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

* Law Professor Victoria Sutton addresses Amerithrax in her scholarly 800-page 2014 treatise on biosecurity law and policy, noting the “finding that the mere possession of the strain of anthrax when 219 other people had access to it was not enough to conclude that Bruce Ivins was the perpetrator.”

Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 22, 2015

“the mere possession of the strain of anthrax when 219 other people had access to it was not enough to conclude that Bruce Ivins was the perpetrator.”

Victoria Sutton

Victoria Sutton

unnamed (10)

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7 Responses to “* Law Professor Victoria Sutton addresses Amerithrax in her scholarly 800-page 2014 treatise on biosecurity law and policy, noting the “finding that the mere possession of the strain of anthrax when 219 other people had access to it was not enough to conclude that Bruce Ivins was the perpetrator.””

  1. DXer said

    [PDF] Workshop 1, Case study Terrorism in Europe
    S Anson, H Watson, K Wadhwa – tacticproject.eu
    http://www.tacticproject.eu/sites/default/files/TACTIC_D4.1_TRI_31.03.15_FINAL.pdf

    9/11 and the subsequent anthrax attacks illustrated how a handful of
    individuals could significantly disrupt the United States of America (Slovic, 2002) …

  2. DXer said

    Proof That The FBI Has Failed To Make Its Case Against Dr. Bruce Ivins

    The ending of the Amerithrax saga has not yet been written.

    In the meantime, we have CASE CLOSED, Lew Weinstein’s riveting and all-too-plausible fictional account of the FBI investigation of the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings.

    Lew has also done a huge public service with regard to the actual case. Week after week – over the course of years – he has uploaded the original documents I obtained so that the public can see for itself the astonishing lack of credible evidence supporting the FBI’s Ivins Theory. My comments below are based largely on those documents.

    Here are the major points on which the FBI’s assertions fail to prove its case

    1. The FBI apparently never tracked down and eliminated as potential suspects all of the persons who had, or may have had, access to the anthrax strains used in the attacks

    The FBI’s genetic analysis merely narrowed things to several hundred scientists and others who had access. And, any one of them could have given the genetically
    matching Ames strain to someone else. Security at labs was very lax. Anyone with access to a lab could simply walk out with a pathogen.

    The FBI had estimated up to 377 persons had access which required elimination – and that was just at USAMRIID. US Attorney Taylor nonetheless falsely claimed in August 2008 that only 100 needed to be eliminated. He premised his conclusion on the claim that only those with access at USAMRIID’s Building 1425 had to be eliminated, overlooking the fact that the genetically matching Ames was also stored in Building 1412.

    2. There has been broad access to the anthrax strain used in the attacks

    The potential access to Ames is not reasonably disputed. For example, a microbiologist connected to the Al Qaeda network, Ali Al-Timimi, shared a suite with two leading DARPA-funded Ames anthrax researchers at George Mason University(DARPA is the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency). One of those researchers, Ken Alibek, was formerly a Soviet physician, microbiologist and biological warfare expert. The other, Charles Bailey, had been the former commander of USAMRIID.

    As another example of potential access, a non-US citizen from Sudan and then Egypt worked alongside Bruce Ivins in the B3 with Ames anthrax for a few days in 1998. He studied at Cairo Medical where Dr. Ayman Zawahiri recruited students to jihad every Friday. Dr. Ayman’s sister Heba taught microbiology at Cairo Medical.

    David Relman, the Vice-Chairman of the National Academy of Sciences panel that reviewed the science relied upon in Amerithrax, explained in “Science” that Ames
    anthrax was detected at a lab in Afghanistan. Indeed, Ames was detected in the remains of the hijacker Ahmad Al-Haznawi who came to the US in June 2001. Al-Haznawi
    had been at Kandahar, where Yazid Sufaat’s anthrax lab was located.

    Whenever there was a positive finding, however, the FBI concluded it was a false positive. When a genetics test narrowed 700-1000 researchers to 300, the FBI closed
    the case.

    Yazid Sufaat told Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that he was not at risk because he and his two assistants had been vaccinated to protect them against their work with virulent
    anthrax. (Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was identified as “the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks” by the 9/11 Commission Report.) One of those assistants was tortured
    and then kept in secret prisons in Jordan and Israel. He told his CIA interrogators that “I made the anthrax” but then later would recant.

    3. Dr. Ivins’ time in his lab is readily explained

    The main evidence relied upon by the FBI was Dr. Ivins’ work at night and on weekends in late September and early October 2001. The documents eventually produced by USAMRIID under FOIA and published on Lew’s blog, however, show that Dr. Ivins was working on an experiment with 52 rabbits. Checking on animals at night and on weekends was a one-person job and would take a couple of hours. That is the amount of time Dr. Ivins spent in the lab. The binding and mandatory protocol required that the principal investigator conduct the observations for the first 7 days after the rabbits were injected in early October 2001. US Attorney Taylor in explaining Ivins’ overtime in Fall 2001 (including November and December) overlooked the 2-person rule first implemented in January 2002 that precluded such overtime. That is why there would have been noncontinuing late night hours working alone past December
    2001. The FBI’s Amerithrax Investigative Summary makes no mention of the rabbits. Either it was (a) negligent for the FBI not to know of the experiment or (b) the 52 rabbits were knowingly stuffed down into a hat.

    4. handwriting evidence is exculpatory for Ivins

    Other evidence was exculpatory. For example, a handwriting report by the FBI’s handwriting expert – nowhere mentioned in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary – concluded that Dr. Ivins probably did not write the letters.

    5. a contaminant found in the attack anthrax was not found in Dr. Ivins lab

    The genetically distinctive b. subtilis contaminant found in the Brokaw and New York Post anthrax letters was not found in Dr. Ivins’ lab. Similarly, meglumine and
    diatrizoate were in Flask 1029 but not in the mailed anthrax. The FBI acknowledges it did not swab all the other suspect labs for the b. subtilis contaminant.

    6. the psychological profile of Ivins is not reliable

    The FBI, in the case they initially touted as being established by the scientific evidence, then turned to its stock psychological profile of a lone nut. The FBI’s key witness, however, was Dr. Ivins’ first counselor who has written a 2009 book explaining that when she counseled Dr. Ivins, she was receiving her instructions each night from an alien. She reports that the alien had implanted a microchip in her butt. She thought that murderous astral entities were attached to her clients in her new part-time addictions counseling gig. In her book, she explained that each night she would fly to Afghanistan and Ground Zero. The astral entities would chase her back home, and she would narrowly escape through a vortex of energy that would close up behind her. That counselor annotated the psychiatrists’ notes. Her notes and her annotations were handed to a second counselor in July 2008. The second counselor then sought a restraining order that day against Dr. Ivins, alleging he was a murderous sociopath, just as the first counselor controlled by the alien had claimed. This was part of the tragic chain of events
    that led to Dr. Ivins’ suicide.

    7. Al Qaeda had a deep involvement in anthrax over many years

    Dr. Ayman Zawahiri’s colleagues explained in 1998 that he intended to use anthrax against US targets to retaliate for the rendering of senior Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) leaders, including the Blind Sheik Abdel Rahman. Ali Mohammed, the EIJ head of intelligence, had a document on his computer seized by the FBI that outlined
    principles of cell security that would be followed. Ali Mohammed trained Dahab, a Cairo Medical dropout, to make deadly letters. Dahab was involved in the founding of the Blind Sheik’s Services Organization in Brooklyn. Zawahiri recruited Pakistan government scientist Rauf Ahmad to infiltrate Porton Down-sponsored conferences in the UK in 1999 and 2000. In 1999, after visiting a first lab that did not have pathogenic strains, Rauf Ahmad arranged to visit a second lab. He ominously began a letter to Dr. Ayman about that visit to the second lab: “I have successfully achieved the targets.”The public still does not know the identity of that second lab.

    Rauf Ahmad reported to Dr. Ayman that he had made contacts that were helpful in learning processing tricks. The official history of MI5 indicates that Ahmad was
    intercepted leaving with equipment and strains after the 2000 conference. At the 2000 conference, Rauf Ahmad and his co-authors presented a paper on harvesting anthrax in the wild and killing mice with 100 injected spores. That abstract is online. The FBI and CIA thus had reason to know that Al Qaeda’s anthrax scientist already had been working with virulent anthrax. The information on what the Al Qaeda anthrax scientist took with him from the 1999 lab continues to be suppressed.

    So it should be no surprise that the label of “anthrax spore concentrate” harvested in April 2001 appears to be in the handwriting of Rauf Ahmad. CIA Director Tenet
    reports in his book that Ahmad helped set up Yazid Sufaat’s lab in Kandahar in May 2001. Rauf Ahmad, in occasional correspondence, would not cooperate with me
    unless I paid him money. The Washington Post correspondent in Pakistan once arranged to conduct an interview but then the Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence backpedaled on its consent.

    2001 anthrax attacks … summary of conclusions

    1. The FBI’s suggested solution is not established by the evidence it has presented.

    2. There is much evidence which strongly suggests an al Qaeda involvement.

    3. Aspects of the scenario presented in Lew Weinstein’s novel CASE CLOSED are all-too-plausible.

    4. And, moving forward, the Al Qaeda anthrax threat remains very real.

  3. DXer said

    Anthrax Fast Facts

    Posted on Saturday, May 23, 2015 by CNN in Features
    http://gantdaily.com/2015/05/23/anthrax-fast-facts/

    Amerithrax:
    Five people died and 17 people sickened during anthrax attacks in the fall of 2001; outbreak referred to as Amerithrax.

    Anthrax was sent via anonymous letters to news agencies in Florida and New York and a congressional office building in Washington.

    Of the five victims who died of inhalation anthrax, two were postal workers. The other three victims were an elderly woman from rural Connecticut, a Manhattan hospital worker from the Bronx and an employee at a Florida tabloid magazine who may have contracted anthrax through cross-contamination.

    The letters were sent to NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, Sen. Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Sen. Patrick Leahy, and the New York Post offices. The letters were postmarked Trenton, New Jersey.

    No arrests have been made in the attacks.

    ***

    Victims:

    ***

    Timeline:

    ***

    January 2002 – FBI agents interview former U.S. Army bioweapons scientist Steven Hatfill as part of the anthrax investigation.

    June 2002 – Bioweapons researcher Steven Hatfill is named a “person of interest” by the FBI.

    June 25, 2002 – The FBI searches Steven Hatfill’s Maryland apartment and Florida storage locker with his consent.

    June 27, 2002 – The FBI says it is focusing on 30 biological weapons experts in its probe.

    August 1, 2002 – The FBI uses a criminal search warrant to search Steven Hatfill’s Maryland apartment and Florida storage locker a second time; anthrax swab tests come back negative.

    August 6, 2002 – Attorney General John Ashcroft refers to Hatfill as a “person of interest.”

    August 11, 2002 – Steven Hatfill holds a press conference declaring his innocence, and a second one on August 25, 2002.

    September 11, 2002 – The FBI searches Hatfill’s former apartment in Maryland for the third time.

    August 26, 2003 – Hatfill files a civil lawsuit against Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Justice Department and the FBI saying his constitutional rights have been violated. The suit alleges violations of Hatfill’s Fifth Amendment rights by preventing him from earning a living, violations of his Fifth Amendment rights by retaliating against him after he sought to have his name cleared in the anthrax probe and the disclosure of information from his FBI file. The suit, which names the Justice Department, FBI, Attorney General John Ashcroft and various lower level Justice and FBI officials, asks for a declaration that government officials violated Hatfill’s constitutional rights and seeks an injunction against future violations. The suit also seeks an undetermined amount of monetary damages.

    July 11, 2004 – The former headquarters of American Media, Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida where Bob Stevens contracted the anthrax is pumped full of chlorine dioxide gas for decontamination, the last building in the country exposed to anthrax in the fall of 2001.

    March 14, 2005 – Pentagon officials announce that sensors have detected anthrax in two Pentagon mail facilities. The facilities have been closed and nearly 300 workers have been tested for exposure to the bacteria.

    June 27, 2008 – The Justice Department reaches a settlement with former Army scientist Steven Hatfill. The settlement requires the Justice Department to pay Hatfill a one-time payment of $2.825 million and to buy a $3 million annuity that will pay Hatfill $150,000 a year for 20 years. In return, Hatfill drops his lawsuit, and the government admits no wrongdoing.

    July 29, 2008 – Bruce Ivins, a former researcher at the Army’s bioweapons laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland, dies after overdosing during a suicide attempt on July 27.

    August 6, 2008 – Judge unseals and releases hundreds of documents in the 2001 FBI Anthrax investigation.

    August 8, 2008 – The Justice Department formally exonerates Hatfill.

    September 25, 2008 – Court releases more documents including e-mails that Bruce Ivins sent to himself.

    February 19, 2010 – The Justice Department , FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service announce their investigation into the 2001 anthrax mailings is at an end.

    March 23, 2011 – A report, entitled The Amerithrax Case, is released through the Research Strategies Network, a non-profit think tank based in Virginia. According to the report, old mental health records suggest Bruce Ivins should have been prevented from holding a job at a U.S. Army research facility in Maryland. The report was requested by the U.S. Department of Justice.

    October 9, 2011 – The New York Times publishes an article saying there are scientists questioning the FBI assertions regarding Bruce Ivins. Possibly Ivins, if he was involved, worked with a partner. Also, the scientists say the presence of tin in the dried anthrax warrants that the investigation be reopened.

    ***

  4. DXer said

    “I Might Have Some Sensitive Files” : The Strange Saga and Dark Secrets of Matt DeHart
    http://www.buzzfeed.com/davidkushner/matt-dehart#.kevqEZoqX

    “Paul told the agents that his family had evidence to back up their account: court documents, medical records, and affidavits — along with the leaked FBI document Matt had found that exposed an explosive secret. It was all on two encrypted thumb drives, which Matt later pulled off a lanyard around his neck and handed to the guards.

    But Matt, as one federal prosecutor had put it, was “your classic child predator.” In order to flee the country and avoid charges, Matt — a seasoned hacker with military ties — had, according to the FBI, tried to become a spy for the Russians.

    Today, Matt sits in a prison in Oklahoma after being deported from Canada earlier this month, waiting to face the child porn charges. But he has a high-profile team of believers and backers behind him, including Tor Ekeland, an attorney famous for representing hacktivists, and Jesselyn Radack, the former ethics adviser to the Justice Department who exposed the FBI’s interrogation of John Walker Lindh, the American sentenced to 20 years for joining the Taliban. On March 2, he was named the third beneficiary of the Courage Foundation, an international organization that defends whistleblowers, whose advisers include Daniel Ellsberg, the former United States military analyst who released the Pentagon Papers, and former NSA executive Thomas Drake, who revealed post-9/11 mass surveillance. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange recently said, “The abuse of the law in DeHart’s case is obvious, shocking, and wrong. Matt DeHart and his family have suffered enough.”

    ***

    If Matt is, in fact, wrongly accused, answers could be on the thumb drives taken by the Canada Border Services Agency, which have yet to be returned to the DeHarts. But without access to the leaked files Matt claims to have seen, there is no way to verify whether he was actually in possession of them, and, if he was, whether they’re authentic. If Matt DeHart is a government whistleblower, he has yet to produce the whistle, let alone blow it.

    ***
    There was also what appeared to be internal documents from the FBI, field notes on the bureau’s investigation into the worst biological attack in U.S. history: the anthrax-laced letters that killed five Americans and sickened 17 others shortly after Sept. 11. Though the attacks were officially blamed on a government scientist who committed suicide after he was identified as a suspect, Matt says the documents on the Shell tell a far different story. It had already been revealed that the U.S. Army produced the Ames strain of anthrax — the same strain used in the Amerithrax attacks — at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. But the report built the case that the CIA was behind the attacks as part of an operation to fuel public terror and build support for the Iraq War.”

  5. DXer said

    The fellow I recall to have of the scientific effort in Amerithrax in late 2001 and early 2002 was Randall Murch. He left the FBI and is now at Virginia Tech. He has written a May 2015 article:

    “Bioattribution Needs a Coherent International Approach to Improve Global Biosecurity
    Randall Steven Murch

    Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 2296-4185

    16 May 2015

    This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution and reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

    Author: Randall Murch, School of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), Arlington, Virginia USA
    Correspondence:

    Dr. Randall Murch, Virginia Tech Virginia Tech Research Center, 900 North Glebe Road, Arlington VA 22203 USA rmurch@vt.edu

    “The investigations of the anthrax attacks of 2001 (Murch 2011) were complex, frustrating to many, sometimes seemingly politically-driven and not fully enabled with all the tools required for rapid resolution. However, the fact that reasonably mature investigative capabilities, some existing analytic methods and emerging scientific resources at the time (National Research Council 2011), and established legal instruments were in place enabled the investigations toward the prosecution (US Department ofJustice 2010). The technical investigative capabilities have since advanced further (Federal Bureau of Investigation 2015)”

    • DXer said

      In his May 2015 article on Bioattribution, Randall Murch, who headed the FBI’s Amerithrax scientific evidence in the first months, wrote:

      “Attribution in the legal and policy contexts refer to “who did it”. Attribution is informed by investigative, scientific and other information and is a qualitative judgment by the appropriate authority. The “attribution decision” precedes further decision making with respect to what, if any, actions to take as a result of the type and impact of the events at issue. Legal attribution decisions can use existing decision frameworks, but with policy decisions, at least in the U.S., such does not exist. Exoneration is considered to be equally important. Scientific attribution is taken to mean “assignment of a sample of questioned origin to a source of known origin to a high degree of scientific certainty (at the same time excluding origination from other sources). The scientific analytical and interpretive activities which seek scientific attribution inform legal and policy questions which can lead to identifying perpetrators and enablers. Depending on the type and quality of the forensic evidence and what it is capable of providing, the science can be very informative, definitive and buttress either the case of prosecution (seeking conviction and punishment) or defense (exoneration, acquittal).”

    • DXer said

      Here is the article in html format. There also is a provisional pdf format.

      http://scholar.googleusercontent.com/scholar?q=cache:vOxNcq84090J:scholar.google.com/+Randall+Murch++Bioattribution&hl=en&as_sdt=0,33&as_ylo=2015

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