On November 12, 2001 American Airlines Flight #587 crashed in Queens, New York shortly after take off, killing 265. Some observers were quick to suggest that terrorists had brought the aircraft down. But the October 26, 2004 official report by the National Transportation Safety Board blamed the crash on the co-pilot, who jerked the rudder back and forth in an effort to correct for turbulence from a preceding jet.

The crash was soon eclipsed by the repercussions of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the anthrax mailings, and the war in Afghanistan. Yet suspicions lingered. Many eyewitness accounts, for instance, seemed consistent with an on-board explosion, yet the report brushed them aside as contradicting each other and generally unreliable. Continue reading »

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A top secret Canadian Security Intelligence Service report leaked on August 27, 2004 may provide the missing piece of evidence needed to identify the long elusive Anthrax Mailer of 2001.

While confirmation is still lacking, we now have enough shreds of evidence to piece together a theory of the case that resolves key anomalies. In turn, that theory can point us toward where we might find confirmatory evidence.  [Note:  Many observers wrongly accepted invalid objections to an al Qaeda theory of the case.  See the rebuttals to seven objections in The Anthrax Mailings Can’t Have Been al Qaeda. Continue reading »

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9112001terrorismThe apparent misdeeds and cover-ups of the administration of George W. Bush related to the terrorist attacks of 2001 remain in historical limbo.  Neither presidents, nor the Congress, nor the media have gotten to the bottom of these tragic events.  The 9/11 Commission Report, while providing hundreds of useful details, egregiously and unpardonably failed to examine the doings of senior government officials in the run-up to 9/11 and so must be considered a cover-up.  As a result, the American public has not come to closure on the 9/11 attacks or on the anthrax mailings of 2001, nor is there a shared understanding of such a critical issue as the real reasons that the US attacked Iraq in 2003.

These failures have left the field open to wild speculations regarding these events, generally termed “conspiracy theories”, though this term obscures the crucial distinction between elaborate prospective plots involving many actors (silly in the context of an open society) and retrospective cover-ups that government officials who have made embarrassing mistakes are all too prone to engage in (very realistic and plausible).  However, it is also true that simple prospective plots involving two or three individuals can occur.

Failure to reach a full, shared understanding of major events that led to interminable wars and occupations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia as well as to the undermining of civil liberties has helped to alienate Americans from their government and media, a  triumph for America’s enemies.  So we must make every effort to establish a clear common interpretation of what actually happened.

Continue reading »

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There are two sides to every story. Judges rightly admonish juries to check out both sides before coming to a conclusion. Our entire system of adversarial justice is built on this principle. But under surveillance by FBI in the 2001 anthrax mailings case, U.S. Army scientist Bruce Ivins committed suicide. So only one side got to tell its version of the story.

Upon closing the case on February 19, 2010, FBI issued an Amerithrax Investigative Summary that concludes that Ivins was the anthrax mailer. The Summary contains serious errors as well as minor ones. It also omits crucial information. So, to ensure a fair outcome, we need to look at it through the eyes of a defense attorney, to make sure that the American people can check out both sides of the story before coming to a conclusion. Continue reading »

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Historian and former State Department intelligence analyst Kenneth J. Dillon interprets the 2001 anthrax mailings case.  He explains why domestic Mailer theories were mistaken and why we should think that al Qaeda operative Abderraouf Jdey was the real Anthrax Mailer as well as the shoebomber of American Airlines Flight #587 on November 12, 2001.  In all likelihood, US Army scientist Dr. Bruce Ivins was the Innocent Preparer of the anthrax.  Then al Qaeda stole it.  See also Was Abderraouf Jdey the Anthrax Mailer?

  Who Was the Anthrax Mailer?

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Here are the judge’s March 16, 2020 Order and Memorandum opinion giving his final ruling.  For a general explanation of the anthrax mailings case, see Was Abderraouf Jdey the Anthrax Mailer?  The judge does not appear to have read it.

Of the documents, the first set was released by FBI in the course of the litigation.  The second set includes selected lawsuit documents from Dillon v. U.S. Department of Justice.  Following this is a discussion of possible destruction of evidence. 

The first set includes 102 pages of emails to and from accused Mailer Bruce Ivins, released by FBI on court order on March 20, 2019, plus Laboratory Notebook 4282. FOIA request #1327397 sought Ivins’s emails and other documents for September and October, 2001. FOIA request #1329530 sought the Table of Contents and the 16 pages on Ivins from the 2000-page Interim Major Case Summary of 2006.  After repeated failures to find emails, FBI experts located them as 1A attachments in the Amerithrax file. Continue reading »

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bush

Anomalous Mistake-driven Opportunity Creation (AMOC) occurs when a government official charged with a certain problem commits an extraordinary errorone so inconceivable that no one can imagine that he/she has perpetrated it. And therefore the official gets away with it. Continue reading »

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IvinsEarth And Planetary ScienceThe FBI investigation of the 2001 anthrax mailings may well have been the most extensive criminal investigation in world history. According to FBI, which closed its investigation on February 19, 2010, the Mailer was U.S. Government scientist Bruce Ivins, who committed suicide in July, 2008. But the evidence FBI has adduced is so weak that skepticism is widespread among scientists, other observers of the case, and the public at large.

Many observers find it impossible to believe that the Bureau could persuasively rule out the other hundreds of scientists who had access to the virulent strain of anthrax from the flask Ivins kept. Few doubt that the anthrax in at least some of the letters came originally from this flask, but critics charge that FBI has no valid reason to claim that Ivins was the one who prepared the anthrax and put it into the envelopes. FBI has also not addressed the possibility that someone stole the anthrax, even though researcher Ross Getman has identified several university labs and a bioscience company where al Qaeda sympathizers could have had access to anthrax originating in Ivins’s flask. Continue reading »

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jdeyAmid the twists, turns, and baffling uncertainties of the 2001 anthrax mailings case, many observers have managed to hold fast to one conviction: that the anthrax letters can’t possibly have been the work of al Qaeda.  But are they right? One way to find out would be to identify the actual Mailer. That may prove easier than often thought—if one looks in the right place. Another approach would involve analyzing each of the objections to determine its merits. Let’s try that.

Objections, Objections Continue reading »

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On November 29, 2010 the University of California Washington Center hosted a seminar, sponsored by UCLA, on the 2001 anthrax mailings investigation.

At the first session, attended by 45, four panelists discussed the investigation itself, with the consensus emerging that FBI had made a series of errors and that its allegations against U.S. Army scientist Bruce Ivins lacked substance.   (The case has never been tried in court because Ivins committed suicide.)   The second session, for which 25 remained, analyzed the lessons learned and the broader implications of the case, which was the largest criminal investigation in American history.   Continue reading »

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kennedyUnfinished business in a nation’s history can undermine citizens’ trust in government and sense of participating in a meaningful collective life.

In the case of fatal moments such as assassinations and terrorist attacks, the damage adds to the impact of the attacks and helps the attackers achieve their goals of demoralizing the people and fraying the social fabric. Compounding the problem, government agencies and the media often show reluctance to reveal what they learn because they lack 100% assurance of its validity, because they fear the public reaction, or because they are covering up their own mistakes. As a result, people often believe that certain crimes remain unsolved or are even unsolvable when in fact they have already been solved but the information is being denied to the public. Continue reading »

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jdeyIt is a curious fact that, after extensive investigations accompanied by intensive media coverage, the United States Government has failed to get to the bottom of any of the three major attacks launched against it by al Qaeda in the autumn of 2001.

Three attacks?

Yes, and therein lies part of the problem.

When we speak of intelligence failures, we ordinarily refer to the mistakes made by intelligence agencies in the time leading up to an event. But there is another kind of intelligence failure: Retrospective Intelligence Failure (RIF). Continue reading »

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