We've detected that you're using an ad content blocking browser plug-in or feature. Ads provide a critical source of revenue to the continued operation of Silicon Investor.  We ask that you disable ad blocking while on Silicon Investor in the best interests of our community.  If you are not using an ad blocker but are still receiving this message, make sure your browser's tracking protection is set to the 'standard' level.

   PoliticsModerate Forum

Previous 10 Next 10 
From: bentway9/17/2005 10:50:12 AM
   of 20773
In 4-Year Anthrax Hunt, F.B.I. Finds Itself Stymied, and Sued


WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 - Richard L. Lambert, the F.B.I. 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 Mr. Lambert was not testifying in a criminal trial. He and his teams of F.B.I. agents and postal inspectors have not found the culprit. Instead, he and six other F.B.I. and Justice Department officials have been forced to give depositions in a suit over news media leaks filed by Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, the former Army biodefense expert who was under intensive scrutiny for months.

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

The failure to solve the case that the authorities call "Amerithrax" is a grave disappointment for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Postal Inspection Service, the investigative arm of the Postal Service. The letters were the first major bioterrorist attack in American history and killed five people, sickened 17 others, temporarily crippled mail service and forced the evacuation of 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 S. Murch of Virginia Tech, a former scientist at the bureau who led the use of laboratory tests 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 spoke on condition of anonymity because of sensitivity over leaks in the case, said some agents still formally assigned to the investigation were mostly working on other cases, because "there's nothing for them to do."

For the director of the bureau, Robert S. Mueller III, who started work in September 2001 just before the Sept. 11 attacks and the anthrax letters, the case is a priority. He is briefed on the investigation every Friday that he is in Washington, Debra Weierman, a spokeswoman for the bureau, said.

Ms. Weierman said 21 agents from the bureau and nine postal inspectors were assigned to the inquiry, a far cry from the hundreds of the early months, but still a major commitment. She said that investigators had conducted more than 8,000 interviews and served 5,000 subpoenas and that the case remained "intensely active."

The fact that Dr. Hatfill, who has not been charged or cleared, has turned the tables on the agents who he says have ruined his life can only make this fourth anniversary more frustrating for the authorities.

The two sets of anthrax-laced letters, addressed to news media organizations and Senators Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, both Democrats, were postmarked Sept. 18 and Oct. 9, 2001.

Dr. Hatfill, 51, grew up in Illinois and trained as a physician in Zimbabwe before conducting medical research in South Africa. After returning to the United States, he worked from 1997 to 1999 at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md.

He was the focus of public attention from anthrax investigators in 2002 and 2003, when his apartment near the fort and places he had lived or visited were searched. For months, he was under 24-hour surveillance; one worker from the Federal Bureau of Investigation ran over his foot when the scientist tried to photograph him.

Two years ago, Dr. Hatfill sued the bureau and the Justice Department, saying leaks to the news media about him and the public description of him by Attorney General John Ashcroft as a "person of interest" in the case had destroyed his reputation.

He also has a suit pending against The New York Times and a columnist for the paper, Nicholas D. Kristof, saying Mr. Kristof defamed him.

This summer, Judge Reggie B. Walton, of Federal District Court in Washington, let Dr. Hatfill's lawyers begin questioning people about the reported leaks. According to a lawyer for Dr. Hatfill, Thomas G. Connolly, among the six people who have been deposed so far are Mr. Lambert, the top investigator; Brad Garrett, another longtime agent; and Ms. Weierman, the spokeswoman.

Mr. Connolly said Van Harp, the former assistant director in charge of the Washington Field Office of the bureau, is scheduled for a deposition next week and Mr. Ashcroft in November.

"F.B.I. and Department of Justice officials engaged in a campaign of smears against Dr. Hatfill," Mr. Connolly said. "The big question is who in the government is going to stand up and make this right by publicly exonerating him and condemning those who smeared him."

The investigators at first pursued a possible connection to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The letters included photocopied notes referring to the attacks and Islamist rhetoric.

The anthrax was the Ames strain, most commonly used in American biodefense research. Though agents have pursued leads overseas, the F.B.I. has focused on the possibility of a domestic criminal.

In addition to Dr. Hatfill, agents searched the homes in November 2001 of two Pakistani-born public health officials in Chester, Pa., and in August 2004 of a doctor in Wellsville, N.Y. Like Dr. Hatfill, the physician, Dr. Kenneth M. Berry, lost his job after the search and is fighting to have the bureau publicly clear him, said a friend, the Rev. K. Richard Helms.

"He's struggling," Mr. Helms said. "He needs to get this clearance from the F.B.I. to get work. Otherwise who's going to hire him?"

This year, in a sign that the investigators were still trying to identify a suspect, they contacted a former American intelligence officer who in 2002 provided a tip about a potential suspect. The officer, who insisted on anonymity because he did not want to attract attention, said he was summoned in February to an office of the investigators near Frederick, where he took a four-hour lie detector test. He was told that he had passed but has heard nothing more, he said.

Early in the investigation, agents tested the paper, ink and tape from the letters; tried to track the notes back to particular photocopiers; and showed photographs of Dr. Hatfill to people near the Princeton mailbox. They used bloodhounds to try to match a scent from the letters to suspects, including Dr. Hatfill, though some dog handlers said the technique was unreliable.

Eventually, the bureau called on 19 government, university and private laboratories to test every quality of the powder. A senior government scientist who has been briefed on the case said a two-year effort to compare tiny genetic mutations in the mailed anthrax with hundreds of samples of Ames anthrax from 16 laboratories has paid off.

"It was a very successful effort that allowed investigators to narrow the scope of the investigation," the scientist said, declining to elaborate.

He insisted on remaining unidentified because the information was classified.

In addition, chemists have tried to determine the origin of water used to grow the bacteria, while scientists at the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah spent months trying to reproduce the powder to understand how it was made. Each experiment has been carried out with careful legal advice, because the results may some day be presented in court, the scientist said.

Just laboratory work is unlikely to solve the case, scientists in the fast-developing field of bioforensics said.

"The science can only take them so far," Richard O. Spertzel, a former United Nations bioweapons inspector, said. "It can help to narrow the field. But it won't identify the lab, let alone the individual perpetrator."

Biodefense experts say solving the case, even belatedly, is critical.

"If we can't catch this guy, I'm afraid it's going to encourage others to try an attack," said David W. Siegrist, who studies bioterrorist threats at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies outside Washington.

Claire M. Fraser, president of the Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville, Md., which has helped he F.B.I., said she was frustrated that the attacker was at large.

"If we solve this case, even if it takes five or six years, it might provide some degree of deterrence," Dr. Fraser said. "What everyone's afraid of is another incident before this one is solved."

David Johnston contributed reporting for this article.

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

To: tsigprofit who wrote (19582)9/17/2005 11:41:53 AM
From: Bucky Katt
   of 20773
I'm sure there are scores of cia types in the region, keeping an eye on things. How it plays out is anyone's guess.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)

To: Bucky Katt who wrote (19585)9/17/2005 1:59:41 PM
From: tsigprofit
   of 20773
I'd hope that we wouldn't be arrogant enough to invade them though. If we did, I think we would trash what sliver of reputation the US had left in the world, and I'm not sure how many countries would stand with us, maybe 1 out of 200? Israel only? I doubt any European countries would, or anyone else.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)

From: 49thMIMOMander9/17/2005 6:43:31 PM
   of 20773
George Galloway and Christopher Hitchens debate the war in Iraq.

C-SPAN3 12:00 PM EDT 1:00 (est.)

Probably re-aired through the weekend??

Iraq War Debate
Baruch College
New York, New York (United States)
ID: 188768 - 09/14/2005 - 1:51 - $29.95

Galloway, George, Member, House of Commons, Labour, United Kingdom, Glasgow Kelvin
Goodman, Amy, Host, Pacifica Radio, Democracy Now!
Hitchens, Christopher, Columnist

George Galloway and Christopher Hitchens debate the war in Iraq.

George Galloway, opposed to the war in Iraq, is a member of the British Parliament and the author of Mr. Galloway Goes to Washington: The Brit Who Set
Congress Straight About Iraq, published by New Press. The book tells the story of his recent appearance before the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee
on Investigations, where he verbally attacked U.S. Senators while responding to charges related to Iraq's oil-for-food program.

Christopher Hitchens, who supported the war in Iraq, is the author of Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays and Blood, Class and Empire: The
Enduring Anglo-American Relationship published by Thunder's Mouth, Nation Books, and A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq,
published by Plume.

The debate is moderated by Amy Goodman. She is the author of The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media
That Love Them, published by Hyperion.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

To: E. T. who wrote (19583)9/18/2005 12:23:26 AM
From: TigerPaw
   of 20773
apart from various Israeli settlements

That is a big apart!

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (2)

To: TigerPaw who wrote (19484)9/18/2005 8:10:19 AM
From: jttmab
   of 20773
That's the bigger problem. Enforcement...
It's once again budget.

It's not budget, per se. It won't be budgeted because there isn't a large government interest in stopping illegal immigration. It's good for business interests [lower labor costs], it's good for the consumer [lower retail costs] and it's good as a source of SS revenue that won't be paid out.

It's best to just complain about illegal immigration and not do anything about it.


Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

To: 49thMIMOMander who wrote (19451)9/18/2005 8:16:40 AM
From: jttmab
   of 20773
Lets see how the SS-payments are handled for those evacuated from the Gulf Coast.

That will probably be ok ... eventually. Another area that is less clear is bankruptcy. Congress passed legislation a short time ago making it more difficult for people to declare bankruptcy. A favor to the credit card industry. Democrats tried to add an amendment to exclude victims of natural disasters but Republicans blocked it.


Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

From: jttmab9/18/2005 8:59:05 AM
   of 20773
Insight into what FEMA has planned for the victims of Katrina...

Hurricane Charley Victims
FEMA's City of Anxiety in Florida
Many Hurricane Charley Victims Still Unsure of Next Step

By Marc Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 17, 2005; Page A01

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. -- "Someone killed my dog," sputtered Royaltee Forman, still livid two weeks later.

"They just threw him out the window and hung him with his own leash," he said, convinced that someone broke into his home while he was out. "I mean, what kind of place has this become?".

Forman's place is FEMA City, a dusty, baking, treeless collection of almost 500 trailers that was set up by the federal emergency agency last fall to house more than 1,500 people made homeless by Hurricane Charley, one of the most destructive storms in recent Florida history. The free shelter was welcomed by thankful survivors back then; almost a year later, most are still there -- angry, frustrated, depressed and increasingly desperate.

"FEMA City is now a socioeconomic time bomb just waiting to blow up," said Bob Hebert, director of recovery for Charlotte County, where most FEMA City residents used to live. "You throw together all these very different people under already tremendous stress, and bad things will happen. And this is the really difficult part: In our county, there's no other place for many of them to go."...

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)

To: average joe who wrote (19579)9/18/2005 12:38:49 PM
From: 49thMIMOMander
   of 20773
Two idiotes (in the greek sense) often makes more than two idiotes.

Luckily europe, in terms of politics, economics and especially education, has not been influenced by either one.

Funny stuff, they have so much in common, one dreams of heroic white mice and the other of heroic white horses, and writing funny stories.

PS really funny that "control" stuff, maybe Ayn never understood any control theory??

However, I have understood that Burrhus Skinner has caused many mice-like behavior in USA.

Btw, if I remember right somebody at this thread claimed his ideas work even on retarded mice and men, but it is not nice to watch, and as has been recently made popular again, it also controls the ones doing the nightly experiments.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (2)

From: tsigprofit9/18/2005 1:46:06 PM
   of 20773
Copy of discussion on US competitiveness from other thread:
Please post replies here to Moderate Forum if interested - so not OT in his thread...t

OT: It doesn't help though Rande to teach more math and science if the same corporations move high tech jobs abroad to India and China.
IMHO, they are being very dishonest here.

I have worked in major corporations, and know that they are cutting these jobs. They are opening technical centers in Beijing for major US companies while cutting thousands of similar jobs for engineers, computer scientists, and others here.

So more education in math and science will not solve the problem.

There are hundreds of thousands of current people in the US 30-55 with degrees in the sciences that cannot find work in their field now - so more math and science education will not fix the overall job/competitiveness problem.

As long as you can hire a person in India or China with a PhD in engineering or science for 1/5 or less of their US bachelor degree counterpart, you can do all the math and science education in the world for kids now - and it will not make any difference.

We have apparently decided to let the market move these high knowledge jobs overseas - while we concentrate on building, financing, and selling homes, etc. here. So maybe we should teach Junior how to build homes instead?? Or do plumbing? Or sell retail? Or drive a truck??

That is apparently the path we are going down. And I almost forgot - carry a gun - as in domestic and foreign security.

udos to IBM:

IBM to Encourage Employees to Be Teachers

AP Technology Writer
Message 21713680

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read
Previous 10 Next 10