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

* LMW … reflections on the possibility that the Stevens’ $2,500,000 settlement was really “hush money” as part of a desperate ongoing attempt by the FBI to keep the truth about the 2001 anthrax attacks hidden from the American people

Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 1, 2011

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the FBI has charged a dead man who could never defend himself in court ... without offering convincing proof

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There is no way to put a value on a human life, and it is hard to argue that the U.S. government, specifically the USAMRIID laboratories, was not negligent in allowing someone to take anthrax in its possession and use it to commit 5 murders and hundreds more attempted murders.

That is, if you believe the FBI and think it was USAMRIID scientist Dr. Bruce Ivins who was the sole perpetrator of the anthrax attacks, or even that Ivins was involved in any way.

The problem is the FBI has never made its case against Ivins, and many others, perhaps hundreds of labs and thousands of individuals who had contact with those labs, had access to the batch of anthrax identified as the source from which the attack powder was prepared.

So it is very important to note that the Stevens’ settlement

included the sealing and/or destruction of witness testimony

which may have added to the conclusion that it was NOT IVINS.

If it wasn’t Ivins, then perhaps the government should not be liable in the Stevens’ case, and that in turn raises the possibility that the $2.5 million was, from the government’s point of view, really “hush money” to keep important elements of the truth about the 2001 anthrax attacks and the FBI investigation of those attacks from the American people.

The FBI has asserted, with no physical evidence, no witnesses, and no science, that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator of the anthrax attacks. The FBI has not proven that Ivins prepared the powdered anthrax or that he mailed the letters, or that he was involved in any way, let alone that he was the sole perpetrator. To my mind, this leaves only 3 possibilities …

  1. the FBI has more evidence against Dr. Ivins that they won’t show us.
  2. the FBI has not solved the case at all and after the largest investigation in the history of the FBI, costing $100 million (now $102.5 million), they don’t know who did it.
  3. the FBI does know who the perpetrators were (not Ivins) but for some reason won’t say.

Any of these alternatives conceals a terrible truth, and the Stevens’ settlement continues what appears to be a desperate ongoing attempt by the FBI to keep that truth hidden from the American people.

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24 Responses to “* LMW … reflections on the possibility that the Stevens’ $2,500,000 settlement was really “hush money” as part of a desperate ongoing attempt by the FBI to keep the truth about the 2001 anthrax attacks hidden from the American people”

  1. Washington Post is printed on paper and delivered to homes in the DC area by 6 AM or earlier.

    President Bush would get news clippings from the Post on that article that morning.

    FBI agents at home or at the office will read the Post article and see, if they know, that it is wrong on a major point. They know the president may be getting the wrong story. That matters to the FBI.

    When the president gets the wrong story from the FBI that is an embarrassment to the FBI. That matters to them. Other cabinet members, the Supreme Court, federal district court judges, etc. are also getting the wrong story. That matters to the FBI.

    So if the FBI reads it at home in the morning paper that the wrong thing is attributed to them on a major story to the DC legal community, they will want it corrected right away so not just the president gets the right story but the judges, cabinet, members of Congress, etc.

    That did not happen. No FBI employee read the wrong story in the Post and then corrected the Post story. Bloggers showed it was impossible.

    Even if they had briefed the president WaPo was wrong, they didn’t go around to every cabinet member, member of Congress and federal district court judge. They waited for bloggers to show they were wrong and humiliate them with the community that is important to them?

    • Part of the 9/11 Commission’s job and report was that info is not supposed to be left in FBI field memos and not passed on. They had Zacarias Moussaoui and didn’t act. Having info in a field memo and not getting it to the president or cabinet or who needs it is a major error post 9/11. That is why they reorganized the government.

      Why did they redirect the pipelines if the key info still gets left in FBI field memos?

  2. Once the story came out in the Washington Post that the FBI thought Ivins went up to Princeton NJ during the afternoon of Monday Sep 17 2001, anyone in the FBI who knew that was wrong had an incentive to see that the FBI corrected it.

    Instead, it was bloggers who used Mapquest utilities to prove the time table would not work. Only after bloggers proved that Ivins could not have gone up to Princeton NJ during the afternoon of Monday Sep 17 2001 did the FBI come up with the story he went later in the evening.

    If the FBI had data in its files contradicting what was leaked to WaPo it was not something they understood in the group handling Ivins at that time. Yet, supposedly, by their own account the fixed on Ivins as the new suspect by the end of 2006 when the new team came in.

    Thus from 2006 to August 2008, the new team decided Ivins was their suspect yet did not look up what records existed on where he was Monday Sep 17 2001.

  3. Ivins did take leave during the day of Monday Sep 17 2001. So the government source had to know that. How and why? Did the FBI tell them that Ivins took leave that day during the day but that he did not drive up to Princeton during the day?

    The FBI didn’t tell them he couldn’t drive during the day because the FBI wanted other people in the government to leak that he went during the day so that the FBI could discredit its own case and then later people would think that the FBI didn’t know Ivins could have driven to Princeton during the day because they didn’t check the records.

    Sure worked.

    • DXer said

      The reason not to speculate is because making assumptions introduces the risk of making error.

      The authoritative information about the “window” that the FBI perceived is the Washington Field memo that analyzed it. I do not have it handy.

      But I believe it would be the same as stated in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary.

      “The Amerithrax Investigative Summary explained that “he took annual leave for four hours on September 17, 2001 – the first day of the mailing window – returning to his office (not the hot suites) at 7:00 p.m. that evening, for only 13 minutes, and then left for the evening. He was back at USAMRIID by 7:02 a.m. on Tuesday, September 18, 2001, and traveled with his lab technicians to Covance in Denver, Pennsylvania, to deliver vaccine.”

      The DOJ has refused to provide the 302 interview statements of the family members. The DOJ similarly has failed to produce the emails which establish where he was at particular times. USAMRIID denies that any email was sent that day to Dr. Linscott from his work computer as the AUSA claimed in her investigative summary.

      The Washington Post story, without confirmation of its “sources”, is irrelevant and merely illustrates the media, like all of us, often is prone to error.

      So the relevant inquiry — one that does not involve making assumptions — is to press for the family 302s (with any necessary redactions under FOIA made) and all emails sent by Dr. Ivins, particularly on his home computer during the windows of mailing.

      US Attorney Taylor made so many central, provable mistakes in his early August 2008 press conference that we don’t have to assume that the FBI is necessarily responsible for unattributed incorrect reports in the media.

      But I certainly agree with you that debunking the “window” issue — as can be done, I think — is certainly of critical importance.

      It is critical that GAO press for the emails that Dr. Ivins wrote in September and October 2001 — with date and time — so as to create a timeline for his whereabouts.

      It involves no privacy issues whatsoever — the FBI has already quoted and relied on the contents of the emails. The FBI, however, is not disclosing the dates and times.

      There are additional emails that the DOJ has not disclosed and the date and time of those emails should be included in the timeline.

      In writing an investigative summary that details such “windows” it should have been a natural thing for the AUSA to include the time of an email.

    • The reason to speculate is that you can’t turn your brain off so you might as well make explicit and in print the scenarios and let others react to them.

      Secondly, if you could turn your brain off it wouldn’t help. You need hypotheses, speculation and hunches. Then you need confirmation. The point of a blog is to do that work jointly with others.

  4. http://www.opednews.com/populum/print_friendly.php?p=FBI-Admits-to-Bungling-the-by-E-Nelson-080819-617.html


    August 19, 2008

    FBI Admits to Bungling the Anthrax Case Against Dr. Bruce Ivins

    By Eric Nelson

    The FBI held a two-hour briefing on Monday August 18th to try and quell concerns and skepticism by scientists and journalists over the FBI’s purported case against Dr. Bruce Ivins as the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks shortly after 9/11. The New York Times reported on Monday August 18th that, “Mr. Majidi, who heads the FBI office in charge of investigating weapons of mass destruction, led a panel of government and private-sector scientists who detailed the scientific case against Ivins.”

    It appears the briefing did little to quell the controversy and may have only added fuel to the fire.”


    At one point the FBI suggested that Dr. Ivins drove to Princeton, New Jersey during the afternoon of September 17th to mail the anthrax letters, that was until reporters pointed out that the letters were mailed after 5:00 pm in Princeton, New Jersey and Dr. Ivins had a meeting in Frederick, Maryland at around 4:00 pm. That would be quite a feat even for “speed racer.” It is quite disheartening (for the FBI) to see newspaper reporters and journalists shooting down FBI theories almost immediately after the FBI presents them. It makes one wonder how carefully the FBI had thought out their theory and evidence in the first place.”

    • Dxer said

      You cite a web poster saying “at one point” the FBI said that when what you would need to cite would be where the FBI in fact said that.

  5. I used the following search

    FBI Ivins drove Princeton Monday

  6. Emptywheel, same link: (they is FBI)

    “I’m most amused by the way they find evidence, claim it’s significant, then discard it entirely once their theory falls apart. Just last week, the fact that Ivins had taken leave for the entire day before the anthrax was mailed was another smoking gun, proof that he had done the deed. But now that we DFHs have proved he couldn’t have been mailing the anthrax at that time, then that piece of evidence is discarded entirely. It seems they don’t want to entertain the possibility he was doing something else–perhaps meeting with someone, but not driving to Princeton. Similarly, lie detector tests were critical, until they discovered their main culprit passed his.

    In other words, they’re still making it up as they go along, and they still don’t have a solid case that Ivins was the sole culprit.”

    • Dxer said

      Empty wheel is merely discussing the wash po article …

      • DXer said

        You are just continuing the game of telephone started by the Washington Post “sources”….

        The Wash Po does not use “sources” to refer to governmental sources or law enforcement sources.

        But we agree on the critical points:

        1) Ivins could not have travelled during the day;

        2) It would have been specious not to know that he took only 4 hours leave and was there in the morning.

        3) the FBI had not been able to verify yet whether he had been at his scheduled group therapy session but had been told by Kemp that he did. (And he did).

        4) the FBI’s Ivins Theory is rife with assumptions on every single aspect and most of its factual assertions are contradicted by the documents nowhere cited in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary.

        And I would go further. I would say that if GAO forces the FBI to give them all of Dr. Ivins’ emails from 9/17, people will be in a lot of trouble for withholding them given that they further alibi Dr. Ivins and debunk an Ivins Theory. Any government employee who wants to keep his or her job should give a wide berth to the withholding of emails by Dr. Ivins which show his whereabouts.

        Where we differ is you may not appreciate what wildly inaccurate things the Post had just reported the day or so before based on a 2 hour interview at the office with the first counselor (who was working with the second counselor). They were feeding people information that the media was taking to be accurate. (When in reality the first counselor was having psychotic delusions over a period of decades, as she later explained in her 2009 book.)

        In other words, there is no more reason to credit the Post’s reliance on those “sources” than the sole source relied upon for the finding of traces of anthrax at the pond, the gloves etc. etc.

        • DXer said

          The lies told about July 2000 contributed to the events in July 2008 which then were used as evidence against Ivins.

  7. I don’t think the WaPo sources on Ivins going up to Princeton during the day and then a few days later switching to in the evening were the therapist. The FBI was caught out that it didn’t know where Ivins was on the day of Sep 17 2001 during the day and that it had not even bothered to check the records.

  8. “Investigators now believe that Ivins waited until evening to make the drive to Princeton on Sept. 17, 2001.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/13/AR2008081303731.html?hpid=moreheadlines

  9. http://www.emptywheel.net/2008/08/14/shorter-wapo-the-anthrax-case-sux/

    all quote follows:

    Shorter WaPo: The Anthrax Case Sux
    Posted on August 14, 2008 by emptywheel

    Last week, the FBI selectively leaked the news that Bruce Ivins had taken personal leave on September 17, 2001; they seemed to be arguing that Ivins had taken leave to drive to Princeton, all in time to return for an appointment that evening.

    A partial log of Ivins’s work hours shows that he worked late in the lab on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 16, signing out at 9:52 p.m. after two hours and 15 minutes. The next morning, the sources said, he showed up as usual but stayed only briefly before taking leave hours. Authorities assume that he drove to Princeton immediately after that, dropping the letters in a mailbox on a well-traveled street across from the university campus.

    But then some DFH bloggers pointed out that that theory was impossible.

  10. After Ivins died, the FBI at first said he drove to NJ the afternoon of Monday September 17, 2001. After that, the records were found showing he could not have.

    The FBI claimed at that time they had already checked everyone’s alibi. How did they check everyone’s alibi and still have not checked the records on where Ivins was on September 17 2001?

    What this shows is that the FBI and DOJ just fixated on Ivins because they fixed on his alleged motive. Above all, he was pointing the finger at colleagues and they have repeated consistently this as a reason to go after him.

    They heard that he hated his colleagues and wanted to frame one of them in NJ. So they didn’t even check Ivins’ own records for where he was on Monday afteroon Sep 17 2001 until after they said he drove up then.

    They claim they had a ready to try case as of when he died. Their lies collide together. This is what really proves they framed him.

    • DXer said

      But what is your basis that the FBI said he traveled in the afternoon? A single Washington Post article relying on an unnamed source? If so, does that article even speculate as to the agency that the person providing the agency is from? For all you know, the source was the gal channeling aliens who was being interviewed by the Post that week (the Post outrageously ran a major article featuring her claims without identifying her …. and it turns out she says she was getting her instructions from an alien who had planted a chip in her butt).

    • Ivins: My colleague did it.

      FBI: You have a motive, you are jealous of your colleagues and want to frame them.

      Now we will see how well you do under interrogation.

      Ivins failed interrogation, he broke down. That confirms our suspicion over motive.

      We don’t listen to that science stuff.

      We didn’t even check the records on where he was Monday afternoon Sep 17 2001 when we said he was driving to Princeton but the records proved he couldn’t.

      Remember, we’re so stupid that we’re the FBI.

      • DXer said

        You did not support your original claim that the FBI ventured that Dr. Ivins travelled in the afternoon. To attempt to do so, you might turn to the Washington Post article that (as I best recall) seemed to suggest that was their theory. While you speculate as to their reasoning you are not supporting the factual claim you made as to what their stated theory was.

        I think it is well-established that FBI agents are highly qualified and that an Ivins Theory has a lot going for it — as a theory.

        But instead of theories or speculation about the reason for the theories of others, it is best simply to support factual statements. Here, there has not yet been any factual basis offered for your claim that they claimed in early August 2008 that he travelled in the afternoon. Thus, you are knocking down a straw man. Without having seen the article in a few years, someone perhaps was speculating about the 4 hours of leave he took that afternoon (he says to attend to a personal matter that I believe involved his daughter). We can all agree that he could not have made the round trip during the day and that evening he had a group therapy session. We can also agree that they had not obtained confirmation he attended his group therapy session until after he died (see EBAP report).

        So at the time of his death, they were unaware of his major alibi evidence for the early evening.

        On the factual side of things, one would want to obtain all his emails from September 17, 2001 to include the one to Dr. Linscott.

        • DXer said

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/07/AR2008080703443.html?sid=ST2008080703559&pos=

          The next morning, the sources said, he showed up as usual but stayed only briefly before taking leave hours. Authorities assume that he drove to Princeton immediately after that, dropping the letters in a mailbox on a well-traveled street across from the university campus. Ivins would have had to have left quickly to return for an appointment in the early evening, about 4 or 5 p.m.

          Comment:

          Old Atlantic,

          The Washington Post used the word “sources” to refer to what “authorities assume.”

          When, actually, it would be foolish for the authorities to assume that given the time of his last email on September 16 and his leave records showing he only took 4 hours personal leave. It is not true he stayed “only briefly.”

          If they did assume that, then there was no factual basis for them doing so given the emails were readily available to them.

          The source that the Wash Po provably interviewed that week was the first counselor who thought she was being controlled by an alien who had implanted a device in her butt.

          The Wash Po wrote a separate story the day or so before featuring her comments and never retracted it notwithstanding a complaint to the ombudsman — who never responded at all to the complaint.

  11. The FBI tends to glue onto people’s motives. If someone steals you computer, they go after the thief. If you say a colleague stole what was on your computer, they think you are just trying to get them and you are now fair game.

    The FBI has stressed over and over that Ivins was trying to cast blame on others. They have now lighted onto someone in NJ near the mailbox as the colleague Ivins wanted to frame. So they framed Ivins.

    In a science case, the FBI are like dogs and they hear bzzz and then they hear gripes against colleagues.

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