Senator: “There Are No More Excuses for Avoiding an Independent Review and Assessment of How the FBI Handled its Investigation in the Anthrax Case”

I wrote a lengthy article yesterday showing that the science attempting to link Bruce Ivins with the anthrax attacks was incredibly weak.

Now I will address some of the other holes in the FBI’s case against Ivins.

As I noted in August 2008:

The FBI cannot match Ivins and the handwriting in the anthrax letters. As summarized by World Net Daily:

“Casting further doubt on the FBI’s anthrax case, accused government scientist Bruce Ivins passed two polygraph tests and a handwriting analysis comparing samples of his handwriting to writing contained in the anthrax letters, U.S. officials familiar with the investigation say.

***

Officials confirm that FBI handwriting analysts were unable to conclusively match samples of Ivins’ handwriting with the writing on the anthrax envelopes and letters”.

The WND article points out other problems with the FBI’s case:

Investigators also failed to uncover other critical evidence linking Ivins directly to the letters. For instance:

* No textile fibers were found in his office, residence or vehicles matching fibers found on the scotch tape used to seal the envelopes;

* No pens were found matching the ink used to address the envelopes;

* Samples of his hair failed to match hair follicles found inside the Princeton, N.J., mailbox used to mail the letters.

Also, no souvenirs of the crime, such as newspaper clippings, were found in his possession as commonly seen in serial murder cases.

What’s more, the FBI could not place Ivins at the crime scene with evidence, such as gas station or other receipts, at the time the letters were mailed in September and October 2001.

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Lab records reviewed by WND show the number of late nights Ivins put in at the lab first spiked in August 2001, weeks before the 9/11 attacks.”

The Frederick News Post (an excellent paper located near the army base at Fort Detrick, where Ivins worked) writes today:

FBI officers never found fingerprints on the letters or traces of the anthrax in Ivins’ car or home.

Glenn Greenwald notes that the FBI’s original timeline as to when Ivins allegedly deposited letters in the mailbox is impossible.

And anthrax expert Dr. Meryl Nass points out:

Drs. Perry Mikesell, Ayaad Assaad and Stephen Hatfill were 3 earlier suspects. All had circumstantial evidence linking them to the case. In Hatfill’s case, especially, are hints he could have been “set up.” Greendale, the return address on the letters, was a suburb of Harare, Zimbabwe where Hatfill attended medical school. Hatfill wrote an unpublished book about a biowarfare attack that bears some resemblance to the anthrax case. So the fact that abundant circumstantial evidence links Ivins to the case might be a reflection that he too was “set up” as a potential suspect, before the letters were sent.

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FBI fails to provide any discussion of why no autopsy was performed, nor why, with Ivins under 24/7 surveillance from the house next door, with even his garbage being combed through, the FBI failed to notice that he overdosed and went into a coma. Nor is there any discussion of why the FBI didn’t immediately identify tylenol as the overdose substance, and notify the hospital, so that a well-known antidote for tylenol toxicity could be given (N-acetyl cysteine, or alternatively glutathione). These omissions support the suggestion that Ivins’ suicide was a convenience for the FBI. It enabled them to conclude the anthrax case, in the absence of evidence that would satisfy the courts.

***

The FBI’s alleged motive is bogus. In 2001, Bioport’s anthrax vaccine could not be (legally) relicensed due to potency failures, and its impending demise provided room for Ivins’ newer anthrax vaccines to fill the gap. Ivins had nothing to do with developing Bioport’s vaccine, although in addition to his duties working on newer vaccines, he was charged with assisting Bioport to get through licensure.

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The FBI report claims the anthrax letters envelopes were sold in Frederick, Md. Later it admits that millions of indistinguishable envelopes were made, with sales in Maryland and Virginia.

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FBI emphasizes Ivins’ access to a photocopy machine, but fails to mention it was not the machine from which the notes that accompanied the spores were printed.

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FBI asserts that Bioport and USAMRIID were nearly out of anthrax vaccine, to the point researchers might not have enough to vaccinate themselves. FBI further asserts this would end all anthrax research, derailing Ivins’ career. In fact, USAMRIID has developed many dozens of vaccines (including those for anthrax) that were never licensed, but have been used by researchers to vaccinate themselves. There would be no vaccine shortage for researchers.

***

Ivins certainly had mental problems. But that does not explain why the FBI accompanied Ivins’ therapist, Ms. Duley (herself under charges for multiple DUIs) and assisted her to apply for a peace order against him. Nor does it explain why Duley then went into hiding, never to be heard from again.

***

FBI obtained a voluntary collection of anthrax samples. Is that the way to conduct a multiple murder investigation: ask the scientists to supply you with the evidence to convict them? There is no report that spores were seized from anyone but Ivins, about 6 years after the attacks. This is a huge hole in the FBI’s “scientific” methodology.

***

FBI claims it investigated Bioport and others who had a financial motive for the letters attack, and ruled them out. However, FBI provides not a shred of evidence from such an investigation.FBI gave this report its best shot. The report sounds good. It includes some new evidence. It certainly makes Ivins out to be a crazed, scary and pathetic figure. If you haven’t followed this story intently, you may be convinced of his guilt.

As Dr. Nass wrote today:

The FBI responded that their case was based on a totality of the evidence, not just the science. But when the rest of the FBI’s evidence is examined, one finds only smoke. There has been no physical evidence tying Ivins to the case. The totality of the FBI case against Ivins rests on colorful and sometimes exaggerated personal quirks and odd habits. The FBI has presented no convincing evidence that Ivins had the means, a motive, or the oppportunity to commit the letters crime.

And see this.

Ivins’ attorney is correct when he states:

This shows what we’ve been saying all along: that it was all supposition based on conjecture based on guesswork, without any proof whatsoever.

No wonder Congressman Holt – a physicist who represents the New Jersey district from which the anthrax letters were mailed – re-introduced his legislation to create an anthrax Commission, complete with subpoena power, with a mandate to review the entire matter.

No wonder Senator Grassley said yesterday:

There are no more excuses for avoiding an independent review and assessment of how the FBI handled its investigation in the anthrax case.

But why is this newsworthy? Why should we care.

Well, as Glenn Greenwald writes today:

It is hard to overstate the political significance of the anthrax attacks. For reasons I’ve described at length, that event played at least as much of a role as the 9/11 attacks in elevating the Terrorism fear levels which, through today, sustain endless wars, massive defense and homeland security budgets, and relentless civil liberties erosions. The pithy version of the vital role played by anthrax was supplied by Atrios here and here; in essence, it was anthrax that convinced large numbers of Americans that Terrorism was something that could show up without warning at their doorstep — though something as innocuous as their mailbox — in the form of James-Bond-like attacks featuring invisible, lethal powder. Moreover, anthrax was exploited in the aftermath of 9/11 to ratchet up the fear levels toward Saddam Hussein, as ABC News‘ Brian Ross spent a full week screeching to the country — falsely – that bentonite had been found in the anthrax and that this agent was the telltale sign of Iraq’s chemical weapons program, while George Bush throughout 2002 routinely featured “anthrax” as one of Saddam’s scary weapons.

That there’s so much lingering doubt about who was responsible for this indescribably consequential attack is astonishing, and it ought to be unacceptable. Other than a desire to avoid finding out who the culprit was (and/or to avoid having the FBI’s case against Ivins subjected to scrutiny), there’s no rational reason to oppose an independent, comprehensive investigation into this matter.

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