Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Serious Doubt Cast on FBI's Anthrax Case Against Bruce Ivins

Ivins at a 2003 awards ceremony at USAMRIID

"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."

"Yesterday, Rep. Holt re-introduced his legislation to create a 9/11-style Commission, complete with subpoena power, with a mandate to review the entire matter. "


For years, the FBI believed that it had identified the perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks -- former Army researcher Steven Hatfill -- only to be forced to acknowledge that he wasn't involved and then pay him $5.8 million for the damage he suffered from those false accusations.   In late July, 2008, the FBI announced that, this time, it had identified the Real Perpetrator:  Army researcher Bruce Ivins, who had just committed suicide as a result of being subjected to an intense FBI investigation.  Ivins' death meant that the FBI's allegations would never be tested in a court of law.

From the start, it was obvious that the FBI's case against Ivins was barely more persuasive than its case against Hatfill had been.  The allegations were entirely circumstantial; there was no direct evidence tying Ivins to the mailings; and there were huge, glaring holes in both the FBI's evidentiary and scientific claims.  So dubious was the FBI's case that even the nation's most establishment media organs, which instinctively trust federal law enforcement agencies, expressed serious doubts and called for an independent investigation (that included, among many others, the editorial pages ofThe Washington PostThe New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal)Mainstream scientific sources were equally skeptical; Nature called for an independent investigation and declared in its editorial headline:  "Case Not Closed," while Dr. Alan Pearson, Director of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Control Program at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation -- representative of numerous experts in the field -- expressed many scientific doubts and also demanded a full independent investigation.  I devoted much time to documenting just some of the serious flaws in the FBI's evidentiary claims, as well as the use of anonymous FBI leaks to unquestioning reporters to convince the public of their validity (see herehere,here, and here).

[Related RedactedNews]

Doubts about the FBI's case were fully bipartisan.  In August, 2008, The New York Times documented "vocal skepticism from key members of Congress."  One of the two intended Senate recipients of the anthrax letters, Sen. Patrick Leahy, flatly stated at a Senate hearing in September, 2008, that he does not believe the FBI's case against Ivins, and emphatically does not believe that Ivins acted alone.  Then-GOP Sen. Arlen Specter, at the same hearing, told the FBI they could never have obtained a conviction against Ivins in court based on their case -- riddled, as it is, with so much doubt -- and he also demanded an independent evaluation of the FBI's evidence.  And in separate interviews with me, GOP Sen. Charles Grassley and Democratic Rep. Rush Holt (a physicist who represents the New Jersey district from which the anthrax letters were mailed) expressed substantial doubts about the case against Ivins and called for independent investigations.

Despite all of this, the FBI managed to evade calls for an independent investigation by announcing that it had asked the National Academy of Sciences to convene a panel to review only the FBI's scientific and genetic findings (but not to review its circumstantial case against Ivins or explore the possibility of other culprits).  The FBI believed that its genetic analysis was the strongest aspect of their case against Ivins -- that it definitively linked Ivins' research flask to the spores in the mailed anthrax -- and that once the panel publicly endorsed the FBI's scientific claims, it would vindicate the FBI's case and end calls for a full-scale investigation into the accusations against Ivins.

But yesterday, the National Academy panel released its findings, and it produced a very unpleasant surprise for the FBI (though it was entirely unsurprising for those following this case).  As The New York Times put it in an article headlined "Expert Panel Is Critical of F.B.I. Work in Investigating Anthrax Letters":  "A review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s scientific work . . . concludes that the bureau overstated the strength of genetic analysis linking the mailed anthrax to a supply kept by Bruce E. Ivins"; while the panel noted that the genetic findings are "consistent" with the claim that Ivins mailed the letters and can "support" an association, the evidence is far from "definitive," as the FBI had long suggested.  The report, commissioned by the FBI, specifically concluded that "the scientific link between the letter material and [Ivins'] flask number RMR-1029 is not as conclusive as stated in the DOJ Investigative Summary."  This morning'sWashington Post article -- headlined:  "Anthrax report casts doubt on scientific evidence in FBI case against Bruce Ivins" -- noted that "the report reignited a debate that has simmered among some scientists and others who have questioned the strength of the FBI's evidence against Ivins."

In addition to reigniting doubts, the report has also reignited calls for an independent investigation into the entire FBI case.  Yesterday, Rep. Holt re-introduced his legislation to create a 9/11-style Commission, complete with subpoena power, with a mandate to review the entire matter.  Sen. Grassley told the Post:  "There are no more excuses for avoiding an independent review."  Ivins' lawyer added that the report confirms that the case against his client is "all supposition based on conjecture based on guesswork, without any proof whatsoever."  All of that has been clear for some time, and yesterday's report merely underscored how weak is the FBI's case.

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 routinelyfeatured "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.


  1. Glen, I admire your ability to stick with the story. This is really an important issue.

    The government cannot be allowed to dismiss this issue is such a ridiculous manner. The truth needs to be found for the whole country.

    Thank you

  2. The anthrax attack was used to pull
    FBI agents from further investigations
    in Venice Florida.

  3. "Yesterday, Rep. Holt re-introduced his legislation to create a 9/11-style Commission, complete with subpoena power, with a mandate to review the entire matter. "---That's not very reassuring given the fact that Bldg 7 wasn't mentioned in the final report. Minor detail

  4. By "9/11 style commission", do you mean another whitewash designed to hide the truth and pin the blame on Muslims?

  5. A few 'wingnut' extremists do not create weaponized anthrax in their bathtubs. It takes a fully funded military laboratory to create that kind of weapon. Weaponized anthrax is so lethal that there is no possibility that someone could casually introduce it into the mail system - they'd be dead before they reached the mailbox. The 'real' story behind this is huge and far reaching and VERY disturbing. This was a case of domestic terrorism, though one perpertrated by the government - end of story.

  6. Ivins is dead so he can't fight back the way Hatfill did. Let's remember what they DID to Hatfill; they framed him. Whoever framed him knew some secrets that quickly came out once he was identified as a suspect; the secrets all made Hatfill look like a good villain. First, Greendale was written on the return address of one anthrax letter. Hatfill worked near Greendale, a suburb of Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe). Hatfill padded his resume, a firing offense. Hatfill supported the Ian Smith government of Rhodesia, which considered using anthrax as a weapon. WHO would know these facts about Hatfill? Not his coworkers; if they had known about his resume lies he would have been fired. Sounds like a government intelligence agency to me. Awkward fact: whoever framed Hatfill sent the anthrax.

  7. BigLoner always thought the purpose of the anthrax attack was to empty congress of all but a few insiders who would vote for the 'patriot' act without any debate/examination/opposition. Bet they were Cipro'd up ahead of time like Bush & Cheney. Just like antichrist reptiles voting for the federal reserve act on or day before Christmas Eve when house was at recess and normal non-reptilians were home with family.

  8. Any time a government forms a "commission" they are hiding something and protecting their own (inside job). Why don't they just question Phillip Zack?

  9. Robert Stevens, who died from the anthrax, was the editor of the Sun. Why was he a target of 'Al qaeda'?

    Well- he posted a picture of Jenna Bush falling down drunk on the cover of the Sun!

    Now who benefits from that death?

    Arab Terrorists? YEAH- RIGHT!

    Clearly a warning to other journalists.

  10. I have been surfing on-line more than three hours as of late, but I by
    no means found any interesting article like yours. It is beautiful
    value enough for me. In my view, if all webmasters and bloggers made excellent content material as you probably did, the web can be much
    more helpful than ever before.

    Here is my website Authentic Mario Lemieux Jersey

  11. Wonderful post however , I was wondering if you could write a litte
    more on this subject? I'd be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Bless you!

    My web site ::

  12. What i do not realize is in fact how you're no longer actually a lot more smartly-liked than you may be right now. You are very intelligent. You know therefore considerably relating to this topic, produced me individually imagine it from so many numerous angles. Its like women and men are not interested unless it is something to do with Woman gaga! Your personal stuffs excellent. At all times take care of it up!

    my web page; Louis Vuitton Bags

  13. Hi, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was
    just curious if you get a lot of spam feedback?
    If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything you can advise?
    I get so much lately it's driving me crazy so any assistance is very much appreciated.

    Here is my blog post :: Cheap NFL Jerseys

  14. Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave
    it to my 4 year old daughter and said "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear." She put the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!
    LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

    Feel free to visit my homepage ... Sidney Crosby Authentic Jersey

  15. Hello there, just became alert to your blog through Google,
    and found that it is really informative. I'm gonna watch out for brussels. I will appreciate if you continue this in future. Numerous people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

    Also visit my web page ... Abercrombie

  16. hello there and thank you for your info – I have definitely picked up something new from
    right here. I did however expertise several technical issues using this website, since I experienced to reload
    the website lots of times previous to I could get it to load properly.
    I had been wondering if your web host is OK? Not that I'm complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will sometimes affect your placement in google and can damage your high-quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I am adding this RSS to my e-mail and could look out for much more of your respective exciting content. Ensure that you update this again soon.

    My blog post :: Gafas De Sol Oakley

  17. Do you have any video of that? I'd like to find out some additional information.

    Also visit my web page ... Sac a main Guess

  18. Hello, everything is going well here and ofcourse every
    one is sharing data, that's really fine, keep up writing.

    Visit my web blog :: Sac Louis Vuitton

  19. Hey there would you mind letting me know which webhost you're utilizing? I've loaded
    your blog in 3 completely different browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot
    faster then most. Can you suggest a good internet hosting provider at a honest price?
    Thanks, I appreciate it!

    Here is my webpage - Nike Air Max

  20. Ahaa, its nice conversation on the topic of this post here at this blog,
    I have read all that, so now me also commenting here.

    Have a look at my page ... Solde Air Jordan

  21. I was able to find good info from your blog posts.

    Here is my blog :: Louis Vuitton Bags

  22. I'm gone to tell my little brother, that he should also pay a visit this weblog on regular basis to take updated from latest reports.

    Here is my web blog; Evgeni Malkin Authentic Jersey

  23. It's remarkable to visit this web site and reading the views of all friends about this post, while I am also zealous of getting know-how.

    Also visit my homepage :: Louis Vuitton Outlet

  24. I'm no longer certain the place you are getting your information, however great topic. I must spend some time finding out more or figuring out more. Thank you for wonderful information I was on the lookout for this info for my mission.

    Look at my blog - Website

  25. We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in
    our community. Your web site provided us with valuable information to work on.
    You've done a formidable job and our entire neighborhood can be grateful to you.

    my site; Nike Air Jordan

  26. I read this article completely on the topic of the resemblance of most recent and
    earlier technologies, it's amazing article.

    Here is my site - Cheap NFL Jerseys

  27. Wow, wonderful blog format! How lengthy have you ever been blogging for?
    you made blogging look easy. The whole look of your site is
    fantastic, as neatly as the content material!

    Review my website Nike Free

  28. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I
    could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.
    I've been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

    Also visit my web blog Christian Louboutin Heels

  29. It's genuinely very complex in this active life to listen news on Television, therefore I only use the web for that reason, and get the newest information.

    my weblog ... Cheap Jerseys (

  30. Hello! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with SEO?
    I'm trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I'm not seeing very good success.

    If you know of any please share. Kudos!

    Check out my homepage; Louis Vuitton Pas Cher

  31. I all the time used to read article in news papers but
    now as I am a user of web thus from now I am using
    net for content, thanks to web.

    Also visit my page; Boutique Air Jordan

  32. Please let me know if you're looking for a article writer for your site. You have some really great posts and I believe I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I'd love to write some content for your
    blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please shoot me an e-mail if interested.
    Many thanks!

    Also visit my web page :: Michael Kors Outlet

  33. Hello there, You have done an excellent job.
    I'll definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I'm confident they'll be benefited from this web site.

    Feel free to surf to my site; Air Max (

  34. I read this article fully concerning the resemblance of most up-to-date
    and earlier technologies, it's awesome article.

    Also visit my web-site: Louis Vuitton Purses Outlet

  35. Hi my friend! I want to say that this article is awesome, great
    written and come with almost all significant
    infos. I'd like to peer more posts like this .

    Feel free to surf to my blog post :: Tory Burch Flats

  36. I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning
    this website. I'm hoping to see the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own website now ;)

    Have a look at my website :: Nike Air Max

  37. It's hard to find well-informed people about this topic, however, you sound like you know what you're talking about!

    Also visit my blog post; Nike Air Max


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...