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

* What was Department of Army Inspector General’s response to this FOIA request for IG report by McClatchy?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 29, 2011

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7 Responses to “* What was Department of Army Inspector General’s response to this FOIA request for IG report by McClatchy?”

  1. DXer said

    Ali, consider the internal discussion about whether to produce this key report sought by Frontline/McClatchy.

    In internal government communications, Peggy Baines of Department of Army FOIA says that even though USAMRIID says there is no reason not to release the Inspector General’s report.

    JP agreed.

    From: Baines, Margaret B Ms CIV USA HQDA OTIG
    Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 9:38 AM
    To: Lee, James E LTC MIL USA MEDCOM OTSG; Hodgson, Linda Ms CIV USA ATEC; Jorgenson, Michael R Mr CIV USA AMC; Patton, James T Mr CIV USA HQDA ASO; Lee, Gregory CIV USA ATEC; Glenn, Ricardo A COL MIL USA MEDCOM HQ; Muelhaupt, Jeff Mr CIV USA AMC; Humpton, John H Mr CIV USA HQDA DCS G-3/5/7
    Cc: McManus, Edward M Mr CIV USA HQDA OTIG; Ford, Fred K COL MIL USA HQDA OTIG; Blose, Todd E Mr CIV USA HQDA OTIG; De Ocampo, Robert M Mr CIV USA HQDA OTIG; Broyles, Barbara D Ms CIV USA HQDA OTIG

    Subject: DAIG FOIA request for 2001 “U.S. Army Biological Defense Program – Anthrax” S: 7 Sep 11 (UNCLASSIFIED)

    Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
    Caveats: FOUO

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I am Ms Peggy Baines, Records Release/Deputy Legal, Army IG. We received a Freedom of Information Act request for the attached inspection report, the Nov 01 “U.S. Army Biological Defense Program – Anthrax.” Please keep this report close hold.

    I need each of your organizations to review this report and tell me which portions – down to the exact words, if possible – should be withheld or redacted. Please give me your input by COB 7 Sep 11. I’ve sent this to the AMC/ATEC/MEDCOM IG offices and to AMC/ATEC/MEDCOM/Safety Office/G3 points of contact indicated to me by the DAIG Technical Inspections division.

    Keep in mind that the only possible legal justification I can conceive of for withholding any of this is if the ten-year-old findings reveal current security weaknesses at these labs that could be exploited, thanks to this report. I hope this is not the case. Assuming that the deficiencies in this report have been remedied, I intend to advocate for release of all of this report (minus personally identifiable information) to the requestor at this point, unless one of you convinces me otherwise. Please feel free to coordinate with your legal/FOIA personnel on this.

    Thank you – I am at 703-545-4588 or this email. Ms Baines

    USAMRC responded:

    Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
    Caveats: FOUO

    LTC Price,

    Thank you for the opportunity to review/comment on the subject inspection report prior to the planned release under the FOIA.

    I have reviewed the report and conferred with the Attorney Advisor, HQ, U.S. Army Medical Command Staff Judge Advocate Office.

    No recommended redactions/withholding of information pertaining to OTSG/MEDCOM is indicated.

    Please call upon me should you have any questions concerning this action.

    Very Respectfully,

    jpp

    John P Peterson
    Chief, Freedom of Information/
    Privacy Act Office
    HQ, U.S. Army Medical Command
    COMM: 210-221-7826

    Peggy Baines, however, then wrote:

    “FYI….

    Ladies and Gentlemen, thanks to all for your assistance in reviewing the
    2001 Anthrax report for possible FOIA release. With your help, we
    discovered the report is still subject to a protective order issued by the
    Stevens v. US court which precludes public release, at least until after the
    litigation is final.

    We are retaining your comments should a post-litigation FOIA request require
    release.

    Thank you! Peggy Baines
    Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
    Caveats: NONE”

    It is not true that something that is separately subject to production under FOIA can be withheld based on a protective order in a civil litigation. Otherwise, DOJ could thwart all of FOIA simply by a private agreement with one party it is paying millions of dollars.

    When the internal emails were uploaded, USG coughed up the report.

    Turning back to the question of the withheld emails, there is an easy way and hard way.

    Given how hard USMRC has worked — and the good faith it has shown on numerous varied requests in the face of other pressing duties — it should overcome DOJ’s reluctance to have some documents come to light.

    That is what Government in the Sunshine Act is all about.

  2. DXer said

    This is GG’s FOIA request. Microbiologists should try to clone this fellow.

  3. DXer said

    Peggy Baines of Department of Army FOIA says that even though USAMRIID says there is no reason not to release the Inspector General’s report relating to the November 2001 visit — and even though Peggy Baines herself wrote that there is no reason not to release it — it will not be produced because the civil litigants in Stevens v. United States do not want it released. Mrs. Stevens, through counsel, consented to the prosecutors sealing it pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26.

    Peggy Baines is mistaken if she think the private wishes of litigants control the statutory mandate of FOIA and can expect DIAG to be sued and attorneys fees awarded.
    DOJ sealing it in private litigation has no bearing on the Army’s obligations under FOIA.

    Recently, Peggy Baines wrote:
    “FYI….

    Ladies and Gentlemen, thanks to all for your assistance in reviewing the
    2001 Anthrax report for possible FOIA release. With your help, we
    discovered the report is still subject to a protective order issued by the
    Stevens v. US court which precludes public release, at least until after the
    litigation is final.

    We are retaining your comments should a post-litigation FOIA request require
    release.

    Thank you! Peggy Baines
    Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
    Caveats: NONE”

    Previously, she wrote

    From: Baines, Margaret B Ms CIV USA HQDA OTIG
    Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 9:38 AM
    To: Lee, James E LTC MIL USA MEDCOM OTSG; Hodgson, Linda Ms CIV USA ATEC; Jorgenson, Michael R Mr CIV USA AMC; Patton, James T Mr CIV USA HQDA ASO; Lee, Gregory CIV USA ATEC; Glenn, Ricardo A COL MIL USA MEDCOM HQ; Muelhaupt, Jeff Mr CIV USA AMC; Humpton, John H Mr CIV USA HQDA DCS G-3/5/7
    Cc: McManus, Edward M Mr CIV USA HQDA OTIG; Ford, Fred K COL MIL USA HQDA OTIG; Blose, Todd E Mr CIV USA HQDA OTIG; De Ocampo, Robert M Mr CIV USA HQDA OTIG; Broyles, Barbara D Ms CIV USA HQDA OTIG

    Subject: DAIG FOIA request for 2001 “U.S. Army Biological Defense Program – Anthrax” S: 7 Sep 11 (UNCLASSIFIED)

    Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
    Caveats: FOUO

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I am Ms Peggy Baines, Records Release/Deputy Legal, Army IG. We received a Freedom of Information Act request for the attached inspection report, the Nov 01 “U.S. Army Biological Defense Program – Anthrax.” Please keep this report close hold.

    I need each of your organizations to review this report and tell me which portions – down to the exact words, if possible – should be withheld or redacted. Please give me your input by COB 7 Sep 11. I’ve sent this to the AMC/ATEC/MEDCOM IG offices and to AMC/ATEC/MEDCOM/Safety Office/G3 points of contact indicated to me by the DAIG Technical Inspections division.

    Keep in mind that the only possible legal justification I can conceive of for withholding any of this is if the ten-year-old findings reveal current security weaknesses at these labs that could be exploited, thanks to this report. I hope this is not the case. Assuming that the deficiencies in this report have been remedied, I intend to advocate for release of all of this report (minus personally identifiable information) to the requestor at this point, unless one of you convinces me otherwise. Please feel free to coordinate with your legal/FOIA personnel on this.

    Thank you – I am at 703-545-4588 or this email. Ms Baines

    USAMRIID responded:

    Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
    Caveats: FOUO

    LTC Price,

    Thank you for the opportunity to review/comment on the subject inspection report prior to the planned release under the FOIA.

    I have reviewed the report and conferred with the Attorney Advisor, HQ, U.S. Army Medical Command Staff Judge Advocate Office.

    No recommended redactions/withholding of information pertaining to OTSG/MEDCOM is indicated.

    Please call upon me should you have any questions concerning this action.

    Very Respectfully,

    jpp

    John P Peterson
    Chief, Freedom of Information/
    Privacy Act Office
    HQ, U.S. Army Medical Command
    COMM: 210-221-7826

  4. DXer said

    One interview that I hope Frontline or CNN got is of Colonel Jerry B. Elliot of Bettendorf, Iowa. He is with the US Army Office of the Inspector General. Colonel Elliott was tasked on November 5, 2001, with assessing the adequacy of policies governing U.S. Army Biological Defense Programs for Anthrax (including USAMRIID) and identifying systemic problems in execution of those policies; assessing guidance regarding anthrax accountability, inventory management and personnel training/screening; assessing the adequancy of physical security measures for protection of anthrax stocks at Army installations; and providing a report of findings to General John M. Keane, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Arm.

    Mr. Elliot’s videotaped deposition was taken in Maureen Stevens v. United States on October 6, 2010, and his educational background and qualifications are included in his deposition testimony.

    The report (published 1/23/2002) of his findings as a result of his inspections is attached to his deposition. That report, similarly, has been needlessly sealed even though the authorized Army representative expressly found that there was no reason not to disclose it.

    Another interview I hope Frontline or CNN got is of Dr. Reynolds M. Salerno of Sandia National Laboratories of Albuquerque. Dr. Reynolds M. Salerno is an employee (since June of 1999) of Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His current position is Senior Manager for Cooperative Threat Reduction. Dr. Salerno’s educational background and qualifications are included in his deposition testimony take on January 28, 2011 in Stevens v. US.

    Dr. Salerno was given a contract assignment at the request of USAMRIID (Plaintiff’s Exhibit 123 to Salerno’s deposition) to bring in a team and do a vulnerability assessment and develop a conceptual design for an improved security system at USAMRIID (after the Inspector General’s report was done by Colonel Elliott’s team) and to provide a more substantive technical assessment and set of recommendations.

    The resulting report of Sandia National Laboratories dated 9/26/2002 is attached to the deposition of Dr. Salerno as Plaintiff’s Exhibit 122. You cannot see it because it doesn’t suit the parties’ interests.

    • DXer said

      Today’s entries from the Stevens v. US docket.

      09/30/2011 SYSTEM ENTRY – Docket Entry 212 restricted/sealed until further notice. (dj) (Entered: 09/30/2011)

      09/30/2011 SYSTEM ENTRY – Docket Entry 211 restricted/sealed until further notice. (dj) (Entered: 09/30/2011)

      09/30/2011 SYSTEM ENTRY – Docket Entry 210 restricted/sealed until further notice. (dj) (Entered: 09/30/2011)

      09/30/2011 SYSTEM ENTRY – Docket Entry 209 restricted/sealed until further notice. (dj) (Entered: 09/30/2011)

      09/30/2011 SYSTEM ENTRY – Docket Entry 208 restricted/sealed until further notice. (dj) (Entered: 09/30/2011)

      09/30/2011 SYSTEM ENTRY – Docket Entry 207 restricted/sealed until further notice. (dj) (Entered: 09/30/2011)

      09/30/2011 SYSTEM ENTRY – Docket Entry 206 restricted/sealed until further notice. (dj) (Entered: 09/30/2011)

      09/30/2011 SYSTEM ENTRY – Docket Entry 205 restricted/sealed until further notice. (dj) (Entered: 09/30/2011)

      • DXer said

        Is Dr. Saathoff going to be deposed after all? If so, he should be asked whether he ever contacted Judge Lamberth and submitted an errata to his report.

    • DXer said

      Dr. Salerno has an excellent powerpoint on these general issues that I recommend:

      SAND2003-3795p Balancing Security and Research at Biomedical and Bioscience Laboratories: The Security Risk and Threat Assessment
      Author: Reynolds Salerno
      http://www.cmc.sandia.gov/papers-reports.htm

      He addresses the general issues in a 2005 powerpoint.

      Introduction to Global Biosecurity and the Concept of Laboratory …

      biosecurity.sandia.gov/ibtr/subpages/…/redi/salerno-redi-40705.pdf

      He explains the risk of theft and diversion in this encyclopedia article.

      Biosecurity: Protecting High Consequence Pathogens and Toxins Against Theft and Diversion
      • Reynolds M. Salerno,
      • Daniel P. Estes

      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/0471686786.ebd0014/full

      Here is a link to a related Sandia report by Dr. Reynolds Salerno titled

      BIOLOGICAL SECURITY AND TRANSPORTATION SECURITY AND THE BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION. It is dated February 2002.

      http://cns.miis.edu/archive/cbw/biosec/pdfs/sandia.pdf

      Science 30 April 2004:
      Vol. 304 no. 5671 p. 687
      DOI: 10.1126/science.1096911
      • POLICY FORUM
      SCIENCE AND GOVERNMENT
      Biosecurity and Research: Minimizing Adverse Impacts
      • Jennifer Gaudioso and
      • Reynolds M. Salerno*

      http://www.sciencemag.org/content/304/5671/687.short

      See generally
      Historical Precedence and Technical Assessment of Biological Weapons Use: A Threat Assessment

      http://prod.sandia.gov/techlib/access-control.cgi/2004/041854.pdf

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