Tuesday, September 30, 2008

FBI won't release details on anthrax suspect

Thanks to Marisa Taylor at McClatchy Newspapers for this well-researched report on where the release of the records stands, and how the FBI justifies withholding these records.

18 comments:

Ellen Byrne said...

As Senator Grassley wonderfully put it:

"If the case is solved, why isn't it solved?"

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

They could release all his time charts like this one:

http://www.ersnews.com/images/anthrax/doc1.jpg

Release them all from the time he became an employee to the last one they may have. They can certainly do the week from Sep 11 2001 to Sep 18 2001 and then add in the next days up to October 9.

No reason cited by the FBI applies to these times. One could also ask Ft. Detrick for these in a FOIA request.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

Also, did they find emails from Ivins on Sep 17 Monday night after 7 PM?
Or long distance phone records? Or did he use a credit card from home to buy something on the Internet? They may have further information further closing the window Monday Sep 17 2001 and thus ruling him out to drive to NJ.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

At this stage, its also fair to start considering the following hypothesis:

Ivins was mentally ill.

The FBI knew this.

Ivins was not involved in the anthrax attacks.

The FBI has evidence of this they won't release.

The FBI hounded Ivins to suicide knowing he was mentally ill and having in its possession evidence it hasn't released tending towards his innocence.

The FBI is concerned that it may face wrongful death charges in Maryland under Maryland state law.

FBI Mueller stonewalled the House and Senate and DOJ is as well because both now believe that Ivins death by suicide was a case of wrongful death brought on by the US Department of Justice and the FBI contrary to the laws of the State of Maryland and the United States.

State and local prosecutors in Maryland have authority under Maryland state law to investigate the FBI and United States Department of Justice for their complicity before, during and after the fact in the wrongful death case of Bruce Edwards Ivins.

Elizabeth Ferrari/ San Francisco said...

The corruption in the Bush Justice Department will continue to be made public and, unfortunately, their manipulation of the FBI will be as well.

The thing that give me a bit of hope is that FBI refused to go along with the torture policy. They just refused. And to all the decent people in FBI, thank you for that.

I have little doubt that the decision to withhold these details comes from outside the Bureau. These are the last days of one of the most corrupt administrations in our history.

This case can be made right. Not through Congress but via people in the Bureau who have a sense of honor and who still are committed to justice coming clean.

I have to believe that is still possible.

Kenneth J. Dillon said...

Actually, if the issue is one of a wrongful death, then the blame extends up to the top of the U.S. Government. See the last paragraph of www.scientiapress.com/findings/mailer.htm.

Ellen Byrne said...

The FBI didn't mind leaking gossip, rumors parts of the report that would embarass and humiliate Bruce's family. Why should we take their word that Bruce did not give a satisfactory account of the evening hours leading up to the mailings? They should tell us what his explanation was.

Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis once said "Sunshine is the best disinfectant."

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

re Kenneth J. Dillon link. I think this is a very important direction.

At this point, the Bruce Ivins hypothesis has serious problems. Basically, starting Fri Sep 14 2001, Ivins would need to produce 5 to 10 grams of anthrax for the initial mailing. The Florida letter was high enough quality to cause two inhalation anthrax cases, the first in a long time, and one was fatal. This undermines the idea that he sacrificed quality to do it faster. One paper indicated 3 days to use a rotating incubator and another paper had a table of results from 3 to 14 days with some runs duds. It appears it would have taken many such rotating incubators. Then he would have needed multiple lyophilizers or a very large one. Given the numbers in the paper, "Production of Bacillus Spores as a Simulant for Biological Warfare ..." He would have needed something like 25 to 50 liters of CD to get 5 to 10 grams. This wasn't possible.

The refutation of Ivins also applies to most of the lone gunman theories the FBI prefers. Thus we are back to a conspiracy.

A conspiracy that was formed after 9/11 couldn't get it done by 9/18. Thus the conspiracy predated 9/11. This makes it most likely it was part of the original al Qaeda plot. That supports the information in the link KJD supplied above.

This would mean they got a sample from Detrick or some other place possibly from someone who was disgruntled or simply careless and used it. Was any of it in what was destroyed at Iowa State? A grad student could have got it there in a prior year? It was marked Ft. Detrick at Iowa State? Or marked as Dugway?

If a country was linked to 9/11 such as Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia or UAE, they might have provided assistance in this step. Or another country piggy backed like Russia. Motives in those cases may have been for the price of oil to go up, although the Saudis lowered it a bit more after 9/11. It had, however, been headed down. There may have been people for hire with those sort of resources behind the effort.

Bin Laden continues to get financial assistance from "private" sources in Saudi Arabia according to the US Treasury.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

FBI has no timeline for what Ivins did on each night and what the state of the lab and his office or car was at each night. They should be able to do a timeline hour by hour or at 15 minute intervals.

For Oswald and for 9/11, timelines were constructed based on minute intervals when needed.

The problem with a timeline for Ivins is it goes like this.

Friday night he took out a rotating incubator that could take 2 liters of CD. He let that run 3 days to Monday night. He lyophilized overnight and had from 0 to 2 grams Tuesday morning. That gave him one envelope say.

However, he was last in Suite B3 on Sunday. The mailer mailed 5 envelopes with 5 to 10 grams of powder.

The FBI does no timeline, because timelines prove Ivins didn't do it.
This shows the FBI is now in defense mode against a charge of wrongful death.

The times to do steps are in peer reviewed published papers on the Internet. Those times disprove any timeline. Those papers were intended to support a timeline in a case against Hatfill to prove that no one like Ivins could have done it and exclude them. The records of that at Jeff Taylor's US Attorney office from 2004 can be obtained by the Senate and a Maryland inquiry. Ivins may have been intended as a witness against Hatfill and the papers would be used to refute the defense claiming Ivins could have done it. Prosecution notes showing this strategy would then show that Ivins death was a wrongful death. That is why DOJ had to be called in the Senate hearings for permission for Mueller to answer questions. DOJ case planning notes show they knew Ivins couldn't do it and intended to present testimony to that in 2004 and considered Ivins as a prosecution witness against Hatfill. Those are the smoking gun notes for proving wrongful death. That is why DOJ wouldn't approve Mueller answering questions without being called.

Kenneth J. Dillon said...

Ross Getman argues that most likely al Qaeda sympathizer Ali Al-Timimi gained access to Charles Bailey's anthrax (originally from the Ivins flask) because of lax laboratory security at George Mason University. He also argues that Al-Timimi, a computer expert, very likely accessed Bailey's computer to obtain the instructions for preparing the anthrax from a patent application Bailey and Ken Alibek had made. See the comments at http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080929/full/news.2008.1137.html. I consider Getman's account very persuasive.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

KJD good point. Somehow or other this material leaked out. It was all over the place possibly. It may have been at U Iowa available to grad students from foreign lands. That may be why UIowa destroyed it. They guessed that and didn't want a lawsuit against them if it came from them. Damage control.

Criminal law is a zero sum game. So the FBI pushes as hard as can to see where it leads. The FBI management decided it had to be a sole person at a lab. Ivins was the only one they had a wedge on, so it became him. Then the pressure of the organization made them push Ivins to see what it got them. It got a suicide by Ivins. Then the FBI management and DOJ came in to cover it all up. That is where we are now.

Individual agents are rational, but the FBI organization is not. Its managers think only of very narrow issues, the national interest not being overriding.

Kenneth J. Dillon said...

Yes, the anthrax was all over the place, so al Qaeda sympathizers could have obtained access to it in several different laboratories. But the technique for preparing the high-quality anthrax used in the letters to the senators seems to have come from the Bailey and Alibek patent application. That lends credence to Ross Getman's argument about George Mason University and Ali Al-Timimi.

Elizabeth Ferrari/ San Francisco said...

Ellen: I don't think we can know exactly who leaked what. My guess is that it was mandated by Justice and FBI complied.

I've no illusions about FBI leadership, none. Mr. Mueller has been a fixer for quite a while for the Bush family and for their associates.

But, I do have some confidence in the decency of individuals in the agency.

daedalus2u said...

The anthrax attack wasn't by an al Qaeda sympathizer. The attacker warned the people the letter was sent to and told them to take antibiotics which were effective against this strain. No terrorist affiliated with al Qaeda would have done that.

An al Qaeda sympathizer would have used the anthrax against a much larger target and would have given no warnings.

Anthrax in a subway tunnel would have been much harder to trace back to a source. An al Qaeda sympathizer wouldn't have stopped at a handful of tiny pin-prick uses. They would have tried to kill thousands and would have kept trying to kill thousands until they were caught.

The anthrax perpetrator has not been caught. An al Qaeda sympathizer would have struck again and again and again and again until he/she was caught.

Kenneth J. Dillon said...

I understand, daedelus2, the logic of what you are saying. These are the considerations that have led many observers to dismiss any al Qaeda theory of the anthrax mailings. In an ideal world, an al Qaeda operative might have acted somewhat as you suggest. But after 9/11, al Qaeda operatives in North America had to fear arrest at any moment, so they couldn't take their time and execute an anthrax attack that would kill thousands. Also, Mohamed Atta, the likely planner of the attacks, was focused on vengeance: to kill a single person with an anthrax letter was perfectly satisfactory as long as it was the right person or someone at the right organization. And warning the enemy that you were attacking him was a typical al Qaeda modus operandi, following the admonition of the Prophet. Moreover, the Anthrax Mailer couldn't keep attacking until he had been arrested because that would have prevented him from fulfilling his pledge to carry out a suicide attack on the enemy.
In general, we have to be wary of our assumptions about what al Qaeda would or would not do. For more information and analysis, see www.scientiapress.com/findings/mailer.htm.

erica said...

I'm satisfied with Kenneth Dillon's response to daedelus2u. It's important to remember that the huge number of casualties at WTC may not have been part of the original plan, which was to fly planes into buildings and guarantee martyrdom for the highjackers. There's a publicity aspect to Al Qaeda's activities--their goal seems to be to create their brand of shock and awe.

What puzzles me about the Dillon link is--if the 587 crash was a shoe bomb, why didn't Al Qaeda take credit for it?

With that question asked, it is in some ways a much simpler theory of the anthrax mailings.

daedalus2u said...

But KD, the anthrax attacks were not against the "right person" or the "right organization" so far as al Qaeda was concerned. The media? Liberals?

Releasing anthrax in a subway would be easier than mailing it. It would kill more people and the perpetrator have less chance of being caught. A series of subway attacks would have shut down the subways in NYC after people started dying (after a 2 week incubation period). Without the subway for transportation, how can NYC function? If the perpetrator took antibiotics, he/she would not be affected.

The objective isn't "martyrdom", it is martyrdom while killing enemies. If the objective is martyrdom while killing enemies there is never a motivation to stop. If there is an attempt to arrest you, you simply fight to the death with what ever weapons you have with you, or a suicide bomb jacket.

The idea that the anthrax came from al Qaeda makes no sense to me. I think it was misdirection by the real perpetrator to give the FBI a plausible trail to follow as a distraction while the real perpetrators covered their tracks.

Kenneth J. Dillon said...

Atta might have targeted media and government to serve his personal need for revenge against organizations and individuals who he saw as offending Islam or harming al Qaeda. Certainly Senator Leahy, with his rendition legislation, fit the bill. We might think of Leahy as a liberal, but that meant nothing to Atta; rendition did. And the media organizations could simply have published articles that offended Atta. Certain aspects of the case may remain anomalous: why did the Mailer mention "Penacilin" in his letters? Why didn't al Qaeda take credit for shoebombing Flight #587? Why didn't al Qaeda release the anthrax in a subway? Yet the general pattern of the evidence regarding the pathway of the anthrax and the activities of presumed Mailer Abderraouf Jdey seems hard to dismiss. So we can legitimately assume that al Qaeda's local operatives and its leadership had good reasons for the decisions they made in their specific circumstances, even if we don't understand these reasons. In a sense, it would be surprising if there were no residual anomalies.