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

* Jahrling deposition: Colonel Elliott from IG’s Office wrote scathing report that USAMRIID was not taking security seriously

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 9, 2014

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51 Responses to “* Jahrling deposition: Colonel Elliott from IG’s Office wrote scathing report that USAMRIID was not taking security seriously”

  1. DXer said

    The stories this month have not yet touched on the security at the FDA (formerly NIH) lab.

    CDC: Smallpox found in NIH storage room is alive
    By Jen Christensen, CNN
    updated 3:07 PM EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
    http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/11/health/smallpox-found-nih-alive/

    Frieden says that the NIH is currently scouring their buildings to make sure there are no other surprises left in unused storerooms. He says the problem in this case is not in the creation of the vials; the discovery points to a “problem in inventory control.”

  2. DXer said

    Colonel Elliott’s team also inspected Edgewood and Dugway. The Army produced the Inspector General report for USAMRIID.

    If you want a copy for the IG report done for Edgewood and Dugway, a request is made at this link.

    Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
    http://www.daig.pentagon.mil/foia.aspx

    • DXer said

      I’ve made the request for the Dugway and Edgewood IG reports. Ms. Baines is very principled in her administration of FOIA — but a piggybacked request by a media or nonprofit requestor always helps avoid an ill-considered denial or denial of a requested fee waiver. I noted in the request that Colonel Elliott’s civil deposition will be uploaded shortly in the USAMRIID Electronic Reading Room.

  3. DXer said

    If someone wants to obtain under FOIA the documents from the CID agents and DOD agent discussed in the deposition of Inspector General team leader Colonel Elliott, the form for a FOIA request to the Army CID is here.

    http://www.cid.army.mil/documents/FOIA/FOIA%20Request%20Form_final.pdf

    In similar cases, it was CID that did the most important stuff. (I’m a big fan of the TV show NCIS).

    As I best recall, once they tracked down a missing pathogen to a researcher who had taken it back to New York City with him.

    • DXer said

      I’ve sent a request for the Army CID documents. If you had a crime at a US Army installation, wouldn’t you want a former marine like Gibbs to investigate?

  4. DXer said

    Colonel Elliott’s civil deposition, produced today under FOIA, once was “CONFIDENTIAL SUBJECT TO PROTECTIVE ORDER 3 AND 4.”

  5. DXer said

    Did GAO interview the CID agents mentioned by Colonel Elliott in his deposition produced today? Did GAO obtain the CID documents? CID has done important work in past similar investigations involving Ft. Detrick.

    A. And I was contacted about that by two CID — or one CID special agent that I was familiar with and did come and see me. And in turn, I was also contacted by a DOD special
    agent that was also involved and was concerned with the results of our report and what we may have found.
    Q. Okay. And in the discussions with those two people did you — I mean, did you basically discuss with them the findings of your report?
    A. That’s correct.
    Q. Okay.
    A. And what they chose to do with them, I mean, that was beyond our scope. And that would have been in their lane.
    Q. Okay. Did you discuss with them —
    MR. TARANTO: Let me — Let me just assert an objection. Since this involves a criminal investigation arm of the defense department, we would assert an objection of privilege as to specific communications on criminal investigation matters and instruct the 24 witness not to answer. (p. 126)

    • DXer said

      More on the CID agent and DOD agent from the deposition of Colonel Elliott, head of the IG team in November 2001, that was produced today:

      Q. But let me ask you — Your lawyer instructed you not to answer about the content of any of the conversations. Let me ask you, the agent that contacted you from the Criminal Investigation Division of the Army, do you recall the name of that individual?
      A. Unfortunately, nine years later I do not.
      Q. And what about the special agent from the Department of Defense, the name of that individual?
      A. I do not.
      Q. What — In what — At what point in time — And obviously this is probably going to be two different contacts, so let me start with the CID of the Army. At what point in time did they contact you, approximately?
      A. This — This was about the time that we briefed the Army’s leadership.
      Q. So in late 2001?
      A. Yes. And they became aware of it and — or they for other reasons became aware and they were following up with us to see if there might have been anything relevant to what
      they were doing —
      Q. All right.
      A. — to assist or aid them.
      Q. Okay. And the Department of Defensespecial agent, at what point in time was contact made by that individual?
      A. Like within the next day, because the CID agent contacted me as a courtesy to let me
      10 know that DOD SA wanted to come and talk to me about it just to see if there might be anything that could aid or assist their agencies with getting to the facts. (pp. 128-129)

    • DXer said

      From Colonel Elliott’s deposition produced today:

      MR. TARANTO: Mr. Schuler, I just want to clarify or modify a previous instruction to the witness on not answering a specific question on CID inquiry, on the Criminal Investigation Division.
      To the extent that the witness knows that communications that he had or discussions with CID were not confidential, then we would permit inquiry into that.
      To the extent that he either doesn’t know whether it was confidential or not or if it was confidential, he’s not free to disclose it, and we’d give him an instruction not to answer.

      MR. SCHULER: Okay. And again, I — I depart from your observation.

      MR. TARANTO: Right.

      MR. SCHULER: I think once an investigation is closed, as this is, the confidentiality privilege goes out the window, but we can talk about that at a later time. (p. 144)

  6. DXer said

    Colonel Elliott, in his civil deposition produced today, testified:

    Q. I think there was a vulnerability assessment that was conducted after you shared these observations. Did you have anything to do with that?

    A *** — my office was aware that the Defense Threat Reduction Agency went out and conducted a vulnerability assessment shortly thereafter. (p. 90)

    Q. And skipping over to 2-13, 010060 of Plaintiffs’ 1, you’re reviewing controls at — in place at the laboratories. In a you mention “Access is controlled by civilian security guards and military medical personnel through the front door. No documentation they showed — or received any type of security / response-type training”; correct?

    A. We saw no evidence to reflect that they had received any type of security or response training. (p. 91)

    Q. And then in c you mention that “Although local policy dictates that bags, packages, and backpacks be checked upon entry, such checks were not being done consistently. Even though the facility recognizes that the
    biggest threat to this facility is an internal threat, personal items such as briefcases and bags are not checked on the way out”; correct?
    A. That is correct.

    Q. And “No additional checks of bags are conducted when personnel enter or leave higher biosafety levels” was the Observation d; correct?

    A. That is correct. (p. 93)

  7. DXer said

    Colonel Elliott is a powerful expert witness available to testify on the subject of his team’s November 2001 inspection for the Inspector General. But there are numerous other key experts on the various iusses and sub-issues. Here are just a few:

    1. FBI genetics expert Claire Fraser-Liggett … I think that the (FBI’s use of the) evidence on science probably was misleading … I have no way to know whether or not Bruce Ivins was really the perpetrator
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on October 13, 2011

    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/fbi-genetics-expert-claire-fraser-liggett-this-is-not-an-airtight-case-by-any-means/

    2. In the formal handwriting examination conducted in the Amerithrax investigation, it was concluded that “Bruce E. Ivins probably did not write the writings appearing on the ‘anthrax’ envelopes and letters.” The Assistant US Attorney did not disclose that fact in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary.

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 13, 2013
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/in-the-formal-handwriting-examination-conducted-in-the-amerithrax-investigation-it-was-concluded-that-bruce-e-ivins-probably-did-not-write-the-writings-appearing-on-the-anthrax-envelopes-and/

    3. The only (unnamed) scientist whose opinion was provided said that the FBI’s code theory was not viable because it was not clear what letters were double-lined; the author of the book “Godel, Escher, Bach” similarly said the theory was not viable.

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 13, 2011
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/the-only-expert-whose-opinion-was-provided-said-that-the-fbis-code-theory-was-not-viable-because-it-was-not-clear-what-letters-were-double-lined-the-author-of-the-book-similarly-said-the-theory-w/

    4. In Have We “Met the Enemy”?, Science 3 February 2012: Vol. 335 no. 6068 pp. 540-541, Dr. David Relman, who had been vice-chairman of the NAS Committee, explains:

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 5, 2012
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/in-have-we-met-the-enemy-science-3-february-2012-vol-335-no-6068-pp-540-541-dr-david-relman-who-had-been-vice-chairman-of-the-nas-committee-explains/

  8. DXer said

    I’ve requested Colonel Elliott’s civil deposition pursuant to FOIA. I’m expecting that it will be produced only if (and after) litigation is filed. But at least we can unleash Lew on DOJ Civil.

  9. DXer said

    Here is an interesting indictment in Saudi Arabia about Al Qaeda plot to set up an office in China as part of implementation of an Al Qaeda project to manufacture laser technology weaponry.

    http://3yonnews.com/news/11/378997/تبرئة_متهمَين_وإدانة_ثمانية_دعموا_المقاتلين_مالياً

  10. DXer said

    The week after Lew complained about the Army’s withholding of the IG report, the DOJ and Plaintiff moved in federal court to amend the protective order and release the report and some other documents along with the various related depositions.

    In hindsight, rightly or wrongly, I credit James at DOJ Civil to appreciate that these were “agency records” and that the existence of the protective order did not bear on the availability of the documents.

    But on what grounds is Colonel Elliot’s civil deposition still sealed? He was from the IG’s office. Might the FOIA expert James decide that the same logic applies to his deposition as applies to the other depositions? (I don’t know). The deposition could still be redacted as needed.

    In any event, Colonel Elliot’s deposition should be provided to the GAO.

    Here was Lew’s post:

    “DIAG refuses to produce IG report ; if this were the rule, civil litigants would gut agency’s independent obligations under FOIA to produce official reports
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on October 11, 2011

    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/diag-refuses-to-produce-ig-report-if-this-were-the-rule-civil-litigants-would-gut-agencys-independent-obligations-under-foia-to-produce-official-reports/comment-page-1/

    “DOJ and Plaintiff moved the court on October 19, 2011 to amend the protective order and permit release of the following documents below. (How gracious of them to permit the statutory mandate of FOIA to be the law of the land instead of the convenience of some civil litigants).

    DOJ needs to be sued under FOIA for its continuing wholesale gutting of FOIA under its overbroad approach — where it sealed even depositions previously filed.

    The documents that now will be permitted to be subject to FOIA are:

    a. Army Inspector General memo and report of Special Inspection of 3 Army Biological Defense Program labs, Nov. 2001, ARMY02-010041 to 010061

    b. Sandia National Laboratory, Security Review of USAMRIID – Final Report, 9/26/02, ARMY02-10253-10346

    c. Integrated Vulnerabililty Assessment Center, Sept. 1996, ARMY02-10530 to 10667

    d. Integrated Vulnerabililty Assessment Center, Feb 1999. ARMY02-10668 TO 10681

    e. Army Inspector General Report of Special Inspection of U.S. Army Biological Defense Program – Anthrax, Nov. 2001, dated Jan. 23, 2002, ARMY02-011078 tO 011108

    f. Appendix A: Consol. List of Recommendations (appendix to Jan. 2002 IG report), ARMY02-0111109 TO 011113.

    These additional documents — which had been sealed because they discussed the sealed documents — will now also be released.

    Depositions of Jay Arrison, Edward Eitzen, Peter Jahrling, Reynolds Salerno, and Richard Wade.

    Steven Afergood of FAS (“Secrecy News”) should consider this issue and someone should enlist Public Citizen (the Fonzie of the FOIA world) or Judicial Watch to show DOJ civil division that the American public will not stand by while a circle-the-wagons CYA approach to public policy dominates production of documents not exempt under FOIA.

    Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure involves a balancing act. On the one side, there is the public’s right to know the threat they face regarding an anthrax attack by Al Qaeda. On the other side, there are personal privacy law and other exemptions that apply under the very specific provisions under FOIA. Everything not exempt under FOIA should be produced. The DOJ refused to produce to me because the public would not be interested. I disagree.”

  11. DXer said

    Dr. Jahrling explained in his civil deposition:

    Q The same with this book Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories, this is essentially a safety manual, isn’t that correct, as opposed to a biosecurity outline, isn’t that right, sir?
    A That is correct. The fifth edition of that has, has mention of biosecurity.
    Q But not the fourth edition that we were talking about?
    A But not the fourth edition, that’s correct.
    Q That was in effect back or at least one of those versions, in effect back, 2001 and earlier?
    A That’s correct. Biosurety crept in only recently. (p. 106)

    Dr. Salerno in powerpoints that are available online is especially good at explaining the distinction between biosafety and biosecurity.

  12. DXer said

    I have been having problems uploading and haven’t uploaded this Jahrling Deposition. Now when I’ve tried uploading to Dropbox it’s not readable. I must be doing something wrong.

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