Holt is Dr. Bruce Ivins best chance for a deserved posthumous exoneration

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Jeff Edelstein writes in The Trentonian (3/29/11) …

  • The anthrax killer might still be out there … and this isn’t some far-flung conspiracy theory
  • “Let me put it this way: I wouldn’t want to be the lawyer taking this to court,” said U.S. Rep. Rush Holt.
  • “… I’d feel a lot better if it (the FBI’s case) rested on physical evidence.”
  • “Did Ivins do it? I’m not saying that he didn’t,” said Holt. “But the case is not as solid as the public deserves.”

read the entire article at … http://www.trentonian.com/articles/2011/03/29/opinion/doc4d91dc6bab20e224651702.txt

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* the GAO should obtain the Building 1425 autoclave log to see if the records show the autoclaving of the 12 dead rabbits that Dr. Ivins reported resulted from the October 2, 2001 subcutaneous challenge (as well as other dead animals)

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 29, 2011

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* FBI Response to Report by “Independent” Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel on 2001 Anthrax Letters … how disingenuous is it of the FBI to call this panel “independent” when Dr. Saathoff, the chairman of the panel is an FBI consultant?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 27, 2011

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FBI Director Mueller & FBI Consultant Saathoff … INDEPENDENT ???

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FBI Response to Report by Independent Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel on 2001 Anthrax Letters …

  • “The FBI appreciates the efforts, time, and expertise of the panel and its highly respected chair and members.
  • The panel’s analysis, findings, and recommendations provide important insight that will further contribute to the public’s understanding of the investigation into the deadly anthrax mailings.
  • The report also provides valuable perspectives that may be useful in preventing future attacks—in addition to what the government has already learned in the course of the investigation.”

source … http://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-response-to-report-by-independent-expert-behavioral-analysis-panel-on-2001-anthrax-letters?jk

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LMW COMMENT …

The FBI’s publicly presented case against Dr. Ivins offers no forensic evidence, no witnesses, an impossible timeline, science that proves innocence instead of guilt, and now unsubstantiated psychobabble.

How disingenuous is it for the FBI to call the recent report by the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel “independent.”

see prior post …

* Dr. Greg Saathoff, presenting today on Amerithrax, is an FBI consultant

So what really happened?

And why doesn’t the FBI offer America a credible story?

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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read the first scene of Lew’s novel …

 

this is the opening scene of Lew Weinstein's novel CASE CLOSED

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* Old Atlantic highlights some of the dilemmas the FBI created for itself by first announcing its conclusions and then looking to the facts … UPDATED with more questions

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 25, 2011

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UPDATE 3/27 … Old Atlantic raises more questions

At first the FBI said Ivins went to Princeton during the day of Sep 17, 2001.

Then that was shot down by mail box times and Ivins being at Ft. Detrick.

Then they switched to overnight.

Isn’t it possible that they had the email Dxer wants showing a late evening email by Ivins from home?  That is why at first they said he went during the day?

Perhaps there is another from the next morning before he went to work?

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original post …

quoting first from Noah Schactman’s excellent overview (see http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/03/ff_anthrax_fbi/) titled … “Anthrax Redux: Did the Feds Nab the Wrong Guy?”

  • “Then there’s the problem of figuring out when Ivins could have grown the spores … tt would have been nearly impossible for Ivins to do that much work without others noticing.
  • This raises another significant problem with the case. USAMRIID veterans debate whether Ivins had access to the kind of gear required to dry and mill the spores. Even if he did, some argue, he wouldn’t have known how to use it. Ivins’ wet-spore experience didn’t translate to dry stuff, Heine and others say.
  • (the FBI says) the anthrax could have been slowly assembled and processed for months or years before that. Ivins’ alibis for those autumn days are virtually nonexistent.

Old Atlantic comments …

  • Not so fast.  The FBI said that the mailer grew a fresh batch of anthrax spores after the Sep 18, 2001 mailing and before the October 9 mailing.  That would require runs that lasted days and were running during the week days.
  • The FBI theory falls apart if it takes days to grow, centrifuge, dry and lyophilize the anthrax for the Senate letters because that would require observation during the weekdays of October 1 to 5 which were Monday to Friday in 2001.
  • The FBI was shoe horned into their theories of it only takes a day to grow anthrax because Ivins’ lab time from Sep 18, 2001 to Oct 9, 2001 is so very well known and it doesn’t correspond to the actual lab steps and times for growing and drying anthrax of the quality in the Senate letters.

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* Congressman Holt: “If I hadn’t personally witnessed the FBI make so many false steps and jump to so many conclusions I’d be more willing to believe them” … LMW: it’s obvious to any objective observer that the FBI has withheld information and not made its case … the really important question is why

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 25, 2011

 

Congressman Holt is Dr. Bruce Ivins best chance for a deserved posthumous exoneration

Matt Fair writes at NJ.com (3/25/11) …

Congressman Rush Holt remains skeptical about conclusions in anthrax investigation

  • While a panel of psychiatrists said this week that Bruce Ivins, the Maryland scientist believed by authorities to be behind several anthrax-laden letters in 2001, was “psychologically disposed to undertake the mailings,” U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, D-Hopewell, maintains that the FBI has not proved its case.
  • “I think this just adds a little more circumstantial evidence that Ivins was the culprit,” Holt said in a telephone interview yesterday. “I don’t think it cinches the case.”
  • Holt added that, after rushing to conclusions in naming Dr. Steven Hatfill a “person of interest” in the case in 2002, there was little reason to believe the veracity of the FBI’s investigation into Ivins’ role in the attacks.
  • “If I hadn’t personally witnessed the FBI make so many false steps and jump to so many conclusions I’d be more willing to believe them,” he said. “I watched as they hunted and harassed Hatfill for years only to decide that he had nothing to do with it. They jumped to a conclusion there, what’s to prevent them from jumping to a conclusion with regard to Ivins?”
  • Holt has introduced legislation in the House of Representatives that would establish a congressional commission, modeled after the 9/11 Commission, to investigate the anthrax attacks. He has said the commission would focus on reviewing the work conducted by the FBI and would also review security protocols in place at government laboratories to ensure that an incident like this doesn’t happen again.

read the entire article at … http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2011/03/holt_remains_skeptical_about_c.html

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* An important key to understanding the Amerithrax timeline during the relevant September-October 2001 period hinges on the documentary evidence still inexplicably being withheld.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 25, 2011

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