Skip to comments.GAO to review FBI's Ivins investigation
Posted on 09/18/2010 7:25:47 AM PDT by Justice Department
The Government Accountability Office has launched an investigation into the scientific methods used by the FBI to determine that Fort Detrick researcher Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks. U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, who represents the New Jersey district from which the letters were mailed, requested GAO's involvement as early as 2007, but renewed his efforts after the FBI announced it had closed its Amerithrax investigation last February.
Holt and four other lawmakers originally proposed a list of 10 questions for GAO to help answer, including how the anthrax spores used in the attacks compared to anthrax produced in this country and in locations around the world, what amount of time and material would go into creating the quantity of anthrax spores used in the attacks, and why the FBI had not yet been able to close the case.
The FBI questioned Ivins, a researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, throughout the entire investigation, but named him as the suspect only after he committed suicide in July 2008.
Many of Ivins' former co-workers and several lawmakers -- including Sen. Chuck Grassley, one of the four who helped Holt pursue the GAO investigation and who has been a vocal critic of the FBI's work on the case -- are still not convinced the FBI adequately proved Ivins' guilt.
"The American people need credible answers to many questions raised by the original attacks and the subsequent FBI handling of the case," Holt said in a news release. "I'm pleased the GAO has responded to our request and will look into the scientific methods used by the FBI."
Specifically, the GAO investigation will seek to answer three main questions:
n What forensic methods did the FBI use to conclude Ivins was the sole perpetrator, and how reliable are those methods?
n What scientific concerns and uncertainties still remain regarding the FBI's conclusion?
n What agencies monitor foreign containment labs, and how do they monitor those labs?
Holt had also requested that several House of Representatives committees question the FBI's methods and results, and he has called for a commission similar to the one that looked into the government's response to the Sept. 11 attacks. Neither effort has made much progress thus far.
"It's still a priority for him," said Holt spokesman Zach Goldberg. "He continues to get supporters for it, but it hasn't gotten traction in the larger Congress, which is certainly disappointing. He still feels that this is something that needs to be looked at for a variety of reasons -- that the families deserve answers to a myriad of questions."
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who represents Western Maryland, was not part of the group that signed the letter to GAO but has been working to get more answers since the FBI closed the Amerithrax case.
"I welcome the forthcoming investigation by the Congress' General Accounting Office of a series of important unanswered questions about the FBI's investigation," Bartlett said.
"These questions have undermined the credibility of the FBI's conclusions."
The GAO investigation will be the first congressionally directed review of the FBI's case; another review, done by the National Academy of Sciences, was requested by the FBI itself two years ago.
The NAS investigation is scheduled to wrap up by the end of the year. In GAO's letter to Holt confirming it would look into the FBI investigation, Ralph Dawn Jr., GAO managing director of congressional relations, wrote that to avoid any overlap between the two groups' investigations, they would first review the NAS study before determining the scope of the GAO one.
Goldberg said the GAO would start its investigation soon, if it hadn't begun already. He said the GAO hadn't announced a timeline for its investigation but said that Holt wasn't worried about rushing things along.
"Of course (Holt) wants it to be comprehensive and not rushed in any way," Goldberg said. "The important thing is that the questions get addressed."
That's your 20/20 hindsight at work. Things always seem "obvious" after someone figures them out.
The letters were printed in the media. Every scientist at USAMRIID, and possibly every microbiologist in the world saw copies of the letters somewhere, yet no one ever contacted the FBI to explain, "it's obviously a code using condons and here is what it means.
Your reasoning is pure 20/20 hindsight.
Besides, there's a lot more to DNA than A's and T's. Even condons also contain G's and C's. The FBI reports includes an interview with a scientist at USAMRIID after the FBI figured out what the A's and T's in the media letter were all about. FBI file #847547 contains the interview on pages 19-23. Even after it's explained what the code is, the scientist still suggests that the code could be "ATTACCA," which is Italian for "attack," even though no C's are highlighted. And he suggests reading the letters right to left, the way Arabic is written. He seems convinced that a Muslim wrote the letters, and he's looking for proof of it - ignoring what the FBI is telling him.
How many people saw the letters in the media, and how many figured out the code before the FBI? Doesn't your line of reasoning say it should be at least 50,000 or so - the number of microbiologists belonging to the American Society of Microbiologists?
Ah! Yes, countless people noticed the highlighted characters. But how many of those people immediately began looking for a hidden message?
The vast majority believed that Muslim terrorists were behind the anthrax letters. Why would a Muslim terrorist put a hidden message that requires knowledge of condons in a threat message, particularly if the terrorist couldn't even spell "penacilin" correctly?
How many people have read GEB? Lots. (I have a copy.) How many people who have read GEB would make the connection between the code described on page 404 and the code in the letters? The answer appears to be 1. And, that person only made the connection AFTER Ivins was observed throwing away his copy of GEB and a magazine about condons.
Ivins gave a copy of GEB to another scientist at USAMRIID, and when the scientist didn't read it, Ivins asked for the book back.
Your 20/20 hindsight says it's so obvious that every biologist in the world should have seen it. But they didn't. Why?
They didn't see it because it didn't occur to them to look for it.
The "attention-drawing features" attracted the attention of countless people. Many figured it had something to do with Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers. I thought it was "doodling" of some kind, but why would a terrorist doodle on a threat letter?
You need to view things the way they were viewed BEFORE the answers were found. 20/20 hindsight assumes that everyone in the world was smart enough to figure out the facts BEFORE the facts were actually discovered by anyone.
Many people have also stated that they do not believe that there is a hidden message in the media letters - even AFTER all the details are explained.
Newsweek recently had an article titled "The Limits of Reason" which was subtitled "Why evolution may favor irrationality." The article explains that "humans are really, really bad at reasoning."
Instead of using reasoning to find answers, humans prefer competition. The survival of the fittest. Thus, they will try to win arguments with FORCE or ATTACKS instead of with reasoning. It's Nature's way.
"Investigators also failed to uncover other critical evidence linking Ivins directly to the letters. For instance:
No textile fibers were found in his office, residence or vehicles matching fibers found on the scotch tape used to seal the envelopes;
No pens were found matching the ink used to address the envelopes;
Samples of his hair failed to match hair follicles found inside the Princeton, N.J., mailbox used to mail the letters.
Also, no souvenirs of the crime, such as newspaper clippings, were found in his possession as commonly seen in serial murder cases.
Whats more, the FBI could not place Ivins at the crime scene with evidence, such as gas station or other receipts, at the time the letters were mailed in September and October 2001."
Another FBI fubar was redacting a line out of Ivan's email.
There's simply nothing about national security worthy of a redaction from a dead "suspect."
Anything to stop the story that foreign terrorists used a WMD on Americans...
Who was stopping "the story that foreign terrorists used a WMD on Americans"? And why?
Most conspiracy theorists claim the attacks were part of a conspiracy to persuade America that foreigners were behind the attacks.
You're claiming it was a conspiracy to persuade America that it was NOT foreigners?
How many tens of thousands of people were involved in this conspiracy? Obviously, it must have included the entire FBI, the entire Justice Department, all the scientists who helped the FBI, and, presumably, both the Bush administration and the Obama administration. Why would they all do what you claim?
Ivins didn't become a key suspect until 2005 or so, FOUR YEARS after the attacks. Do you still have the scotch tape you bought four years ago?
Do you always shed hair into a mailbox when you mail a letter?
Ivins wasn't a "serial killer." He was a mass murderer. But, how do you know he didn't save the originals of the letters? How do you know he didn't save the irregular edges he trimmed off the letters? He put a hidden message in the letters that he knew how to decode. He threw away the "code books" when the FBI started closing in. He could have thrown away the original letters and trimmings years earlier, when he told the FBI he wouldn't talk with them without having his lawyer present.
Information redacted from Ivins' emails typically isn't about Ivins. It's about innocent people who had nothing to do with the case.
Keep trying, Ed. Someone, somewhere will believe your cover story someday. Maybe.
Is that it?
MY cover story? Do you believe that I am the mastermind who convinced the FBI and the Department of Justice that Ivins was behind the anthrax attacks?
Your logic lacks logic. Your reasoning lacks reasoning.
Your fascination with the FBI’s cover story for the anthrax attacks is only logical.
The actual FBI cover story, however, is not. The “suspect” is dead so he can’t defend himself. How quaint.
Your attacks on me, however, have no such limitation. That you choose to attack everyone who doesn’t swallow the FBI’s “Ivin’s was the lone gunman with the magic bullet in the school book depository” story says a good bit about you.
One hole in the FBI’s cover story is that Ivin’s had no connection to the Florida anthrax attack, but the 9/11 bombers did (renting an apartment from the AMA building manager’s wife, if my memory serves me).
Anthrax is readily carried by and spread by cash, just as cocaine sticks to dollar bills, so too does anthrax. Since the 9/11 terrorists often paid their rent in cash, there is a clear connection from the 9/11 terrorists to the AMA building that was infected with anthrax spores (where no anthrax letter was ever found...convenient witness sotries to the contrary failing to turn up said physical letter).
So Ivin’s didn’t do it; the 9/11 terrorists did (this also explains the hospital visit by one 9/11 terrorist for a lesion on his leg).
So, you consider anyone who disagrees with you to be attacking you? That's typical. That really confirms what I wrote about arguments being viewed as a competition, not a search for the facts.
You have a theory that requires a massive conspiracy, but I gather you do not consider yourself to be a "conspiracy theorist."
"One hole in the FBIs cover story is that Ivins had no connection to the Florida anthrax attack, but the 9/11 bombers did"
The fact that the 9/11 terrorists took flight training in Lantana, Florida was in the news BEFORE the letters were mailed. That could be one reason why Ivins chose to send an anthrax letter to a media outlet in Lantana, Florida. So, people like you would make the connection.
"Anthrax is readily carried by and spread by cash, just as cocaine sticks to dollar bills, so too does anthrax."
And you have scientific reports to substantiate this? Why don't you post them?
If you are interested in "holes in stories," let's look at the holes in your theory:
If the 9/11 terrorist paid their rent in cash, why wasn't their landlord infected? Why wasn't anthrax found in any place the terrorists stayed? And do you really believe that anthrax on cash paid to a landlord somehow contaminated the entire AMI building just because the landlord's husband worked at AMI?
Why was the greatest concentration of spores around the desk of Stephanie Dailey who testified that she remembered opening an envelope with powders and throwing it away. Is she part of the conspiracy, too? Have you determined where in the building the husband of the landlord worked? Why wasn't the area around his workplace as thoroughly contaminated as the area around Stephanie Dailey's desk?
The CBS and ABC letters were also thrown away. No letters were found at those locations, but people there contracted cutaneous anthrax. Do you think those letters were destroyed as part of the government's sinister plot, too?
I gather it doesn't mean anything to you that the NY Post letter was found UNOPENED and filled with anthrax. How does you cash theory explain that? How does it explain the two letters to the senators, which were also found? One was found unopened and full of anthrax. The other was opened and witnesses saw the anthrax puff out.
Those seem like pretty BIG holes in your theory.
But, you help to make the point I tried to make about how people are really, really bad at reasoning. Thanks.
It’s hardly a big conspiracy, just a routine FBI cover story that doesn’t hold up to the evidence at hand.
Why were some infected in the AMI building and others not? Simple. Anthrax spores are inefficient. They will accumulate in sufficient quantity to infect some people, sometimes, while not infecting others in identical contact with said spores (e.g. sheep shearers).
Some people will contract cutaneous anthrax infections, others inhalation infection...but most won’t contract either (especially if the person has recently taken antibiotics).
As for your bizarre rant about the AMI building being in the news after 9/11...no...it wasn’t. That the attackers stayed in that region of Florida *did* make the news circa 9/14/2001, but that’s not enough time to target an unmentioned building by 9/18/2001.
Moreover, NO ANTHRAX LETTER WAS EVER FOUND in that building.
However, the facts show that the terrorists *did* pay their rent in cash in Florida, and their landlord had direct contact with the AMI building.
Anthrax following the rent money via cocaine-like attachment to paper currency thereby cleanly explains how the AMI building was infected...the terrorists’ anthrax contaminated their rent money that they paid to their landlord who frequented the AMI building.
Hence, no anthrax letter in Florida.
Of course anthrax letters were sent to those locations. That you would pretend to suggest that I'm implying otherwise shows that you are dishonest.
Where an anthrax letter was *not* sent was the anthrax-infected AMI building in Florida.
A supposed "expert" like yourself on the anthrax attacks should be able to grasp the difference.
And you do. You just choose to pretend otherwise because the truth runs contrary to your absurd FBI cover story.
There was no letter to one infected location. That location was infected via contaminated currency from rent paid by the 9/11 terrorists. That's why *one* infected location had no anthrax letter.
The anthrax came into that building attached to cash; rent money.
(1) The anthrax letter sent from New Jersey to Florida left a trail of anthrax through postal facilities which show it was addressed to an obsolete address for The National Enquirer in Lantana, Florida.
(2) Because the address was obsolete, it was forwarded to the AMI offices of The National Enquirer in Boca Raton. It was Stephanie Dailey's job to open letters addressed to The National Enquirer.
(3) The person who picked up the mail at the post office and delivered the anthrax letter to Stephanie was Ernesto Blanco, who contracted inhalation anthrax.
(4) Stephanie Dailey tested positive for exposure to anthrax.
(5) The landlord your theory depends upon DID NOT test positive for exposure to anthrax. Neither did her husband.
Where and when did I ever say anything about the AMI building being in the news after 9/11? Is that how you treat facts? You just ignore them and make stuff up?
I wrote, "The fact that the 9/11 terrorists took flight training in Lantana, Florida was in the news BEFORE the letters were mailed."
So, I gather that you believe that al Qaeda terrorists sent all the other letters, but they did NOT send any letter to the National Enquirer. All that contamination was carried into the AMI building via rent money? And that makes sense to you?
The landlord did NOT work for AMI. The landlord's HUSBAND worked for AMI. So, why would the money be taken to AMI? Is it because that's the only way you can make your theory work?
Did al Qaeda travel to all the post office facilities between New Jersey and Florida to sprinkle around anthrax just to fool the Postal Inspectors? Is that your theory? Yet, they left no anthrax in the rooms where they stayed?
You don't just have holes in your theory, your theory is nothing but holes.
But don't the Postal Inspectors who found traces of anthrax in the postal facilities between New Jersey and Florida also have to be part of the plot?
Don't the CDC investigators who found that the most contaminated place in the building was around Stephanie Dailey's desk have to be part of the plot?
Doesn't Stephanie Dailey have to be part of the plot if she testified that she opened a letter containing a powder at the right time and place and threw the letter away?
Doesn't the landlord have to be part of the plot if she was able to protect herself from enough anthrax to contaminate an entire three-story building AND kill two people in the process?
But, isn't it also part of your theory that Ivins is innocent and all the evidence against him is nonsense created by the FBI and others to blame Ivins instead of al Qaeda?
Doesn't that require the participation of tens of thousands of people?
I'm shutting down shop for today. I'll be back tomorrow to see if you have anything believable to support your theory. So far, nothing you write makes any sense whatsoever.
Nice try at being assertive, Ed...but there WAS NO ANTHRAX LETTER sent to Florida.
You are claiming evidence that does not exist.
"The landlord did NOT work for AMI. The landlord's HUSBAND worked for AMI. So, why would the money be taken to AMI?"- EdLake
Because cash changes hands in that manner. Had you ever "followed a Dollar" then you'd know the same.
The 9/11 terrorists *specifically* went from Florida, where they rented their apartment from the wife of an AMI employee, to New Jersey, and then to Boston where they boarded their fateful jets on 9/11/2001.
In other words, their travel dovetails *precisely* with where the anthrax letters were mailed, and with where they paid their rent money.
Nope. The 9/11 terrorists did indeed mail anthrax letters (just not to the AMI building in Florida).
Most people are protected from anthrax, by the way. Just a few who are unlucky enough to inhale vast quantities of anthrax spores...or have enoguh anthrax spores land in an open wound on their body will ever get infected...and if they are on or have recently used common antibiotics, they still won't be infected even then.
No conspiracy required.
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