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

* Full Stephen Little deposition civil deposition is now available online

Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 16, 2014

Stuart observes: 

Wow, unbelievable statements from Little on the rabbit study – basically saying he remembers it in Sep-Oct 2001.  So basically proving the FBI totally lied when they said Ivins had no reason to be in the lab. Little said Bruce would go to the lab in the evenings to check his own animal experiments. Little was an FBI Witness – thus proving they lied since he obviously told them Bruce DID have a reason to be in the lab
.

LMW asks:

Where is the long-overdue GAO report? Is there ever going to be a report? Has GAO become part of the coverup?

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15 Responses to “* Full Stephen Little deposition civil deposition is now available online”

  1. Lew Weinstein said

    I forget. Has GAO posted anything? Is there really an investigation going on?

  2. DXer said

    I’ve previously noted that I agree with Anonymous. But note above that Lew has omitted Anonymous’ important clarifying phrase after “So this guy Little is an FBI Witness.” Anonymous had added the clarifying phrase “– he was questioned by the FBI.” Mr. Little wasn’t an FBI Witness as such. He was just someone who was interviewed by the FBI.

    As for “basically proving the FBI totally lied,” Slow up. This June 7, 2011 deposition was long after the closing of the case. What did he say in interviews? Did the subject even come up? Where are his interviews? Why did AUSA Lieber spin Pat Fellows’ interview rather than acknowledge a statement by Mr. Little (if he was asked and if he addressed it).

    The statement at deposition is broad. The documents, such as the contemporaneous emails, that were available to the FBI are far more important. Key issues include the fact that Lab Notebook 4241 was not returned to Bruce and the cage cards were thrown out by AB.

    Now was AUSA Lieber’s spin in the Amerithrax summary provably wrong? Yes. It was wrong on many points. (In good faith briefing any issue, typically one or both attorneys are mistaken and so it is only the failure to forthrightly correct the record in her filmed Frontline interview that is upsetting.)

    US Attorney Taylor’s August 8, 2008 press conference was hugely mistaken on its central points. But he was being briefed from below and dealing with the matter in the rush of events after Dr. Ivins’ suicide.

    Did Dr. Ivins have reason to be in the lab those nights and weekends? Absolutely.

    Did AUSA Lieber know that when she was interviewed by Frontline? Yes, she should have. But in her summary she chose to spin and rely on Fellow’s 302 statement and omitted mention of the rabbit experiment altogether.

    Relatedly, read Vahid Majidi’s e-book and you see no awareness of any of the contemporaneous documents about the rabbit experiment that have been uploaded. AUSA Lieber certainly showed none when interviewed by Frontline. Given the importance of the issue, these people providing continuing commentary should have mastered the subject by now, to include the contemporaneous documents they may not have had a chance to see in 2008 in the rush of events.

    Should Agent Montooth have said that when he was interviewed by Frontline and he said he was “comfortable” with an Ivins theory? No. He should have said that he was troubled that the claim that Ivins had no reason to be in the lab has been proven untrue. It was proven untrue by the documents painstakingly uploaded by Lew over months and even years.

    But it goes too far to state “basically proving the FBI totally lied” without some major qualifications and turning to additional documents.

    For starters, you would want to locate the 302 statements of Mr. Little when he was interviewed to see if this issue came up.

    Reporters should have asked both Ed and Rachel on camera about the rabbit experiment. The ProPublica/McClatchy/and Frontline people, as I understand it, found it hard to sort out the different rabbit studies. Even when USAMRIID started producing documents under FOIA — with a big assist from Lew’s jawboning — there was a confusing welter of documents. But the lack of clarity was because the best documents were withheld. The protocol relating to the rabbit formaldehyde experiment was not produced in response to my requests. I had to get it by contacting Mr. Little himself.

    USMRC STILL — even to this day — wrongfully and outrageously withheld the room number on a key document. The well-meaning government employees refusing to unredact a particular animal room number reached the wrong decision. That’s why the expertise of someone like Attorney Kovakas at DOJ Civil is such a welcome relief. We can best maintain the excellent services of Attorney Kovakas by returning the favor and being civil. The other party’s good faith should always be presumed absent direct evidence to the contrary.

    Importantly, Mr. Little did not provide me the Protocol relating to the rabbit formaldehyde study until a few months ago. John at UMRMC wanted to withhold it because it was a “draft”. But I persisted on the grounds that even if it was an unsigned electronic copy, it could be traced to its transmittal date and the final approval. (And in any event the exemption for drafts did not apply to this non-policy, non-deliberational document). I also threatened to sue and explained that I was going to put Barry K. on their case.

    It makes you wonder why USAMRIID did not produce the rabbit formaldehyde protocol when I first asked for it years ago. I obtained it only by contacting Mr. Little directly. If John at USMRMC wants to discuss retention policies, we can discuss them in the context of spoliation doctrine and the fact that five people were murdered using virulent Ames anthrax. Command ordered in 2001 that documents be preserved.

    Mr. Little in passing told me that he was surprised I was not focused on “Project Jefferson.” So maybe USAMRIID’s skittishness about Project Jefferson is unnecessarily slowing the process of getting people on the same page.

    Everyone should relax. Yazid Sufaat is the bad guy. He’s in jail.
    Well, that is, he is until he is released again.

    As for Dr. Ayman Zawahiri and Adnan El-Shukrijumah, it would be nice if Mr. Comey’s FBI would solve Amerithrax sooner rather than later.

    As for the USG’s nervousness about Project Jefferson, it was a legal biodefense project. Take an aspirin and stop interfering with the production of documents or avoiding the disclosure of information.

    A related fundamental question that has always bugged me is: Who is responsible for not returning Lab Notebook 4241 to Bruce Ivins so that he had it available when trying to reconstruct his time?

    This blog obtained it only because Lew is relentless in drawing attention to the wrongful withholding of documents. The FBI finally coughed up a copy of the notebook and returned it to USAMRIID.

    For what it is worth, at the outset I had asked Attorney Kemp for all the documents available but he did not respond.

    And so rather than bother to figure out whose fault it was — and who dropped the ball in reconstructing the rabbit formaldehyde experiment that last week of September 2001 and first week of October 2001 — I think the best way to proceed moving forward is to presume everyone’s good faith and best efforts.

    Both these prosecutors and investigators were of high caliber and faced with a very difficult mystery. It is counterproductive to not approach things in a positive manner — above all, we should emphasize our gratitude for the helpfulness of strangers.

    There is no substitute, however, for submitting the necessary FOIAs and bringing suit to enforce FOIA where necessary.

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