Monday, August 4, 2008

Anthrax Suicide Fallout: Let's Go Down The Rabbithole's Justin Raimondo today says Ivins was a patsy. He says the FBI deliberately mismanaged the case, failing to chase up important evidence like the Quantico letter:
"I make no connection between Rippy and Foster's discovery of "writings by a female officer that looked like a perfect match" to the Quantico letter. It's just that inquiring minds want to know…"
More about that later.

Glenn Greenwald says "no rational person could possibly assume" that Ivins is guilty based on the evidence to date. He takes a closer look at Jean Carol Duley, the social worker on whose claims so much negative press about Ivins has been based:
She has a rather lengthy involvement with the courts in Frederick, including two very recent convictions for driving under the influence -- one from 2007 and one from 2006 -- as well as a complaint filed against her for battery by her ex-husband.
Larisa Alexandrovna has more details on Duley. But why are we getting this news from bloggers, not the media? Could it be that the media doesn't want to know about it?

Greenwald examines an email from ABC News's Brian Ross suggesting Fort Detrick scientists themselves may have been the source of his false bentonite claims:
That would mean, if the FBI's accusation against Ivins is true, that the same Government lab where the attacks originated was the source for falsely telling Ross that tests revealed evidence linking the attacks to Iraq. In light of that, how can Ross possibly continue to conceal which Government scientists disseminated this false story?

It is also worth noting that Ross, who was a key witness in the Steven Hatfill litigation (since he had published numerous incriminating leaks from the DOJ) badgered at least one of his government sources, FBI spokesman Edwin Cogswell, to provide Ross with a release authorizing Ross to disclose the source's identity (allowing Ross to avoid being held in contempt by the court). Has Ross sought a similar release from his bentonite sources?
While Ross keeps silent, others in the media give a voice to public skepticism. The WaPo quotes fellow scientists dismissing the whole idea that Ivins could have been guilty. NYT says the evidence so far is purely circumstantial. Even the "sensible" folks at TPM are wondering what's going on:
I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I'm convinced there's a cover-up going on.
Perhaps the biggest story today is from The Daily News, which says the FBI was under massive pressure from the White House:
In the immediate aftermath of the 2001 anthrax attacks, White House officials repeatedly pressed FBI Director Robert Mueller to prove it was a second-wave assault by Al Qaeda, but investigators ruled that out, the Daily News has learned.

After the Oct. 5, 2001, death from anthrax exposure of Sun photo editor Robert Stevens, Mueller was "beaten up" during President Bush's morning intelligence briefings for not producing proof the killer spores were the handiwork of terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden, according to a former aide.

"They really wanted to blame somebody in the Middle East," the retired senior FBI official told The News.

On October 15, 2001, President Bush said, "There may be some possible link" to Bin Laden, adding, "I wouldn't put it past him." Vice President Cheney also said Bin Laden's henchmen were trained "how to deploy and use these kinds of substances, so you start to piece it all together."

But by then the FBI already knew anthrax spilling out of letters addressed to media outlets and to a U.S. senator was a military strain of the bioweapon. "Very quickly [Fort Detrick, Md., experts] told us this was not something some guy in a cave could come up with," the ex-FBI official said. "They couldn't go from box cutters one week to weapons-grade anthrax the next."
Again we see how the Bush gang's first response was hard political spin aimed at a pre-set agenda, rather than any kind of concerned, responsible approach to this shocking crime.

The White House pressure ties in nicely with the attempt to frame Dr. Ayaad Assaad: a letter denouncing Assad as a terrorist was sent BEFORE the anthrax letters and he was questioned immediately after the anthrax attacks. Did somebody in the White House know about that letter?

This is from Raimondo's article:
In September 2001 – before the news of the anthrax letters broke, but after they had been postmarked – a letter addressed to the "Town of Quantico police" was received that accused Assaad of being a terrorist who was planning to wage biological warfare against the U.S. on American soil. As the first anthrax letters were opened, Assaad got a call from the FBI. Agent Gregory Leylegian wanted to have a little talk with him.
Hmmn. Laura Rozen has a lot more details in this January 2002 article:
On Oct. 2, Ayaad Assaad, a U.S. government scientist and former biowarfare researcher, received a call from an FBI agent asking him to come in for a talk. It was well before anthrax panic gripped the nation -- in fact, it was the same day that photo editor Robert Stevens, 63, was admitted to a Florida hospital. It wasn't until the next day that Stevens was diagnosed with inhalation anthrax, and another two days later, on Oct. 5, when he would become the first of five eventual fatalities caused by the apparent bioterrorist attack.

The day after hearing from the FBI, Assaad met with special agents J. Gregory Lelyegian and Mark Buie in the FBI's Washington field office, along with Assaad's attorney, Rosemary McDermott. They showed Assaad a detailed, unsigned, computer-typed letter with a startling accusation: that the 53-year-old Assaad, an Environmental Protection Agency scientist who filed an age discrimination suit against the U.S. Army for dismissing him from a biowarfare lab, might be a bioterrorist.

"Dr. Assaad is a potential biological terrorist," the letter stated, according to Assaad and McDermott. The letter was received by the FBI in Quantico, Va., but Assaad did not learn from the FBI where it had been mailed from. "I have worked with Dr. Assaad," the letter continued, "and I heard him say that he has a vendetta against the U.S. government and that if anything happens to him, he told his sons to carry on."

According to Assaad, "The letter-writer clearly knew my entire background, my training in both chemical and biological agents, my security clearance, what floor where I work now, that I have two sons, what train I take to work, and where I live.

"The letter warned the FBI to stop me," he said.

After their meeting, Assad was thanked by the FBI agents, who have not contacted him since. The bureau says it cleared Assaad of the anonymous allegations against him.

"We received an anonymous letter with certain allegations about Dr. Assaad," Chris Murray, an FBI spokesman, told Salon Thursday. "Our investigation has determined those allegations are unfounded. Our investigation is complete. Period."
So the FBI quickly discounted this letter, even as the White House was pressuring them to name a Middle Eastern link to the case. It was only after the case against Assaad fell over that Ashcroft and others (like Kristof) started fingering Hatfill, and only after that case fell over that they went after Ivins. The whole think stinks.
"I'm the perfect scapegoat," Dr. Assaad explained. "I'm Arab-American. I'm a scientist who knows about biological and chemical agents. I'm suing the U.S. Army," he said. "Whoever did this clearly wants revenge."
Let's speak clearly for a moment. It looks like someone at the Fort Detrick lab framed Assaad by sending the letter ahead of their premeditated anthrax attack, and it looks like somebody in the White House knew what was happening, and it looks like the people who did that are now being protected, which would explain why the whole FBI case looks so bumbling, incompetent and illogical.

And now the Feds are desperate to wrap up the case in the public eye by convincing everyone of Ivin's guilt. The latest anonymous official leaks to the media suggest that Ivins was obsessed with the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at Princeton University:
Despite the connection between Ivins and the sorority, authorities acknowledge they cannot place the scientist in Princeton the day the anthrax was mailed. That remains a hole in the government's case. Had Ivins not killed himself last week, authorities would have argued he could have made the seven-hour round trip to Princeton after work.
You see how easy it is to make a connection? If I say "Saddam" and "WMDs" and "Terrorists" in the same sentence, they are connected! Voila!

Ivin's local paper writes an editorial obituary that makes grim reading:
Bruce E. Ivins apparently killed himself, but that doesn't make him guilty. Given the FBI's overzealous handling of the case in which Mr. Ivins only lately emerged as a suspect, it's in the realm of possibility that he was hounded to death...

The FBI had Mr. Ivins in a pressure-cooker. He did not bear up well. Diagnosed with depression, he told a therapist he was considering suicide. Mr. Ivins was stripped of high-security access at his government job and given a police escort to a hospital for residential treatment. He was forced to retire.

We're not weighing in on Mr. Ivins' innocence or guilt. In light of the FBI's handling of the case against Mr. Hatfill, however, we are concerned that Mr. Ivins may have been the victim of overzealous investigation.

Congress should press the Justice Department for a full and public accounting of this case. Forcing the FBI to lay out its evidence against Mr. Ivins is the only way the public can be sure the agency's methods were reasonable. It's only fair.
The editor notes that former Attorney General John Ashcroft was the man who originally fingered Steven J. Hatfill.

When you compare this anthrax story with the 9-11 attacks, isn't it odd how this anthrax case has the same shady characters and groups on the sidelines, the same anti-Muslim motives apparent, the same lack of investigation from the corporate media on seemingly critical issues, the same bumbling incompetence from government investigators, the same high-level White House push for political capital...?

Very odd indeed. You would almost think the same people were involved, for the same reasons. The highly politicized 911 Commission cleaned up that other mess. But this time they have screwed it up a whole lot worse.

OK, now sit back and hold on tight.

First, let's note that whoever did this was not working alone. There was a concerted effort within the Fort Detrick lab to get rid of Assaad (and remember, this all started years before 9-11):
It appears that the conspirators created an extremely toxic workplace on purpose in order to take control of the laboratory. The lab became very dysfunctional and hostile to the few "good" scientists that worked there which included Dr. Assaad. Dr. Assaad said "This person knew in advance what was going to happen and created a suitable, well-fitted scapegoat for this action. You do not need to be a Nobel laureate to put two and two together." Dr. Assaad said he reported everything to his supervisor, Col. David R. Franz, but that Colonel Franz "kicked me out of his office and slammed the door in my face, because he didn't want to talk about it." Dr. Assaad was eventually dismissed by Colonel Franz as were two other scientists of Arab descent.
And remember that all these people were US military types, who are supposed to obey orders. There was a chain of command here.

Now for the bombshell, which actually dropped some time ago but was not heard. This is reprinted in full from After Downing Street (via Hollow Mantras Of Vision):
Anthrax Coverup: A Government Insider Speaks Out

Submitted by davidswanson on Tue, 2007-07-03 20:08. Media

By Steve Watson

Is it possible that the anthrax attacks were launched from within our own government? A former Bush 1 advisor thinks it is.

Francis A. Boyle, an international law expert who worked under the first Bush Administration as a bioweapons advisor in the 1980s, has said that he is convinced the October 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people were perpetrated and covered up by criminal elements of the U.S. government. The motive: to foment a police state by killing off and intimidating opposition to post-9/11 legislation such as the USA PATRIOT Act and the later Military Commissions Act.

"After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Bush Administration tried to ram the USA PATRIOT Act through Congress," Boyle said in a radio interview with Austin-based talk-show host Alex Jones. "That would have set up a police state.

"Senators Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) were holding it up because they realized what this would lead to. The first draft of the PATRIOT Act would have suspended the writ of habeas corpus [which protects citizens from unlawful imprisonment and guarantees due process of law]. Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, come these anthrax attacks."

"At the time I myself did not know precisely what was going on, either with respect to September 11 or the anthrax attacks, but then the New York Times revealed the technology behind the letter to Senator Daschle. [The anthrax used was] a trillion spores per gram, [refined with] special electro-static treatment. This is superweapons-grade anthrax that even the United States government, in its openly
proclaimed programs, had never developed before. So it was obvious to me that this was from a U.S. government lab. There is nowhere else you could have gotten that."

Boyle's assessment was based on his years of expertise regarding America's bioweapons programs. He was responsible for drafting the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 that was passed unanimously by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.

After realizing that the anthrax attacks looked like a domestic job, Boyle called a high-level official in the FBI who deals with terrorism and counterterrorism, Marion "Spike" Bowman. Boyle and Bowman had met at a terrorism conference at the University of Michigan Law School. Boyle told Bowman that the only people who would have the capability to carry out the attacks were individuals working on U.S. government anthrax programs with access to a high-level biosafety lab. Boyle gave Bowman a full list of names of scientists, contractors and labs conducting anthrax work for the U.S. government and military.

Bowman then informed Boyle that the FBI was working with Fort Detrick on the matter. Boyle expressed his view that Fort Detrick could be the main problem. As widely reported in 2002 publications, notably the New Scientist, the anthrax strain used in the attacks was officially assessed as "military grade."

"Soon after I informed Bowman of this information, the FBI authorized the destruction of the Ames cultural anthrax database," the professor said. The Ames strain turned out to be the same strain as the spores used in the attacks.

The alleged destruction of the anthrax culture collection at Ames, Iowa, from which the Fort Detrick lab got its pathogens, was blatant destruction of evidence. It meant that there was no way of finding out which strain was sent to whom to develop the larger breed of anthrax used in the attacks. The trail of genetic evidence would have led directly back to a secret government biowarfare program.

"Clearly, for the FBI to have authorized this was obstruction of justice, a federal crime," said Boyle. "That collection should have been preserved and protected as evidence. That's the DNA, the fingerprints right there. It later came out, of course, that this was Ames strain anthrax that was behind the Daschle and Leahy letters."

At that point, recounted Boyle, it became very clear to him that there was a coverup underway. He later discovered, while reading David Ray Griffin's book on the 9/11 attacks, The New Pearl Harbor, that Bowman was the same FBI agent who allegedly sabotaged the FISA warrant for access to [convicted co-conspirator] Zacharias Moussaoui's computer prior to 9/11. Moussaoui's computer contained information that could have helped prevent the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

In 2003, Bowman was promoted and given the Presidential Rank Award by FBI Director Robert S. Mueller. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote a letter to Mueller, chastising the organization for granting such an honor to an agent who had so obviously compromised America's security.

During the anthrax scare, the House of Representatives was officially shut down for the first time in the history of the republic. Once opposition from Leahy and Daschle evaporated in the wake of the attempts on their lives, the USA PATRIOT Act was rammed through. Testimony by Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) revealed that most members of Congress were compelled to vote for the bill without even reading it.

"They were going to move to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, which is all that really separates us from a police state," Boyle said. "And that is what they have done now with respect to enemy combatants [in the Military Commissions Act of 2006]." Boyle added that lawmakers are now arguing that Amendment XIV, which guarantees due process of law to all Americans, does not mean what it has been taken to mean and that, under the Military Commissions Act, any U.S. citizen can be stripped of citizenship and be labeled an enemy combatant.

Continued Boyle: "In other words, they have taken the position that at some point in time, if they want to, they can unilaterally round up United States native-born citizens, as they did for Japanese-Americans in World War II, and stick us into concentration camps." Boyle asserted that top officials, such as White House legal advisor John Yoo and former Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith (now a professor at Harvard Law School), are pushing for the legalization of torture as well.

"The Nazis did the exact same thing," said Boyle. "They had their lawyers infiltrating law schools. Carl Schmidt was the worst, and he was the mentor to Leo Strauss, the [ideological] founder of the neoconservatives. So the same phenomenon that started in Nazi Germany is happening here, and I exaggerate not. We could all be tortured; we could all be treated this way."

Boyle stressed that it is vital to keep up the pressure on Senator Leahy, who now chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, giving him subpoena power. Since Leahy was himself a target, he may have sufficient motivation to get to the bottom of the attacks. The FBI and the Justice Department have so far refused full disclosure to Congress.

In addition to his credentials as a government advisor, Boyle also holds a doctorate of law magna cum laude and a Ph.D. in political science, both from Harvard University. He teaches international law at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Boyle also served on the Board of Directors of Amnesty International (1988-92) and represented Bosnia-Herzegovina at the World Court.

Boyle alleged that due to his activities as a lawyer, he was interrogated by an agent from the CIA/FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in the summer of 2004. The agent tried to recruit him as an informant to provide the FBI with information on his Arab and Muslim clients. When he refused, according to Boyle, the FBI placed him on the government's terrorism watch lists.
More about Francis Boyle here. This is not some batshit crazy lunatic.