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

* DOJ has successfully avoided deposition of Amerithrax consultant Gregory Saathoff who extensively and uncritically relied on the Ivins’ accuser who claims she was granted her psychic abilities by an alien from another planet

Posted by DXer on July 13, 2011


Dr. Gregory Saathoff




26 Responses to “* DOJ has successfully avoided deposition of Amerithrax consultant Gregory Saathoff who extensively and uncritically relied on the Ivins’ accuser who claims she was granted her psychic abilities by an alien from another planet”

  1. DXer said

    Now just as the NG has its composite FBI agents, they also have a made-up psychiatrist. But let’s turn to reality for a moment and consider some of what the FBI was relying on as a key witness, shall we?

  2. DXer said

    Chapter 26 – Use of microbial forensics data in scientific, legal, and policy contexts

    Author links open overlay panelChristopher A.Bidwell1RandallMurch2
    Show more

  3. DXer said

    Chapter 3 – We Have Met the Enemy and They Are Us: Insider Threat and Its Challenge to National Security
    Gregory B. Saathoff,
    Troy Nold,
    Christopher P. Holstege
    Available online 26 February 2013


    Attacks by people with privileged access to an organization’s systems and resources are a serious threat faced by all industries and sectors today. The consequences of insider threat include not only financial loss, but also the disruption of business operations, a decrease in competitive advantage, damage to reputation, and harm to individuals. In the realm of national security, the negative impact of an insider attack may be far more catastrophic. While insider threat is not new, it has evolved dramatically in response to changing technology, social, business, and cultural factors. The majority of current literature on the subject comes from the fields of information technology and cyber security. It is therefore not surprising that many of the solutions available to government and industry for identifying vulnerable insiders focus almost exclusively on technology. However, technical solutions alone are not sufficient. Equally important, insider risk management should directly address the underlying behavioral component of insider threat by implementing security controls with a strong focus on behavior and environment.

  4. DXer said

    FBI Psychiatrist Prepares Colleagues for Bioterrorism: Psychiatric …‎
    Dickson Diamond, M.D., chief psychiatrist for the FBI’s counterterrorism division, has been talking about biological weapons of mass destruction to psychiatrists …

  5. DXer said

    Psychic abilities granted by an extraterrestial alien — relied upon heavily by the FBI and its consulting psychiatrist in profiling Dr. Ivins — has no appropriate role in forensic science or even criminal profiling. GAO should interview Dr. Saathoff so that the public can see his explanation for not excising all reliance on Dr. Ivins’ first counselor, director or indirect, from his report submitted to the United States federal district court judge. To err is human. To continue to publicize and market the mistaken allegations, however, was wrong. He essentially was channeling the instructions that the alien was giving about the murderous astral entties that Ivins’ first counselor thought attached to her clients in her new part-time counseling gig. She annotated the notes of Dr. Ivins’ psychiatrists.

    For an overview on the role of forensic science in capturing killers, see

    3. The utilization of forensic science and criminal profiling for capturing serial killers
    15 June 2011
    John H. White | David Lester | Matthew Gentile | Juliana Rosenbleeth

    Abstract: Movies and nightly television shows appear to emphasize highly efficient regimens in forensic science and criminal investigative analysis (profiling) that result in capturing serial killers and other perpetrators of homicide. Although some of the shows are apocryphal and unrealistic, they reflect major advancements that have been made in the fields of forensic science and criminal psychology during the past two decades that have helped police capture serial killers. Some of the advancements are outlined in this paper. In a study of 200 serial killers, we examined the variables that led to police focusing their attention on specific suspects. We developed 12 categories that describe how serial killers come to the attention of the police. The results of the present study indicate that most serial killers are captured as a result of citizens and surviving victims contributing information that resulted in police investigations that led to an arrest. The role of forensic science appears to be important in convicting the perpetrator, but not necessarily in identifying the perpetrator.

  6. DXer said

    David Willman writes today about whether mistakes were promptly corrected regarding Biowatch.

    I admire anyone’s efforts to avoid conflicts of interest and resulting boondoggles at the expense of taxpayers, consumers or the public health.

    But in a matter implicating national security, how can David as a journalist, write on the subject of the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings or ongoing anthrax threat without correcting his own grievous errors on the same subject?

    More than any other journalist, he is responsible for promoting an Ivins Theory by having failed to correct his mistakes. (I don’t care if he continues to adhere to an Ivins Theory but he should not leave uncorrected his reliance on Ivins first counselor).

    Hw can Mr. Willman rely on as a central witness, Mrs. McLean, who in a book had already published that she was psychotic in 2000 when she met Ivins several times and was annotating his file.

    She wrote in her book ( published BEFORE Mr. Willman’s ) that she thought she was- controlled by an alien who had implanted a microchip in her butt.

    She thought she was being pursued by murderous astral entities attached to her clients in her part-time counseling gig. She received her instructions from the alien each night.

    Each night she would fly to Ground Zero or Afghanistan and then be chased home by nasty Taliban astral entities — barely making it home and escaping through a portal.

    DW in turns reports to a blogger that he has been be too busy to address the subject. (God forbid that it would undermine ongoing sales of his book as he continues to write on the subject for a major newspaper).

    So much for his concern about conflicts of interest or the public health.

    David is not the best choice to focus on the issue of correcting mistakes given his and Gregory Saathoff’s failure to do so — with Dr. Saathoff’s report submitted to a federal district court judge no less.

    The DOJ had a very solemn job to correct mistakes in a representation to a federal district court judge — made all the more solemn given the issues the same judges address under FISA.

    BioWatch’s chief aim is off-target, U.S. security officials say
    BioWatch, which has cost more than $1 billion so far, is designed to detect large-scale biological attacks. But Homeland Security officials say small-scale attacks are more likely to occur.

    By David Willman, Los Angeles Times,0,5421194.story

  7. DXer said

    Judicial Ignorance and Bias Doom Ahmed Abu Ali to Decades in Isolation in Key “War on Terror” Case
    By: Jeff Kaye Saturday April 13, 2013 3:07 pm

    “Bias and Government “Experts”

    A final word about the use of government “experts” in this case should not go unnoted.

    Judge Lee’s bias in the Ali case could be determined from the very moment that he allowed the prosecution to use Dr. Gregory Saathoff as a psychiatric expert. As Judge Lee himself noted, Dr. Saathoff is “a consultant to the FBI.” Given the prominence of FBI testimony in the case, one would think that the presence of potential bias by use of someone paid by the FBI would eliminate him from consideration as an expert. Sadly, I am told by someone with some knowledge of federal court procedures that while a definite conflict of interest, this kind of use of government-linked professionals as “experts” in national security case is not unknown. That doesn’t make it right, however.

    Dr. Saathoff was, by the way, the government expert used in the recent prosecution of Mansour Arbabsiar. He was also provided psychiatric evaluations and testimony in the cases of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, and former Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani.

    Dr. Saathoff has indulged in conflict-of-interest examinations in the past. In late 2009, U.S. District Court for D.C. Judge Royce C. Lamberth tagged Saathoff to write a postmortem psych eval on purported anthrax terrorist Bruce Ivins. According to the L.A. Times, Saathoff, who headed up Lamberth’s ersatz Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel on Ivins, “served as an FBI consultant during the anthrax investigation,” raising basic conflict-of-interest questions. It was no surprise that Saathoff and his partners found Ivins to be as mentally disturbed as the FBI portrayed him.

    Nor am I the first to raise issues about Saathoff’s conflict-of-interest problems, as this article in Clinical Psychiatry News relates.

    The case of Ahmed Abu Ali represents an abomination of justice in a variety of different ways, and was in the past a subject of intense media scrutiny. See here and here for examples. When it comes down to issues of credibility, it is not Mr. Ali who is not credible, but the actions of the justice system itself. In the name of prosecuting the “war on terror,” the government has revealed itself as cloaked in ignorance, addicted to unfair procedures, and allied to torturing states, even as the innocent are left to fates worse than death itself.


    Putting aside issues of conflict of interest or the issues in the case of Ahmed Abu Ali, I will limit my comment to the Amerithrax case.

    In Amerithrax, Dr. Saathoff, who had played the central role in designing the approach to Dr. Ivins, then purported to conduct an independent review of the matter.

    He and the panel he recruited centrally relied on a woman who had already published a book in 2009 explaining that during the period at issue she was controlled by an alien who had implanted a chip in her butt. That woman, Dr. Ivins’ first counselor, says she had a psychotic fear of being pursued by murderous astral entities attached to her clients. I presume Dr. Saathoff had not read the book. The report noted the psychiatrist’s notes had been annotated by the counselor. The notes were not produced and we were left with only the panel’s description.

    When his reliance was pointed to Dr. Saathoff, he made no deletions from the report and to the best of my knowledge did not notify the federal district court Lamberth. I gave notice to almost all the panel members and so they are equally responsible. It was wrong not to correct representations to a federal district court on such an important national security matter.

  8. DXer said

    If the DOJ had not succeeded in avoiding Dr. Saathoff’s deposition, he would have had to correct the reckless reliance on Dr. Ivins’ counselor. Instead, he and the other busy uncompensated professionals he recruited just dismissed criticisms without addressing the fact that they had not corrected the representations made to a federal court district judge. Investigators say that Dr. Saathoff was the one who had urged that the report be made public. DOJ should appreciate that material misstatements to a federal district court judge should be corrected. Otherwise, the judge may no longer have confidence in representations made to the court in applying for Title III or FISA applications for a warrant.

    In the case of this blog, by analogy, Lew would gladly delete anything in error. If I told him one thing and someone else told him another, he would require proof from me before choosing not to delete it.

    Here, Dr. Saathoff would not be able to provide evidence contradicting McLean’s claim that she was controlled by an alien who she thought had implanted a microchip in her butt and gave her instructions each night in July 2000.

    “Criticisms ‘unwarranted’Source:Clinical Psychiatry News.39.9 (Sept. 2011)
    Dr. Annette Hanson’s recent commentary alleges ethical
    concerns about “The Amerithrax Case: The Report of the Expert Behavioral
    Analysis Panel” (EBAP) concerning the investigation into the 2001
    anthrax attacks (“Presumption of Guilt: Problematic” Clinical
    Psychiatry News, July 2011, p. 14). Specifically, Dr. Hanson questioned
    whether the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL) ethical
    guidelines were violated by the Panel in producing this Report.

    We appreciate the opportunity to respond to the issues raised by
    our colleague. The independent Panel was comprised of representatives of
    various professions and although the majority of the Panel members were not
    forensic psychiatrists, each member of the Panel scrupulously adhered to
    appropriate professional and ethical standards.

    The book length document produced by the Panel is not and was
    never intended to be a standard forensic report. It was produced in response
    to a request from the Department of Justice and authorized by Chief Judge
    Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court in Washington. The Court
    authorized the formation of a panel to conduct an analysis and produce a
    report relating to national security, not for litigation or adjudication.
    Indeed, more than a year prior to the release of the EBAP report, the U.S.
    Department of Justice attributed the responsibility for the attacks to the
    late anthrax researcher, Dr. Bruce Ivins.

    Specifically, the Panel was assigned to “examine ‘the
    mental health issues of Dr. Bruce Ivins and what lessons can be learned from
    that analysis that may be useful in preventing future bioterrorism
    attacks’ ” We fulfilled this charge by conducting a thorough review
    and analysis of thousands of pages of documents; policies and procedures,
    depositions, interview transcripts and e-mails, legislative and regulatory
    materials. Contrary to Dr. Hanson’s assertions, the panel did not
    pronounce guilt nor did it develop or employ a “bioterrorist
    profile” or a profile of any kind. Indeed, the word “profile”
    is used nowhere in the document.

    Following the Panel’s August 2010 submission of the Report
    under seal to the Court, the Court itself authorized the release of a
    redacted version in March 2011. The method of release of the Report by the
    Research Strategies Network (RSN) is consistent with that of other Federally
    authorized reports. Utilization of an independent panel or commission in
    response to a request for analysis of a critical incident from the court or
    other government agencies is not unusual and greatly enhances the quality and
    objectivity of the analysis.

    The AAPL guidelines state: “Psychiatrists in a forensic role
    are called upon to practice in a manner that balances competing duties to the
    individual and to society. In doing so, they should be bound by underlying
    ethical principles of respect for persons, honesty, justice and social
    responsibility” The psychiatric details of Dr. Ivins are complex, and
    the risks the anthrax mailings posed to our society were tremendous. In
    addition to the five deaths and numerous injuries, the work of every U.S.
    Postal and government employee has been irreversibly changed by the anthrax
    mailings. The national and international implications of the attacks cannot
    be overestimated.

    A thorough analysis and understanding of every possible aspect of
    this case … is essential for understanding, prevention, and management of
    future similar bioterrorist attacks. To do less would be a missed opportunity
    and would compromise the security of all Americans.

    David Benedek, M.D. Professor, Department of Psychiatry Uniformed
    Services University School of Medicine

    J. Steven Lamberti, M.D. Professor, Department of Psychiatry
    University of Rochester Medical Center

    Gerald DeFrancisco President, Humanitarian Services American
    National Red Cross

    Gregory Saathojf, M. D. Executive Director Critical Incident
    Analysis Gp. University of Virginia School of Medicine

    Anita Everett, M.D. Section Director, Community and Gen.
    Psychiatry Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

    Ronald Schouten, M.D.J.D. Director, Law and Psychiatry Service

    Massachusetts General Hospital Harvard University School of

    Christopher P. Holstege, M.D. Chief, Division of Medical
    Toxicology Jnivenity of Virginia School of Medicine

    Joseph C. White Senior Vice President Humanitarian Operations
    American National Red Cross

    Sally C. Johnson, M.D. Professor, Department of Psychiatry
    University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

    Dr. Hanson replies:

    I appreciate the clarification provided by the panel, although a
    number of questions still remain. In addition to the Expert Behavioral
    Analysis Panel (EBAP) response, 1 also reviewed information from the Research
    Strategies Network website, which I note has been revised since my original
    column was published. The site now also provides a link to the court order
    authorizing release of the report.

    The EBAP characterizes its work as either nonforensic, or not
    traditionally forensic, in that the panel was formed and charged by the
    Federal court in a manner consistent with other Federally authorized
    investigations. In the government’s motion to release the report, an
    analogy was made to the independent investigation of the Virginia Tech

    I would disagree that this commission is identical to other
    Federal commissions. Most panel members are psychiatrists and the material
    they reviewed included mental health information. In the Virginia Tech
    shooting, Seung Hui Cho’s parents authorized the release of his mental
    health records. I can find no indication that Dr. Ivins’s estate
    authorized the release of his mental health information for the panel’s
    investigation or the subsequent report; however, the court did mandate that
    protected health information be removed from the publicly released document.

    The panel members disagree with my assertion that they publicly
    pronounced Dr. Ivins guilty. They based their work upon the fact that the
    Justice Department had previously “deemed Ivins the responsible
    party.” If true, this would raise a concern regarding forensic
    psychiatrists’ imperative to strive for objectivity (AAPL Ethical
    Guidelines for the Practice of Forensic Psychiatry, In light of Dr. SaathofF’s work
    consulting with the FBI and Federal prosecutors during the initial
    investigation, the objectivity of the panel could also be called into

    According to the order to unseal the report, two of the purposes
    for releasing the report to the public were to “help the public
    understand both the crime and its perpetrator,” and “to reassure
    the publie that Dr. Ivins, alone, committed the anthrax attacks” (Motion
    for Unsealing of Redacted Report of Expert Behavioral Analysis).

    Therefore, documenting that Ivins had the “means, motive and
    opportunity” to commit the crimes would create a strong impression of
    guilt in the public mind. Prejudicial public statements have previously been
    addressed by prohibitions against diagnosing celebrities, public officials,
    and foreign government officials (JAMA 2008;300:1348-50) and (Psychiatr.
    Clin. N. Am. 2002;25:635-46). It would seem logical to extrapolate from these
    standards a need to avoid public statements about unindicted suspects.

    I agree with the panel regarding the importance of
    physicians’ participation in public health matters. Often, professional
    ethics involves weighing the importance of public safety against the rights
    and liberties of the individual. Mental health professionals hold a unique
    position in this balance of powers; abuse of psychiatric authority can be
    addressed through state licensing boards and peer review. In matters of
    national security, however, professional practice should not be shielded from
    this review. This case illustrates the need for AAPL and the American
    Psychiatric Association to update existing guidelines to address
    participation in national security matters and similar Federal investigatory

  9. DXer said

    Government’s Psychological Evaluation of Manssor Arbabsiar Fails to Impress
    By Jeffrey Kaye
    The Public Record
    Oct 10th, 2012

    Saathoff’s Bias
    Saathoff had been tagged in late 2009 by U.S. District Court for D.C. Judge Royce C. Lamberth to write a postmortem psych eval on purported anthrax terrorist Bruce Ivins. (I looked critically at Saathoff’s work in that case here.) According to the L.A. Times, Saathoff, who headed up Lamberth’s ersatz Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel, “served as an FBI consultant during the anthrax investigation,” raising basic conflict-of-interest questions. It was no surprise that Saathoff and his partners found Ivins to be as mentally disturbed as the FBI portrayed him. (A National Research Council report last yearseriously questioned the FBI’s evidence in the Ivins’ case.)
    Saathoff has also served as psychiatric expert in the trials of Omar Ahmed Abu Ali, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, and former Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani. But in the Arbabsiar case, it is Saathoff’s connections to the FBI that are most germane here, as he bases a great deal of his report’s conclusions on interviews with FBI interrogators and guards.
    To his credit, Saathoff is not hiding his credentials here. “Since 1996 I have served as the Conflict Resolution Specialist for the Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” he writes. “In this role, I have provided regular consultation to the CIRG’s Crisis Negotiation Unit, the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, and the [FBI’s] Behavioral Analysis Unit that specifically deals with terrorism-related crimes. I teach the psychopathology lectures for senior profilers who have been appointed to the Behavioral Analysis Units.”

  10. DXer said

    Our government is such an ass. The government considers spending $5.7 billion but not $10 for an online book detailing that their central witness against Dr. Ivins, his first counselor, says she was psychotic in 2000 and had delusions about murderous fiends.

    It was our government that caused these immoral religious cultists like Dr. Ayman to want to try to kill us in the first place.

    Anthrax alert system at risk as cost estimate hits $5.7 billion
    Washington Post – 6 hours ago

  11. DXer said

    Dr. Saathoff has never corrected his reliance on Dr. Ivins’ first counselor, Judith McLean. He relied on her extensively in his report that figured so centrally in the FBI’s conclusions.

    Regardless of any instruction given by the moderator at this week’s conference in Charlotte, VA I hope to have a transcript of his remarks at the conference this week showing that he and Mr. Willman are simply not the type to correct mistakes or incorporate new information.

    In any profession, that is not good. Not prosecution. Journalism. Or psychiatry. Not treasure hunting.

    Note to audience: If you have to be sneaky, I recommend hiding the microphone in your car keys.

  12. DXer said

    Is the withholding by the FBI agents who worked with Dr. Saathoff mitigated — or is it aggravated — when proxies are used to spin the misleading narrative?

  13. DXer said

    The failure to disclose and correct material information relating to the credibility of witnesses of central importance is seen in stark relief in the writing by David Willman and Greg Saathoff. They will discuss their findings against Dr. Ivins at the U of Va Law School on March 21. A transcript of the presentation should be made by someone down there. People are busy and so they defer to and rely upon others. Here, it was incumbent on Dr. Saathoff to file a supplemental correction with the federal district court Judge Lamberth. It was incumbent on Mr. Willman similarly to address issues — both his reliance on the first counselor Judith McLean and the evidence relating to Dr. Ivins’ work with the rabbits. He continued to write on the subject for the Los Angeles Times even though he was selling a book on the subject and garnering royalties. He continues to promote his book that adopted the DOJ’s spin on Dr. Ivins while getting to the merits only in an appendix to the epilogue.

    Relatedly, it is the role of the law professor moderating the panel to school himself on these issues and ask the hard questions. The law professor should read the Amerithrax Investigative Summary and see how the AUSA makes no mention of the work with the rabbits. Then he should read the documents relating to his work on the rabbits and ask Mr. Willman to address them.

    On the question of the first counselor, the law professor should read the excerpts of the online 2009 book and ask Dr. Saathoff how he ever could have issued a report relying on her as a central witness without disclosing that in 2000 she thought her actions her controlled by an alien who gave her instructions each night and had implanted a microchip in her butt. He should be asked why he didn’t read her 2009 book before issuing his 2010 report.

    If Amerithrax represents a reckless and botched intelligence analysis, the failure of Mr. Willman and Dr. Saathoff to address these issues looms very large.

    States News Service

    March 13, 2012 Tuesday


    BYLINE: States News Service

    LENGTH: 480 words

    DATELINE: Charlottesville, VA

    The following information was released by the University of Virginia:

    Medical experts who analyzed the 2001 anthrax attacks and the psychiatric records of their suspected instigator, Bruce Ivins, will explain their findings March 21 at 5 p.m. during a panel discussion on “The Amerithrax Case and Lessons Learned,” at the University of Virginia School of Law’s Caplin Pavilion.

    Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Willman, author of “The Mirage Man: Bruce Ivins, the Anthrax Attacks, and America’s Rush to War,” will lead off the panel, which will be moderated by U.Va. law professor Brandon Garrett. The event, which is sponsored by the Law School and the U.Va. Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy, is open to the public. Parking will be available in the D-2 lots around the Law School.

    Soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, letters laced with anthrax began appearing in the U.S. mail. Five Americans were killed and 17 more were sickened in what became the worst biological attacks in U.S. history.

    In July 2009, Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia authorized a report by the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel to examine “the mental health issues of Dr. Bruce Ivins” and determine “what lessons can be learned from that analysis that may be useful in preventing future bioterrorism attacks.”

    The panel was granted access to the “Amerithrax” investigative materials as well as Ivins’ sealed psychiatric records. In particular, Lamberth asked the panelists to offer a better understanding of Ivins’ mental state before and after the anthrax mailings; his possible motives; and the connections, if any, between his mental state and the commission of the crimes. The panel issued a final report to Lamberth in August 2010, and a redacted version of the report was released publicly in March 2011.

    The Amerithrax Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel participants who will speak at the Law School include:

    Dr. Greg Saathoff, chairman, Amerithrax Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel; executive director, U.Va. Critical Incident Analysis Group; associate professor of research, U.Va. School of Medicine

    Dr. Ronald Schouten, director, Law and Psychiatry Service, Harvard Medical School

    Dr. Christopher Holstege, co-chairman, U.Va. Critical Incident Analysis Group; director, U.Va. Division of Medical Toxicology

    Willman, a Los Angeles Times journalist, won the Pulitzer in 2001 for his investigative reporting about prescription drugs.

    Garrett is an expert on criminal law, wrongful convictions and corporate crime. In his book, “Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong,” he examined the cases of the first 250 people to be exonerated by DNA testing.

    For information on the Amerithrax Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel, click here.

    For information on the federal government’s investigation into the anthrax attacks, click here.

  14. DXer said

    Neither Professor Guillemin nor Professor Schouten have ever addressed or retracted their reliance on counselor Judith McLean.

    If the DOJ produced the documents relating to the rabbit study and people like Dr. Saathoff and Dr. Schouten address the reliability of their central witness, things could be advanced without the delay of another committee.

    Why does Professor Guillemin not address the actual docuemtary evidence rather than chronicle the FBI’s assertions? Why hasn’t the word “rabbit” passed her lips when she addresses the need for another probe? The day they start talking about microchips — both implanted in the rabbits and in the counselor’s butt by the alien — then we will know that they have mastered the documents.

    Being a sociologist is not a justification for not mastering the documents from September and October as to why he was in the lab. While I realize she wants to give her husband Matthew a chence to defend his views on the silicon signature, if she is going to address Ivins Theory rather than pure science, then she needs to address the documents as to why he was in the lab on those nights.

    Targeted News Service

    November 1, 2011 Tuesday 9:43 PM EST

    Ten Years After Deadly Anthrax Mailings, AAAS Event Explores Lingering Questions

    BYLINE: Targeted News Service

    The American Association for the Advancement of Science issued the following news release:

    A decade after anthrax sent by mail left five dead and put America on edge, questions continue to be raised about the adequacy of the science used to identify a suspect and on the ability to prevent such bioterrorism, specialists said at a AAAS retrospective on the attacks.

    Agencies and institutions must take steps to enhance the screening of those who work with dangerous pathogens, they said, while also assuring the public that the criminal justice process, in the event of any future attacks, will work and work well.

    Jeanne Guillemin, a medical anthropologist and senior fellow in the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, called for a commission of experts on the microbiology of anthrax and the development of biological weapons to review the scientific underpinnings of the long and often contentious hunt for the perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks.

    Although the FBI concluded last year that Bruce Edward Ivins, a scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Maryland, carried out the attacks, recent media accounts have suggested weaknesses in the case against him. Ivins committed suicide in July 2008 before charges could be filed.

    Guillemin told the 20 October meeting at AAAS, organized by the AAAS Center for Science, Technology and Security Policy, that the credibility of major U.S. institutions, including the Justice Department, the FBI, the U.S. Army, and the news media, is at stake. While she expressed confidence in the forensic science used during the anthrax investigation, Guillemin said it is important for the public to know what was done in order to dispel what she called a general “crisis of legitimacy” for government institutions.

    With no confession from Ivins and no airing of the evidence in a trial, the legal process was short-circuited, Guillemin said, and that can lead to distrust and alternative explanations. “I think it is important that there be convened an independent commission,” she said, to assess the science–much of it newly developed–used during the anthrax investigation.

    Guillemin stressed that she was not criticizing a National Academy of Sciences panel of microbiologists, chemists, physicians, jurists, and others that issued a report in February on the scientific approaches used in the case. That panel found that spores in the attack letters shared a number of genetic similarities with those from a batch of anthrax from Ivins’ lab. But it also said the data “did not definitively demonstrate” a link.

    Guillemin said there remains a need for a “Team A” review of the science by specialists who “really understand the microbiology of anthrax” and its development as a weapon. The review panel should have access to classified materials about the case which were not reviewed by the Academy panel, she said.

    Guillemin also discussed the potential impact of the current budget crisis on biodefense and how changing threat perceptions have influenced investment in defensive research against select pathogens over the years.

    After President Richard Nixon ended the U.S. offensive bioweapons program in 1969, she said, developing defenses for troops against anthrax became a relatively low priority. A 1979 anthrax outbreak in the former Soviet Union revived interest in anthrax vaccine research by USAMRIID (Bruce Ivins, among others, was hired at that time.) And after the Cold War, concerns about “rogue states” such as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq ratcheted up worries about bioterrorism. The worries became a fixation in the wake of the anthrax attacks, with USAMRIID finding itself in competition with university and industry research centers for billions of new federal dollars to improve biodefense.

    Now, Guillemin said, anticipated cuts in the current biodefense budget could have a destabilizing effect on those research centers, forcing them to downsize. Policy-makers will have to grapple with continued concerns about bioterrorism, she said, while also adequately funding other programs important to national health such as chronic disease prevention, childhood immunization, and occupational safety.

    “The question,” Guillemin said, “is what do we want the biodefense enterprise to look like in five or 10 years, so that the nation can be truly safe.”

    An effective defense effort will require measures to enhance the reliability of those who do research on dangerous pathogens, according to Dr. Ronald Schouten, director of the Law & Psychiatry Service at Massachusetts General Hospital. Schouten served on a panel that posthumously reviewed Ivins’ psychiatric record at the request of U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth. He said the scientist’s behavior certainly should have raised concerns.

    Ivins had “a long history of behaviors prior to 2011 that should have excluded him from a security clearance and working with anthrax,” Schouten said, including stalking behavior, vandalism, and stealing a colleague’s laboratory notebook. There were mechanisms available for Ivins’ superiors to discover his history of substance abuse, mental illness, and threatening behaviors, he added, noting that Ivins had allowed full access to his clinical treatment records as part of his employment agreement.

    “There were multiple instances throughout Bruce Ivins’ career when colleagues and supervisors did not respond to behaviors and statements on his part that were, in hindsight, red flags for serious problems,” Schouten said. The panel’s psychological assessment of Ivins concluded that he was “psychologically disposed to undertake the [anthrax] mailings” and that he had the means and motivation for carrying them out.

    Still, as Schouten noted, “there is no absolute certainty. There is always ambiguity. In science there is always a margin of error. In law, proof beyond a reasonable doubt does not mean 100%” and therefore the door is always left open to those who have doubts about a case.

    But no matter who carried out the anthrax attacks, Schouten said, the case offers lessons for how to prevent such episodes in the future. Federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Health and Human Services, have been changing their approach to biosecurity to address some of the major issues raised by the attacks, Schouten said.

    The Pentagon has made changes to its Personnel Reliability Program (PRP), a program of psychological evaluation and other screening measures first instituted during the Cold War to help ensure that only the most trustworthy individuals have access to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Certain other federal agencies and facilities also have PRPs. There was no formal PRP for the Army’s biological facilities prior to the anthrax attacks.

    In any assessment of an employee’s reliability, Schouten said, agencies must balance the risk of allowing an insider threat to slip through versus the cost of excluding talented individuals who have skills the government needs.

    The focus needs to be on behaviors of concern, as in the Ivins case, he said, and not whether someone has an illness. To do otherwise risks excluding qualified individuals from important work in the absence of any real threat to security or safety, Schouten said.

    A significant challenge going forward, Schouten said, is to develop appropriate biosecurity programs–with goals similar to PRP for academic institutions and companies without having a chilling effect on the conduct of life sciences research. The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity recommended in April 2009 against a formal, national personnel reliability program for all researchers using select agents such as anthrax. Instead, it supported enhancement of existing measures and a culture of responsibility and accountability within institutions conducting select agent research.

    For a security program to be effective, Schouten said, employees under stress must feel free to seek counseling and treatment if they need it” without fears that disclosure will damage their careers or personal lives.

    Schouten also cautioned that a diagnosis of mental illness, in and of itself, “does not indicate an increased risk of violence or insider threat.”

    But substance abuse and anti-social behavior in combination with a mental disorder, particularly personality disorders such as malignant narcissism, psychopathy, or borderline personality, are warning signs for potential problems, he said.

    He also noted that treating clinicians, while essential sources of information in biosafety and biosecurity assessments, tend to be advocates for their patients and are not always objective in their assessments of risk.

    While psychological screening tools are imperfect instruments, Schouten said, it is possible to incorporate them into a security system that does work to deter insider threats. In building such systems for the future, Schouten said, it is important that those being screened for employment be offered full confidentiality in return for release of information about their past medical history. He proposed that agencies and institutions establish review panels with three representatives–one each from the human resources department, the medical/behavioral health department, and the security office.

    Each would do an independent evaluation of the candidate and then confer on whether the person should be hired, declined, or accepted with provision for monitoring. The final decision would be conveyed to the appropriate supervisors without getting into specific diagnoses or clinical details.

    In the end, he said, the best results from screening systems and personnel reliability programs depend on employees and supervisors who place an emphasis on occupational health and wellness. They take responsibility for their own safety and security, he said, and demand that any “fitness for duty” issues be addressed promptly and effectively.

    Earl Lane

    • DXer said

      And the documents produced to date show that the AUSA’s were misrepresenting the facts in their investigative summary.

      But there are still key documents that the DOJ need to produce, to include Dr. Ivins bacteremia data from the rabbit formaldehyde study.

  15. DXer said

    Yesterday the US/DOJ moved to exclude the report of the psychiatrists on the grounds that they were not qualified experts and the report was not commissioned or endorsed by the US.

    The DOJ notes that the members were picked by Dr. Saathoff and the report was sold for profit on his website.

  16. DXer said

    In the text and footnote 497, Laurie Garrett is confusing two different counselors. Jean Duley was not the subject of the August 7, 2001 article — the unidentified counselor was Judith McLean.

    Goldstein A, Tate J (2008) “Acquaintances and Counselor Recall Scientist’s Dark Side,” Washington Post, August 7, A1.

    McLean’s notes were passed to Duley in July 2007 and crediting them she was reporting the information as fact rather than part of McLean’s delusions. I contacted the Washington Post about the August 7, 2008 report and no retraction of the front page story was made.

    Appearing in Washington the day before the critical August 8 press conference by US Attorney Judgment, its importance cannot be understated.

  17. DXer said

    To update the Stevens docket, the last filing was a court finding the motion to depose Dr. Saathoff moot in light of the parties’ Stipulation.

  18. DXer said

    Justice Department Filing Casts Doubt on Guilt of Bruce Ivins, Accused in Anthrax Case

  19. DXer said

    PBS –
    New Documents Cast Doubt on Federal Anthrax Case

    Read more:

  20. DXer said

    Report: Anthrax Mailing Case Could Be In Jeopardy


    Justice Department Filing Casts Doubt on Guilt of Bruce Ivins, Accused in Anthrax Case

    by Mike Wiser, PBS FRONTLINE, Greg Gordon, McClatchy Newspapers, and Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica July 18, 2011, 8:03 p.m.

    New court documents case doubt on the guilt of Dr. Bruce Ivins, an Army scientist who committed suicide as federal authorities prepared to charge him with killing five people by sending anthrax spores in the mail in 2001. (Frederick News Post, Sam Yu/AP Photo)

    This story was co-published with PBS FRONTLINE and McClatchy.

    WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has called into question a key pillar of the FBI’s case against Bruce Ivins, the Army scientist accused of mailing the anthrax-laced letters that killed five people and terrorized Congress a decade ago.

    Shortly after Ivins committed suicide in 2008, federal investigators announced that they had identified him as the mass murderer who sent the letters to members of Congress and the media. The case was circumstantial, with federal officials arguing that the scientist had the means, motive and opportunity to make the deadly powder at a U.S. Army research facility at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Md.

    On July 15, however, Justice Department lawyers acknowledged in court papers that the sealed area in Ivins’ lab — the so-called hot suite — did not contain the equipment needed to turn liquid anthrax into the refined powder that floated through congressional buildings and post offices in the fall of 2001.

  21. DXer said

    In NEXT THREE DAYS, there’s a moment at the movie after Russell Crowe has escaped to Venezuela with his wife and child.

    Though his wife was innocent, she was convicted on very compelling evidence that pointed to her (unlike the total absence of evidence against Dr. Ivins).

    There was a moment when the detective who investigated the original crime revisited the scene. He had quite rightly thought the wife was guilty (fingerprints, blood evidence, angry fight etc.). But in the rethinking things, it suddenly dawned on him to look for the evidence that would support her innocence. She had said she had heard a button pop (as the real murderer passed) and brushed her with the victim’s blood. He then went to where the water drained and would have carried the button. He told his partner something like: “Help with this grate. And do some real police work.”

    But then, that’s Hollywood. And inside the beltway, it’s all about CYA — not reassess the evidence and get things right.

    If the DOJ stood for justice, it would not be continuing to withhold thousands of pages of critical documents.

    It would not have sought to avoid the deposition of the consultant it used to spin Dr. Ivins’ guilt at a press conference just a few months ago — in order to hide the grievous errors central to the report. Dr. Saathoff’s reliance on McLean’s claims was central to the confidence in late July 2008 and early August 2008 that senior DOJ and FBI officials expressed — the fact that the information was not yet public made it all the more persuasive to them. The fact that it was not generally known, they reasoned, explained why very few people were persuaded by their argument. Actually, if it had been known, it could have been readily debunked at the time.

    A protective order would have sufficed to address all of DOJ’s concerns) about the secrets it wants Dr. Saathoff to keep. Thus, the lawyers defending the Stevens litigation have made themselves part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.

  22. DXer said

    The report filed in the United States District Court by Dr. Saathoff should be corrected and all reliance on the first counselor should be removed.

    the material on the CASE CLOSED blog about Judith McLean (see prior posts linked below) is relevant to an evaluation of the validity of David Willman’s conclusions in his recently published “The Mirage Man” … because Willman himself, in his publicity blurb (see below), shows just how much he relied on the psychic who says … she was granted her abilities by an extraterrestrial being … got sick in 2001 from doing astral recovery work at Ground Zero and in Afghanistan after 9/11 … and was pursued by nasty Taliban entities
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 12, 2011’s-conclusions-in-his-recently-published-“the-mirage-man”-because/

    Excerpts from David Willman’s key witness (from her book ASCENSION JOURNEY)
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 18, 2011

    David Willman relies extensively upon Dr. Ivins’ first therapist, Judith M. McLean, who writes of how she acquired her psychic abilities in her book available for sale on — from a being from another planet
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 11, 2011

    • DXer said

      The sworn testimony is like a herd of stampeding elephants leaving nothing of an Ivins Theory.

      But now we can understand how it unfolded. At the heart of the Ivins Theory were the notes handed to Ms. Duley in mid-July from the first counselor who was granted her psychic abilities from an alien from another planet, and who felt that murderous entitites attached to her clients were trying to kill her. Ms. McLean consulted with Ms. Duley and the notes of psychiatrists were even supplemented by the counselor.

      I don’t blame these well-meaning investigators and others who came up with their Ivins Theory — they are only blameworthy to the extent that they do not set the course right.

      If they don’t, they may find some potted plants in the room really do start talking.

      The suspect in the ’01 attacks, an Army researcher, began unraveling months ago.
      St. Petersburg Times – St. Petersburg, Fla.
      Author: Anonymous
      Date: Aug 2, 2008
      Start Page: A.1

      W. Russell Byrne, a former of colleague of [Bruce Ivins]’ at the biodefense laboratory, criticized federal agents as having needlessly harassed Ivins and his family. “They searched his house twice and his computer once,” he said. “We all felt powerless to stop it.”

      In court records, filed after Ivins discussed his plans to kill his co-workers, a social worker who led the sessions, Jean Duley, said that Ivins’ psychiatrist had “called him homicidal, sociopath with clear intentions.”

      “He is a revenge killer,” Duley told a Maryland District Court judge in July as she sought a restraining order against Ivins. “When he feels that he has been slighted, and especially toward women, he plots and actually tries to carry out revenge killing.”

    • DXer said

      “Well, sir, I’m not a potted plant. …” — Brendan V. Sullivan, Jr., Esq.

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