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

Archive for March 24th, 2011

* more questions about the Amerithrax Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel’s “independent” psychological report on Dr. Ivins

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 24, 2011

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

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empty wheel (Marcy Wheeler?) writes (3/23/11) …

  • the report (of the Amerithrax Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel) basically paints Bruce Ivins was a stalker which therefore makes him a possible bioterrorist.
  • Unfortunately for the shrinks who did the report, they start by endorsing the FBI’s now questionable anthrax theory.
    • The National Academy of Science said … the flask designated RMR-1029 was not the immediate, most proximate source of the letter material.
    • 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.
  • In other words, because the shrinks based their entire report on the claim that Ivins had the “means and opportunity” to commit the attack based on the scientific claims about the anthrax, they pretty much undermine their entire argument from the start (and undermine their claim that they had “no predispositions regarding Ivins’ guilt or innocence”).
  • at least in this summary, it appears the shrinks’ report doesn’t answer some of the most basic questions raised about the attack.

read the entire article at … http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2011/03/23/fbi-stalkers-are-likely-bioterrorists/

LMW COMMENT …

It appears that the psychological evaluation of the Amerithrax Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel was based entirely on the FBI’s statement of its case, which has been documented again and again on this blog as incomplete and uncompelling.

From such a starting point, with no independent information or evaluation, how could any conclusions from a group of “consultants” apparently well under the FBI’s thumb be considered as independent or well supported?

As I have said before, the only hope Bruce Ivins has for a posthumous exoneration comes from Congressman Rush Holt, the GAO review underway, and the Anthrax Commission currently going nowhere in the House of Representatives.

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* maybe not so fast … Jeff Kaye writes: this latest “expert behavioral analysis” isn’t going to convince anyone, as it is stacked with government-linked authorities, many of them to DoJ, DHS, or the Pentagon

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 24, 2011

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Jeff Kaye writes (3/23/11) …

  • The investigation by the “Amerithrax Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel” on “the mental health issues” of accused anthrax mailer Dr. Bruce Ivins purports to have been undertaken with “no predispositions regarding Dr. Ivin’s guilt or innocence.”
  • Yet the report says the Panel’s review of sealed psychiatric records “does support the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) determination that he was responsible.
  • In a separate article by Marcy Wheeler earlier today, she points out that the report totally accepts the allegation that the anthrax spores originated from flask RMR-1029, and that therefore Ivins had “the motivation and the means” to carry out the attack.
  • Of course, as Wheeler notes, the National Academy of Sciences recently said that there is insufficient scientific evidence to back up DOJ’s conclusion regarding this. Wheeler’s article also points out other inconsistencies and illogical aspects of the Panel’s report.
  • a brief review of the panel’s bona fides reveals is an overwhelming stacking of this “expert” panel by doctors and others who are deeply beholden to government interests, and in particular to security agencies, including those involved in bioterrorism security.
  • For such individuals, it is difficult to see that they would buck the position of the FBI and DOJ that Ivins was guilty.
  • probably most apposite for the point of this article is Dr. Saathoff’s links to the FBI.
  • In 1996 he was appointed to a Commission charged with developing a methodology to enable the FBI to better access non-governmental expertise during times of crisis.
  • In that regard, Dr. Saathoff has since 1996 served as the Conflict Resolution Specialist to the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group. In this role, he consults with the Crisis Negotiation Unit and the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime.

it’s hard to believe that any group thus constituted

could have or would have challenged the conclusions of the DOJ.

  • Reading the Executive Summary, it’s apparent how their case is built on a flimsy and prejudiced analysis, as they consistently refer to “circumstantial” evidence, as they construct a dire portrait of a man who is portrayed as “clever,” who “cultivated” a benign presence, while masking his “criminal thoughts.”
  • perhaps the government would want to have this report examined by peer-review.
  • It wouldn’t be so hard to find individuals not linked to the government, but capable of the requisite security clearances.
  • But then, the government hasn’t taken the anthrax terrorism really seriously, leading many to conclude, rightly or wrongly, they have something to cover up.
  • In any case, this latest “expert behavioral analysis” isn’t going to convince anyone, as it is stacked with government-linked authorities, many of them to DoJ, DHS, or the Pentagon.

read the entire article at … http://my.firedoglake.com/valtin/2011/03/23/78203/

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* Scott Shane: psychiatrists who studied the medical records of Bruce E. Ivins said Wednesday that the F.B.I.’s case that he mailed the anthrax letters in 2001 was persuasive

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 24, 2011

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Scott Shane writes in the NYT (3/23/11) …

A panel of psychiatrists who studied the medical records of Bruce E. Ivins said Wednesday that the F.B.I.’s case that he mailed the anthrax letters in 2001 was persuasive, and that Dr. Ivins’s history of mental problems should have disqualified him from working with dangerous pathogens.

“Dr. Ivins was psychologically disposed to undertake the mailings; his behavioral history demonstrated his potential for carrying them out; and he had the motivation and the means,” the panel wrote in its 285-page report, released at a news conference on Wednesday.

The review was authorized in a confidential 2009 order by Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of United States District Court in Washington that had not been previously revealed.

The report adds new detail to the F.B.I.’s account of Dr. Ivins’s eccentric and sometimes criminal secret life, including his obsession with a sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and break-ins at some of its chapter offices. It documents his preoccupation with several women, including his two laboratory technicians, his stalking behavior and his penchant for long night drives to mail or drop off packages, often under assumed names.

“A man like him, who had committed repeated acts of breaking and entering as well as burglary without having been caught, would have little difficulty mailing the letters late at night or early in the morning without being seen,” the panel wrote.

It also found that Dr. Ivins, who was 62 when he died, was “homicidal” in the last weeks of his life. Only his involuntary commitment for psychiatric treatment, the panel wrote, “prevented a mass shooting and fulfillment of his promise to go out in a ‘blaze of glory,’ “ the report said.

Some colleagues of Dr. Ivins at the Army’s biodefense center at Fort Detrick, Md., have defended his innocence.

Dr. Gregory Saathoff, a University of Virginia psychiatrist and the panel’s chairman, acknowledged that “people very, very close to him believe in his innocence.” But he said that was a result of Dr. Ivins’s success in hiding his obsessions from family and friends.

“The panel was quite struck by Ivins’s ability to lead a parallel life,” Dr. Saathoff said.

Dr. Saathoff is a longtime F.B.I. consultant who was asked after Dr. Ivins’s suicide to review his psychiatric records. He then proposed convening the panel, which was approved by Judge Lamberth.

Dr. Saathoff said the F.B.I. had provided the case files and paid $38,000 in expenses for the nine panel members, who volunteered their time. But he said neither the bureau nor any other government agency had reviewed or altered the report before it was completed. The public text was redacted to protect the privacy of health professionals, investigators and, in some details, Dr. Ivins himself, he said.

“To most of his colleagues and acquaintances, Dr. Ivins was an eccentric, socially awkward, harmless figure, an esteemed bacteriologist who juggled at parties, played the keyboard at church and wrote clever poems for departing colleagues,” the report said. “That is precisely how Dr. Ivins wanted them to see him. He cultivated a persona of benign eccentricity that masked his obsessions and criminal thoughts.”

The report describes Dr. Ivins’s “strange and traumatic childhood,” during which his mother “assaulted and abused her husband — stabbing him, beating him, and threatening to kill him with a loaded gun.”

As early as 1978, Dr. Ivins sought treatment for psychiatric problems that should have prevented him from obtaining the “secret” clearance necessary to go to work in 1980 at the Army’s biodefense center, the report said. When the anthrax attacks occurred, the psychiatrist who treated him then — and who had not seen him for two decades — immediately wondered if Dr. Ivins might be behind them, the report said.

Though he attracted investigators’ suspicions as early as 2004, the F.B.I. never questioned his current or former mental health providers until his involuntary hospitalization in July 2008, the report said.

The panel found that Dr. Ivins carried out the attacks to get “revenge” against an array of imagined enemies, including the news media, as well as “to elevate his own significance” and rescue his research on anthrax vaccines, whose financing was threatened in 2001.

The panel of six psychiatrists, one toxicologist and two officials of the American Red Cross, where Dr. Ivins was a regular volunteer, did not examine records on other suspects who arose during the seven-year investigation.

read the entire article at … http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/us/24anthrax.html?_r=1&emc=tnt&tntemail1=y

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