Unfortunately, I've been gone all day today, with appointments beginning at the crack of ridiculous, and now, going on about 3 hours of sleep, I'm on deadline for an article elsewhere at the moment. So I'm way behind in reviewing the summary of claims released by the FBI today in the Bruce Ivins anthrax case. They say he's the one, and he acted alone, in the largely circumstantial case put forward today.
One critical caveat to keep at the forefront of one's mind is that when one side is in exclusive possession of all documents and can pick and choose which ones to release in full or in part in order to make their case, while leaving out the parts that undercut the picture they want to paint - which is exactly what the FBI is doing here --- then it is very easy to make things look however you want.
Beyond that, as always, I've got an open mind and will share any thoughts --- either way --- that I may have on things, as determined to be of note. Your comments on the information released today, especially since you guys may be way ahead of me, are always welcome.
UPDATE:This NPR article, as recommended in a late update by Greenwald, is very well done, as it offers replies from Ivins' attorney Paul Kemp, offering rebuttal to the main points in the one-sided case put forward today by the FBI.
The case against the supposed "Anthrax Killer," Bruce E. Ivins, a researcher who worked at the Army lab confirmed by the government as being the source for the dry, powdered anthrax used in the letters targeted mainly at Democrats and other perceived "liberals," is going from bad to worse. At least the coverage of it from mainstream outlets such as AP is.
We noted, when we first jumped into this horrendous beat last Friday, that AP and many of the other corporate outlets failed to even bother noting the perceived "liberals" who made up the targets of the post-9/11 terrorist attacks. Today, Glenn Greenwald (who's been doing yeoman's work on this beat) notes AP's latest unnamed government source-based buffoonery.
Offering a fresh new bizarre angle in the anthrax case --- as per their wont, from "Multiple U.S. officials," all unnamed and all who "spoke on condition of anonymity" --- AP purports to explain Ivins' supposed seven-hour round-trip drive from Frederick, MD, to Princeton, NJ, to mail his letters, by describing a long-term obsession he supposedly had with the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.
"The bizarre link to the sorority," AP's report proffers based on leaks from those unnamed officials, "may indirectly explain one of the biggest mysteries in the case: why the anthrax was mailed from Princeton, 195 miles from the Army biological weapons lab the anthrax is believed to have been smuggled out of."
Oookay...we'll bite. But then, with the unsubstantiated genie out of the bottle, a few problems appeared as AP's initial report then morphed shortly thereafter, and an update was filed...
Party Affiliation of the Now-Deceased Bruce Ivins, as Confirmed by His Local County Board of Elections, Adds Yet Another Curious Question to the Increasingly Troubling Investigation into the Post-9/11 Terrorist Attacks on American Soil...
Bruce E. Ivins, reportedly on the verge of being indicted for capital murder in the anthrax killings, was a registered Democrat, according to the Fredrick County, MD, Board of Elections. He had been registered there since 1982 and records indicate that he voted in "every election since 1996," including Democratic primaries, according to the official who responded to a request from West Virginia-based radio host Bob Kincaid.
The party affiliation of the bio-terror researcher who worked at U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID) adds a notable twist to the ever increasing questions surrounding the bizarre case following Ivins' reported suicide last week. He was, according to media reports, soon to be indicted for charges related to the post-9/11 terror attacks that rocked the nation and, as Salon'sGlen Greenwald has very effectively argued, served as a crucial influence in marching the country towards war with Iraq.
Last week, as the story of Ivins' reported suicide was breaking, The BRAD BLOG excoriated the corporate mainstream media for failing to note that the targets of the multiple post-9/11 terror attacks on American soil were primarily powerful men, perceived as "liberals" by the Republican right wing. Nonetheless, despite two senior Democratic U.S. senators, Tom Daschle of SD and Patrick Leahy of VT, having been the only known governmental targets in the deadly letter campaign which also included perceived "liberal" media figurehead Tom Brokaw, the MSM coverage --- almost uniformly --- failed to note the obvious correlations in the attacks. Most even failed to even mention the names of those who were directly targeted in what was clearly meant to appear as a follow-up attack from Muslim extremists.
Furthermore, as we also noted on Friday, despite a parade of reporters who had contacted Ivins' oldest brother Thomas that day for comment, not one of them --- until us --- bothered even to inquire about Bruce's political leanings or affiliations.
That it now turns out Ivins was a registered Democrat adds yet another curious twist to a story which is already revealing bizarre and potentially exculpatory evidence and other cracks in the government's reported (though, as yet, not publicly disclosed) case against him. Today, the New York Times noted, as we similarly did yesterday, that the FBI's case against Ivins appears to be almost entirely circumstantial, at least based on the information so far available...
We're glad it's the Washington Post, and not just us "bloggers," asking questions about this anthrax case. Had we been the ones pointing to the questions that WaPo is now pointing to, we'd have been accused of forwarding "just another conspiracy theory" and the notable questions raised might have been relegated to the trash-bin of history.
Since it's WaPo raising the questions, on the other hand, the trash-bin will take an extra day or two to fill up, but we suspect the results may eventually be the same: Legend will have it that the lone "Anthrax Killer," Bruce E. Ivins, killed himself just before he was to be indicted on capital murder charges. Case closed on the previously-unsolved deadly series of terrorist attacks that occurred on American soil since 9/11.
That said, it's certainly odd the way that WaPo has been covering this story. While their top story on page A1 today is headlined "Scientists Question FBI's Probe of Anthrax Attacks" and sub-titled "Ivins Could Not Have Been Attacker, Some Say," the paper nonetheless managed to scrub from their website --- or at least completely replace --- a story they ran originally on Friday afternoon questioning the same points (whether Ivins had the means, ability, or access to the dry, weaponized anthrax used in the attack letters against senior Democratic Senators and other perceived "liberals") with another that greatly softened concerns about those questions.
No retraction or correction notice --- unethically, in our opinion --- was given for WaPo's odd swaperoo. The Friday WaPo story we linked to that day --- which was dated "Friday, August 1, 2008; 5:46 PM" and reported that that the purported "Anthrax Killer," Bruce E. Ivins, "had no access to dry, powdered anthrax" at his U.S. Army bioweapons lab in Fort Detrick, MD --- was simply swapped out with a completely different story in its place on the matter, dated Saturday, August 2, 2008. The same URL was used for both stories, but the Saturday story didn't have the bulk of the reporting which quoted named experts and colleagues questioning Ivins' ability to even carry out such an attack.
After noticing the swap/excising of the original Friday story (hat-tip BRAD BLOG commenter Bruce Sims), we were set to run a story focusing on the spiked report, when we then checked today's paper to see that they were leading the Sunday edition with a story that raised many of those same questions from the Friday story again.
Fortunately, we cached the original Friday story here, before it was disappeared and replaced, and have done the same for today's story, should that one go missing as well. Comparisons between WaPo's (disappeared) Friday, Saturday, and Sunday coverage is curious enough, however, --- and offers some fresh, additional unanswered questions --- that it seems worth noting all of it, and the differences in each days' coverage, for the record...
[Ed Note 8/3/08: The article from Washington Post, referenced and quoted in the story below, has now been scrubbed by the paper and replaced with a different story, without explanation or notice. Luckily, we have the original version of the article cached here, however. After reading the following, please see this new follow-up report with details on WaPo's scrubbing of the original story.]
Earlier today we singled out the media's failure to note the purported "liberal" leanings of those targeted by the "Anthrax Killer" (such as two leading Senate Democrats) in their coverage of the reported suicide of suspect Bruce E. Ivins.
Those reports noted that Ivins was soon to be indicted in the case. But was he the one who really dunnit?
A BRAD BLOG reader points us to this curious note, near the end of a late-afternoon story from today's Washington Post coverage, noting that Ivins had "no access to dry, powdered anthrax" at the Fort Detrick lab where he worked [emphasis ours]:
With the mainstream corporate media reports today on the apparent suicide of Bruce E. Ivins of the U.S. Government's bio weapons lab at Ft. Detrick, MD, who was reportedly about to be charged with the Anthrax murders of late 2001, it's curious --- if hardly surprising --- that none of the major outlets reporting the news bothered to note that the attacks were all made on perceived "liberals."
Letters, seeming to appear as if they were from Muslim extremists, declaring "Death to America...Death to Israel...Allah is Great," were sent to then-Democratic Majority Leader Sen. Tom Daschle, powerful Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy and then NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw.
Given the recent coverage (or extraordinary lack thereof) of the church shootings earlier this week in Knoxville, TN, carried out by a gunman who was said to have blamed "liberal Democrats" for all of this country's woes... and the coinciding news that the Bush Administration's DoJ illegally screened out applicants for career posts based on perceived beliefs that they might support "liberal Democratic" causes (a convergance that we noted, if few others did)... it's all the more curious --- if still not surprising in the least --- that the supposed "Liberal Media" haven't bothered to highlight who the actual targets of the anthrax attacks were, or the reasons why they appear to have been targeted.
Even the parade of reporters contacting the Ivins family today failed to bring up the topic.
We spoke with Ivins eldest brother Thomas today, to ask if he had any idea of Bruce's political leanings, and he told us "No, I didn't. I didn't know what his affiliations where. And that's a good question."
He was surprised by the question, and although he said he'd been speaking with reporters all day, "one after another," he told The BRAD BLOG none of the other reporters, not one of them, had asked him about his brother's political affiliations, leanings, or beliefs.
Apparently, it remains open hunting season on perceived "liberals." Today's remarkable MSM coverage of Ivins' death continues to underscore that point...
George Bush went out of his way not to use the term "mission accomplished" yesterday when he quietly declared the surge in Iraq to be a success. Bush's declaration has been ignored by just about everyone, except for Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who used it as an opportunity to trot out one of the tired-est of the GOP Big Lies: that Saddam Hussein's government was behind the 9/11 attacks.
First, here's a bit of Bush's non-declaration of success mumbo-jumbo:
BUSH: This has been a month of encouraging news from Iraq. Violence is down to its lowest level since the spring of 2004, and we're now in our third consecutive month with reduced violence levels holding steady. General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker caution that the progress is still reversible, but they report that there now appears to be a "degree of durability" to the gains we have made.
A significant reason for this sustained progress is the success of the surge. Another is the increasing capability of the Iraqi forces. Iraqi forces now have 192 combat battalions in the fight --- and more than 110 of these battalions are taking the lead in combat operations against terrorists and extremists.
A little later, during a press conference held by Lieberman and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to congratulate Dear Leader on his latest triumph, Lieberman said this:
WASHINGTON (AP) — A House panel Wednesday voted to cite former top White House aide Karl Rove for contempt of Congress as its Senate counterpart publicly pursued possible punishments for an array of alleged past and present Bush administration misdeeds.
Voting along party lines, the House Judiciary Committee said that Rove had broke the law by failing to appear at a July 10 hearing on allegations of White House influence over the Justice Department, including whether Rove encouraged prosecutions against Democrats.
The committee decision is only a recommendation, and it was unclear whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., would allow a final vote. Rove has denied any involvement with Justice decisions, and the White House has said Congress has no authority to compel testimony from current and former advisers.
...Rove has denied any involvement with Justice decisions, and the White House has said Congress has no authority to compel testimony from current and former advisers.
The White House's opinion that advisers cannot be compelled to testify does not address whether or not the witness is nonetheless required to appear in response to a subpoena. From Congress.
It remains to be seen whether Congressional Democrats will actually assert authority and re-establish parity as a co-equal branch of the federal government under the Constitution, or if this is just more sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Last February the full House voted to hold White House officials Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers in contempt of Congress. They have failed to enforce that vote, which passed 223 to 32, and AG Mukasey has said he would not enforce the House's contempt finding.
Last December, the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended finding Rove in contempt in a bi-partisan 12 to 7 vote, during which Republican Arlen Specter noted "we have no alternative," given Rove's snub of the subpoenas issued by the panel.
Despite the endorsement from even two Republicans on the committee, Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid has failed to bring the recommendation to the full Senate for a vote. Will Pelosi hold the House committee's endorsement (and the will of the American people, and the Rule of Law) in similar contempt?
UPDATE FROM BRAD: In addition to the Committee's finding of contempt, the resolution passed today also recommends an interesting additional course of action recommended for the House, as noted in the Resolution's markup memo [WORD] that we received from the House Judiciary this morning...
Ohio Attorney Cliff Arnebeck, who notified Attorney General Mukasey yesterday about threats made by Karl Rove against the GOP's high-tech guru, Mike Connell, as we reported last night, will join Peter B. Collins and me during my weekly Friday 5pm PT appearance on PBC's syndicated radio show.
You'll be able to listen online at www.PeterBCollins.com if his show is not aired in your town. And you may call in with questions and comments for Arnebeck or myself at 888-5-PeterB (or post them here, and I'll try to ask them). Hope you'll tune in!
POST-SHOW UPDATE: Arnebeck joined us for the first half-hour of the show and dropped a few interesting details during our discussion. Among them: 1) Bush can't pardon someone convicted under a civil RICO case, which is what Arnebeck is compiling. (Also, can't remember if it came up during the interview, but as some have suggested that Rove simply invoke Executive Privilege to avoid being deposed in this case, Exec Privilege does not come into play in such a case. It only refers to Congressional testimony.) 2) Connell had agreed to meet with the House Judiciary Comm. several months ago, but so far Judiciary hasn't followed up. 3) Arnebeck makes a tantalizing reference to the finding in the Paula Jones case that sitting Presidents may be deposed in civil cases. More detail on those points and others in the audio interview. Download MP3 or listen online here...
Karl Rove has threatened a GOP high-tech guru and his wife, if he does not "'take the fall' for election fraud in Ohio," according to a letter sent this morning to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, by Ohio election attorney Cliff Arnebeck.
The email, posted in full below, details threats against Mike Connell of the Republican firm New Media Communications, which describes itself on its website as "a powerhouse in the field of Republican website development and Internet services" and having "played a strategic role in helping the GOP expand its technological supremacy."
Connell was described in a recent interview with the plaintiff's attorneys in Ohio as a "high IQ Forrest Gump" for his appearance "at the scene of every [GOP] crime" from Florida 2000 to Ohio 2004 to the RNC email system to the installation of the currently-used Congressional computer network firewall.
Connell and his firm are currently employed by the John McCain campaign, as well as the RNC and other Republican and so-called "faith-based" organizations.
In a phone call this afternoon, Arnebeck could not publicly reveal specific details of the information that triggered his concern about the threats to Connell. The message to the IT man from Rove is said to have been sent via a go-between in Ohio. That information led Arnebeck to contact Mukasey after he found the reports to be credible and troubling.
"If there's a credible threat, which I regard this to be," he told The BRAD BLOG, "I have a professional duty to report it."
Attempts to reach Connell for comment late this afternoon were not successful.
The motion was made following the discovery of new information, including details from a Republican data security expert, leading Arnebeck towards seeking depositions of Rove, Connell, and other GOP operatives believed to have participated in the gaming of election results in 2004. A letter [PDF] was sent to Mukasey at the same time last week, asking him to retain email and other documents from Rove...
Does anything that George W. Bush and John McCain say matter? Based on this colloquy between Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow on "Countdown" last night, apparently not:
OLBERMANN: ...The Iraqi government is saying, “Get out,” and President Bush swore, you know, “Some day if they say ‘get out,‘ we‘ll get out.”
MADDOW: That‘s right. May 2007 in the Rose Garden, Bush said—and I went back and checked the quote directly so I could be sure to directly quote him — “If they were to say leave, we would leave.” Also, for what it‘s worth, in April of 2004, John McCain at the Council on Foreign Relations said, “It is obvious we would have to leave if they asked to us leave.”
I mean, they told us that the point of invading Iraq was to topple Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was toppled; they told us that the point of staying there after, was to set up a sovereign Iraqi government. Well now, the sovereign Iraqi government is standing up on its hind legs enough to tell us to leave, and we‘re left with this situation where they need another explanation of why we can‘t leave. That‘s the real headline here.
'Whether He's Pulling the Gun or Not...He's the Guy Who Made the Gun,' Allege Buckeye Lawyers About Man Said to Have Been Behind Florida 2000, Ohio 2004, RNC Emails, Congressional Computer Networks, & More...
Last week Ohio Attorney Cliff Arnebeck held a press conference in Columbus to announce his motion to lift the stay on the long-running King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell lawsuit in which massive improprieties, irregularities, and violations of the Voting Rights Act are alleged to have taken place in the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio.
In the wake of the failure by the Buckeye State's Attorney General to properly investigate the allegations, and new evidence and testimony unearthed by Arnebeck and other private investigators, he is now asking that the stay on the lawsuit be lifted by the court in order to refocus the case and depose Karl Rove, and a number of other top GOP operatives believed to be involved in manipulating the results of the '04 election.
One of those operatives is Republican tech-guru Mike Connell.
Steve Heller covered last week's press conference for us, which featured comments from data security expert Stephen Spoonamore alleging fraud in the '04 election and Arnebeck's assertion that he believes "Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio."
After last week's presser, Velvet Revolution's Brett Kimberlin sat down to follow up with Arnebeck and attorney/investigative journalist Bob Fitrakis, who participated in both the original '04 election lawsuits and has reported in detail on the related matters continuously since then at the Columbus Free Press.
In the video-taped interview, posted at right (appx. 10 mins), the two attorneys focus specifically on their concerns about GOP operative/IT specialist Connell, who, they allege, has been found to have been "at the scene of the crime" for numerous questionable elections since 2000. Connell's firm was also responsible for creating the RNC email systems used by Karl Rove and others. He is also said to have installed the existing Congressional computer networks for high-security House and Senate committees such as Judiciary and Intelligence.
The complete text transcript of the interview follows below...
Transcript of the 7/17/2008 VelvetRevolution.us Interview
with Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis
VELVET REVOLUTION: Cliff and Bob you just had a press conference, talking about the next steps you are going to take in litigation. It looks like you're looking for discovery to understand the facts behind what happened in 2004 and make sure this doesn't happen in 2008. Can you give us an idea of the kinds of people or the names of people that you intend to target?
CLIFF ARNEBECK: At the very top of the list is probably Mike Connell. For the same reason that Spoonamore is so valuable to us as a witness, Connell has a breadth of perspective in this stuff and when Connell, with his politics and his position, identifies Triad and the Rapp family as an area, as a point of vulnerability - Well, we're saying, if Connell makes the same observation --which we think he will because if you look at this objectively, it makes no sense. Here's a guy, he's a mathematician or an engineer or whatever; we anticipate he is going to say "Yeah, that looks odd."
So Connell's an important witness and because we're talking about a conspiracy, one of the problems is you say 'where's the coordination, where's the communication?' --- Here's one individual who's been part of all the elements of the things that we think are problematic.
BOB FITRAKIS: He's a high IQ Forrest Gump. It's like everything important --- 2000 election Florida; 2004 Ohio; firewall in Congress --- he happens to show up and be the builder of these [im]penetrable forces and also may know who has the key to get in.
VR: So he's at the scene of the crime... whether he's pulling the gun or not.
FITRAKIS: Every single crime --- Well even more than that. He's the guy who made the gun.
On Election Day this November, voters in San Francisco will vote on a local initiative to rename one of the city's largest waste treatment plants in honor of George W. Bush. If the initiative passes --- and since the number of Republicans in the city is statistically zero, it very well might --- the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant will be forever known as the George W. Bush Sewage Plant. It is as fitting a monument to the eight years of the Bush presidency as we can think of, with the possible exception of naming a garbage dump after him.
The San Francisco effort is the work-product of local activists who came up with the idea in the most grassroots of all settings: over beers. Subsequently, the group set up the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco, which handled promotion for the petition drive. On Thursday, the city's Department of Elections certified that the 7,168 signatures the commission submitted were valid and approved the initiative for the November ballot.
Although the organizers in San Francisco are clear that their effort is satire, this is a cause that grassroots organizers in other cities should consider seriously. This nationwide effort could be similar to, but hopefully more successful than, the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, which was the brainchild of the anti-government lobbyist Grover Norquist, who is best known for his close associations with corrupt Bush cronies like (now-imprisoned) Jack Abramoff and (perhaps incarcerated one day) Karl Rove.
Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.
The fact that hardly anyone has heard of David Addington is no accident. As chief of staff to Dick Cheney, he shares his boss's fetish for secrecy. But as reporters are finally zeroing in on what Bush officials have really been up to these last seven years, evidence continues to pile up about the key role Addington has played in the skullduggery. Some are even suggesting he could be tried for war crimes for his role in approving the torture of terror suspects.
In the video above, in an interview with Steve Clemons, editor of The Washington Note, Jane Mayer discusses Addington, whom she profiled in the New Yorker last year and who plays a central role in her new book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals, which Trish, my colleague at PR, wrote about this week.
The excerpt in the following transcript comes about 11 minutes into the interview. The quote mentioned by Mayer and Clemens is the last line in Mayer's book. It comes from Phillip Zelikow, a former counselor to Condoleeza Rice, who attempted to explain what went wrong within the administration after the attacks on September 11 this way: "Fear and anxiety were exploited by zealots and fools."
At a press conference this morning in Columbus, Ohio, Cliff Arnebeck, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case of King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell, announced that he is filing a motion to "lift the stay in the case [and] proceed with targeted discovery in order to help protect the integrity of the 2008 election."
Courtesy of our colleagues at Velvet Revolution, you can watch the entire press conference here, and an interview with Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis is here.
Arnebeck will also "be providing copies of document hold notices to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and the U.S. Justice Department for Karl Rove emails from the White House."
See PDFs of the hold letter to AG Mukasey here, the hold letter to the U.S. Chamber here, and the motion to lift the stay here.
This case has the potential to put some of the most powerful people in the country in jail, according to Arnebeck, as he was joined by a well-respected, life-long Republican computer security expert who charged that the red flags seen during Ohio's 2004 Presidential Election would have been cause for "a fraud investigation in a bank, but it doesn't when it comes to our vote."
"This entire system is being programmed in secret by programmers who have no oversight by anybody," the expert charged, as Arnebeck detailed allegations of complicity by a number of powerful GOP operatives and companies who had unique access both to the election results as reported in 2004, as well as to U.S. House and Senate computer networks even today.
The presser was attended by some of the corporate-controlled media, including the head of the Ohio AP bureau, the Columbus Dispatch, and IndyMedia. Listening in by phone were ABC News, our friends from RAW STORY, and I, your humble blogger. I recorded the presser, so I have no links for the quotes in this post, but I transcribed them word-for-word and can vouch for their accuracy.
One of the more delightful and interesting quotes comes from Arnebeck, concerning what he expects to discover as the stay is lifted: "[W]e anticipate Mr. Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio."