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Letter to the Editor on FBI’s Scientific Work in Anthrax Case (From Director of FBI Laboratory)

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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 10:42 PM
Original message
Letter to the Editor on FBI’s Scientific Work in Anthrax Case (From Director of FBI Laboratory)
Letter to the Editor on FBI’s Scientific Work in Anthrax Case

A version of this letter was published in The Wall Street Journal on February 1, 2010.

Letters to the Editor
The Wall Street Journal
1211 Avenue of the Americas,
New York, NY 10036

Dear Editor:

Monday’s opinion piece, “The Anthrax Attacks Remain Unsolved,” was filled with inaccuracies and omitted several relevant facts that are necessary for a balanced discussion of the science applied in the anthrax investigation.

From the outset, the FBI’s scientific work in the anthrax case has had a foundation in validation and verification of its approach and conclusions. This process began within weeks of the initial events of 2001 and has included:

*
consultation with numerous subject matter experts in technical panels;
*
collaboration with partner laboratories in government, academia and the private sector throughout the course of the investigation;
*
ongoing efforts to publish our work and that of our partner labs in peer-reviewed technical journals; and
*
analytical data and reports provided to the National Academy of Sciences so they can evaluate the scientific analysis applied to the evidence in the anthrax investigation.

The FBI is confident in the scientific findings that were reached in this investigation. We utilized established biological and chemical analysis techniques and applied them in an innovative manner to reach these findings.

D. Christian Hassell, Ph.D
Director
FBI Laboratory

http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel10/hassell_020310.h...
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 10:57 PM
Response to Original message
1. I saved this just for such an occasion. I forgot Mueller would still be with us
after BushCo left:

Posted Thu Sep-11-08
Lead scientist on FBI Ivins case: "I never felt that science alone would solve this investigation."

(OOPs! Remember this for the next time the BushCo Justice Department trots out the statement of Claire Fraser Liggett to re-apply lipstick to their pig. She is preeminent in her field, their ace in the hole and she's saying, the science alone does not make the case.)

Center for Health and Homeland Security Hosts Forum to Discuss Anthrax Case

A plethora of questions still remains unanswered in the investigation of a U.S. Army scientist who the FBI believes was responsible for the anthrax attacks in late 2001. A forum held Sept. 10 at the University of Maryland School of Law shed light on the case from the perspectives of science and journalism.

The event, "Did the Researcher Do It? The FBI's Anthrax Case Against Dr. Ivins," was the eighth annual Sept. 11 commemoration presented by the Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS). Scott Shane, a reporter from The New York Times, and Claire Fraser-Liggett, PhD, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (SOM) and the director of the Institute of Genome Sciences at the SOM, served as panelists. Michael Greenberger, JD, a professor at the School of Law and director of CHHS, gave opening remarks and moderated the forum.

Shane, formerly a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, has followed and enterprised the anthrax story since 2001 when investigators first pointed the finger at a different suspect - Steven Hatfill - who has since been exonerated and awarded millions of dollars in damages from the government. And now, despite the FBI's assertion that the late Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer, Shane continues to try to uncover as many details as he can about the government's would-be case.

For a Sept. 7 article, Shane interviewed two dozen bioterrorism experts, investigators, and members of Congress who "expressed doubts about the conclusions." A group of lawmakers have asked FBI Director Robert Mueller to address some of their concerns.


http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...
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suffragette Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-04-10 01:53 AM
Response to Original message
2. What an interesting letter
It starts by specifying "inaccuracies and omitted several relevant facts that are necessary for a balanced discussion of the science applied in the anthrax investigation" then it gives no specifics of any of these. It specifies and refutes nothing, though it takes quite a while doing that.

This made me go look at the article they're attacking which actually includes quite a few specifics. The part on the silicon appears to contain the newest info and could be what prompted the FBI non-response response.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704541004...

What these tests inadvertently demonstrated is that the anthrax spores could not have been accidently contaminated by the nutrients in the media. "If there is that much silicon, it had to have been added," Jeffrey Adamovicz, who supervised Ivins's work at Fort Detrick, wrote to me last month. He added that the silicon in the attack anthrax could have been added via a large fermentor—which Battelle and other labs use" but "we did not use a fermentor to grow anthrax at USAMRIID . . . We did not have the capability to add silicon compounds to anthrax spores."

If Ivins had neither the equipment or skills to weaponize anthrax with silicon, then some other party with access to the anthrax must have done it. Even before these startling results, Sen. Leahy had told Director Mueller, "I do not believe in any way, shape, or manner that is the only person involved in this attack on Congress."

When I asked a FBI spokesman this month about the Livermore findings, he said the FBI was not commenting on any specifics of the case, other than those discussed in the 2008 briefing (which was about a year before Livermore disclosed its results). He stated: "The Justice Department and the FBI continue working to conclude the investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks. We anticipate closing the case in the near future."

So, even though the public may be under the impression that the anthrax case had been closed in 2008, the FBI investigation is still open—and, unless it can refute the Livermore findings on the silicon, it is back to square one.



Of note is that the FBI itself commissioned the Livermore tests in an effort to prove their theory and Epstein is saying the tests "effectively blew the FBI's theory out of the water." Seems like that would be an easy fact to counter if inaccurate, yet nothing in the FBI letter specifically does so.

Very interesting, indeed.


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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-04-10 02:07 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. They have worse than nothing.
I haven't read at Meryl's blog for a while. Looks like it's time for a check in.

It's really unsettling that the same lying @aaholea are still running this case.
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suffragette Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-04-10 09:47 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Very unsettling
Looks like that article got their attention.
I still remember when they tried to float that bogus proof of mailing story. You caught them out well on that one. They still have no proof Ivins mailed anything. As you noted, it's more than the science, it's also investigation and evidence. The strongest evidence in that case is that they hounded a man to his death.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-04-10 11:37 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Claire Fraser Liggett is a rock star that the FBI consulted
but I don't notice them mentioning her after she made the statement that science alone could not solve this case.
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suffragette Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-04-10 02:19 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. They're cherry picking, aren't they
When something supports their theory, they include it, but when something doesn't (even if that's a study they commissioned or their own expert) they put their fingers in their ears and say, "La, la, la. I can't hear you."
Not exactly a professional or confidence inducing way to conduct an investigation.
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-04-10 02:31 PM
Response to Original message
7. Impressive!
They've consulted, collaborated, efforted, analyzed, and utilized! Just one verb seems to be missing: SOLVED.
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