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Tuesday, March 16 2010 - Anthrax
In Bizarre, Soviet-Style Move, White House Threatens to Veto Intelligence Budget Unless FBI's Anthrax Frame Up Is Accepted
March 15, 2010
In a bizarre, Soviet-style move, the White House has threatened to veto the
intelligence budget unless everyone accepts the FBI frame up of Dr. Bruce Ivins.
As Bloomberg writes:
President Barack Obama probably would veto legislation authorizing the next
budget for U.S. intelligence agencies if it calls for a new investigation
into the 2001 anthrax attacks, an administration official said.
A proposed probe by the intelligence agencies' inspector general "would
undermine public confidence" in an FBI probe of the attacks "and
unfairly cast doubt on its conclusions," Peter Orszag, director of the
Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a letter to leaders of the House
and Senate Intelligence committees.
Given that an FBI investigation into a specific crime has nothing
to do with the budget or any of OMB's other core responsibilities,
it seems that Orszag simply drew the short straw for this little assignment.
As I wrote Thursday:
The FBI says that the anthrax case is closed, and that they have proved
that Dr. Bruce Ivins did it.
But Congress is not convinced.
On March 3, 2010, Representative Holt called
for a new investigation:
Last week, [Congressman Holt] succeeded in including language in the 2010
Intelligence Authorization Bill that would require the Inspector General
of the Intelligence Community to examine the possibility of a foreign connection
to the 2001 anthrax attacks.
"The American people need credible answers to all of these and many
other questions. Only a comprehensive investigation--either by the
Congress, or through the independent commission I've proposed in the
Anthrax Attacks Investigation Act (H.R. 1248)--can give us those answers,"
Holt said in a letter to the Chairmen of the House Committees on Homeland
Security, Judiciary, Intelligence, and Oversight and Government Reform.
[Here's the letter.]
Dear Chairmen Thompson, Conyers, Reyes, and Towns,
I am writing to ask that your committees, either individually or jointly,
conduct a probing investigation of our government's handling of what
has been known as the "Amerithrax" investigation.
As you are aware, last week the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced
it was formally closing its investigation into the 2001 anthrax letter attacks,
commonly known as the "Amerithrax" investigation. The Bureau
has maintained since his suicide in 2008 that the late Dr. Bruce Ivins was
their principal suspect in the attacks, a conclusion reaffirmed by the FBI
when it closed the case last week--despite the fact that the FBI's
entire case against Ivins is circumstantial, and that the science used in
the case is still being independently evaluated.
To date, there has been no comprehensive examination of the FBI's
conduct in this investigation, and a number of important questions remain
unanswered. We don't know why the FBI jumped so quickly to the conclusion
that the source of the material used in the attacks could only have come
from a domestic lab, in this case, Ft. Dietrick. We don't know why
they focused for so long, so intently, and so mistakenly on Dr. Hatfill.
We don't know whether the FBI's assertions about Dr. Ivins'
activities and behavior are accurate. We don't know if the FBI's
explanation for the presence of silica in the anthrax spores is truly scientifically
valid. We don't know whether scientists at other government and private
labs who assisted the FBI in the investigation actually concur with the
FBI's investigative findings and conclusions. We don't know
whether the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of
Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Postal Service have learned the
right lessons from these attacks and have implemented measures to prevent
or mitigate future such bioterror attacks.
The American people need credible answers to all of these and many other
questions. Only a comprehensive investigation--either by the Congress,
or through the independent commission I've proposed in the Anthrax
Attacks Investigation Act (H.R. 1248)--can give us those answers.
As you may know, my interest in this matter is both professional and personal.
The attacks originated from a postal box in my Central New Jersey congressional
district and they disrupted the lives and livelihood of my constituents.
For months, Central New Jersey residents lived in fear of a future attack
and the possibility of receiving cross-contaminated mail. Mail service was
delayed and businesses in my district lost millions. Further, my own Congressional
office in Washington, D.C. was shut down after it was found to be contaminated
Given its track record in this investigation, I believe it is essential
that the Congress not simply accept the FBI's assertions about Dr.
Ivins alleged guilt. Accordingly, I ask that your committees investigate
our government's handling of the attacks, the subsequent investigation,
and any lessons learned and changes in policies and procedures implemented
in the wake of the attacks.
The next day, Representative Jerrold Nadler - Chair of the House Judiciary
Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties - joined
in Holt's call for a new investigation:
Despite the FBI's assertion that the case of the anthrax attacks
is closed, there are still many troubling questions. For example, in a 2008
Judiciary Committee hearing, I asked FBI Director Robert Mueller whether
Bruce Ivins was capable of producing the weaponized anthrax that was used
in the attacks. To this day, it is still far from clear that Mr. Ivins had
either the know-how or access to the equipment needed to produce the material.
Because the FBI has not sufficiently answered such questions, I join Congressman
Holt in urging an independent investigation of the case.
Maryland Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett and other congressmen have
also joined in the call for a new investigation.
In fact, the only airtight case is against the FBI.
For more on the anthrax attacks, see this.
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