Skip to comments.FBI again snoops about watershed (anthrax)
Posted on 01/24/2003 12:49:36 PM PST by knak
Flight restrictions again were imposed Thursday over the Frederick Watershed as FBI officials acknowledged the move was tied to the ongoing anthrax investigation.
"We have no information that indicates there is any public safety hazard, but we want to comment about this matter now because people have a concern over public safety," Special Agent Barry Maddox said Thursday evening from Baltimore.
Mr. Maddox's statement mirrored a media advisory issued last month that "the searches are in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation. It is important to note that based on water, soil and sediment testing already conducted, there is no indication of any risk to the public health or public safety."
This is at least the second straight month that FBI agents have targeted sections of the wooded Catoctin Mountains for study.
Last month, access to the region around Gambrill Park Road was contained by FBI agents stationed at roadblocks. Toward the end of the month, photographers captured images of special tents that had been erected and divers plunging into two side-by-side ponds, searching for evidence linked to the anthrax attacks.
Mr. Maddox said the FBI's Baltimore field office is assisting the Washington field office with the investigation.
"I imagine if they deemed it necessary to protect the integrity of the area, they could take similar measures (to limit access) again," he said.
"Although, I'm unable to comment further, I expect that whatever investigative techniques we have at our disposal could be utilized," he said.
Thursday evening, Frederick Police Chief Kim Dine said he continues to receive briefings from federal investigators when activity takes place in the city's watershed. In addition to two ponds that were searched by divers in late December, investigators have been canvassing other parts of the region as well, he said.
Although FBI investigators indicated late last month that they were close to wrapping up their investigation, Chief Dine said Thursday that the agents might never have completely cleared out.
Mr. Maddox said, "The investigation is continuing, so it's likely agents have been out working the case this entire time. No time frame has been established for the investigation to conclude."
We have been told there are "two investigations" - I assume Project Hatfill, and the real atx investigation.
For no particular reason announce on a weekday more investigation of the park...wait for Saturday to do the search...That happened last year...
I'll guess that this third (fourth? fifth?) return to the area will take place mostly tomorrow, Saturday.
To milk the terrorism budget for overtime pay
On the other hand, it could be a cover story when the overflights are being stopped because of a terrorism threat to Camp David, or because the war with Iraq is about to start.
I thought I read some place that Blair will be spending next weekend (not this one that is just beginning) with Bush at Camp David. Did I misread? Is it this weekend?
It's a waste of time, considering that the anthrax came from Iraq, and the guys who mailed the letters are all dead.
This is to get it on the record that I received two implied death threats on Free Republic today, from new sign-ups using the screen identities 666-Anthrax and Brandon Shaw (the latter name is reference to Alfred Hitchcock's Rope and my screen name on anthrax_fans, a private e-mail list). The first post referenced a story told by Boris Karloff in Peter Bogdanovich's movie Targets, a film about a Charles Whitman-style rooftip sniper. Given the "literary style" (60s acid freak) and the fact that A. J. Weberman's New York apartment was actually used as sniper nest by a deranged JDO activist and Weberman co-defendant Mordechai Levy, I suspect this poster is Weberman, who maintains the "STEVE HATFILL NAZI SWINE" web site. Weberman's antics are described in this Weekly Standard article: The Hunting of Steven J. Hatfill. The other post was a link to the Funeral Sermon from Eccesiastes. I could go into more detail on Weberman and his associate, Henry Niman, but I'll leave it at that for now.
Appreciate the clarification.
The sick-o left is a desperate crowd.
These guys seem to enjoy the publicity they collect from a canopy of media choppers, so blocking overflights makes me suspicious.
It's either a ruse, covering another security reason for blocking overflights...or it means they might actually be up to some serious business (which, by definition, would have nothing to do with Hatfill).
All but one of the recovered anthrax letters was postmarked after 9/11/01. At least two letters were never recovered, including the first one that went to AMA. In the the early days of the anthrax attacks, AMA employees were quoted in news reports as saying they believed the letter with the "odd powder" arrived the week of September 8th (a Saturday in 2001). The AMA man who became the first person to die in the anthrax attacks is known to have begun showing flu-like symptoms sometime during the last week of September, and he died in early October.
The second letter known to have remained unrecovered was the one sent to Dan Rather. His assistant opened the letter, thought it was from a crank, and tossed it. Later she came down with cutaneous anthrax. My memory is vague on this next point, but as I recall the timeline, I believe she actually got sick earlier than the first AMA man did. But there was no anthrax scare at the time, so it was only later that she remembered the envelope addressed to Rather that had the "white powder" in it.
The web site asserts that it has been genetically proven that Fort Detrick was the source for the anthrax, and this is simply not true. The anthrax could have originated at Fort Detrick, but it also could have come from Iraq or other places as well. The early reports that the use of silica as a dispersal rather than bentonite ruled out Iraq as a source turned out to be based on old, incorrect information. And by the mid '90s, the Ames strain of anthrax had been made so widely available that just about any sophisticated enough lab in the world could have obtained the strain.
The above statement without evidence is a real problem. I realize he has been named a person of interest but unless and until someone somewhere comes up with some incriminating evidence this whole thing smells like a PC put up job. The problem with anthrax is that it is not a simple matter to decontaminate after one sets up the initial attack. There are further problems in that just plain anthrax without special treatment does not lend itself to this kind of attack.
This crime like all crimes requires motive, opportunity, and capability. Hatfill has the knowledge to produce the anthrax spores in the form necessary but as far as I know that is all that anyone has on him. If anyone has any EVIDENCE it should be produced or people shout shut up with speculation regarding this man. Hatfill has been demonized by a few left wing idealogs and that is all we really know to this date.
One of the timelines I saw - which may or may not have been correct - had the PO employee who died in DC telling the doctors he thought he had anthrax, although this was actually before it was even known that anthrax was being sent through the mails.
Please remember that I don't know how reliable this timeline was. But my feeling has always been that the anthrax was intended to be a coordinated attack, that perhaps it was brought from Iraq or Europe by Mohammed Atta - but that the envelopes were addressed and the material distributed by somebody in the Post Office. This could possibly have been an American-born terrorist associated associated with al Fuqra, or possibly simply a stooge who had no idea what he was doing.
Out of curiosity, do you remember where you read this? From everything that I've read, the only real "evidence" against Hatfill is that a bunch of trained dogs barked at him one time. Most of the other evidence against him has turned out to be either inconclusive or outright falsehoods put forth by Barbara Rosenberg and Nicholas Kristoff. Personally, I think the F.B.I. is totally clueless on this matter and is desperate to try and pin it on this man, but I'd love to be proven wrong.
I consider Ashcroft to be a credible member of the Bush Administration, I trust him and believe he will be coming forward with information one way or the other soon.
Suffice it to say that we have very different opinions about John Ashcroft. When it comes to law enforcement and investigations, I don't think he has a credible bone in his body.
I read it in a publication called Global Security Newswire. The article does acknowledge that there is no specific evidence and it is, of course, coming from an unnamed official. I did find it interesting that the official went that far in his statement.
Anthrax: FBI Maintaining Focus on Hatfill, Officials Say
Several U.S. law enforcement officials have said the FBI is continuing to investigate former U.S. Army biologist Steven Hatfill, who has been the public focus of the bureaus investigation into the autumn 2001 anthrax attacks, even though there is no direct evidence linking him to the crime, ABC News reported yesterday (see GSN, Dec. 30, 2002).
The FBI is attempting to develop a case against Hatfill using circumstantial evidence, officials told ABC News after attending a recent meeting of the bureaus anthrax task force. The FBI had hoped that the search of a section of forest near Hatfills home in Frederick, Md., last month would find new evidence but little was found, officials said. The search had been launched because of credible tips that Hatfill had attempted to dispose of laboratory equipment in ponds in the forest, and further searches of those ponds are planned, an official said (see GSN, Dec. 19, 2002).
We may have enough right now to get an indictment, but we dont have anywhere near enough to get a conviction, an official said (ABC News.com, Jan. 9).
Interesting, then, that there is no grand jury investigating Hatfill and his associates. Why, oh why, could that be?
That it was coming through the mails was an obvious possibility once Blanco in the AMI mailroom came down with anthrax around the same time Stevens died, in very early October of 2001, weeks before the post office employees in D.C. were exposed to anthrax.
Indeed they did. So, we are supposed to believe that, a year after Steve Hatfill sent threats containing highly-weaponized anthrax, incidentally killing five people, terrorizing the entire nation and causing $2 billion of economic losses, the FBI doesn't feel it appropriate to empanel a grand jury to put Hatfill and his friends and associates in the hot seat. They'd prefer to let things drag on and hope for a lucky break, is what we're supposed to believe. Well, I don't think so.
It is definitely not good to be the girlfriend of a person of interest. My girlfriend was locked inside an FBI car and hauled off to FBI headquarters and interrogated for hours, without once being told she has the right to leave any time she wished. Her requests for a lawyer were delayed and made difficult. Her purse, although not on the search warrant, was taken from her and its contents examined after the interrogation process while she was being driven back to her residence. She was screamed at by FBI agents and told that the FBI had firm evidence that I had killed five innocent people. This was told to her by FBI agent Jennifer Grant and FBI agent Pamela Lane. Can you imagine that?That was six months ago. Has anybody seen Hatfill's famous traumatized live-in girlfriend? I have not found anybody who has been willing to vouchsafe that they have, and I have been in correspondance with several people who are quite close to the case, and have met Hatfill. Certainly, she has never appeared on Larry King, standing up for her man and tearfully proclaiming his innocence. Not even after the Amerithrax people leaked to ABC News that they think Hatfill's the killer, only they'll never be able to get a conviction. Remarkable. So, that makes me wonder if this "girlfriend" is more than a figment of a script-writer's imagination.
The FBI trumpets that I am not a suspect, and the woman I love is told the FBI -- told by the FBI that I am a murderer.
This is the life of a person of interest, Mr. Ashcroft. But that's not all. My girlfriend was told that she better take a polygraph examination and cooperate, or else. Her home checkbooks, computers, private papers and car were seized. As for her home, it was completely trashed, as is appropriate for the home of a girlfriend of a person of interest.
Some of her delicate pottery was smashed. The glass on a $3,000 painting was broken. This painting was wrapped in bubble wrap, by the way. Neatly stacked boxes awaiting shipment to her new home were ripped open, instead of opened with due regard to their contents.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have pictures of how FBI left this apartment, her apartment, which, at the time of the raid, was neatly prepared for a move to Louisiana, with all her belongings packed in nicely stacked boxes. This is one of the pictures.
I refuse to allow my girlfriend -- to this treatment, as the girlfriend of a person of interest. She is not here today. I love you. I will not state her name here. And I ask the news media, please, for common decency, if you know it, please leave her alone. She will not make a statement.
Does it strike you as perhaps a little odd that, in a scripted press conference purportedly designed to deflect public suspicion from his name, Dr. Hatfill would dwell on this rather irrelevant incident, which would seem to plant in people's minds exactly the opposite notion? After all, this incident has no bearing on the alleged public smearing of his name, nor is there anything particularly unusual about cops applying pressure to potentially hostile witnesses in a capital murder or terrorist investigation. In fact, in the many articles I have seen raising doubts about the FBI's treatment of Hatfill, I don't believe I've ever seen any that cite this alleged incident as evidence of FBI malfeasance. So, why was it in the script?
Nice touch to add the names of those two FBI agents who supposedly traumatized the nameless, faceless girlfriend. Otherwise, since the girlfriend is nowhere to be seen, it might cross somebody's mind that the girlfriend story is a fabrication. Since the FBI haven't denied the story, that would have interesting implications for the real relationship between Steve Hatfill and his purported tormentors, wouldn't it?
What were the names of those two FBI agents again? Oh, yes. Pamela Grant and Jennifer Lane. Hmmm. Well, whatever else those two names might suggest to you -- guys -- they are certainly generic enough. They are not names that are going to have reporters reaching for the White Pages to see if they can at least get a "no comment," are they? And the names of FBI agents do not appear, as far as I can determine, in any publicly-accessible directory.
Hmmm. Yes. Hmmm.
Oh yes. There's more to it alright. Just not what you think.
I would like to call those numbers you mentioned and ask about those Special Agents. If I do this from my home telephone though, am I running any risk of getting myself put on some F.B.I. whacko list?
It's actually much less big of a deal than you imagine. A recent FR thread, Congress Creates Fake School in Sting, describes such a ruse, run by the General Accounting Office. Note that this elaborate GAO ruse was implemented just to check up how well the Education Department is doing in evaluating foreign student financial aid requests. No spooks, no CIA, or FBI, no national security issues, no "new kind of war," no standoff with a deadly WMD-armed foe. Just some penny ante student aid question.
How many people would be "in" on the Amerithrax ruse, if such it is? Not many. Below cabinet level, the list of names is probably quite small: Steve Hatfill, his friend and "spokesman" Pat Clawson (probably), FBI Agent Bob Roth (probably), WFO director Van Harp. Pretty much everybody else whose name or face has appeared in connection with this production is an outsider: a "red shirt" -- i.e. an extra, a peon -- like the FBI agents who searched Hatfill's storage locker in Ocala; or a contractor, like Hatfill's lawyer, or the "Siegfried and Roy" duo flown in from California to provide the bloodhound talking point; or a "useful idiot" like Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, the left-wing busybody who was used as the conduit to channel the "rogue scientist" theory into public consciousness via Greenpeace, the Federation of American Scientists, and the NYT. Some of the people who have most convincingly fleshed out the story may not even exist: Hatfill's mysterious traumatized girlfriend, for example, and, just possibly, those two porn starlets, er, I mean FBI Agents, Jennifer Grant and Pamela Lane.
Given the highly weaponized nature of the anthrax in those letters, given the five people killed, the $2 billion of economic damage to the US postal service, and the acknowledged threat to millions of lives, given the fact that we are searching Iraq high and low for anthrax, given the fact the President of the United States and the Vice President of the United States both apparently believe or strongly suspect Iraq was behind 9/11 -- given all those things -- one might have the right to expect that the FBI's anthrax investigation, suggestively named "Amerithrax," would be a massive, technically-sophisticated, multi-million dollar operation with an army of field agents and on-call experts, dedicated to getting to the bottom of this matter and taking the perps of the streets. One would have the right to expect that, yes, but in fact, all indications are precisely to the contrary. You would have to have watched this as closely as I have since October 2001 to see that fully, but a good starting place would be to pay a visit to the Amerithrax web site: Amerithrax.
What of Dr. Hatfill himself? Well, Dr. Hatfill's accusers in the press, such as Nicolas Kristoff, have raised some interesting questions about his background and social circle. In fact, in Kristof's original "Mr. Z" article in the New York Times, Kristof seemed unable to decide between the notion that Hatfill is a rogue scientist, operating off his own bat, or the CIA-controlled puppet of anti-Iraq hawks in the Bush administration and the Pentagon. Kristof didn't want to chose between these options, probably because each individually suffers from fantastic implausibilities which can be partly patched over using ad hoc bait-and-switch to the other model. Of course, both theories are complete BS -- but there is a half-truth behind all this. Hatfill is a spook. Hatfill is highly-connected to Pentagon and CIA brass. Hatfill has a track record as a "bioevangelist," a Cassandra trying to warn people of the threat of bioterrorism and biowar blackmail. Most interesting of all, about four years ago, Hatfill wrote an unpublished, Clancy-esque science fiction novel in which Saddam Hussein uses terrorist cut-outs to launch a biowar attack on the United States. Hatfill publicly claims to be agnostic about whether the anthrax sent in the wake of 9-11 is foreign or domestic, BTW.
After the anthrax letters surfaced, I noticed right away that the government didn't seem particularly interested in giving the people straight answers on the origin and significance of those threats. I also remember wondering how they were going to keep it up, as each successive stall became outmoded by new public revelations. It seems likely to me that at some point, about a month in, the decision was made to pursue "active measures" to keep the question of the anthrax open, and get it off the front page. It wasn't going to be that hard to do, since nobody really wanted to confront the truth about the anthrax. Certainly not the 90% of the press which is liberal and anti-war, and would like to portray Saddam as a Bush family bogeyman. But even the 10% of the media which is hawkish -- the Wall Street Journal, the NY Post, Fox News -- doesn't want to fully confront the reality that the US has been out-maneauvered by a tin-pot thug. And the average, non-political person in the street just wants the whole thing to go away. So the problem of conditioning the public was never going to be that difficult.
Hatfill is an individual in the mold of G. Gordon Liddy or Oliver North. He's a super-patriotic national security-obsessive with a penchant for role-playing and intrigue. All this is in his background. His social circle consists of biodefense honchos, CIA spooks and Pentagon brass. He is a fabulist, a story-teller, and a performer. His literary talents are probably not even up to Tom Clancy levels, but where are the critics? My guess is, Hatfill and his Pentagon buddies got together in a huddle at that "safe house" in Virginia that Kristof likes to rave about, and they cooked up this scheme, and Hatfill bravely stepped up to the plate. Actually, it wasn't that brave. Hatfill knows he's in no legal jeopardy whatsoever. About six months into the whole charade, it emerged that the FBI's prime suspect was making $150K/yr as a contractor to the DOJ. He was then very publicly let go. Supposedly, he's still unemployed, living on savings and with huge legal bills. Does anybody know of any evidence to support that picture? No. Has any media outlet checked into it? No.
Hatfill's having the time of his life. He gets paid for sitting around all day, dreaming up new ways to jerk the chains of the liberal media and his political foes in the arms control community. He is in absolutely no danger of being indicted for anything. Hell, there isn't even a grand jury in this case. (Oops! Can't have a grand jury -- this is a scam, remember?)
Hatfill had me fooled for a few weeks with that scripted news conference last year. For a while, I thought that maybe he was just an innocent man, caught by happenstance in an FBI-managed misdirection. But what might have fooled the eye and the ear six months ago -- such as the histrionic, sob-sister story about his girlfriend -- doesn't past muster when reviewed with six months' hindsight. Of course, most people aren't paying that much attention. That's why I still seem to be the only person in the entire country to have figured this out. I'm amazed, truly amazed.
In response to a caller, Spertzel expanded on earlier statements he made to the effect that he believes the anthrax came from Iraq. Today, he said the anthrax used in the 2001 attacks was a superior form of weaponized bateria, and that the material (binding agent, I believe) in which the bateria was held was exceptionally sophisticated. He also said that the anthrax used in 2001 was superior to anything the United States or Soviet Union ever produced.
Of course, there was a clearly Left-wing former inspector on who tried to undercut what Spertzel said. However, the other two generally supported Spertzel without going as far as he did in his opinions. Spertzel is apparently one of the worlds leading authorities on bioweapons, by the way.
One of the former weapons inspectors on Late Edition was a guy with a British accent. He said he believes that if Iraq could get its hands on fissile material, they could have a nuclear device "within months." If this man is correct in his assessment, anthrax or no anthrax, we can't afford to wait much longer before taking out Saddam.