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Column: Public Hearing on Anthrax Case May be Inevitable

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — Though the FBI and Justice Department are thoroughly convinced that scientist Bruce Ivins mailed the deadly anthrax letters in 2001, it seems almost inevitable now that some very costly and protracted public hearing will be conducted to review the whole case.  Unfortunately, Ivins killed himself in July 2008 before any charges could be filed against him.

The case once again came alive on Tuesday when the National Research Council released a 170-page report commissioned by the FBI that showed that the Justice Department and FBI  overstated their case when they definitively concluded that the anthrax used in the deadly mailings came from a flask from Ivins’  government laboratory at Fort Detrick in Maryland labeled RMR-1029. The report said it could not rule out other possible sources.

“The scientific link between the letter material and flask number RMR-1029 is not as conclusive as stated in the DOJ Investigative Summary,” the report said.

However, Lehigh University President Alice P. Gast, who led the 16-member National Research Council Committee that reviewed the cutting-edge science used in the investigation, said: “We find the scientific evidence to be consistent with their conclusions but not as definitive as stated.”

Unfortunately,  the study only examined  the sciences in the investigation and didn’t taken into account other key aspects — interviews, the behavior of Ivins, fingerprints, etc. And it avoided at all costs the thing everyone really wanted it to do: Say whether Ivins was the guy.

I spoke to folks on Tuesday at the FBI and Justice Department who insist, in totality, the evidence against Ivins is overwhelming, that the science was only a component of the investigation.

But I also spoke to Ivins attorney Paul Kemp who insisted the study showed the government’s smoking gun — the flask —  was merely smoke and mirrors. He wants a public review, possibly a Congressional hearing.

Sen. Chuck Grassley  (R-Ia.) chimed in on Tuesday and insisted it was time for a public review as did Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J).

It may not be what the FBI and Justice Department want. But they may have no say in the matter. The cries of the skeptics may be too much too ignore. And maybe a hearing would satisfy the skeptics — and maybe not.

Set Back in FBI Probe into Murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry

By Allan Lengel

In what appears to be a major setback, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix has concluded that three men arrested in connection with the December fatal shooting of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in Arizona were not involved in the shootout, the Arizona Republic reported.

The paper reported that all three men were going to plead guilty to illegal entry into the U.S. and be deported.

Terry, a members of the Border Patrol’s elite tactical unit, BORTAC, was killed after confronting a group of bandits outside outside Rio Rico in southern Arizona.

The Arizona Republic reported that Robbie Sherwood, a U.S. Attorney spokesman, said the FBI found “no evidence tying these three individuals to the shooting. . . . We continue to devote significant resources and manpower to this investigation. This investigation is extremely active and progressing.”

Swindler Madoff Says Banks and Hedge Funds Knew He was Up to No Good

Bernie Madoff/facebook photo

By Allan Lengel

Swindler Bernie Madoff, the king of Ponzi scams, told the New York Times that his family new nothing about his crimes, and that banks and hedge funds were “complicit” in his fraud and knew he was up to no good.

From prison on North Carolina, Madoff said banks and hedge funds were guilty of “willful blindness” and failed to examine discrepancies between his regulatory filings and other information they had access to, the Times reported.

“They had to know,” Mr. Madoff said. “But the attitude was sort of, ‘If you’re doing something wrong, we don’t want to know.’ ”

Madoff told the Times he was surprised to hear about email and messages surfacing in lawsuits that raised doubts about his operation.

“I’m reading more now about how suspicious they were than I ever realized at the time,” he said with a faint smile.

To read more click here.

One ICE Agent Shot and Killed and 2nd One Wounded in Mexico

By Allan Lengel

NO ONE in Mexico appears safe from the violence that continues to strangle that country.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent was killed and another was wounded Tuesday while driving through northern Mexico, the Associated Press reported. The two were assigned  to the ICE attache office in Mexico City.

AP reported that the two agents were driving in the northern state of San Luis Potosi and were stopped at what appeared to be a military checkpoint. At that point, someone opened fire.

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, issued a statement saying:

“I’m deeply saddened by the news that earlier today, two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents assigned to the ICE Attaché office in Mexico City were shot in the line of duty while driving between Mexico City and Monterrey by unknown assailants.”

“Let me be clear: any act of violence against our ICE personnel – or any DHS personnel – is an attack against all those who serve our nation and put their lives at risk for our safety. The full resources of our Department are at the disposal of our Mexican partners in this investigation. We remain committed in our broader support for Mexico’s efforts to combat violence within its borders.”


Fed Charges May Be Near for John Edwards in Sex Scandal

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Report Raises Some Doubts About the Origin of the Killer Anthrax; Triggers Calls For Independent Review of Entire Case

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — A report released Tuesday on the scientific methods used to investigate the deadly anthrax attacks disputes a key conclusion by the FBI — and has triggered calls for an independent review of the entire case.

Investigators have concluded that government scientist Bruce Ivins mailed anthrax-laden letters to members of Congress and the media in 2001. Five people were killed and 17 others sickened. Ivins committed suicide in July 2008 before charges could be filed.

Ivins’ attorney said the new report casts doubt on the allegations against the scientist.

“The smoking gun is now just smoke and mirrors,” Paul F. Kemp told AOL News. “Every time more gets released it shows more weakness in their case. I think it’s time for a public hearing for somebody to systematically and carefully and dispassionately review this.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley also called for an independent review.

To read more click here.

Ex-FBI Agent Paul Lindsay Returns to the Motown for Book Tour

Paul Lyndsay

By Susan Whitall
The Detroit News

DETROIT — As a thriller author, Paul Lindsay doesn’t have to burn hours of time interviewing FBI agents or homicide detectives to get it right.

As Lindsay puts it, “I’ve got all my research down.” That’s because the author of “The Bricklayer” and his latest thriller, “Agent X” (both written under the nom de plume Noah Boyd), is a former FBI agent himself, with 20 years in the bureau’s Detroit office under his belt.

As an FBI agent, he spent years chasing down criminals like Benjamin Atkins, the Highland Park strangler, who murdered women along the Woodward Corridor in 1991 and 1992. Lindsay retired in 1993, after writing a book highly critical of his bosses.

To read more click here.

Reader Comments

Comment from Jim Burdick | [e]
Time February 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm

I read “The Bricklayer,” and it was terrific. Congrats to you, Paul, and I hope you’re bringing that character back, and soon. Jim Burdick

NY Feds Free Admitted Terrorist After His Cooperation

By Allan Lengel

The feds have released an admitted terrorist after serving 4 1/2 years because of his cooperation, the New York NBC local affiliate reported.

The station reports that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara confirmed that Mohammed Junaid Babar is free, but declined to say more.  A federal judge officially released him in December.

The station reported that the Queens man flew to Pakistan after Sept. 11, 2001  to join al Qaida.

In 2002, Babar said in an interview:”I will kill every American that I see in Afghanistan and while I’m in Pakistan if I see them in Pakistan I will kill every American soldier I see in Pakistan.”

After his arrest seven years ago, after returning from Pakistan, the station reported that Babar helped the FBI and British authorities in terrorist cases.

The station reported that assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon McGuire during a hearing in December called Babar’s cooperation “exceptional.”

“The defendant has testified previously at four different trials involving numerous terrorism defendants, three trials in the UK and one in Canada,” McGuire said.

To read more click here.