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

* Lawsuit Letter Demands That FBI Release Wrongly Withheld Anthrax Case Documents.

Posted by DXer on February 8, 2018

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197 Responses to “* Lawsuit Letter Demands That FBI Release Wrongly Withheld Anthrax Case Documents.”

  1. DXer said

    Chinese researchers isolated deadly bat coronaviruses near Wuhan animal market
    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/mar/30/china-researchers-isolated-bat-coronaviruses-near-/

    By Bill Gertz – The Washington Times – Monday, March 30, 2020

    Chinese government researchers isolated more than 2,000 animal viruses, including deadly bat coronaviruses, and carried out scientific work on them just three miles from a wild animal market identified as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Several Chinese state media outlets in recent months touted the virus research and lionized in particular a key researcher in Wuhan, Tian Junhua, as a leader in bat virus work.
    The coronavirus strain now infecting hundreds of thousands of people globally mutated from bats believed to have infected animals and people at a wild animal market in Wuhan. The exact origin of the virus, however, remains a mystery.

    “This is one of the worst cover-ups in human history, and now the world is facing a global pandemic,” Rep. Michael T. McCaul, Texas Republican and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said last week. Mr. McCaul has said China should be held accountable for the pandemic.

    A video posted online in December and funded by the Chinese government shows Mr. Tian inside caves in Hubei province taking samples from captured bats and storing them in vials.
    “I am not a doctor, but I work to cure and save people,” Mr. Tian says in the video. “I am not a soldier, but I work to safeguard an invisible national defense line.”

  2. DXer said

    I haven’t read the Complaint but don’t know of any factual basis for the lawsuit by Larry Klayman alleging that COVID-19 is an illegal Chinese bioweapon.

    Absent such factual basis, I credit the ending of CONTAGION as illustrating the origin. Bat —> pangolin or bat —> marmoset.

    In the riveting movie CONTAGION, starring Matt Damon, it was bat —> pig —> to casino chef —> to Paltrow in a photo op.

    It seems that all the scientists I’ve seen comment do also. So the burden will be on Attorney Klayman to establish that the lawsuit had a factual basis.

    And it’s not that I don’t have an open mind if evidence is brought to light.

    Mr. Klayman no doubt will use the suit as the basis for fundraising. Okay. People can spend their time and money as they choose.

    But good luck, Larry, on that transparency thing.

    https://www.dallasnews.com/news/public-health/2020/03/18/dallas-federal-lawsuit-accuses-chinese-government-of-creating-coronavirus-as-biological-weapon/

    Some Americans are focused on testing. Medical professionals are working on a coronavirus vaccine. And lawmakers are hashing out an economic aid package.

    Lawyer Larry Klayman and his Freedom Watch nonprofit want China to pay — for creating the COVID-19 virus as “an illegal biological weapon” in an “illegal and internationally outlawed bioweapons facility.”

    The Florida man filed a class-action federal lawsuit Tuesday in Dallas against the People’s Republic for creating “massive damage.” The lawsuit seeks “an award in excess of $20 trillion U.S. Dollars.” The effort, however, is not expected to be successful in court.

    Coronavirus, which President Donald Trump calls “the Chinese virus,” has spread to the U.S. and worldwide, infecting thousands. The economic damage is expected to be significant.

    Klayman filed the lawsuit on behalf of himself, Freedom Watch and Buzz Photos, a McKinney business that specializes in high school sports photography. He said he expects many more people to receive class status and be added to the lawsuit as plaintiffs.

    Buzz Photos lost about $50,000 over the weekend and had to lay off employees due to the public health crisis, the lawsuit said. The business has shut down and “stands on the verge of bankruptcy,” it said.

    “Since biological weapons have been outlawed since at least 1925, including by China’s membership in treaties, these illegal weapons constitute and are in effect terrorist-related weapons of mass destruction of population centers,” the lawsuit said.

    Klayman, often described as a right-wing activist, said in a news release that his lawsuit is not political but was filed “to have a jury award damages to the victims of China’s release” of the virus.

    Critics have called Klayman a nutty conspiracy theorist. He has made headlines by suing U.S. presidents, world leaders and foreign governments. The Southern Poverty Law Center described him as a “pathologically litigious attorney and professional gadfly notorious for suing everyone from Iran’s Supreme Leader to his own mother.”

    “COVID-19 was designed by China to be a very ‘effective’ and catastrophic biological warfare weapon to kill mass populations,” Klayman’s lawsuit said.

    The defendants in the suit are listed as the People’s Republic of China; the People’s Liberation Army, the official military of China; the Wuhan Institute of Virology; Shi Zhengli, the institute’s director; and Major General Chen Wei of China’s Liberation Army.

    Researchers believe the virus originated in a “wet market,” or live animal market, in Wuhan, China.

    But the 24-page lawsuit alleges that China created the virus “as a biological weapon in violation of China’s agreements under international treaties,” and that it recklessly allowed “its release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology into the city of Wuhan, China, in Hubei Province.”

    The Chinese government failed to prevent the institute’s employees from becoming infected and “carrying it into the surrounding community and proliferation into the United States,” the lawsuit says.

    The suit’s first claim is listed as “aiding and abetting the risk of death or serious bodily injuries to United States citizens and members of the class and subclasses.”

    Providing material support to terrorists is the second claim. The third claim, of six total, is conspiring to cause injury and death to Americans.

    “Although it appears that the COVID-19 virus was released at an unplanned, unexpected time, it was prepared and stockpiled as a biological weapon to be used against China’s perceived enemies, including but not limited to the people of the United States.”

    Klayman is suing The Dallas Morning News on behalf of Demetrick Pennie, a Dallas police sergeant, in federal court in Dallas.

  3. DXer said

    The District Judge today granted the US DOJ’s motion for summary judgment.

    GRANTING DEFENDANT’S RENEWED MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; DENYING
    PLAINTIFF’S CROSS-MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

    For the reasons stated in the Court’s Memorandum Opinion separately and
    contemporaneously issued, Defendant’s renewed motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 38) is
    GRANTED and Plaintiff’s cross-motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 42) is DENIED.

    Dated: March 16, 2020 RUDOLPH CONTRERAS
    United States District Judge

  4. DXer said

    https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/10/politics/house-mueller-secret-grand-jury/index.html

    (CNN)The House of Representatives has won access to secret grand jury material gathered in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and cited in the Mueller report, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday.

    The appeals panel sided with the chief judge of the DC District Court, who had roundly criticized the Justice Department’s legal theories to keep the Mueller materials under seal and endorsed the House’s investigation into President Donald Trump.

  5. DXer said

    Will the WHO make the pandemic declaration this week?

    https://apnews.com/f3be69cc2cf55f74a35118c557ad8461

    “I think it’s pretty clear we’re in a pandemic and I don’t know why WHO is resisting that,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

  6. DXer said

    Judge Questions Barr’s Handling of Mueller Report, to Review Unreleased Portions
    Federal judge says attorney general aimed to create ‘a one-sided narrative’ about the report

    By Byron Tau
    March 5, 2020 8:34 pm ET

    WASHINGTON—A federal judge on Thursday accused Attorney General William Barr of a lack of candor and questioned his credibility in his handling of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report last year.

    Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said in a ruling there may be reason to believe that Mr. Barr, in summarizing the report weeks before a redacted version was released to the public, intended “to create a one-sided narrative about the Mueller Report—a narrative that is clearly in some respects substantively at odds with the redacted version of the Mueller Report.”

    Judge Walton, who was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, said he would review the full Mueller report, including the material not publicly released, to give Americans confidence that the Justice Department’s redactions were made for good cause. The decision opens the door to additional parts of the Mueller report being unredacted and made public.

    The judge’s ruling came in a Freedom of Information Act case brought by BuzzFeed journalist Jason Leopold and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a group that advocates on civil liberties and privacy issues. Both sought access to the special counsel report under the act, which provides for public access to government information.

    Much of the 448-page report was released to the public in April 2019, though several categories of information were redacted. Democrats in Congress have been seeking access to the fuller report, as have journalists and transparency activists.

    Judge Walton criticized the way Mr. Barr rolled out the report. The attorney general issued a letter that critics say inaccurately summarized the central findings of the report in the weeks between when it was wrapped up and when it was made available to the public in redacted form.

    The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The department has previously defended its handling of the release of the report, saying it contained substantial amounts of information that required redaction.

    The report, which investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election, found extensive efforts by Moscow to boost the candidacy of Donald Trump but didn’t find collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. It also investigated whether President Trump obstructed the investigation.

    On the obstruction issue, Mr. Barr’s letter said the special counsel investigation failed to establish that Mr. Trump was involved in a crime. Mr. Mueller wrote in his report that he didn’t reach a conclusion one way or another, leaving it to Mr. Barr and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to decide no crime had been committed.

    Mr. Mueller later complained in a letter to the attorney general that the summary “did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office’s work and conclusions.”

    The judge said there were “inconsistencies” in the attorney general’s statements that required him to apply additional judicial scrutiny to the request from journalists and activists to possibly unredact more of the report.

    “The inconsistencies between Attorney General Barr’s statements, made at a time when the public did not have access to the redacted version of the Mueller Report to assess the veracity of his statements, and portions of the redacted version of the Mueller Report that conflict with those statements cause the Court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary,” Judge Walton wrote.

    “These circumstances generally, and Attorney General Barr’s lack of candor specifically, call into question Attorney General Barr’s credibility,” the judge wrote.

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

  7. DXer said

    That film I told you that was filmed on December 24 at the home I spend much of my days played at Sundance to an appreciative audience. It explores

    USPS OPERATION SANTA
    https://about.usps.com/holidaynews/operation-santa.htm

    I have to admit that the USPS — hitting the soft place I have in my heart for Santa and motherhood — has won me over.

    Heck, maybe the Postal Inspectors were right in their conclusion about Amerithrax. I wrote up my opinion one or more times (before 2008) for the Postal Mag.

    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/ross-getmans-slide-presentation-at-the-nov-29-anthrax-letters-seminar/

    We’ll know more if we can see the pages sought by Dillon under FOIA.

    Anthrax, Al Qaeda and Ayman Zawahiri: The Infiltration of US Biodefense
    (also known as Project Zabadi)
    https://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

  8. DXer said

    2020-02-05 48 ORDER directing Defendant to produce redacted version of Interim Major Case Summary excerpts. See document for details. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on February 5, 2020. (lcrc3) (Entered: 02/05/2020)

  9. DXer said

    Below are some results from google scholar since 2020 from searching the word “Amerithrax”. Are there lessons from Amerithrax relevant to the coronavirus outbreak?

    For example, how effective are Lysol or Clorox wipes at killing the virus?

    How effective are face masks?

    Should you wear gloves when using Lysol or Clorox wipes?

    If you buy a box of face masks in the US (prior to any influenza or other infection affecting loved ones), are you a hoarder or a Boy Scout?

    Is the rate of infection and mortality doubling every 6 days? Or every 3 1/2 days?

    What will be the number infected by tax time? By Memorial Day?

    Did the Wuhan government suppress information in late December?

    What should be the penalty for officials who suppressed information?

    Was their motive to avoid embarrassment? Avoid liability?

    Was an opportunity to control spread of the virus missed, due to the suppression of information?

    Will disinfectant dispersed through drones be effective? Would the same drones be used to spread weaponized anthrax? What is the size of the particle spread by the disinfectant?

    What biopharma stocks have benefited or will benefit?

    What sort of public monies will be spent?

    With respect to challenges at USAMRIID, how do we balance the role USAMRIID and other institutions play in keeping our country safe from a world epidemic?

    What does Bill Gates think of the current epidemic? What are his projections?

    Is it time for you to quit your gym? Is it time for you to gather the supplies recommended by American Red Cross?

    In weathering a crisis, would it be best to have Martin Sheen as President or Charlie Sheen?

    The FBI’s Amerithrax Task Force and the advent of microbial forensics
    RS Decker, TL Kerns – Microbial Forensics, 2020 – Elsevier
    Abstract Three weeks after September 11, 2001’s attacks, the Laboratory Response Network
    reported a case of inhalational anthrax. Anthrax infected a total of 22 victims, killing five. Four
    letters were recovered containing dried Bacillus anthracis spores of the Ames strain. The …
    Related articles All 2 versions

    Microbial forensics: what next?
    SA Morse, B Budowle, SE Schutzer – Microbial Forensics, 2020 – Elsevier
    … Microbial forensics as a discipline was affected dramatically by the dissemination of
    spores of Bacillus anthracis through the US postal system and the intense investigatory
    effort associated with the Amerithrax investigation that followed …
    Related articles

    Microbial forensic investigation of the anthrax letter attacks: how the investigation would differ using today’s technologies
    PJ Jackson – Microbial Forensics, 2020 – Elsevier
    … limited. During the Amerithrax investigation, newly developed, sometimes unvalidated
    methods were hampered by the limited content of the available comparative
    databases and the high costs and lengthy analysis times. In …
    Related articles All 2 versions

    The National Bioforensic Analysis Center
    J Burans, JS Goodrich, RL Bull, NH Bergman – Microbial Forensics, 2020 – Elsevier
    … The combination of biocontainment and forensic capabilities simply did not exist in the United
    States in 2001, and so during the early course of the FBI’s “Amerithrax” investigation, local and
    state public health laboratories, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC …
    Cited by 2 Related articles All 2 versions

    Environmental sampling and bio-decontamination—Recent progress, challenges, and future direction
    VK Rastogi, L Wallace – Handbook on Biological Warfare Preparedness, 2020 – Elsevier
    … A number of excellent reviews have summarized the cleanup efforts following Amerithrax—the
    Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) case name for the 2001 anthrax attacks, which lasted over
    several weeks after September 18, 2001 (Government Accounting Office, 2003 …

    Use of microbial forensics data in scientific, legal, and policy contexts
    CA Bidwell, R Murch – Microbial Forensics, 2020 – Elsevier
    … More recently, in the fall of 2001, the United States experienced the challenges in
    attributing the source and cause of a biological incident involving Bacillus anthracis,
    the agent of anthrax (Amerithrax or Anthrax Investigation) …

    An international microbial forensics research strategy and its collaborative pursuit is needed
    R Murch, B Budowle – Microbial Forensics, 2020 – Elsevier
    … It focused specifically on the quality of science within microbial forensics, leveraging the maturation
    of the US national program (Murch, 2001, Murch, 2003) and the need to respond to exigent
    circumstances, such as the Anthrax Mailing Attacks of 2001 (“Amerithrax”) …
    [PDF] biorxiv.org

    barCoder: a tool to generate unique, orthogonal genetic tags for qPCR detection
    CB Bernhards, MW Lux, SE Katoski, TD Goralski… – bioRxiv, 2020 – biorxiv.org
    Page 1. 1 barCoder: a tool to generate unique, orthogonal genetic tags for qPCR detection 1
    Casey B. Bernhards 1,2* , Matthew W. Lux 1* , Sarah E. Katoski 1 , Tyler DP Goralski 1 , Alvin
    T. 2 Liem 1,3 , Henry S. Gibbons 1† 3 *These authors contributed equally to this work 4 …
    Related articles All 2 versions
    [PDF] mdpi.com

    Detection and Identification of Bacillus anthracis: From Conventional to Molecular Microbiology Methods
    AA Zasada – Microorganisms, 2020 – mdpi.com
    … related species. Since Amerithrax in 2001, a lot of effort has been made to develop
    rapid methods for detection and identification of this microorganism with special focus
    on easy-to-perform rapid tests for first-line responders. This …
    Related articles

    Scientific testimonial standards for microbial forensic evidence
    SP Velsko – Microbial Forensics, 2020 – Elsevier
    … Finally, I discuss four examples of testimonial uses of statistical language to express uncertainty:
    identification of an organism, “morph” analysis as was performed during the Amerithrax
    investigation, source inference based on genetic relatedness, and trace DNA detection …

    Microbial forensic investigations in the context of bacterial population genetics
    P Keim, T Pearson, B Budowle, M Wilson… – Microbial Forensics, 2020 – Elsevier
    … In the Amerithrax investigation of a laboratory source, the collection of all lab samples/isolates
    did in fact result in a highly representative genetic database, with nearly all US Ames cultures
    represented (or at least the dataset was fairly representative) …
    Cited by 1 Related articles All 5 versions

    Education and training in microbial forensics
    SB Lee, DEK Mills, SA Morse, SE Schutzer… – Microbial …, 2020 – Elsevier
    Skip to main content Skip to article …

    Forensic analysis in bacterial pathogens
    P Keim, JW Sahl, T Pearson, A Vogler, CH Williamson… – Microbial …, 2020 – Elsevier
    … become distinctive for a particular production. This happened in the case of the anthrax
    letters [see Chapter 2, The Amerithrax Case]. Yersinia pestis and plague: another
    recently emerged pathogen. Y. pestis, the etiological agent of …
    Related articles All 2 versions

    [BOOK] Prepare and Protect: Safer Behaviors in Laboratories and Clinical Containment Settings
    SG Kaufman – 2020 – books.google.com
    … It was not long before I was deployed to Trenton, New Jersey, to work with postal employees
    who were exposed to Bacillus anthracis spores, the causative agent of anthrax, during what
    is now referred to as the 2001 anthrax attacks (or Amerithrax) …

    The Biased Media and Their Utilization of Propaganda: The True Obstructionists of World Events and Our Minds
    DB Ross, GL Peyton, MT Sasso… – … Advertising, and Public …, 2020 – igi-global.com
    Page 1. Copyright © 2020, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic
    forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited. Chapter 4 89 DOI:
    10.4018/978-1-7998-1734-5.ch004 ABSTRACT Propaganda is …
    Related articles All 2 versions

    Emerging Life Sciences: New Challenges to Strategic Stability
    ME Kosal – Disruptive and Game Changing Technologies in …, 2020 – Springer
    … The technical and operational veracity of scenarios varies highly from the robust to
    Hollywood-like fantasy. In the post-Amerithrax world, particularly of the industrialized global north,
    worst-case scenarios garner easy media attention and can inadvertently drive policy decisions …
    Related articles All 3 versions

    Forensic human identification using skin microbiome genetic signatures
    SE Schmedes, A Woerner, B Budowle – Microbial Forensics, 2020 – Elsevier
    Skip to main content Skip to article …
    Related articles All 2 versions
    [PDF] diva-portal.org

    Motives behind securitization:-a study on the securitization of terrorism
    A Vallin – 2020 – diva-portal.org
    Page 1. 1(1) Motives behind securitization -a study on the securitization of terrorism Master Thesis
    Author: Anders Vallin Supervisor: Anders Persson Examiner: Henrik Enroth Term: HT19 Subject:
    International Affairs Level: Advanced Course code: 5SK30E Page 2. 2(1) Page 3 …

    Forensic public health: epidemiological and microbiological investigations for biosecurity
    AS Khan, PS Amara, SA Morse – Microbial Forensics, 2020 – Elsevier
    Skip to main content Skip to article …
    Cited by 1 Related articles All 5 versions

    Inferential validation and evidence interpretation
    SP Velsko – Microbial Forensics, 2020 – Elsevier
    Skip to main content Skip to article …
    Related articles All 4 versions

  10. DXer said

    The coronavirus epidemic demonstrate the importance of USAMRIID’s mission. Whatever challenges and disagreements and differences of perspective there are on the subject, we can wish them success in their mission in keeping the public safe and healthy.

    Hannah Himes of The Frederick News-Post has this article over the weekend:

    Hindsight 2020: Bruce Ivins takes his own life in 2008 days before FBI charges him in anthrax attacks
    https://www.fredericknewspost.com/news/continuing_coverage/hindsight/hindsight-bruce-ivins-takes-his-own-life-in-days-before/article_99a86997-12df-5a7b-80b1-df7d6bb56cd4.html

    Bruce Ivins, a microbiologist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick and a suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks, took his own life in July 2008.

    Shortly after, the FBI brought charges against Ivins, who they said was responsible for five deaths and 17 hospitalizations caused by the attacks.

    “The relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo takes its toll in different ways on different people,” said an August 2008 statement from Rockville attorney Paul Kemp who represented Ivins. “In Dr. Ivins’ case, it led to his untimely death.”

    Ivins was never convicted.

    In the weeks leading up to Ivins’ death, he faced allegations that he had made homicidal and violent threats.

    Jean Duley, who told the court she had been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury, filed for a peace order against Ivins on July 24.

    Ivins was also taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital, and later Baltimore psychiatric hospital Sheppard Pratt Health System, after he was removed from Fort Detrick during a welfare check on July 10.

    In September 2008, FBI Director Robert Mueller III was scheduled to appear before Congress to discuss the assertion that Ivins was responsible for the attacks.

    Prior to Mueller’s appearance, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) sent him a list of questions, which included why Ivins kept security clearance for two years after he became the prime suspect in the case.

    At the time, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) said in an email statement that he didn’t believe that scientists at the USAMRIID could have created the anthrax used in the attacks.

    In mid-September, Mueller told the House Judiciary Committee that he requested that the National Academy of Sciences review the science the FBI used in their investigation.

    Mueller said he requested the review because questions had been brought up about whether Ivins would have had access to the type of anthrax that was used in the attacks.

    On Sept. 24, court documents were unsealed that revealed that Ivins had emailed himself in 2007 saying he knew who had carried out the attacks.

    At the end of October, Fort Detrick released Ivins’ personnel file.

    In 2011, a National Research Council committee said “it is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the origins of the anthrax in letters mailed to New York City and Washington, D.C., based solely on the available scientific evidence.”

    The Department of Justice stood by their belief that Ivins was the perpetrator of the attacks.

    In October, outside investigators said security gaps at the lab prosecutors said the anthrax came from meant that the spores could have been snuck out.

    Two years later, scientists who worked with Ivins said he couldn’t have created the amount of spores needed to carry out the attacks based on the equipment and time available to him at the USAMRIID.

    In 2014, a federal watchdog’s findings about the investigation of the attacks prompted an overhaul of the FBI’s bioforensics methods.

    According to a Government Accountability Office report, when the FBI was investigating the attacks they did not have a framework that could standardize its genetic testing process and provide confident statistical results.

    Detrick researchers reported promising results in their quest to create an anthrax vaccine in 2016.

    Today, an anthrax vaccine does exist but it is not generally available to the public.

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

  11. DXer said

    As I’ve often said on this blog, President Trump is lying when he says that he didn’t know that the Polish workers who demolished the building in advance of building the original Trump Tower were illegal. I knew the owner (the late William K.) of the company that employed them. I knew him in a legal capacity. William K. was from my hometown (or, actually, within a few miles). I was at his home, offered vodka from his freezer, as he explained to me (and this was many many years ago) that Trump knew and bought himself out of the jam.

    Worse yet, what Trump knew was that the reason the workers were not paid (or were slow to be paid) was that much of the money William K. was paid went to the mafia, which Trump also knew about. In fact, I once had (maybe still have) the records that showed the Trump organization took over payment of the workers.

    Not only does Putin have leverage over Trump. So does the mafia.

  12. DXer said

    https://lawandcrime.com/high-profile/trump-appointed-judge-deals-trump-admin-blow-in-foia-lawsuit-over-secret-whitaker-docs/

    Trump-Appointed Judge Deals Trump Admin Blow in FOIA Lawsuit Over Secret Whitaker Docs
    by Colin Kalmbacher | 12:43 pm, December 5th, 2019

    “A federal court has ruled against the Trump administration’s bid to keep financial disclosure documents filed by former acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker under lock and key.

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) sought to keep those documents secret in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and lawsuit filed by BuzzFeed News reporter Zoe Tillman in November 2018–roughly two weeks after Whitaker was appointed to the position.

    The DOJ had argued that Whitaker’s financial disclosure forms were exempt from being released under FOIA due to the private financial information contained therein–and because they were allegedly drafted via “deliberative process,” a legal term of art and privilege which generally keeps internal executive branch decision-making from seeing the light of day.

    Specifically, DOJ claimed that FOIA Exemption 5 provided the agency with an excuse to keep Whitaker’s disclosure forms from being viewed by the public. That exemption protects from disclosure “inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency,” according to the FOIA statute.

    U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden thoroughly disagreed with that argument because Whitaker’s draft financial disclosure forms actually didn’t show any DOJ deliberations whatsoever.

    ***

    McFadden also took the opportunity to rubbish some of the DOJ’s legal argumentation in somewhat harsh terms.”

    ____

    The full 16 page decision is available at the link.

  13. DXer said

    Let’s consider that Ben Carson wrote Anonymous WARNING.

    If Trump cannot figure out who wrote the book, then what powers does the Office of the President really have? What powers of observation and analysis does he and his colleagues have?

    (The book is extremely readable and I recommend it to you as a holiday gift idea).

  14. DXer said

    AG Barr Went After the Freedom of Information Act During Federalist Society Speech
    by Colin Kalmbacher | 4:25 pm, November 16th, 2019
    https://lawandcrime.com/high-profile/ag-barr-went-after-the-freedom-of-information-act-during-federalist-society-speech/

    “There is no FOIA for Congress or the Courts. Yet Congress has happily created a regime that allows the public to seek whatever documents it wants from the Executive Branch at the same time that individual congressional committees spend their days trying to publicize the Executive’s internal decisional process. That process cannot function properly if it is public, nor is it productive to have our government devoting enormous resources to squabbling about what becomes public and when, rather than doing the work of the people.”

    ***

    Attorney Mark Zaid, who is currently part of the legal team representing the intelligence community whistleblower, added his disapproval of Barr’s anti-transparency commentary.

    “No, not in a good way at all,” Zaid said in response to Leopold. “Not even John Ashcroft, when he was President [George W.] Bush‘s Attorney General, spoke negatively about #FOIA in this manner. Most past AGs have actually favorably embraced statute as positive example of how our country leads world in transparency & democracy.”

    Comment:

    Attorney General Barr’s job is to see that the law is enforced. That is the essence of the “rule of law.” If he is not comfortable with the role, and instead wants to join the President in playing Emperor, then he should step aside.

    Center for Public Integrity reporter Carrie Levine noted that Barr’s criticism wasn’t entirely accurate.

    “Worth adding to this that there is also no FOIA for the White House, which seems like important context for Barr’s comments here,” she said. “It’s a pretty big loophole when it comes to transparency and the executive branch.”

    It becomes clear, though, that in FOIA head Dave Hardy’s cavalier failure to have an employee go to the CART examination and pull the September and October 2001 emails to and from Dr. Ivins, Hardy has Attorney General Barr’s support.

  15. DXer said

    FOIA release:

    Mueller interview notes obtained by CNN show Trump’s push for stolen emails

    By Katelyn Polantz, CNN
    Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT) November 3, 2019
    https://edition.cnn.com/2019/11/02/politics/mueller-investigation-notes-trump-stolen-emails/index.html

    (CNN)President Donald Trump and other top 2016 Trump campaign officials repeatedly privately discussed how the campaign could get access to stolen Democratic emails WikiLeaks had in 2016, according to newly released interview notes from Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation.

    CNN sued the Justice Department for access to Mueller’s witness interview notes, and this weekend’s release marks the first publicly available behind-the-scenes look at Mueller’s investigative work outside of court proceedings and the report itself. Per a judge’s order, the Justice Department will continue to release new tranches of the Mueller investigative notes monthly to CNN and Buzzfeed News, which also sued for them.

    Comment: The media overlooks its moral fault for always rushing to publish illegally obtained emails. If emails were obtained through unauthorized (illegal) access, why publish them and create an incentive for additional hacking?

  16. DXer said

    Pennsylvania told to produce documents about mystery FBI dig
    By MICHAEL RUBINKAMOctober 24, 2019

    https://apnews.com/2030ebe35636401b9f567759ce81dac5

    On the state level, meanwhile, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources claimed a sealed federal court order prevented it from releasing any documents on the FBI dig. After seeing the federal order for itself, the state Commonwealth Court declared Thursday it “does not protect or otherwise prohibit disclosure of communications between the FBI and the natural resources department regarding the excavation at Dent’s Run.”
    Finders Keepers’ attorney, Bill Cluck, said his reading of the order is “they’ve got to produce whatever they got from the FBI.”

    Comment:

    It will be interesting to see the documents that they obtain. I hope the searchers or State will share them.

    Unrelatedly, I was thrilled to learn of the discovery of a hidden cache in Boston related to a 1982 children’s book. The author of the book died in a car accident in 2005.

    Someone Found Actual Buried Treasure (!!) in the North End
    Some real-life National Treasure stuff going on here and you love to see it.
    by SPENCER BUELL· 10/25/2019, 12:51 p.m.

    https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2019/10/25/buried-treasure-north-end/

    http://thesecret.pbworks.com/w/page/22148559/FrontPage

    Of the 9 treasures remaining, I have my eye on one that looks to be in Brooklyn. My proposed solve of the clues related to that particular treasure (image 12; verse 10) are very specific. But this permission to dig issue is a puzzler, to be sure.

    And I don’t approve of unapproved digging on private or public park property. (I of course would prefer it be on a Coney Island beach where I could just spread out my blanket.

    The only treasure hunt I ever welcomed the FBI on was having the undercover contractor working as the graphic artist for the blog accompany me to Saratoga for Dutch Schultz’s treasure. Travel Channel later filmed but had to call the police when after digging, bones were found in the safe room in the house that I identified for search. Using a media company, like using the FBI, is a useful treasure hunting tactic; but media companies are just as tight-lipped as the FBI when it comes to sharing information and research. For all I know, they were bones of a cow.

    I had also planned to bring the graphic artist/FBI contractor along in searching for Isabella Gardner’s paintings up in Maine, starting at Robert Guarente’s old abandoned farmhouse. But the guy I call “undercover” bailed at the last minute and so I just went with my daughter. I left at a remote cabin on the river after she (being a very sensible young gal) declined to join me at the site down the road. Two men in dark suits looked through the window while I was gone. I didn’t find the paintings and posted the pictures of the concrete slab I was hoping the FBI would address with a backhoe and ground penetrating radar. After the gangster’s widow Elene Guarante reported I was making her nervous asking questions around town, the museum security director Tony suggested that I leave the State. (That was when I learned gangster EB’s name and passed it on to the museum and the investigative reporter and book author SK).

    Gangster Bobby Guarente and wife Elene were not getting along in his final days. The museum and FBI were mistaken if they thought Elene’s cooperation and testimony before a grand jury would lead them to the paintings. It was his daughter who was Bobby’s confidante. The FBI didn’t even know that it was the daughter (along with Elene and EB) who attempted to return the paintings before Tony took the job as security director. (The trio used a lawyer as a front.) Forensics on submitted paint chips played/still play a key role in understanding whether the daughter in fact had the goods or key info as to the location of the paintings.

    Bottom-line: the FBI can bring heavy equipment and sledge hammers and electronic eavesdropping technology — and get permission to search. And so they are probably pretty darn good at finding lost treasures compared to the typical searcher.

    But I wouldn’t want to count on the FBI on being transparent. In this search for confederate gold, I don’t know the details of the search and so have no idea what the 1400 pages of documents will show.

  17. DXer said

    Judge to DOJ: Decide on charging Andrew McCabe by Nov. 15, or face release of FBI records
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/judge-to-doj-decide-on-charging-andrew-mccabe-by-nov-15-or-face-release-of-fbi-records/2019/10/01/3e169168-e3c4-11e9-a331-2df12d56a80b_story.html

    “I would send this message to those in positions of authority in the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Justice Department . . . that I will not condone further delay,” Walton said, according to a transcript of the unsealed portion of the hearing.

    Walton expressed “dismay” to Justice lawyers that the case “is just dragging too long,” adding: “You all have got to cut and make your decision. It’s not a hard decision, and I think it needs to be made. If it’s not made, I’m going to start ordering the release of information because I think our society, our public does have a right to know what’s going on.”

    The legal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, sued in July 2018 to enforce its FOIA request for all government records related to the FBI’s investigation into McCabe, a request CREW filed shortly after McCabe was fired on March 16, 2018.

    At Monday’s hearing in Washington, Anne L. Weismann, chief FOIA counsel for CREW, said McCabe’s lawsuit “reveals exactly what we had feared,” by alleging the inspector general kept exculpatory evidence from the FBI out of its report. She also cited reports that although Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen has decided to charge McCabe, a grand jury recalled last month to indict him left with no sign of an indictment being returned.

    Weismann, a Justice Department attorney from 1981 to 2002 and former supervisor of government records litigation, argued against allowing further delays based on what she said looks like some “mad effort to find some way to indict Mr. McCabe to appease the president,” adding, “it’s more critical than ever that the public have information. We need to be able to restore our faith in the law enforcement community, in the FBI.”

    Weismann appeared to strike a chord with Walton by saying: “We’re in dark times where there’s growing evidence that the president aided by the attorney general is using the power of his office to go after perceived political enemies. He’s going after the intelligence community. He’s going after the law enforcement community . . . ”

    “Going after the courts, too,” Walton interjected.

    “And he [Trump] is going after the courts, the press,” Weismann continued.

    “I totally appreciate what you just said and share many of the same concerns,” responded Walton, a former senior official in the D.C. U.S. attorney’s office and defense attorney.

    • DXer said

      Former Trump Exec Predicts Trump Will Resign Over Impeachment Threat ‘To Save Face’
      By Ken MeyerOct 7th, 2019, 8:13 am
      https://www.mediaite.com/trump/former-trump-exec-predicts-trump-will-resign-over-impeachment-threat-to-save-face/

      Comment: Regardless whether President Trump will resign (for whatever reason), Republicans should prepare for that contingency and develop an alternative possible candidate — one qualified for the office by reason of his or her experience and integrity.
      Mitt Romney, Nikki Haley, William Weld, Colin Powell… there are many candidates who are possible alternatives to Mr. Trump.

      I personally think that Mr. Trump is not suited to the Office of Presidency. Repeated bankruptcies in the casino and real estate business — and a strongly narcissistic personality — made him ill-suited to the office. Mr. Trump thinks name-calling serves as a substitute for moral leadership
      He has greatly lowered the bar.

      (But I do not think he will resign because then he risks being indicted.)

      Republicans risk damaging their brand in a long-lasting way if they don’t at least take some steps to preserve the future of the party.

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