Skip to comments.Selling the threat of bioterrorism (LA Times investigates Alibek)
Posted on 07/01/2007 8:58:07 AM PDT by TrebleRebel
WASHINGTON In the fall of 1992, Kanatjan Alibekov defected from Russia to the United States, bringing detailed, and chilling, descriptions of his role in making biological weapons for the former Soviet Union.
----------- Officials still value his seminal depictions of the Soviet program. But recent events have propelled questions about Alibek's reliability:
No biological weapon of mass destruction has been found in Iraq. His most sensational research findings, with U.S. colleagues, have not withstood peer review by scientific specialists. His promotion of nonprescription pills sold in his name over the Internet and claiming to bolster the immune system was ridiculed by some scientists. He resigned as executive director of a Virginia university's biodefense center 10 months ago while facing internal strife over his stewardship.
And, as Alibek raised fear of bioterrorism in the United States, he also has sought to profit from that fear.
By his count, Alibek has won about $28 million in federal grants or contracts for himself or entities that hired him.
The Los Angeles Times explored Alibek's public pronouncements, research and business activities as part of a series that will examine companies and government officials central to the U.S. war on terrorism -----------------------
(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...
The facts indicate that AFIP was never again trusted with any aspect of the Amerithrax investigation.
The were evidently "out of the loop" and didn't have a clue as to what other labs had determined.
Let’s compare an Al Qaeda Theory with Ed’s bowler from Wisconsin theory.
In March 1999, Zawahiri confidantes announced he was planning to use anthrax against US targets.
The bowler from Wisconsin went to his usual bowling league night on Thursday.
In April/May, Ayman Zawahiri wrote emails to the AQ military commander about his plans for developing anthrax.
The bowler went to Home Depot and fixed some gutters on his house.
In 1999 and 2000, Pakistan scientist Rauf Ahmad attended conferences sponsored by Porton Down, the UK biodefense establishment, consulted with experts on tricks in processing anthrax, and arranged a week’s visit with 1000s of pathogens and a BL-3 lab, after a first visit to a different lab was not successful.
The bowler did well at the annual tournament.
In 1999, Ayman outlined his plan to use charities and universities as a cover.
The bowler considered telling his wife they were going to the pub while his team snuck out to the girly bar across the street but then decided against it.
In January 2001, the Vanguards of Conquest/military wing of the EIJ threatened to use mailed anthrax if an EIJ shura member, who had been manager of Bin Laden’s farm was not released.
Dugway prepared a simulant using silica and it immediately dispersed throughout the room upon being opened and leaked before opening.
In 2001, the bowler went to Niagara Falls on vacation.
In December 2001, Yazid Sufaat was captured and jailed.
In December 2001, Ed, hungry for something to write about, seized on a Brian Ross story that mistakenly reported the FBI suspected the bowler. In a confidential briefing, Director Mueller explained to Senators that the story was totally botched. They have never suspected the bowler. That file was opened and closed months earlier. Ed has no reasonable basis to suggest the FBI suspects the bowler. It was a simple local investigation by local police of a disturbance of the peace, because his mom was worried when he got in an argument with a neigbhor.
In March 2003, KSM’s assistant’s computer was seized at the home of a bacteriologist. It had spraydrying documents on it. The assistant had gone to UAE before 9/11 where he was providing logistical support for the hijackers.
In March 2003, the bowler’s wife reorganized her recipes in a new rolodex.
In Autumn 2003, they discovered highly concentrated anthrax in Kandahar, after Hambali’s interrogation. They also captured Sufaat’s two anthrax assistants, which permitted them to call off the surveillance on Dr. Steve Hatfill, which had been the hypothesis pursued by one of two squads. One squad was Hatfill and one was Al Qaeda.
In 2007, an Afghan governor announced they had seized powder in packets that was weaponized anthrax intended for mailing to government officials.
In 2007, the bowler’s daughter came home for Christmas with a new hairstyle.
In 2007, Ed’s argument had not advanced since he first seized upon Brian Ross’ story from December 2001. He contented himself with following the civil matter relating to a principal POI of one of the two Amerithrax squads. He has spent 5 years arguing that the FBI did not suspect Hatfill even though the reporters with senior DOJ sources say that they did.
Throughout the five years, Ed has never understood even the most basic elements of the theory the FBI has said it is pursuing relating to US-based supporters of Al Qaeda — specifically, that know-how was accessed by GMU microbiology student who had a high security clearance and worked alongside Ed’s main expert.
Ed never even knew that his main expert, the famed Ken Alibek, thought that Al Qaeda was responsible and knew that the FBI suspected Al-Timimi. Ed didn’t ask and Ken didn’t volunteer.
The Wisconsin bowler, who is a very nice guy, thinks Ed he lacks common sense. But in the interest of correcting Ed’s misunderstanding of the facts, is available to answer any questions Ed has, whether by telephone, email or visit at the local McDonalds. He didn’t even know that anthrax was a bacteria rather than a virus, and never had any connection or access to anthrax whatsoever.
The title of Ed’s page is a sham because it should be titled “The Wisconsin bowler” theory, not anthraxinvestigation.
When scientists at The United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) mistakenly believed that chemicals they themselves had used to kill a spore sample were put into the spores by the anthrax mailer, they compounded their mistake at a White House meeting on October 24, 2001, by passing around pictures of the mysteriously oozing "goop." And that quickly resulted in leaks to the media. Reports indicate that the FBI saw right through the error, since the FBI immediately requested additional tests to see what the mysterious "goop" oozing out of the spores might actually be. (USAMRIID had been sitting on their erroneous finding for over a week without doing further tests.)
When scientists at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) mistakenly assumed that the presence of the elements silicon and oxygen in the Daschle powder meant it was "weaponized" with silica, the FBI evidently realized that that made no sense if the silica could not be seen under a Scanning Electron Microscope. So, the FBI began consulting with experts on weaponized anthrax powders to see what other explanations there might be for the unexpected presence of those elements. The answer -- lab contamination -- turned out to be extremely critical to the investigation.
When the CDC reported that the onset of Bob Stevens' illness began "11 days after handling suspicious mail on September 19," they were referring to the J-Lo letter. Based only upon eye-witness testimony, the CDC reported that two letters received at the office of American Media Inc. (AMI) contained powders. They did not mention that sampling tests for the presence of anthrax spores on the three floors of the AMI building clearly showed that only one of the letters contaminated the building with anthrax. So, the FBI went back into the AMI building to search for both letters and, evidently, to do further tests to make certain which letter contained anthrax, and, presumably, to determine if the anthrax powder (or powders) were from the same batch and same mailing sent to ABC, CBS, NBC and The New York Post -- or a different batch and a different mailing.
Errors and unclear statements made by other agencies complicated an already very complicated case. And so did the Hatfill fiasco. Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part, but I think the FBI may still make an arrest in the Amerithrax investigation. I can see good reasons why they didn't do it during Alberto Gonzales' time as Attorney General. I just hope there will be a "right time" in the near future.
Your opinion stated as fact.
Once again, AFIP ANNOUNCED that silica was the key aerosol enabling component.
On May 2, 2003, President Bush -- who should be the top authority in such matters -- ANNOUNCED on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended."
It appears he was very much mistaken. But, evidently you cannot conceive of AFIP making even a much less serious error.
I guess that just goes to show how you latch onto something that fits your conspiracy theory that the FBI is covering up the "fact" that the 2001 anthrax attack spores were coated with silica, and you won't let anything shake you loose from such beliefs -- no matter how stupid those beliefs may be.
The AFIP lab deputy director, Florabel Mullick, said This [silica] was a key component. Silica prevents the anthrax from aggregating, making it easier to aerosolize.
MAJOR GENERAL PARKER: We do know that we found silica in the samples.
The problem with responding to your distorted nonsense is that you sometimes become totally irresponsible. That prevents me from posting a link to another article because it gives the name of the "bowler." And I know how you like to put his name all over the Internet and accuse me of pointing the finger at him, even though all I'm doing is saying the FBI once had him as a "person of interest."
When you claim that "They have never suspected the bowler," that is a distortion of the truth. He was a "possible suspect" and he was not ruled out as being a suspect.
The other article is dated a day after Brian Ross's article and says,
FBI sources said Thursday that [the bowler] is not a prime suspect in the anthrax mailings but has not been ruled out.
"We have developed no information that he ever had access to anthrax while he was at Battelle, and there was no anthrax in his home," said one FBI official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
"He is one among many we have interviewed as possible suspects," said another FBI official.
And while he was once a "possible suspect," I always make it VERY clear that I do not believe he is the anthrax mailer. If he was involved at all, it would have been as the supplier of the anthrax. And he would have done that as much a TWO YEARS before the attacks, which would mean he probably wasn't part of any "conspiracy," either.
So, please stop lying and feeding people bulls**t about what my analysis says.
The were evidently "out of the loop" and didn't have a clue as to what other labs had determined.
I think that this is totally true, but that could just as easily be as much an issue of politics as an issue of competence. This would be especially be true if high powers were interested in obscuring the true nature of "Amerithrax".
Ed, the FBI conducted no further investigation after early October 2001.
The idea that someone sending lethal anthrax to someone in the mail would arrange to have attention drawn to them is really silly. A perp would want to remain just one of many tens and tens of millions.
It is even sillier than Dr. Boyle’s suggestion that the DIA would manufacture correspondence from Ayman which then Ayman failed to address and ridicule.
Scientist’s anthrax claim was bogus
Man with doctorate degree in chemistry was drunk, police say
By GRETCHEN SCHULDT
of the Journal Sentinel staff
Last Updated: Oct. 4, 2001
A week after the terrorist attacks on America, a highly educated scientist told Milwaukee police that he was building an anthrax delivery system in his basement, according to documents filed in federal court.
In these times of heightened alert, the remark earned the man a visit from FBI agents armed with a search warrant, who took the man’s computer, and keypads from a telephone and a microwave oven, according to court records. But no deadly anthrax.
As it turns out, police were responding to a neighbor dispute, and the man was intoxicated when he made the anthrax comments to police.
FBI spokeswoman Cathy Fahey said no further investigation is planned ...
Over the past 6 years, the FBI’s investigatory powers have been focused on things like the alleged message from Bin Laden to the imam asking him about flight schools and aircraft. The imam’s number was found at various Ansar al-Islam locations. Michael Scheuer says he knows to a certainty that Ansar al-Islam was doing research on anthrax in the Summer of 2002. (I don’t know of any corroboration but the CIA’s former OBL chief is pretty darn good authority and claimed to be relying on humint and sigint, in addition to satellite imagery). (Scheuer opposed the invasion of Iraq so it is not a pretextual neocon argument).
“Among those reasons is an FBI report from an informant, which indirectly linked Aref to a terrorist network. The informant stated that only weeks after the 9/11 attacks, a messenger from al-Qaida approached him delivering an explicit message: Osama bin Laden was looking for information about flight schools and “how close the individual could get to an (redacted) aircraft.”
Given that the FBI has continued to spend thousands of agent hours investigating the theory that US-based supporters of AQ were responsible for the anthrax mailings, to remain wilfully ignorant indicates that your analysis is not a serious attempt at true crime analysis. You just latched onto a discredited ABC report — more tightly even than any proponent of an Iraq theory held on to the mistaken bentonite report by ABC, which was discredited just as quickly.
Everyone of your points against an AQ theory are contradicted by the facts. You would know that if you followed the developments relating to the FBI’s investigation of the US-based infrastructure.
You have what you describe as cognitive rigidity.
I believe Steve Emerson has a new website that looks to provide a lot of documentary materials, such as indictments.
Your theory is just a BHR-variant (as she modified it in March 2002) and so it is highly ironic you are so critical of her. Her theory was plausible and needed to be exhaustively pursued. Your theory is silly.
In order to believe it is "just as easy," you have to believe it is EASY to have a MASSIVE conspiracy where many FBI agents, many scientists from many agencies and non-government areas, and many people from the Bush Administration are ALL deliberately conspiring together to cover up the MURDER of five innocent Americans. And after six years, not one of them has gone to the media with the truth.
Is it really "just as easy" to believe that as to look at the facts which say that some people made some simple mistakes and false assumptions in the extremely intense days right after the discovery of the anthrax letters?
Wouldn't you be doing as Francis Boyle is doing: Assuming that there are so many evil people in America that a criminal mastermind can just pick an choose who he wants to help him with his evil plan, and everyone will gladly join up and keep silent about it?
I have no reason to believe that is true. While there have been conspiracies, I don't believe it's that easy to get people to cover up the murder of innocent Americans. And anyone who tries will just have to talk with one person who cannot go along, and that person will forever have the information needed to blow the conspiracy apart and put all the conspirators in jail -- unless you assume, of course, that everyone in the media and in the legal system will also gladly join the conspiracy.
Aren’t there bound to be important national security reasons to keep things secret? Also, isn’t likely that some of the story did not unfold until later upon the capture of documents and interrogation of detainees?
For example, it was not until much later that it was learned that Albany imam’s January 1999 diary entry read:
“Today I met (Brother Abu Sadiq) he is from Libya. He came with a Palestinian brother to my house. They seemed to be clever and MUJAHID, may Allah protect them. We talked about the following points:
1 Paying attention and programming and not independent work.
2 Strive to move the war to America and Israel, make the explosions there.
3 Attacking western targets so we can get the people’s attention toward us...”
AREF’s JANUARY 1999 DIARY
With respect to the diary entry above, Albany imam says he was just writing down what someone else who came to his house said.
But the reality may be more complicated and established some other documents and witness statements.
By way of background, a man named Aso Hawleri, a longtime member of the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan ( IMK) along with several Arabs, formed Central Islamic Faction.
The US Attorney in announcing Albany Imam Aref’s conviction, said:
“A cooperating individual (”CI”) had reported that in October 2001 this number [for IMF] was given to the CI so that the CI could report back to al Qaeda. In addition, a document on the letterhead of Islamic Cintral, Irbil, Iraq dated October 1999 introduced Aref as a representative, and Aref was associated with John Earl Johnson a/k/a Yaya, and with Ali Yaghi, two individuals with known terrorist sympathies.”
Thus, the Albany imam allegedly was a representative of the Central Islamic Faction Aso Hawleri had formed.
( In 1999, longtime Albany resident Ali Yagli was deported in May 2002 after investigation into an allegation (of unknown reliability or basis) that he knew hijacker Marwan Al-Shehhi.)
Now, as explained in Alan Cullison’s Atlantic Monthly article (”Al Qaeda’s Hard Drive”), a scanned image of the identity card of a military leader of Islamic Movement of Kurdistan (IMK) identity was found on a computer abandoned by al-Qaeda as it fled Kabul in late 2001. A looter had grabbed the computer after a bombing and sold it to a dealer. WSJ journalist Cullison picked up the computer when his laptop was wrecked in a car accident. The card lists the fellow as a member of the Military Office of the IMK, an important position in the group. A number of Ansar al-Islam members are known to have trained at al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan through the 1990s. Ansar al-Islam was formed upon a $300,000 grant by Bin Laden — it was an amalgation of a number of splintered factions in late 2001. As confirmed by the documents, several Arab leaders sent from Afghanistan by Ayman Zawahiri helped join the factions.
I’m not sure if the picture is of Krekar or Ansar’s #3 or Aso Hawleri. But it is a nice little documentary entry showing Ayman’s connection to Ansar. Other documentary evidence dates to 2001 and the meeting at which Ansar was formed with various folks from Afghanistan overseeing the merger. Compare “From Sting to Frame-Up: The Case of Yassin Aref,” August 19, 2007 (Aref’s former attorney mistakenly suggesting Ansar was not formed until 2003).
This top Ansar al-Islam military leader, Aso Hawleri, this guy who formed the group that introduced Aref and other Albany residents as its representatives, was captured in October 2003.
The sting operation directed at Albany imam Aref was put into play in 2003. By that time, in addition to the CI’s report, they had found Aref’s phone number in Kursdistan, for example, in June 2003.
Wasn’t the cooperating individual Aso Hawleri, longtime IMF member?
The Albany imam was charged with falsely denying he knew Mullah Krekar, one-time head of IMK military office.
There’s a great post-2001 interview of Mullah Krekar on YouTube in which a relaxed and bemused Mullah Krekar is explaining, with his mom at his side on the couch, that he’s not a terrorist. That is also the position of Imam Aref and his supporters.
Separately, the United States government alleges in a sentencing memo that Alo Al-Timimi’s friend, Rafil Dhafir, would give money each year to a group renamed Ansar Al-Islam. As explained in the links above, the reality is more complicated — with splinter groups (including the IMK) being brought together under the new name.
The CI (that the US Attorney calls him a “cooperating individual” rather than “confidential informant”) says that Bin Laden sent a message to Albany Imam Aref shortly after 9/11 asking how close he could get to [redacted] aircraft. The CI used the number for the IMF in Syria to report to Al Qaeda. Albany imam Aref called the IMF number 14 times during the 1999-2001 period. This, the government, says, is additionally part of the reason they launched the elaborate stinger sting operation. It would seem that as soon as they got the information from the CI in 2003, they quickly set up the missile sting. If they had the info about the October 2001 message, they would not have waited. Who was the CI? Wasn’t it the Ansar #3 Aso Hawleri? Rather than, for example, Mullah Krekar himself or Egyptian Rafa Taha, captured in Syria in Fall 2001.
Rafa Taha, a former leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group, who resigned after the public relations debacle of Luxor, had participated in putting together Ansar-al-Islam at Zawahiri’s request. Zawahiri was originator of the project to weaponize anthrax for use against targets in the US. Taha adamantly opposed the Egyptian Islamic Group cease-fire and in Fall 2000, drafted a fatwa with Brooklyn US post office employee Sattar urging the murder of jews wherever they could be found.
Meanwhile, back in EdWorld — with fewer unfamiliar names to learn and the next 9/11 not potentially at stake — Ed’s Wisconsin’s bowler January 1999 diary entry stated:
“Law and Order” is on tonight. I liked the other DA more than the new one.
Stop using the straw-man argument. Francis Boyle is loopy. To come on here and claim that myself or others hold Boyle-type viewpoints is absurd. But it’s obvious that there is information about the nature of the antharx that the FBI does NOT want Congress to know. This has been admitted by their chief scientist, Dwight Adams, under oath no less.
This would NOT involve a massive conspiracy (another one of your strawman arguments).
We do not know how many FBI scientists have actually seen the lab analysis of the powders. Interestingly, Doug Beeecher (who has been described by the media as being “at the center of the Amerithrax investigation”) has NOT seen the lab analysis.
FYI- Dwight Adams’s testimony:
In late 2002 Senators Daschle and Leahy called in the FBI to explain the Washington Post story “FBI’s Theory On Anthrax Is Doubted”, Washington Post, October 28, 2002. This was later on reported in “Anthrax Powder State of the Art?” . The latter article described how Dwight Adams, chief FBI scientist, told Senators Daschle and Leahy that there were no special additives in the senate anthrax and that the silica was “naturally occurring”. However, Adams admitted that there was scientific information concerning the nature of the anthrax organism that was deemed by his superiors too sensitive to share with Senators Daschle and Leahy:
Connolly: Earlier you testified that regarding the scientific aspect of the investigation there was information that was simply in your view too sensitive to share to the public about the particular characteristics of the organism sent in the mail. Is that correct?
Adams: In so many words, yes, sir.
Connolly: I don’t want to mischaracterize it. If you think I’ve mischaracterized it in any way then, please, put your own words on it.
Adams: No, that’s fine.
Connolly: Did you feel like you had the same restrictions in informing the senate, congress, or their staff in terms of what it is you would reveal to them about the particular characteristics of the organism that was sent?
Adams: As I’ve already stated there was specific information that I did not feel appropriate to share with either the media or to the Hill because it was too sensitive of the information to do so.
More of your bulls**t. The article you mention was from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and is dated October 4, 2001. Among other things, it says this about events back in 1999:
Battelle "had reason" to search the man's home after he was fired the second time, the affidavit says.
We don't know what the reason for that search was nor what they were looking for, but as you keep saying, this senior research scientist who has a doctorate in nuclear and environmental chemistry is now working in a bowling alley.
And THREE MONTHS after that October article there was a sudden FLOOD of news stories about the man. One of the December articles stated that on December 20, 2001 FBI sources were saying the man was "not a prime suspect in the anthrax mailings but has not been ruled out."
So, AFTER THREE MONTHS all they could say was that he was not a PRIME suspect but that he had not been ruled out. And you claim there was "no further investigation?"
What was going on at that time that suddenly put this senior research scientist all over the news? According to The New York Times, at that time
investigators said they were convinced they had their culprit. They passed the word of a pending arrest up the chain of command to President Bush, but their hopes were dashed when their quarry proved innocent.
Is it just a coincidence that at the time the FBI believed they had the culprit, the bowler was suddenly all over the news? Yes, he "proved innocent," but in this country isn't everyone "innocent" until proven guilty?
The guy had a PERFECT alibi: At the time of the first mailing on September 18, before anyone except the culprit even knew there was a mailing, he was 800 miles away from Trenton talking with the police, who were searching his home for anthrax because he told them "he was building an anthrax delivery system in his basement." They found no anthrax.
So, his PERFECT alibi says he was NOT the anthrax mailer. And I've been saying he was NOT the anthrax mailer. I've been saying for nearly SIX YEARS the anthrax mailer lives and works in Central New Jersey.
If you want to feed people bulls**t, feed them bulls**t about al Qaeda being behind the anthrax mailings. Don't tell them lies about what my analysis says.
This would NOT involve a massive conspiracy
So, what are you saying? Are you saying that if the FBI doesn't want to discuss details about "the nature of the anthrax" with Congress that means they are covering up the fact that the anthrax had a supersophisticated coating and that it was created as part of some illegal U.S. government bioweapons program?
And that doesn't require a "massive conspiracy," only a non-massive conspiracy?
Why couldn't they just not want to discuss details about the nature of the anthrax with Congress because, as they've publicly and repeatedly STATED, members of Congress were leaking confidential information to the media?
The facts indicate that they found polymerized glass in the anthrax and that it was there as a result of lab contamination. And the facts also indicate that at that time they did not know what kind of evidence could be extracted from such traces of lab contamination or from other Microbial Forensic investigation methods. And if they didn't know what kind of evidence they might be able to collect, they couldn't possibly know if the culprit might be able to somehow negate the evidence if he knew what they were looking for.
You may believe that if the FBI doesn't tell outsiders about details of evidence that it is proof of some kind of conspiracy, but the fact is that it is simply STUPID and against FBI investigative procedures to discuss investigative such details with outsiders -- even members of Congress (maybe even especially members of Congress).
Ironically, it wasn’t congress that leaked the information. It was the FBI.
The FBI has done nothing but stall, stall, stall on releasing ANY inforamtion. They have repeatedly told tall stories to judges that they were weeks away from an indictment. They pretended they had “super secret” information. When they finally shared this “super secret” information with the judge he laughed them out of court.
The AFIP announcement still stands as the ONLY credible information about the spores.
Beecher (supposedly at the “center of the investigation”) was not involved in the analysis, has not seen the analysis, and wrote a parargaph in a paper that editors now agree should NOT have passed peer review.
This is the FBI’s first public statement on the investigation since it began analyzing the material in the Leahy letter and the first time the bureau has described the anthrax powder. Beecher, however, provides no citation for the statement or any information in the article to back it up, and FBI spokeswomen have declined requests to interview him.
“The statement should have had a reference,” says L. Nicholas Ornston, editor-in-chief of the microbiology journal. “An unsupported sentence being cited as fact is uncomfortable to me. Any statement in a scientific article should be supported by a reference or by documentation,” he says.
To have the editor in Chief of Applied & Environmental Microbiology (the SAME journal Beecher published in) now say it should not have been included is pretty bad for Beecher - and the FBI.
Editor in Chief
L. Nicholas Ornston (2011)
It's an "on-going investigation." You may not believe it and prefer to believe in some conspiracy, but the facts say it is an "on-going investigation." And there may even be some good reasons why there was no arrest in the past year or so. I discussed some of the reasons in the "Comment" I wrote for my web site on Sunday:
I believe that the FBI knows who sent the anthrax letters, but proving it in a court of law is an entirely different matter.
However, I've been kicking myself because I didn't mention [on a radio interview I did] the situation with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
The President must now restore credibility to the office of the Attorney General. Given the serious loss of public trust and the disarray at the Department of Justice, the American people must have absolute confidence in the integrity of the next Attorney General as the nations chief law enforcement officer and as defender of our constitution independent of political influence."
From an editorial in the Charlotte Observer:
His performance as attorney general left him without a shred of credibility with Congress and steered the Justice Department into partisan disarray.
Gonzales will leave office, he said in an announcement yesterday, on Sept. 17. He leaves a department in deep disarray.
Even if the FBI had concluded its Amerithrax investigation, they could not make an arrest if the Department of Justice was not ready or if the Department of Justice felt it was unable to successfully prosecute the case. As I've stated before, this is not a case the Department of Justice or the FBI can afford to lose. And, since it's clearly a very complicated case, the prosecuting attorneys would really have to be ready. That poses the question: Can they be ready when the Department of Justice is in "deep disarray"?
Furthermore, according to USA Today:
When Attorney General Alberto Gonzales leaves office Sept. 17, he will bestow to his successor a department plagued by investigations, high vacancies and low morale, former agency lawyers say.
His presence as attorney general was hindering public confidence in the work of the Department of Justice, impeding its ability to deal with Congress, shattering morale through its halls, and generally embarrassing the administration which he supposedly serves.
Suppose the FBI had arrested the anthrax mailer a month ago, before Gonzales resigned. Suppose they arrested someone who had never before been mentioned in connection with the Amerithrax investigation -- Dr. Joe Blow. And suppose Dr. Blow claimed to be innocent? And suppose friends of Dr. Blow were all over the media expressing shock over the arrest of such a respected citizen. And suppose the Bill of Indictment was loaded with difficult to understand scientific evidence.
What would the reaction have been by the public and by the media? Would it have been viewed as an attempt to get the pressure off Attorney General Gonzales?
And what about the unresolved Hatfill lawsuit? If Dr. Joe Blow had been arrested, would all the people in the scientific world and in the media who have been pointing their fingers at Dr. Hatfill for years suddenly nod their heads and acknowledge that they were totally wrong and that Dr. Blow is clearly the anthrax culprit? Or would they be lining up to declare that the indictment was an attempt by the Bush Administration to continue the cover up of Dr. Hatfill's guilt by using scientific mumbo-jumbo to accuse some innocent man?
When the Department of Justice is headed by a man who a large portion of the media and the general public considers to be incompetent and a partisan political hack, and who even the Director of the FBI has publicly disputed, is it the right time to make an arrest in the Amerithrax investigation?
Of course, I could simply be rationalizing why there has not yet been an arrest in the Amerithrax case. It's possible that they simply don't have enough evidence. Or they might have the evidence, but the spectre of the O.J. Simpson case hovers over them as they wonder if the jury will accept the evidence.
I guess that's the difficulty with information that relates to an on-going criminal investigation, isn't it?
You can provide facts, but you cannot back up those facts with supporting information that is evidence in an on-going criminal investigation.
You might see it as proof of a "non-massive" conspiracy to cover up an illegal U.S. government bioweapons program, but I see it as just a matter of releasing important information to scientists while not providing details which could be used as evidence in an on-going criminal investigation.