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

* Dr. Mara Linscott told the FBI that she needed to see her lab notebooks to refresh her recollection of details, but that checking on the animals would take approximately two hours and was usually a one-person job; the FBI provided the one publication on which she worked involving the former Zawahiri associate but she notes that USAMRIID was a military institution and thus not all of the projects would be published.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on November 27, 2011

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18 Responses to “* Dr. Mara Linscott told the FBI that she needed to see her lab notebooks to refresh her recollection of details, but that checking on the animals would take approximately two hours and was usually a one-person job; the FBI provided the one publication on which she worked involving the former Zawahiri associate but she notes that USAMRIID was a military institution and thus not all of the projects would be published.”

  1. DXer said

    Dr. Linsccott, who made the virulent Ames, told the FBI that she did not believe that there was tracking of the amount of spores made, then used or destroyed. She says she would need to see her lab notebooks to refresh her recollection of details. She said that it would take a couple of hours each night or weekend he was involved with the animal research — and that it was a one-person job.

  2. DXer said

    On the issue of subjectivity more broadly, it points to the importance that we should not have been required to rely on AUSA Kohl and AUSA’s Lieber’s spin in their Amerithrax Investigative Summary in which they claimed in a footnote that his time in the lab in early October 2001 was not explained. Look at the Amerithrax Investigative Summary and search the word “rabbit” and you will quickly see that the word nowhere appears. The DOJ instead should have produced the documents regarding the work with the rabbits that DOJ and FBI withheld. AUSA Lieber specicially advised me, through a spokesperson, that I would never get the requested documents. The DOJ and FBI’s withholding of the documents relating to Dr. Ivins work with the rabbits was really, really wrong.

    Forensic techniques are subject to human bias, lack standards, panel found. Washington Post, April 17
    By Spencer S. Hsu, Published: April 17

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/forensic-techniques-are-subject-to-human-bias-lack-standards-panel-found/2012/04/17/gIQADCoMPT_story.html
    In Hollywood, the moment the good guys trace a hair, a bullet fragment or a fingerprint, it’s game over. The bad guy is locked up.

    But the glamorized portrait is not so simple in real life.

    Far from infallible, expert comparisons of hair, handwriting, marks made by firearms on bullets, and patterns such as bite marks and shoe and tire prints are in some ways unscientific and subject to human bias, a National Academy of Sciences panel chartered by Congress found. Other techniques, such as in bullet-lead analysis and arson investigation, survived for decades despite poorly regulated practices and a lack of scientific method.

    ..

    “The forensic science system, encompassing both research and practice, has serious problems that can only be addressed by a national commitment to overhaul the current structure,” the panel concluded in 2009.

    Now, Congress and the Obama administration are trying to regulate forensic science to help establish standards. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) are weighing legislation that could subject techniques to greater scientific scrutiny and help establish their ranges of accuracy.

    Advances in DNA testing are exposing errors at unexpected rates. In November, researchers with the Urban Institute reported that new DNA testing appeared to clear convicted defendants in 16 percent of Virginia criminal convictions between 1973 and 1988 in which evidence was available for retesting.

    A 2009 study of post-conviction DNA exonerations — now up to 289 nationwide — found invalid testimony in more than half the cases.

    “There are just too many related problems for this to be dealt with ad hoc,” said Brandon L. Garrett, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law.

    More DNA testing alone is not the answer, experts say. Biological evidence historically is collected in fewer than 20 percent of criminal cases. Other questioned forensic techniques are used far more often, with mistakes harming defendants and crime victims whose true assailants remain at large.

    The National Academy of Sciences report cited the lack of effective standards for examiners, laboratories and court testimony. It also criticized Justice Department agencies for a dearth of research into problems and for being “too wedded” to the status quo to be trusted to lead reforms.

    “This is our generation’s sole opportunity” to get arguments out of the adversarial system and resolved through science, said Thomas L. Bohan, who was president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in 2010.

    In 1999, a Justice Department official, Richard Rau, told a federal court that the department delayed such a study because of the legal ramifications. As recently as last year, Pennsylvania State University researcher Cedric Neumann was denied a department grant to determine potential fingerprint error rates using closed cases.

    Measuring accuracy

    The bureau said that skilled analysts are extraordinarily accurate, at least when they know they are being tested. An FBI study with Noblis Corp. last year found that when 169 examiners compared thousands of fingerprints and decided there was enough information to declare a match or not, they were correct 99.8 percent of the time.

    Still, the Mayfield case highlighted the need for research into real-world conditions. A 2006 study by a London-based scientist, Itiel E. Dror, asked experts to analyze fingerprints that, unbeknownst to them, they had analyzed earlier in their careers. This time, however, examiners were given biasing statements, such as that a suspect had confessed or that a suspect was locked up at the time of the offense. In 16.6 percent of cases, examiners reversed earlier judgments. …

    “In the real life of the criminal justice system, we need more resources for those who are on the front lines,” said Scott D. Burns, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association. Noting that prosecutors handle 20 million non-traffic cases a year, Burns said, “The sky isn’t falling, and we usually get it right.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/forensic-techniques-are-subject-to-human-bias-lack-standards-panel-found/2012/04/17/gIQADCoMPT_story.html

  3. Dxer said

    Family to speak this afternoon on tv

  4. DXer said

    GAO:

    The DOJ has refused to produce to the public copies of the September 15, 2001 and September 26, 2001 emails written to Mara Linscott showing the time that they were sent — which tend to indicate whether he was at home or at work. At the time of the email, we know what he was doing: he was writing the email. There is zero justification for not disclosing the time and date of all emails — particularly given that the content of the emails are being relied upon by DOJ in its “Ivins Theory.” Mara has said that he would use the internet in the B3 suite. She would know — he was writing her.

  5. DXer said

    There are many many thousands of hours of tape by numerous individuals discussing Amerithrax — pursuant to both Title III and FISA.

    What investigators listening to those tapes know, and reading those transcripts, goes way beyond the documentary evidence uploaded.

    If and when it becomes known, then it can be determined who should have done what with what they knew.

    Unfortunately, the GAO is tasked with doing a gap assessment of the non-existent science case against Ivins. So its report may fail to go to the heart of the matter.

    The Bernie Fine matter involving SU basketball recently had a tape disclosed that seriously altered how some viewed the matter.

    All it sometimes takes is a single conversation or single factual revelation.

    The GAO needs to be aggressive in getting at least the documentary evidence.

    http://blog.syracuse.com/orangebasketball/2011/11/your_comments_laurie_fine_tape.html

  6. DXer said

    Even if the FBI closed the investigation, nothing prevents DIA from resolving the uncertainties in pursuit of its mission to keep the country safe.

    • DXer said

      On November 28, 2011, FBI Director Mueller wrote a letter urging that jurisdiction over terrorists in the US not be taken away from the FBI. The Senate has rejected the attempt to strip the provisions of the bill. If the FBI wanted to instill confidence, maybe Rachel and DIrector Mueller should have taken greater care in the evidence that they relied upon and the unsupported claims made — greater care in avoiding the gross conflicts of interest.

      The FBI cannot even respond to a simple FOIA request in a national security matter aimed at getting people on the same page so as to instill confidence in their assertions.

      FBI Director Mueller has done nothing to prevent this from being his legacy — besides writing this letter.

  7. richard rowley said

    From the interview with Montooth:
    ————-
    “PBS: What was the state of the case [when you took over in 2006]? … What are your goals, your mandate?

    Montooth: The mandate was to look at [the case] with fresh eyes and determine, is there sufficient evidence to charge?”
    ======================================================
    But if you remember, in the fall of 2006, the 5th year anniversary of the case, there were multiple stories, all apparently based on either the FBI PR line of that timeframe and/or a genuine reflection of the state of the case, along the lines of ‘Amerithrax taskforce to widen nets’ (ie to look OUTSIDE of the narrow confines of Fort Detrick and the small BW community), with the real possibility that it was a ‘garage spore’ that was used.
    So whom would the DoJ “charge” in 2006? Most of the ‘evidence’ (I used the word loosely) against IVINS hadn’t materialized yet, which explains why two years later he still wasn’t charged (ie when he HAD become the main suspect).
    http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/bioter/manyfearfbianthraxcold.html

  8. http://www.campusecho.com/newly-released-files-cloud-fbi-s-anthrax-finding-1.2639846?pagereq=3#.TtJaAFZOXT4

    “In September of 2006, the FBI assigned Edward Montooth to lead the anthrax inquiry. Montooth looked at the evidence through fresh eyes, and his attention quickly focused on the background and conduct of Ivins. By December, he told FBI director Robert Mueller of the new suspect.”

    And in January 2007, Montooth was withholding key evidence tending towards innocence of Ivins. Who Framed Bruce the Rabbit Checker?

    • DXer said

      FBI agents commonly interview individuals without presenting them with the relevant documents. The interviewee gives their best recollection and then the FBI seeks to obtain the relevant documents. Moreover, note that Dr. Linscott was not at USAMRIID in September and October 2001 and so she is referring to the notebooks reflecting her earlier work while she was there. Agent Montooth says he is comfortable with an Ivins Theory and he seems sincere. So the task is not to question his good faith but to work together to reconstruct the timeline of events by the very best documentary and testimonial evidence.

      • Do they usually wait 4 years going on 5 with no end in sight? At this stage, can’t we conclude that the FBI had no intention of giving the documents to the witnesses to refresh their memory?

        • DXer said

          Dr. Linscott was not at USAMRIID in Fall 2001 and so I believe you are referring to her earlier work that included work related to one published article — the article that the FBI has provided in the record. That involved work by a former Zawahiri associate funded by DARPA who worked alongside Mara in a biolevel 3 lab. It related to a decontamination agent tested at Dugway, Johns-Hopkins and Edgewood (and USAMRIID). She explained that only some of her work was published given that she worked at a military institution.

          If there is another published article or articles, it would be important to locate. Pubmed only has the one but pubmed is not comprehensive by any means. Scopus, for example, could be double-checked.

          To blow past the bit players in the drama you need to go directly to Perseus’ funding of Nanobio and to the man at USAMRIID who thinks is “above the law.” See 302 interview statement using the statement.

          Her ex can also describe her work and so it is not like the junior lab assistant was doing classified work.

        • DXer said

          Oh, wait. Mara would be on the Syrian Golden Hamster article. I was misremembering. We definitely want to do a bibliographic search. The article I mentioned previously was the one on nanoemulsions where she was mentioned in the acknowledgements for providing technical assistance.

          DId no one even stop to think why that article was provided?

        • DXer said

          Dr. Bruce Ivins and colleagues, including Mara …

          so she was on this key article in VACCINE relating to anthrax of diverse geographical origin.

          She says that regarding the tending to these animals by the principal investigator it would take approximately 2 hours and was a one-person job.

          Agent Ed Montooth and she agree that the animals were in B3 but he (without her experience) does not know how long it would take. She is speaking from personal experience.

          Nov 2001 publication

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          Efficacy of a human anthrax vaccine in guinea pigs, rabbits, and rhesus macaques against challenge by Bacillus anthracis isolates of diverse geographical origin

          P.F. Fellowsa, , , M.K. Linscotta, B.E. Ivinsa, M.L.M. Pittb, C.A. Rossic, P.H. Gibbsd and A.M. Friedlandera

          a Bacteriology Division, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Frederick, MD 21702-5011, USA

          b Toxinology Division, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Frederick, MD 21702-5011, USA

          c Diagnostic Systems Division, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Frederick, MD 21702-5011, USA

          d Biometrics and Information Management Division, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Frederick, MD 21702-5011, USA

          Received 5 September 2000; revised 11 December 2000; accepted 18 December 2000. Available online 12 April 2001.

          Referred to by: Erratum to “Efficacy of a human anthrax vaccine in guinea pigs, rabbits, and rhesus macaques against challenge by Bacillus anthracis isolates of diverse geographical origin” [Vaccine 19 (2001) 3241–3247]
          Vaccine, Volume 20, Issues 3-4, 12 November 2001, Page 635,
          P. F. Fellows, M. K. Linscott, B. E. Ivins, M. L. M. Pitt, C. A. Rossi, P. H. Gibbs, A. M. Friedlander
          PDF (17 K)
          Abstract

          The efficacy of a licensed human anthrax vaccine (Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed (AVA)) was tested in guinea pigs, rabbits, and rhesus macaques against spore challenge byBacillus anthracis isolates of diverse geographical origin. Initially, groups of Hartley guinea pigs were vaccinated at 0 and 4 weeks with AVA, then challenged intramuscularly at 10 weeks with spores from 33 isolates of B. anthracis. Survival among the vaccinated groups varied from 6 to 100%, although there were no differences in mean time to death among the groups. There was no correlation between isolate virulence and variable number tandem repeat category or protective antigen genotype identified. New Zealand white rabbits were then vaccinated with AVA at 0 and 4 weeks, and challenged at 10 weeks by aerosol with spores from six of the isolates that were highly virulent in vaccinated guinea pigs. AVA completely protected the rabbits from four of the isolates, and protected 90% of the animals from the other two isolates. Subsequently, two of these six isolates were then used to challenge rhesus macaques, previously vaccinated with AVA at 0 and 4 weeks, and challenged at 10 weeks by aerosol. AVA protected 80 and 100% of the animals from these two isolates. These studies demonstrated that, although AVA confers variable protection against different B. anthracis isolates in guinea pigs, it is highly protective against these same isolates in both rabbits and rhesus macaques.

          Keywords: Anthrax; Bacillus anthracis; Vaccine; Rabbit; Guinea pig; Rhesus macaque

        • DXer said

          The geographic study publication is online full-text at

          http://www.vaccines.mil/documents/library/Efficacy.pdf

  9. This was after the new team at the FBI had started? So the obstruction and get Ivins mentality had already started in January 2007? And the withholding of the lab notebooks with information was already started and they knew from the coworker witnesses that withholding those notebooks would help build the case against Ivins as of January 2007.

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