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

* Chemical and Physical Signatures for Microbial Forensics (2012) – Excerpt from Preface

Posted by DXer on April 27, 2012



4 Responses to “* Chemical and Physical Signatures for Microbial Forensics (2012) – Excerpt from Preface”

  1. DXer said

    This book on undercover sting operations in terrorism operations is interesting.

    I find the subject fascinating. Judging from this opinion piece in the New York Times, David Shipler has done a very thoughtful job on a subject that is difficult to cover given that so much of the work would not be subject to review.


    Terrorist Plots, Hatched by the F.B.I.
    Published: April 28, 2012

    I feel great empathy for Dr. Ivins at the sense of betrayal he must have felt when Henry Heine pointed out that his two new friends on the cruise were undercover agents. On the other hand, the FBI is just doing its job — and a game of trivia with two appealing young ladies on a cruise ship does not seem grounds for complaint about tactics. JAG withheld the production of one email involving one of the ladies for a couple years — but it belatedly was produced as part of 300 emails that were considered personal.

    In the Albany missile case involving Aref, I read quite deeply and saw the motivation for the sting and was persuaded that it was well-intended and also well-conceived. Well-meaning critics don’t ever seem to acknowledge the background from abroad that was cited by the AUSA in the sentencing memo. To me, it represented a glimmer of the type of sophisticated intelligence analysis that is going on behind the scenes.

    In the Dhafir case, involving the spin-off of the Ann Arbor charity, IANA, the accountant was undercover. That illustrates well just how intrusive such an operation can be. Dr. Dhafir was then sent away to prison for a lifetime due to billing irregularities. There are people I greatly respect and admire who make powerful and persuasive arguments in Dr. Dhafir’s defense about the unfairness of the sentence.

    Closer to home, I asked the graphic artist of this blog whether he was a federal undercover the second day I met him. (Because of my sources, I had known who he was before he flipped his first burger at the barbecue). He didn’t respond to the question directly but instead asked if I knew Meryl Nass and whether I had ever heard of Pegasus.

    FBI? CIA? Agent? Informant who had gotten in trouble? I didn’t need to know or care. It all was just great fun.

    I consider him a dear friend and have nothing but admiration and liking for him. Who else would I have to send my pictures of cute kittens? At the conference in DC, he was the one carrying a bag big that someone mentioned was big enough to carry a semi-automatic machine gun in case the conference was attacked. The Southern California professor with the group that funded the conference asked him who he was while we were sitting near by him. My friend just said “I’m with him.” Now how cool is that!

    Having wine the night before at a nice Georgetown restaurant, I told everyone at the table of how I perceived his role and I enjoyed the opportunity to speak my mind… also the wine. ( I can’t keep a secret to save my life.) He didn’t take out a butter knife to stab me and so it all seemed to work out. As my friend has explained, a true undercover operation has to BECOME the role and not care what people think.

    Long before meeting me, he had borrowed books in Maine from Meryl — when he drove hours to meet her — and promptly returned them. She was there at dinner and so it was all great fun.

    But if I were a former Zawahiri associate, I would be very nervous that either the FBI or CIA seems to be running long-running undercover operations in case that they publicly claimed was closed.

    If I were James Baker, I would never motivate the guy asking polite and respectful questions relating to the virulent Ames provided the company by Bruce Ivins. Instead, I would have seen to it that the University of Michigan complied with the FOIA law. (Documents show that my friend wasn’t given permission to actively help me with graphics until February 2010 when the case was closed).

    My rule of thumb is simple: Comply with FOIA and answer politely, respectfully asked questions. Only the folks who don’t respond to questions or comply with FOIA come to be further scrutinized. (I’m very gullible and easily fooled by friendliness).

    After being asked about Pegasus by the undercover, I contacted an acquaintance from my distant past at Pegasus. Pegasus is a DC venture firm that had invested millions in the company founded by the former Zawahiri associate. I left a message asking what “due diligence” was done before investing millions in the small company co-founded by the former Zawahiri associate given virulent Ames by Dr. Ivins. The scientist, Tarek, was. the one who thanked Dr. Ivins’ chief accuser, Pat Fellows, for her technical assistance. He was the one who did aerosol experiments at Dugway, and experiments using virulent Ames at USAMRIID. Related experiments at Edgewood and Johns-Hopkins in 2001. Aerosol expert Pat Fellows — who the FBI doesn’t name — was the aerosol expert who went to work as head of the BL-3 at Southern Research Institute.

    I didn’t know the fellow at Pegasus , the investment firm, well but years before he had once asked me the reason for my interest in particular legal matters. I told him that it was because DC, lawyers in large law firms tended to be on the wrong side of social policy questions — because that’s where the money was. At large law firms, I thought lawyers were ruining their lives by representing cigarette companies in cancer suits. (My view is that the cigarette companies were knowingly marketing cancer). I thought that for the lawyer now working for Pegasus to even have asked the question, showed him to be a thoughtful, likable guy with integrity (and that is still my sense). My sense is that Pegasus would merely be making decisions based on financial considerations and would have no means of knowing much of anything about Dr. Ayman’s plans to attack US targets with anthrax or his infiltration of US and UK biodefense.

    In any event, he never responded to my message.

    The head of Pegasus had come to be #3 at Department of State under Hillary Clinton — overseeing, for example, things in Cairo. Very powerful, he died of a aneurysm about the time of the DC conference. He was talking to Secretary of State Clinton, I believe, when he was stricken (and then he didn’t recover).

    It was about the same time as the FBI’s lead anthrax expert had a heart attack and was taken away by ambulance at the DC conference. I stopped that night at the nearby hospital it was so jarring to hear upon return from break that he had been taken away.

    Under one view — my view — the undercover operations being run after August 2008 were IC operations designed to show who screwed Amerithrax and why.

    But I could tell you that without expensive, long-running operations, the most effective means of gathering intelligence is to just contacting people and nicely asking questions. You don’t have to pretend you are someone you are not. You just have to be respectful. Only a rare individual is going to respond to detectable deception with truth. Truth at least may get you a polite no comment — which advances things more often than not.

    If Senator Grassley knew the circumstances of the turmoil in the US Attorney’s Office due to misconduct involving an attorney who left as a result, he would understand why the pooch was screwed so badly in Amerithrax. It was unrelated to Amerithrax except insofar as was a huge distraction. But at the same time, AUSA Lieber was told by a supevisor that she could not visit Al-TImimi in jail because a deal had been struck. To her credit, she went anyway and then she was reprimanded for her trouble. And so while I disagree with her professed conclusions in Amerithrax, I have nothing but respect for someone who does what she thinks is right despite the consequences.

    Of course, the most fascinating undercover operation is the one that the FBI and CIA doesn’t know about — one way too difficult to infiltrate by the informants that the FBI normally has available to recruit because they once got in trouble. That’s the same reason the FBI can’t penetrate a cell set up by Dr. Ayman. These folks just know their mind too well. It will only typically be the uneducated new angry converts that the FBI gets to do something stupid. The angry might better have been tricked into taking up bowling or scrabble.

    Of course, I personally think the FBI is mistaken in the analysis that it claims to credit.

    I think that upon a mass attack on DC and NYC using anthrax, almost every single scientist, prosecutor and investigator should be fired the next day. Too harsh you say? Undeserved? Well, I know lawyers who refused to work on tobacco cases. I think the USG employees might have studied the rabbit documents and dropped an email to Rachel and asked her to explain. (The record will show who did and who didn’t).

    The former head of FBI counterterrorism — who went on to write novels and has a website — once emailed me and told me that Amerithrax was a mess. He’s right.

    I would much rather spend my life fighting the good fight — and ruffle the feathers of those who are well-intended and seem to genuinely think Dr. Ivins was the mailer and processor — than representing a company that markets cancer. Or write novels knowing I had left Amerithrax a mess and the country at peril and done nothing about it.

    Ah well. I ramble and my cat is threatening to shred original documents if I don’t feed her.

    I just meant to say that having someone to send cute photos to is just gravy on the cake.

    Always comply with the law and do what’s right, and you’ll have no cause to complain about undercover operation.

    If ever the DOJ ever violates your First Amendment rights, suit can be brought against Section 1983.

  2. DXer said

    While the effort to develop the field of microbial forensics is laudatory, it is not at all clear it is worth the bother. The issues of attribution in Amerithrax were not successfully addressed by the microbial forensics. The same folks at USAMRIID who had access to virulent Ames that was not genetically matching had access to virulent Ames that WAS genetically matching. The genetics narrowed things from a field of 700-1000 individuals KNOWN to have had access to 200-300. For US Attorney to falsely claim that it was kept in Building 1425 rather than both Building 1412 was egregious because it resulted in a doubling of those known to have had access over the years. The FBI’s entire case that first week in August 2008 rested on the specious claim that all others had — or could be — excluded. There were 100 who had access in 1412 who would not have been encompassed by the claim made by US Attorney Taylor when he was assuming it was only kept in 1425. It was also egregious that he pointed to the lyophilizer as the source of drying by Dr. Ivins when it was known not to have been where Dr. Ivins on those nights. So he made only several key points and he was fundamentally wrong on two of these key points. In late December 2008, AUSA Kohl had turned to Blackwater. AUSA Lieber had turned to the Robert Wone case. There was no meaningful reassessment of evidence. It was only after Dr. Ivins’ suicide that they confirmed that he in fact had gone to his counseling sessions on the dates they had speculated he drove to Princeton in the evening. The referral to NAS was in the nature of a stall. Why did it warrant a delay of years when the genetics — the only probative evidence — merely narrowed things to hundreds? Instead, the FBI should have disclosed the pertinent documents bearing on what Dr. Ivins was doing in the lab those nights, the documents showing the USAMRIID photocopiers were not in fact (contrary to the innuendo in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary) etc. The fellow who supports the Ivins’s theory urges that someone who just learned to write English wrote the letters. He may be right — although his suggestion that it would have been a First Grader rather than someone KSM just taught English has no basis. Not only has he made no study of writing by ESL students, but he hasn’t even read Laurie Garrett’s book! Laurie Garrett appeared to recognize that an Ivins Theory merely Hatfill Theory Redux. The “Hatfill Theory” was part of the same unstoppable train wreck as the “Ivins Theory.” There was a change of cars (investigators), but it was the same flawed train of reasoning and the investigators never overcame the earlier truncated emphasis of the investigation. Professor Guillemin’s value judgments are less sharply felt — or at least better disguised in an approach that comes across as academic. Anthrax Redux: Did the Feds Nab the Wrong Guy? March 24, 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner Laurie Garrett recognized that too much is at stake to be content with the latest investigators’ position that they do not know the what, how or why of the anthrax mailings. Given the importance of solving the mystery, hopefully GAO will take the approach favored by this blog: disclosure of documents. We’ve had quite enough of AUSA Lieber’s spin and Agent Montooth’s spin. It’s documents that will further the goal of reconstructing events. For example, the investigators were privately convinced of Dr. Ivins’ guilt partly because of what they learned in mid-July from the notes from Dr. Ivins’ first counselor. Those claims were heavily relied upon by a panel of psychiatrists led by the psychiatrist who had guided the FBI’s approach to Ivins. The investigators and psychatrists in 2008 could not have known that in 2009 Dr. Ivins’ first therapist, Judith M. McLean, would write of how she acquired her psychic abilities in her book available for sale — from a being from another planet … In addition to helping the FBI with Amerithrax, the psychic relied upon the government prosecutors and investigators helped with 911 by her astral travelling and retrieval of etheric body parts at Ground Zero … She reports she was granted her psychic abilities by a being claiming to be an extraterrestrial … I am still waiting for the author or journalist that interviews the members of the EBAP panel that relied on the first counselor — to see if they say “oopsie.” Dr. Greg Saathoff, who gave the key psychiatric report about Dr. Ivins and after his death justified their approach arguing that Dr. Ivins likely was guilty, is a longtime partner of FBI Quantico and instead spun his report as independent. If Dr. Ivins proves not to have been responsible, then some might conclude that the approach toward him was ill-conceived. They might think that instead he should have been provided the contemporaneous documents relating to his research with the rabbits. It is unrealistic to think that people can do a good job of reconstructing what they did on particular nights over a half decade earlier. Most people couldn’t say what they had for dinner last Tuesday night. Commentators have been too refined to get into matters relating to semen stained panties that were the subject of the FBI’s DNA swabbing in July 2008 and threat to call Dr. Ivins’ family in front of the grand jury. Instead, they confuse the genetics in Amerithrax — narrowing the field to hundreds (if that) — with the DNA evidence that points to a single individual. FBI genetics expert Claire Fraser-Liggett: the genetic analysis of the spores in Ivins’ flask do not indicate Ivins is guilty Disturbing questions haunt the anthrax killings inquiry FBI Director Mueller would have had powerful and good faith reasons to want to compartmentalize the investigation — and have issues of science considered separate from investigative leads. It is a very principled approach that serves to reduce difficult issues of conflict of interest that were rife in this case. But at the same time the then lead investigative Agent Lambert had a very legitimate concern that the compartmentalization of the investigative squads ordered by Director Mueller would prevent investigators from connecting the dots. When the true crime and intelligence leads are understood in this complex matter, one can see that is what happened. Authors like Professor Guillemin, David Willman, and Laurie Garrett nowhere address the documentary evidence produced in May 2011 that now shows what Dr. Ivins was doing in the B3 and instead bought into the FBI’s mistaken narrative that Ivins had no reason to be in the B3 on those nights. Given the inadmissibility of most of the other claimed evidence supporting an Ivins Theory, what Dr. Ivins was doing on those nights would have been a key and central subject at trial. And Tom Connolly’s accomplishments show that their are defense counsel that would have dug in their heels to master the documents and knocked this case out of the park. Dr. Ivins did not have the financial means to pay a lot for defense. He was cashing in EE bonds. His defense firm thought of him as peripheral to the investigation and had not billed the hours that a defense funded by taxpayers or pro bono counsel would have afforded. Moreover, when the FBI is withholding documents, FOIA requests can (and have) taken years. Any claim that he and his defense counsel did not point to his work with the rabbits is false. Moreover, although the 302 was not available to defense counsel, Mara Linscott said that it was a one-person job that would take a couple of hours at night and weekends. So even with the documents disclosed by the FBI, their conclusion was contradicted by the 302 by Mara Linscott (though she was unnamed). How could the longtime FBI Quantico psychiatrists or the author not have requested from the FBI the record showing what Dr. Ivins was actually doing on the nights that the investigators, without basis, speculated he was making a powdered anthrax? This is too intrusive question for a refined academic and accomplished journalists who have written about Amerithrax to ask. But it is GAO’s job to press for the relevant documents and get responses from the prosecutors, investigators and scientists about the documents detailing Dr. Ivins’ work with rabbits. When they do, they will see the investigators quickly backpedal and say that they don’t know when Dr. Ivins did processing — they will say that it could have been August. See Noah Schactman’s article in Wired. Yes. Exactly. Backpedal on the lyophilizer when it is proved false. Backpedal on whether it is 100 or 200 or 300 who needed to be excluded when it is shown that the claim that it was only kept in 1425 is false. Backpedal on the claim it was made on those nights when the claim is shown to be contradicted by documents. The investigators should have appreciated long ago that they have reason to backpedalled themselves right out the door of the courthouse. Professor Guillemin, to my eye, nowhere notes or even mentions that anthrax in the New York Post letter was 10% silica or silicates but importantly does emphasize that the government had long been told that if they find the person growing anthrax in silicates, they may have found their perpetrator. On the silica issue, she returns us to the days of what I’ll call the Meselson v. Matsumoto debate… when 7 years later discussion should have moved on to what I’ll call the Velsko/Weber position. Both government consultants, they say that given its probative importance, the issue and reason for the Silicon Signature needs to be further explained. Dr. Meselson is the Professor’s husband. It is the Velsko/Weber position that is the persuasive one. I have posted Dr. Velsko’s 2010 article on his NanoSIMs work. Writers and journalists need to leave behind the Meselson/Matsumoto/Spertzel framing of the issue urged by the pornographer obsessed with First Graders — it obscures rather than illuminates. If a journalist is not interviewing and citing the Lawrence Livermore experts Weber and Velsko, then you are living in the past. Indeed, to be expert on the issue, one needs to have actually done controlled experiments with and without silicon such as John Kiel, head of the Air Force lab. So at the end of the day I favor the view of Professor Guillemin’s co-author on Sverdlosk — Martin Hugh-Jones. It is not to say that Professor Meselson’s wife is mistaken in what she says, it is that she is missing the point. The Silicon Signature needs to be understood because it is potentially highly probative. The “Red Team” conclusion should not have been so readily accepted. (Moreover, those experts should have been identified consistent with FOIA). In the interest of transparency, the participants should be disclosed. Nondisclosure is not done because it is classified but instead merely serves to conceal conflicts of interest. . The Technical Review Panel Summary notes that the NY Post sample had apparently been treated with hydrophilic silica. The term “weaponization” is used by Professor Guillemin as a straw man to avoid the potential key probativeness of the silicon signature. . She nowhere suggests that the USG has explained how Dr. Ivins’ processing could have resulted in the Silicon Signature. . . To credit that the silicon signature did not relate to “weaponization” – as Professor Guillemin and many of us do — does not avoid the fact that it is potentially highly probative, and without more tends to be exculpatory of Dr. Ivins. For example, if it relates to “microencapsulation” using hydrophilic silica, that might be a huge lead. . Again, it is important to recognize that none other than government-funded experts Weber and Velsko, key experts on the nonmicrobiological signature signature, think that further study is warranted to determine the source of the Silicon Signature. Professor Guillemin and David Willman nowhere mentions the 302 interview statement that checking the health of the animals typically would take 2 hours and was a one person job. This is important background in understanding the lab notes produced on May 11, 2011. To not understand this is to miss the most important, central fact relating to the lack of viabiility of the USG’s claims. Given the lead times involved in publishing, Professor Guillemin does not address the sworn deposition testimony in the Stevens v. United States case of Patricia Worsham or Stephen Little casting doubt on the FBI’s Ivins Theory. The DOJ has now acknowledged that the lyophilizer was not in the B3 where Dr. Ivins was located when they speculated he made dried powder. Professor Guillemin does not address the fact that US Attorney Taylor in explaining Ivins’ overtime in Fall 2001, including November and December, did not realize that new rules in 2002 precluded such overtime, working alone in B3. In his FOIA to the Army, David Willman did not seek access records from the earlier or later period and I don’t see that Ms. Garrett or Professor Guillemin submitted any FOIAs to Army (and I don’t know offhand about DOJ). Source: “An eye on safety” by Alison Walker … “Better enforcement … In 2002, USAMRIID officials mandated a two-person rule, which creates peer pressure to follow safety protocol by requiring material be handled by two people of equal experience, training and qualification. USAMRIID is phasing out the rule due to space and staff limitations, replacing the physical presence of another person with video surveillance.” Professor G. does not mention, but it is important to note, that Dr. Ivins had no access to the filters and thus there would have been traces in the filters if the anthrax had been made in that B3. Source: Former bacteriology chief GA. Professor Guillemin does not address the weaponized anthrax that Dr. Ivins says he had heard had been shipped to Ft. Detrick and then went missing though she makes passing mention of CIA experiments involving Battelle and Dugway early on. She mentions that James Burans learned how to culture anthrax from Dr. Ivins. He was the lead Navy fellow and Al-Timimi had a security clearance to work on a Navy project while at SRA in 1999. All this talk about missing weaponized anthrax prompts me to wonder what experiments the Navy was doing in Spring 2001. I know (but perhaps shouldn’t) that there were aerosol experiments involving ships. (I presume simulants but have no information; Greg K., who had obtained the Ames originally, then went to work for NMRC and the CIA, I believe. At page 214 she explains that USAMRIID’s John Ezzell, the FBI’s anthrax expert, prior to 9/11, made a dried aerosol using Ames supplied by Bruce Ivins and sent to Johns-Hopkins Applied Physics. This resulted in a conflict of interest that went off the charts long before Dr. Ivins’ first submission was thrown out by an FBI scientist.“murder-weapon”-to-borrow-us/ Where do any of the authors address Ivins’ email of 6-28-05 that discusses powder deemed closest to attack anthrax … in which Ivins says, “but I told ??? we didn’t make spore powder” Who was the FBI’s anthrax expert who told Dr. Ivins not to get his “panties in a bind over this”? Was that Dr. Jahrling rather than Dr. Ezzell as I had once inferred? The authors nowhere address the fact that the FBI removed the original of Lab Notebook 4010 (and other notebooks that were subpoenaed) without leaving a copy. Why won’t the FBI produce the relevant pages from the lab notebooks it took? . The authors nowhere explains that Daniel Seikaly pled the Fifth Amendment in connection with the leaks relating to Hatfill or notes that his daughter represented “anthrax weapons suspect” Ali Timimi pro bono. . The authors nowhere address why the US Attorney and AP created the impression that the Federal Eagle stamp was uniquely sold in Ivins’ post office (near USAMRIID) when it in fact was sold throughout Maryland and Virginia. This misstatement by the US Attorney (picked up by AP) was as great as any misstep in connection with a “Hatfill Theory”. I previously mentioned that US Attorney was flat out wrong in two of his key points. Make that three. But, boy, throw in to the mix the Wash Po story interviewing (without naming her) the first counselor controlled by aliens, and you have the United States government spinning Dr. Ivins’ guilt by a wildly false narrative just days after his suicide upon the testing of the stained panties that they had found. He became physically upset over the finding of those panties and was known to be suicidal at the time that they swabbed him for DNA so as to test the semen on the panties. Yes, the well-meaning agents and psychiatrists drove Dr. Ivins to suicide and then withheld the documents showing he was innocent. Then the psychiatrists held a press conference in which they relied heavily on the woman who thought she was controlled by an alien in 2000. They sold the report, collected the money, and never told the federal court judge that there should be corrections and deletions from the report. Given the anthrax threat faced by this country, these are not mistakes that can go uncorrected while Homeland Security contemplates whether to write off a city if 50,000 are killed due to an aerosolized attack. Under a risk analysis, there needs to be full disclosure and a robust kicking of the tires. Errors in analysis have to be unearthed and documented. None of the authors address why the FBI failed to disclose that the photocopier mentioned in the Amerithrax Summary could be excluded as the source of the Amerithrax letters. That is the sort of evidence that makes for a strong scientific case — or undermine one. This is different from the less the much less significant issue of “tracks” made by the photocopier gripper. . The authors nowhere address why the FBI let USAMRIID General John Parker’s false claim that USAMRIID did not make dried powder stand — when the FBI and the scientists overseeing the investigation knew its own expert had made dried powdered aerosol using Ames. . The authors nowhere address the identity of the colleague with whom Dr. Heine says he did research regarding antifoam in creating aerosols or Dr. Heine’s report that the FBI falsely told Dr. Ivins that Dr. Heine had accused him of the anthrax mailings. This is a huge issue because the investigators then used Dr. Ivins’ rage as proof of his guilt — rather than evidence of his innocence. The authors nowhere address why the FBI never disclosed the email withheld for 2 years that shows Dr. Ivins knew that 5 ml of virulent Ames had been taken from Building 1412. The authors nowhere address the email asking about weaponized anthrax that came to Detrick and then was shipped out and some was missing. The FBI estimates that up to 377 had access required elimination (allowing for some duplication who had access in both 1425 and 1412). US Taylor falsely claimed that only 100 needed to be eliminated — only those with access at Building 1425. The location of the flasks (initially there were two flasks) was carefully whited out so as to change its location from Building 1412 to Building 1425. That change violated USAMRIID protocol about record-keeping. The authors nowhere address to whom Dr. Ivins was writing about the Ames missing from building 1412 and the autoclaving of samples there. It is hugely relevant that the person destroying the Ames samples is Dr. Ivins’ chief accuser. The authors nowhere address what happened to the other slant sent from Texas, or interviews the original researcher who obtained the slants from Texas who then went to work for the CIA. The authors nowhere address Dr. Ivins’ concern expressed to a superior that he was missing samples — only to be told to shut up. He never identifies the superior telling Ivins that everything was under control. The authors nowhere address when Southern Research Institute first obtained virulent Ames and from whom. The authors nowhere address where the research on the corona plasma discharge and sonicator on Ames spores supplied by Bruce Ivins was conducted for DARPA. She nowhere address where else the DARPA aerosol studies using dried powder were done. Given the performance of the dried aerosol, the technical question of whether the floatability is due to use of a CPD or sonicator should be addressed by the scientific experts. This week I posted news of Joany Jackman’s recent 2012 publication. She was the assistant to Dr. Ezzell who did the work at USAMRIID using special facilities that were constructed .. and then continued her work at Johns-Hopkins, where the former Zawahiri associate was testing his decontamination agent in 2001. The authors nowhere address the fact that the only expert interviewed by the FBI about the code in the letters for which documents were produced disagreed with the FBI’s theory of code in the letters and that all the letters needed for the FBI’s interpretation of the code were NOT in fact double-lined. Once this understood, one realizes what a crock of a case the FBI concocted. The FBI’s code theory and its failure to have evidence admissible under Daubert well-illustrates the broader issues of FBI forensics that the Spencer Hsu has written about this month. The authors nowhere address why the FBI was asking everyone whether they had seen olive oil in one of the aerosol rooms. Olive oil perhaps was what the bloodhounds smelled at Denny’s when the FBI assumed they were tracking Steve Hatfill who had visited the day before. If GAO wants to address the science that the FBI used in the Amerithax investigation, it should not forget Lucy and Tinkerbelle — the anthrax smelling bloodhounds! Dr. Ayman Zawahiri is the man whose close associates had announced he was going to use anthrax against US targets to retaliate for the rendering and detention. To not understand the key importance of this man trying to kill Americans makes the various books academic in the best and worst sense. There were 16 pages which were not obtained by the FBI until February 2005 — those pages involved distribution of Ames to a former Zawahiri associate. I don’t mind that reporters and academic don’t write of such things — indeed, given the history that Amerithrax took with the hyping of the Hatfill story by the chief prosecutor whose daughter came to represent Ali Al-Timimi, I totally understand it. But the fact that they don’t make relevant phone calls supports the view that investigative reporting is dead in this country. Reporters just don’t have the time or resources. Nowadays, writing up a filed court document or reading documents the FBI submits to NAS is deemed a substitute. For broadcast, getting interviews of people journalists have quoted suffices. And of course, when you are channeling investigators, interviewing the dead guy’s prom date is what passes for investigation. Heaven forbid that someone would pick up the phone and seek an interview with Rauf Ahmad who was working with Dr. Zawahiri or join Yazid Sufaat for a discussion on his Facebook page.’-rmr-1029-anthrax-more-questions-for-um-and-lsu-researchers/ Yazid Sufaat, who explains that he had worked for the Malaysian biological weapons program, worked with is lab assistant did at Omar Hospital in May 2001 while the equipment was en route to the lab being established at Kandahar. The Detainee Assessments on this subject are part of the public record and so why did they not inform the discussion? Is the GAO report going to be similarly bereft of highly relevant information? The book authors nowhere address that FBI experts found that Dr. Ivins handwriting does not match the handwriting in the anthrax letters but is understandably highly skeptical of the FBI’s sorority theory. The book authors nowhere address a “Waly Samar” who was a microbiologist connected to the WTC 1993 participants based on phone records and reportedly lived in the Trenton area in 2001 — an estimated 20 miles from the mailbox. You’ll recall that it was McClatchy that emphasized the potentially critical importance of b. subtilis contaminant found in the Brokaw and New York Post anthrax letters … not connected to Dr. Ivins … and substantially ignored by the FBI. And, again, it is totally understandable for a journalist or sociologist and so this is not a fault. It all comes down to one’s personal assessment about what is at stake. And I think on that question — lapses in biosecurity — no one should disagree with the Professor. But nor should any one not be troubled that Homeland Security — because of the FBI’s botched investigation — is in the position of having to decide whether to “write off” a city in the event of an attack. The authors nowhere address the claim that a pharmacist Najmut Tariq in New York City was connected to Al Qaeda anthrax program and apparently no effort was made to contact him in Pakistan. But someone like the Wash Po correspondent in Pakistan should attempt an interview. The authors nowhere address how the FBI was able to exclude Abderraouf Yousef Jdey as the mailer if the FBI doesn’t know where he was and, according to former top CIA analyst Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Jdey was released before the mailings. Intelligence analysis, for example, would point out that Dr. Assaad was Coptic Christian and the Blind Sheik’s group primary mission is to persecute Coptic Christians. For people including JG to miss this is to miss the possible significance of that anonymous letter that some view as an intentional “red herring” pointing to Dr. Assaad. (Dr. Assaad, for his part, thinks that the claims against Dr. Ivins are part of a vicious plot).…-who-was-the-real-anthrax-mailer-the-key-people-in-the-anthrax-mailings-were-not-bruce-ivins-or-steven-hatfill-his-predecessor-as-the-fbis-target-instead-they-app/ The book authors nowhere address experiments led by Egyptian Abu Khabab killing rabbits with poisons under during the month before 9/11 at a camp outside Kabul. Yazid Sufaat complimented the informed nature of my questions but declined to give substantive answers about Khabab’s work with rabbits. The book authors nowhere address the training in late 2001 at the training camp outside Kandahar to introduce poison into water systems. Given that the recent claims about ricin and the lack of any direct evidence that the planning in fact related to bombs, this sort of consideration is very important in any book on the subject of biodefense and the threat faced by the country. Hopefully we will hear at the upcoming trial at Guantanamo about Mustafa Hawsawi’s laptop containing anthrax spray drying documents. The book authors nowhere address the fact that Anwar Aulaqi was coordinating with Ali Al-Timimi who shared a suite with the two leading Ames researchers. Heck, if they don’t so much as name the head of Al Qaeda’s specific anthrax planning and sending of scientists to attend USAMRIID conferences, this is not surprising. But Rauf Ahmad’s attendance of Porton Down conferences is far more relevant to the issue of biosecurity — on which she organizes her thesis — than it is that Dr. Ivins attended a presentation she gave at Ft. Detrick on Sverdlosk in 2002. People need to address the issue and stop being ostriches with their head in the sand. That is precisely how lapses in biosecurity occur. The authors nowhere address the documents from peer reviewed literature in Ayman Zawahiri’s possession. The book authors nowhere address Rauf Ahmad’s notes and handwritten letter (he was one of the scientists working for Ayman Zawahiri). The book authors nowhere address the typed correspondence from a later visit by Rauf Ahmad indicating that he had successfully achieved the targets. (And, no, Milton L. did not systematically refute the matter in discussing the correspondence in his book – he avoided quoting this critical language altogether!) I find Rauf Ahmad to be as chatty as Yazid Sufaat — and equally unrevealing for what we can think of as “Fifth Amendment” reasons. Yazid specifically references the Fifth Amendment — while Rauf just asks for money each time I contact him. The authors nowhere address Ali Mohammed, the head of intelligence for Egyptian Islamic Jihad who had a document on his computer seized by the FBI that outlined principles of cell security that would be followed, trained Dahab, a Cairo medical drop-out, to make deadly letters. We needed someone like Ali Haider — who is well-read and understands principles of cell security — on the Task Force. Not someone who in early October 2001 took out a profile about unstable loners from the filing cabinet. The authorsnowhere address the Egyptian visitor in the B3 who was the lifelong friend of a former Egyptian Islamic Jihad member, a schoolmate, recruited by Ayman Zawahiri. The book authors nowhere address the fact that Dr. Bruce Ivins hosted one Egyptian visitor in the B3 who was the lifelong friend of a former Egyptian Islamic Jihad member, a schoolmate, recruited by Ayman Zawahiri and that the FBI not obtain the relevant documents until February 2005. The book authors nowhere address the fact that this document seized in Afghanistan pointed to infiltration of US biodefense. To what was the author referring? The book authors nowhere address this Zawahiri correspondence with infiltrating scientist that was part of parallel compartmentalized cell operation. Who else did Ayman attempt to recruit (besides the schoolmate and close friend of Bruce Ivins’ co-worker)? The book authors nowhere address the documents dating from April 1999 showing that Ayman Zawahiri’s plan was to recruit a specialist. Who else did Ayman Zawahiri succeed in recruiting? The book authors nowhere address the fact that the lifelong friends of Dr. Tarek Hamouda, supplied virulent Ames by Bruce Ivins, actively denounce their former medical school associate Ayman Zawahiri as a fanatic – one serving as President of CAIR-St. Louis and the other as author of INSIDE JIHAD. After the FBI first obtained in 2005 the documents relating to Dr. Hamouda’s work with Dr. Ivins, did they contact Dr. Hamid who reports he was recruited into the Egyptian Islamic Group by Ayman Zawahiri while in medical school? Did they contact his brother who publicly announced that he could not identify a sleeper cell if he did not know about it? The book authors nowhere address why the FBI failed to disclose that Jdey was detained and released as the same time as Moussaoui. The book authors nowhere address the fact that Ayman Zawahiri had an extensive recruiting network for his anthrax planning and the announcement of his plans in March 1999, including the blind sheik’s son who spoke alongside Ali Al-Timimi and was on Al Qaeda’s 3-member WMD society. Did the blind sheik’s son recruit Ali Al-Timimi? The book authors nowhere address the fact that Ayman Zawahiri used “school” to refer to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad but does poke fun at the FBI’s theory as to why “school” was used. The book authors nowhere address the fact that while the US government focuses on Anwar Al-Aulaqi, the media continues to overlook Aulaqi’s connection to fellow Falls Church imam, a scientist sharing the suite with the leading bioweapons Ames anthrax researchers with whom defense counsel says Aulaqi was coordinating. The book authors nowhere address the fact that Ali Al-Timimi had unfettered access to the largest microbiological repository in the world where the bacteriology collection scientist was the future head of the Amerithrax science investigation who would guide the NAS review and the production of documents from the FBI to NAS. Essentially, Laurie Garret’s book asked: given all the uncertainties, isn’t there a very real chance that an Ivins Theory is just a Hatfill Theory redux — and had the same effect of narrowing the investigative focus? (Laurie suggests FBI higher-ups by Spring of 2002 never meaningfully pursued an Al Qaeda theory.) Professor Guillemin, in contrast, just sticks to very safe territory and the rubber never hits the road. That serves very well for an academic overview that is well-suited to grace library shelves. David Willman relegates the question of the evidence to an appendix after the epilogue — essentially merely assuming Dr. Ivins’ guilt as part of the trade for access to the investigators. But what we need is investigative reporting and a GAO report that is written by investigators who understand the importance of obtaining the most probative documentary evidence — for example, emails. We need a government accountability brought to us by the Government Accountability Office and FOIA and the common law right to filed warrants — rather than Anonymous and Wikileaks and whistleblowers. But anyone who thinks whistleblowers could not write a radically different history — who will not write a radically different history — are mistaken. Now ask yourself: If and when 50,000 are killed in a mass anthrax attack, is the public going to be satisfied with an evidentiary case for which there was no “there there” , the US Attorney was wrong on his key points, and key documents were and continue to be withheld? Why not do a proper and transparent analysis BEFORE such an attack? Start by producing the analysis of the photocopier toner relating to the brand(s) photocopier used.
  3. DXer said

    While the scientists have gazed at their navels, the prosecutors performed some street magic. Ken and Rachel tried to make these 52 rabbits disappear. They made no mention of them in their Amerithrax Investigative Summary. An Ivins Theory was premised on the false and specious claim that he had no reason to be in the lab those days. The DOJ withheld all documents relating to Dr. Ivins’ work with the 52 rabbits. GAO should question the prosecutors and scientists and agents on these documents and obtain all documents still being withheld by the DOJ. GAO should rely on the annotated database of documents rather than DOJ’s selective production — such as we saw in its production to NAS.

    While ordinarily the database created and maintained by the DOJ paralegals would be protected work product immune from production, it is not a grounds for the DOJ to withhold that database from the GAO given GAO’s Congressionally mandated fact-finding role. I would hate to be the DOJ official who has to explain why DOJ is continuing to withhold documents from GAO.

    1. In an Oct 5, ’01 email among the materials provided by USAMRIID this week, Dr. Ivins explains the results 3 days after the challenge of rabbits in the formaldehyde experiment; the word “rabbits” has never passed the prosecutor’s lips
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 24, 2011

    2. NOT FOR PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION: 10 days after the rabbits had been challenged on October 1, 2001, Dr. Ivins presented preliminary results from the Battelle study involving the 5 year old preps of rPA vaccine w/ and w/o formaldehyde.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 24, 2011

    3. In new FOIA Response, USAMRIID Reports It Could Not Locate The “Animal Room Environment Report” for B310 and B305 in Building 1425 for Sep – Oct 2001; Those Documents Would Provide Contemporaneous Descriptions Of The Exanguination Of 52 Rabbits During The Week That DOJ Had Speculated That Dr. Ivins Made A Dried Powder In That Suite. GAO: Does The FBI Have A Copy?
    Posted on January 14, 2012

    4. Of The 52 Rabbits In The Early October 2001 Formaldehyde Experiment, How Many Were Exsanguinated Pursuant To This Procedure? All Of Them?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 13, 2012

    5. In Advance Of The October 1, 2001 Rabbit Challenge, The 52 Rabbits Nowhere Mentioned By Prosecutors Needed To Be Moved Into The B3 Suite 7 Days Earlier (And Documents Establish That They Were)
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 13, 2012

    6. GAO should obtain the very best contemporaneous documentation relating to Dr. Ivins specific activities with the guinea pigs, mice and rabbits on the nights that DOJ claimed, without evidence, that he was making a dried powder to mail.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 6, 2012

    7. Standard Operating Procedures for Animal Assessment and Monitoring: the beautiful Amerithrax AUSA did not appreciate that Dr. Ivins was tasked to do this the first week of October with 52 rabbits.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 4, 2012

    8. Hickory Dickory Doc: The mice ran up the clock and Dr. Ivins time in the BL-3 lab in late September 2001 but not as much as the rabbits did in early October 2001.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 4, 2012

    9. 12 rabbits then died on day 3 and 4 and more on day 5; Ivins time then spent the extra time on those nights; AUSA Rachel Lieber got her facts seriously wrong in the investigative summary; DOJ should have required citations to the record.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 3, 2012

    10. As explained in the protocols, the rabbits did not start dying until 2-4 days after challenge; after the Oct 1 challenge, the rabbits did not start dying immediately and his time in the B3 at night was negligible
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 3, 2012

    11. Numerous USAMRIID Standard Operating Procedures (all mandatory) controlled the animal husbandry baseline services rendered the rabbits, guinea pigs and mice involved in Dr. Ivins’ experiments in Sep-Oct 2001
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 3, 2012

    12. After Challenge On About Oct 1, 2001, One Of The Investigators On Rabbit/Formaldehyde Study Were Required To Observe The Control Rabbits For The First 7 Days After Challenge ; The AUSA and Investigators Never Mention The Rabbits
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 2, 2012

    13. June 14, 2001 LACUS Subcommittee Meeting notice to consider Dr. Ivins’ proposal regarding formadehyde and rabbits.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 2, 2012

    14. Under The Protocol Involving Rabbits and Formaldehyde Implemented in Late September 2001 and Early October 2001, Dr. Ivins Was Tasked With Monitoring The Animals After Challenge
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 1, 2012

    15. Under The Protocol Involving Rabbits and Formaldehyde Relating To The Early October 2001 Challenge, The Rabbits Were To Be Euthanized By Injection Of Euthasol By Animal Tech Lab Anthony Bassett, Who Can Describe The Experiment
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 1, 2012

    16. Even in Later Protocols Involving Aerosol Challenges Conducted In Building 1412, the Rabbits Would Be Kept In Building 1425, Suite B3 Before And After Aerosol Challenge In 1412 (Where Monitoring Would Continue 21 Days)
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 30, 2011

    17. Each of the 52 rabbits shipped the week of September 24, 2001 to USAMRIID Building 1425 to join Dr. Ivins in the Biolevel 3 lab had a unique identifying microchip.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 26, 2011

    18. Like the rabbits shipped to USAMRIID Building 1425 the week of September 24th and acclimated to biolevel 3 for one week before being challenged, the mice similarly were housed in building 1425, not building 1412
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 26, 2011

    19. On October 14, 2001, when Dr. Ivins spent 1 1/2 hours in B3, do DEA Controlled Substance records indicate that he was euthanizing and exsanguinating the surviving rabbits?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 12, 2011

    20. After rabbits are challenged on the hot side, as many as three autoclaves are needed just processing cages and other items from the hotside, and it takes time to disinfect, decon and re-set up a room
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 8, 2011

    21 At USAMRIID, subcutaneous challenge of rabbits was ALWAYS done in the hot suite ; the hot suite is unavailable for subcutaneous challenge (or making a dried powder) when being decontaminated
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 8, 2011

    22. The scientist who made the large amount of virulent Ames that is missing, who was thanked by the former Zawahiri associate for providing technical assistance re the Ames, is the person who could explain about the rabbits ; but she’s not talking.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on November 9, 2011

    23. “AR” on the Floor Plan For USAMRIID Building Floor Plan Stands For “Animal Resources” – WHat was Dr. Ivins doing in “AR” — working with animals like his lab notes and emails show.

    24. As Dr. Ivins often explained, conducting a rabbit study such as the one involving 52 rabbits in early October 2001 always depended on the availability of hot suite space.

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on November 1, 2011

    25. Did Dr. Ivins’ trips to the “AR” from the hot suites as trips to a locked cabinet in “Animal Resources” to get the Ketamine and Euthasol needed to anesthesize and euthanize moribund mice and rabbits? See DEA (part of DOJ) Controlled Substance log.

    26. June 14, 2001 LACUS Subcommittee Meeting notice to consider Dr. Ivins’ proposal regarding formadehyde and rabbits.

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 2, 2012

    27. Dr. Ivins preferred a parenteral (subcutaneous) challenge because you could fit 60 rabbits in one room whereas an aerosol challenge would require 4 rooms (1 for animals, 2 hood lines, and 1 spore and bacterial plating)

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on October 31, 2011

  4. DXer said

    In DC, a copy is available at George Mason and at GWU.

    In NYC, a copy is available at NYU.

    I’ve had access at Cornell.

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