Senator Demands Answers On Government Anthrax Investigation Mystery
Wants to know why DOJ quickly retracted court statements that contradicted official FBI story
Sept 6, 2011
A ranking Republican Senator has written to the Justice Department demanding to know why it quickly retracted court papers that called into serious question a key pillar of the criminal case against Bruce Ivins, the FBIâ€™s prime suspect in the 2001 anthrax mail attacks.
Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, who has long questioned the legitimacy of the FBI’s findings in the case,Â wrote Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller this week, regardingÂ a filing by Justice Department civil lawyers in July that noted that the Armyâ€™s biodefense center at Fort Detrick, Md., â€œdid not have the specialized equipment in a containment laboratory that would be required to prepare the dried spore preparations that were used in the letters.â€
In other words, the filing noted that Ivinsâ€™ lab, often referred to as the â€œhot suiteâ€, did not contain the equipment needed to turn liquid anthrax into the refined powder that ended up being mailed to members of the Senate and reporters in the fall of 2001.
Ivins, whoÂ was found dead in 2008 from an apparent suicide at the same time the government was about to indict him,Â was identified by the FBIâ€™sÂ â€œAmerithrax Task Forceâ€ as the lone perpetrator of the attacks that killed five people and infected 17 others in the weeks immediately following 9/11.
The FBI based itâ€™s entire case against Ivins on the fact that the microbiologist had access to the necessary equipment in the government lab at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases where he worked.
When the Justice Department realized that its recent court filing cast serious doubt on these claims, following media coverage, it did a 180 flip flop andÂ sent the court a â€œlist of correctionsâ€ to conform with the FBIâ€™s conclusion that Ivins did have equipment available to do the job.
In his letter, Sen Grassley notes that this turn of events â€œhas produced a new set of questions regarding this unsolved crime.â€
“My concern is accentuated by the apparent contradiction of the DOJ court documents to the original FBI investigation, the subsequent attempt to retract that information and the federalÂ judge’s ruling that the DOJ Civil Division “show good cause” to justify a modification to theÂ original court filing.” Grassley writes.
“The DOJ original court filing seemingly eliminated the FBI’s previous circumstantial evidence associated with Dr. Ivins without providing any additional insight as to the means and methodology he may have used to create the anthrax powder.” The Senator adds.
Grassley, the most senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, also called for a briefing to â€œdetermine why it appears, at the least, that the right hand and left hand of the (Justice Department) do not know what the other is doing.â€
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The July court filing was made as part of a government defense against a lawsuit brought by the family of Robert Stevens, Photo Editor of The Sun in Florida andÂ the first victim who died as a result of the Anthrax attack. The court papers containing the Justice Department contradiction were discovered andÂ reported by a researcher for the PBS program Frontline, which is working on a forthcoming documentary on the case with McClatchy Newspapers and ProPublica.
What the filing should have said, the department wrote in its retraction, was that while the Army lab did not have a lyophilizer, a freeze-drying machine, in the space where Dr. Ivins usually worked, there was a lyophilizer and other equipment in the building that he could have used to dry the anthrax into powder.
Even if this was the case, which is still highly questionable, it still significantly weakens the case against Ivins as the lone assailant, because it means he would have had to have access different areas of the building and use the equipment in those areas for some time without being noticed.
It also means that the fact that others who worked in the lab were not sickened becomes even more of a key indicator that Ivins did not prepare the anthrax spores as the FBI and the government has claimed he did.
Paul Kemp, Ivinsâ€™ lead defense attorney, noted that the departmentâ€™s concession that the equipment wasnâ€™t available â€œis at direct variance to the assertions of the government on July 29, 2008,â€ the day Ivins died, thus â€œinvalidating one of the chief theories of their prosecution case.â€
This latest contradiction adds to the already voluminous unanswered questions and contradictory evidence surrounding the case.
Earlier this year aÂ report produced by a panel of independent scientistsÂ asserted that there was not enough scientific evidence for the FBI to convict Ivins, vindicating those who have consistently pointed to a deeper conspiracy behind the case.
The $1.1 million report, commissioned by the FBI and produced byÂ The National Academies of Sciences, concluded that the FBI overstated the science in its investigation into the microbiologist.
Senator Grassley writes in his letter to the Attorney general that this report coupled with the latest botched attempt by the government to tie up loose ends in the case is “particularly troubling” to him.
The report cast doubt on the supposed link between a flask of anthrax found in Ivinsâ€™ office and letters containing the bacterial spores that were mailed to NBC News, the New York Post, and the offices of then-Sen. Tom Daschle and Sen. Patrick Leahy.
â€œThe scientific link between the letter material and flask number RMR-1029 is not as conclusive as stated in the DOJ Investigative Summary,â€ the 190 page report stated.
â€œAlthough the scientific evidence was supportive of a link between the letters and that flask, it did not definitively demonstrate such a relationship, for a number of reasons,â€ said Dr. David Relman, a bioterrorism expert at Stanford University School of Medicine who served as vice chair of the review committee. â€œOur overarching finding was that it is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the origins of the B. anthracis in the mailings based on the available scientific evidence alone.â€
â€œThis shows what weâ€™ve been saying all along: that it was all supposition based on conjecture based on guesswork, without any proof whatsoever,â€ lawyer Paul Kemp toldÂ The Washington Post.
â€œFor years, the FBI has claimed scientific evidence for its conclusion that anthrax spores found in the letters were linked to the anthrax bacteria found in Dr. Ivinsâ€™s lab,â€ said Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). The report â€œshows that the science is not necessarily a slam-dunk. There are no more excuses for avoiding an independent review.â€
Of course, there will not be an independent review any time in the near future because, asÂ Glenn Greenwald of Salon has pointed out, all efforts to move in that direction have been aggressively blocked by the Obama Administration:
PresidentÂ Obama â€” in what I think is one his most indefensible acts â€” actuallyÂ threatened toÂ veto the entire intelligence authorization bill if it included a proposed bipartisan amendment (passed by theÂ House)Â that would haveÂ mandated an independent inquiry into the FBIâ€™s anthrax investigation.
Indeed, theÂ veto threat issued by theÂ Obama White House was refreshingly (albeit unintentionally)Â candid about why it was so eager to block any independent inquiry:Â â€The commencement of a fresh investigation would undermine public confidence in the criminal investigation and unfairly cast doubt on its conclusions.â€
Ivinsâ€™ death provided a neat tie up to the case, which was officially closed last year by The Justice Department.Â However, a clear motive was never determined, and no one ever reported seeing Ivins prepare anthrax spores or mail the supposed letters.
Previous assertions by a former colleague and friend of Bruce Ivins, and the original suspect in the FBIâ€™s investigation into the attacks, have also raised serious questions.
Shortly after Ivinsâ€™ death, Dr. Ayaad Assaad, an Egyptian-born toxicologist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,Â declared that Ivins did not kill himself and was not behind the attack at all.
Assaad made the comments in an interview withÂ a local Fort Detrick newspaper in September 2008.
TheFrederick News Postreported:
Assaad, who worked in a U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease lab at Fort Detrick from 1989 to 1997 developing a vaccine for ricin, said in an interview Saturday he does not believe Ivins was guilty.
â€œHeâ€™s a great man. Heâ€™s honorable, sincere, honest and most important, he didnâ€™t kill five people andÂ he didnâ€™t kill himself,â€ Assaad told the newspaper.
Assaad knew Ivins well, not only were they colleagues but their four children were all classmates In Frederick.
Assaad was extensively questioned by the FBI On October 1, 2001, a fortnight after the first anthrax letters were mailed. It later emerged that the FBIâ€™s lead, a letter from an unidentified person who claimed Assaad was planning a biological terrorist attack, was false.
The mystery letter identified Assaad as a former USAMRIID microbiologist and also pinpointed his time at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County, indicating that whoever sent it had access to detailed army records.
The anonymous letter was sent shortly after 9/11 but before anyone knew about the anthrax-laced letters. On October 5, 2001, about 10 days after the anonymous letter was mailed, Robert Stevens became the first of five individuals to die from an anthrax infection, indicating that someone had wanted to frame Assaad for the attacks.
â€œThis anthrax issue is part of a much bigger issue,â€ Assaad also commented. â€œThe roots of corruption are so deep in (USAMRIID), and this is the thing that the people in Frederick donâ€™t understand.â€
Former government biological weapons legislatorÂ Dr Francis Boyle shares Assaadâ€™s view that Ivins has been used as a patsy in a larger cover up.
â€œIvins is only the latest dead microbiologist.â€ Boyle has previously stated, â€œYou also have to tie into this the large numbers of dead microbiologists that have appeared since around the summer before these events, when the New York Times revealed the existence of the covert anthrax weapons programs run by the CIA, and that too is in the public record.â€
InSeptember 2007, Ivins sent anÂ e-mail to himself, in which he said he knew of the identity of the anthrax killer, without actually stating who he believed it to be. It is not known why he did this. Prior to his death in 2008, he told friends that government agents wereÂ houndingÂ him and his family.
Government Biological Weapons Legislator: Anthrax Inside Job Cover Up Continuing
Demand that the FBI Reveal How Much of Ivinsâ€™ Anthrax Sample was Taken by Other People
Insights Into the Question of Whether the Anthrax was Weaponized
The Anthrax Attack Was a Classic False Flag Operation Targeting Arabs
Hair Samples in Anthrax Case Donâ€™t Match
Proof that Ivins Couldnâ€™t Have Done It (At Least Not Alone)
Handwriting Analysis Fails to Tie Ivins to Anthrax Letters
The Killer Anthrax Did Not Even Originate at Fort Detrick
FBI said to have stalked Ivinsâ€™ family
Colonel Anderson Refutes False Allegations Against Dr. Ivins
Explained: Why The Anthrax Strain Was Found in Ivinsâ€™ Office
Questions about the Anthrax Suspect and His Interactions with Mental Health Professionals
Inside the tent, the best bioterrorist money could buy?
Olbermann Countdown: Anthrax Attacks Inside Job?
Scientists Question FBI Probe On Anthrax: Ivins Could Not Have Been Attacker, Some Say
Anthrax Suspect Was Involuntarily Committed to Psychiatric Hospital Shortly Before His Death
The FBI Admits It Has No Case Against Ivins
CIA Had Killer Anthrax
Anthrax Attack Was State-Sponsored Terror (But the State Was America)
My Conversation With a Ft. Detrick Scientist
Ivins Can Defend Himself in Court and Obtain Justice Against the FBI
Attorney: Ivins never knew he was â€˜the suspectâ€™
Ivins Could Not Have Applied High-Tech Coating to the Killer Anthrax
The Anthrax Cover-Up
The Biowar Story Not Told In The Aftermath Of A Scientistâ€™s Suicide
Related video: Prof. Francis Boyle on The Alex Jones Show August 21, 2008 â€“ Anthrax â€œInside Jobâ€
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’Â Infowars.net, andÂ Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.
fruhmenschen wrote:Grassley Challenges DOJ, FBI on Anthrax Case
September 4, 2011 3:45 pm
by Greg Gordon, McClatchy Newspapers, Mike Wiser, FRONTLINE, and Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica
This story was co-published with PBS Frontline and McClatchy.
http://www.ukprogressive.co.uk/grassley ... ment-20552
Re: FBI WATCH MAKING CRUELTY VISIBLE
anonymous wrote:<!--EZCODE LINK START--><a href="http://www.newscientist.com/channel/opinion/dn8044">www.newscientist.com/channel/opinion/dn8044</a><!--EZCODE LINK END--><br><br>US army plans to bulk-buy anthrax<br><br> * 10:00 24 September 2005<br> * NewScientist.com news service<br> * David Hambling<br><br>THE US military wants to buy large quantities of anthrax, in a controversial move that is likely to raise questions over its commitment to treaties designed to limit the spread of biological weapons.<br><br>A series of contracts have been uncovered that relate to the US army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. They ask companies to tender for the production of bulk quantities of a non-virulent strain of anthrax, and for equipment to produce significant volumes of other biological agents.<br><br>Issued earlier this year, the contracts were discovered by Edward Hammond, director of the Sunshine Project, a US-German organisation that campaigns against the use of biological and chemical weapons.<br><br>One "biological services" contract specifies: "The company must have the ability and be willing to grow Bacillus anthracis Sterne strain at 1500-litre quantities." Other contracts are for fermentation equipment for producing 3000-litre batches of an unspecified biological agent, and sheep carcasses to test the efficiency of an incinerator for the disposal of infected livestock.<br><br>snip <p></p><i></i>
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