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

Archive for October 24th, 2011

* NY Post editorial: a group of eminent scientists have found that the FBI’s Amerithrax conclusions may be shockingly wrong … (the FBI) clearly can’t be trusted to judge cases that reflect badly on its own conduct

Posted by DXer on October 24, 2011

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FBI Director Robert Mueller must be held accountable for the Amerithax debacle ... and for hiding the truth by the wrongful withholding of documents

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a New York Post Editorial (10/23/11) … 

  • It has been 10 long years since envelopes stuffed with anthrax spores terrorized the East Coast — and just one year since the FBI officially closed the case in a not-terribly-convincing way.

Now a group of eminent scientists have found that

the FBI’s conclusions may be shockingly wrong.

  • A new paper in the Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense contends that the FBI’s sole suspect, Army scientist Bruce Ivins, might have had an accomplice — or may even have been innocent.
  • the FBI fumbled for about seven years before fixing on Ivins, who committed suicide as investigators closed in.
  • it was never clear that the FBI had brought the case to a proper conclusion. And the new study shows why.

It turns out the bureau hid from the public its discovery that …

  • … the anthrax spores were laced with tin and silicon, possibly to make it float more freely — a “chemical fingerprint” and seeming clue to the identity of the attacker.
  • Adding that tin coating ain’t Chem 101 — it requires special expertise, and Ivins lacked the equipment to create it,
  • What’s more, the baseline evidence linking Ivins to the anthrax spores was inconclusive, according to a “Red Team” of outside scientists the FBI called in to review its work — but then utterly ignored.
  • The feds “deviated from traditional lab practice in this particular case,” said Jenifer Smith, former section chief at the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate. “There were some political things going on behind the scenes, and it was embarrassing not to have this solved.”

while the FBI says the new paper is wrong,

it clearly can’t be trusted to judge cases

that reflect badly on its own conduct.

  • Indeed, its ability to pursue sensitive investigations at all is in doubt.
  • Given the FBI’s troubled anthrax history, it’s good to see that Congress’ oversight body, the Government Accountability Office, is conducting its own review of the FBI’s work

read the entire article at … http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/anthrax_and_the_fbi_36aNmZJGENZCAPCmvdbIrK

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* McClatchy & ProPublica: security gaps at USAMRIID (in 2001) mean that deadly anthrax could have easily been smuggled out of the facility, including by terrorists … this information was (wrongfully) not been made public for more than nine years … LMW: This is precisely the kind of information the FBI, smugly insisting that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator, desperately wants to keep hidden. Director Mueller must be held accountable, for the pathetic Amerithrax investigation, for continuing to insist it was Ivins even as the case disintegrates, and for withholding documents which should be released under FOIA.

Posted by DXer on October 24, 2011

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Is it possible that Director Mueller, an intelligent man, doesn't know the FBI has failed to make its case against Dr. Ivins? And what does it mean if he knows but won't admit it?

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UPDATE FROM DXer …

I think you are being way too easy on FBI Director Mueller, Lew. Given that Dr. Ivins was provably in the lab on those nights working with the rabbits, and the prosecutors and investigators have lied and said he had no reason to be in the lab, there needs to be a Special Prosecutor appointed to probe the obstruction of justice that has occurred.

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Greg Gordon, McClatchy, and Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica (10/24/11) …

  • The Army laboratory identified by prosecutors as the source of the anthrax that killed five people in the fall of 2001 was rife with such security gaps that the deadly spores could have easily been smuggled out of the facility, outside investigators found.
  • The existing security procedures — described in two long-secret reports — were so lax they would have allowed any researcher, aide or temporary worker to walk out of the Army bio-weapons lab at Fort Detrick, Md., with a few drops of anthrax — starter germs that could grow the trillions of spores used to fill anthrax-laced letters sent to Congress and the media.
  • The two reports, which have not been made public for more than nine years, describe a haphazard system in which personnel lists included dozens of former employees, where new hires were allowed to work with deadly germs before background checks were done and where stocks of anthrax and other pathogens weren’t adequately controlled.
  • Marked “for official use only,” the two reports were completed in 2002. One was conducted by a seven-member team from Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M. The other was by auditors for the Army’s inspector general’s office.
  • The Sandia report emphasized that terrorists had obtained germs from research labs before. 
  • It cited a February 2001 National Defense University study that found 11 cases in which terrorists or other “non-state operatives” had acquired biological agents from “legitimate culture collections,” including three research or medical laboratories.
  • Despite USAMRIID’s sobering mission, the Sandia report said, the western Maryland lab had developed a work environment in which employees failed to make the same “indisputable commitment to security” as they did to research.

read the entire article at … www.propublica.org/article/secret-reports-with-security-spotty-many-had-access-to-anthrax

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LMW COMMENT …

This is precisely the kind of information the FBI, smugly insisting that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator, desperately wants to keep hidden. Director Mueller must be held accountable, for the pathetic Amerithrax investigation, for continuing to insist it was Ivins even as the case disintegrates, and for withholding documents which should be released under FOIA.

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* Dr. Ivins explained that whenever they do a subcutaneous challenge with virulent anthrax, it is ALWAYS done at biolevel 3 (or for aerosol challenges BL-4)

Posted by DXer on October 24, 2011

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* The hunt for America’s anthrax killer … a 3 part series analyzing the FBI’s Amerithrax investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks … raising serious questions as to whether Dr. Bruce Ivins was the man responsible

Posted by DXer on October 24, 2011

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IT WASN'T IVINS ... and the FBI must by now know that they drove the wrong man to suicide

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The hunt for America’s anthrax killer …

a 3 part series by Stephen Engelberg, Greg Gordon and Jim Gilmore And Mike Wiser, Vancouver Sun

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1. Was this man the anthrax killer?

Ten years after five people were killed by deadly powder in envelopes delivered by mail, new questions are emerging about whether Bruce Ivins was really responsible for the mayhem.

  • Months after the anthrax mailings that terrorized the nation in 2001 – and long before he became the prime suspect – U.S. army biologist Bruce Ivins sent his superiors an email offering to help scientists trace the killer.

read the entire article at … http://www.vancouversun.com/news/this+anthrax+killer/5591796/story.html

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2. Federal agents took years to finger Army scientist Bruce Ivins as the man behind the attacks

  • In early 2002, federal agents who were hunting the anthrax killer were trying to winnow a suspect list that numbered in the hundreds. They knew only that they were looking for someone with access to the rare Ames strain of anthrax used in research labs around the world. Profilers said the perpetrator probably was an American with “an agenda.”
  • Rachel Lieber, the lead prosecutor in a case that will never go to trial, thinks that Ivins manipulated his sample to cover his tracks. “If you send something that is supposed to be from the murder weapon, but you send something that doesn’t match, that’s the ultimate act of deception. That’s why it’s so important,” Lieber said.
  • However, a re-examination of the anthrax investigation by Frontline, McClatchy Newspapers and ProPublica turned up new evidence that challenges the FBI’s narrative of Ivins as a man with a guilty conscience who was desperately trying to avoid being discovered.
  • Records released under the Freedom of Information Act show that Ivins made available a total of four sets of samples from 2002 to 2004, double the number the FBI has disclosed. And in subsequent FBI tests, three of the four sets ultimately tested positive for the morphs.
  • Paul Kemp, Ivins’ lawyer, said the existence of Ivins’ additional submissions was significant because it discredits an important aspect of the FBI’s case against his client. “I wish I’d known that at the time,” he said.

read the entire article at … http://www.vancouversun.com/news/hunt+America+anthrax+killer/5596021/story.html#ixzz1bgme4bD6

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