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Amerithrax Hoax

By       Message Barry Kissin     Permalink
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On January 4, 2009, the New York Times, our “newspaper of record,” published a front page article by Scott Shane about the DOJ - FBI’s case against Bruce Ivins akin to the series of articles by Judith Miller in 2001-2003 that made the case for invading Iraq. In both cases, the Times plays a pivotal role in perpetrating tragic propaganda.           

Shane refers to his piece as the product of “the deepest look so far at the [Amerithrax] investigation.”  Many of the 5,215 words of this article are devoted to a rehashing of various opinions about Bruce Ivins’ character. There is also the precious first look at the “police reports on his suicide,” which reports add nothing to our understanding of the anthrax attacks.

But there is one thing new in this article that does reflect upon the heart of the matter. In the thirteenth paragraph, Shane slips in:

“The Times review found that the F.B.I. had disproved the assertion, widespread among scientists who believe Dr. Ivins was innocent, that the anthrax might have come from military and intelligence research programs in Utah or Ohio. By 2004, secret scientific testing established that the mailed anthrax had been grown somewhere near Fort Detrick.”(Emphasis added). The only other words Shane devotes to this absolutely key assertion are slipped in at the sixty-fifth paragraph: “By early 2004, F.B.I. scientists had discovered that out of 60 domestic and foreign water samples, only water from Frederick, Md., had the same chemical signature as the water used to grow the mailed anthrax.” (Emphasis added).

One thing that stands out about this revelation said to have been discovered in early 2004 is that now is the first time it has ever been spoken of.

Part I: Questions and Empty Answers

At the only Amerithrax Investigation Press Conference – it  took place on August 6, 2008 --  U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor was asked about how the DOJ-FBI ruled out other possible sources of the anthrax letters. His answer was: “I'm not going to get into the details of other investigative techniques that were handled (sic) . . .  that we used in this case for the other individuals.” Taylor did offer: “And only through taking extensive, time-consuming steps, involving a lot of agents, were [we] able to exclude individuals and include others; in particular, Dr. Ivins.” If the DOJ-FBI had actually obtained “scientific testing” of water that established that the “mailed anthrax had been grown” in Frederick, Md. (home of Fort Detrick), one would expect to have heard about it at this Amerithrax Investigation Press Conference. There is nary a word about it.            

During the House Judiciary Committee “Amerithrax oversight” hearing on September 16, 2008, FBI Director Robert Mueller was specifically asked by Congressman Gerald Nadler as to how the FBI was able to rule out the military and intelligence research programs in Utah and Ohio as the source of the anthrax letters. Mr. Mueller’s answer was that he did not know, and would have to get back to the Congressman on that, and promised to do so promptly. There have been no reports of any answer ever being provided.            

If the DOJ-FBI had actually obtained “scientific testing” of water that established that the “mailed anthrax had been grown” in Frederick, Md., one would expect to have heard something about it during the House Judiciary Committee “Amerithrax oversight” hearing, and/or during the Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing that occurred the next day. Not one word during either proceeding.            

But it is the record of the FBI’s Science Briefing of August 18, 2008 that most clearly establishes the hoax. Dr. Vahid Majidi, Assistant Director of the FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, who hosted this briefing for, as he put it, reporters from the “well-known, well-respected scientific journals,” was asked the following question: “Were you able to tell something about the water that was used to develop the growth media?  Did it come through into the spores?” In his rambling response, Dr. Majidi refers only to “Scanning Electron Microscopy” (SEM) analysis that he says enabled the FBI to determine that “in the letter materials, the silicon and oxygen were co-located on the spore coat, within the spore.”

A follow-up question was: “Did you develop any theories on where the silicon and oxygen came from,” to which Dr. Majidi replies: “It could have been within the growth media.” Later, Dr. Majidi is asked: “In your looking at the elemental and chemical properties, could you tell anything about the water that was used to filter this anthrax, and did that do you any good?” Dr. Majidi’s answer: “No.  No.”            

Later during the Science briefing, Dr. Majidi was specifically asked about how other possible sources of the anthrax letters were ruled out. His answer: “So a hundred people are within the universe of [possible suspects], and everyone was investigated.  We looked at a number of different factors that go into the investigation, and we were able to include and exclude specific individuals in that list. . . . As we investigated every individual, we narrowed down our focus.” Needless to say, there is not a word during the entire Science Briefing about any scientific testing of water.

Part II: The Court Documents            

At http://www.usdoj.gov/amerithrax/  in the Department of Justice (DOJ) website are the Court documents pertaining to the investigation of Bruce Ivins, essentially consisting of twenty-eight (28) Applications for Search Warrant. In said Applications, all of which were granted by the Court, the DOJ sets forth the “probable cause” that serves as the basis for the issuance of search warrants with respect to Bruce Ivins’ residence, automobiles, office, laboratory, wall lockers at USAMRIID, safe deposit box, e-mail accounts, etc. Said “probable cause” of course includes the genetic analysis of the mailed anthrax spores (which is summarized in Part IV below). The probable cause also includes, for example, an analysis of four envelopes used in the mailings, which analysis is claimed to indicate that the “envelopes utilized in the attacks were purchased from a post office in Maryland or Virginia.” How geographically revealing that is.            

Certainly, if the DOJ-FBI had actually obtained “scientific testing” of water that established that the “mailed anthrax had been grown” in Frederick, Md., one would expect to find something about this analysis somewhere in the above-described Court documents. But there is nothing about this in any of the Applications for Search Warrant – not a word.

Part III: The Make-Believe Science            

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