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View Full Version : Anthrax Attacks Were Part & Parcel Of 911



Peter Lemkin
03-22-2009, 06:49 AM
Remembering the anthrax attack

By Glenn Greenwald | Salon | Feb. 4, 2009

One of the best and smartest members in the U.S. Congress, Rep. Rush Holt, has rejected the "look to the future - not the past" Orwellian mantra, at least when it comes to the highly consequential though still unresolved anthrax attack:

HOLT INTRODUCES ANTHRAX COMMISSION LEGISLATION

Bill Would Create 9/11 Commission-Style Panel to Investigate

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. . . . Holt has consistently raised questions about the federal investigation into 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. . . [t]he commission would hold public hearings, except in situations where classified information would be discussed. The commission would have to consult the National Academies of Sciences for recommendations on scientific staff to serve on the Commission.

I've written repeatedly and at length about the huge questions that still remain with regard to the anthrax attacks, with a particular focus on the early and quite successful efforts (aided by ABC News' Brian Ross) to blame the attacks in the public's mind on Saddam Hussein, followed by the extremely unconvincing FBI assertion last year that it was now-deceased U.S. Army research scientist Bruce Ivins, and Ivins alone, who perpetrated that attack. The FBI's case is riddled with glaring inconsistencies and numerous internal contradictions, enormous evidentiary holes, and pretenses of scientific certainty that are quite dubious (my interview with a scientist specializing in biosecurity over some of the scientific holes in the FBI's case is here). Doubts about the FBI's case continue to emerge.

Holt's skepticism about the FBI's claims is notable for several reasons. It was Holt's Congressional district from which the anthrax letters were apparently sent, and the attacks imposed a serious disruption on the lives of his constituents. More significantly, Holt, who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, is a trained physicist. Before entering Congress, he taught physics as a faculty member at Swarthmore College and also headed the State Department's Nuclear and Scientific Division of the Office of Strategic Forces during the Reagan administration. Both his interest in this matter and his knowledge of it are at least as great as any other member of Congress. That he maintains extreme skepticism over the FBI's case and vehemently believes in the need for an independent investigation should, by itself, be quite compelling to any rational person (I interviewed Holt about the anthrax case in September of last year -- here).

But Holt is hardly alone in the doubts he expresses about the FBI's claim to have solved the anthrax case. An unusually wide and diverse range of even establishment voices have expressed the same doubts.

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. GOP Sen. Charles Grassley has been a long-time skeptic of the FBI's anthrax investigation and has expressed serious doubts about the case against Ivins (see this interview I did with Sen. Grassley last year).

The ultimate establishment organ, The Washington Post Editorial Page, issued numerous editorials expressing serious doubts about the FBI's case against Ivins and called for an independent investigation. The New York Times Editorial Page echoed those views. Even The Wall St. Journal Editorial Page, citing the FBI's "so long and so many missteps," argued that "independent parties need to review all the evidence, especially the scientific forensics" and concluded that "this is an opportunity for Congress to conduct legitimate oversight."

In the wake of the FBI's accusations against Ivins, the science journal Nature flatly declared in its editorial headline -- "Case Not Closed" -- and demanded an independent investigation into the FBI's case. After the FBI publicly disclosed some of its evidence against Ivins, The New York Times reported "growing doubts from scientists about the strength of the government's case." The Baltimore Sun detailed that "scientists and legal experts criticized the strength of the case and cast doubt on whether it could have succeeded." Dr. Alan Pearson, Director of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Control Program at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation -- representative of numerous experts in the field -- expressed many of those scientific doubts and demanded a full investigation.

There may be legitimate grounds for doubting whether an independent, 9/11-type Commission of the type Holt proposes is the ideal tribunal to conduct a real investigation, but it is clearly the best of all the realistic options. The only other plausible alternative -- an investigation by Congress itself -- is far inferior, as anyone who has observed any so-called "Congressional investigation" over the last decade should immediately recognize (here, as but one example, is the account I wrote about a House hearing last September attempting -- with cringe-inducing ineptitude and total futility -- to "grill" FBI Director Robert Mueller about the FBI's case against Ivins). How effective an independent investigative Commission like this will be will depend on the details of its structure -- its subpoena powers, punishments for defiance, and the independence of its members. That Rush Holt will play a key role, if not the key role, in overseeing its creation is a reassuring feature that the bill he introduced can be actually productive.

The importance of full disclosure of all facts surrounding the anthrax attacks cannot be overstated. This was the opposite of a run-of-the-mill crime. To the contrary, the anthrax attacks -- by design, as everyone acknowledges -- had an immense political impact on the country. Contrary to endless claims from Bush supporters that Bush allowed no more terrorist attacks on "the homeland" after 9/11, the anthrax attack was exactly such a terrorist attack.

For reasons I've detailed previously, I actually believe that the anthrax attacks played a larger role than the 9/11 attack itself in elevating America's fear levels to hysterical heights, which in turn put the citizenry into the state of frightened submission that enabled so many of the subsequent events of the Bush presidency. The 9/11 attacks appeared to be a one-time extraordinary event, but it was multi-staged anthrax attacks -- coming a mere four weeks later -- that normalized and personalized the Terrorist threat. As Atrios put it in his inimitably succinct style:

I've long been fascinated by the erasure of the anthrax attacks - which, in their own way, freaked out the country more than 9/11 did* - from our collective memory.

*People object when I suggest this, but while the 9/11 attacks were of course The Big Ones, anthrax was this creepy shit which was KILLING US THROUGH THE MAIL. While most people didn't expect a plane to fly into their building, the anthrax attacks created a heightened sense of OMIGOD THIS COULD HAPPEN TO ME. 9/11 was terrible, but the anthrax attacks were terrifying to people.

And:

Anthrax was what made things like "mobile chemical weapons labs" sound so scary. Not everyone agrees, but I think more than 9/11 the anthrax freaked the country out. 9/11 was horrible, but the anthrax made it seem like we'd reached a new era where some horrible creepy shit was going to happen every day.

And then it was all forgotten.

Whatever one's views are on the abstract 9/11-anthrax comparison, there is no question that the anthrax attacks were a major political crime. According to the FBI, the anthrax letters were directed at U.S. Senators (Leahy and Daschle) due to their political views (specifically their opposition to the Patriot Act, their allegedly "soft on terrorism" approach, and their pro-choice views). And perhaps most importantly, the anthrax attacks -- again, according to the FBI itself -- came from a U.S. Army laboratory, perpetrated by a U.S. Government scientist. As the aforementioned Dr. Pearson put it:

If Ivins was indeed responsible for the attacks, did he have any assistance? Did anyone else at the Army lab or elsewhere have any knowledge of his activities prior to, during, or shortly after the anthrax attacks? . . . .

It appears increasingly likely that the only significant bioterrorism attack in history may have originated from right within the biodefense program of our own country. The implications for our understanding of the bioterrorism threat and for our entire biodefense strategy and enterprise are potentially profound.

Re-read that bolded sentence, which few dispute. The self-evident significance of this case -- combined with the extreme doubts being expressed by a wide range of ideologically diverse (and bipartisan!) establishment sources, along with mainstream scientists of all types -- should make quick support for Holt's bill an easy choice. After all, if Ivins wasn't the culprit and/or didn't perpetrate the attacks by himself, then it means that those who did are still unidentified.

* * * * *

Speaking of investigations, The New York Times today suggests that yesterday's release of those nine bluntly authoritarian Bush DOJ memos is increasing the political pressure for an investigation into crimes by Bush officials. One would hope so (see this Andrew Sullivan post from yesterday as to why there those memos create a heightened urgency for such investigations).

This morning, beginning at 10:00 a.m. EST, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on Sen. Leahy's proposal to create a Truth Commission to investigate detention, interrogation and surveillance crimes of Bush officials. That hearing can be watched here. Unraveling these strings -- patiently and methodically, though relentlessly -- is how one event can lead to another, how one disclosure can lead to others, and the entire ball can become unwound.

Peter Lemkin
03-22-2009, 06:52 AM
source: Raw Story
The results alone don’t necessarily exonerate Ivins

by John Byrne

Poisonous anthrax that killed five Americans in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks doesn’t match bacteria from a flask linked to Bruce Ivins, the researcher who committed suicide after being implicated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a scientist said.

Spores used in the deadly mailings “share a chemical ‘fingerprint’ that is not found in the flask linked to Bruce Ivins,” Roberta Kwok wrote in Nature News, citing Joseph Michael, a scientist at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Michael analyzed letters sent to the New York Post and offices of Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, and found a distinct “chemical signature” not present in the flask known as RMR-1029, which Ivins could access in his laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

“Spores from two of those show a distinct chemical signature that includes silicon, oxygen, iron, and tin; the third letter had silicon, oxygen, iron and possibly also tin,” Kwok wrote. “Bacteria from Ivins’ RMR-1029 flask did not contain any of those four elements.”

The results don’t necessarily exonerate Ivins.

The mailed spores could have been removed from the flask and grown under different conditions, resulting in varying chemical contents, Jason Bannan, a microbiologist and forensic examiner at the FBI’s Chemical Biological Sciences Unit in Quantico, Virginia, told Kwok.

“It doesn’t surprise me that it would be different,” said Bannan.

The FBI has asked the National Academy of Science to perform an independent review of the anthrax investigation data. The two sides are working on a contract for the study.

Ivins, 62, a biodefense researcher who spent years searching for a better anthrax vaccine, overdosed on Tylenol and Codiene last year after learning that the FBI was preparing to indict him on murder charges.

Peter Lemkin
03-22-2009, 07:55 AM
Glenn Greenwald
Monday Aug. 4, 2008 06:32 EDT
Additional key facts re: the anthrax investigation

(Updated below - Update II - Update III - Update IV - Update V)

It's perfectly possible that Bruce Ivins really is the anthrax attacker -- that he perpetrated the attacks and did so alone. Perhaps the FBI is in possession of mountains of conclusive evidence that, once revealed, will leave no doubt that Ivins is the guilty party. But no rational person could possibly assume that to be the case given the paltry amount of facts -- many of which contradict one another -- that are now known. Several points to note:

(1) Two prominent journalism professors -- Jay Rosen of NYU and Dan Gillmor, director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University and a practicing journalist for 25 years -- have added their names to the list of people calling on ABC News and Brian Ross to reveal their sources for ABC's false bentonite story that was used to link the anthrax attacks to Iraq. Rosen and Gillmor both write that ABC and Ross should answer three questions which they jointly outline, and they both set forth the reasons, grounded in widely accepted principles of journalistic ethics, as to why ABC and Ross should do so.

(2) So much of the public reporting about Ivins has been devoted to depicting him as a highly unstable psychotic who had been issuing extremely violent threats and who had a violent past. But that depiction has been based almost exclusively on the uncorroborated claims of Jean Carol Duley, a social worker (not a psychiatrist or psychologist) who, as recently as last year, was apparently still in college at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. Duley's scrawled handwritten complaint against Ivins, seeking a Protective Order, has served as the basis for much of the reporting regarding Ivins' mental state, yet it is hardly the model of a competent or authoritative professional. Quite the opposite.

Duley herself has a history that, at the very least, raises questions about her credibility. She has a rather lengthy involvement with the courts in Frederick, including two very recent convictions for driving under the influence -- one from 2007 and one from 2006 -- as well as a complaint filed against her for battery by her ex-husband. Here is Duley's record from the Maryland Judicial data base:



Just three months ago, Duley pled guilty and was sentenced to probation (with a suspended fine of $500), as a result of having been stopped in December, while driving at 1:35 a.m., and charged with driving under the influence:



On April 21, 2006, Duley was also charged with "driving a vehicle while impaired by alcohol," driving "while impaired by drugs or alcohol," and reckless driving, and on October 13, 2006, she pled guilty to the charge of reckless driving and was fined $580. Back in 1992, Duley was criminally charged with battery against what appeared to be her now-ex-husband (and she filed a complaint against him as well). Later that same year, she was criminally charged with possession of drug paraphenalia with intent to use, charges which appear to have been ultimately dismissed.

Prior to the restraining order against Ivins which Duley obtained two weeks ago, Ivins had no criminal record at all, at least not in Frederick. A story in today's Frederick News-Post quotes Duley's fiancee as claiming: "She had to quit her job and is now unable to work, and we have spent our savings on attorneys." But she doesn't appear to have used an attorney for her complaint against Ivins. If anything, her savings were likely depleted from attorneys' fees, court costs, and fines and probation for her various criminal proceedings (Larisa Alexandrovna has more details on Duley).

None of this is to defend Ivins, nor is to suggest that this constitutes evidence that Duley is lying or is otherwise inaccurate in her claims. As I said, it's perfectly possible that Ivins is guilty of being the anthrax attacker. I have no opinion on whether he is. The point is that nobody should have any opinion on that question -- one way or the other -- until they see the FBI's evidence.

What is certain is that Jean Carol Duley is hardly some upstanding, authoritative source on Bruce Ivins' psychological state or his guilt, nor is she some accomplished and highly credible psychological professional, notwithstanding the fact that most media depictions of Ivins are based on uncritical recitations of her accusations. The fact that her depiction contradicts not only the claims of virtually everyone else who knew Ivins but also numerous facts about how Ivins was treated even by the FBI (see below), suggests that a large amount of skepticism is warranted.

(3) The initial report from The Los Angeles Times' David Willman said that Ivins committed suicide "just as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him for the attacks." But an article from The New York Times' Scott Shane this morning reported that the evidence against Ivins "was largely circumstantial" and that the "grand jury in Washington was planning to hear several more weeks of testimony before issuing an indictment."

According to The Washington Post, Ivins enjoyed full-scale clearance at Fort Detrick as late as July 10 -- hardly what one would expect if the FBI were so certain that he was the anthrax attacker. And judging from an article in today's local Frederick newspaper, The Frederick-News Post Online, the FBI is still searching for evidence against Ivins, as they removed two computers from a public library there.

Members of Congress with some personal stake in this case and who have been attempting to assert some oversight on the FBI's investigation over the last six years -- Tom Daschle, Pat Leahy, Rush Holt -- have been uniformly critical of how it has been handled. Numerous experts continue to raise serious doubts about whether Ivins even had the ability to access and handle anthrax of the type that was sent to Daschle and Leahy. Maybe the FBI's evidence demonstrates that he could and did. Maybe it doesn't. But under all circumstances, it's inconceivable that anyone would be content with having the FBI simply keep its alleged evidence to itself and not have a full public airing and accounting of what has happened here, an accounting that should include the news organizations -- led by ABC -- which are in possession of vital information that they continue to conceal.

UPDATE: The Democracy Now segment I did this morning included Dr. Meryl Nass, an anthrax expert and physician (curriculum vitae is here) who knew Bruce Ivins, and is strongly skeptical of the claim that he is the anthrax attacker. Dr. Nass made several excellent points, and I will post the link to the segment once it is available. She also has been raising many insightful points questioning the accusations against Ivins on her blog, which is here. It is worthwhile to begin at the start and scroll down.

Relating to ABC, a reader exchanged emails with Brian Ross this weekend, and Ross wrote this (the email was sent from Ross' ABC address; yesterday, I emailed both him and ABC's Jeffrey Schneider to request confirmation of its authenticity, and they didn't reply):
As we reported more than six years ago our information came from current and former government scientists. The report was discointed [sic] and denied by the White House which we reported. I believe now the scientists got it wrong although they insisted they were correct long after.
Actually, this is the first time, to my knowledge, that Ross has ever acknowledged that his sources for the bentonite story were "current and former government scientists." Given that he previously described his sources as being "well-placed," that means, presumably, that they were scientists with extremely close proximity to Fort Detrick (where the anthrax tests were being conducted) if not Fort Detrick scientists themselves. That would mean, if the FBI's accusation against Ivins is true, that the same Government lab where the attacks originated was the source for falsely telling Ross that tests revealed evidence linking the attacks to Iraq. In light of that, how can Ross possibly continue to conceal which Government scientists disseminated this false story?


It is also worth noting that Ross, who was a key witness in the Steven Hatfill litigation (since he had published numerous incriminating leaks from the DOJ) badgered at least one of his government sources, FBI spokesman Edwin Cogswell, to provide Ross with a release authorizing Ross to disclose the source's identity (allowing Ross to avoid being held in contempt by the court). Has Ross sought a similar release from his bentonite sources? Clearly, at least in some instances, Ross is able to convince his sources to allow him to disclose their identity when he is properly motivated to do so. For the reasons Professors Rosen and Gillmor point out, no release should be necessary, since these sources fed him deliberate falsehoods, but one wonders if Ross has even tried to persuade them to give permission for Ross to disclose who they are.

UPDATE II: Pulitzer Prize winning reporter John McQuaid calls on ABC News and Brian Ross to provide a full account of how they ended up publishing the false bentonite story.

UPDATE III: The video for the aforementioned Democracy Now segment with me and Dr. Nass is now available here (the segment begins at roughly 13:00). The transcript will be posted shortly.

UPDATE IV: I was on Warren Olney's To the Point program today discussing the anthrax case, which can be heard here (segment begins at roughly 43:00).

Just as they did with Steven Hatfill (and Iraq before him), government sources continue to try to convict Bruce Ivins in the media of being the anthrax killer by anonymously leaking incriminating claims about him (all while insisting that they can't unveil their evidence against him because the case isn't yet closed). If this latest leak is indicative of the FBI's case against Ivins -- "The top suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks was obsessed with a sorority that sat less than 100 yards away from a New Jersey mailbox where the toxin-laced letters were sent, authorities said today" -- then it's no wonder they are reluctant to tell the public the basis for their accusations against him.

UPDATE V: This is simply pathetic. The original AP article linked above -- containing the Grand, Super-Incriminating Sorority Obsession Leak -- contained this paragraph:
The top suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks was obsessed with a sorority that sat less than 100 yards away from a New Jersey mailbox where the toxin-laced letters were sent, authorities said today.
Wow. Incriminating. Now, the AP article has been "updated" to this (h/t Jim White):
The mailbox just off the campus of Princeton University where the letters were mailed sits about 100 yards away from where the college's Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter stores its rush materials, initiation robes and other property. Sorority members do not live there, and the Kappa chapter at Princeton does not provide a house for the women.
So apparently, the Big Incriminating FBI Leak of the Day is that Ivins was so obsessed with this sorority that he used the mailbox near where it "stores its rush materials, initiation robes and other property," and used that mailbox to send anthrax to Pat Leahy, Tom Daschle and Tom Brokaw. That's really convincing. Let's close the investigation. We clearly got the Anthrax Killer. The FBI looked through its bag of conclusive evidence and that is what they chose to leak today? And amazingly, the Keystone Cops in our Government and their Media allies can't even get a leak this laughable right the first time they convey it. Ask Steven Hatfill about that. As The Hartford Courant Editorial Page today wrote (h/t macgupta):
We're not weighing in on Mr. Ivins' innocence or guilt. In light of the FBI's handling of the case against Mr. Hatfill, however, we are concerned that Mr. Ivins may have been the victim of overzealous investigation.


Congress should press the Justice Department for a full and public accounting of this case. Forcing the FBI to lay out its evidence against Mr. Ivins is the only way the public can be sure the agency's methods were reasonable. It's only fair.
There is no denying that "Congress should press the Justice Department for a full and public accounting of this case," but between Congress' demonstrated impotence and the Justice Department's extreme lack of candor, that is much easier said than done.

-- Glenn Greenwald
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/08/04/anthrax/index.html

Dawn Meredith
03-23-2009, 08:57 PM
The problem with a Congressional Commission is that we can't trust our government to give us answers- be it JFK or 9-11. Both "Commissions" and lies. Darlin' Arlin' could help his case if he came clean about his role on the WC, but ....not in our lifetime.

This guy has patsy written all over him. How do we know he "committed suicide" and was not suicided?

Dawn

Peter Lemkin
03-24-2009, 06:03 AM
Dawn, How dare you question Hoover's FBI...they are infallible - and always get their man!....:burnout:

Many lines of evidence seem to indicate he was innocent - or at best only 'in the know'. His labratory partner said he didn't have the right equiptment nor access to it to make this kind of anthrax, that he was not depressed before he committed 'suicide' and that he had no political axes to grind, etc. There is other evidence and witnesses - but they killed him, IMO, so there would be no trial. Ditto Oswald....and so many others. Dead men don't tell the truth....