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

* DXer … the FBI, before July 2008, was mistaken. After that, by failing to acknowledge and correct mistakes, they became immoral, outrageous and pathetic.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 23, 2014

Mueller & Ivins composite

DXer’s recent post …

I don’t think of the FBI’s performance as being pathetic up to July 2008.

I just see it as being mistaken. I think an Ivins hypothesis was just as reasonable as a Hatfill hypothesis. I’ve yet to see any critic demonstrate that they could do better.

It does come to be immoral, though, when mistakes are not corrected — and we all make mistakes. For example, we now know that Dr. Ivins did have reason to be in the lab those nights and weekends. He had an experiment with 52 rabbits in the B3. It took years to obtain the documents under FOIA — which have been uploaded. (If you haven’t read them and still subscribe to an Ivins Theory, it is evidence your theory is uninformed or that you have a reading comprehension problem). Where does Vahid Majidi in his ebook correct himself? That book is all about urging that his former supervisor Comey has his back. That is as CYA as it comes.

It only becomes outrageous when the FBI scientists and prosecutors do not correct themselves — and when the scientists like Vahid Majidi continue to make the same fraudulent points about the two-person rule, the imagined code etc.

It only becomes outrageous when the FBI withholds documents about Adnan El-Shukrijumah. When it continues to withhold information about the second lab that Rauf Ahmad visited. When it withholds documents about the CIA’s finding of Ames in Afghanistan. When the FBI does not disclose that the boots on the ground did not recover the bottle of anthrax spore concentrate harvested in April 2001, before he set up Yazid Sufaat’s lab in May 2001 upon delivery of the new equipment. It only becomes outrageous when conflicts of interest are allowed to run rampant — and samples are thrown out and key results discarded.

It only becomes outrageous when there is no transparency on these issues of conflict of interest.

It only becomes outrageous when the FBI scientists and consultants market and sell books that rely on the counselor who says she was controlled by an alien who had implanted a microchip in her butt — and argue that the Ivins case represents a case study of relying on unreliable personnel. She thought she was being pursued by murderous astral entities attached to her clients.

It only becomes outrageous when the FBI scientists fail to disclose the forensics on the photocopier toner — while the report drops a footnote with innuendo about Ivins’ time in the library where there was a copier. The forensic report being withheld shows that copier could be EXCLUDED. Or when they fail to disclose the forensics on the ink and paper — all of which was exculpatory of Ivins.

It only becomes outrageous when they withhold the handwriting comparison showing Ivins probably did not write the letters for years — and then pretend that there was another overriding opinion.

But as for how they all came together upon Ivins suicide? I think the scientists were somewhat aghast that they were pushed to the front and expected to defend closing of the case…. when they hadn’t even been privy to investigative aspects. Then they understandably wanted credit for developing science in the emerging field of microbial forensics. And all these scientists strike me as darn smart.

AUSA Lieber got reprimanded for visiting a jihadi in jail. Superiors said a “deal had been cut.” And so I even credit her good faith — she was in a difficult position given what she faced in that office and the turmoil during that period.

And so I think we can credit the FBI’s good faith and efforts up until the time that they failed to acknowledge mistakes after they were pointed out. Then it is not merely pathetic but outrageous and immoral.

I’m a big fan of the FBI and CIA — precisely because they so often correct their mistakes. The recent audit of the evidence handling is a good example. That demonstrates an organization commitment to integrity.

If you trace back some comments, you will find that information has remained classified and/or withheld to avoid embarrassment to a third country.

That of course is unacceptable reason to withhold any of the information described above.

As Senator Leahy has said, when governments screw up, they just mark the documents SECRET. That allows the government workers to go on to lucrative second careers and be promoted within government.

Anthrax, Al Qaeda and Ayman Zawahiri: The Infiltration of US Biodefense
http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

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15 Responses to “* DXer … the FBI, before July 2008, was mistaken. After that, by failing to acknowledge and correct mistakes, they became immoral, outrageous and pathetic.”

  1. DXer said

    Resign, Mr. Comey

    The FBI director lends credence to Trump’s accusation that the system is rigged.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/resign-mr-comey-1477955914

    “These aren’t partisan acts. They are self-regarding ones. Mr. Comey is a familiar Washington type—the putative saint—whose career is a study in reputation management. He went after investment banker Frank Quattrone. He threatened to resign from the Bush administration over its warrantless wiretap program. He vouchsafed the case against Steven J. Hatfill, the virologist accused of the 2001 anthrax mail attacks, in internal White House deliberations. He appointed his close friend Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the leak of CIA analyst Valerie Plame’s name.

    One common thread in these cases is that Mr. Comey was always on the right side of Beltway conventional wisdom. The second is that he was consistently on the wrong side of justice.

    Mr. Quattrone was exonerated. Warrantless wiretaps were ruled constitutional by the FISA court. Mr. Hatfill was an innocent man who eventually won a $5.8 million settlement from the Justice Department. Mr. Fitzgerald oversaw a three-year witch hunt that conveniently overlooked Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage’s role in leaking Ms. Plame’s identity. Instead, New York Times reporter Judith Miller went to jail for protecting her sources and Scooter Libby had his career wrecked.”

    Comment:

    I’ll avoid the fray of the current election as beyond the scope of Lew’s blog.

    My pertinent comment and concern, though, as it relates narrowly to Amerithrax, is that Vahid Majidi, who was a key promoter of the Ivins Theory, has written an e-book marketed to his Linked-In colleagues (to include his former FBI colleagues) that he was confident his former supervisor (Comey) would cover his back. He was confident that out of loyalty Comey would continue to vouchsafe an Ivins Theory.

    Under Mr. Comey’s watch, FBI has withheld a staggering amount of material exculpatory of Dr. Ivins and relied on the selectively presented evidence to spin an Ivins Theory. The FBI has resisted meaningful oversight of its assessment of the evidence, to include the forensic and alibi evidence. The FBI has even withheld the notebook with contemporaneous entries from the day of the mailing.

    The buck necessarily stops with Mr. Comey — to include responsibility for the current unresponsiveness to Kenneth Dillon’s FOIA request.

    But the time to fire Mr. Comey, it would seem, is the day ISIS or Al Qaeda attacks with anthrax.

    Prior to that, the recent developments seem to illustrate the adage that senior FBI officials commonly are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.

  2. DXer said

    Getting Ahead Of The Impact: Emergency Preparedness Key To Biodefense
    February 03, 2016

    By: Dr. Ellen P. Carlin and Dr. Asha M. George

    Share information about the threat

    Federal information can be shared with states, localities, territories and tribes such as through the Joint Counterterrorism Assessment Team (JCAT) within the Office of the Director for National Intelligence which counts state and local representatives among its members and strives to declassify intelligence for use by non-federal public sector agencies.

    http://www.hstoday.us/columns/best-practices/blog/getting-ahead-of-the-impact-emergency-preparedness-key-to-biodefense/ceeab2db1fd2ffe390af5fc643f422ea.html

    Dr. Ellen P. Carlin and Dr. Asha M. George are co-directors of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense. Co-chaired by former Sen. Joe Lieberman and DHS Secretary Tom Ridge and supported by the Hudson Institute and the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, the study panel assesses the nation’s state of US biodefense, identifying and recommending changes to US policy and law to strengthen national biodefense while optimizing resource investments.

  3. DXer said

    Former FBI WMD head Majidi, a key supporter of the contrived “Ivins Theory”, asked in an e-book marketed to his Linked-In contacts, that his former supervisor, Comey, cover his back.

    Is everyone ready for the exclusive scoop by Dan Christenen in the Broward Bulldog and Miami Herald that will make FBI Director Comey’s head spin — and get him yelled at by US Senator Leahy?

    FBI head talks about terrorism, Lauderdale cops and lone wolves
    TAIMY ALVAREZ / SUN SENTINEL SOFLASHARE

    FBI Director James Comey speaks during the dedication of the FBI’s new Miami Field Office in Miramar on Friday, April 10,2015.

    Linda Trischitta, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
    6:07 am, April 13,
    http://touch.sun-sentinel.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-83282828/

    What could have been done better?

    “One of the issues was local police chiefs felt like they didn’t have a clear view of what cases we were closing, in case they wanted to do something additional. So we changed our process so that we now meet in every joint terrorism task force with the local chiefs and review the inventory: ‘Here’s what came in, here’s what we’re closing, are there any questions?’ That was a very important change.”

    What causes you to lose sleep at night?

    “Not much, because I work like a maniac during the day so I need to sleep. I worry a bit about the unknowns, when it comes to travelers to the war zones in Syria and Iraq. Who don’t I see? And I worry about the people who may be in their basements radicalizing that I can’t see. So those are two big worries of mine. But like I said, we’re spending a lot of time working on it, in a good way, I believe.”

    Comment: A FBI Director worthy of the position would have requested that the DOJ IG investigate the allegations made by the former lead Amerithrax investigator. Failing that, Congress should act.

  4. DXer said

    Comment: In order for the US to remain the “gold standard”, it is important that mistakes be corrected.

    If you don’t think Vahid Majidi and Scott Decker were acting as if they were on the same team as the prosecution, then you should read their e-books.

    Then, for a contrast, read Michael Garvey’s PhD thesis.

    Hard questions after litany of forensic failures at US labs
    1 December 2014
    http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2014/12/hard-questions-after-litany-forensic-failures-malpractice-labs-us

    In September 2012, it was discovered that a forensic chemist named Annie Dookhan, who worked at a Massachusetts state lab’s drug analysis unit, had falsified thousands of drug tests. She was arrested and later admitted tomixing up evidence samples, fabricating results and lying about having a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts.

    Well over 1000 requests for new trials have been filed as a direct result of Dookhan’s criminal behaviour and around 500 defendants have been released – some of whom have reoffended – according to the Massachusetts Office of Inspector General (OIG).

    A few bad apples?
    Josh Lee, a US criminal defence attorney and founding partner of law firm Ward, Lee and Coats, says the problem is much larger than just a few rogue chemists. Too often when somebody in a forensic crime lab gets caught producing questionable work or fabricating results, they are made into a scapegoat, he says.

    ‘There seems to be a systemic failure in forensics labs in the US’US criminal defence attorney for The McShane Firm Justin McShane echoes Lee. ‘It is very convenient to point to the boogeyman, but the reality is that there is a failure of a quality management and assurance system,’ he says. ‘There seems to be a systemic failure in forensics labs in the US.’

    ***

    Forensic burden
    ‘In the thousands of cases in which evidence was or may have been compromised are defendants – people – who have been pushed through our criminal justice system at a volume that creates a burden on the forensic system,’ says Sarah Chu, senior forensic policy advocate at the Innocence Project. ‘Some defendants may have even pled guilty despite their innocence in order to mitigate harsh prison sentences that probably looked very possible after they were confronted with what appeared to be indisputable scientific evidence.’

    ‘What does not come to light is all of the information that these labs provide’Chu says that in these malpractice cases the Innocence Project recommends independent investigations of the lab involved. More importantly, she adds, the root cause of the problem has to found and action taken to make sure that this never happens again.
    There is now widespread acknowledgment of the significant increase in the number of forensic malpractice cases in recent years. And there is also a growing consensus about a lack of oversight at these crime labs or, at the very least, insufficient checks.

    Proof of improvement?

    Even Lee agrees that these scandalous cases might offer proof that the problem is being addressed. He says attorneys are now more aware of the science and becoming more expert in techniques such as mass spectrometry and gas chromatography, helping to expose lab malpractice.

    David Harris, a professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh, US, agrees. ‘These things are getting discovered more readily, in the past they’ve been discovered at a slow pace,’ he says. ‘What we are seeing here is just more attorneys being more alert.’

    When it comes to further reforms, many, including the American Chemical Society (ACS), advocate the development of a new quality control framework to strengthen and supplement existing requirements for accreditation, regular inspections and enforcement.

    In fact, an ACS policy document identifies a need to strengthen scientific rigour within forensics and to quantitatively assess and then improve the accuracy of analytical methods. Specifically, the ACS wants to research and quantify the sources and effects of human error, as well as to automate forensic tests where appropriate.

    McShane says the role of a forensic scientist in a courtroom is that of a neutral scientist, not as part of the prosecution team. He emphasises that lives hang in the balance, and argues that it’s the duty of a toxicologist to focus on the chemistry and the pharmacology, not to concentrate on the conviction.

    Others are calling for the separation of forensic crime labs from the police to ensure the independence of the chemists and the integrity of their results. ‘If you don’t do that, you are kind of courting disaster because you have got them on the same team,’ warns Harris.

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