Monday, August 18, 2008

Another Blog Bites The Dust

As I wind down my blogging activity, I have decided to close off with any further posts at Bush Out, where it all began. I am basically just going to be marking time there till Bush is gone, and the USA is out of Iraq.

It's a pity. I had high hopes for this blog, but there is only so much you can do on your own in my situation.

UPDATE: Ah, WTF. There's only so much you can say about the final days of Bush, isn't there? I'm back.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Manufacturing Reality

This might sound strangely familiar:
Imagine prisoners who have been chained since their childhood deep inside a cave: not only are their arms and legs immovable because of chains; their heads are chained in one direction as well so that their gaze is fixed on a wall.

Behind the prisoners is an enormous fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway, along which puppets of various animals, plants, and other things are moved. The puppets cast shadows on the wall, and the prisoners watch these shadows. Behind this cave there is a well-used road, and upon this road people are walking and talking and generally making noise. The prisoners, then, believe that these noises are coming directly from the shadows they are watching pass by on the cave wall...

Suppose a prisoner's chains break, and he is able to get up and walk about (a process which takes some time, as he has never done it before). Eventually he will be compelled to explore; he walks up and out of the cave, whereby he is instantly blinded by the sun. He turns then to the shadows on the floor, in the lakes, slowly working his way out of his deluded mind, and he is eventually able to glimpse the sun.
That allegory is actually over 2300 years old. It from Plato and is known as the Allegory of the cave.

Meanwhile, in the Modern World, TV is still the leading source of news in the USA. But it's not all bad news:
Pew said the results show an increasing shift toward online news consumption, but that there is now a sizable group of a more engaged, sophisticated and well-off people that use both traditional and online sources to get their news.

The Pew researchers referred to these people as "integrators," and says they account for 23 per cent of those surveyed, spending the most time with the news on a typical day.

Anthrax: Hindsight and "Heroes In Error"

The New York Times says the FBI will release more details of the "new" scientific evidence they used to frame Bruce Ivins for the 2001 anthrax attacks. No doubt that evidence will be closely scrutinized by a nation which still struggles with big scientific "questions" - like Darwin's Theory of Evolution, Global Warming and the Big Bang.

Regrets? Having successfully avoided a lawsuit from Stephen Hatfill, Nicholas Kristof has a few:
Kristof told me he plans to write a column looking back on the case and apologizing to Hatfill for any “extra scrutiny and upheaval the columns brought to him, and wrestling with the journalistic issues involved.”

... Kristof said he had been concerned about the potential impact of what he was writing. He said he tried to humanize Hatfill by writing that Mr. Z’s friends “are heartsick at suspicions directed against a man they regard as a patriot.” After Hatfill was identified, Kristof wrote that there “must be a genuine assumption that he is an innocent man caught in a nightmare.”

I asked Kristof if he regretted focusing so much on Hatfill when the point was to spur the F.B.I. to a more vigorous investigation. He said, “I think I should have tried harder to find a range of other examples to underscore the incompetence of the F.B.I. anthrax investigation.”
Years from now, Kristof will still be telling his grandkids how he helped pressure the FBI into resolving the case.

The Murdoch Wall Street Journal is also indulging in a little hindsight:
In the days after attacks, suspected samples of anthrax began pouring into the U.S. Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases. In Room 19 of the bacteriology division, Dr. Ivins's office was jammed with desks for six more staffers where once there had been just Dr. Ivins and perhaps one other.

"We were scared," says Col. Arthur Anderson, who at the time was chief of laboratory medicine in the diagnostic-systems division. Many of the scientists were seeing for the first time the weaponized version of a microbe they had worked with for years.

They were also fascinated, particularly Dr. Ivins, who talked repeatedly about the refinement of the spores sent with the Oct. 9 letter to then-South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle. The spores nearly floated out of the envelope.

"The stuff just came out without any prompting," he told Gerald Andrews, his boss at the time.

Dr. Ivins, his colleagues said, argued that al Qaeda was responsible. "He was very passionate about this," former boss Jeffrey Adamovicz said. "He was very agitated."
Maybe Ivins was a WSJ reader. Or maybe he read the New York Times. Whatever. He was obviously very unbalanced.

If Ivins was really guilty, you could expect to see heads rolling at the US military lab where he was employed, and at the top of FBI. But of course that will not happen - it never does.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Georgian Subplots: Berezovsky's Game

Readers of my other blogs might remember a couple of posts looking into Rupert Murdoch's strange business deals with former Georgian opposition leader and media tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili.

Patarkatsishvili died in London earlier this week [WRONG: SEE BELOW] and UK police are treating it as a suspicious death:
His death drew comparisons to the 2006 radiation poisoning in London of ex-Russian security agent Alexander Litvinenko. Moscow's refusal to hand over the primary suspect, Andrei Lugovoi, has strained relations between Britain and Russia.

Police found no trace of radiation at the Georgian's mansion, Britain's Press Association reported, citing police sources.

"Even if it is a heart attack, the recent situation in England with the deteriorating relations with Russia has led people to be suspicious even when there aren't any grounds to be suspicious," Natasha Chouvaeva, editor of the Russian-language newspaper London Courier, said of Mr. Patarkatsishvili's death.

In a strange twist, Mr. Lugovoi provided security for Mr. Patarkatsishvili and his businesses for 13 years.
The Imedi media network which was controlled by Patarkatsishvili and Newscorp is now the target of predators. It ceased news broadcasts in January of 2008.
According to Nina Ognianova, the program coordinator for Europe and Central Asia at the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, the questions surrounding Imedi’s ownership highlight a particularly troubling aspect to Georgia’s media market.

"What is currently not available in Georgia is the transparency of who the owners are, what their interests are. There is a lot of speculation about who is who and what their real stake is in these stations and wherever there is a lot of rumor, there is a lot of room for speculation," she told EurasiaNet in a telephone interview.
And yet the media in Georgia has been hailed as a model for other former Soviet states. Well, I don't think we'll be hearing much more about that for a while.

In another twist, a US lawyer has just been jailed in Belarus:
Emmanuel Zeltser's sentencing Monday comes after being convicted at a closed trial for commercial espionage and using false documents. He is an expert on organized crime and money laundering.
The common thread in both these stories is self-exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky (photo above), who says his "dear friend" Patarkatsishvili complained to him of heart problems when they met just last week.

Yeah, I bet he did.

What's interesting is how these guys like Berezovsky and Patarkatsishvili are on side with the UK government in all this. Guess who is representing Patarkatsishvili's widow in court? Lord Goldsmith, Tony Blair's former Attorney General, the man who famously changed his mind about whether it was illegal to invade Iraq.

This plot has lots of twists:
Emanuel Zeltser, who once testified on Capitol Hill about the Russian mob, is a key character in a wrangle over the $12billion (£6billion) fortune of a Georgian oligarch found dead at his country home in Surrey. He was arrested after flying to Belarus and accused of possessing false documents. According to Amnesty International, he has been tortured in custody.

Quite how Mr Zeltser ended up in Belarus is a mystery. The lawyer flew there on a private aircraft owned by the exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky - even though Mr Zeltser and Mr Berezovsky are on opposite sides in the fight for the fortune of the dead Georgian, Arkadi Patarkatsishvili.

A law firm representing Mr Berezovsky had already tipped off the authorities in Minsk that the lawyer might be carrying bogus material on his laptop. Lord Goldsmith, now a private lawyer and representing Mr Patarkatsishvili's widow in the case, e-mailed the Belarus ProsecutorGeneral's office to support its investigation of Mr Zeltser and offering to swap information.
UPDATE: I have seen a few reports that Patarkatsishvili died back in February, which is strange. My first link above is from the Dallas News via Associated Press, dated Wednesday, August 13 and saying he dies "last Tuesday". But Wikipedia cites Feb 12, 2008 as the actual death date, with lots of solid news links to back it up:
"Patarkatsishvili, aged 52, collapsed at Downside Manor, his mansion in Leatherhead, Surrey, England on February 12, 2008 at 10.45 pm. Ambulance crew members tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate the businessman, who was pronounced dead at 10.52 pm.[1] As in any other case of unexpected death, Surrey police treated the case as "suspicious" and launched an official investigation.[25]

The businessman spent his last day in the City of London office of international law firm Debevoise and Plimpton, meeting his business partner Boris Berezovsky, his spokesperson Lord Bell and his lawyer Lord Goldsmith QC, as well as fellow exiles, the Russians Nikolai Glushkov and Yuli Dubov [26] From the City he left for Down Street, Mayfair, to visit Berezovsky's office, and at 7.00 pm was returned to Leatherhead with his Maybach. Shortly after dining, Patarkatsishvili told his family he felt unwell and went upstairs to his bedroom where he was found unconscious after a heart attack."
Is this just crap reporting from AP again? Looks like it.
London Lite was first newspaper to inform the British public of the Georgian oligarch's death on the evening of 13 February 2008. In the news of 14 February 2008, Patarkatsishvili's death was covered in The Guardian, The Times, Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, etc.
Is the US media just catching up with the British press, six months later? I notice a few other Texas papers ran the misleading AP story last week, following Zeltser's arrest, but maybe it's all a bit too exotic for other US media players.

The Wikipedia entry on Imedi media doesn't give much more clues on Murdoch's involvement. Georgian politics and business are very secretive affairs, as is Murdoch's involvement in geopolitics. The whole thing is very shady indeed.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bremer's CPA Tried To Fake WMDs, Targetted Ritter For Assassination

Former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter, writing at Information Clearing House:
According to the source, the CPA had passed to the Badr militia my name, the dates of my planned trip to Baghdad, my proposed agenda and a list of Iraqis I had planned to meet with, including Mohammed. This information was in turn passed on to the unit in the Badr militia which specialized in targeted assassination in Baghdad. “Mr. Ritter cannot come to Iraq,” the Mukhabarat agent told Mohammed. “If he does, his life is at risk, your life is at risk, and everyone associated with his visit’s life will be at risk.” And so Mohammed sent his e-mailed warning to me.

On the surface, Mohammed’s story was too much to believe. I was willing to accept any account that held that specific Iraqi groups, such as Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress, were opposed to my visit to the extent that they might issue threats in an effort to intimidate me from coming. But the concept of the United States government being involved boggled the mind.

The problem with disbelieving was there were too many pieces of this puzzle that seemed to fit together...
That was in late 2003, when Ritter was on assignment for Harpers Magazine. But his source, a former Iraqi WMD scientist identified only as "Mohammed", also had a story from June that year:
Dave was on his feet, pacing before Mohammed, before turning to him and asking straight out, “Where are the weapons of mass destruction?” Mohammed, who had intimate knowledge of certain aspects of the Iraqi WMD effort, replied straight back: “There are no WMD in Iraq.”

Dave continued pacing back and forth in front of Mohammed. “My president,” he said, “is in trouble. Can you help him?”

Mohammed was taken aback by the question. “Excuse me?” he asked. “Could you repeat yourself?”

Dave sat down next to the Iraqi. “George Bush is in trouble. Our people did not find any WMD in Iraq. Can you help us?”

Mohammed looked back at Dave. “How?”

“Can we prepare something for that? We could bring in some nuclear material from the former Soviet Union, and pretend they are Iraqi.”

Mohammed, stunned by the unexpected nature of the request, indicated that such a ploy could be easily uncovered by forensic examination of the evidence by outside experts, such as UNSCOM (the United Nations Special Commission) or the IAEA, who would undoubtedly be called in to verify such a finding. Dave sat in silence for a few moments, before springing to his feet. “I have to leave for a meeting,” he said. “Stacey will show you out.”

Mohammed was to meet again with Dave, Stacey and Carol in the weeks that followed. The subject of WMD, Iraqi or otherwise, was never again broached by Dave or anyone else in his team.
The first reader comment on this story at ICH is a rather disturbing:
Question, sort of off topic: Have the good ICH readers notice that "Riverbend" has been absent for the past few months...
Is that meant to be a threat to ICH readers?

Oh, You Mean THAT Money...!









Offshore search nets $50m in unpaid tax:
TAX audits of Australians who have held bank accounts in the tax haven of Liechtenstein have already netted $50 million in unpaid tax and penalties, the Australian Taxation Office has revealed.

The billionaire businessman Frank Lowy has identified himself as among the Australians being investigated, but the Tax Office yesterday refused to give details on how many people, or from whom, the money had been recovered.

The second tax commissioner, Jennie Granger, said $20 million had been collected, with another $30 million being processed.

This puts the Tax Office halfway to the estimated $100 million it expects to recoup from people with Liechtenstein accounts.

A separate letter campaign to Australians asking them to voluntarily disclose offshore bank accounts has led to 858 people making disclosures about a combined $36 million in previously undeclared taxable income.
This ATO crackdown is separate from the "high-profile" (except that the media is scared to talk about it) investigation known as Project Wickenby.
On the investigations into the tax haven of Liechtenstein, Ms Granger said it would be up to the Director of Public Prosecutions to bring criminal charges against people if it saw fit. Strict legal requirements prevented the Tax Office from disclosing tax details of individuals.
But of course the DPP won't be laying charges against anyone, least of all Frank Lowy. A few million dollars for the tax man, some big donations to both sides of parliament, a couple of cognacs at the club, and it'll all be forgotten...

Meanwhile, in Bush's USA, things are even worse:
Remember the old Steve Martin routine on how to make a million dollars and not pay taxes: "First, make a million dollars... Second, don't pay taxes." Turns out Martin's joke is standard operating procedure for corporations in the United States -- only, in comparison, Martin was a piker.

Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study on taxes paid by corporations. In what Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) mildly called "a shocking indictment of the current tax system," the GAO found that about two-thirds of corporations operating in the US did not pay taxes annually from 1998 to 2005.

Now most corporations in America are start-ups or small, mom and pop operations that have adopted a corporate form to lower their tax rates. And a greater percentage of large corporations do pay some taxes. But in 2005, with corporate profits reaching new heights as a percentage of national income, the GAO found that over one-fourth -- 28% of large corporations paid no taxes...

Not surprisingly, the income collected from corporations has been declining as a percentage of GDP, with the burden transferred to your income and payroll taxes. According to a study by the Treasury Department, from 2000-2006, an average of 2.2% of GDP was collected in corporate taxes. This compares to an average of 3.4% in other industrial countries.
So what's the US Government going to do about it? Well, Bush and McCain are now campaigning to LOWER THE CORPORATE TAX RATE. I kid you not.

Credibility Lost

So I was reading TPM the other day and noticed that Obama was polling well in Arkansas, a "deep red" state. And then today I check HuffPo and read that the Arkansas Democrat Party Chairman has been shot dead. And then I read that the alleged gunman was also shot dead by police.

The story is that he was pissed at losing his job. Maybe that's true. Maybe it isn't.

Again, we'll never know.

UPDATE: The familiar police refrain:
Lieutenant Hastings said the motive for the shooting was unclear.

"That's something that we'll be looking into. Right now we don't have an answer for you on that," he said, adding that the suspect was not a former Gwatney employee.

Cheney Is the Anthrax Killer

Brad Friedman of the Bradblog has a good piece at The Guardian which nicely covers all the angles in the anthrax case of late, including this "embarrassing" hand-scrawled letter from Ivin's drug-challenged therapist, and also linking to this very good article at TPM (check the comments too):
Officially, the U.S. does not have or keep any weapons-grade anthrax. President Nixon ordered the dismantling of U.S. biowarfare programs in 1969 and the destruction of all existing bioweapons, including anthrax.
And there you have it. This is all part of the secret government that has been steadily building influence since WWII.

I think what's really telling about this case is that the idiots in the FBI do not really understand what they are talking about, and yet they assume that the rest of us are just as stupid - in fact, even more stupid. Because they think they are all so very clever.
"I'm #1 - Why try harder?"
This, like the election of Bush himself, is directly attributable to the dismal state of education in the USA. Bush's USA is a society in rapid decline, which is a good thing for the rest of the world. The big problem is that the idiots in charge are armed to the teeth.

Meanwhile, the PM of NZ got a white powder envelope today. Is that just coincidence? I note that the Otago Daily Times was top story at yesterday, with an article taking the piss out of the FBI's anthrax investigation in a way the US press would never dare attempt (even Brad Friedman has to write for the Brits). So was this a warning to the Kiwis?

Who knows.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Useful Tools

Dick Cheney on Meet the Press, 8 September 2002:
VICE PRES. CHENEY: The president’s going to address the General Assembly of the United Nations this week. He will lay out his concerns at that point. We have begun to share, as much as we can, with committees of Congress. A lot of this, I hope, eventually will be in the public arena so that we’ll be able to discuss it not only with our allies overseas, but also with the American people here at home. They have a right to know and understand what it is that’s happened here.

It’s also important not to focus just on the nuclear threat. I mean, that sort of grabs everybody’s attention, and that’s what we’re used to dealing with. But come back to 9/11 again, and one of the real concerns about Saddam Hussein, as well, is his biological weapons capability; the fact that he may, at some point, try to use smallpox, anthrax, plague, some other kind of biological agent against other nations, possibly including even the United States. So this is not just a one-dimensional threat. This just isn’t a guy who’s now back trying once again to build nuclear weapons. It’s the fact that we’ve also seen him in these other areas, in chemicals, but also especially in biological weapons, increase his capacity to produce and deliver these weapons upon his enemies.

MR. RUSSERT: But if he ever did that, would we not wipe him off the face of the Earth?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Who did the anthrax attack last fall, Tim? We don’t know.

MR. RUSSERT: Could it have been Saddam?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I don’t know. I don’t know who did it. I’m not here today to speculate on or to suggest that he did. My point is that it’s the nature of terrorist attacks of these unconventional warfare methods, that it’s very hard sometimes to identify who’s responsible. Who’s the source? We were able to come fairly quickly to the conclusion after 9/11 that Osama bin Laden was, in fact, the individual behind the 9/11 attacks. But, like I say, I point out the anthrax example just to remind everybody that it is very hard sometimes, especially when we’re dealing with something like a biological weapon that could conceivably be misconstrued, at least for some period, as a naturally occurring event, that we may not know who launches the next attack. And that’s what makes it doubly difficult. And that’s why it’s so important for us when we do identify the kind of threat that we see emerging now in Iraq, when we do see the capabilities of that regime and the way Saddam Hussein has operated over the years that we have to give serious consideration to how we’re going to address it before he can launch an attack, not wait until after he’s launched an attack.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another Hit

Interesting. I just got a hit from someone Googling the name "Richard O. Spertzel". The domain is and the ISP is listed as "HQ US Army Medical Research and Development Command".

I assume some of Bruce Ivins colleagues are trying to solve this case for themselves.

I haven't been posting much on this blog but I have left a few comments at Glenn Greenwald's blog over the past few weeks. Glenn is now on holidays and his comments section is deteriorating rapidly, unfortunately. You can read my comments to date here.

UPDATE: And now another hit from (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in Virginia. Obviously somebody is still on this story...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Is It Time To Panic Yet?

Um, wait, let's see...

This is from the opening para at Newsweek today:
When the FBI publicly branded the late Dr. Bruce Ivins as the anthrax killer, it unsealed court affidavits suggesting a possible motive for the mailing to one target: NBC anchor Tom Brokaw. According to the affidavits, Ivins was angry about repeated Freedom of Information Act requests from Gary Matsumoto, identified as "an investigative journalist who worked for NBC News" who was looking into Ivins's work on an anthrax vaccine. "Tell Matsumoto to kiss my ass," the affidavit says Ivins wrote in an Aug. 28, 2001, e-mail, noting that was "weeks" before the Sept. 18, 2001, anthrax mailing addressed to Brokaw. But Matsumoto told NEWSWEEK the FBI never interviewed him as part of its investigation. If it had, he says, he could have told them he'd actually left NBC News five years earlier. At the time he was bombarding Ivins's lab with FOIA requests, he was employed by ABC. "They're trying to connect dots that don't connect," he said.
But of course, that's just Michael Isikoff's article. The Newsweek editorial is grandly titled:
FBI Makes a Powerful Case Against Ivins
It doesn't matter any more whether it is true or not, you see? We have entered into La La Land, where the New York Times can write a seemingly pro-Obama article with a throwaway line like this:
"Out of his hearing, Mr. McCain is called the White Tornado by some people who have worked for him over the years. "
Et tu, Brute?

George Washington has been wondering for some time whether a continuity of government plan is already in effect. I tell you what, that would be a good Get Out for the Dems, wouldn't it? "Yeah, we won control of the House and Senate but we couldn't say a damn thing about why we were still powerless..."

Given that the Zionist US neocons including McCain have just launched (by proxy) another (see Israel-Hezbolla circa 2007) stupid war of aggression which is backfiring miserably as we speak, bringing us all to the (once, not long ago, unthinkable) brink of a US-Russia military showdown, we are entitled to be worried.

Meanwhile, for the first time I can remember, is unreachable.... Coincidence?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Horror.

The horror.
If her husband's suspicions were correct, then whose "foreign" hand took her away?

The tape leaves no clue.
I blogged about Margaret Hassan's death (see my BushOut posts here and here and here). It was obvious back then what was happening. The murder of a peaceful, much-loved aid worker like Margaret was a warning to others like her.

No wonder things have been so silent for so long.
I asked some of the reporters how humans could commit such atrocities. None of them knew.

One suggested that 11 years of UN-imposed sanctions had somehow changed the mentality of Iraqis. And I do recall, back in 1998 – when Saddam still ruled Baghdad – an NGO official tried to explain to me what was happening to Iraqis. The Americans and British "want us to rebel against Saddam," the official said. "They think we will be so broken, so shattered by this suffering that we will do anything – even give our own lives – to get rid of Saddam. The uprising against the Baath party failed in 1991 so now they are using cruder methods. But they are wrong. These people have been reduced to penury. They live in shit. And when you have no money and no food, you don't worry about democracy or who your leaders are."

That official was Margaret Hassan.

We have come face to face with Evil.

PPS: I am going to stop blogging in a few weeks. This is not like my other breaks: this time a "lifestyle change" necessitates an end to my long blogging habit. Perhaps it's for the best. There is a role for those who document the atrocities, but each of us can only stand so much. I have been in a situation where I have read and absorbed a lot without necessarily being able to post about it all (due mostly to time constraints, which are about to get even tighter).

Things Are Getting Very Wierd Very Quickly

Holy shit. A friend just sent me this news from Mike Whitney:
My friend Tom Feeley is in Big trouble. He runs the web site which updates "news you won't find in the corporate media" every day. The site is strongly anti-war.

Tom has gotten his share of death threats over the years, but what happened this week is a lot more serious.

Two days ago, Tom's wife found three well dressed men in their kitchen. The man who did all the talking, told Tom's wife (I won't give her name) that Tom must "Stop what he is doing on the Internet, NOW!" As crazy as it sounds, he pulled back his lapel and showed her a gun of some kind which she could not identify. Like I said, Tom has been threatened before, but nothing like this. 4 years ago, he was in a parking lot at Long's Drug store in Southern California and when he tried to open his door to get out, a man in a car next to him opened his door at precisely the same time which prevented Tom from getting out. Then, a 40-ish year old man got out of the passenger side of the vehicle and approached Tom saying, "You need to stop what you are doing on the web".

Tom said the man was overweight and had his shirt untucked. Tom was taken aback, but (after collecting himself said) "What the fuck? Who do you think you are telling me what I can do?"

The man answered, "Tom, I'm just giving you some good advice. You should take my advice, Tom."

This is all I know about the incident. Since, then, there have been occassional death threats, but nothing like what happened on Sunday. Tom's wife is hysterical and has not returned to the house since the incident. She contacted the FBI but the FBI said their was nothing they could do. Tom and his wife separated recently after a 30 year marraige, so he is publishing from a different location.

The well-dressed man told Tom's wife that he knew where her son lived, what line of work he was in, and how many children he had.

Last night, Tom's son and a friend cruised the neighborhood where his mother lives to see if anything strange was going on. They came across two men in a car a half-block from their mother's home using their laptops at roughly 12:30 AM. When Tom's son and friend approached them, the car sped off. Tom, does not know whether this is connected to his situation, but it is definitely suspicious.

I talked to Tom this morning and he is getting by, but he's clearly upset. I do not know his plans, but I know he is ditching his cell phone and (I assume) will have to go underground as much as possible. He plans to keep publishing.

I'll tell you this about Tom Feeley; he is no bullshitter. He is the "real deal" and completely committed to exposing the mob that is presently running our country. He does not understand why, (as he says) "They are reaching down SO far to get someone who just runs web site". But, the truth is, they are. Someone wants him to "shut up" and they apparently have the muscle to do it. He knows he is in danger.

I will probably only hear from Tom infrequently from this point on. But I will update information as I get it. Tom, knows some of the best writers on the Internet---many of them speak out regularly and forcefully on issues of civil liberties and war. Anything they can do to draw attention to Tom's situation will greatly improve his chances of getting through this ordeal safely. Beyond that, I have no idea of what can be done to help.

Mike Whitney
I can't see anything about this on ICH yet. If anyone has more info, please let me know. This is outrageous.

Tom Feeley is a hero, and ICH is a daily must-read, but he is hardly the only source of such information. Take him out of the game and others will fill the space, I guarantee it.

OTOH the top story at ICH right now is pretty scary too: Steve Watson cites a top Law Professor saying Counter Terrorism Czar Told Me There Is Going To Be An i-9/11 And An i-Patriot Act:
Amazing revelations have emerged concerning already existing government plans to overhaul the way the internet functions in order to apply much greater restrictions and control over the web.

Lawrence Lessig, a respected Law Professor from Stanford University told an audience at this years Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Half Moon Bay, California, that “There’s going to be an i-9/11 event” which will act as a catalyst for a radical reworking of the law pertaining to the internet.

Lessig also revealed that he had learned, during a dinner with former government Counter Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke, that there is already in existence a cyber equivalent of the Patriot Act, an “i-Patriot Act” if you will, and that the Justice Department is waiting for a cyber terrorism event in order to implement its provisions.
A friend is making backups of my blogs. Things are suddenly looking very wierd indeed.

I've spent quite a few hours over the last week looking into all this anthrax stuff and it is clear to me that (1) Ivins is not the lone killer presented by the FBI's flimsy evidence, (2) the FBI don't really give a shit whether you believe their story or not, (3) the anthrax attacks were a concerted effort by the neocon crazies to push through the Patriot Act.

Of course that means the same people were behind 911 as well, which is becoming all too obvious - is that why they are preparing to act?

Are we now going to see why they wanted the Patriot Act, and how they view the rule of Law is this "new post-911 world"? Bush's USA has crossed to "the dark side", as Dick Cheney called it. Anything is permissible as long as there's a shady threat used to justify it.

Regular readers will know that I do not write in these terms. But right now I am beginning to feel a very real sense of trepidation.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Interlude: Ghosts From The Past

Laurie Garrett, September 22nd, 2001:
It doesn't help that the FBI has warned that intelligence indicates the terrorists were planning another attack upon New York, TODAY. Why today? We are told there is some significance to September 22, and that we must be prepared. Be prepared --- what the hell does that mean?

"There is very little you can do to protect yourselves from bioterrrorism," Jerry Hauer told the faculty of Rockefeller University yesterday. "There is very little you can do to protect yourself if a plane crashes into a building. If it happens, it happens. We have to go on."

Hauer, who created New York's emergency response system --- which performed remarkably well last week --- is now a bioterrorism advisor to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. With intelligence pouring in that indicated the terrorist network is allied with Sadaam Hussein's bioweapons laboratory personnel, as well as missing Russian BW scientists, Hauer said they are scrambling in Washington to get ready. (See today's Newsday web site for my article on why we are totally vulnerable to BT and have no solid preparedness policy in place.) As horrific as the deaths of more than 7,000 people in the WTC disaster and two other plane crashes may be, a bioweapon release would be orders of magnitude worse. And we are not ready, in any way, shape or form, for such an eventuality.

Yesterday Hauer spoke in the famous Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome audiorium on the Rokefeller campus. Security was tight. The scientists, an elite group at Rockefeller that includes several Nobel Prize winners, listened carefully to every word Hauer uttered. He told them what most these laboratory men and women already knew, if they'd thought about it: That microbes are the ultimate weapon. And when the question and answer period came every imaginable accent inflected their English. It has always been on of my favorite features of Science --- its intellectual internationalism --- and some of the questions came from scientists who had toiled amid terrorism elsewhere, such as the Middle East or south Asia.

One female scientist, speaking in an accent I believe was Lebanese or Syrian, asked a deeply profound question: Can we remain intact as souls? She wanted to know whether New Yorkers will be permanently psychically altered by these events in harmful ways. The venerable, elderly Nobel Laureate Joshua Lederberg rose carefully from his seat to respond.

"I've shared this fear," Lederberg said. "The horrors of people leaping out of buildings never leave me. Those are obvious. But I've had a much more deep-seeded anxiety and I can't share it exactly. An anxiety that we've been forced to put aside that which made u good people. I remember Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor started a process that ended with Hiroshima. My fear is that we are at the beginning of process now that may take us to something in the end like that. My fear is that we may change ourselves in ways that are not desireable."

Before the lecture Hauer, who I have known for years, confided that he had just been involved that morning in identifying the body of a close friend, John O'Neill, who died in the WTC. Hauer said "body", but from what else he indicated it was obvious O'Neill?s remains were nothing the family ought to view. Hauer hasn't slept in days. He is haggard and jittery. Distraught.

"John O'Neill was head of the FBI's counterterrorism branch in Washington," Hauer told me privately. "He led every important investigation you can name --- the USS Cole, Tanzania, Kenya bombings. He retired three weeks ago. I helped him get the job as head of security for the World Trade Center. And the irony is the guy he chased for most of his career killed him."

When Lederberg spoke of his fears for the future Hauer thought of O'Neill. And he told the audience a tory O'Neill had recently relayed to him, regarding the capture of a member of Bin Ladin's network two years ago. O'Neill and his prisoner were in a plane, flying in from overseas, "and he flew over the World Trade Center in a helicopter with this guy," Hauer said. "And the guy said to O'Neill, If I had more money I would have brought that building down."
On that same day, 22.9.01, Laurie Garret published a Newday article title "U.S. Ill-Prepared For Bioterrorism". According to Wikipedia, Garrett is currently the Senior Fellow of the Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

CFR members include the Pentagon's top advisers, Richard Perle, Henry Kissinger, Paul Wolfowitz, ex-CIA chief James Woolsey, biosciences specialist Joshua Lederberg, and many other fine people. Again from Wikipedia:
The Council has been the subject of many controversies, partly due to the number of high-ranking government officials in its membership, its secrecy clauses, and the large number of aspects of American foreign policy that its members have been involved with, beginning with Wilson's Fourteen Points. The John Birch Society believes that the CFR plans a one-world government.[32] Wilson's Fourteen Points speech was the first in which he suggested a worldwide security organization to prevent future world wars.[33]
For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as "internationalists" and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure — one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.
—David Rockefeller, "Memoirs" autobiography (2002, Random House publishers), page 405
This is from
O'Neill's body was supposedly recovered in the debris of the World Trade Center. It was said by at least 1 source that it was recovered by non other than Jerome Hauer.

As head of Counter-terror, O'neill would have known more about Osama Bin Laden than anyone alive at the time. Leading some to say his death was not an accident.

If anyone would have known if Bin Laden was really behind 9/11, it would have been O'Neill.
O'Neill replaced Marvin Bush's Securacom as head of security for the WTC days before the 9/11 attacks.
Yeah, the company which handled security at the WTC until shortly before 9-11 just happened to have Bush family connections:
According to two articles in the Progressive Populist written by Margie Burns, from 1993 to 2000, [Marvin] Bush served on the board of Securacom (since renamed Stratesec). The chairman of the board of Stratesec is Wirt D. Walker III, a cousin of Marvin and George W. Bush. Securacom had contracts to provide security for Dulles International Airport (the airport from which American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon, originated) and the World Trade Center in New York.

Securacom's backers include a number of Kuwaitis through a company called KuwAm Corp (Kuwaiti-American Corp.). Stratesec also has Saudi investors.

Walker also serves as a managing director of KuwAm, which maintains offices within the Watergate complex along with Riggs Bank, on whose board Bush's uncle, Jonathan Bush, sits. Saudi Princess Haifa al Faisal, the wife of Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Bandar, used a Riggs account to funnel money to Omar al Bayoumi and Osama Basnan, two Saudi students in California associated with two of the911 hijackers.
But wait, there's more:
Marvin Bush has not responded to repeated telephoned and emailed requests for comment on this story.

The American Stock Exchange delisted Stratesec's stock in October 2002. Securacom also had a contract to provide security at Los Alamos National Laboratories, notorious for its security breaches and physical and intellectual property thefts.

According to its present CEO, Barry McDaniel, the company had an ongoing contract to handle security at the World Trade Center "up to the day the buildings fell down." Yet instead of being investigated, the company and companies involved with it have benefited from legislation pushed by the Bush White House and rubber-stamped by Congressional Republicans.
Yep, Marvin Bush's company was handling security for Los Alamos National Laboratories, which had a long series of lax security issues, including one major incident on October 26th, 2001, involving anthrax. Two Los Alamos directors resigned in January 2003 after investigations into security breaches and missing equipment.

Cui Bono?

According to the FDA:
There is only a single anthrax vaccine licensed in the U.S.; the vaccine is manufactured by BioPort Corporation, located in Lansing, Michigan.
That license is worth a lot of money to BioPort. It means that they and they alone are responsible for vaccinating US military and government personnel, and for stockpiling huge quantities of vaccine in case of a public outbreak. The contract is reportedly worth USD$?

BioPort's vaccine is called Biothrax .

Here's a little timeline of Jerome Hauer's recent life:

1993 - IBM Manager, Hazardous Materials Response and Crisis Management and Fire Safety. Also ran emergency management programs for the State of Indiana.

1996 to 2000 : Director of the newly-created Office of Emergency Management. In 1996, Giuliani shifted responsibility for the city's emergency preparedness from the Police Department to the new agency headed by Hauer.

1999: New $13 million Office of Emergency Management (OEM) crisis center HQ opened on the 23rd floor at 7 World Trade Center. Critics of the move cite WTC truck bomb attack in 1993.

Circa 2001 : national security advisor with the National Institute of Health, and managing director with Kroll Associates (the firm in charge of security for the World Trade Center complex).

August 2001 : Jerome Hauer arranges a new job for John O'Neill, the resigning chief of the FBI Terror Task Force - as head of security at the World Trade Center. O'Neill died in the Twin Towers on September 11th.

September 11, 2001: From Wikipedia:
Reports indicate that the OEM crisis center at the World Trade Center was not being used on 9-11 by the usual personnel. The center had been temporarily relocated to Pier 92 on Manhattan’s West Side, due to a FEMA drill which was supposed to begin on the day after 9-11, according to statements made by Mayor Giuliani.

May 5, 2002 - present : Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness (OPHP)

Jim White (who blogs here) is even more suspicious of Spertzel following the FBI doc release:
I want to know the truth here. If RMR-1029 is purified spores with a high technology coating and was produced at Dugway, then Dugway and Battelle have a lot to answer for whether Ivins sent the attack material or not.

Spertzel has been a tool for the neocons for years and has been one of the leading dissemblers for the case for the invasion of Iraq. I don't trust him for a second. It is entirely possible that he is intentionally deflecting attention from Dugway.
This is from another informed poster at Greenwald's blog, CargoCult:
In addition, the FBI claimed in 2005 that the anthrax was not silica-coated, which is contradicted in their current report.

They come right out and say it, despite what Ed Lake has been preaching for years about it. This is a pretty critical point, isn't it?

However, why didn't they send samples out to others to do the typing of whatever it was they claim they found in Ivin's flask? Let alone the fact that noone was being investigated at Fort Detrick on 9/18 or 10/9, so how can they be so sure of what was and what was not in the flask at that time?

And what is their theory for how Bruce Ivins managed to prepare silica-coated absolutely pure, highly weaponized anthrax, even if he had the strain?

Finally, have they tested the strains at Dugway and Battelle in order to see how they compare to the letters?... Dugway and Battelle are not even being investigated. This is nothing but a coverup, I'm afraid.
I found this from 2005:
Hauer is critical of Secretary Simonson for not filling the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) with millions of vaccines in short order. Hauer then leaves HHS to take a very clear stance in support of BioPort’s discredited anthrax vaccine, in apparent opposition to VaxGen’s “next generation” anthrax vaccine.

VaxGen has recently announced delays in the production of their anthrax vaccine. They will deliver 75 million doses to the U.S. Government’s SNS later than expected – by the fourth quarter of 2006. Right when this is announced Hauer jumps to VaxGen’s competitor BioPort. Hauer is supporting a vaccine that is certain to cause injury and even death if deployed to tens of millions of people.

The controversial nature of BioPort’s anthrax vaccine was surely a key factor in their loss of a $280 million government contract to VaxGen. The safety and efficacy of the VaxGen vaccine is not yet publicly known.

According to Insight Magazine, the CEO of BioPort, Fuad El-Hibri, is friends with the Bin Laden family.3 The Carlyle Group has never disclosed whether or not they own a stake in BioPort.4 Both before and after 9/11, the Bin Laden family owned a stake in Carlyle.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Shafiq bin Laden – Osama bin Laden’s brother – was meeting with George Herbert Walker Bush in Washington D.C.’s Ritz Carlton Hotel on official Carlyle business.
Bioport is nowadays the primary manufacturer of the Defense Department's anthrax vaccine, having won the contract from VaxGen in ??. Jerome Hauer, the former head of HHS's [Health and Human Services] biodefense program, is now on the Board of Emergent Biosolutions, which is Bioport's parent company.

He is also a consultant for several other biodefense firms, including SAIC, Batelle, CSC-DynCorp, Hollis-Eden, and one of the nation’s most powerful private investigative and security firms Kroll Inc., among others.


Kroll were in charge of security of the World Trade Center on 9-11.

Jerome Hauer appeared on CBS news with Dan Rather on 9/11 and immediately blamed the attacks of the day on Osama bin Laden. He said that the twin towers had "collapsed" because of the "intense heat of the fires". He also reportedly advised the occupants of the White House that same day to protect themselves against anthrax by taking Cipro.

From wikipedia:
in 2004 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contracted with Vaxgen Inc. to supply up to 75 million doses of a recombinant anthrax vaccine, for $877 million.[14] To be acceptable to HHS, this vaccine was to be protective against anthrax in three doses or less. On December 19, 2006, HHS voided the contract, because of stability problems with the vaccine, and a failure to start a Phase 2 clinical trial on time.,Forced.shtml,Jerome.shtml

Sorry for the quality of this post, it's just a draft I will try to tidy when I can. Too much going on.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Anthrax Killer? Richard Spertzel

Is this is the man who made the anthrax that killed five people soon after 9-11? I think so.

Of course, the FBI are protecting him by pointing the finger at others. And Spertzel himself is busy weighing in with his expert opinion to confuse the media, and using his high-level contacts to confuse investigations, just to muddy the waters.

But I think this is the guy. Richard Spertzel.

He is on the books at Benador Associates (with Amir Taheri, Charles Jacobs, Charles Krauthammer, Dennis Prager, Herbert London, James Woolsey, Laurie Mylroie, Meyrav Wurmser, Michael Ledeen, Michael Rubin, Natan Sharansky, Richard Perle and others), he's a regular on Murdoch's FOX News, he writes articles for the Murdoch WSJ. You get the picture?

Zionist. Neocon.

Of course, he was not working alone.

More articles from Spertzel here and more investigation ongoing at Glenn Greenwald's blog, where a highly informed commenter recently said:
"Spertzel is really scary and seems to just taunt the world from the neocon perspective."
Spertzel has repeatedly insisted that the anthrax sent to Daschle and Leahy was very highly sophisticated:
"In my opinion, there are maybe four or five people in the whole country who might be able to make this stuff, and I'm one of them," said Richard O. Spertzel, chief biological inspector for the U.N. Special Commission from 1994 to 1998. "And even with a good lab and staff to help run it, it might take me a year to come up with a product as good."
One the one hand that is a boast. On the other hand it is a threat.

Now ask yourself why the head of the FBI has been protecting this man for nearly seven years?

UPDATE: Spertzel is of course loudly telling people that he doesn't believe that Bruce Ivins was the killer. Given that the FBI has not been able to make a strong case against Ivins, and they know it, that's not really surprising. It helps give Spertzel some much-needed credibility in the public eye.

The DoJ has just released documents (PDFs here) related to the case but are not going to close the case yet "because of incomplete administrative details". Yeah, like a motive! And proof!

This is the motive currently being bandied about:
Authorities were looking at whether Ivins may have released anthrax to test a vaccine he was working on, another official said.
I don't have time to read through all the docs today, but details emerging don't indicate any bombshell of proof. It's hard to believe the FBI really thought they could charge and convict Ivins on this evidence alone.
According to one affidavit made public, Ivins submitted false anthrax samples to the FBI, was unable to give investigators "an adequate explanation for his late laboratory work hours around the time of" the attacks and sought to frame an unnamed co-worker.

He was also said to have received immunizations against anthrax and yellow fever in early September 2001, several weeks before the first anthrax-laced envelope was received in the mail.
Um, wouldn't everybody working in an anthrax lab be taking immunizations regularly? But that bit about framing an unnamed co-worker is interesting: was that Assaad, or Hatfill?

Then there's the corporate element, and an email that much is being made of:
[Ivins] was under pressure to assist a private company that had lost federal approval to produce an anthrax vaccine and sent a suspicious e-mail a few days before the anthrax attacks.

The e-mail warned that Osama bin Laden's terrorists "for sure have anthrax and sarin gas" and had "just decreed death to all Jews and all Americans." The affidavit said the language in the e-mail was similar to warnings in the anthrax letters, such as: "WE HAVE THIS ANTHRAX. . . . DEATH TO AMERICA . DEATH TO ISRAEL."
Note how WaPo reproduced that text in the original CAPS, just to make sure you saw it. But what's new? It's already been established (e.g. his letter to the local paper) that Ivins was a Christian Zionist, but so was the whole Fort Detrick lab (see Camel club antics). And no doubt half the USA had similar thoughts after 9-11. I mean, Bin Laden hates Jews? Duh!

And if Ivins really believed, as many others did, that Al Quaeda might have anthrax, surely that would explain his late nights in the lab after 9-11. OTOH:
The spike in his evening hours began in mid-August, almost a month before the Sept. 11 attacks, investigators said.
That's a little harder to explain. But it's still not incriminating evidence.

And then there's this:
Moreover, the envelopes that held the letters were “federal eagle” envelopes, so-named because of the eagle perched on a bar bearing the initials “USA” in the upper right-hand corner, and bore tiny but tell-tale defects that searchers determined were bought from a post office in Maryland or Virginia, the official documents relate.

And of the 16 government, commercial and university laboratories that had virulent anthrax strains like the one used in the deadly mailings, only one was located in Maryland or Virginia — the Fort Detrick lab where Dr. Ivins worked before his July 29 suicide, the documents say.
Yeah, real tight evidence right there. Not.

One search warrant doc indicates the Feds seized a copy of "The Plague" by Albert Camus from Ivins' home. That's ironic: the "surface" story is about a doctor battling to stop a plague, but Camus wrote it as an allegory of how one decent man can stand up to the spreading influence of tyrants, especially based on his experiences in the French underground combating the Nazis.

Selected Anthrax Quotes

This is what George Tenet said in his book, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA:
“The most startling revelation from this intelligence success story was that the anthrax program had been developed in parallel to 9/11 planning. As best as we could determine, al-Zawahiri’s project had been wrapped up in the summer of 2001, when the al-Qaida deputy, along with Hambali, were briefed over a week by Sufaat on the progress he had made to isolate anthrax. The entire operation had been managed at the top of al-Qai’da with strict compartmentalization. Having completed this phase of his work, Sufaat fled Afghanistan in December 2001 and was captured by authorities trying to sneak back into Malaysia. Rauf Ahmad was detained by Pakistani authorities in December 2001. Our hope was that these and our many other actions had neutralized the anthrax threat, at least temporarily.”
This is what former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said:
"The quality anthrax sent to Senator Daschle's office could be produced by a Ph.D. microbiologist and a sophisticated laboratory."
This is what Richard Spertzel said in a Murdoch WSJ article today:
"I believe this is another mistake in the investigation.

Let's start with the anthrax in the letters to Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. The spores could not have been produced at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, where Ivins worked, without many other people being aware of it. Furthermore, the equipment to make such a product does not exist at the institute.

Information released by the FBI over the past seven years indicates a product of exceptional quality. The product contained essentially pure spores. ...

The FBI spent between 12 and 18 months trying "to reverse engineer" (make a replica of) the anthrax in the letters sent to Messrs. Daschle and Leahy without success, according to FBI news releases. So why should federal investigators or the news media or the American public believe that a lone scientist would be able to do so?"
But this is from Wikipedia:
Erroneous press reports in 2003 indicated the FBI failed to reverse engineer the type of anthrax found in the letters.[11][12] According to Chemical & Engineering News, December 4, 2006,[10] there was never any attempt to "reverse engineer" the attack anthrax. Instead, the Dugway Proving Grounds "used the Leahy powder as the culture starter to 'produce several different preparations using different media, and different ways of drying and milling the preparation' that the FBI could use for comparison purposes." They "never analyzed the Leahy powder and did no comparative analyses between the preparations made and the Leahy powder."
This is what Rupert Murdoch's media goons said in March 2008:
But in an e-mail obtained by FOX News, scientists at Fort Detrick openly discussed how the anthrax powder they were asked to analyze after the attacks was nearly identical to that made by one of their colleagues.

"Then he said he had to look at a lot of samples that the FBI had prepared ... to duplicate the letter material," the e-mail reads. "Then the bombshell. He said that the best duplication of the material was the stuff made by [name redacted]. He said that it was almost exactly the same … his knees got shaky and he sputtered, 'But I told the General we didn't make spore powder!'"
Did that FOX News article trigger the FBI's interest in Ivins? Will the FBI produce it as evidence? Who wrote it?

I have posted a few comments at Greenwald's blog.

PS: Has anybody else noted that between the town where the first letter incriminating Dr Asaad was sent, and the Princeton Uni campus where the other anthrax letters were sent, there is a little town called WASHINGTON?

UPDATE: I think the guy who made the anthrax used in the 2001 attacks was Richard Spertzel. And of course he was not acting alone. And the FBI is still protecting him.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Anthrax Leaks

There seems to be a deliberate process of leaks going on ahead of any possible "case closed" press conference. AP is all over this college girl sorority angle, never mind how thin the argument is (apparently the Feds have a lot of emails to show off), while WaPo reveals that Ivins borrowed freeze-drying equipment:
Ivins's possession of the drying equipment, known as a lyopholizer, could help investigators explain how he may have been able to send letters containing deadly anthrax spores to U.S. senators and news organizations, causing five deaths...

The lyopholizer Ivins used in the fall of 2001 is commonly employed by pharmaceutical companies and laboratories as well as food processors to freeze a liquid broth of bacteria and quickly transform it into a dry solid without a thawing stage.

Scientists and biodefense experts familiar with USAMRIID's procedures say that Ivins's department rarely used such freeze dryers, because the researchers there worked with anthrax bacteria in a liquid form.

"Dry anthrax is much harder to work with," said one scientist familiar with Ivins's lab. A lyopholizer would fit inside the ventilated "biosafety cabinet" at the lab and could have been used without drawing notice, the scientist said. The machine could have processed a few small batches of anthrax liquid in less than a day, he said.

Other biodefense experts noted that the drying step could have been carried out with equipment no more complicated than a kitchen oven. "It is the simplest . . . but it is the least reproducible," said Sergei Popov, a former Soviet bioweapons scientist who now specializes in biodefense at George Mason University. "If you go too fast you get 'sand,' " he said, referring to the coarser anthrax powder used in the first attacks, in September 2001.

The second batch of letters contained a much finer powder. "To me, it all indicates that the person experimented with the ways to dry the spores, and produced small batches -- some of them not so successfully -- he later used to fill up different envelopes," Popov said. "The spores are naturally clumpy. As I understand, he just over-baked the first batches."
Hmmn. This is interesting too:
Significant mysteries remain, including whether the attacks that involved letters mailed from Florida and Princeton, N.J., could have been carried out by one person.
But did he mail the Quantico letter too?

This is just in from the NYT:
Dr. Ivins, who had a history of alcohol abuse, had for years maintained a post office box under an assumed name that he used to receive pornographic pictures of blindfolded women.

Years ago, he had visited Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority houses at universities in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, an obsession growing out of a romance with a sorority sister in his own college days at the University of Cincinnati — although someone who knew him well said the last such visit was in 1981.
I think it's important to remember that Ivin's character is not the issue here. Even if he was a sleazy pervert, as the Feds seem to be trying to establish, that doesn't make him guilty. Conversely, even if he is innocent that does not make him a saint (he may have been a willing member of the Camel Club's anti-Arab harrassment, for example).

The NYT article also notes some more disturbing elements of the investigation:
They had even intensively questioned his adopted children, Andrew and Amanda, now both 24, with the authorities telling his son that he might be able to collect the $2.5 million reward for solving the case and buy a sports car, and showing his daughter gruesome photographs of victims of the anthrax letters and telling her, “Your father did this,” according to the account Dr. Ivins gave a close friend.

As the investigation wore on, some colleagues thought the F.B.I.’s methods were increasingly coercive, as the agency tried to turn Army scientists against one another and reinterviewed family members.

One former colleague, Dr. W. Russell Byrne, said the agents pressed Dr. Ivins’s daughter repeatedly to acknowledge that her father was involved in the attacks.

“It was not an interview,” Dr. Byrne said. “It was a frank attempt at intimidation.”

Dr. Byrne said he believed Dr. Ivins was singled out partly because of his personal weaknesses. “They figured he was the weakest link,” Dr. Byrne said. “If they had real evidence on him, why did they not just arrest him?”

Another former co-worker, Dr. Kenneth W. Hedlund, who collaborated on anthrax research with Dr. Ivins in the 1980s, had a similar theory.

“The investigators looked around, they decided they had to find somebody. They went after all of them but he looked the most susceptible to pressure,” Dr. Hedlund said. “It is like prisoners of war: if they are harassed enough, they will be driven to do anything. But I don’t believe he would have done what they say he did.”
But I guess the really critical part of the NYT article is the scientific explanation, which goes pretty far:
F.B.I. officials say they do know a great deal about what happened and will make it public, possibly as early as Wednesday. They say the core of their case will be the science, which produced the giant step from a globe of possible suspects to a single lab and a single flask...

Further, the attack strain contained bacteria with both the flipped and the unflipped DNA, showing that it was a mixture of two strains, which analysts later found reflected a mix of origins — 85 percent from the Dugway Proving Ground of the Army in Utah and 15 percent added at Fort Detrick, according to one person close to the investigation.

To make sure the case for the distinctive features of the attack anthrax could hold up in court, agents collected thousands of samples of Ames strain anthrax from labs around the world, said scientists familiar with the F.B.I.’s thinking. “This is the step that took so long,” one scientist said.
There's a lot more scientific stuff in the article.

Suskind Alleges White House Forgery Linked Saddam To Al Quaeda


Also the stuff about Cheney is interesting, although hardly surprising at this stage. First he says that Bush had to ask Cheney to take a less prominent role in meetings, because it was making the Chimp look like a Chump. And then this:
Suskind contends Cheney established “deniability” for Bush as part of the vice president’s “complex strategies, developed over decades, for how to protect a president.”

“After the searing experience of being in the Nixon White House, Cheney developed a view that the failure of Watergate was not the break-in, or even the cover-up, but the way the president had, in essence, been over-briefed. There were certain things a president shouldn’t know – things that could be illegal, disruptive to key foreign relationships, or humiliating to the executive.

“They key was a signaling system, where the president made his wishes broadly known to a sufficiently powerful deputy who could take it from there. If an investigation ensued, or a foreign leader cried foul, the president could shrug. This was never something he'd authorized. The whole point of Cheney’s model is to make a president less accountable for his action. Cheney’s view is that accountability – a bedrock feature of representative democracy – is not, in every case, a virtue.”

US Iraq Withdrawal By 2011: Is It A Done Deal?

That's what the Iraqi press is saying:
Iraqi and US teams negotiating a controversial security pact have reached an initial agreement that states that US troops will withdraw from Iraq between 2010 and 2011, the pro-government Iraqi Al-Sabah newspaper reported Monday.

The newspaper reported that 'the Iraqi and American technical teams have already reported the outcome of their negotiations to their political leaders during the past days.'
Of course we all know that the Iraqis cannot be trusted and nothing is real until you read it in a US newspaper. So let's see how this goes.

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.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Gift Of Giving

If this Senate enquiry into tax evasion never achieves anything, we will all know why. This is from WaPo:
Bank officials named in an unfolding Senate investigation have directed more than $2 million into this year's congressional and presidential campaigns, some of it arriving just as investigators finished a report accusing the bank of helping clients hide billions of taxable dollars from the Internal Revenue Service.

At the heart of the probe is UBS of Switzerland, one of the world's largest banks, which in June alone distributed $98,000 to members of Congress through its political action committee...

UBS always has been a major donor in Washington, in addition to spending close to $1 million a year on lobbying. The bank has spent more on the 2008 elections, which are still more than three months away, than during the entire 2006 cycle. The UBS political committee distributed $2.21 million to politicians and political groups over the past 18 months.
Peter Lowy has doled out $92,000 to members of Congress from both parties, while Westfield has handed out thousands more.
Lowy's attorney, Robert S. Bennett, said he had no idea what motivated his client's contributions. "Why does anybody give?" Bennett said. "He's very interested in politics. And he gives to both sides."