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

Posts Tagged ‘Congressman Conyers & anthrax’

* the NAS needs to explain its decision to sequester FBI-submitted documents in apparent violation of FOIA law

Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 18, 2009

CASE CLOSED

click here to … buy CASE CLOSED by Lew Weinstein

one reader says …

“The whole Anthrax episode is unquestionably a dark moment in American history.

But what makes it fascinating is how it was handled (or should I say mishandled) by the administration and the various agencies involved.

CASE CLOSED is a must read for anyone who wondered … what really happened? … Who did it? … why?” … and finally, why didn’t they tell us the truth?”

******

NAS needs to explain its decision to sequester FBI-submitted documents in apparent violation of FOIA law

It is now over a week since my email to NAS asking for the specific legal authority they are citing to permit them to sequester FBI-submitted documents until the end of their study (perhaps 17 months from now). I have received no response, which is unusual since all of my other emails were answered almost immediately.

Accordingly, I sent the following email to NAS today … BILL … I wonder if you could let me know the status of any response to my 9/10/09 email. Are you in the process of preparing a response? When can I expect to receive a response? … LEW

Here’s the essence of the email I sent to the NAS on 9/10/09 …

  • You say that much of the FBI material is exempt from release under the FOIA law, but you do not cite the specific legal authority under which such exemptions are claimed.
  • It is my understanding that there are several reasons for possible exemption from release. Which reasons do you specifically cite for each category of FBI material you claim is exempt?
  • Also … I note that you say “much” of the FBI material is exempt, which means that some is not exempt.
  • Could you please advise which FBI material you believe is not exempt, and how the non-exempt FBI material differs from the FBI material which you say is exempt?
  • Finally, how does one go about requesting the FBI material which you say is not exempt?

It is hard to avoid concluding that the FBI is engaged in a very conscious effort to restrict information about its Amerithrax investigation. Here’s a brief review of the known chronology …

  • September & October 2001 … anthrax letters were mailed; 5 people died, 17 others were infected, an attempt was made to murder Congressman Daschle and Senator Leahy.
  • August 8, 2008 … after a 7 year investigation, the FBI announced that Dr. Bruce Ivins (recently deceased) was the SOLE PERPETRATOR of the 2001 anthrax attacks, and that, after completing a few administrative details, they would close the case.
  • August 2009 … the FBI announced it was “on the verge” of closing the Amerithrax case.
  • September 2009 … the FBI refused to answer my questions as to whether the Amerithrax investigation is still ongoing.
  • September 2009 … the NAS stated (in an email to me) that, by terms of its undisclosed contract with the FBI, most materials submitted by the FBI will not be subject to FOIA requests until the conclusion of their review.
  • September 17, 2009Senator Charles Grassley called the FBI refusal to answer his questions as “beyond unacceptable,” asked if the FBI has “something to hide.”

What might the FBI have to hide?

  • If the FBI is still investigating the Amerithrax case, then that suggests they no longer believe Dr. Bruce Ivins was the SOLE PERPETRATOR, an admission that would open serious questions as to why they said so in the first place.
  • If Dr. Ivins was indeed the SOLE PERPETRATOR, what else is there to investigate?
  • If the FBI is not still investigating the Amerithrax case, but yet has not officially closed the case, what are they waiting for?
  • One possible (likely?) answer is that once the case is officially closed, many investigative documents will become available under the FOIA law.

What’s going on between the FBI and the NAS?

  • What sort of arrangement did the FBI impose on the NAS regarding documents the FBI has and will turn over to the NAS during the course of the NAS review of the FBI’s anthrax science?
  • The NAS has said (in an email to me) that they will turn over the FBI submitted documents at the conclusion of their review.
  • DXer asserts (in a prior comment on this blog) that the FOIA law does not provide for such delayed disclosure, that if the documents are subject to FOIA requests at the end of the study, they must be subject to such requests now.
  • Will the NAS make available the FBI-submitted material it said (in the email to me) was not subject to any FOIA exemption?
  • Why hasn’t the NAS cited the specific FOIA exemptions it claims apply to the FBI submitted material?
  • And, if there are such exemptions, by what provision of the FOIA law do the exemptions apply now but not at the end of the review period?

America needs Congressman Holt’s Anthrax Review Commission

Congressman Rush Holt has submitted legislation for an Anthrax Review Commission to look into what really happened in the attacks and what the FBI has been doing for the past eight years to solve the case. That legislation, which still sits in the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Congressman Conyers, needs to become law. And the questions raised above about the FBI/NAS relationship need to be added to the inquiry agenda.

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Posted in * NAS review of FBI science, * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

* even if the FBI now finally “closes” the anthrax case, it cannot be a CASE CLOSED until we know what needs to be known.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 27, 2009

* buy CASE CLOSED

******buy CC graphic

the anthrax case cannot be closed

until someone forces the FBI

to come forward with

all of the facts

******

Devlin Barrett writes in the Washington Times (7-27-09) …

  • A year after government scientist Bruce Ivins killed himself while under investigation for the lethal anthrax letters of 2001, the Justice Department is on the verge of closing the long, costly and vexing case.
  • Officials told AP that the decision to close the case has been put off for what may be weeks, as the FBI and Justice Department continue to wrestle with an investigation that has led many to question the quality of their work and the certainty of their conclusions.
  • In preparation for an announcement that prosecutors had decided to close the “Amerithrax” case, investigators wrote a 110-page summary of their work, laying out the timeline of events over the past eight years, officials said.
  • That 110-page review was pared down to about 40 pages and then a still-shorter version.
  • Now it’s unclear whether any of those documents will be released.

read the entire article at … http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jul/27/anthrax-case-near-closure/

LMW COMMENT …

After mounting what is said to be the largest investigation in the FBI’s history, the FBI still seem to have serious doubts about what to do.

  • They paid their first suspect (Dr. Hatfill) $5.8 million to go away, and then just a few weeks later charged a dead man (Dr. Ivins), conveniently avoiding the need to ever present their case in court, under oath.
  • The FBI has consistently refused to answer legitimate questions from Senators, Congressmen and the press; they have also apparently failed to release documents which should be available under FOIA guidelines.
  • Now they cannot even write a report to properly summarize their work.

Why does the FBI continue to have such monumental struggles with this case?

Any cop anywhere in the world knows the answer.

  • Maybe when you are making up a story on the fly, it is very difficult to keep all the pieces in order; maybe the FBI is just confused.
  • Maybe different FBI agents and others who worked on the case know different things, and maybe the FBI wants to make sure those different things don’t get clearly associated, because they are contradictory, and because they raise serious doubts that Dr. ivins was the sole perpetrator, or even involved at all.
  • Maybe it’s very hard for the FBI to explain their case in any more detail than just blatant assertions, because real proof demands a consistent factual pattern, and those blasted details keep getting in the way of the simple story the FBI wants us to believe.
  • Maybe the whole investigation was compromised by forces not unlike those I described in my novel CASE CLOSED, and the FBI and others are terrified that the real truth will emerge.

Absent full disclosure, and certification of that full disclosure by someone who is widely trusted, the FBI’s version of this case will never be accepted by anyone who understands the many glaring holes and inconsistencies they have put forth over the years.

Here’s what we need …

  • We need a comprehensive report from the NAS that reaches into all the scientific issues, not just the ones the FBI wants to focus on.
  • We need the NAS, despite its protestations to the contrary, to render judgment as to whether the science does in fact lead exclusively to Dr. Bruce Ivins, as the FBI claims.
  • We need Congressman Rush Holt’s Anthrax Investigation Commission
  • We need Congressman John Conyers to move Congressman Holt’s bill from its stalled position in the House Judiciary Committee (of which Conyers is Chairman) into law.
  • We need the press and media in this country to stop accepting the FBI’s spoon fed conclusions and do some real investigative reporting.

Why do we need all this, you ask. The case is 8 years old. It’s over.

  • If the real perpetrators have not been apprehended, the case is not over.
  • If we don’t know for sure where the attack anthrax came from and how it was prepared, the case is not over.
  • If we’re not convinced that there wasn’t an FBI cover up directed from higher up in the government, the case cannot be over.

Even if the FBI now finally “closes” the case, it cannot be a CASE CLOSED until we know what needs to be known.

Posted in * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

* In addition to asking the Attorney General to act, Congressman Conyers should move Congressman Rush Holt’s bill to create an Anthrax Investigation Commission

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 26, 2009

WHY did the FBI fail to solve the 2001 anthrax case?CASE CLOSED

WHO had the power to divert the FBI from the truth?

CASE CLOSED offers a fictional scenario that answers those questions

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon

.


Rep. Conyers

Rep. Conyers

.

In addition to asking the Attorney General to act,

Congressman Conyers should move

Congressman Rush Holt’s bill

to create an Anthrax Investigation Commission

.

AP reports (7-24-09) …

  • The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on Friday urged Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special counsel to examine potential abuses by former President Bush’s administration.
  • Rep.  John Conyers, D-Mich., said in a speech to the National Press Club that Holder ”must appoint a special counsel to review the Bush administration abuses of power and misconduct. A criminal probe — he’s got to do that.”
  • Conyers’ committee has sought an investigation of Bush administration moves criticized by Democrats, including its methods of interrogating foreign detainees, use of warrantless wiretaps, alleged retribution against critics, and allegations that officials intentionally misused intelligence.
  • He said the criminal probe should be accompanied by a ”9/11-type panel” to gather facts and make recommendations on preventing the misuse of power.
  • A Justice Department spokeswoman declined comment. Holder is considering whether to appoint a prosecutor to review the Bush administration’s methods of interrogating suspected terrorists.
  • President Obama has expressed reluctance to conduct a probe into alleged Bush-era abuses and resisted an effort by congressional Democrats to establish a ”truth commission,” saying the nation should be ”looking forward and not backwards.”

read the entire article at … http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/07/24/us/politics/AP-US-Democrats-Bush.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=conyers&st=cse

LMW COMMENT …

To Congressman Conyers’ list should be added the Anthrax Investigation Commission proposed by Congressman Rush Holt. The legislation which would create this Commission is currently held in Congressman Conyers’ own Judiciary Committee.

Why hasn’t Congressman Conyers advanced this legislation?

It is abundantly clear that the FBI’s case against Dr. Bruce Ivins is far from compelling, and it seems clear that Dr. Ivins could not have been the sole perpetrator of the anthrax attacks, if he was involved at all.

What is the FBI hiding?

Why did the FBI fail to solve the anthrax case?

Who benefitted from the failure to solve the case?

Who had the power to divert the FBI’s investigation?

I address these questions in my novel CASE CLOSED, which presents a fictional scenario to explain the FBI’s failure, a scenario which many readers find “all too plausible.”

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon

CASE CLOSED


Posted in * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

* tracking Dr. Ivins’ RMR-1029 anthrax; more questions for UM and LSU researchers

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 28, 2009

… why the FBI failed to solve the 2001 anthrax caseCASE CLOSED

* purchase CASE CLOSED (paperback)

* see CASE CLOSED VIDEO on YouTube

Dr. Bruce ivins

Dr. Bruce Ivins


tracking Dr. Ivins’ RMR-1029 anthrax;

more questions for UM and LSU researchers


The following email was sent to researchers who performed anthrax vaccine research at the University of Michigan (UM) and Louisiana State University  (LSU) in 2001 …

Dr. James Baker has graciously replied to my earlier questions, stating …

  • That work was done
    • at USAMRIID by a microbiologist under Dr. Ivins direct supervision
    • and at LSU under the direction of Dr. Hugh Jones.
  • There was never any ‘distribution’ of anthrax and all the work done at UM used simulant organisms.
  • I apologize if the citation was confusing.

Dr. Baker’s answer has been posted to the CASE CLOSED blog. There is a comment posted to that article (see … DXer said June 27, 2009 at 6:47 pm), which includes citations from various patent applications and other materials, and asks the following questions, which I am forwarding to you

  1. When was the research at USAMRIID done? What month(s) and year(s)?
  2. When was the research at LSU done?
  3. Who was the microbiologist who worked under the supervision of Bruce Ivins at the BL-3 lab at USAMRIID?
  4. Who were the NanoBio scientists who worked under the supervision of Dr. Martin Hugh-Jones at LSU?
  5. Was Bruce Ivins-supplied virulent Ames at LSU?
  6. If so, was it still in existence at the time of the subpoenas during the mid-October 2001 through February 2002?
  7. What do the LSU researchers, including FBI genetics consultant Kimothy Smith, say about whether virulent Ames was at LSU and, if so, whether any supplied by Bruce Ivins was provided in response to the subpoena.
  8. What does Pamala Coker say? (she would have taken over by the time of the subpoena from Kimothy)

You may wonder why I am asking these questions. Who am I, and what right do I have to bother you so many years after these events took place?

CASE CLOSEDI am a novelist, the author of CASE CLOSED, which presents a fictional scenario to explain why the FBI failed to solve the anthrax case. I started the CASE CLOSED blog to promote the novel, but it has taken on a life of its own as a forum for those who don’t believe the FBI’s accusation of Dr. Ivins (and a few who do) to present and argue their positions. This has stimulated me to continue to seek answers.

The FBI’s case simply does not wash. Why?

The central problem is that the FBI accused Dr. Ivins, claiming he is the sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks, without ever proving its case. It is very convenient to the FBI to have charged a dead man, eight days after his alleged suicide, since this means they never have to go into court and actually prove their case.

The FBI has ever since their announcement refused to answer questions, even those from Congressmen and Senators. Many people, including scientists, journalists, Congressmen and Senators, have publicly expressed their doubts about the FBI’s conclusions. The FBI has presented no witnesses and no physical evidence to support its case against Dr. Ivins. More pertinent to the questions included here is that the FBI has never explained how it excluded other research labs as potential sources of the attack anthrax.

RMR-1029 log - p.1

RMR-1029 log - p.1

The CASE CLOSED blog has now obtained and published Dr. Ivins’ RMR-1029 inventory logs …

https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/dr-bruce-ivins-rmr-1029-inventory-records-pursuant-to-an-foia-request/

It is the intent of the CASE CLOSED blog to track down, to the extent possible, and to eliminate, to the extent possible, other potential sources of RMR-1029 anthrax which might have been diverted and modified for use in the 2001 attacks.

So … if you have answers to any of the questions above, I look forward to your responses.

LEW WEINSTEIN

Posted in * anthrax science, * FBI refusal to testify, * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation, * recent anthrax news, Ames anthrax | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 47 Comments »

* do you want the Anthrax Commission to happen? Here’s how you can help

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 26, 2009

CASE CLOSED by Lewis WeinsteinCC - front cover - small

… explores the FBI’s failed investigation of the 2001 anthrax case

* purchase CASE CLOSED (paperback)

* see CASE CLOSED VIDEO on YouTube

***

do you want Congressman Holt’s Anthrax Commission to happen?

Here’s how you can help

***

Congressman Holt

Congressman Holt

On March 3, 2009, Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ http://holt.house.gov/), whose district included the Hamilton Post Office which was infested with anthrax and subsequently closed for nearly three and a half years, introduced the Anthrax Attacks Investigation Act of 2009, legislation that would establish a Congressional commission to investigate the 2001 anthrax attacks and the federal government’s response and investigation of the attacks.

Co-sponsors of the bill were …

The Anthrax Attacks Investigation Act of 2009 was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, where it remains today. The House Judiciary Committee is a busy place; there are hundreds of bills competing for attention. What can those of us who want this Anthrax Commission to happen do?

We can contact our local representatives who are

  • members of the House Judiciary Committee (see below)
  • or who sponsored the bill (see above)
  • … It is a fact of political life that Congressmen respond to people who live in their districts; most Members of Congress will not even accept emails from people who don’t live in their district.

Suggested approach to your Congressman or Congresswoman …

  • Many scientists, journalists, and other Congressmen and Senators do not believe the FBI has made a credible case against Dr. Bruce Ivins as the sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks.
  • If Ivins is not the sole perpetrator (or invoved at all), then one or more perpetrators are still at large and we don’t know yet who committed that terrorist attack on America … or why
  • Does Congressman/Congresswoman xxxxxxx believe the FBI’s assertion that Dr. Bruce Ivins is the sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks?
  • What will Congressman/Congresswoman xxxxxxxx do to get the  Anthrax Attacks Investigation Act of 2009 passed in the Judiciary Committee and brought to the House floor for a vote … in 2009?

You might also mention that considerable information and a variety of views on the 2001 anthrax attacks can be found at the CASE CLOSED blog at … https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/

After you contact your representative, or try to, post a comment on this blog and tell us what happened.

  • Did you get a favorable response?
  • Did you get ignored?

for members of the House Judiciary Committee or sponsors of the bill …

  • Click on the link next to your member’s name; you will go directly to that member’s web site.
  • Look on your member’s site for the ways to contact your representative
  • Contact BOTH the DC office and the local district office nearest to you.
  • Send an email, talk to a staffer, make your views known.
  • Insist on getting answers

House Judiciary Committee

Members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee


Democrats

*********************

Hon. Conyers Jr.
Chairman
(D) Michigan, 14th

Hon. Berman
(D) California, 28th

Hon. Boucher
(D) Virginia, 9th

Hon. Nadler
(D) New York, 8th

Hon. Scott
(D) Virginia, 3rd

Hon. Watt
(D) North Carolina, 12th

Hon. Lofgren
(D) California, 16th

Hon. Jackson Lee
(D) Texas, 18th

Hon. Waters
(D) California, 35th

Hon. Delahunt
(D) Massachusetts, 10th

Hon. Wexler
(D) Florida, 19th

Hon. Cohen
(D) Tennessee, 9th

Hon. Johnson
(D) Georgia, 4th

Hon. Pierluisi
(D) Puerto Rico, Resident Commissioner

Hon. Quigley
(D) Illinois, 5th

Hon. Gutierrez
(D) Illinois, 4th

Hon. Sherman
(D) California, 27th

Hon. Baldwin
(D) Wisconsin, 2nd

Hon. Gonzalez
(D) Texas, 20th

Hon. Weiner
(D) New York, 9th

Hon. Schiff
(D) California, 29th

Hon. Sánchez
(D) California, 39th

Hon. Wasserman Schultz
(D) Florida, 20th

Hon. Maffei
(D) New York, 25th


Republicans

*******************

Hon. Smith
Ranking Member
(R) Texas, 21st

Hon. Sensenbrenner Jr.
(R) Wisconsin, 5th

Hon. Coble
(R) North Carolina, 6th

Hon. Gallegly
(R) California, 24th

Hon. Goodlatte
(R) Virginia, 6th

Hon. Lungren
(R) California, 3rd

Hon. Issa
(R) California, 49th

Hon. Forbes
(R) Virginia, 4th

Hon. King
(R) Iowa, 5th

Hon. Franks
(R) Arizona, 2nd

Hon. Gohmert
(R) Texas, 1st

Hon. Jordan
(R) Ohio, 4th

Hon. Poe
(R) Texas, 2nd

Hon. Chaffetz
(R) Utah, 3rd

Hon. Rooney
(R) Florida, 16th

Hon. Harper
(R) Mississippi, 3rd

Posted in * FBI refusal to testify, * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation | Tagged: , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

* Who will lift the veil of secrecy regarding the FBI investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 16, 2009

Lew’s new novel CASE CLOSEDCC - front cover - small

explores the FBI’s failed investigation of the 2001 anthrax case …

* see CASE CLOSED VIDEO on YouTube

* purchase CASE CLOSED (paperback)

* Who will lift the veil of secrecy …

It seems that the FBI’s stonewalling tactics are working just fine for them. Congress is accomplishing little, despite many strong statements and excellent questions, to lift the veil of secrecy which surrounds the failed FBI anthrax investigation.

grassley-holt-nadler-conyers

The House Judiciary Committee (Congressmen Conyers and Nadler) received answers from the FBI to its September 2008 questions …  seven months later in April 2009. The answers were apparently never made public until I did so on this blog last Friday, after receiving a copy from the Committee staff with help from Congressman Conyer’s office.

Beyond the excessive time the FBI took in answering, the FBI’s answers are so unresponsive as to be insulting and demeaning both to the Congress and to the American people.

I again called Congressman Holt’s office (his staffer Patrick Eddington) to ask the status of the legislation that would create an Anthrax Investigative Commission. Again, not the courtesy of a return call.

I again called Senator Grassley’s office (Brian Downey at the Senate Finance Committee) to ask if Senator Grassley has ever received an answer to the 18 questions he asked the FBI last year. Again, not the courtesy of a return call.

The silence of the media on this story is also surprising.

It is a potentially blockbuster story: The FBI hides the truth in the anthrax investigation and Congress states its discontent but accomplishes little to force the FBI to come clean under oath. And what the FBI is hiding could be of huge consequence to America’s future security.

Which investigative reporter will break this story?

* related post … * the FBI’s answers to questions posed by members of the House Judiciary Committee in September 2008 as to certain aspects of the FBI’s investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks are insulting and demeaning to the U.S. Congress and to the American people

This post gives the House Judiciary Committee’s questions and the FBI’s verbatim answers.


Posted in * FBI refusal to testify, * questioning the FBI's anthrax investigation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

* the FBI’s answers to questions posed by members of the House Judiciary Committee in September 2008 as to certain aspects of the FBI’s investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks are insulting and demeaning to the U.S. Congress and to the American people

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 12, 2009


* the FBI’s answers …

Congressman Conyers’ office referred me to Renata Strauss at the House Judiciary Committee of which Congressman Conyers is Chairman. Ms. Strauss provided a copy of the FBI’s answers, dated April 17, 2009, to questions posed by members of the Committee during testimony of FBI Director Robert Mueller on September 16, 2008. Three of those questions had to do with the FBI’s anthrax investigation.

Rep. Conyers

Rep. Conyers

Question Posed bv Chairman Conyers …

When did the FBI originally inform the Defense Department that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the prime suspect in the Amerithrax investigation?

This is the FBI’s complete verbatim response:

  • In October 2007, when Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors and FBI SAs (Special Agents) accumulated sufficient evidence to demonstrate probable cause to believe Ivins was involved in the mailings, the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) was notified of this possible involvement.
  • USAMRIID was additionally notified when a United States District Judge approved search warrants for Ivins’ home, office, and vehicles, and it is the FBI’s understanding that USAMRIID immediately restricted Ivins’ access to areas containing biological agents and toxins.
  • The Department of Defense (DoD) was notified when the FBI began the anthrax investigation, well before Ivins was identified as the main suspect, and worked cooperatively with FBI investigators throughout the investigation.
  • From 2002 through 2005, the FBI had numerous contacts with USAMRIID regarding those who had access to the Ames strain of anthrax.
  • In November 2006, the focus of the anthrax investigation was on the universe of employees who had access to a flask of Bacillis anthracis spores at USAMRIID.
  • As the investigation continued, senior personnel at USAMRIID were informed in January 2007 that the spores in the letter attacks genetically matched spores at USAMRIID and that the FBI believed someone from USAMRIID was the mailer.
  • Senior officials at USAMRIID offered continued cooperation in the investigation and took steps both to increase operational security and to assist the investigation.
Nadler

Rep. Nadler

Questions Posed by Representative Nadler …

Rep. Nadler: What is the percentage of weight of the silicon in the powder used in the 2001 anthrax attacks?

This is the FBI’s complete verbatim response:

  • FBI Laboratory results indicated that the spore powder on the Leahy letter contained 14,479 ppm of silicon (1.4%).
  • The spore powder on the New York Post letter was found to have silicon present in the sample; however, due to the limited amount of material, a reliable quantitative measurement was not possible.
  • Insufficient quantities of spore powder on both the Daschle and Brokaw letters precluded analysis of those samples.

Rep. Nadler: How, on what basis, and using what evidence did the FBI conclude that none of the laboratories it investigated were in any way the sources of the powder used in the 2001 anthrax attacks, except the U.S. Army Laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland? Please include in your answer why laboratories that have publicly identified as having the equipment and personnel to make anthrax powder, such as the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Grounds in Dugway, Utah and the Battelle Memorial Institute in Jefferson, Ohio, were excluded as possible sources.

This is the FBI’s complete verbatim response:

  • Initially, the spores contained in the envelopes could only be identified as Bacillus Anthracis (Anthrax).
  • They were then sent to an expert, who “strain typed” the spores as Ames.
  • Once the strain type was identified, the FBI began to look at what facilities had access to the Ames strain.
  • At the same time, science experts began to develop the ability to identify morphological variances contained in the mailed anthrax.
  • Over the next six years, new scientific developments allowed experts from the FBI Laboratory and other nationally recognized scientific experts to advance microbial science.
  • This advancement allowed the FBI to positively link specific morphs found in the mailed anthrax to morphs in a single flask at USAMRIID.
  • Using records associated with the flask, the FBI was able to track the transfer of sub samples from the flask located at USAMRIID to two other facilities.
  • Using various methods, the FBI investigated the two facilities that received samples from the parent flask and eliminated individuals from those facilities as suspects because, even if a laboratory facility had the equipment and personnel to make anthrax powder, this powder would not match the spores in the mailed envelopes if that lab had never received a transfer of anthrax from the parent flask.

LMW COMMENT

If you carefully parse the answers to Congressman Conyers’ question, you will see that the FBI said essentially nothing. The words “prime suspect” which were the essence of the question appear nowhere in the answer. Instead there is reference to “probable cause to believe Ivins was involved in the mailings” and “numerous contacts with USAMRIID regarding those who had access to the Ames strain of anthrax” and that (in January 2007!) “the FBI believed someone from USAMRIID was the mailer.” No mention is made of the fact that Dr. Hatfill, also of USAMRIID, was considered a “person of interest” right up until the FBI paid him $5.8 to settle his lawsuit, in the summer of 2008, shortly after which Dr. Ivins is alleged to have committed suicide.

These are not answers to the simple question that Congressman Conyers asked.

Regarding the first of Representative Nadler’s question, the FBI mentions only four letters, and of those, the percentage of silicon is indicated just once. The other anthrax letters are not even mentioned, so the FBI doesn’t tell the Congressman if they knew what the silicon content was in those letters.

The FBI never answered Rep. Nadler’s question as to how other laboratories were excluded as possible sources, never mentioned any other laboratories which were investigated and then excluded, and totally ignored Rep. Nadler’s specific question regarding the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Grounds in Dugway, Utah and the Battelle Memorial Institute in Jefferson, Ohio.

If I was a U.S. Congressman asking the questions posed by Representatives Conyers and Nadler and receiving the answers given by the FBI, after six full months had elapsed, I would be absolutely furious. It is insulting and demeaning for the FBI to answer in such an incomplete and unforthcoming manner. How is the Congress to perform its constitutional oversight role in the face of such intransigence?

It is impossible not to believe that, even in these simple questions dealing with relatively small parts of the FBI’s enormously extensive and expensive anthrax investigation, the FBI is purposely refusing to tell Congress what went on.

Why does Congress, and why should the American people, put up with this refusal of the FBI to answer straightforward questions about an investigation that cost the American taxpayers millions of dollars and has failed to produce conclusions which are acceptable to almost anyone?

What dark secrets is the FBI hiding?  Why didn’t the FBI solve the case?

It is terrifying to think that the answer I proposed in my novel CASE CLOSED, a fictional scenario I invented in my imagination, with no access to any secret documents or witnesses, might indeed include elements of what actually happened.  Did the FBI fail to solve the case, and does the FBI still to this day refuse to reveal what they learned and when they learned it, because they were told not to solve the case?

That is so frightening I hope with all my heart that it is not true.

I have again asked the person I was referred to in Congressman Holt’s office (Patrick Eddington), by voice mail and email, the status of the legislation which would establish a Commission to investigate the anthrax case and the FBI investigation. But why should we believe that the FBI would be any more forthcoming at a Commission investigation than they have been so far before various committees of Congress?

******

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* 4 Congressional offices don’t seem to care if the FBI ever answers Congress’s questions about the 2001 anthrax attack

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 12, 2009

Lew’s new novel CASE CLOSEDCC - front cover - small

explores the FBI’s failed investigation of the 2001 anthrax case …

* see CASE CLOSED VIDEO on YouTube

* purchase CASE CLOSED (paperback)

* Congressional offices don’t seem to care …

So far, Congress seems to be just as secretive as the FBI regarding what really happened in the investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks.

I have called the offices of …

  • Senator Charles Grassley
  • Congressman Rush Holt
  • Congressman Jerrold Nadler
  • Congressman John Conyers

grassley-holt-nadler-conyers

I have left detailed messages in all 4 offices. My questions were quite simple …

  • has the FBI answered the questions your Senator/Congressman asked during 2008?  … YES? NO?
  • if so, can you share those answers with me … YES? NO?
  • if the FBI has not answered, what is your Senator/Congressman doing about it?  … SOMETHING? NOTHING?

So far, not one of these offices has given me the courtesy of any response at all.

It seems to me that the Congressional noise about the FBI’s investigation may be just that – noise.

Ask the questions, grab a few headlines … forget about it. And I think that’s a disgrace.

In 2001, someone carried out a mass murder using anthrax. Five people died, 17 more were infected, the country was thrown into panic.

There seems to be a general concensus on this blog and elsewhere that the FBI has not solved the case, that Dr. Bruce Ivins is not the sole perpetrator and perhaps not involved at all.

Congress doesn’t seem to care.

This complete lack of response from 4 Congressional offices makes me think that the premise I proposed in my just-published novel CASE CLOSED may be even more plausible than I supposed when I constructed my fictional scenario.

My premise in CASE CLOSED is that the FBI didn’t solve the case because it was told not to.

Wouldn’t it be absolutely terrifying if what I wrote as fiction turns out to be true?

And how will we ever know, since Congress doesn’t seem to care if it ever gets answers to the (excellent) questions it has raised?

CASE CLOSED

* purchase CASE CLOSED (paperback)

* see CASE CLOSED VIDEO on YouTube

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* FBI stonewalling seems to be working

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 4, 2009

LMW COMMENT …  

Here’s an update on my efforts to learn whether Congress has succeeded in extracting answers to its questions regarding the FBI  investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks …

Congress

Senator Grassley … I have been calling and emailing to this office for almost a month now, without receiving the courtesy of a return call. I have been told that Brian Downey (at the Senate Finance Committee) is the person to talk to, and yesterday I left yet another message for him. I don’t know why the Finance Committee has oversight responsibility in this matter, but that’s what I’ve been told.

Congressman Conyers … This was the best response I got. I was referred to a specific person at the House Judiciary Committee, and I left a message for a Renata Strauss.

Congressman Nadler … I spoke to Max who took my questions and said he would try to find someone who could answer, but even he seemed doubtful.

Congressman Holt … I was referred to a Patrick Eddington and left a voice message for him. I am specifically looking for information about the progress of the Anthrax Attacks Investigation Act of 2009, legislation introduced in March 2009 by Congressman Holt and others that would establish a Congressional commission to investigate the 2001 anthrax attacks and the federal government’s response and investigation of the attacks. 

It seems to me that the questions I’m asking are rather easy to answer …

  • Did the FBI answer specific questions put forward by the legislators?  … yes or no
  • If so, can you share their answers? … yes or no
  • If not, what are you doing about this apparent refusal of a Federal agency to respond to Congressional oversight? ... something or nothing

It may be too soon to draw conclusions, and I will continue making a pest of myself in these various Congressional offices, but so far would it not be fair to say that the FBI stonewalling seems to be working? FBI Director Meuller just seems to ignore questions, and he seems to be getting away with it.

I’ll try again tomorrow. Any suggestions?

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* Congress tries to scrutinize the FBI’s anthrax investigation … so far with little success

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 2, 2009

 

LMW COMMENT

  • It is almost 8 years since the 2001 anthrax attacks, and yet it is abundantly clear that the FBI has not solved the case. The FBI contention that the deceased Dr. Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator of these attacks would really be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.
  • Members of Congress have been seeking to get the facts from the FBI for many years, and are frustrated by the stonewalling of FBI Director Meuller. There are several initiatives underway, however, which may yet throw some light on whatever dark secrets the FBI is intent on keeping hidden.
  • It is my task this week to try to get updates on the status of various Congressional inquiries into the FBI’s anthrax investigation. As a prelude to these updates (if indeed any are forthcoming), I thought it would be helpful to summarize what has been said and written on this matter. Here is what I have found so far (readers of this blog – please send me more) …

3/3/09 – Holt introduces Anthrax Commission Legislation … Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) today introduced the Anthrax Attacks Investigation Act of 2009, legislation that would establish a Congressional commission to investigate the 2001 anthrax attacks and the federal government’s response to and investigation of the attacks. … “All of us – but especially the families of the victims of the anthrax attacks – deserve credible answers about how the attacks happened and whether the case really is closed,” Holt said. … Under Holt’s legislation, the commission would be comprised of no more than six members of from the same political party. The commission would hold public hearings, except in situations where classified information would be discussed. … The Commission’s final report would be due 18 months after the Commission begins operations. … “Myriad questions remain about the anthrax attacks and the government’s bungled response to the attacks,” Holt said. “One of the most effective oversight mechanisms we can employ to get answers to those questions is a 9/11 style Commission.”

March 2009 – Nadler and Holt call for investigative commission:This week, two Democratic congressmen, Jerry Nadler and Rush Holt, whose districts were affected by the attacks, introduced legislation calling for the creation of a 9/11-style commission to independently investigate the attacks because they say the nation deserves to know whether the case is truly solved.

September 2008 – Congressman Rush Holt: ”I just see so many loose ends in the case that I question whether the FBI is in the right frame of mind to bring this matter to the kind of closure that the public needs.”

9/16/2008 – House Judiciary Committee (reported by Glenn Greenwald)

  • House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (Mich.) and two other Democrats on the panel have signaled they will scrutinize the FBI’s work today.
  • This month, they wrote FBI Director Robert Mueller asking about missteps in identifying the anthrax strain used in the attacks and tracing it back to Ivins.
  • But after just an hour of the hearing, it is painfully clear that — as is true in virtually all of these hearings now before a pitifully powerless Congress —Mueller won’t provide the Committee with even a single answer of import, won’t even pretend to, and the Committee has no intent to compel him to do so.
  • the hearing began with an angry statement from Chairman Conyers about the fact that the FBI, in general, simply ignores all inquiries for information and answers from the Committee for months and months and months and then shows up at these hearings unprepared to answer even the questions they are advised will be asked, knowing that each member only has five minutes and can’t actually accomplish anything.
  • (Congressman Jerrold) Nadler (D-NY) than asked one of the most central questions in the anthrax case:
    • he pointed out that the facilities that (unlike Ft. Detrick) actually have the equipment and personnel to prepare dry, silica-coated anthrax are the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground and the Battelle Corporation, the private CIA contractor that conducts substantial research into highly complex strains of anthrax.
    • Nadler asked how the FBI had eliminated those institutions as the culprits behind the attack.
    • Mueller’s response was this: I don’t know the answers to those questions as to how we eliminated Dugway and Battelle. I’ll have to get back to you at some point.
  • Nadler then ended by asking whether Mueller would object to an independent commission or other body to review the FBI’s evidence and its accusations against Ivins and whether the FBI would cooperate with such an independent inquiry.
    • Mueller pretended to answer by telling Nadler that the FBI intended to ask some members of the National Academy of Science to review the FBI’s scientific claims, but that didn’t answer the question as to whether the FBI opposed a full-scale independent review of the FBI’s case and whether the FBI would cooperate with it.

9/16/2008 – post by Meryl Nass, M.D: 

  • Eleven or twelve members attended the House Judiciary Committee’s FBI oversight hearing today.
  • Repeatedly, they expressed disappointment with the FBI’s continuing failure to answer their questions, and to respond to written questions.
  • (FBI Director) Mueller spoke in generalities, failing to answer specific questions.
  • Only Rep. Nadler asked about anthrax, and to his credit inquired pointedly about the Silicon signature and weaponization. Mueller had no answers.
  • It’s FBI’s investigation that is unsatisfactory in every way, requiring an independent appraisal.
  • Don’t be fooled by an expensive and time-consuming NAS smokescreen.

September 2008 – reported by Glenn Greenwald (salon.com) One of the two Senate targets of the attack, Sen. Pat Leahy, flatly stated at a Senate hearing last September that he does not believe the FBI’s case against Ivins, and emphatically does not believe that Ivins acted alone.  … GOP Sen. Arlen Specter, at the same hearing, told the FBI they could never have obtained a conviction against Ivins in court based on their case — riddled, as it is, with so much doubt — and he also demanded an independent evaluation of the FBI’s evidence. http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/03/04/anthrax/ … Grassley sent a letter to the FBI a month ago demanding answers to a whole slew of questions, and as he is asking them, Mueller — as he did yesterday — continues to say that he doesn’t have the answers and will obtain them at some point. … The Senators are indignant over this, but don’t appear to intend to do anything (just as was true for the House members yesterday), though Leahy is at least demanding that Mueller obtain these answers not at some point in the indefinite future, but today, during the breaks. The bottom line is that it is quite extraordinary that the FBI has claimed it has identified with certainty the sole culprit in the anthrax attacks, but so many key Senators, from both parties, simply don’t believe it, and are saying so explicitly. … Leahy’s rather dark suggestion that there were others involved in these attacks — likely at a U.S. Army facility or key private CIA contractor — is particularly notable. … It has been crystal clear from the beginning that the FBI’s case is filled with glaring holes, that their thuggish behavior towards their only suspect drove him to commit suicide and thus is unable to defend himself, and yet, to this day, the FBI continues to conceal the evidence in its possession and is stonewalling any and all efforts to scrutinize its claims. … It takes a lot for Senators from both parties to so openly and explicitly say they don’t believe the FBI’s definitive accusations in such a high-profile case. Perhaps that will be understood as a reflection of how dubious the FBI’s case here is. … these attacks were — as our own Government claims — ones that originated from U.S. Army facilities and perpetrated by U.S. Government employees, it ought to be understood as exactly that. http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/09/17/senate_judiciary/index.html  September 2008 – Last week, staff members for Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) pressed U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor and two FBI officials to say when the anthrax case will be closed and why investigators had fixed on Ivins six months after notifying him in April 2007 that he was not a target. Investigators told congressional aides that they are still pursuing leads in the “Amerithrax” investigation, sources said.

September 2008 – Senator Grassley letter to FBI Director Mueller: Here are the 18 questions asked in Senator Grassley’s letter …

  1. What is the date (month and year) that the FBI determined that the anthrax came from a specified flask in Ivins’s lab (”RMR-1029″)?
  2. When (month and year) did the FBI determine that Dr. Hatfill never had access to the anthrax used in the killings?
  3. How did the FBI determine that Dr. Hatfill did not have access to the anthrax used in the killings?  Was that because the FBI determined that Dr. Hatfill no longer worked at USAMRIID when the powder was made?
  4. Was Dr. Hatfill or his counsel informed that Dr. Hatfill had been cleared of any involvement in the anthrax killings before the Department of Justice offered a settlement to him?  Was he informed before signing the settlement agreement with him?  If not, please explain why not.
  5. Was Judge Walton (the judge overseeing the Privacy Act litigation) ever informed that Dr. Hatfill had been eliminated as a suspect in the anthrax killings?  If so, when.  If not, please explain why not.
  6. Was Dr. Ivins ever polygraphed in the course of the investigation?  If so, please provide the dates and results of the exam(s).  If not, please explain why not.
  7. Of the more than 100 people who had access to RMR 1029, how many were provided custody of samples sent outside Ft. Detrick?  Of those, how many samples were provided to foreign laboratories?
  8. If those with access to samples of RMR 1029 in places other than Ft. Detrick had used the sample to produce additional quantities of anthrax, would that anthrax appear distinguishable from RMR 1029?
  9. How can the FBI be sure that none of the samples sent to other labs were used to create additional quantities of anthrax that would appear distinguishable from RMR 1029?
  10. Please describe the methodology and results of any oxygen isotope measurements taken to determine the source of water used to grow the spores used in the anthrax attacks.
  11. Was there video equipment which would record the activities of Dr. Ivins at Ft. Detrick on the late nights he was there on the dates surrounding the mailings?  If so, please describe what examination of the video revealed.
  12. When did the FBI first learn of Dr. Ivins’ late-night activity in the lab around the time of the attacks?  If this is powerful circumstantial evidence of his guilt, then why did this information not lead the FBI to focus attention on him, rather than Dr. Hatfill, much sooner in the investigation?
  13. When did the FBI first learn that Dr. Ivins was prescribed medications for various symptoms of mental illness?  If this is circumstantial evidence of his guilt, then why did this information not lead the FBI to focus attention on him, rather than Dr. Hatfill, much sooner in the investigation? Of the 100 individuals who had access to RMR 1029, were any others found to suffer from mental illness, be under the care of a mental health professional, or prescribed anti-depressant/anti-psychotic medications?   If so, how many?
  14. What role did the FBI play in conducting and updating the background examination of Dr. Ivins in order for him to have clearance and work with deadly pathogens at Ft. Detrick?
  15. After the FBI identified Dr. Ivins as the sole suspect, why was he not detained?  Did the U.S. Attorney’s Office object to seeking an arrest or material witness warrant?  If not, did anyone at FBI order a slower approach to arresting Ivins?
  16. Had an indictment of Dr. Ivins been drafted before his death?  If so, what additional information did it contain beyond the affidavits already released to the public?  If not, then when, if ever, had a decision been made to seek an indictment from the grand jury?
  17. According to family members, FBI agents publicly confronted and accused Dr. Ivins of the attacks, showed pictures of the victims to his daughter, and offered the $2.5 million reward to his son in the months leading up to his suicide.  These aggressive, overt surveillance techniques appear similar to those used on Dr. Hatfill with the apparent purpose of intimidation rather than legitimate investigation.  Please describe whether and to what degree there is any truth to these claims.
  18. What additional documents will be released, if any, and when will they be released?

August 2008 – Library of Congress – Senate Finance Committee – Mishandling of Anthrax Investigation  Senator Grassley has continued to follow closely the FBI investigation of the mailings of letters laced with anthrax to several targets in the United States, including members of Congress and the national media. Until late 2008, the investigation had yielded no criminal charges. Senator Grassley had been critical that the FBI’s apparent mishandling of the investigation was a result of the FBI’s institutional resistance to criticism and by the misallocation of resources toward protecting the FBI’s image rather than protecting the United States. Senator Grassley also expressed dissatisfaction with the FBI’s refusal to provide Congress with periodic briefings on the status of the investigation. He requested both a briefing on the status of the investigation and a number of documents and records relating to the case. The Attorney General responded with an initial refusal to provide either the requested documents or a briefing on the status of the investigation, citing the Department of Justice’s policy against disclosing non-public information concerning pending law enforcement activities and prosecutions. However, following additional negotiations, the FBI Director provided a briefing to Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and Ranking Member Arlen Specter, as well as Senator Grassley. The initial portion of the briefing was open to staff. However, the later portion of the briefing was Members-only. Since Dr. Ivins death, the FBI has provided several briefings for the staffs of Senator Grassley and other Members of Congress. However, given his misgivings about the FBI’s handling of the case, Senator Grassley will continue to conduct oversight of the FBI’s handling of the investigation. Significant questions remain unanswered about the scientific evidence relied upon by the FBI, why that evidence failed to lead them to Dr. Ivins much earlier in the investigation, how the FBI entrusted Dr. Ivins with samples of the attack material during the investigation, and when the FBI first learned of Dr. Ivins’ mental health issues. Senator Grassley has called for an independent inquiry to assure the public that the FBI’s decision to close its investigation is appropriate.

August 2008 – interview of Senator Grassley by Glenn Greenwald (Salon radio):    Sen. Grassley reveals that the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Pat Leahy (of which Grassley is a member), will now hold hearings to investigate the FBI’s case against Bruce Ivins. Grassley demands that the FBI send officials who are able and willing to answer all questions, and also calls for full and complete public disclosure of all of the evidence in the FBI’s possession regarding its investigation.  Grassley: No, and I assume one of the reasons I haven’t (received an answer to my 18 questions) is because in the meantime, the FBI has consented to a hearing that Senator Leahy’s having, and a hearing is one instrument of doing it. If this case is solved the way the FBI wants us to believe that it’s been solved, is it closed? And if it’s closed, then everything ought to be brought out into the open. One of the problems we have right now is, with the FBI, there’s just too much secrecy. Getting all the documents out, getting all the information out is important. … That information, now that the case is closed, ought to be available to the entire public. At the very least it ought to be entitled to anybody that’s got oversight of the FBI if there’s some reason that the entire public should not be notified of it.  … in too many administrations, Republican or Democrat, there has been an effort to not fully cooperate with Congress on hearings. Now, that would tend to be a statement on my part, blaming the executive branch entirely, but I also, as a person who’s been very aggressive in oversight myself, feel that all of Congress has come up short of doing the proper checks and balances of government that our Constitution requires, and doing that through more aggressive oversight. see entire transcript of interview at … http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/radio/2008/08/20/grassley/index1.html

3/11/07 – 60 Minutes interviews Sen. Grassley Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, has looked into the case and has concluded that there was leaking by top officials and that the purpose was not to shut Hatfill down, but to hide the lack of progress in the case. “I believe the extent to which they wanted the public to believe that they were making great progress in this case, and the enormous pressure they had after a few years to show that, yes, that they was very much misleading the public.” http://cbs3.com/topstories/60.Minutes.anthrax.2.281289.html

10/28/06 – Grassley says FBI needs to report on anthrax investigation  By Stella Shaffer RADIO IOWA   Senator Charles Grassley says the FBI’s failed investigation of a 2001 bio-terrorism attack on congress could signal bigger problems.  … Grassley says he’s concerned the FBI hasn’t solved the case. But he’s even more unhappy that they refuse to brief congress on the investigation. … Grassley sees only one reason for the silence: “If there were some sort of secret thing that was bringing them close to somebody and they didn’t want to let them know they were hot on somebody’s trail.”  … But Grassley says the FBI could make that clear in a report, thereby giving Congress an update and showing they were making progress. Grassley, who is a Republican, says he thinks government should be “transparent” and citizens have a right to know what’s happening particularly when FBI “headquarters is involved and trying to cover up what FBI agents at the grassroots are doing and they’re worried about the public relations of the FBI and that’s when they wind up getting egg on their faces.”  … Grassley charges that the secrecy is proof that the culture of the FBI is not changing like it should be, or as he’s been promised. … Grassley’s sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales requesting numerous documents and a full briefing on the anthrax investigation. … Grassley, who’s long been a critic of the FBI, says its refusal to submit to congressional oversight has resulted in an inability to prevent crime and terrorism, and has led to misconduct by senior staff members.

10/24/06 – Jim Popkin, NBC News Investigative Unit: 

  • Late Monday, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a damning six-page letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales requesting a briefing on the FBI investigation, now five years old.  The letter faults the agency for its handling of the case, saying “the FBI has little in the way of results to show for its work.”
  • Meanwhile, in an unusual move, the FBI’s top lobbyist has informed members of Congress that the bureau will no longer brief them on the case.
  • Meanwhile, the FBI recently installed a new team of top investigators to head up the anthrax case. Sources familiar with the case tell NBC News that the new managers are looking anew at all possible suspects, with a much broader focus than before.

9/28/2006 – FBI Letter to Congressman Rush Holt: listed on FBI’s Amerithrax site but no link provided to actual letter

November 2001 – FBI Letter Addressed to Senator Patrick Leahy listed on FBI’s Amerithrax site but no link provided to actual letter

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