Daily Archives: August 2, 2008

Cheney, Neocons Considered Killing Americans in Pretext to Attack Iran

Might cost some lives…


U.S. Military Drafted Plans to Terrorize U.S. Cities to Provoke War With Cuba


Think Progress | Jul 31, 2008

Speaking at the Campus Progress journalism conference earlier this month, Seymour Hersh — a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist for The New Yorker — revealed that Bush administration officials held a meeting recently in the Vice President’s office to discuss ways to provoke a war with Iran.

In Hersh’s most recent article, he reports that this meeting occurred in the wake of the overblown incident in the Strait of Hormuz, when a U.S. carrier almost shot at a few small Iranian speedboats. The “meeting took place in the Vice-President’s office. ‘The subject was how to create a casus belli between Tehran and Washington,’” according to one of Hersh’s sources.

During the journalism conference event, I asked Hersh specifically about this meeting and if he could elaborate on what occurred. Hersh explained that, during the meeting in Cheney’s office, an idea was considered to dress up Navy Seals as Iranians, put them on fake Iranian speedboats, and shoot at them. This idea, intended to provoke an Iran war, was ultimately rejected:

HERSH: There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up.

Sy Hersh at Campus Progress journalism conference

Might cost some lives. And it was rejected because you can’t have Americans killing Americans. That’s the kind of — that’s the level of stuff we’re talking about. Provocation. But that was rejected.

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Authorities paint anthrax scientist as a homicidal maniac hellbent on murder

Social worker: Anthrax suspect was ‘homicidal’


Anthrax scientist’s friends and colleagues “dumbfounded” by accusations

Weapons inspector’s death ‘was not suicide’

Ivins was “hounded” by aggressive FBI agents who raided his home twice, said Dr. W. Russell Byrne, a colleague who worked in the bacteriology division of the Fort Detrick research facility for 15 years. Byrne said Ivins was forcefully removed from his job by local police recently because of fears that he had become a danger to himself or others. The investigation led to Ivins being hospitalized for depression earlier this month, Byrne said.

He said he does not believe Ivins was behind the anthrax attacks.

NBC News | Aug 1, 2008

WASHINGTON – A top U.S. biodefense researcher apparently committed suicide this week as prosecutors prepared to seek indictment and the death penalty against him for the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks, U.S. officials said Friday.

The scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, was a leading military anthrax researcher who worked for the past 18 years at the government’s biodefense labs at Fort Detrick, Md.

Friends, colleagues and court documents paint a picture of a brilliant scientist with a troubled side. Maryland court documents show he recently received psychiatric treatment and was ordered to stay away from a woman he was accused of stalking and threatening to kill.

Social worker Jean Duley filed handwritten court documents last week saying she was preparing to testify before a grand jury.

She said the FBI was involved and that Ivins would be charged with five capital murders.

“Client has a history dating to his graduate days of homicidal threats, plans and actions towards therapists,” Duley said, adding that his psychiatrist had described him as homicidal and sociopathic.

The government laboratory where Ivins worked has been at the center of the FBI’s investigation of the anthrax mailings.

For more than a decade, Ivins worked to develop an anthrax vaccine that was effective even in cases where different strains of anthrax were mixed, which made vaccines ineffective, according to federal documents reviewed by the AP.

In his research, he complained of the limited supply of monkeys available for testing and said testing on animals is insufficient to demonstrate how humans would respond to treatment.

Federal officials told NBC News that Ivins was asked to help analyze some of the anthrax material recovered from mailings that killed five people in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He also helped develop the anthrax vaccine widely given to U.S. troops.

A painstaking scientific examination of the anthrax used in the mailings — an analysis that took years — showed that it came from anthrax strains held at Ivins’ lab, U.S. officials told NBC News on condition of anonymity.

Other U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing grand jury investigation, said prosecutors were closing in on Ivins, who was 62. They were planning an indictment that would have sought the death penalty for the attacks, which killed five people, crippled the postal system and traumatized a nation still reeling from the Sept. 11 attacks.

No decision to close case

Authorities were investigating whether Ivins released the anthrax as a way to test his vaccine, officials said. The Justice Department has not yet decided whether to close the investigation, officials said, meaning it’s still not certain whether Ivins acted alone or had help. One official close to the case said that decision was expected within days.

If the case is closed soon, one official said, that will indicate that Ivins was the lone suspect.

White House press secretary Dana Perino declined to comment on the case, except to say that President Bush has maintained an interest in it over the years and was aware there were “about to be developments.” She would not say how much he knew about the Ivins case.

Ivins’ attorney said the scientist had cooperated with investigators for more than a year.

“We are saddened by his death, and disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to defend his good name and reputation in a court of law,” attorney Paul F. Kemp said. “We assert his innocence in these killings, and would have established that at trial.”

Kemp said that Ivins’ death was the result of the government’s “relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo.”

The biodefense institute issued a statement saying its ” family mourns the loss of Dr. Bruce Ivins, who served the institute for more than 35 years as a civilian microbiologist. In addition to his long and faithful government service, Bruce contributed to our community as a Red Cross volunteer with the Frederick County chapter. We will miss him very much.”

Ivins was “hounded” by aggressive FBI agents who raided his home twice, said Dr. W. Russell Byrne, a colleague who worked in the bacteriology division of the Fort Detrick research facility for 15 years. Byrne said Ivins was forcefully removed from his job by local police recently because of fears that he had become a danger to himself or others. The investigation led to Ivins being hospitalized for depression earlier this month, Byrne said.

He said he does not believe Ivins was behind the anthrax attacks.

Ivins died Tuesday at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Maryland. The Los Angeles Times, which first reported the investigation, said the scientist had taken a massive dose of a prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine. A woman who answered the phone at Bruce Ivins’ home in Frederick declined to comment.

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Anthrax scientist’s friends and colleagues “dumbfounded” by accusations

For colleagues, a ‘quiet, giving kind of guy’


Suicide of Scientist Linked to Anthrax Attacks Case Leaves Questions
According to his lawyer, Paul Kemp, Ivins had cooperated with the government’s anthrax investigation for the past six years and his innocence would have been surely established at the trial.

Friends, neighbors and coworkers can’t believe he would have killed himself, much less commit such a crime

Baltimore Sun | Aug 2, 2008

By Stephen Kiehl, Nick Madigan and Gus G. Sentementes

Friends and colleagues expressed shock yesterday that Bruce E. Ivins – an award-winning scientist who played guitar in his church folk group – would kill himself after being targeted in a federal anthrax probe, even as a contrasting portrait emerged of a man who in his final months spiraled into depression and bizarre behavior.

Ivins, who was 62 when he took a fatal dose of Tylenol and codeine Tuesday, had been released from a psychiatric unit last week at Frederick Memorial Hospital. Two weeks earlier, according to court records, he had made “threats of homicidal intent” against a Frederick social worker, who sought and won a protective order against him as federal investigators were closing in.

It was a stunning fall and tragic denouement for a man who had been at the peak of his profession, admired by friends and respected by colleagues. Ivins was considered one of the leading experts on anthrax research and, after the anthrax attacks that killed five people in the fall of 2001, he was called on by the government to assist in the investigation.

Friends and neighbors said he was an avid gardener, an active walker and a volunteer with the Red Cross. Ivins and his wife of 33 years, Diane, had 24-year-old twins, whom they raised in a modest white house with red shutters across the street from Fort Detrick in Frederick, where Ivins worked at the U.S. Army’s institute for infectious diseases.

“Anybody that knew Bruce through his church affiliation is just dumbfounded,” said Bill McCormick, who attended St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Frederick with Ivins for 25 years. He said Ivins was a “quiet, giving kind of guy,” and the news that he was about to be charged in the attacks did not fit with the Ivins he knew.

But the Ivins home had been under federal surveillance for the past year, according to a neighbor who saw agents parked outside. Ivins had been cooperating with investigators and answering questions, colleagues said. He was being treated for depression.

“The relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo takes its toll in different ways on different people,” Ivins’ lawyer, Paul F. Kemp, said in a statement. “In Dr. Ivins’ case, it led to his untimely death.”

Kemp asserted Ivins’ innocence and described him as a “world-renowned and highly decorated scientist who served his country for over 33 years” as a civilian microbiologist for the Army.

Two military scientists who had worked closely with Ivins on projects for years, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said yesterday they were stunned and angry that he was being depicted as a suspect in the attacks without hard evidence being released by the FBI. The federal investigation into Ivins was first reported by the Los Angeles Times yesterday.

“Nobody thinks Bruce did it,” said one scientist. He described Ivins as “socially awkward” but he “certainly wasn’t a recluse or a hermit.” He added, “He was kind of a geeky scientist.”

Another colleague said, “I’ve talked to several friends, and we’re all just really sad and shocked. I hate to see him painted as a person who could’ve done this.”

Bonnie Duggan, who lives a few doors down from the Ivins on Military Road in Frederick and had seen the federal agents on the street, was still shocked by the her neighbor’s rapid descent.

“I feel so badly for his family,” said Duggan, an adult-education worker who has lived next to the Ivinses since they bought the 1,500-square-foot house in 1990.

It was just the opposite, she said. Whenever she saw him on the street, he would wave heartily and they would chat. She said he walked regularly, perhaps to help his bad back. When she needed a chain saw for some yard work, Ivins showed up and did the job.

“Bruce was the kind of neighbor that anyone would want to have,” Duggan said.

In Ivins’ hometown of Lebanon, Ohio, people began to suspect last year that Ivins was being investigated in the anthrax attacks. John Zimkus, the town historian, said investigators from the FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency made several visits to the town starting last fall. The agents went to the town museum, looking for old yearbooks and asked questions about the Ivins family home, such as when it was built and who designed it.

Ivins was the son of a Princeton-educated pharmacist, and one of his ancestors had opened a pharmacy in town in 1893, according to a Web site on Lebanon history. The family had deep roots in the small town near Cincinnati.

The federal agents went to the store where Ivins father had run his pharmacy and spent 45 minutes to an hour in the basement, Zimkus said. He described the agents as scouring the background of the Ivins family.

Ivins was the youngest of three boys. His eldest brother, Tom Ivins, said yesterday that their mother “babied” Bruce Ivins and protected him. Tom Ivins, now 73 and living in Middletown, Ohio, said that while he played football in high school, his mother wouldn’t allow Bruce Ivins to engage in contact sports.

“She didn’t want Bruce playing those because she didn’t want him to get hurt,” Tom Ivins said. “I think he ran cross country. Nothing like soccer or football or basketball.”

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The mysterious deaths of top microbiologists


Dead Microbiologists: Ongoing worldwide series of killing experts in virus and infections diseases

List Of Dead Microbiologists

US officials given power to seize travelers’ hard-drives, phones and written materials at will

Visitors to the United States face having their laptop computers and other digital devices seized after federal agents were given new powers

The policies applied to any of the 400 million people entering the country in a year, including US citizens

Telegraph | Aug 1, 2008

By Alex Spillius in Washington

In a move that could affect thousands of British business travellers and tourists each year, the Department of Homeland Security will be allowed to carry out seizures without suspicion of wrongdoing and can hold devices for a “reasonable period of time”.

Customs and border staff have been empowered to share the contents of seized computers with other government and private agencies for data decryption and translation.

The policies cover hard drives, flash drives, mobile phones, iPods, pagers, and video and audio tapes – as well as books, pamphlets and other written materials.

US government officials told the Washington Post that the policies applied to any of the 400 million people entering the country in a year, including US citizens, and were needed to prevent terrorism. About four million British people travel to America each year.

The measures are already in place but were only disclosed under pressure from civil liberties and business groups, who were acting on reports that increasing numbers of overseas visitors had been stopped and had their electronic equipment confiscated and analysed.

The policies require federal agents to take measures to protect business data and privileged legal material. They stipulate that any copies of the data must be destroyed when a review is completed and no probable cause exists to keep the information.

The Democrat Senator, Russ Feingold, described the new measures as “truly alarming”. He intends to introduce legislation to require reasonable ground for suspicion before equipment is confiscated.

From the beginning of next year British people entering the US without a visa will have to register with the American government online up to 72 hours before they leave.

Under the existing visa waiver programme, which applies to 27 countries including Britain, travellers must fill in an immigration form while they are on their way.

But a new advance screening system which was launched – initially as a voluntary programme – will become obligatory from January.

Under a deal struck between Brussels and Washington, US officials can also potentially look at travellers’ credit card and email accounts.

Information released under the Freedom of Information Act earlier this year disclosed how the Department of Homeland Security can ask for “additional information” on top of the “Passenger Name Record” (PNR) data which airlines must already provide to be allowed to fly to the country.

Officials can now demand the right to inspect other transactions on the credit card used to book a flight, for example, or view emails on the account given to the airline.

But British and US officials are also working on a scheme to speed up the process for frequent flyers between the two countries.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, said: “It is one thing to look for drugs and explosives, another to conduct data trawls without suspicion.

“If the authorities don’t behave with reasonable proportion, airline travel will seem more punishment than pleasure.”