Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Richard Jewell 2?

"Federal law-enforcement officials continued to deliberate on whether and when to release evidence they say implicates a U.S. military researcher in the 2001 anthrax attacks. ... The intense, seven-year investigation has also put Fort Detrick under increased scrutiny. ... The Justice Department's caution stems in part from early mistakes that caused investigators to focus on another Fort Detrick scientist, Steven Hatfill. Mr. Hatfill sued the government for wrongly targeting him in the case and the [DOJ] last month agreed to pay him $5.8 million to settle the case", my emphasis, WSJ, 5 August 2008.

"Over the past week the media was gripped by the news that the FBI was about to charge Bruce Ivins, a leading anthrax expert, as the man responsible for the anthrax letter attacks in September/October 2001. ... The FBI needs to explain why it zeroed in on Ivins, how he could have made the anthrax mailed to lawmakers and the media, and how he (or anyone else) could have pulled off the attacks, acting alone. ... The spores could not have been produced at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases [AMRIID] 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. ... In short, the potential lethality of anthrax in this case far exceeds that of any powdered product found in the now extinct U.S. Biological Warfare Program. In meetings held on the cleanup of the anthrax spores in Washington, the product was described by an official at the Department of Homeland Security as 'according to the Russian recipes'--apparently referring to the use of the weak electric charge [on the spores]. ... The FBI has not officially released information on why it has focused on Ivins. ... The multiple disciplines and technologies required to make the anthrax in this case do not exist at the [ARMIID]", Richard Spertzel (RS) at the WSJ, 5 August 2008.

"The [FBI] is basing a central part of its case against Bruce Ivins on anthrax spores found on a laboratory flask to which the scientist has access, according to two people briefed on the matter. ... Much remains unclear about the agency's case, including its theory of Dr. Ivin's motivation and evidence tying the scientist directly to the anthrax in the attacks. The agency is under pressure to bring the nearly seven-year case to a conclusion after a succession of stumbles and dead ends. ... The [FBI] official added, however, it was unclear how many others had access to the flask. ... Justice Department and FBI officials are bracing for the possbility of a skeptical reception from scientists and amateur analysts poised to compete with the official version of events. ... By late 2006, it was clear the investigation was homing in on Dr. Ivins, said Jeffrey Adamovicz, who took over as chief of Dr. Ivin's division in 2003. ... Adamovicz didn't know what was searched because the FBI would turn off the security cameras while they were there. ... Adamovicz said the scientist was very upset, adding, 'He mentioned a couple of times maybe they were trying to set him up.' ... Adamovicz also recalls finding Dr. Ivins at work, yelling that the FBI had raided his home and taken his family to different locations for hours of questioning", my emphasis, Evan Perez, Siobhan Gorman, Susan Schmidt and Elizabeth Williamson at the WSJ, 6 August 2008.

"The [FBI] says the evidence, including hundreds of pages of unsealed documents, proves that Dr. Ivins was the sole person responsible for the 2001 anthrax mailings. ... He committed suicide on July 29 after federal prosecutors informed him they intended to charge him in the attacks that killed five people and injured 17. ... U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor [JT] ... said there was no physical evidence that tied the researcher to the mailbox in Princeton. where the letters were mailed, but said authorities reached a 'reasonable conclusion' that it was possible he had done so, based on his past actions. ... Paul Kemp, Dr. Ivin's attorney, accused federal prosecutors of conducting 'an orchestrated dance of carefully worded statements, heaps of innuendo and a staggering lack of real evidence.' ... The FBI now faces a major challenge: making its version of events stick over the many competing narratives that have arisen in the intervening years, and over its own prior mistakes. ... 'We believe we could have proven Dr. Ivin's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,' said Mr. Taylor the U.S. Attorney", my emphasis, Evan Perez, Siobhan Gorman, Gary Fields and Elizabeth Williamson at the WSJ, 7 August 2008.

"It sounds like a very bad made-for-televison move: a mad scientist--a violent sociopath, a 'nerd with a dark side,' who had already tried to kill several people, is obsessed with pornography, and is fixated on a particular college sorority--unleashes a strain of anthrax through the U.S. mail, killing five, infecting 17 others, and terrorizing the country. His motive, aside from sheer antisocial vindictiveness: he holds the patent for an anthrax vaccine, and he also wants to direct the nation's attention to the supposedly overlooked and underfunded problem of bio-terrorism, That'll teach 'em! It sounds like some pretty execrable fiction, yet the FBI is peddling this farrago of shopworn cliches as the facts surrounding the alleged guilt of Bruce E. Ivins, whose suicide the other day ostensibly closes the 7-year-old anthrax terrorism case that has baffled investigators and shown a cruel light on the Bureau's methods and standards of conduct. ... The real topper has got to be the 'sorority obsession'. ... This passes muster in Hollywood, of course, since it embodies all the social prejudices so beloved by that temple of cultural corruption, yet in the real world one looks at it askance and wonders: are these guys kidding? ... Clearly, the whole purpose of bringing this sorority angle up is to smear a dead man as a pervert and cast him in the sinister light suitable for the villian in this crude media narrative. ... For all the 'genome tracing' and scientific detective work conducted by the FBI over a period of years, the reality is that they can trace the anthrax to a particular lab--but not, as several experts have pointed out, to a particular person. That would require real detective work of the gumshoe variety, as opposed to farming it out to scientists, many of whom are (or were) on the FBI's suspect list. (Ivins himself was recruited to this task.) Yet the FBI is not that concerned with the facts: what they're after is a good story, one that the media--and therefore, they think the public--will swallow without thinking about it too much. ... They aren't trying to convince a jury; after all, the guy is dead. ... Well, they didn't arrest him because there wasn't enough evidence. So they drove him to suicide, as the only alternative to confessing to a crime he didn't commit. ... Did they drive Ivins to suicide because he knew too much? ... Surely a lone nut could not have carried out this technically difficult and logistically complicted scheme", Justin Raimondo (JR) at, 6 August 2008.

"The anthrax murder case has become an epic embarassment for the [FBI], and the suicide of Ivins on July 29 forced the government to go public with its case against him before it was ready", my emphasis, Amada Ripley/Frederick at Time, 18 August 2008.

"Paul Kemp, Ivin's lawyer, said some of what's presented in the unsealed affidavits are 'speculative; theories that would never be admissible in court ... What's more, Kemp said, the FBI omitted evidence that might have been exculpatory, including that Ivins kept his security clearance after passing a polygraph in which he was questioned about the anthrax investigation", Michael Isikoff at Newsweek, 18 August 2008.

More sloppy WSJ reporting. How does the WSJ know what the DOJ's "caution" stems from? The most the WSJ could say is the DOJ "stated" where its caution stems from.

I am as skeptical of the FBI's claim as RS. Ivins looks like today's "Richard Jewell" or "Joseph Jett" (JJ). The Bush administration will soon end and apparently wants the anthrax case closed, and so it is. Let us not forget the FBI has published "DNA match" statistics of up to 110 trillion to one! Who is the FBI trying to impress with big numbers? Here's one: "googolplex", so there. Nah, Nah, Nah!

Who conducted this investigation? The FBI or Russia's FSB? "Skeptical reception"? You bet. I'm here. The "FBI would turn off the security cameras". How nice. Criminal lawyers should see a problem here. Many police agencies film arrests when possible. Why? To avoid lawsuits. Why did the FBI turn off those cameras? Will it say to look for things in the lab and not "compromise" its investigation, or to plant things in the lab? Even so, it could have kept the cameras on, given the films immediately to say a Texas Ranger or Michigan State Policeman, part of the "team", stationed at the lab, for safekeeping. Why do I suggest those agencies? They're not federal and still have good reputations. I see the FBI's turning off the cameras as "res gestae", i.e., "things done". Res gestae are admittable in criminal cases to show: motive, plan, intent, absence of mistake, etc. West's criminal law keys 351 and 364-370 include concealment as res gestae! I assume JT knows this. Yet he permitted it. Hmmm. As Justice Louis Brandeis once wrote, "sunlight is often the best disinfectant". The DOJ and FBI need lots of sunlight here.

I have no confidence in anything the FBI or DOJ will say on this case. The FBI "raids" of Ivin's home reek. Was the FBI conducting an investigation, or kidnapping members of his family to get them to "talk"? Shades of a 1930s "B" gangster movie. This reminds me of the FBI's following JJ during its investigation of his "crimes". An investigation that yielded no indictment. As former Judge Sol Wachler of New York's Court of Appeals once said, a "prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich" and no federal grand jury indicted JJ. Another FBI fiasco: the Geronimo Pratt case. Look into it. It's amazing. Another FBI fiasco: Unabomber. In 17 years the FBI did not find Unabomber. David Kacynski, Ted's brother did. Then the DOJ and FBI threatened David with being an accessory after the fact or some such thing and tried to reneg on a deal David made to keep Ted from being executed. The FBI and DOJ are not to be trusted. They identified suspect after suspect in the anthrax case, and I surmise tried to induce each "suspect" to commit suicide. In Ivins they finally hit pay dirt and we are expected to believe this.

Aren't we impressed? Yes, but unfavorably. The FBI and DOJ love "lone nuts". That's their Lee Harvey Oswald and Timothy McVeigh portraits. I didn't buy it then, I don't now. The DOJ told Ivins it would charge him. So? It tells us after he's dead. Wonderful. I believe the DOJ wanted Ivin's suicide, so it needn't try him! No "physical evidence" tying him to the mailbox. Great. JT says he "could have proven Dr. Ivin's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt". What should JT say? Whoever JT is, he's not the mythical Hamilton Burger (William Tallman) of 1957-66's Perry Mason, who once said to Perry, "You know my office Perry. We would never even seek an indictment if we didn't feel we had enough evidence to convict". To which Perry replies, "I know Hamilton, but my client will plead not guilty". Said in the context in which Burger wanted Perry's client to plead to a lesser charge, possibly voluntary manslaughter as there were "extenuating circumstances" for the homicide. JT, whoever you are, you ain't the "Hamburger" I grew up with. Shame on you. Had you tried this case, you should have selected the stupidest, most gullible jurors possible. Your "dog don't hunt". I would pay to see you and a group of FBI agents on the stand being cross-examined by say, Barry Scheck, of OJ Simpson fame. That would be a real treat.

I see what JR sees. The FBI tried to intimidate JJ and getting nowhere, gave up after about three weeks. The FBI and DOJ should have learned from the fate of Mike Nifong of the "Duke Three", i.e., everything they did or could have done will be picked apart in the blogosphere. I don't buy the FBI-DOJ "narrative". It shows how far the US has come: the FBI issues a narrative like a college English professor "deconstructing" literature. We no longer have truth and falsehood, just "competing" narratives . Here's a link to JR's post:

"Forced" Uncle Sam, Amanda? Surely you jest. My spin: Ivin's death let Uncle Sam reveal his pathetic case.

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