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

* 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 Lew Weinstein 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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10 Responses to “* 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.”

  1. DXer said

    It is Director Mueller’s fault that a news article that could have just as easily been written in 2002 wasn’t? (No).

    Anthrax, Al Qaeda and Ayman Zawahiri: The Infiltration of US Biodefense
    http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

  2. DXer said

    Dr. Vahid Majidi dismisses the issues raised by McClatchy and ProPublica. Now they did not know Dr. Ivins (except one investigative reporter working for ProPublica). And I don’t think any of the award-winning journalists thinks the moon landing was faked.

    What sort of arrogance does it take to not turn to the merits and address the issues — instead Dr. Majidi has just reasserted the conclusory allegations in the August 2008 press conferences — despite the gaping holes pointed out by these accomplished, hardworking people.

    When someone like Greg G. rolls up his sleeves and knocks it out of the park and demonstrates that the lyophilizer was not where US Attorney Taylor thought it was… it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

    http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

  3. DXer said

    “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.”

    Is this public?

    Dr. Salerno, author of the Sandia study, today put me in touch with a nice woman from Sandia who explained that when they have been authorized to make public the product of our work, that write-up would be found at the Office of Scientific & Technical Information

    http://www.osti.gov/

  4. DXer said

    Uploading them will require a high speed scanner and so it will be at least a day before the two reports are online.

    Kudos again to the Frontline/Propublica/McClatchy effort for their good efforts, hard work and civic-mindedness.

  5. Zicon said

    In my opinion I would dig a little deeper on this issue with all biolabs who had access to Ames and for good measure anything above a Level BS-2…
    I also bet that many road blocks from the FBI from the DoC and DOJ might be hit if this issue is looked at deeply…

    I wonder how it would look for the US Admin/FBI/DOJ if even pre or “especially” post 9/11 for example that extremely classified ATSI, Viruses, Bacteria or anything in that realm were to still able to make its way out of a (supposedly secure facility) like Battelle, Dugway, SRI, or USAMRIID…??? or an Army Pharmacutical company tucked away somewhere that is not on the map?

    I have asked this same question in the past here, on How many times has any bio facility ever been infiltrated by any means from what is public, and the ones that are not publicly known.. Yet… In my opinion only.

    I think with the Tin & Si signatures have been torn apart with too many minds and too technicial… How many test were performed on the most simplest level of bio/molec/Bact/Viral-science?

    Another question is how many new labs have been looked at by the Pentagon to be built deep under ground for future construction…

    How many existing labs are under ground?

    If answers can not be given in the Senate Intelligence Sub Com. and within any type of congressional hearing of any kind even to the use of black funds, ZERO $$$ should be given if answers to questions can’t be answered…

    If someone can’t tell me where 2-3 trillion dollars are going in a black project, I would tell God himself that he would be DENIED the funds for any type of military R&D or anything for that matter and to get the hell out of my hearing room until answers could be given, depending on how bad funds are wanted espically for those with personal career agendas or just lack any Common Sense.

  6. Anonymous said

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/anthrax_and_the_fbi_36aNmZJGENZCAPCmvdbIrK

    Anthrax and the FBI
    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.

    That’s no small matter: The attacks are the worst case of bioterrorism the United States has ever faced, killing five and sickening 17, including three employees of The Post.

    But the FBI fumbled for about seven years before fixing on Ivins, who committed suicide as investigators closed in.

    The circumstantial evidence was strong: Ivins spent dozens of hours alone at night in his government lab in the days before the anthrax envelopes were mailed; he drove miles away to send packages under assumed names; and he was judged to be a homicidal loon by his own shrink, who sought a protective order against him.

    But 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, which the paper’s three authors say is evidence he acquired the anthrax from another source.

    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.”

    Truth is, the case has been a mess since Day One. G-men first named and shamed biowarfare specialist Steven Hatfill as a person of interest but later exonerated him — and coughed up a $5.8 million settlement for ruining his life.

    And 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.

    To cite just one example, in the months before Nidal Malik Hasan massacred 13 people at Fort Hood in 2009, the FBI intercepted e-mails Hasan had sent to al Qaeda imam Anwar al-Awlaki. But it sat on clear evidence the unhinged Hasan was quickly boiling over — and let the killer-in-waiting go on his fatal shooting spree.

    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 and looking into the possibility that Ivins had help in growing the anthrax or acquired it from another lab.

    We hope the FBI is right about Ivins, and that Americans can sleep soundly. But hope doesn’t cut it in bioterrorism.

    • DXer said

      The notes she was handed in mid-July 2008 (written by the first counselor… from July 2000) were written by the first counselor who annotated the notes of the psychiatrists. The first counselor reports she was granted her psychic powers by an extraerrestial who controlled people by devices implanted in their butts. Her 2009 book is available for sale at amazon. She says her clients had murderous entities attached to them that then would attach themselves to her and she would have to have an emergency exorcism. She would get her instructions each night from the alien and travel to WTC 1993 and Afghanistan and would be chased by the nasty astral entities from Afghanistan — saving herself by closing a vortex of light. She would talk to rocks and plants and occasionally the potted plant who did not sue the clinic when Dr. Ivins committed suicide.

  7. DXer said

    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.

    • DXer said

      Let’s not wait for 20 years or whatever like they did with the mess he made of the Whitey Bulger’s murders as an AUSA. (See DOJ official Mr. Weld’s memo explaining that Mr. Mueller knew all about what Joe Murray’s wife was calling about.)

      And let’s not sit by while Eric Holder plays his cards to suit himself. (I used to hang out in the Garden Room while Marc Rich planned to get a pardon from Mr. Holder in the last days of Clinton’s term).

      And if Mr. Obama stands in the way, he’ll have to go too given that it relates to the threat of a mass anthrax attack on New York City and Washington DC and nothing could go more to the heart of a President’s responsibility.

      • DXer said

        I’m just kidding, of course. Let’s go back to being forgiving of all the people who are powerful and just find some scapegoats like Ed and Rachel for lying about the rabbits.

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