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

* The FBI has failed America

Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 22, 2014

FBI-DOJ press conference-larger

The FBI has never moved from the assertions made at this 2008 press conference, despite the total unraveling of their pathetic case on this blog and elsewhere.


The FBI has failed America by its anthrax investigation. It is also very disappointing that the GAO did not even address a multitude of issues where FBI assertions regarding Dr. Ivins are not supported by the facts the FBI presented.

Who did carry out those attacks?

Why is the truth being hidden?


7 Responses to “* The FBI has failed America”

  1. DXer said

    * Experts urge panel to deepen forensic understanding

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 2, 2009

    Adam Behsudi writes in the Frederick News Post (8-1-09)

    A panel of experts convened for a second day Friday to examine the scientific process employed by the FBI to identify the anthrax used in the deadly 2001 mailings.

    The meeting featured presentations from three experts who worked on the case. Scientific methods were explained, and the 15-member panel was asked to use the study as a means to prepare for future attacks.


    SEE RELATED POST – OPINION … * LMW: The end of the NAS trail, I suspect, will be that the FBI’s anthrax science was a mess that couldn’t convict Bruce Ivins or anyone else


    A lawmaker also addressed the group, criticizing the FBI’s handling of the country’s first widespread bioterrorism event.

    “If the technical and scientific procedures are as flawed as the nontechnical procedures, they certainly deserve a look,” said Rep. Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat from whose district the letters were mailed.


    SEE RELATED POST … * Congressman Rush Holt meets with NAS panel, says their work is important but their mandate is too narrow; calls for passage of Anthrax Investigation Commission legislation he introduced in March 09


    Holt said the study sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences would be useful for answering some key questions but was too narrow in scope.

    Investigators last year determined that Fort Detrick scientist Bruce Ivins was the primary suspect in the attacks that killed five people and sickened 17. A flask of anthrax under Ivins’ control was identified as the origin of the bacteria used in the letters.

    Ivins, who had a record of serious mental health issues, died July 29, 2008, of an intentional overdose of Tylenol after learning he was to be indicted in the mailings.

    Holt has submitted legislation to form a special commission to examine the FBI’s eight-year investigation highlighted by a multimillion-dollar settlement after investigators wrongly accused Fort Detrick scientist Steven Hatfill.

    “Simply stated, the government suffers from a credibility gap on this issue,” he said.

    The FBI has not yet formally closed the case.

    One of the experts who made a presentation at the meeting led a genetic study to sort through more than 1,000 samples of anthrax. The method found the anthrax in the letters matched eight samples that could be traced to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, where Ivins worked.

    Claire Fraser-Liggett, a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, performed the analysis while director of the Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville.

    The positive samples were isolated through the identification of four specific mutations. Those were genetically matched with anthrax gathered from the envelopes and the spinal fluid of the first victim, Robert Stevens, a photo editor at a Florida tabloid.

    Fraser-Liggett said the work to find a match began in late 2001, but the successful method was not completed until 2007, when agents began to seriously investigate Ivins.

    “I was hopeful that perhaps genomics would provide sufficient amount of information to be able to track the material to its source, but I then, and have always, asserted that in no way did I ever believe that this kind of genomics-based investigation was ever going to lead to the perpetrator,” Fraser-Liggett said.

    “That was going to require much more traditional police investigation.”

    The 18-month academy study will affirm the validity of the investigative science but will stop short of explaining how the FBI sorted Ivins from the dozens of people who had access to RMR-1029, the strain of anthrax used in the mailings.

    Jennifer Smith is a retired FBI agent and biochemist who now leads BioForensic Consulting. Smith was involved in the agency’s DNA unit when the investigation began.

    “I want to say that I hope this committee is able to see information that was shared … even if that information might currently be housed within the classified files,” she said.

    Bruce Budowle was a senior FBI scientist before his current post as director of the Center for Human Identification at the University of North Texas.

    He said no new methodology was used in the case, but it significantly advanced the field of microbial forensics.

    He advised the government to capitalize on relationships with the private and academic sectors to prepare a structure for examining microbial forensics.

    “Get those experts ready today for the next event that occurs,” Budowle said. “We would know who to go to in the process instead of having to search them out.”

    The committee will likely meet again next month.

    Alice Gast, the committee chairwoman and president of Lehigh University, said the academy has the ability to pursue classified materials. The study will deepen as the group learns more and asks additional questions, she said.

    “Really it remains to be defined — the scope of all materials we’ll receive,” Gast said.

  2. DXer said

    Rush Holt, upon leaving Congress, is becoming the chief executive officer of American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    Report requested by Holt found gaps in FBI’s investigation of anthrax attacks

    You may remember him as the fellow who beat IBM’s Big Blue at Jeopardy.

    Trentonian (10/20/13) … Congressman Rush Holt: “Myriad questions remain about the anthrax attacks and the government’s response to the attacks.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on October 21, 2013

    “I wouldn’t want to be the lawyer taking this (the FBI case against Dr. Bruce Ivins) to court,” said U.S. Rep. Rush Holt
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 29, 2011’t-want-to-be-the-lawyer-taking-this-to-court”-said-u-s-rep-rush-holt/

    Congressman Rush Holt: the FBI’s anthrax case should not have been closed … it would not hold up in court
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 20, 2010

    • DXer said

      Al Qaeda lab lingers in anthrax story
      By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY

      So, those who still voice doubts about the investigation, such as Rep. Rush Holt, D. – N.J., can point to the al Qaeda threat as a still unsettled alternative to the anthrax attacks.

      Let’s consider the language of Rush Holt’s earlier bill.

      The purposes of the Anthrax Commission are to …

      (1) examine and report upon the facts and causes relating to the anthrax letter attacks of September and October 2001;

      (2) ascertain, evaluate, and report on the evidence developed by all relevant governmental agencies regarding the facts and circumstances surrounding the attacks;

      (3) determine whether all credible leads and information regarding the potential perpetrator of the attacks were pursued with due diligence by Federal investigators;

      (4) ascertain the full range of individuals who could have had access to the type of anthrax used in the attacks, and determine the full extent to which all such individuals were thoroughly investigated for any potential involvement in the attacks;

      (5) make a full and complete accounting of the circumstances surrounding the attacks, and the extent of the Federal Governments’ preparedness for, and immediate response to, the attacks; and

      (6) investigate and report to the President and Congress on its findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures that can be taken to prevent and respond to acts of bioterrorism.

    • DXer said

    • DXer said

      San Diego’s new FBI chief a science guy
      Special Agent in Charge Eric Birnbaum started in October
      By Kristina Davis4:11 P.M.DEC. 24, 2014

      A: I always loved two things when I was growing up. One was chemistry and physics and math and the sciences, because my dad was a math teacher, so I guess that’s hereditary. … And I also liked to watch a lot of TV. Detective shows were my thing. … The first ‘Hawaii Five-0.’ … I loved watching that show and ‘Columbo’ with Peter Falk and ‘Barnaby Jones’ with Buddy Ebsen and ‘Cannon’ with William Conrad, ‘Kojack.’ … This was the thing I liked to do in my spare time was watch those shows and dream of being them. …

      After (finishing graduate school) there were a lot of opportunities available to me in the chemical industry, oil industry, academia … It just didn’t excite me, so I started to pursue other things. I sent a resume to the FBI laboratory and the lab had the chief of the chemistry unit reach out to me and tell me that, back in those days, the only opportunity to advance in the FBI as a career was if you were a special agent. … For me it’s what I always wanted to do because I loved those detective shows and now I got to be one of those detectives in the FBI, in this organization that had this mystique about it, and I could live the dream now, right? My parents didn’t feel that way, and I don’t know that my old thesis adviser felt that way and a lot of other people.

      [ Comment: I think he made the right choice. He’s living the dream. The difficulty with being an FBI Special Agent, IMO, would be having to move so often. ]

      A: My first office was in Washington, D.C. While I was there I worked a whole bunch of interesting things. A lot of our agents start out working background investigations for people who apply to the FBI or Department of Justice positions or cabinet level-type positions, so it’s a great way to learn the city really fast because you get to met a lot of interesting people. … Then I moved on from that to working various crimes that occurred on federal reservations in Washington, D.C., that included places like a District of Columbia prison that was located in Norton, Va. … The FBI was like the local police there, so we investigated everything from people who parked illegally there to murders that occurred there. … I took on other government reservations, like crimes that occurred at the Pentagon or Smithsonian Institution or at the Library of Congress, Navy Yard. It was a really fascinating way to start off your career.

      [Washington, D.C. is a wonderful place to live and work. But he might be putting a positive spin on the job here. It seems that the background investigations had a problem: if it wasn’t permitted to have smoked pot, then it seems to have biased things in favor of people who either were a statistical anomaly or willing to give false testimony. Once two special agents asked me why I didn’t apply to work for the FBI given I was such a big fan and I gave some lame answer. The real answer would be that I couldn’t see moving around. It certainly (to me) is living the dream.]

      Q: Did you ever get to work in the lab?

      A: Not as a chemist … but as a firearms examiner, so I learned everything there was to know about guns … about how to analyze evidence that came from them. If you shoot a gun, the gun leaves marks on bullets and casings, and so the firearms examiner looks at those casings and tries to match them up either to the gun it came from or other bullets that might have come from other scenes. …

      The FBI lab used to have a tour at FBI headquarters. … You could wander through the corridors there and you could see glass and people working on the other side of the glass. … When I was an examiner I had to get used to being on the other side of the glass. I’d have people touring there knocking on my window all day long and waving, so we had to learn as examiners there to ignore them and just continue with your work.

      [As I recall, at the end of the tour, you got to see a tommy gun fired.]

      Q: You also helped create a national firearms database to help solve crimes.

      A: The FBI developed a computer technology back in the ‘90s to let you take pictures of little bullets and cartridge cases that had been fired from guns and put them into a database that was automated, then allow you to link shootings together from different places. … A database with several networks was established all over the country and eventually linked together. Working closely with (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) we developed a system that now … is used throughout the country. … That’s how I found out about San Diego. I came here to talk to police departments here (about the database).

      Q: Where did you work next?

      A: Because I’m a detective and I like snooping around … I went to our Inspection Division back in Washington, D.C., which is the entity that audits FBI operations all over the world to ensure that the American public’s money is being spent well in terms of how efficiently we conduct our operations. So our job is to go out, audit the stuff we do and make suggestions how to make it better.

      Q: Do you have any exciting stories of arrests or investigations?

      A: It’s kind of funny that outside the office I don’t really take home my work. And … although I feel I’ve been involved in a lot of exciting things in my career, I don’t talk about them with my friends or family. They know what I do for a living and they know what position I have here. But I think the nature of the job requires you to separate what you’re doing here because so much of what we do is sensitive or even classified. It’s not a good idea to discuss it outside the office.

      Q: What does the FBI consider as the biggest threat facing San Diego, or the nation?

      A: It’s hard to put that into a single category to say one threat faces us more than any other. … Terrorism is going to continue to be a threat. … It’s going to be an ongoing thing and our goal is to prevent another terrorist act. … Also on the radar screen is the protection of our own secrets to prevent foreign powers from stealing technology or from learning things about us that are secret or should not be learned by other foreign powers. We usually refer to those things as counterintelligence investigations.

      [Comment: Personally, I think Amerithrax represents the biggest counterintelligence analysis failure in the history of the United States. But as one of the FBI Special Agents pointed out, I’ve been wrong in the past.

      If there weren’t plot twists, it would make for a mighty dull 1970s tv detective show. (One of my favorites was “Rockford Files”). The FBI has been able to prevent its mistakes in Amerithrax from becoming better known by withholding and destroying and moving around documents. [see, e.g., what DOJ did with the full Hatfill v. US depositions in contravention to DOJ retention policy].

      The people doing that are not living up to the credo that attacts Stanford PhDs to the job of Special Agent. They should reconsider and do better. Even while protecting the fanny of Dr. Majidi, as he has asked in his e-book marketed to his Linked-In contacts, FBI Director Comey could at least order full compliance with FOIA — or the FBI and DOJ inspector General could take a look at the withholding of documents that has gone on so that all exculpatory evidence disclosed.] In particular, the paper, ink, and photocopy toner forensic studies are an example — the documents relating to Adnan El-Shukrijumah, upon his passing, are another.

      Being true to the FBI’s highest ideals of a credo, like in any large organization, is an ongoing challenge — lest its motto becomes just obfuscatory, ass-covering PR.]

      Anthrax, Al Qaeda and Ayman Zawahiri: The Infiltration of US Biodefense

Leave a Reply to DXer Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: