For The Anthrax Man
Feb. 26, 2002
Late last fall into early this winter, the FBI descended on a small farm in southern New Jersey and secretly began round-the-clock surveillance on its occupant. They believed he might be The Anthrax Man, but they were wrong.
Now, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart, they've begun watching other suspects, but the result is the same: no hard evidence, no hot tips and no arrests.
FBI Assistant Director Van Harp heads up the investigation.
"During the course of this investigation there have been a couple of suspects that have come to the top and we've taken a look at them, and we have conducted some surveillance. We don't have a target on anyone, we have not identified anyone as 'the person'," he said.
However, the FBI - renown for its behavioral profiles of criminal suspects - does have some clues about the suspected anthrax-mailer.
The agency believes it has narrowed the world of suspects down to a dozen or more, but getting beyond that has proven torturous.
But there has been progress and much of that comes from the anthrax itself. The poisonous spores may even contain a roadmap to their maker.
"We expect in the next 30, 90 days, maybe even six months, but in that timeframe, some very specific concrete conclusions," said Harp.
And after searching thousands of copiers in New Jersey where the letters were mailed, agents believe they've found the very one the killer used to make his duplicates by isolating the tiny scratches and smears unique to each machine. They've staked out mail drops, reviewed school records and even checked on the deaths of a few suspicious men on the off chance the suspect was killed by his own spores.
Still, Professor Barbara Rosenberg says it all keeps coming back to one small set of scientists.
"The strain that was used and the method by which the anthrax was weaponized, the way it was treated, all indicate that the letters were sent by a person who was an insider in the bio-defense program," she said.
Someone, in short, who knows he's under suspicion and smart enough not to show it.
Harp also said the FBI believes that, because the mailed anthrax was of the so-called "Ames strain" of Bacillus anthracis, the suspect probably has or had legitimate access to biological agents in a laboratory. Harp also described the suspect as "stand-offish" and preferring to work alone rather than in groups.
"It is possible this person used off-hours in a laboratory or may have even established an improvised or concealed facility comprised of sufficient equipment to produce the anthrax," Harp said.
On Scientist In Anthrax Probe
WASHINGTON, Aug. 1, 2002 (a.m. version)
FBI agents wearing protective gloves Thursday conducted a second search at the Maryland apartment of a former Army researcher who has emerged as the chief focus of the anthrax investigation.
The agents also searched trash bins at the apartment complex.
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."
The search was conducted at Detrick Plaza Apartments in Frederick, Md., where Hatfill lives. Hatfill's neighbors believe that his apartment has been under surveillance. Investigators told CBS News that they were looking for something "tangible" as opposed to searching for microscopic traces of chemicals or substances.
FBI Director Robert Mueller declined to say why a second search was conducted at Hatfill's home.
"We're making progress in the case but I can't comment on ongoing aspects of the investigation," he said.
Federal investigators searched Hatfill's apartment last June and questioned him about last year's deadly anthrax mailings. Hatfill has said he is innocent.
On June 25, FBI agents, some in protective clothing, removed computer components and at least a half-dozen garbage bags full of material from Hatfill's apartment. But officials said no trace of anthrax was found in his home or at a storage unit he rented in Florida.
The apartment complex is next door to Fort Detrick, where Hatfill worked for two years for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, center of the nation's biological warfare defense research.
Hatfill worked at the facility until September 1999. Although he probably had access to anthrax, his primary duties didn't involve working with it, a spokesman for the base has said.
The FBI has previously identified Hatfill, 48, as one of 20 to 30 scientists and researchers with the expertise and opportunity to conduct the anthrax attacks.
Investigators believe anyone skillful enough to send the anthrax letters without becoming sick must have had extensive experience.
Hatfill denied involvement in the anthrax mailings and complained to The (Baltimore) Sun in a March telephone message that he was fired from his job because of media inquiries.
"I've been in this field for a number of years, working until 3 o'clock in the morning, trying to counter this type of weapon of mass destruction, and, sir, my career is over at this time," Hatfill said.
Hatfill and another scientist, Joseph Soukup, commissioned a study of a hypothetical anthrax attack in February 1999 as employees of defense contractor Science Applications International Corp., said Ben Haddad, spokesman for the San Diego-based company.
The study, written by bioterrorism expert William C. Patrick III, describes placing 2.5 grams of Bacillus globigii, a simulated form of anthrax, in a standard business envelope, The Sun reported.
Hatfill is a 1983 graduate of the University of Zimbabwe Medical School, according to the university's Web site. Investigators confirmed Hatfill graduated from the school.
ABC News has reported that the FBI was interested in Hatfill partly because he lived, while in Zimbabwe, near a Greendale elementary school. "Greendale School" in Franklin Park, N.J., was printed in large block letters as the false return address on the anthrax-laden envelopes sent to Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy last fall.
One investigator cautioned the FBI has been unable to place Hatfill near Trenton, N.J., during the time the anthrax letters were mailed. Officials believe the letters were mailed from the Trenton area.
Five people died in the anthrax attacks that began in late September. One of the dead was Robert Stevens, a photo editor for a tabloid newspaper headquartered in Boca Raton, 230 miles southeast of Ocala, where Hatfill's storage facility is located.
Is Focus Of Anthrax Probe
WASHINGTON, Aug. 1, 2002 (p.m. version)
FBI agents converged in Maryland Thursday to search the apartment of Dr. Stephen Hatfill, a bio-defense scientist on the FBI's radar screen for months who's now emerged as a central figure in the anthrax investigation.
It's the FBI's third search of Hatfill's Frederick, Md., apartment; they also polygraphed him months ago and combed through his storage space in Ocala, Fla., a month ago. This time, it's not anthrax spores they're looking for, but the FBI isn't saying much more, reports CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.
"We are making progress in the case, but beyond that I can't comment on the ongoing activities of the investigation," said FBI Director Robert Mueller.
Hatfill, 48, was not questioned and no arrests in the case are imminent, a government official said.
Officials won't say what triggered the intensified interest in Hatfill. Though they're careful not to call him a "suspect," there's no question he's becoming an increasingly important figure in the investigation.
Federal investigators first searched Hatfill's home on June 25 and questioned him about last year's deadly anthrax mailings. During the search, FBI agents, some in protective clothing, removed computer components and at least a half-dozen garbage bags full of material from Hatfill's apartment.
But officials said no trace of anthrax was found in his home or at the storage unit he rented in Florida.
On Thursday agents searched Hatfill's apartment and the trash bins outside the building. A dark blue van was parked nearby with its back doors open and white cardboard boxes sat next to the bins.
Hatfill keeps a residence at the apartment building, but has not lived there since the first search, according to neighbors.
The apartment is a stone's throw from Fort Detrick, where Hatfill worked for two years for the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, center of the nation's biological warfare defense research.
While there he, like other scientists, had access to the strain of anthrax used in the post-Sept. 11 mail attacks. He's believed to have been vaccinated against the deadly anthrax.
He also caught investigators' attention because he once commissioned a study that mentioned an anthrax-laced envelope being opened in an office. Also, the fictitious return address on the letters used in the anthrax attacks was "Greendale School" and Hatfill once studied in Zimbabwe near a school called Greendale.
Hatfill is also said to have lost his government security clearance shortly before the attacks.
The FBI has identified Hatfill as one of 20 to 30 scientists and researchers with the expertise and opportunity to conduct the anthrax attacks, but investigators say he is not a suspect.
The bureau has searched about 25 homes or apartments after getting permission from the person interviewed, a federal law enforcement official said.
Hatfill has not spoken publicly about the searches. In March, however, he denied involvement in the anthrax mailings and complained to The (Baltimore) Sun in a telephone message that he was fired from a recent job because of media inquiries.
"I've been in this field for a number of years, working until 3 o'clock in the morning, trying to counter this type of weapon of mass destruction, and, sir, my career is over at this time," Hatfill said.
Hatfill and another scientist, Joseph Soukup, commissioned a study of a hypothetical anthrax attack in February 1999 as employees of defense contractor Science Applications International Corp., said Ben Haddad, spokesman for the San Diego-based company.
Five people died from inhaling
anthrax spores mailed last fall.
Wants Leaks Investigated
ALEXANDRIA, Virginia, Aug. 12, 2002
A bioweapons expert under federal scrutiny for last fall's rash of anthrax-laced letters plans to ask the Justice Department to investigate leaks to the news media about the probe, a spokesman said Monday.
"You'd have to talk to his attorney, but I can tell you that they plan to file a complaint with the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate" leaks to the news media about the probe, Pat Clawson, a friend of Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, said in a televised interview.
"Why would you want to single out someone for national attention if you do not have enough to charge them with a crime?" Clawson said.
"Because he's a member of a small fraternity, the bioweapons defense community, that would be a logical focus of some FBI attention," Clawson admitted on the CBS News Early Show, "but in this case, I think it's gotten completely out of hand."
Law enforcement officials have described Hatfill, 48, as a "person of interest," not a criminal suspect, and said he is only one of about 30 people being scrutinized.
A law enforcement official close to the case, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the scientist has not "received any more attention than any other person of interest in the investigation."
Hatfill's name, however, is the only one to have emerged publicly in the investigation.
Fighting suggestions that he may have sent last fall's anthrax-laced letters, Hatfill said Sunday he has never handled the toxin and fiercely denied any involvement in the deadly attacks.
Hatfill said that he has cooperated with the investigation, only to see his life and work destroyed through speculation and innuendo by law enforcement officials and the news media.
"I am a loyal American and I love my country," Hatfill told reporters outside his lawyer's office. "I have had nothing to do in any way, shape or form with the mailing of these anthrax letters."
Those assertions were echoed Monday morning by Clawson, the spokesman for Hatfill's legal team.
"The Steve Hatfill I have known for several years is a very devout patriot," he told anchor Jane Clayson. "He is a man of good humor, he's a physician, he's a scientist, he's a geek, but he's a healer, he's not a killer."
Hatfill, an American flag pin affixed to his lapel, said he had cooperated fully with authorities only to have defamatory information about him leaked to reporters.
He said he understood that authorities and the media had to consider his potential involvement after the letters killed five people and sickened more than a dozen others. "This does not, however, give them the right to smear me and gratuitously make a wasteland of my life in the process," he said.
Several questions have surfaced about Hatfill, including what appear to be exaggerations on his resume, his involvement in fighting for white rule in the former African colony of Rhodesia and whether he lost his security clearance while working for a defense contractor.
Neither he nor his lawyer, Victor M. Glasberg, would answer questions about his past. But Hatfill did say that anyone's life can be "picked apart" for inconsistencies.
"I do not claim to have lived a perfect life," he said.
Hatfill emphasized that his background is in the study of viral diseases such as Ebola, not bacterial diseases such as anthrax.
He said he was routinely vaccinated against anthrax because of his work at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute at Fort Detrick, Md., once home to the U.S. biological warfare program and repository for the Ames strain of anthrax that was used in the attacks. But he said he had not been inoculated since 1999 and had been susceptible to anthrax since 2000.
It is unclear how much residual protection he would have had from his earlier vaccinations.
Hatfill and Glasberg described in detail their efforts to cooperate with law enforcement but said they had been met with leaks to the press, such as a copy of a novel about bioterrorism that Hatfill had stored on his computer.
Glasberg said the Sunday appearance was part of a strategy to fight back in the media. He added that Hatfill would not submit to another polygraph test.
The FBI has already searched his apartment in Frederick, Md., twice, as well as his car, a storage locker in Florida and the home of his girlfriend.
Glasberg said the most recent search of his home, on Aug. 1, was conducted by surprise with a criminal search warrant, although he had been working to arrange a date for another voluntary search.
Soon after agents arrived, news helicopters were hovering overhead as FBI and Postal Service agents wearing protective gloves searched his apartment complex.
"The FBI agents had promised me that the search would be quiet, private and very low key. It did not turn out that way," Hatfill said.
The law enforcement official said Sunday the FBI would never give prior notice of a search if a warrant had been obtained.
After the search, Hatfill was suspended with pay from a new job with Louisiana State University's National Center for Biomedical Research and Training.
Earlier, Hatfill said, accusations from a reporter about his involvement in the attacks led his previous employer, the defense contractor Science Applications International Corp., to fire him.
Delivering his statement, Hatfill spoke with determination, frequently pointing his finger in the air.
"I am appalled at the terrible acts of biological terrorism," he said. "But I am just as appalled that my experience, knowledge, dedication and service relative to defending Americans against biological warfare has been turned against me in connection with the search for the anthrax killer."
Hatfill's allegations that investigators leaked damaging information about him and alerted the media to a raid at his house echo the treatment of Richard Jewell, who was exonerated as a suspect in the 1996 Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta.
"If I am a subject of interest, I'm also a human being. I have a life. I have, or I had, a job. I need to earn a living. I have a family, and until recently, I had a reputation, a career and a bright professional future," Hatfill said.
Such a personal appeal may generate sympathy for Hatfill among the public at large, and may cause investigators, prosecutors and reporters to tread more carefully, lawyers said.
The government could use Hatfill's own words against him if he ends up in court, however, and his detailed account of how he cooperated with the FBI investigation may cut off some potential defense strategies down the road, lawyers said.
Sept. 25, 2002
There are new revelations that FBI agents were prevented from following leads that might have exposed the Sept. 11 plot. Those agents talked to Congress this week. But one person you haven’t heard from lately is the man in charge of the FBI itself, director Robert Mueller. Scott Pelley interviews him.
Mueller does not typically sit for interviews. But recently he talked with Pelley at FBI headquarters.
Among the questions: Could the FBI have prevented Sept. 11, and with the first anniversary of the anthrax attacks next month, why the bureau hasn’t made an arrest in that case. But most striking was Mueller’s appraisal of al Qaeda and the danger it poses to the United States today.
"There is a committed group of al Qaeda operatives still out there that are committed to killing Americans, and to the extent that they can formulate and execute a plan in the United States, they will attempt to do so," he said.
Are there al Qaeda operatives in the United States today? "I believe there are people who are supportive of al Qaeda's goals, al Qaeda's missions. Yes, I think there are those individuals in the United States."
A plan developed fairly early on to disrupt the worldwide financing of al Qaeda. Has the U.S. disrupted their finances enough to prevent the kind of massive attack that we saw on Sept. 11?
"To the extent that we've been able to investigate what it cost to them, it was something in the range of anywhere from $400,000 to $500,000 at the max, which is not a substantial sum for an organization. And consequently, I cannot say that we have disrupted the organization to the extent that we have precluded them from finding the financing for an operation such as September 11th."
Mueller is a former federal prosecutor, who took over the FBI Sept. 4, 2001. The next week was Sept. 11. The next month brought the anthrax attacks. Since then there have been revelations that FBI headquarters missed crucial warnings before the September attacks. The latest came last week in Congress, when a New York undercover agent, testifying behind a screen, said headquarters wouldn’t let him track down a suspect named Khalid al-Mihdhar.
The agent told the committee that he’d been working on the criminal investigation of the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. In August, 2001 the CIA told the FBI that al-Mihdhar was likely connected to the Cole bombing and that he was probably in the United States. The New York agent wanted to track him down but FBI headquarters said no, telling the agent that foreign intelligence information could not be used in a criminal investigation.
That’s the way FBI lawyers read the law. The frustrated agent wrote headquarters, warning "someday someone will die… the public will not understand why we were not more effective…" Two weeks after that memo al-Mihdhar helped fly American Flight 77 into the Pentagon.
Judiciary committee chairman Patrick Leahy and Republican committee member Charles Grassley are among the senators with the most authority over the FBI.
"What this really shows is that there's a lot of very sincere, hard-working, very sophisticated agents at the local level that are doing the job the way it should be done. And people in headquarters are ignoring them," says Grassley.
Says Leahy: "Prior to September 11th, they had one analyst at the FBI working on al Qaeda matters, one, to give you some idea of the priority. They had, between the Department of Justice and the FBI, they had a whole task force working on finding a couple of houses of prostitution in New Orleans. They had one on al Qaeda."
Pelley’s interview with Mueller came before the al-Mihdhar revelation. He asked about other leads that might have uncovered the Sept. 11 plot, including a July memo from a Phoenix agent who theorized that some Arab men in U.S. flight school might be terrorists.
If the FBI had done its best running
down that theory, might Sept. 11 have been prevented? "I do not believe
that we could have prevented September 11th," Mueller said. "There are
thousand upon thousands of students going to flight schools in the United
States, not only from countries around the world but particularly from
middle eastern countries, and how would you differentiate
But one did ‘differentiate’ himself. Zacarias Moussaoui had acted suspiciously at a flight school and was picked up three weeks before Sept. 11. But FBI headquarters ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to search him. After the terror attacks, they found he had a German phone number linked to al Qaeda.
"That took us several months, to follow that lead, and it also required the full support of the German authorities, and it would have been very, I think impossible to have followed that particular lead in the days between the time in which Moussaoui was detained and September 11th," says Mueller.
The mishandled leads came before Mueller’s watch. But looking back he’s reached a conclusion: "I can tell you there are things I wish we had done differently. That there are things we should have followed up on. But the bottom line is I do not believe that we would have been able to prevent September 11th."
Might Sept. 11 have been stopped if they had paid more attention to the Phoenix memo, gotten the search warrant for Moussaoui and followed up on the New York agent's concerns? Says Leahy: "I have a sinking feeling that it could have been, but I don't know. I hope my feelings are wrong for the, for the sake of the country."
Senator Grassley worries that the people who ignored the warnings are still at headquarters. They should be fired, he says.
Mueller is making changes. He’s put a terrorism task force in every U.S. FBI office. He’s moved 500 agents into counter-terrorism.
Some of those agents are in Afghanistan. They’re digging up burial mounds looking for Osama bin Laden and other terrorists. So far they haven’t found anyone on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
Where is Osama bin Laden? Says Mueller: "If I knew, he would be hopefully not with us anymore. I think it's very difficult over in Afghanistan. If you've flown over some of that territory, you know how difficult it is. And it is not difficult for persons to hide, particularly if they can hide in supportive communities. And we just don't know."
Will we find him? "Sooner or later, yes," he says.
Another fugitive on his mind is the anthrax terrorist who killed five last year with letters to Congress and the media. Mueller says there’s no arrest because there’s so little evidence to go on: no finger prints, no hair, no fiber, no DNA.
The name of one former biological warfare scientist has come up in public, Mark Hatfill. But law enforcement sources tell us that he is not considered a more likely suspect than many others with similar backgrounds.
Mueller also believes that the anthrax terrorist will be caught.
But more than any one case, Mueller’s biggest challenge is revolutionizing the FBI, an organization that critics say is still more in tune with Bonnie and Clyde than Osama bin Laden.
Given the FBI’s new priority to prevent terrorism in the United States, what is the best guarantee you can make to the American people?
Says Mueller: "That every FBI agent understands that the mission of the FBI is to take any piece of information that comes to our attention, and put it into a framework where we can look at it and determine whether or not there is something there to prevent another terrorist attack. Nobody in the bureau wishes another September 11th."
Still Watching Hatfill
WASHINGTON, May 8, 2003
Publicly, not much at all has happened in the FBI's anthrax investigation since the search last winter of a small pond in upper Maryland. Divers went to the bottom but came up empty handed. Privately, however, agents say it would only have been icing on the cake because they believe they already have their man, even if they never get his indictment, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart.
Bio-weapons researcher Dr. Steven Hatfill, sources confirm, remains the FBI's number one suspect in the attacks, even though round-the-clock surveillance and extensive searches have failed to develop more than what even Justice Department prosecutors describe as a "highly circumstantial" case."
"I am not the anthrax killer," said Hatfill, denying the accusations.
And now one possible outcome, sources suggest, is that the government might take the unusual step of bringing charges against Hatfill unrelated to the anthrax attacks at all, if they become convinced that's the only way to prevent future incidents.
Not unlike, for example, the income tax evasion charges finally brought against Al Capone, when evidence of racketeering proved elusive.
Hatfill and his attorneys are aware of this possibility. They say they have always offered their full cooperation to the FBI, but declined to comment.
Van Harp is the senior FBI official in charge of the case. He's retiring this week and he also declined to talk specifics.
“I think we've made progress,” said Harp of the case against Hatfill. “It's frustrating that it took so long. I think everyone involved in the investigation is frustrated over it.”
Much of that frustration, investigators admit, has been the sheer volume of the science involved in not only identifying the strain of anthrax used, but then reverse engineering it and breaking down its DNA.
“We just can't hurry the science, nor would we want to. And we're making sure whatever the results are, that it's admissible," said Harp.
Admissible in the event, that is, that anyone is ever actually charged with the crimes.
Probe Panned By New Boss
WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2003
The new head of the FBI investigation into the deadly anthrax attacks says it is troubling that Dr. Steven J. Hatfill was publicly labeled a "person of interest" in the case by top law enforcement officials.
"The anthrax investigation has been beset by a number of leaks," said Michael A. Mason, who recently assumed leadership of the probe as head of the FBI's Washington field office. "I think that's unfortunate."
Hatfill, a former government scientist, has denied any role in the 2001 attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 others. He has filed a lawsuit against Attorney General John Ashcroft and the FBI accusing the government of "a campaign of harassment" and unfairly singling him out.
Hatfill claims that, by labeling him a "person of interest" in the case, Ashcroft and other federal authorities have destroyed his reputation and ruined his job prospects.
The lawsuit also states Hatfill is under constant surveillance, leaving him unable to freely talk to his girlfriend, family or friends.
Mason told reporters Monday that giving out "person of interest" information publicly "leads to the same sort of calamity" that occurred when Richard Jewell was wrongly accused in the 1996 bombing at the Atlanta Olympics.
"It's very hard to take that back if you're wrong," Mason said.
Still, Mason said that Ashcroft may have had little choice in naming Hatfill because his name had already been leaked to the media.
Law enforcement officials have said Hatfill is not a suspect and that no evidence links him to the letters.
Hatfill once worked as a researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md. The facility housed the strain of anthrax found in the envelopes sent to the victims.
Since June 2001, investigators have searched Hatfill's Frederick apartment multiple times, as well as a storage unit in Florida and his girlfriend's resident. Nothing linking him to the attacks has been found.
Last May, Hatfill was struck by a vehicle being driven by an FBI employee who was tailing him in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood. Hatfill was not seriously injured.
Al Qaeda Making Anthrax?
Oct. 9, 2003
Al Qaeda may be hard at work trying to produce weaponized anthrax and other biological weapons. In an exclusive report, CBS News Correspondent Mark Phillips recounts details U.S. interrogators have extracted from a top al Qaeda operative.
The new worry comes from the man accused of masterminding last year's terrorist bombing in Bali that killed more than 200 people and last summer's Jakarta hotel blast that left another 12 people dead.
Riduan Isamuddin, better known simply as "Hambali," has been in the hands of U.S. intelligence agents since his arrest in Thailand last August, and he's been singing.
According to interrogation reports seen by CBS News, Hambali was implementing plans to cause far more deaths using biological weapons, most likely Anthrax.
Hambali, as al Qaeda's main connection in the Far East, was apparently trying to open an Al Qaeda bio-weapons branch plant.
According to the interrogation documents, Hambali told his U.S. interrogators he had been "working on an Al Qaeda Anthrax program in Kandahar," Afghanistan.
There he worked with a man named Yazid Sufaat, a fellow member of the al Qaeda affiliated terror group Jemaah Islamiyah. Sufaat had received a degree in chemistry and laboratory science from California State University in Sacramento.
But in October 2001, when things became too hot during the U.S. bombing campaign of Afghanistan, Hambali and Sufaat fled to safety in neighboring Pakistan. There again according to the interrogation reports, the two men discussed "continuing the anthrax program in Indonesia".
In fact the men did return to the Far East and Yazid Sufaat was arrested as he tried to enter his native Malaysia.
The U.S. has asked for his extradition on another terror connection -- that he hosted two of the 9/11 hijackers when they passed through Malaysia before the attacks. Malaysia has so far refused.
While intelligence agents are confident of the intent of the Anthrax terror program, they also say it's been stymied because the terrorists haven't managed to obtain the sort of Anthrax strain that can be easily spread. Although they remain concerned that somewhere in the region they're still trying.
Lawyer: Anthrax Probe MD Reeling
Dr. At Center Of August Searches Lost Job, Has Not Been Charged
TOMS RIVER, N.J., Oct. 5, 2004
(CBS/AP) Federal investigators are destroying the life of a New York doctor by wrongly linking him to fatal 2001 anthrax mailings, his lawyer said Monday.
Agents descended on the Wellsville, N.Y., home of Dr. Kenneth Berry on Aug. 5, as well as his parents' New Jersey shore summer home, for searches described by an FBI spokesman as part of the anthrax investigation. Berry has not been charged.
That same day, the doctor, who founded an organization in 1997 that trains medical professionals to respond to chemical and biological attacks, was arrested after a domestic dispute at a Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., motel.
"I believe the family cracked under the pressure," Berry's lawyer, Clifford Lazzaro, said outside court after a hearing was postponed in that case.
Berry subsequently lost his job as an emergency room doctor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
"He has already lost his job. Must he lose his marriage, too?" Lazzaro asked. "When he is cleared, it will only make this tragedy that much worse that he not only lost his job but also lost his family for a crime he did not commit."
The FBI has declined to comment.
More than three dozen agents, some in protective suits, combed through two Wellsville homes listed in property records as Berry's past and present addresses.
About 250 miles to the southeast, on the Jersey Shore, officers searching the summer home of Berry's parents brought out garbage bags that appeared to be filled with bulky contents, said Jonathan DeGraw, 26, who rents the house next door. They also removed boxes containing clear plastic bags.
Five people died and 17 were sickened in the fall of 2001 in the anthrax mailings that targeted government and media officials. The attacks unsettled a nation already reeling from the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Attorney General John Ashcroft had labeled Dr. Steven Hatfill, a former government scientist and bioweapons expert, as a "person of interest" in the case.
Hatfill, who once worked at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., has denied any wrongdoing and sued Ashcroft and other officials, saying his reputation was ruined. The lawsuit is pending.
Berry's father, William C. Berry, told The Star-Ledger of Newark that the FBI was unfairly targeting his son.
"Hey, here's a guy being shafted by the FBI," William Berry said at his home in Newtown, Conn. "It's just buying time because they have nothing on anthrax. You are looking at a setup."
Kenneth Berry was arrested Thursday by police responding to a domestic dispute call at the White Sands Motel in the vacation community of Point Pleasant Beach, about 10 miles northeast of Dover Township. Berry's relationship to the four was not immediately known.
Berry, who founded an organization in 1997 that trains medical professionals to respond to chemical and biological attacks, applied for his patent on Sept. 28, 2001, according to the Patent and Trademark Office Web site. The first anthrax letters were postmarked Sept. 18, 2001, in Trenton.
The patent was awarded to Berry in March.
"In an era where chemical, biological or nuclear attacks at one or more locations either globally or within a country are possible, it is desirable to have a surveillance system capable of locating and identifying the type of attack so that a rapid response can be initiated," the description of the invention's background read.
Berry's system uses a computer to combine weather data with information on how various concentrations of biological or chemical agents would affect a specific location, according to the patent office filing.
Berry's organization is called PREEMPT Medical Counter-Terrorism Inc.; PREEMPT stands for Planned Response Exercises and Emergency Medical Preparedness Training. In a 1997 USA Today interview, he advocated the broad distribution of anthrax vaccine.
"We ought to be planning to make anthrax vaccine widely available to the population starting in the major cities," he said. The remarks were made soon after the Pentagon announced it would begin inoculating all 2.4 million military personnel against anthrax.
Berry pleaded guilty in 1999 to disorderly conduct to settle charges of forgery. State police said Berry's signature was on a fake will of the late Dr. Andrew Colletta, according to The Wellsville Daily Reporter. While initially charged with two counts of second-degree forgery, the plea to a lesser violation allowed him to keep his medical license.
"From what I know, he's a fine, conscientious physician who always had the interest of his patients at heart," said Joseph Pelych, the lawyer who represented Berry in that case. "I find it hard to believe he would be involved" in anthrax.
Anthrax is caused by bacteria that can be passed from livestock to humans. The disease can affect the skin, the lungs or the digestive system. When treated appropriately, less than one percent of people with the cutaneous, or skin form, of anthrax die. But more than half of those who contract inhalation or gastrointestinal anthrax perish.
Investigation Grows Old
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2005
Four years have passed since the anthrax attacks, reports CBS News correspondent Jim Stewart, but despite what it calls the biggest investigation of all time, the FBI has no solution, and admits it could happen again.
It was the simplicity of it all that was so scary. Someone drops a letter in the mail, it disappears into the system, and there mingles with millions of others to spread its deadly spores. Five people died. Twenty-two were contaminated.
Anyone could get it, from well-known newsmen and politicians to elderly retirees. Anthrax didn't discriminate, and as we soon learned...the same person was behind it all.
"The tests to date have concluded that the strains are indistinguishable," Tom Ridge said Oct. 19, 2001.
"Should we be concerned about anthrax attacks in the future? Yes, we should," said FBI director Robert Mueller.
It's become a frustrating global quest for the bureau. Agents have fanned out over Asia and Africa in recent months. In the valleys of Afghanistan they heard someone had hidden the anthrax they sought. It wasn't there.
Earlier they drained a pond closer to home. Nothing. After 53,000 tips, and 5,000 subpoenas — zero.
Randall Murch, a former FBI lab manager, sympathizes.
"We have a situation where there is no smoking gun per se. There is no link, no direct link between the person and the event and the material used."
So, increasingly, the bureau likens this case to another that perplexed them. It took them 17 years to finally flush a disheveled Ted Kazynski out of the mountains and expose him as the Unabomber, they remind, but in the end they always get their man.
And what about this case? The answer is always the same:
"To the best of my knowledge. There are no suspects, no significant leads," said Murch.
And privately, FBI officials concede the chances for an arrest are getting slimmer by the day.
Investigation A 'Cold Case?'
WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2006(CBS)
Three years ago, FBI agents slogged through the woods to a fishing pond in suburban Maryland, where they hoped to find the hidden lab equipment used in the 2001 anthrax attacks. But, as CBS News correspondent Jim Stewart reports, they pumped the pond dry and even sifted through the mud at the bottom ... and found nothing
Five years, 53,000 leads, and 6,000 subpoenas after those attacks, they still have no arrests.
Things are so cold, law enforcement officials tell CBS News, that barring the discovery of new evidence, the anthrax investigation could be declared a "Cold Case" and put in the inactive files.
So who did it? Former Attorney General John Ashcroft once singled out Dr. Steven Hatfill, a bioweapons specialist, as a "person of interest." But there have been no charges.
Former FBI counter-terrorism executive and now CBS News consultant Mike Rolince says no case has frustrated the FBI more.
"We now know that someone, or ones, can conduct an attack like this and for least the first five years, get away with it," Rolince says.
The FBI says it remains committed to solving the crime. In a written statement, Joseph Persichini, Jr., acting assistant director of the FBI’s Washington field office said: "Today, the FBI’s commitment to solving this case is undiminished ... While no arrests have been made, the dedicated investigators who have worked tirelessly on this case, day-in and day-out, continue to go the extra mile in pursuit of every lead."
The bureau never had more than scant physical evidence, like the envelopes the anthrax was mailed in, and the terse letters inside - "Death to America" read one - and the spores themselves. But they were never able to trace the anthrax back to the attacker.
"It's true that a vast majority of the investigation early on was figuring out the science," Rolince says.
Nor did the administration ever entirely figure out what to do in case of another such attack. Despite a $5.6 billion effort to stockpile vaccines, just a small amount is available. Only the Pentagon has enough on hand for the troops.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff hints no one may ever be indicted.
"There are times that we may know a lot about a crime or an event that occurred, but we may not have the admissible evidence that we need to prove it in court," Chertoff says.
But the thinking among investigators is more stark: If we can't agree among ourselves who did it, they reason, how could we ever convince a jury?
Mail Safer Since Anthrax Attacks?
Questions Remain About Post Office Security 5 Years After 5 Died
HAMILTON, N.J., Sept. 23, 2006
(CBS) Five years ago next week, American officials began to suspect that someone was sending anthrax-tainted letters through the mail. Five people eventually died and 17 other became ill as a result. The attacks remain unsolved, but there have been some security upgrades to the nation's postal system.
The question remains: are we any safer?
The U.S. Postal Service's Tom Day helped design the system that now tests for anthrax at all 280 mail processing centers across the country. He gave CBS News correspondent Bianca Solarzano a tour of the John K. Rafferty Hamilton Post Office Building.
At least four of the anthrax letters came through this mail sorting center in New Jersey. It took four years to clean it up.
"This was the first spot where the anthrax was coming out of the envelopes," Day said, pointing to a mail sorting machine.
There has been a tunnel-like addition to the machine where letters collected from mail boxes are checked for anthrax.
"If anything is escaping from an envelope at this point, we're collecting it and pulling it out through a system right here," Day said. "That, then, goes to this box which is the self contained detection system."
The system's cost: $150 million per year.
So, after all the improvements, is our mail safe?
"I would definitely say the mail in this country is safe," Day said. "Can I give a 100 percent guarantee? The answer is 'no.'"
That's because the system doesn't check packages. It's also still a year away from screening large envelopes and testing for anything other than anthrax.
Then there are questions about private shippers who handle more than 21 million packages a day. They're tight-lipped about their security.
FedEx told CBS News: "We have systems in place to protect our employees and the safe transfer of packages to our customers."
UPS wouldn't even tell CBS News if they screen their cargo, saying "We do not talk about security measures because it would be counter productive to what we do."
Tom Ingelsby, who is Deputy Director of the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said "This is a lot more complicated and will require a lot more time and investment than was anticipated back when this happened in 2001."
Bioterrorism experts warn detection holes are just part of the problem.
In an area where delays can cost lives, there is no stockpile of anthrax test kits that would quickly confirm suspected cases and allow for immediate treatment.
As for the anthrax vaccine, the government has ordered enough for 10 percent of the U.S. population. But that order won't be filled for at least three more years.
Tables Turned In Anthrax Investigation
"Person Of Interest" Files Lawsuit Against FBI
March 9, 2007
(CBS) They followed him. They brought bloodhounds into his home. The attorney general identified him to the world as a "person of interest" in the first major bioterrorism attack in the nation's history.
But five years after letters sent through the U.S. mail containing anthrax killed five and injured 17, the FBI has yet to charge Dr. Steven Hatfill. In 2003, he sued the government.
The resulting depositions of FBI personnel and law enforcement records obtained by 60 Minutes provide an inside look into one of the FBI's biggest investigations ever and raise the possibility that the bureau may have a cold case on its hands.
Correspondent Lesley Stahl's report, which contains revelations from those depositions, will be broadcast this Sunday, March 11, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Hatfill, a scientist who worked at an Army laboratory where the strain of anthrax used in the attacks was stored, is the only "person of interest" named publicly in the case. He has maintained his innocence all along.
Hatfill is suing the government for destroying his reputation by, among other things, naming him "a person of interest." According to depositions taken for Hatfill's suit and obtained by 60 Minutes, the FBI official who oversaw the investigation says the bureau was looking at many more people.
"There were … 20 to 30 other people who were also likewise identified as 'persons of interest' in the investigation,' " the FBI's Richard Lambert says under oath.
60 Minutes has learned that today at least a dozen of those other people still have not been eliminated as so-called "persons of interest."
Hatfill charges in his suit that the FBI leaked information about him that was distorted and damaging. After the deadly mailings, evidence-sniffing bloodhounds reportedly "went crazy" at Hatfill's apartment, according to a Newsweek story.
60 Minutes has learned that the bloodhounds reacted similarly at the home and office of another scientist, too. And two of the dogs have been wrong on a number of occasions, including a serial rape case in which a man in California was arrested and jailed, based largely on the evidence from the dogs. He was ultimately exonerated with DNA evidence.
To quell the leaks, FBI Director Robert Mueller instituted a tactic known as "stovepiping," whereby the various squads assigned to the case stopped sharing information with one another.
In his deposition, the FBI's Lambert said he opposed Mueller's order because barring investigators from exchanging information "… would inhibit our ability to 'connect the dots' in a case of this magnitude …" just as it had leading up to 9/11.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, agrees that stovepiping undercut the investigation. He also charges that the FBI used the leaks to cover a lack of progress in the case.
"I believe … they wanted the public to believe that they … were making great progress in this case," he tells Stahl. "It's just turning out to be a cold case."
60 Minutes has also learned that the FBI's biggest hope to crack the case turned out to be a dead end created by one of its own investigators.
Early on in its investigation, the bureau was able to lift trace amounts of DNA from one of the envelopes used in the attacks. Agents hoped this forensic evidence would hold the key to solving the crime. But the amount of DNA recovered was so minute the bureau decided not to test it, fearing that doing so would use up the sample without yielding results.
The FBI then improved its DNA-testing technology so it could accurately test the microscopic sample. They then discovered that the DNA belonged to one of its own investigators who had contaminated the envelope.
Tables Turned In Anthrax Probe (#2)
"Person Of Interest" Files Lawsuit Against FBI
March 11, 2007
(CBS) Remember the anthrax scare? It was about four weeks after 9/11. Letters laced with powdery spores of the deadly bacteria were mailed through the U.S. postal system. In all, five people died, 17 fell ill. At first, everyone thought this was another al Qaeda terrorist attack.
But soon the FBI began keying on a so-called "person of interest" – Steven Hatfill – and launched one of the largest criminal investigations in its history.
As correspondent Lesley Stahl reports, the FBI has been going after this guy for five years, and yet he has got them in court: Hatfill has sued the FBI and Department of Justice for what he claims has been a campaign of leaking lies and distortions about him to the press.
Through the lawsuit, Hatfill’s lawyer has not only obtained boxfuls of internal government documents, but he has also deposed nearly every major law enforcement official involved in the case. It is the latest twist in the FBI's yet unsolved investigation of the anthrax murders.
A number of anthrax letters began appearing in the mail between late September and October, 2001. The letters were sent to news outlets – Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw got them. As did two U.S. senators. And two postal workers, who handled the poisonous envelopes, died.
Steven Hatfill, a medical doctor and an expert on viruses, was outed in a drumbeat of news reports that included aerial shots of the FBI seizing property from his apartment, including his trash.
And then-Attorney General John Ashcroft confirmed on television that Hatfill was a "person of interest."
But instead of the FBI nailing Hatfill, he filed his lawsuit claiming that with their leaks, the FBI and Justice Department had violated his presumption of innocence and destroyed his reputation.
"I object to an investigation characterized, as this one has been, by outrageous official statements, calculated leaks to the media, and causing a feeding frenzy operating to my great prejudice," he said in August, 2002.
In the lawsuit, Hatfill is turning the tables on the FBI: the hunted is dragging the hunters into court. Top officials were deposed on videotape, like John Ashcroft, who was less than forthcoming.
"Is it appropriate for Department of Justice officials to suggest that Dr. Hatfill fits a behavioral profile of the anthrax killer?" Ashcroft was asked.
"I don’t know," the attorney general replied.
"You don’t know whether it was appropriate or inappropriate to disclose that kind of information?" he was asked.
"I don’t know," Ashcroft responded.
Asked if he thought it was fair to Dr. Hatfill, Ashcroft said, "I don't know."
John Ashcroft answered "I don’t know" to 85 questions in the four and a half hour deposition.
Hatfill came on the radar screen in the first place because he seemed to fit the FBI profile as an American scientist who had worked at a U.S. Army laboratory where the strain of anthrax used in the attacks was stored.
There were other – quote – “curiosities.” For instance, he commissioned a study in 1999 of how emergency personnel should respond in the event of an anthrax mailing. He wrote a novel fictionalizing a bio-terrorist attack in Washington.
And there’s an open question about how similar his handwriting is to that on the anthrax envelopes. But in his deposition, Richard Lambert, who oversaw the FBI investigation, said there were other people on the radar screen.
"There were 20 to 30 other people who were also likewise identified as 'persons of interest' in the investigation," Lambert said during the deposition.
Lambert couldn't identify the other people, acknowledging that his testimony could stigmatize those individuals.
According to former Justice Department officials familiar with the case at least a dozen of those people still have not been eliminated as "persons of interest." And yet, only Hatfill was ever identified.
Hatfill wouldn’t give 60 Minutes an interview; but his lawyer, Tom Connolly, did speak to Stahl.
"If you want a blueprint for ruining somebody, this is how you do it. You engage in a campaign of leaking investigative information to your favorite reporters who then write it, and create a caricature of you," Connolly tells Stahl.
Asked if he knows for sure that it was the FBI and Justice Department that were doing the leaking, Connolly says, "I know as a matter of existential truth it was the FBI and DOJ."
How does he know it?
"Because I have FBI agents under oath, who acknowledge under oath, that it couldn’t have been coming from anywhere else because of what was being leaked," he explains.
Nine reporters also gave sworn testimony. In their stories, they often identified their sources as law enforcement officials. Some of the reports would make anyone suspicious.
"I can remember reading articles about your client and thinking: 'Oh this is pretty devastating stuff,'" Stahl remarks. "That he had worked at a U.S. Army laboratory in Maryland and had access to anthrax."
"Let me say one thing with absolute certainty: he has never in his life ever worked with anthrax," Hatfill's attorney, Tom Connolly, insists.
Asked if there was anthrax at the lab, Connolly tells Stahl, "It was in a variety of a wet slurry, not a dry powder."
Asked to explain, Connolly says wet slurry is a paste, while the substance in the envelopes was a dry powder.
"To convert a wet slurry to a dry powder, meaning to weaponize it, is a feat of amazing engineering which requires sophisticated equipment. And it would leave telltale signs behind. Now let me just say one of other thing. The head of Fort Detrick, where this alleged slurry was, has testified under oath that there is no evidence whatsoever that any of that anthrax has been missing or was it ever missing," Connolly says.
"Something else that came out that Dr. Hatfill went on Cipro right before these anthrax letters started appearing. Cipro is what you're supposed to take if you get anthrax, if you're exposed to it," Stahl remarks.
"Before the attacks he had surgery. So yes, he's on Cipro. But the fuller truth is in fact he was on Cipro because a doctor gave it to him after sinus surgery," Connolly explains.
On the Cipro question, Hatfill’s medical records confirm that five weeks before the anthrax attacks, he had sinus surgery and was prescribed Cipro.
Connolly thinks the most damaging leak of all involved evidence-sniffing dogs, which he calls "the magic bloodhounds."
According to Newsweek magazine, the FBI used three purebred bloodhounds, Lucy, Knight and Tinkerbell, who "went crazy" at Hatfill’s apartment.
"The criticism I have with these magic bloodhounds is they have been responsible for a number of false arrests," Connolly argues.
Including the arrest of a man on charges of multiple rapes in California, based largely on Tinkerbell and Knight’s purported power of smell. But he was ultimately cleared by DNA evidence. And now 60 Minutes has learned in the anthrax case that the dogs also alerted to another scientist who worked at the same Army lab as Hatfill.
Beyond the leaks about him, Hatfill’s phones were tapped and he was subjected to round-the-clock surveillance. "Going down to the store for a pack of gum yields a parade of FBI cars, sometimes following me closely as two to four feet from my rear bumper," Hatfill said during a press conference.
"Try to put yourself back into that period of time. It was the first act of bio-terrorism on U.S. soil ever. Everybody was just tense as can be. If they thought that Steven Hatfill was the guy, why not shut him down? Put the spotlight on him? He can't move now," Stahl asks Connolly.
"It's an interesting justification from the mouth of a reporter. But it's never been from the mouth of any FBI agent. I've asked each one of them under oath," he replies.
"Do you know whether any disclosures regarding Dr. Hatfill that appeared in the press were ever done designed for a law enforcement purpose of sweating him?" Connolly asked Rick Lambert, a special agent.
"I'm not aware of that ever having been done," Lambert replied.
"They never told you that the reason was to keep an eye on him so he wouldn't do it again kind of thing?" Stahl asks Connolly.
"In fact, they specifically denied that," Connolly says.
Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, has looked into the case and has concluded that there was leaking by top officials and that the purpose was not to shut Hatfill down, but to hide the lack of progress in the case.
"Do you have any evidence that they were planting information in the press that they knew was not true?" Stahl asks the senator.
"I believe the extent to which they wanted the public to believe that they were making great progress in this case, and the enormous pressure they had after a few years to show that, yes, that they was very much misleading the public," Sen. Grassley replies.
One reason they've had so much trouble solving the case is because this is a crime with no eyewitnesses and no fingerprints on the envelopes. Two sources familiar with the investigation tell 60 Minutes a tiny amount of DNA evidence was recovered from one of the envelopes. But when it was tested, it turned out to belong to an investigator who had contaminated this key piece of evidence.
Senator Grassley says a lack of forensic evidence is only part of the problem.
He believes the leaking has hurt the investigation itself. "Because it gave people an indication of where the FBI was headed for," Sen. Grassley says. "And if you knew what that road map was, that if you were a guilty person you would be able to take action to avoid FBI."
According to Special Agent Robert Roth his boss, Rick Lambert, got so fed up with the leaks, he tried to find out the source.
"Rick suggested after one particular leak that everyone on the case be polygraphed. He wanted to launch a criminal investigation," Roth said.
He said Director Robert Mueller rejected that idea; but to stop any future leaks, Mueller ordered the various teams working on the case to stop sharing information.
"So for example, the agents working on the squad looking at the scientific and forensic signatures in the anthrax powder itself would not communicate any findings or results of investigation derived from that endeavor with the other squad which might be conducting investigation concerning persons of interest," Lambert said during deposition.
Lambert wrote a memo protesting that policy – which is known as stove piping – where different teams of investigators are not allowed to exchange information. Lambert’s memo says that "… would inhibit our ability to 'connect the dots' just as it had in the lead up to 9/11."
"In light of 9/11, I felt very strongly about that point. I expressed my opinion to the director. He said, 'I still want you to compartmentalize the case,' and that's exactly what I did," Lambert testified.
But what the stove piping really did, says Sen. Grassley, was undercut the anthrax investigation. "If you got these three teams working to solve the same problem, and they can’t talk to each other, they aren’t going to be able to do their job," he argues.
The FBI wouldn’t agree to an interview, and wouldn’t tell 60 Minutes whether an indictment of Hatfill is likely or not. What we do know is that Hatfill is still a "person of interest." One reason – there are questions about his credibility.
"He apparently claimed in a resume that he had gotten a PhD, and some allegation that he actually forged a diploma to that effect. Is this true?" Stahl asks Connolly.
"It is true. It is true that he has puffed on his resume. Absolutely," Connolly acknowledges. "Forged a diploma. Yes, that's true."
"Okay, so that goes to his character. That would lead these investigators to have some questions about him, at the very least," Stahl remarks.
"Listen, if puffing on your resume made you the anthrax killer, then half this town should be suspect," Connolly replies.
There's a split at the FBI, with some agents now thinking Hatfill didn’t do it; but others still believe he did.
Asked by Connolly if he thought Hatfill had committed these "horrendous" attacks, Special Agent Roth said, "I don’t know."
Asked if he thinks there's a possibility that this case may never be solved, Sen. Grassley tells Stahl, "Without a doubt, Yeah. It’s just turning out to be a cold case."
And Al Qaeda
By Michael Barone
Nov 13, 2007
(US News) On the conservative website The American Thinker, military operations research analyst Ray Robison had an article on the September 2001 anthrax attack. It's based on a recently revealed pre-September 11 letter from a London jihadi named Numan Bin Uthman to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Robison's conclusion:
"Now let's put that big picture together."
"Uthman says he tried to talk Mohammad Atef and Usama bin Laden out of using WMD in a terrorist attack to convince the U.S. not to retaliate in Afghanistan because it would ultimately spread to Iraq."
"Why would Uthman expect this? I can think of one salient reason."
"Because he knew that al Qaeda was planning an Anthrax attack with weaponized anthrax provided by Saddam Hussein."
Robison has written previously about the anthrax attacks, and in September I blogged on the subject. It continues to strike me as highly implausible that the anthrax attacks, which occurred just days after September 11, were not an al Qaeda operation. The FBI investigation, focusing on scientists in the United States, has produced nothing, and we are told that the FBI now concludes that the anthrax could have come from anywhere in the world. The good news is that the anthrax attacks did not produce the high casualties and the degree of panic that the attackers intended. The bad news is that we still don't know who attacked us and perhaps never will. We are assured by high-minded folks that we know for a fact that Saddam Hussein and his regime had no connection to al Qaeda. But we don't know that for a fact. We know as the 9/11 Commission reported that we have no direct evidence on ongoing collaboration between Saddam's regime and al Qaeda.
But we don't know for sure that there was none. Robison's post points in the other direction.