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

* In GAO’s Assessment Of The Effectiveness Of DIA’s Monitoring Of A Visiting Foreign National Working With Dr. Ivins With Virulent Ames In Biolevel 3 Prior To 9/11, Past Audits Suggest That DIA Did No Vetting At All ; FOIA Responses To Date Indicate That USAMRIID Incredibly Did Not Preserve The Records Relating To That Research

Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 14, 2012

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7 Responses to “* In GAO’s Assessment Of The Effectiveness Of DIA’s Monitoring Of A Visiting Foreign National Working With Dr. Ivins With Virulent Ames In Biolevel 3 Prior To 9/11, Past Audits Suggest That DIA Did No Vetting At All ; FOIA Responses To Date Indicate That USAMRIID Incredibly Did Not Preserve The Records Relating To That Research”

  1. DXer said

    Of course, it’s hard to tell who destroyed or failed to preserve which documents absent GAO interviews and then production of that interview.

  2. DXer said

    How effective was their monitoring? Prior to 2001, there was no monitoring. Moreover, with respect to that lack of monitoring, the USG is still playing hide-the-ball.

  3. DXer said

    Viral research faces clamdown, Nature
    http://www.nature.com/news/viral-research-faces-clampdown-1.11629

  4. DXer said

    http://www.cfr.org/biotechnology/reporting-biosecurity-america-zaire/p26998

    COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS:

    Reporting on Biosecurity from America to Zaire
    Author: Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health
    January/February 2012
    Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

    Abstract

    Award-winning radio and newspaper reporter Laurie Garrett, now a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, describes the mistakes and misjudgments made by government officials in response to the anthrax attacks of 2001 and provides recommendations for what should be done now. Garrett says it is important to view 9/11 and the anthrax mailings as connected events in any evaluation of the government response. She criticizes the emphasis placed on a smallpox vaccine, which diverted attention from other health issues. She lists circumstantial evidence that points toward Al Qaeda, rather than bioweapons scientist Bruce Ivins, as the anthrax culprit. Garrett assesses the mistakes made in response to the anthrax mailings based on what turned out to be incorrect assumptions. She calls for a thorough investigation of the attacks, comparable to The 9/11 Commission Report, to understand what went wrong. And she explains why transparency, within and among government agencies, as well as in communications with the public, is essential in the future.

    View full text of article (Subscription required).

    Comment: I need again to commend the FOIA official Ms. Rogers for embodying this principle of transparency and excellent communication with the public. Public confidence in our institutions is very important. Such good faith and diligence at the personal level goes a long way toward achieving that public confidence. The Department of Justice, on the other hand, has not responded to any substantive FOIA requests (other to deny them and even require the shredding of certain key depositions). I realize that the DOJ gets many wide-ranging requests on many dozens of other matters. The pending requests, however, would have taken less than 2 hours to fulfill and so a claimed lack of resources has not warranted the failure to respond — given the priority that the Homeland Secretary and Secretary of State has urged be placed on the issue of the anthrax threat. One of the requests, for example, related to the lab notebooks that provided contemporaneous record of activities in September and October 2001. The AUSA specifically advised us, through a spokesperson, that we would never get them. In light of the AUSA claims in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary that are flatly contradicted by documents now produced by USAMRIID, the Pulitzer-winning book author Ms. Garrett is correct that a thorough investigation, with subpoena power, is required.

  5. DXer said

    Source:

    Sandia Final Report (2002) : The National Agency Check process was not designed to screen the backgrounds of foreign nationals before granting them access to containment areas and DIA did not review such access (except for NRC fellows)
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on November 5, 2011

    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/sanda-final-report-2002-the-national-agency-check-process-was-not-designed-to-screen-the-backgrounds-of-foreign-nationals-before-granting-them-access-to-containment-areas-and-dia-did-not-review/

    Note: Production of this report was denied under FOIA. I then had to awkwardly post the internal discussion by USG employees that there was no reason to withhold it (prompting an Army investigation on how I obtained the internal emails).

    In producing documents to GAO, everyone should assume that there are no secrets.

    As for particulars and the FBI’s role, the documents produced to date indicate that the FBI first addressed the issue in February 2005. Not merely a dropped ball but 4 years of dropped balls.

    As for USAMRIID’s role, they threw out the documents.

    As for CIA’s role, I believe they would have to work domestically through Battelle counterintelligence in Charlotte. But Battelle had no process by which they vetted access to non-Battelle or Army labs.

  6. DXer said

    DARPA, in turn, funded the dried aerosol research such as the mass spec detection work.

    It had no role in vetting. That was supposed to be DIA’s job.

    • DXer said

      DARPA was all about funding innovative research. Program Directors were short-term and had technical expertise — not counterintelligence or biosecurity experience.

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