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

Archive for August, 2011

* DXer comments … The Amerithrax Investigative Summary is an unsourced and unmitigated crock — not supported by citation to any documentary evidence for good reason. An analysis sourced to the documentation tells a quite different story … LMW: The buck stops with FBI Director Robert Mueller. Congress should demand an explanation of the pathetic FBI anthrax investigation.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 31, 2011

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FBI Director Mueller & the man the FBI drove to suicide ... after which they charged (in a press conference, not a courtroom) a dead man who could not defend himself

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DXer’s comment … 

  • In a lengthy interview, AUSA Rachel Lieber recently affirmed her confidence to Frontline interviewers in Dr. Ivins guilt.
    • Yet when you go to the February 2010 Amerithrax Investigative Summary that she wrote — which reflects her understanding of the facts — there is no mention whatsoever of the 52 rabbits over which Dr. Ivins had charge and which were the reason he was in the lab.
    • The rabbits delivered on September 25 and subject of the experiments in early October 2001.
    • The word “rabbit” nowhere appears in her lengthy report!
    • Instead, at page 32, in a footnote, she refers to only some mice needing his attention and says that they would not have explained all his time.
    • Rather than relying on a review of the documents, she relied on Pat Fellows’ self-serving characterizations.
  • In short, in the rush of events in July 2008, it is understandable that Rachel had not mastered the facts — alleged to Ivins’ counsel that Dr. Ivins used a lyophilized etc.
    • Heck, she had the private knowledge of what the first counselor, Judith (who reports she feared nasty astral entities were trying to kill her) had said about what the murderous Dr. Ivins had told her in July 2000 about his murderous plans.
    • With that fueling their suspicion of Dr. Ivins, who wouldn’t be suspicious?
    • And the first counselor’s delusions are explained quite clearly in her 2009 book that was available to Rachel to read before issuing her 2010 report.
  • But what’s her excuse for failing to explain in February 2010 the reason Dr. Ivins was in the lab –which is established by the documentary evidence she nowhere mentions and that DOJ has not uploaded?
  • What’s her excuse for telling me that we would never get the lab notebooks showing how he had spent his time under FOIA?  
  • After Dr. Ivins killed himself, there was no meaningful reassessment of the case.  Ken Kohl was busy dealing with the aftermath of the botching of the Blackwater murder prosecution.
  • The Amerithrax Investigative Summary is an unsourced and unmitigated crocknot supported by citation to any documentary evidence for good reason.
  • An analysis sourced to the documentation tells a quite different story. 
    • As an example, all the letters claimed by Rachel to have been double-lined in fact were not.
  • Isn’t the country sick and tired of the CYA motivation of federal officials potentially putting the country at peril?
  • The Amerithrax Investigative Summary should have been sourced to the documents which should have been provided in an Appendix.
  • They now should be uploaded under FOIA — before 9/11 please.
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LMW COMMENT …

The buck stops with FBI Director Robert Mueller. Congress should demand an explanation of the pathetic FBI anthrax investigation.

It is this purposely misleading behavior by FBI Director Mueller and Attorney General Holder and their subordinates which infuriates me. That fury caused me to write my novel CASE CLOSED, which posits an alternative (fictional) scenario for what really happened in the anthrax attack and in the FBI investigation which followed.

Read the opening of CASE CLOSED (below) and then buy a copy at …

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

* special offer for readers of this blog … purchase CASE CLOSED on Kindle for $5.00

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

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* Document produced today to DXer discussing shipment of 52 rabbits week of September 24, 2001 for formaldehyde study

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 31, 2011

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* The lab notebooks marked “gone” are the lab notebooks that the FBI took relating to Dr. Ivins’ activity in September and October without leaving a copy

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 31, 2011

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* Newly released USAMRIID email: Discussion of time points needed to be done at night in late September 2001

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 31, 2011

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* September 26, 2001 email from Bruce Ivins released to DXer under FOIA today

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 31, 2011

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* Have the thousands of pages of Ivins Laboratory material produced to FOIA Requestor Marc Gold been uploaded? No lab notebooks chronicling Dr. Ivins’ activities in August – October 2001 period have been uploaded — and the DOJ AUSA has even refused to produce the handwritten notes that Dr. Ivins wrote explaining what he was doing in the lab on the nights that the DOJ speculated, without basis, that Dr. Ivins was making a dried powder. USAMRIID reports that the FBI took the only copies of those lab notebooks from USAMRIID.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 30, 2011

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* excerpts from an NPR interview (8/26/11) of Laurie Garrett … the FBI completely botched the anthrax investigation … there’s so much evidence that al-Qaeda was behind the anthrax mailings … bin Laden’s Tora Bora cave twice tested positive for the same Ames anthrax strain as was found in the letters.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 27, 2011

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Excerpts from Ira Flatow’s NPR interview of Laurie Garrett (8/26/11) …

more than three years ago, I decided that the entire FBI investigation was not only, you know, Three Stooges writ large but that they – that they had been steered onto a targeting that was 100 percent incorrect.

So the model became oh, we have somebody like the Ted Kaczynski inside of the biological programs that are run by the U.S. military or are secondary to the U.S. military, and that’s who’d done it.

And then they went through one after another after another within that apparatus. You know, before Bruce Ivins becomes the named culprit, named after he’s dead and cannot defend himself, there were 10 others. And in every case, their lives were completely destroyed by the FBI investigation, by being named.

They were deported and have never been allowed back in America, or they were driven to suicide, or they were publicly humiliated, lost their careers, lost marriages, everything imaginable because the FBI never had a way of doing an investigation that would end up in a courtroom.

I get outraged because the FBI completely botched the investigation on the anthrax.

I get outraged because there’s so much evidence that al-Qaida was behind the anthrax mailings and that at least as strong a circumstantial case as was made against Bruce Ivins can be made against al-Qaida even stronger.

We now know, for example, that one of the hijackers of Flight 93, the jet that was crashed into Pennsylvania, tested positive for anthrax, his body did. And he’s the same fellow who went to an emergency room in Florida when they were all down there getting flight training, seeking treatment for a strange black wound on his hand that was at the time diagnosed as a possible spider bite. But after the 9/11 incident, the FBI re-interrogated the ER physician, who said: You know what? It could have been anthrax. What was he doing messing with anthrax?

We also now know, thanks to the documents that were only handed over by the FBI to the National Academy of Sciences in December of 2010, we now know from those documents that the cave, the famous Tora Bora cave where they almost caught Osama bin Laden in December 2001 but then Donald Rumsfeld refused to order a airstrike – and that’s another whole story – we now know that that Tora Bora cave twice tested positive not only for anthrax but for the same strain, Ames anthrax, as was found in the letters.

There are members of Congress that want the anthrax investigation reopened. There are members of Congress that feel it is possible that it was a singular event, the attacks of 9/11 and the anthrax mailings, carried out by the same people all as a continuum. And when you get into my book, you’ll see more and more reasons that that is a reasonable way to approach how you view the situation.

http://www.npr.org/2011/08/26/139972661/a-look-back-at-9-11-in-i-heard-the-sirens-scream

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* National Geographic Documentary: Inside The FBI Counterterrorism Unit

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 26, 2011

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http://www.zingmit.com/2011/08/documentary-inside-fbi-counterterrorism.html

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In the aftermath of 9/11, an elite team of FBI counter-terror agents uncovers two disturbing terror threats. The first involves a group of young men in Northern Virginia and their spiritual leader, Ali Al-Timimi, who is accused of directing his men to overseas training camps to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. The second plot involves yet another Al-Timimi pupil, who is charged with planning the next 9/11.  FBI  Suburban Surveillance takes viewers deep inside the complex human drama at the heart of America¹s war on terror.

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* Jonathan Tucker … New Questions About the FBI’s Anthrax Case: Valid Concerns or Red Herring?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 23, 2011

Jonathan Tucker

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DXer COMMENT …

Dr. Tucker looked at the DOJ’s claims and credited the DOJ view that Dr. Ivins could have done it — relying on the DOJ’s claim that he had no reason to be the lab  

Yet nowhere did he address the argument that the DOJ’s claim is directly contradicted by the documentary evidence that was withheld by the DOJ and only produced by USAMRIID 3 years after Dr. Ivins’ death.

Clearly the aim, then, should be to obtain the evidence that shows what he was doing on the nights that the DOJ mistakenly said he had no reason to be in the lab.

The documents have been uploaded to the website and the media and authors just haven’t addressed the issue.

… and by the way, when did evidence that something was possible

become a substitute for evidence that something was done?

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New Questions About the FBI’s Anthrax Case:

Valid Concerns or Red Herring?

BY JONATHAN B. TUCKER   •   22 AUGUST 2011 … posted at WMD Junction, a new online forum brought to you by the editors of The Nonproliferation Review.

  • The latest challenge to the FBI’s case against Ivins comes from depositions given by some of his former USAMRIID colleagues in a suit against the US government filed by Maureen Stevens, whose late husband, Robert Stevens, was the first victim of the anthrax letter attacks.
  • Although at first glance the court documents appear to raise serious doubts about the FBI’s case against Ivins, the scientists’ claims are based on assumptions that may well be false.
  •  because no spores were ever found in Ivins’s home or car, and no eyewitness saw him mail the letters from a mailbox in downtown Princeton, New Jersey, the FBI’s case was entirely circumstantial.

Questions Raised in the Depositions

  • The depositions taken from USAMRIID scientists and technicians as part of the lawsuit by Maureen Stevens were first disclosed on July 18 in a joint article by three news organizations: PBS Frontline, ProPublica, and McClatchy Newspapers.[1]
  • According to the article, testimony in the court documents suggests that Ivins did not have access to the specialized equipment and know-how he presumably would have needed to dry the spores into the high-quality powder sent through the mail, raising doubts about whether he was technically capable of committing the crime.
  • While the scientists’ depositions appear compelling at first glance, many of the statements are misleading.
  • First, much has been made of the specialized knowledge needed to prepare dry powders of B. anthracis spores, yet this factor may have been exaggerated.
  • Early reports that the spores contained a high level of silicon suggested that they could have been deliberately “weaponized” by coating them with silica to reduce static clumping and facilitate their delivery as a fine-particle aerosol.
  • FBI scientists later determined, however, that the silicon was not on the surface of the spores but had been incorporated into an inner layer called the endosporium when the anthrax bacteria were grown and induced to sporulate. Thus, Ivins would not have needed weapons-related expertise to process the spores.
  • Second, the depositions by Worsham and Little imply that the only way to produce significant quantities of dried B. anthracis is by using a lyophilizer, yet lower-tech approaches may also be feasible.
  • The fact that the B. anthracis powder mailed to the two senators was so buoyant and dispersed so readily led many observers to conclude that it had been deliberately weaponized.
  • Dr. Vahid Majidi, the assistant director of the FBI’s WMD Directorate, said that this false belief resulted from the fact that very few scientists have experience with preparations of dried bacteria.
  • in response to the question whether the equipment in Ivins’s lab would have been sufficient to grow and dry the spores, Majidi said, “It would have been easy to make these samples at RID [USAMRIID].”[4]
  • During the press briefing, FBI officials estimated that making the preparation of powdered B. anthracis spores could have taken one person between three and seven days of work.[5]
  • They also corrected false reports that the FBI had been unable to reverse-engineer the highly refined B. anthracis powder mailed to the two senators.[6]
  • When asked if the FBI’s powder behaved the same as the material in the letters, Majidi replied, “as far as our preparation goes, we were able to repeat almost everything except the silicant signal [the high silicon content of the spores]. … Can we make the same spore purity? Yes. Can we make the spore dry? Yes.”[7]
  • Based on this information, it appears that Ivins could have dried the spores without the need for a lyophilizer by using a low-tech method, such as heat-drying the concentrated slurry on glass plates and then harvesting the dried material inside a sealed glove box.
  • In sum, public statements by Majidi and other senior FBI officials suggest that the assumption underlying the more recent statements of the USAMRIID scientists—that specialized equipment, expertise, and tacit knowledge are required to produce a lethal preparation of dry anthrax spores—may be incorrect or at least exaggerated.

Conclusion

  • Although the FBI’s circumstantial case against Bruce Ivins will never satisfy hard-core skeptics and conspiracy theorists, the mosaic of evidence is fairly convincing when viewed as a whole.
  • At the same time, it is far from certain that a federal prosecutor could have persuaded a jury of Ivins’ guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

[Editor’s note: Jonathan Tucker died suddenly in late July, just days after submitting this article for publication.

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* September 2001 Battelle Arlington report by Dr. DeBell on “Particle Size and Organism Number: Impact on Bioaerosols”

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 22, 2011

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