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Thread: FBI Stymied In Efforts To Solve Anthrax Case

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    FBI Stymied In Efforts To Solve Anthrax Case

    FBI stymied in efforts to solve anthrax case

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/09/18/news/fbi.php

    By Scott Shane The New York Times
    SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2005

    WASHINGTON Richard Lambert, the FBI inspector in charge of the investigation of the deadly anthrax letters of 2001, testified under oath for five hours last month about the case.

    But Lambert was not testifying in a criminal trial - he and his team of FBI agents and postal inspectors have not found a suspected culprit. Instead, Lambert and a half-dozen other FBI and U.S. Justice Department officials have been forced to give depositions in a lawsuit filed by Steven Hatfill, the former U.S. Army biodefense expert who was under intense scrutiny for months.

    Four years after an unknown bioterrorist dropped letters containing a couple of teaspoons of powder into a mailbox in Princeton, New Jersey, what began as the largest criminal investigation in U.S. history appears to be stalled, according to scientists and former law enforcement officials who have spoken with investigators.

    The failure to solve the case the authorities call Amerithrax is a grave disappointment for the FBI and the Postal Inspection Service, the investigative arm of the U.S. Postal Service.

    The letters, the first major bioterrorist attack in the United States, killed five people, sickened 17 others, temporarily crippled mail service and forced the temporary evacuation of U.S. federal buildings including Senate offices and the Supreme Court.

    "They've done everything they can possibly think of doing, and they're just not there yet," said Randall Murch, a former FBI scientist who pioneered the use of testing to trace the origin of microbes used in crimes. "You have to understand that the pressure is enormous."

    A former law enforcement official who keeps up with several investigators said, "From the people I've talked to, it's going nowhere."

    The official, who asked to remain unidentified because of sensitivity over leaks in the case, said some agents still formally assigned to Amerithrax are now mostly working on other cases, because "there's nothing for them to do."

    For Robert Mueller 3rd, director of the FBI, who started work in September 2001 just before the 9/11 attacks and the anthrax letters, the case is a priority. He gets a briefing on the investigation every Friday that he is in Washington, said Debra Weierman, an FBI spokeswoman.

    Weierman said 21 FBI agents and nine postal inspectors were assigned to the investigation - a far cry from the hundreds involved in the early months, but still a major commitment. She said that investigators have conducted more than 8,000 interviews and served 5,000 subpoenas and that the case remains "intensely active."

    The fact that Hatfill, whom the FBI has neither charged nor cleared, has been able to turn the tables on the agents he says have ruined his life can only make this fourth anniversary of the case more frustrating for the authorities.

    The two sets of anthrax-laced letters, addressed to media organizations and two U.S. senators, Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, were postmarked Sept. 18 and Oct. 9, 2001.

    Hatfill, 51, grew up in Illinois and trained as a physician in Zimbabwe before conducting medical research in South Africa. He worked from 1997 to 1999 at the army's biodefense research center at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

    He was the focus of attention from FBI anthrax investigators in 2002 and 2003, when his apartment near Fort Detrick and places he had lived or visited were searched. For months he was under 24-hour surveillance; one FBI watcher even ran over Hatfill's foot when the scientist tried to photograph him.

    Two years ago, Hatfill sued the FBI and Justice Department, saying leaks to the media about him and the public comments by John Ashcroft, then the U.S. attorney general, describing Hatfill as a "person of interest" in the case destroyed his reputation. He also has a lawsuit pending against The New York Times and Nicholas Kristof, a columnist, alleging that Kristof defamed him.

    "FBI and Department of Justice officials engaged in a campaign of smears against Hatfill," Thomas Connolly, Hatfill's lawyer, said. "The big question is who in the government is going to stand up and make this right, by publicly exonerating him."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    Anthrax attacks

    http://www.911citizenswatch.org/9-11...n-Critique.rtf

    The Commission seems to have decided not to address the anthrax terrorist attacks that followed close on the heels of September 11th, though they clearly fall under its legal mandate.

    “Capitol Hill Anthrax Matches Army's Stocks, 5 Labs Can Trace Spores to Ft. Detrick”, Rick Weiss and Susan Schmidt, Washington Post, 16 Dec 2001 Early investigations into the source of the anthrax led to a US strain called Ames, often used for weaponization research by Army bioweapons labs. Despite some early polygraph interviews and a search at Ft. Detrick, the investigation in that direction seems to have ground to a halt.

    Just before the outset of the 9/11 attacks the New York Times and the London Sunday Times broke the story of a growing international scandal involving US violations of its international biowarfare treaties, involving Operation Clear Vision and Project Jefferson, which were aimed at testing a makeshift anthrax lab, an “anthrax bomb” and the development of a new genetically modified strain of anthrax that would be more distributable and more resistant to antibiotics. The DIA announced at a press briefing that they had created a “new generation” of anthrax as part of Project Jefferson on September 9, 2001, on orders of Secretary Rumsfeld. In less than a month anthrax fitting this description was mailed to specific people, some of whom influence national perspective and policy and also opposed the current administration’s policies and the emerging Patriot Act, up to that point.

    Just before the first anthrax envelope was mailed out the FBI contacted the University of Iowa at Ames, which for seventy years had maintained an extensive archive of every known strain of the natural pathogen anthrax, and provided culture samples for research on cures and weaponization to research facilities. After speaking with the FBI, the University agreed to destroy this valuable archive. A careful DNA and chemical analysis of the anthrax used in the attacks clearly identified it as an Ames strain, with sophisticated genetic engineering and advanced weaponization that could only have been created by an American biological warfare laboratory. Such analysis allows investigators to identify the specific batch from which the anthrax was cultured as well as a paper trail to the agency using it for weaponization research. With the archive destroyed, this was impossible.

    The new strain was more resistant to the usual antibiotic treatments and more weaponized and distributable than had been seen up to that time, according to press reports. It had jumped from billions to a trillion spores per gram, showed no signs of milling, and no electromagnetic charge. The cure and preventive of choice was Cipro, a product of Bioport, a company linked to the Battelle Memorial Labs in Ohio and Porton, both bioweapons contractors. The White House staff were put on Cipro on September 12, the first anthrax mailing arrived in October.

    There is clearly more to this story and the “Amerithrax” investigation continues under FBI direction, but most leads point to a US military bioweapon source. These leads might have told us more about the strategy of tension and false sponsorship for terrorist acts if they had been followed more rigorously.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    SHUT UP

    Oct 2, 2001: The Patriot Act is introduced in Congress. The next day, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D) accuses the Bush administration of reneging on an agreement on this anti-terrorist bill. [Washington Post, 10/4/01] Anthrax letters are sent to Leahy and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D) on October 9. [CNN, 11/18/01]

    Things that make you go hmmmm....
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    bump
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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