Barbara Hatch Rosenberg's "Political Campaign"
or
Rumor Mongering for a Cause
by
Ed Lake
(July 30, 2003)
(BHR's bio added at bottom on Dec. 19, 2004)

From the very beginning I viewed Barbara Hatch Rosenberg as just another crackpot conspiracy theorist.  All the tell-tale signs were there.  When she first made headlines in the anthrax case in November 2001 by making a speech at the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (BTWC) in Geneva, the articles I found on the Internet indicated she believed that the anthrax mailings were some kind of sinister plot involving a "rogue scientist"  and masterminded by the Bush Administration to undermine the BTWC in order to cover up America's secret and illegal biological weapons programs.  Those are the types of accusations found in most conspiracy theories.

Three months later, in February of 2002, she reappeared - still pushing her theories and truly on a campaign to point the finger at a specific "rogue scientist" while still claiming that the FBI and the U.S. government were covering up for that individual in order to hide illegal biological weapons programs.

Her campaign seemed to achieve one of its goals in late June when suddenly Dr. Steven J. Hatfill had became a household name and it was clear to everyone that this was the person she'd been talking about for eight months.  The media was hanging on her every word - falling for it all.

The resulting media feeding frenzy and the debunking of most of her "proof" gave me a lot to think about.  But no matter how I looked at it, it just was more of the same: it was just politics related to the BTWC.  On August 7, 2002, I added a page to my website stating that the whole "Dr. Hatfill and The Clueless Media" situation was just politics.  Worse than that, it was drawing the public's attention away from finding the real culprit!

Since my interest is the anthrax case, I tended to look upon the Dr. Hatfill situation as just a distracting "side issue" which really had nothing to do with the case.  As a result, I never really put together an overview of how Barbara Hatch Rosenberg conned a good part of the media, members of Congress, and many of the American people into thinking that Dr. Hatfill was the anthrax mailer.

Then on July 11, 2003, Dr. Steven Hatfill called me to discuss a particularly outrageous and badly researched "hypothesis" Dr. Rosenberg was circulating among scientists.  During the course of that conversation and several that followed, a question kept popping up that I couldn't answer - and neither could Dr. Hatfill: "How could silly rumors and innuendo be listened to by members of Congress and the American people and result in the FBI spending millions on something that is pure nonsense?"

I decided to do some research to find the answer to that question.  These are my findings:

Conspiracy Theories at the BTWC

When Barbara Hatch Rosenberg arrived at the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention in November of 2001, she was already on a warpath. According to Science Magazine, even though she wasn't a representative of any government, she "plopped herself down" on a chair on the main floor until the official U.S. delegation to the conference "forced her to move back to the gallery".  The article goes on:

Rosenberg's supporters and detractors already knew she was a hard-nosed and vocal activist who's unmovable once she takes a stand. "Barbara obviously makes no bones about her views," says Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist at Columbia University in New York City and a longtime friend. A government scientist who's battled Rosenberg for years puts a sharper edge on his description of her: "What she brings [to discussions] is an attitude."
It appears that for the entire duration of the conference she was circulating her theory that a "renegade" scientist associated with some illegal government program, or who worked in a laboratory connected with some illegal government program, was the anthrax mailer.  On November 21, 2001, she said it in a formal speech.  According to CNN,
The Federation of American Scientists on Wednesday told a 144-nation conference on banning germ warfare that the U.S. anthrax attacks were "almost certainly" derived from a U.S. government laboratory.
"I'm a New Yorker," said Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, chairwoman of the federation's working group on biological weapons. "My city has been attacked, first by foreign terrorists, then by an American using a weaponized biological agent."
Where did her "theories" come from?  According to The Global Security Newswire,
Rosenberg said she developed her theories by analyzing publicly available evidence and with input from other scientists, and from "inside" sources.
In other words, she was getting her information from newspaper reports and from people who had no reason to actually know about Dr. Hatfill's deeds, capabilities or whereabouts.  She was summing up what she felt that others thought.  She was rumor mongering.  And in conspiracy theory tradition, if no one could prove her wrong, that meant she was right.

According to The New York Times, at that time Dr. Rosenberg's theories included a massive government conspiracy that went back decades:

Dr. Rosenberg contends that the Ames strain probably did not originate in 1980 or 1981, as is often asserted, but arose decades earlier and was used in the secret American program to make biological weapons.
That same article gives indications that she was already talking about Dr. Hatfill:
The killer, Dr. Rosenberg concludes, is "an American microbiologist who had, or once had, access to weaponized anthrax in a U.S. government lab, or had been taught by a U.S. defense expert how to make it.  Perhaps he had a vial or two in his basement as a keepsake."
According to The Global Security Newswire, when she presented her theory, a U.S. representative at the conference walked out.  But, it wasn't just official U.S. government representatives to the conference who didn't believe her.
"Nothing I’ve seen points it to being a government worker," said [Majorie] Pollack [an epidemiologist based in Brooklyn]. The perpetrator could be a former scientist, but might also be a disgruntled lab worker or doctoral student in the biological sciences, she said.

Pollack argues equipment that could be used to produce dry anthrax powder, like that used in the attacks, is commonly employed in commercial industries and the drying process is well described in a journal that can be found on the Internet.

"It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to translate this particle size research and get the equipment to do it," she said.  "It’s a whole industry out there and if I can find this online so can somebody else."
And this:
"This is one extreme in the theorizing," Dr. Ebright [of Rutgers University] said. "There are elements that are reasonable, but elements that are not. I'm confident that she started with the insider conclusion and then selected the facts."
And Colonel Friedlander, a physician and leading anthrax expert at USAMRIID didn't buy it either:
He went on to dismiss the insider idea as improbable. Whoever made the killer anthrax, he said, "clearly knew what they were doing."
"But to make the leap that this came out of a government lab is somewhat large," he added.
He emphasized that no one in his organization, the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, a leader in developing germ defenses, even knew how to make dry anthrax, as was found in the letters used in the attacks. Instead, he said, scientists there used wet anthrax, which is far easier to make. It is used in developing vaccines and testing their effectiveness.
We haven't had an offensive program for a long time," Colonel Friedlander said.  Nobody at the Army's laboratory, he added, "has that kind of expertise."
Dr. Rosenberg's paper, "A Compilation of Evidence and Comments on the Source of the Mailed Anthrax," was dated November 29, 2001, and, according to The New York Times, was distributed on that day by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an arms control group.  (However, people from that group tell me Dr. Rosenberg merely posted it to a discussion forum on that day, and The New York Times received a copy via that forum.)  It may also have been on the Federation of American Scientists' web site, but, if so, the original was replaced by a version dated December 2, 2001, before I could make a copy.

Dragging Feet at the FBI

Science Magazine wrote: "She just seems to be too anxious to pin this on [Hatfill]," says Peter Jahrling, a senior USAMRIID researcher, who says Rosenberg's comments about the case led him to decide early on that she had Hatfill in mind.

In December of 2001 and January of 2002 there were reports of the FBI having at least one suspect in the case - a suspect who did not match Dr. Hatfill's description - and, according to The New York Times, "at one point investigators said they were convinced they had their culprit. They passed the word of a pending arrest up the chain of command to President Bush, but their hopes were dashed when their quarry proved innocent".  There was also news about the FBI checking copy machines at Rutgers University and Princeton University, plus there was endless speculation about the death of a Harvard University biochemist Don Wiley.  There was nothing in the news about Dr. Hatfill, much less about him being a suspect.

The leaks about potential suspects apparently caused the FBI to "compartmentalize" the anthrax case, making it difficult for reporters to get information by keeping the critical information within a closed group intent on avoiding damaging leaks while trying to solve the case.

This was apparently intolerable for Dr. Rosenberg, because, in February of 2002, she again went on the offensive, becoming even more explicit in her claims that the culprit was known to the FBI and the FBI was covering up for the culprit.

"Is the FBI Dragging Its Feet?" was published on February 5, 2002.  It begins,

For more than three months now the FBI has known that the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks is American. This conclusion must have been based on the perpetrator's evident connection to the US biodefense program.
She begins by jumping to conclusions and then goes into a long long list of connections which she sees as relating to the anthrax case because they happened at about the same time.  The fact that that particular time was immediately after 9-11 and authorities all over the country (and around the world) were swamped with hoaxes and false alerts apparently didn't matter to her.  Nor did the fact that postal authories and the FBI were investigating more than one anthrax hoax a week before 9-11.  Somehow, she concludes, all the incidents that she picks from the list must be connected to the anthrax mailer.

Tying the anthrax mailer to hoaxes is pure innunendo!  There's no proof for any of it!

Her theme is stated very clearly:

This evidence permits a more refined estimate of the perpetrator's motives. He must be angry at some biodefense agency or component, and he is driven to demonstrate, in a spectacular way, his capabilities and the government's inability to respond. He is cocksure that he can get away with it. Does he know something that he believes to be sufficiently damaging to the United States to make him untouchable by the FBI?
In other words, the FBI is not arresting her "suspect" because the FBI and the Bush administration are afraid the culprit will divulge secret and illegal bioweapons projects which are in violation of the BTWC.

A couple weeks later, she made a speech to about 65 students, faculty members and others at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

On February 19, 2002, The Daily Princetonian reported:

Barbara Hatch Rosenberg is the proponent of a new conspiracy theory.  Rosenberg, a molecular biologist leading an independent investigation into last fall's anthrax attacks on behalf of the Federation of American Scientists, said in a speech yesterday that many U.S. government insiders agree on one likely perpetrator whom they believe is responsible for the attacks.
But according to Rosenberg, the government may not want to prosecute this person because he is a government insider. Taking this insider to court might require making aspects of America's secret bioweapons program public.
It wasn't really a "new conspiracy theory".  It was the same old theory she'd been preaching since November:  The U.S. government was making illegal biological weapons and they were covering up for the culprit because the culprit might divulge information about those illegal weapons projects.
Rosenberg noted that the U.S. government may not want to prosecute the sender of the anthrax letters publicly, because doing so might force government officials to reveal the extent of the U.S. bioweapons program.
When people at the lecture tried to reason with her, she would have none of it.  According to The Trenton Times:
Another man wondered if the FBI and other investigators might be focusing too narrowly on one scientist, saying, "New Jersey is the epicenter of the international pharmaceutical industry," and many people in those labs presumably have the skills to handle and refine anthrax.
"I think your argument would have been a good one earlier on, but I think that the results of the analyses (of the letters and the anthrax in them) show that access to classified information was essential," Rosenberg said. "And that rules out most of the people in the pharmaceutical industry. . . . It's possible, but they would have had to have access to the information," Rosenberg said.
To her, the anthrax must have been developed via a secret process known only to certain people working on secret (and illegal) government projects, and it is inconceivable to her that anyone could have created the anthrax without access to that knowlege.  She makes that point clearly:
"It became clear from congressional testimony that the reason for this rejection was the need to protect our secret projects," Rosenberg said.
The next day, the 20th, The Trenton Times gave the FBI's reaction:
The  assertion  by  a biological and chemical weapons control advocate that the FBI has a prime suspect in the deadly anthrax letters case is flat-out wrong, several bureau sources said yesterday.
However, Dr. Rosenberg definitely found believers in the audience, because the news accounts generated letters and calls to Congressmen.   Here's what Congressman Chris Smith has on his web site dated just three days later, February 22, 2002:
Smith took the opportunity to amplify concerns raised to him about the investigation by his constituents over the past four-plus months.  A significant portion of the briefing focused on troubling allegations raised by Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Chemical and Biological Weapons Program, regarding the probe.
Dr. Rosenberg's accusations and speeches were getting people upset and they were writing to their Congressmen!

And, if she didn't tell them, reporters were beginning to learn or figure out who Dr. Rosenberg's suspect was.  Scott Shane of the Baltimore Sun checked out the rumor about the biocabinets for his Feb. 26 article, talking with people at USAMRIID and with Dr. Hatfill.

"We're focused that it may be an individual, possibly with an accomplice, but we're not excluding a group, either domestically or internationally," the FBI's Washington Bureau Chief Van Harp said to The Washington Post around March 4.

The Hartford Courant reported on March 4,

"These last two months, [FBI agents] have probably interviewed everyone at Fort Detrick and didn't find a suspect," he said. "They don't want to publicly rule anyone out, but their actions suggest that's what's going on. They don't think it's anybody who currently works at Detrick."
One scientist who is undoubtedly on the FBI's list of "persons of interest" is Joseph Farchaus, who co-authored a paper on inhalation anthrax before he left his job at Fort Detrick in 1999.
But top government officials, including White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, broke their silence twice in the past two weeks, both times to deny reports that they have focused their search on a single former Fort Detrick scientist. Fleischer announced that the FBI actually had a "handful" of suspects, prompting bureau officials to clarify that they had a "floating list" of about 20 names, but that none was considered a suspect.
The current round of speculation about a suspect appears to have stemmed largely from statements by Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a microbiologist and expert in bioweapons control for the Federation of American Scientists.
The Frederick News-Post went a bit further, with this:
No Fort Detrick scientist, past or present, is probably a suspect in the anthrax letter case, according to the Hartford, Conn., Courant.
On March 11, 2002, The New Yorker printed the results of an interview with Dr. Rosenberg in which she all but named Dr. Hatfill, and concluded that the culprit was trying to make a point about how competent he is and how his "career setbacks" were unwarranted.  The New Yorker adds,
In a more benign way, Rosenberg is trying to prove a point, too. The United States officially forswore biological-weapons development in 1969, and signed the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, along with many other nations. But Rosenberg believes that the American bioweapons program, which won't allow itself to be monitored, may not be in strict compliance with the convention. If the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks is who she thinks it is, that would put the American program in a bad light, and it would prove that she was right to demand that the program be monitored.
While the number of people actually under suspicion was probably still very small, Dr. Rosenberg probably would have been climbing the walls if she read the April 9, 2002, report in USA Today:
Potential suspects with the scientific expertise to carry out last year's deadly anthrax attacks are believed to number in the ''thousands,'' far more than the dozens previously reported, a senior federal law enforcement official said Monday.
Dr. Hatfill is Fired

Dr. Hatfill claims that the attention he was receiving from the media that March as a result of Dr. Rosenberg's campaign caused him to lose his job with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a contractor for the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Yet, the media attention was still far from what it would be in a few months.  So, Dr. Hatfill was able to get another job with Louisiana State University.  And he remained in Maryland for awhile, delaying his move to Louisiana, in order to complete work (unpaid) that he'd begun at SAIC.  While Barbara Hatch Rosenberg didn't like him, clearly a lot of people who actually knew him did like him and his work.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal on June 3, 2002, in spite of all logic, was continuing to point at Iraq and al Qaeda as the most likely source of the anthrax mailings.  As far as the WSJ was concerned, "The 'lone wolf' theory is evidence of the Bureau's ineptitude."  And they called for FBI reform.

The media seemed to know how to play only three anthrax songs: "Dr. Hatfill Did It", "Arabs Did It", and "The FBI Is Incompetent And Doesn't Have The Slightest Idea Who Did It"... Rag.

(During the past year and a half, I've been in contact with between one and two dozen people who have told the FBI about people they "suspect" of being the anthrax mailer - "suspects" which range from scientists to next door neighbors to politicians and right wingers.  And I've talked with reporters who have had similar contacts.  "Everyone has a theory."  The one trait that is universal among these "FBI informants" is that they couldn't get the FBI to hop to it, to thoroughly investigate their "suspect" and to report back with the findings.  Apparently Dr. Rosenberg had the same problem.)

When Barbara Hatch Rosenberg didn't get what she wanted from the FBI, she prepared another scathing document detailing the FBI's lack of acceptance of her innuendoes and conspiracy theories.  It launched a new, major offensive:

"What The FBI Knows"

On June 13, 2002, Dr. Rosenberg distributed a paper that detailed her "case" and how it was being ignored by the FBI.  The original is HERE.  That paper created a furor unlike anything she'd previously accomplished.  What follows is the entire document with my comments added.
 

The Anthrax Case: What the FBI Knows 

13 June 2002 
Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, PhD 

On February 5 I raised the question "Is the FBI Dragging Its Feet?"  Nearly four months later, the question is
more urgent than ever.  In the interim I have largely avoided commenting on the situation, not wishing to interfere with investigation of promising leads the FBI had received.  Now, however, nearly everyone who has followed the situation closely-knowledgeable biodefense insiders, investigative reporters (who have turned up a great many pertinent facts that have not yet been reported), and interested outsiders like myself--knows who a likely perpetrator is. The FBI continues to claim that it has no suspects and few clues, but it continues to focus on biodefense scientists with anthrax experience. 

Interpretation: She and others have sent "pertinent facts" to the FBI, but neither those "facts" nor the result of the FBI's investigation of those "facts" has been reported in the media.  The person she and her fellow amateur detectives believe is the "likely perpetrator" is still free.
 

The Available Evidence 

All the information below has been in the hands of the FBI for a long time.  Some of it-but perhaps not all-is widely known.  It has been necessary, for obvious reasons, to describe some pieces of evidence in attenuated form, and to omit some altogether. 

1.  The Anthrax Strain-All the genetic evidence presently available points to the US Army Medical Research
Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) as the source of the Ames strain anthrax in the letters.  Additional analyses may implicate some additional laboratories (that were originally supplied with the Ames strain by USAMRIID) as possible sources.

[Why did the FBI wait until March before collecting samples from all laboratories possessing the Ames strain,
and why have they still not been analysed?  Was it inefficiency or did the FBI have reason to believe from the
start that USAMRIID was the source?]

Interpretation: The FBI isn't telling the world about her "information", so she's going to do it.  Evidence Item #1: the anthrax came from USAMRIID or from some source supplied by USAMRIID, but the FBI has been too slow in collecting information to prove it.  Is that because they already know who did it but are covering up for him?
 

2.  Properties and Composition of the Anthrax Samples-A biodefense insider who has hands-on experience in
weaponizing anthrax says the Daschle sample corresponds to state-of-the-art US anthrax preparations.  A number of other inside experts concur.  The perpetrator may well be one of those who helped perfect the US technique.  No other country is known to have comparable capability.

Interpretation: Some "inside experts" believe the anthrax was made with state-of-the-art US technology, and it doesn't matter that other experts who have actually seen the anthrax say this is nonsense and that it could have been made by any competent biology grad student.
 

3.  US Official Statements-Ever since late October, soon after the anthrax letters were first recognized (Oct. 12),
US officials have stated their belief that the attack was domestic. 

[Either that belief was based entirely on the nature of the anthrax, or something more, not yet revealed, was
known early on by officials.  The longer the investigation drags on without results, the more plausible becomes
the question of a possible cover-up.] 

Interpretation: Any attempt by the FBI to be certain of who did it and how it was done is proof of a cover-up.
 

4.  The Pool of Possible Suspects-Biodefense scientists have estimated that there are between 50-100 persons
with the necessary expertise and access to do the job.  Of these, most could probably be readily eliminated on the basis of circumstances, current immunization, personality, etc., leaving, in the estimation of knowledgeable
experts, a likely pool no larger than 10. 

[Why has the FBI continued to cast a very broad net?]

Interpretation:  Experts may believe that any biology grad student could have made the anthrax, but she doesn't.
 

5.  The Likely Suspect--Early in the investigation, a number of inside experts (at least five that I know about)
gave the FBI the name of one specific person as the most likely suspect.  That person fits the FBI profile in most respects.  He has the right skills, experience with anthrax, up-to-date anthrax vaccination, forensic training, and access to USAMRIID and its biological agents through 2001.

Interpretation:  Amateur detectives have told the FBI that Dr. Steven J. Hatfill is the culprit, but the FBI isn't releasing that information to the entire world.  And they are not reporting back to the cabal.
 

6.  The Anthrax Letters-According to experts the handwriting is disguised, the text is intentionally "foreign," the letters show evidence of forensic expertise. 

[An FBI consultant who was asked to analyse the letters months ago has not yet been supplied with writing
examples by possible suspects, for purposes of comparison.] 

Interpretation:  While FBI handwriting experts may have found that Dr. Hatfill's handwriting doesn't match that on the anthrax letters, the FBI hasn't allowed publicity hungry Shakespeare scholar Don Foster to give an official opinion.  Is that proof of a cover-up?
 

7. Relevant False-Anthrax (Hoax) Letters-Following the anthrax letters, at least three of the five anthrax letter
targets (NBC, NY Post, Sen. Daschle) were sent letters similar in handwriting and text to the anthrax letters but
containing an innocuous powder.  (It is possible that the other two targets (National Observer, Sen. Leahy) were
also sent hoax letters that were lost because of mail complications.)  Additional, similar hoax letters were also
sent to two other media:  the NY Times and the St. Petersburg Times.  All but one of these five hoax letters were mailed BEFORE anything was known about the anthrax letters.  The likelihood that the hoax letters were
coincidental is therefore small. 

[But these hoax letters were assigned to a separate FBI task force, presumably investigating a large number of
other, mostly irrelevant hoax letters, rather than to the anthrax task force.  The anthrax document analyst has
not yet been given all the relevant hoax letters.  Even an FBI agent on the anthrax case has been unable to
access some possibly relevant hoax letters.] 

Interpretation:  Everything that happened around that time must be connected, yet the FBI is investigating anthrax hoaxes as if they are not connected.  Is this proof of a cover-up?
 

8.  The London Hoax Letter-The exceptional hoax letter, to Senator Daschle, was mailed from London in
mid-November.  This could be an important piece of evidence, depending on the whereabouts and activities of
likely suspects at that time. 

[Whether there has been any follow-up on this clue is not known.  At the least, however, there is ancillary
evidence that has not been pursued.  Furthermore, the FBI has not given this letter to the anthrax letter
analysts.]

Interpretation:  This particular hoax letter was mailed while Dr. Hatfill was in England - and the writer tried to "mimic" the anthrax letters.  The fact that Dr. Rosenberg and some of the other amateur detectives in her cabal were also in Europe at that same time to attend the BTWC in Geneva appears to be immaterial to her.  And, to her, the fact that the letter is "the focus of a criminal investigation" seems to be proof of a cover-up.
 

9.  The Accusatory Letter-On Sept. 21, three days after the first anthrax mailing and before any letters or anthrax cases were in the news, an anonymous typed letter was mailed to Quantico accusing an Egyptian-American scientist, formerly of USAMRIID, of plotting biological terrorism.  The accused scientist was quickly exonerated by the FBI.  The letter's writer displayed familiarity with work at USAMRIID and claimed to have formerly worked with the accused scientist. 

[This letter is not part of the anthrax investigation!  Because it was received before the anthrax attacks were
known, it was assigned to the Sept. 11 investigation, and the anthrax investigators have displayed no interest in
it.  But whether it was sent by the anthrax perpetrator, a colleague of his, or someone else, the letter may
constitute a significant piece of evidence.  The odds are high that it was written by a Federal scientist. 
Admittedly, an anonymous letter of accusation is not a capital offense; is the FBI therefore squeamish about
investigating an official?]

Interpretation:  The FBI isn't persuing the anthrax case the way Dr. Rosenberg thinks it should be persued.
 

10.  The Suspect's Home and Computer-The FBI was warned early on that the Suspect probably prepared the
anthrax on his own and that he might have cultures or equipment at his home.  Moreover, his computer/copier/fax may have been used to make the photocopied letters that were mailed with the anthrax. 

[Although there was a "reasonable indication of criminal activity" when the FBI was advised to search, they did not do so until months later, with the permission of the Suspect.]

Interpretation: Dr. Hatfill's apartment wasn't immediately searched as soon as Dr. Rosenberg and her band of amateur detectives told the FBI that Dr. Hatfill may have incriminating equipment and anthrax cultures there.  It was only searched later and with the suspect's permission.
 

11.  Preparation of Anthrax Simulant-Did the Suspect prepare and provide certain government officials with
powdered spores of B. globigii, an anthrax simulant? 

 [If so, did the FBI investigate the properties of this material and the place where it was prepared?]

Interpretation:  Dr. Hatfill used powdered spores of B. globigii as an anthrax simulant in some secret training for American forces preparing to go into Afghanistan and elsewhere.  Where did the simulant come from?   (Dr. Hatfill worked with William Patrick III on some of these training exercises and William Patrick III indicated in a PBS TV appearance on NOVA that the simulant was made in a lab at USAMRIID.  There's no indication of exactly how it was made.)
 

12.  Remote Location-The Suspect had access to a conveniently-located but remote location where activities
could have been conducted without risk of observation.  According to insider experts, there are methods by which the perpetrator alone could have made the anthrax and filled the letters in such a location.  Details of the methods have been communicated to the FBI. 

Recent information obtained by the NY Times (3 May 02) that the NBC and NY Post anthrax samples contained
vegetative cells suggests that the perpetrator made two anthrax preparations:  one of lower quality, made
hurriedly after Sept. 11 and mailed on Sept. 18; and another, more refined, mailed on Oct. 9.  The finding that the tape used to seal all the letters came from the same roll indicates that the containment set-up used for making the anthrax and filling the letters must have remained accessible from before Sept. 18 until close to Oct. 9 (otherwise the roll used in the first instance would have been destroyed in decontaminating the first set-up).  This suggests the perpetrator had confidence in his clandestine arrangements. 

There is also evidence,which can't be cited publicly at this time, that the Suspect knew in October that the remote site was contaminated with anthrax. 

[Did the FBI search this site as soon as they learned about it?]

Interpretation:  This is about the so-called "secret cabin in the woods" which turned out to be a three bedroom home owned by a friend of Dr. Hatfill and where Dr. Hatfill attended parties.  The reference to the "remote site" being contaminated is probably a reference to Dr. Hatfill's comments about Cipro.
 

13.  The Suspect's Whereabouts-Where was he between Sept. 11 and Oct. 9? 

[There is reason to doubt that the Suspect's employer/colleagues were asked about this before the facts had faded from memory.]

Interpretation: If Dr. Rosenberg doesn't know what the FBI learned about Dr. Hatfill's whereabouts at the time of the mailings, then the FBI can't know anything.  (According to The New York Times, the FBI actually "compiled a minute-by-minute timeline of Dr. Hatfill's whereabouts on days when the anthrax-tainted letters were mailed.")  The FBI may have investigated Dr. Hatfill's whereabouts down to minute-by-minute detail, but they weren't reporting back to Dr. Rosenberg, and that made her upset!
 

14.  Bioterror Scenarios-It has been part of the Suspect's job to devise bioterror scenarios.   Some of these are on record.  He is known to have acted out at least one of them (in hoax form), perhaps as part of an assignment to test responses.  Some hoax events that have never been solved, including several hoax-anthrax events, also
correspond to his scenarios and are consistent with his whereabouts. 

[Are any of these past hoaxes being investigated in the context of the anthrax investigation?  The lack of access
by anthrax investigators to hoax information suggests that the answer is no.] 

Interpretation: If Dr. Hatfill was in the same hemisphere where an anthrax hoax occurred, he probably did it.
 

15.  Secret Projects-The Suspect worked at USAMRIID at one time, probably in a secret project, with access to
top secret agents.  He has also had other interesting connections. 

[Has the FBI asked USAMRIID for his lab notebook from that period?  Did he have one?  Is there fear that the
Suspect might divulge secret information, or even threaten to release a biological agent, if he were threatened
with arrest?  Are DOD and CIA withholding information from the FBI about his relevant activities?  According to ABC News (Apr. 4) and The American Prospect (May 20), FBI investigators are concerned that the US military is not telling them all they need to know about secret biodefense programs.  There is also a rumor that DOD has conducted an internal investigation at USAMRIID to prevent leaks to the FBI.]

Interpretation: It's all part of a secret and illegal government program.
 

16.  Clique of Colleagues-The Suspect is part of a clique that includes high-level former USAMRIID scientists
and high-level former FBI officials.  Some of these people may wish to conceal any suspicions they may have
about the identity of the perpetrator, in order to protect programs and sensitive information.  This group very
likely agreed with David Franz, former Commander of USAMRIID, when he said "I think a lot of good has come from it.  From a biological or a medical standpoint, we've now five people who have died, but we've put about $6 billion in our budget into defending against bioterrorism" (ABC News, 4 Apr. 02). 

[By the end of May, not all of these people had been questioned by the FBI.  Will they be polygraphed?  Are the
polygraph questions specific and tough?]

Interpretation: Everyone who opposes adding an inspections clause to the BTWC is suspect.  They're all scheming together.
 

17.  Motivation-Late last summer the Suspect had a career setback that challenged his high ambitions and left
him angry and depressed.  Quite possibly he interpreted the event as indicating lack of appreciation both for him
and for the magnitude of the biological weapons threat.  Perhaps he decided to mount an anthrax attack that
would kill few people, if any, but would wake up the country and prove that he was right.  Or perhaps the letters
were actually an official assignment (after all, in the '60s DOD sprayed our own service men with nerve gas to
test their protective equipment, according to Pentagon documents made public on May 23). 

Interpretation:  Either Dr. Hatfill sent the anthrax letters on his own accord or he was working for the Bush administration in a plot to undermine the BTWC.
 

18.  Containment of the Suspect-Not long ago, actions were taken that could curtail the Suspect's career and
separate him from sensitive matters; but there is also evidence for efforts by some officials to reverse the
situation. 

[Will the Suspect gradually fade from sight?  Has a deal been made?  Or will he be rehabilitated and rewarded
for his service?  Will there be no prosecution, no public notice, no deterrence of similar acts by others in the
future?] 

Interpretation:  If a band of rumor mongers and amateur detectives point at a suspect, that suspect should never be allowed to work in the government ever again - and any attempt to allow him to work is a criminal act.
 

19.  The FBI-The anthrax attack was a crime by an American against Americans.  Solving such crimes has been
the FBI's mission.  Failure cannot be blamed on lack of foreign intelligence. 

[In the face of hundreds of domestic anthrax hoaxes in recent years, the FBI told the Wall St. Journal (25 Mar.
02) that it was ready for other modes of bioattack, but never anticipated delivery by mail!  However, the FBI's
behavioral analysis of the perpetrator, released in November 2001, indicated that he may have utilized the mail
(without actual anthrax) for harassment on previous occasions.  Meanwhile, before Sept. 11 the Canadians
carried out two studies of anthrax delivery by mail, and their results may have been available to Fort Detrick in
advance of the attacks.]

Intepretation:  Although the FBI and postal authorities investigated about 80 anthrax hoaxes a year prior to 9-11, they should have realized that someone would actually send anthrax through the mails after 9-11?
 

The FBI has stated more than once that it insists upon 100% proof before making an arrest in this case-a very
stringent requirement.  Why?   --Either the FBI is under pressure from DOD or CIA not to proceed because the
Suspect knows too much and must be controlled forever from the moment of arrest;  [For the good of the country, is it really more important to hide      what he knows than to let justice be served?] 
 --or the FBI is sympathetic to the views of the biodefense clique; 
 --or the FBI really is as incompetent as it seems. 

Fragmentation  of investigative activities and undue control of investigators by a less-informed hierarchy seem to be the hallmarks of the anthrax investigation.  This profoundly unscientific approach eliminates the
cross-fertilization that can occur when seemingly isolated facts are brought together.  There has been a tendency to write off a direction of inquiry, or to swing radically in the opposite direction, on the basis of superficial results or incomplete data.  The likely outcome for the investigation is continued stalemate, marking time on the off-chance that an unknown informer will turn up with a smoking gun. Maybe time is not a factor in the typical FBI case, but in the anthrax case, rapid resolution is critical.  The significance of the anthrax attacks and our response to it cannot be overstated.  By breaking the taboo on the use of bioweapons, this event has engendered a future threat that could dwarf 9/11.

Interpretation: Forget about facts!  If a bunch of rumor mongers and amateur detectives think that Dr. Hatfill did it, that should be enough to arrest him!  If it isn't, that's proof that the FBI is either involved in a conspiracy or incompetent.

A Meeting With Senate Staffers

Here's what one reporter says happened next:

Soon after releasing "What the FBI Knows," Rosenberg presented her paper to Sen. Tom Daschle and Sen. Patrick Leahy, both of whose offices received anthrax-laced letters in 2001. She was then invited to brief the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee. She became the most well-known watchdog on the case.  "I was very frustrated," she says now, adding that soon after her presentation before Congress, the FBI started to become much more aggressive in its investigation. In other words, the FBI went after Hatfill publicly.
Other reports say that she just met with Senate staffers, so it's not certain she actually talked to Daschle and Leahy, much less to those committees.  Those reports also say that representatives of the FBI were there for the meeting and were "livid" over her accusations that they were covering up for Dr. Hatfill.

Whether it was part of her plan or not is unknown, but her meeting with the Senate staffers did the trick.  The FBI finally did what she wanted.

The FBI Reacts!

On June 25, 2002, the FBI searched Steven J. Hatfill's apartment - and the media was there in force.  It was a media feeding frenzy.  How did the media learn about it?  On an NPR report, the FBI said that they had questioned all the FBI personnel involved, and none of them leaked anything to the media ahead of time.  And a letter from Assistant Attorney General to Senator Charles Grassley dated November 4, 2002, says:

When the FBI conducted a consensual search of Dr. Hatfill's apartment on June 25, 2002, in Frederick, Maryland, the mainstream media immediately interpreted this search as confirmation of all the speculation that had been previously circulating about Dr. Hatfill.  The FBI was asked whether Dr. Hatfill was a suspect in the case and when an arrest was anticipated.  It was under these circumstances that unnamed sources at the FBI first described Steven Hatfill as one of many "persons of interest". ... The phrase was never used by the FBI or the Department of Justice to draw media attention to Dr. Hatfill.  On the contrary, the phrase was used to deflect media scrutiny from Dr. Hatfill and to explain that he was just one of many scientists who had been inteviewed by the FBI and who were cooperating with the anthrax investigation.
Other stories were saying that the media were tipped off by Dr. Hatfill's neighbors.  However the media learned about the search, it was a media event.

While The Washington Post only mentioned the search without identifying the person, The New York Times put Dr. Hatfill's name in the public domain:

Dr. Hatfill, 48, had been the subject of Web site gossip among scientists, journalists and other professionals about possible domestic suspects in last year's anthrax attacks. After reporters pursued him, he was fired in March from his job at Science Applications International Corporation, a contractor for the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency that helps the government with germ defenses.
The Baltimore Sun also reported on Dr. Hatfill by name:
Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, 48, has not been charged or identified by the FBI as a suspect. He worked at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, the top military bioterrorism research facility, for about two years in the late 1990s.
Like other researchers in the field, he has been vaccinated against anthrax, has had access to labs where it is stored and has some knowledge of its use as a weapon, according to former colleagues. Those factors brought his name to the attention of the FBI several months ago.
Reporters began calling everyone Dr. Hatfill ever knew to find out what they could learn.  There was a deluge of media stories about Dr. Hatfill, examining every detail of his life and speculating on every aspect of the case.

And the media began to learn that all the "evidence" Barbara Hatch Rosenberg and her fellow amateur detectives had was mainly innuendo and rumor - the vast majority of which was total baloney!  The secret cabin in the woods was a three bedroom home owned by a friend of Hatfill's, he was not up-to-date on his anthrax shots, he had never worked with anthrax, he didn't have the "bench skills" to make the anthrax, etc.

The Hartford Courant asked, Is Dr. Hatfill "a pawn in an FBI attempt to recharge its stalled anthrax investigation, or a potential suspect who holds critical clues to solving the case"?

The July 23, 2002, issue of Newsday said this:

"Dozens of theories as to who was responsible have appeared in the media since last fall, mostly relying on information from non-FBI sources. FBI insiders, however, say no published account has correctly disclosed the investigation's leading hypotheses."
Meanwhile, Dr. Hatfill's new employer, The Louisiana State University, was also contacted, giving this information to The Baltimore Sun:
Hatfill started July 1 as associate director of Louisiana State University's National Center for Biomedical Research and Training, which is supported by grants from the Justice Department to train emergency personnel to handle bioterrorist attacks.
Stephen L. Guillot Jr., director of the center, said he was contacted by the FBI a few days after agents searched Hatfill's apartment near Fort Detrick and a storage unit he had rented in Ocala, Fla.
"They told me Steve was not a suspect and was not on any list," Guillot said. He said he was satisfied that Hatfill had been cleared of any role in the anthrax mailings.
On August 1, 2002, the FBI conducted another search of Dr. Hatfill's apartment after he began throwing out trash prior to moving to Louisiana.  The media went wild over this.  Was he throwing out evidence?

CBS reported this in the morning:

Federal law enforcement sources told CBS News that Dr. Steven Hatfill was "the chief guy we're looking at" in the probe. The sources were careful not to use the word suspect, but said they were "zeroing in on this guy" and that he is "the focus of the investigation."
But in the afternoon version all that was missing.  Instead of being the "central focus" of the investigation, Hatfill was changed to "a central figure".

In one of the more unbelievable articles about the case, Newsweek told of bloodhounds being used to match scents from the anthrax letters to Hatfill.  Even though those scents were taken from envelopes which had been handled by many people and stored away from months, they were apparently so powerful that the dogs began barking as soon as they approach Hatfill's apartment building, and they reportedly also reacted at a Denny's restaurant where Dr. Hatfill had eaten the day before.  It seemed to be obvious nonsense to many experts. Some authorities even said that Newsweek got it "completely  wrong", and the FBI said they gave no such information to the media.

Newsweek did say, "Officials have been particularly careful to point out that Hatfill is one of 'around 12' people they are looking at. They say he is not a suspect, or even a target of the investigation."  But then Newsweek explained that the FBI didn't want another Richard Jewell situation.

Other articles reported that the FBI was checking Dr. Hatfill's background from the time he spent in Africa a decade earlier.  Did he really help infect ten thousand Africans with anthrax?  Apparently no innuendo was too ridiculous to investigate.  And the fact that the FBI was investigating seemed to many to be proof that there was something to the Hatfill "case".

But at least one observant reporter asked if the media was generating a false cloud of suspicion over Dr. Hatfill.  And in August The Washington Times reported that Dr. Rosenberg had been contacted by the FBI asking "whether a team of government scientists could be trying to frame Steven J. Hatfill".

Dr. Hatfill went before the media twice to try to explain what was being done to him, but it just seemed to make matters worse.  It put a face to all the rumors and innuendo being reported by the media.

Why didn't the debunking of all the rumors and innuendo cause the media to turn away from listening to Dr. Rosenberg?  Apparently because the media wasn't thinking, they were only reacting.  And they had no one else to focus their attention upon!  Dr. Rosenberg was the only game in town.

The media dug and dug but could find nothing that would incriminate Dr. Hatfill, and they found only the opposite - that the rumors were false - so they seemed to settle on the fact that he had some incorrect information on some of his resumés.  Major articles were written about information in his resumés.  The implication seemed to be that if a person wasn't 100 percent truthful on his resumé he could definitely be a mass murderer.

In mid-August the FBI did what nearly everyone considered to be absolute lunacy.  Almost a year after the letters had been mailed, and after Dr. Hatfill had been on nearly every TV in the country, the FBI went door to door in Princeton to ask people if they had ever seen Dr. Hatfill in the vicinity!

How could they do such a thing?  At that point in time, it could only hurt any legal case they might have against Dr. Hatfill.  But apparently the amateur detectives led by Dr. Rosenberg had learned how to push the FBI's buttons to get them to act.  And the FBI was hopping to it.

Next the rumor mongers apparently pushed the button to get Dr. Hatfill fired from his new job at Louisiana State University.  Dr. Hatfill was suddenly fully unemployed, and it was beginning to look like he'd never be employed again if the rumor mongers could do anything about it.

There were many news articles questioning the FBI's handling of the investigation, particularly as it related to Dr. Hatfill.  But Dr. Rosenberg's role in starting it all was virtually forgotten.

However, she was still around, and it seems that she or someone with the same frame of mind pushed that FBI button again that winter.

The Pond Probe

When I first heard that the FBI was actually going to spend money investigating a hypothetical idea Dr. Hatfill told someone at a cocktail party, I was stunned.  Had this idiotic snowball of innuendo really gotten totally out of control?

The story broke on December 12 and 13, 2002.  Fox, ABC, UPI, The Baltimore Sun and The Frederick News-Post all had articles about it.  The Hatfill case was alive again!  Divers were going to look for evidence in a frozen pond in the Maryland mountains!

They found nothing incriminating, of course.  But that didn't mean anything.  To conspiracy theorists, if you haven't found the proof they know is there, it just means you haven't searched hard enough.

The following spring the FBI returned to spend a quarter million dollars to drain the pond and to poke through the muck at the bottom.  They found a plastic box, and the media was filled with speculation about it.  Could it be a makeshift glovebox?  Was it used underwater to protect the culprit from the anthrax?  (The insanity of this suggestion is mind-boggling.)  Maybe it was used elsewhere and thrown into the pond.  The idea that it might just have been a simple plastic box that someone threw into the pond was apparently never considered.  Nor were basic questions of why there were apparently no traces of the long rubber gloves that would have had to have been used to turn the plastic "sweater box" into a biological glovebox.  Gloves were found, but they were not gloves that belonged to a glove box.

It was just plain ridiculous, but the media bought into it hook line and sinker.  When asked about it, the answer appeared to be "There's no proof that what the FBI found was NOT evidence, so until they say it is just typical junk from the bottom of a pond, the assumption is that it is evidence."  If the FBI is spending so much time and money on this, there must be something to it!

How can the FBI ever state with certainty that such junk is not related to the anthrax case?

Barbara Hatch Rosenberg's "Hypothesis"

Until July 17, 2003, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg had been maintaining the claim that she had never mentioned anyone by name and that if the FBI was investigating anyone, it must mean that the FBI had good reason to do so.  She put this on the Federation of American Scientists web site:

I have never mentioned any names in connection with the anthrax investigation, not to the FBI, nor to media, nor to Senate Committees or staffs, not to anyone. I have never said or written anything publicly that pointed only to one specific person.  Anyone who sees parallels is expressing his own opinion.
It is the FBI that has gone out of its way to make one suspect's name public. I presume they must have had some good reason for doing that; only time will tell. But if the publicity was not an important part of their investigative strategy, I think it was reprehensible.
Dr. Hatfill's name had returned to the media again on July 2, 2003, when The New York Times broke the "news" that Dr. Hatfill had been training the military on how to locate, identify and destroy biological weapons facilities.  This was "news" that anyone following the case knew long ago because of the debunked stories that he had used some discarded biocabinets to do his dirty deeds.  Those cabinets, according to an article in The Baltimore Sun dated February 22, 2002, were used "in a classified Defense Department project that [Hatfill] could not discuss".  (The cabinets were later destroyed as part of a military exercise.)

The fact that Dr. Hatfill worked on a mock-up of a trailer that would be used in training soldiers was somehow seen as sinister to many in the media.  And they were saying that it was this training that led the FBI to look at Dr. Hatfill as a "person of interest" in the case!  No mention of Barbara Hatch Rosenberg's role in pointing to Dr. Hatfill.  And little interest in the truth.  The New York Times reported that the mock-up contained a fermenter and a mill for grinding anthrax.  Other sources - including people who actually saw the mock-up say it was just an empty shell and had no such equipment.  Moreover, it wasn't designed to be a mock-up for a lab that would manufacture bateria!  The New York Times apparently knew this, but chose to report on the fermenter and milling equipment anyway.

It was this article that caused Barbara Hatch Rosenberg on July 17, 2003, to submit to a Federation of American Scientists discussion forum an "hypothesis" regarding the mock-up bioweapons labs Dr. Hatfill had helped to build.  Her "hypothesis" showed up in my e-mail:

Hypothesis regarding US trailer lab

Based on articles in NY Times 2 July 03, Washington Post 3 July 03 and Baltimore Sun 3 July 03 and on discussions with knowledgeable sources
                                                                Barbara Hatch Rosenberg
1.  Hatfill started collecting and storing BW-relevant equipment in 2000 or perhaps before, on his own.  He may or may not have had a clear purpose in mind.
2.  In September 01, right after 9/11 and concurrent with the anthrax letters, the purpose was clear.  He began to construct a BW production unit on a trailer at a metalworking plant on the outskirts of Frederick, MD.
3.  Then, or at some time in the next few months, he proposed to DTRA that they support the project, and they agreed to do so through SAIC.  Joseph Soucup and William Patrick (both connected with SAIC) were collaborators on the project.
4.  In March 02, when Hatfill was fired by SAIC, the project was not finished yet (this indicates that he must have been doing it mostly single-handedly).  He then continued to work on it, either on his own or with continuing DTRA support at least for construction costs, with or without going through SAIC.  The project was completed in the summer of 02.
5.  The FBI, which was keeping an eye on Hatfill in the summer of 02, undoubtedly was aware of his work on the trailer.  FBI agents spent two weeks studying it in Frederick (according to a “source close to the case” cited in the Balt. Sun, probably an FBI source) and apparently found no anthrax evidence.
6.  There is no reason to suppose that ALL of the equipment collected earlier was used for the trailer project.
7.  The trailer was then hidden in order to prevent the FBI from confiscating it.
8.  When the question of possible Iraqi mobile BW facilities came to the fore last fall, the Delta Force at Ft. Bragg became interested in using the trailer for training.  The trailer was located and hauled to Fort Bragg.  On the way, “FBI agents and experts” checked it again and tried to confiscate it but were prevented by DOD.
9.  Training at Ft. Bragg, using the trailer, was conducted last fall by Hatfill and Patrick.  SAIC says Hatfill did no work for them and received no pay after March 02. Whether Hatfill (who no longer had any form of clearance and was under investigation by the FBI) received payment from DOD for his training work at Fort Bragg is unknown.
10.  Several weeks before the news abroke on 2 July 03, the Washington Post reporter was told about the trailer by a friend of Hatfill’s, as a demonstration of Hatfill’s patriotism and public service.  Shortly before the news broke, the reporter spoke with another close friend of Hatfill’s.  Word got back to the NY Times and government officials, who, realizing that the story was about to become public, quickly gave their desired spin on it to the NY Times, allowing them to scoop the Post.
The "hypothesis" was so filled with false information, crass innuendo and screwball logic that it was difficult to determine where to begin when debunking it.  It certainly demonstrated that Dr. Rosenberg had not learned to check facts before releasing innuendo.

According to the July 3, 2003, Frederick News-Post:

Dr. Hatfill was regarded as an expert in the bioweapons field and worked as a consultant, providing technical expertise in the construction of some mock exercise sites involving weapons of mass destruction, according to a Department of Defense spokesman.
"He had a role in acquiring models or old unusable equipment that could be placed in these labs," said Col. Bill Darley, spokesman for the U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla. "He had a role putting together labs that looked like the kind of labs we could see in other countries."
So, Dr. Hatfill was doing what he was hired for by a government agency.  To some who totally distrust everything the government does, that is undoubtedly very sinister.  The article went on:
According to the DOD, there are more than one of these labs in the United States, which have been built at various locations. The mobile germ labs are mock-ups and completely nonfunctional. Special Operation forces use the units to learn how to detect and disarm mobile germ labs such as the ones suspected in Iraq and other countries.
So, there were more than one of these nonfunctional mock-up labs.  The News-Post article then added:
Dr. Hatfill did not have unsupervised or unrestricted access to the facilities or equipment he helped build, the DOD said.
"You would not have a contractor have unescorted access to a site," Col. Darley said.
Col. Darley also said that the government frequently contracts with businesses, such as A.F.W. Fabrication, even with sensitive activities like the construction of the mobile germ labs.
So, contrary to what Barbara Hatch Rosenberg implied, Dr. Hatfill clearly did NOT work alone at building the mobile lab.  The fact that it took so long could have been more related to how long it took to scrounge up the scrapped and nonfunctioning equipment than to the fact that only one person was working on it.  And the equipment had to be located, negotiated for and transported to A.F.W. Fabrication.

It seemed to be really really sleazy innuendo and totally crazy to suggest that Dr. Hatfill dreamed up the idea of a mobile lab right after 9-11 and was able to initiate such a project at a government contrator A.F.W. Fabrication on such short notice and with his own money.   And Dr. Rosenberg seemed to be suggesting that he was not only building the mock-up lab by himself but also making highly-refined anthrax somewhere all by himself.

As soon as I put her "hypothesis" on my web site I received received this e-mail:

Dear Mr. Lake,

Mr. Hatfill just called us here at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).  He was upset about an email that Barbara Rosenberg had sent out regarding her hypothesis about Hatfill.  Rosenberg is not an employee of FAS.  She is affiliated with FAS through her participation with the Biological Weapons Working Group.  The Working Group is focused primarily on issues related to the verification protocol of the biological weapons convention.  In the past, she has used her FAS affiliation when speaking about Mr. Hatfill.  FAS takes no position regarding Mr. Hatfill.  We have a disclaimer to that effect on our website.  In two cases in which Rosenberg’s FAS affiliation has been noted in newspaper articles, we have written letters to the editor disavowing her speculation (although the letter was published in only one case).  What she has done in this case is send an email out to a distribution list through the FAS server.  It is clear from your introduction that she is not representing an FAS position but it is perhaps possible that someone who is familiar with the history and is so predisposed could come away with the impression that she is.  So I am hoping, for the benefit of FAS and of Mr. Hatfill, that you could include in your next update just one sentence reminding your readers that this is Rosenberg speaking, not FAS.  If you want to speak to me directly, please feel free to call at [xxx-xxx-xxxx].

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,
Ivan Oelrich

Director
Strategic Security Project
Federation of American Scientists

I called Director Oelrich and asked if I could place his entire e-mail message on my site.  He readily gave his approval.

Why isn't the proof that Dr. Hatfill couldn't have done it reported more widely?  He was working long hours at the time of the mailings, and the FBI did a minute-by-minute check to confirm that.  Dr. Hatfill says he never worked with anthrax, and there's no one who has ever contradicted that.  He says he passed his lie detector test when asked about the anthrax attacks.  No one says he didn't.  The FBI says they have no information that he was anywhere near Trenton area at the time of the mailings.  They say he doesn't have the necessary bench skills to make the anthrax.  How can such facts be unimportant while rumor and innuendo is considered so important and newsworthy?

Occasionally, new "evidence" pops up that helps show that Dr. Hatfill could not have been the anthrax mailer.  For instance, on NPR's Morning Edition for July 24, 2003, they explained where Dr. Hatfill was on the weekend before the Oct. 9 mailing.  People had argued that, because Monday Oct. 8, 2001, was Columbus day and there were no mail pickups, Dr. Hatfill could have driven to Princeton on the weekend to mail the letters.  But the NPR feature said that it had been confirmed that on Saturday
October 6,  Dr. Hatfill was at a wedding in Baltimore with his girlfriend.  And on Sunday the 7th he was "sleeping it off" at his girlfriend's apartment in the Washington area.

It wouldn't convince any true believers, of course.  Only a firm statement by the FBI might do that.  And it would have to be more than just endlessly repeating that Dr. Hatfill is not a "suspect" and had never been a "suspect" in the anthrax mailings.  The American public was conditioned to seeing such statements as just a double-talk way of saying that Dr. Hatill really was a "suspect" but the FBI doesn't want to say so because it would put Dr. Hatfill in the public eye as had the FBI had done with Richard Jewell.  So, the FBI wasn't going to make that same mistake again.

What Should The FBI Do?

Assuming that the FBI did cave in and allow innuendo and rumor mongering from amateur detectives - plus political pressure from Congressmen - to push them into that public search of Dr. Hatfill's apartment which truly turned his life into a living hell and a media circus, is there any way the FBI can correct the situation?  What are the FBI's options?  There don't seem to be very many:

1.  Could the FBI simply shut down the Hatfill "surveillance" and walk away from it?  Would that work if the amateur detective scientists and the media will use that as "proof" that the FBI is covering up for Hatfill and that the FBI has been ignoring "evidence" provided by the scientists?  Would the public go along?  Would the Congressmen and their staffers go along?  How would the FBI explain all the money they spent on investigating and tailing Dr. Hatfill 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?

2.  Could the FBI just declare Dr. Hatfill innocent?  Is that even possible if they haven't fully determined who actually did sent the anthrax letters?  How can they know that Dr. Hatfill didn't somehow manage to do it and beat the lie detector tests, etc.?  And what would happen if the day after the FBI declared Dr. Hatfill to be innocent - and left him alone - there was another mailing?  (I don't think the real mailer would mail any more anthrax - even if he HAD any more anthrax, which I don't think he does. BUT it could be something the FBI and others in the government might seriously worry about.)

3.  Could the FBI just lay out the facts for the American public?  Could the Justice Department or the FBI explain to all America that all the real evidence says Dr. Hatfill didn't do it, and all the rumors and innuendo used by the scientists has proven to be just that - rumor and innuendo?  And could they say that the FBI was going to leave Dr. Hatfill alone regardless of what the rumor mongering scientists and the media and Congressmen say - unless, of course, any of them come up with solid proof of some kind.  No more silly innuendo.  No more idiotic rumors.  But is there anyone in the Department of Justice willing to tell that to the media and the American public?  Would they also have to fully explain why they spend so much time and money tracking down nutcase rumors that they never believed in?

It's a difficult situation that isn't going to get much better over time.

Here's what Barbara Hatch Rosenberg had to say July 24, 2003, on NPR - referring to her meeting with the Senate staffers in June of 2002:

"I put together all the of evidence I knew about … about the perpetrator.  But I didn’t put it in full detail.  Some items I left rather vague because I didn’t, again, want to be pointing finger at any particular person.  It was interesting that the FBI then started to work harder on the investigation.  And they seem to have kept going ever since, so I feel good about that."
When one separates rumor and innuendo from known facts, however, the picture is quite different.

It appears that she and her band of rumor mongering amateur detectives caused the FBI to waste considerable time and money on investigating an innocent man - time and money that should have been spent on the anthrax case.  And by focusing the media's attention on Dr. Hatfill she may also have made it more difficult for the Justice Department to make a circumstantial case against the real culprit.  How many of her True Believers will line up to testify on behalf of the real culprit because they believe that Dr. Hatfill is the villain and that the FBI did not thoroughly investigate all their "evidence"?

Clearly Barbara Hatch Rosenberg has made up her mind about who is guilty, and no facts will change that.  Historian Barbara W. Tuchman explained why in her book "The March Of Folly":

"When objective evidence disproves strongly held beliefs,
what occurs, according to the theorists of 'cognitive dissonance'
is not rejection of the beliefs but rigidifying, accompanied by
attempts to rationalize the disproof.  The result is 'cognitive rigidity';
in lay language, the knots of folly grow tighter."

However, the story is far from over.
 


HOME

This is a bio of Barbara Hatch Rosenberg extracted from a list of attendees at a bioweapons conference held on January 23-24, 2003, at John Jay College:

Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, PhD, was a founder of the Federation of American Scientists Chemical and Biological Weapons Program in 1989 and is its current Director. She chairs the FAS Working Group on Biological Weapons, volunteer experts who monitor the Biological Weapons Convention and have contributed some 50 working papers and reports aimed at strengthening the Convention and the norm against biological weapons. The Working Group is one of the few NGO's devoted to biological weapons control. Dr. Rosenberg has also been active in tracking the source of the anthrax attacks that occurred in the fall of 2001.

Dr. Rosenberg was a member of a panel of scientists that advised President Clinton, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Health on biological weapons issues in 1998, and was an Advisor to the OTA study of Weapons of Mass Destruction in 1993-4. She is now a member of the National Academy of Sciences Working Group on Biological Weapons.

She is also an officer of ProMED-mail, the global electronic rapid reporting system for outbreaks of emerging diseases, a spin-off of the FAS Working Group that was launched in 1994 at FAS as a prototype and later became an independent entity.

Trained in molecular biology, Dr. Rosenberg was for many years a cancer researcher at Memorial-Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and was Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Cornell Medical College. She left these positions to become Research Professor of Environmental Science at the State University of New York at Purchase, where she is able to devote much of her time to biological weapons issues.

(c) 2003 by Ed Lake
All Rights Reserved

First Draft: July 30, 2003
Minor revisions: August 9, 2003