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

* Notebooks never returned by the FBI to USAMRIID/Ivins sought under FOIA ; Notebooks 3655 and 3945 related to transfer of virulent Ames

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 17, 2015

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5 Responses to “* Notebooks never returned by the FBI to USAMRIID/Ivins sought under FOIA ; Notebooks 3655 and 3945 related to transfer of virulent Ames”

  1. DXer said

    I received today a CD from the FBI re FOIA 1337661 re Notebooks 3655, 3945, 4251

  2. DXer said

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150718/06002331680/judge-orders-cia-to-pay-400000-legal-fees-to-foia-requester-it-jerked-around-more-than-decade.shtml

    Judge Orders CIA To Pay $400,000 In Legal Fees To FOIA Requester It Jerked Around For More Than A Decade
    from the just-put-it-on-the-public’s-tab dept
    The CIA has been fighting to keep POW/MIA records out of Roger Hall’s hands for over a decade. With that FOIA battle finally over, the CIA is now fighting to keep its money out of Roger Hall’s hands. Judge Royce Lambert’s order sounds a little exasperated with this vexatious defendant.

    First, the CIA admits Hall (and Studies Solutions Results) have mostly won. But it then goes on to claim it shouldn’t be required to follow this provision of the Freedom of Information Act — that “substantially prevailing” plaintiffs are entitled to legal fees.
    The CIA concedes that the plaintiffs have prevailed on several of their claims and that they are therefore eligible for fees. Opp’n 8. The CIA also “accepts some responsibility for the unnecessarily protracted nature of this litigation” and notes that there is “accordingly no need for the Court to consider whether the plaintiffs are entitled to an award.” Furthermore, the CIA does not argue that interim fees are inappropriate or that fees should not be awarded until the conclusion of litigation.
    So, what is the CIA’s problem? It admits fault but only wants to pay a small fraction of what Hall is seeking. Hall claims a decade’s-worth of the CIA’s admittedly “unnecessarily protracted” litigation has cost him more than $400,000. The CIA thinks $75,000 is more than fair for screwing him around for 10+ years.

    First, the CIA claims Hall’s win isn’t much of a win, and if he’s racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, it’s his own fault.
    The CIA requests that the Court reduce the requested fees because plaintiffs have achieved only limited success, calling their victory “largely pyrrhic…” The CIA argues that because plaintiffs sought such “extraordinarily broad categories of records,” “it was almost inevitable that litigation would ensue.”
    Judge Lambert points to the court record as being contradictory to the CIA’s portrayal of the litigation.
    This allegation is, to some extent, in tension with the statement that it “does not dispute that the plaintiffs have substantially prevailed on several of their claims.” Indeed, the Court has repeatedly rejected the claim that the FOIA requests were overly broad and unduly burdensome, and now agrees that plaintiffs have achieved significantly more than a victory.
    In fact, he points out it’s the CIA that’s been racking up loss after loss.
    Overall, the Court finds that the plaintiffs in this case have been quite successful in achieving their objective: obtaining documents unlawfully withheld. When this lawsuit was filed, the CIA refused to release the requested records and failed to respond to plaintiffs’ request for over a year. After many years of litigation, the CIA has released more than 4,000 documents, quite a substantial success. The Court finds that plaintiffs’ actions in diligently pursuing their claims were reasonable — even those that were ultimately unsuccessful — and it will not use the benefit of hindsight to scrutinize every one of plaintiffs’ actions.
    And while the CIA attempted to use a little math to buttress its claims that Hall’s litigation has been mostly unsuccessful (“CIA… specifically takes issue with a number of unsuccessful motions filed by the plaintiffs…”), it didn’t bother to apply anything of the sort to its counteroffer on legal fees.
    [T]he court finds it troubling that the CIA did not even attempt to analyze how many hours related to such motions, instead stating only that “a fee award up to $75,000 may be appropriate.”
    Which means the court now has to do the calculations the CIA couldn’t be bothered to perform.
    The CIA… [provided] no basis from which to determine how much of a reduction would be appropriate and [left] such calculations to the Court. This not only inconveniences the Court, but should the Court produce its own analysis for the first time in a written opinion, the plaintiffs would not have a chance to respond.

    • DXer said

      Federal Court Awards $139,147 in Attorneys’ Fees Against HHS and NIH in IOM FOIA Case

      By Jeannette Burmeister • http://www.ProHealth.com • November 18, 2014

      Editor’s Comment: On January 9, 2014, Attorney Jeannette Burmeister filed a federal lawsuit against HHS and NIH in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California for failure to comply with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regarding documents she requested relating to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) “study” of diagnostic criteria for myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. On September 2, the Court ordered the government to comply with Attorney Burmeister’s request. You can read the full complaint HERE.

      Reprinted with the kind permission of Jeannette Burmeister and Thoughts About ME.

      By Jeannette Burmeister

      The U.S. District for the Northern District of California awarded me today–having won my FOIA lawsuit–my entire attorneys’ fees in the amount of $139,147. Judge Vince Chhabria ordered the defendants, HHS and NIH, to pay me these fees. Please see below for a copy of the order.

      In the Court’s order, the Judge noted:

      Ms. Burmeister is clearly the prevailing party in the litigation. Moreover, as outlined in the order granting Ms. Burmeister’s motion for summary judgment, the government’s conduct throughout its dispute with Ms. Burmeister was unreasonable. Ms. Burmeister stood to gain nothing financially from her attempt to obtain documents at issue from the government, and she conferred a benefit on the public through her successful effort to obtain a ruling against the government. [emphasis added]

      http://www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm?libid=19394

  3. DXer said

    Has CDC learned the lesson from recent biosafety incidents when it interposed itself and effectively shut down my request to USAMRIID about historic shipments of Ames from Dugway to USAMRIID?

    USAMRIID had already conducted the search and then the CDC — to whom the request was not even directed — interposed itself and deemed me to have a commercial purpose who would have to pay for the search that USAMRIID had already conducted. (I don’t have a commercial purpose). (I’ve long had a fee waiver from USAMRIID on these requests because my purpose is known not to be commercial; CDC simply had no jurisdiction to decide the issue and is in violation of FOIPA.)

    Similarly, the FBI never returned two or three critically relevant notebooks to USAMRIID, and then simultaneously refused to produce them to requestors who submitted requests directly to the FBI. (The FBI falsely claims that the notebooks have already been produced and uploaded to the FBI’s Vault).

    CDC effectively is avoiding transparency about the events 15 years ago — which were the subject of keen public interest.

    At the same time, both CDC and FBI purport to favor transparency and accountability.

    Despite its presumed good intentions, Is CDC, like the FBI and Army, proving part of the problem rather part of the solution?

    Isr Med Assoc J. 2015 May;17(5):269-73.
    Lessons to be Learned from Recent Biosafety Incidents in the United States.
    Weiss S, Yitzhaki S, Shapira SC.
    Abstract

    During recent months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the occurrence of three major biosafety incidents, raising serious concern about biosafety and biosecurity guideline implementation in the most prestigious agencies in the United States: the CDC, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). These lapses included: a) the mishandling of Bacillus anthracis spores potentially exposing dozens of employees to anthrax; b) the shipment of low pathogenic influenza virus unknowingly cross-contaminated with a highly pathogenic strain; and c) an inventory lapse of hundreds of samples of biological agents, including six vials of variola virus kept in a cold storage room for decades, unnoticed. In this review we present the published data on these events, report the CDC inquiry’s main findings, and discuss the key lessons to be learnt to ensure safer scientific practice in biomedical and microbiological service and research laboratories.

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

  4. DXer said

    The USAMRMC FOIPA person is off on a well-deserved vacation. It would be helpful if a media requestor or nonprofit also asked for these notebooks. (Or at least the first two; the third notebook, 4251, may have been a typo by an FBI Agent who meant to refer to 4241, 4241 was an Ivins notebook that has been produced by USAMRIID upon being returned by the FBI).

    An Amerithrax AUSA — the one who did not disclose that Dr. Ivins reason to be in the lab concerned the experiment with 52 rabbits — told me that I would never be given any documents by DOJ (FBI) under FOIA.

    Her prediction has proved accurate. The FBI just pretends that it has uploaded everything to its Vault.

    http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

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