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History > 2008 > USA > Terrorism (VI)




World must stand united

against terrorism


September 23, 2008
Filed at 12:00 p.m. ET
The New York Times


UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- President Bush, who once warned that the United Nations was in danger of becoming irrelevant, said Tuesday that multinational organizations are now ''needed more urgently than ever'' to combat terrorists and extremists who are threatening world order.

In his eighth and final speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Bush said the international community must stand firm against the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran. He said that despite past disagreements over the U.S.-led war in Iraq, members of the U.N. must unite to help the struggling democracy succeed. And he scolded Russia for invading neighboring Georgia, calling it a violation of the U.N. charter.

''The United Nations' charter sets forth the equal rights of nations large and small,'' he said. ''Russia's invasion of Georgia was a violation of those words.''

Bush, who has had a testy relationship with the U.N. which he says has been slow to address global problems, called on the U.N. to focus more on results and aggressively rally behind young democracies like Georgia, Ukraine, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Liberia.

Bush said that instead of issuing statements and resolutions after terrorist attacks, the U.N. and such organizations must work closely to prevent violence. Every nation has responsibilities to prevent its territory from being used for terrorist, drug trafficking and nuclear proliferation, he said.

Bush, who ordered the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 without the U.N.'s blessing, said: ''The United Nations and other multilateral organizations are needed more urgently than ever.'' His farewell address, however, comes at a time when many multilateral diplomatic missions Bush has championed are stalled. North Korea is backing away from pledges to abandon nuclear weapons. A Palestinian-Israeli peace pact before Bush leaves office is unlikely. Violence is flaring in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iran continues to pursue its nuclear work in defiance of international demands.

Throughout Bush's speech, hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has vowed that Iran's military will ''break the hand'' of anyone targeting the country's nuclear facilities, sat in his seat and smiled and waved to people in the chamber.

Bush insisted that while regimes like Syria and Iran continue to sponsor terror, ''their numbers are growing fewer, and they're growing more isolated from the world.''

But he warned: ''As the 21st century unfolds, some may be tempted to assume that the threat has receded. This would be comforting. It would be wrong. The terrorists believe time is on their side, so they've made waiting out civilized nations part of their strategy. We must not allow them to succeed.''

The 21st century needs a bold and effective United Nations, he said.

''Where there's inefficiency and corruption, it must be corrected. Where there are bloated bureaucracies, they must be streamlined. Where members fail to uphold their obligations, there must be strong action,'' Bush said.

He called for an immediate review of the U.N. Human Rights Council; a stronger effort to help the people of Myanmar live free of repression; and more pressure on the government of Sudan to uphold pledge to address violence in Darfur.

Bush's appearance at U.N. headquarters was overshadowed by the U.S. financial markets crisis that has rippled through world markets. Trying to reassure world leaders that his administration is taking decisive action to stem market turmoil, Bush said he is confident that Congress will act in the ''urgent time frame required'' to prevent broader problem. But he did not ask other nations to take any specific actions.

Before his speech, Bush met with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to discuss the weekend bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad and U.S. military incursions into Pakistan targeting militants using remote areas of the Muslim nation to launch attacks in neighboring Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Bush expressed sorrow for the victims of a deadly truck bomb that devastated a Marriott hotel in Islamabad and acknowledged tensions over U.S. military incursions into Pakistani territory.

Pakistan is under growing pressure from the United States to act against al-Qaida and Taliban insurgents along its border with Afghanistan, a staging ground for attacks against coalition troops in Afghanistan and bombings in Pakistan. Pakistan accuses the U.S. of violating its sovereignty.

''Your words have been very strong about Pakistan's sovereign right and sovereign duty to protect your country, and the United States wants to help,'' Bush said.

Pakistani officials said Tuesday that its security forces backed by helicopter gunships and artillery killed more than 60 insurgents in the nation's northwest tribal regions in offensives aimed at denying al-Qaida and Taliban militants safe havens. But with little political clout and support from the Pakistani military, it's unclear whether Zardari will be willing or capable of rooting out extremists.

Zardari, the widower of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated in December, said democracy is the answer for Pakistan.

''We will solve all the problems. We have a situation. We have issues. We've got problems. But we will solve them and we will rise to the occasion,'' Zardari said. ''That's what my wife's legacy is all about. That's what democracy is all about -- to take difficult decisions and do the right thing for the people of our country and our two great nations. We should come together in this hard time and we will share the burden and the responsibility with the world.''

    Bush: World must stand united against terrorism, NYT, 23.9.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Bush.html






Shadow of Guantanamo follows freed inmates back to their homes

After years in detention, Afghan returnees have bitter memories as they face new hardships.


Sunday September 14 2008
The Observer
Jason Burke
This article appeared in the Observer on Sunday September 14 2008 on p45 of the World news section.
It was last updated at 00:01 on September 14 2008.


Jason Burke reports from Kabul

They call them the Bandi Guantánamo, the Guantánamo returnees, and their welcome home is far from warm. All across Afghanistan in recent months, scores of men have been coming back from a long journey halfway around the world. About 100 have been released from Guantánamo Bay by United States authorities in the last 12 months as Washington, under mounting pressure from governments around the world, attempts to moderate the damage done to America's image by the Cuba-based detention centre. A third are Afghan and more are due to return in the coming weeks.

After more than five years in detention thousands of miles away, often traumatised, often angry, or just broken and poor, the Bandi Guantánamo try to build new lives, with limited success. Most claim innocence. Others are unashamed of their acts of violence. Interviewed in Kabul last month, Mohammed Umr described how he had trained in terrorist techniques, met Osama bin Laden and fought at the battle of Tora Bora in 2001. Released 10 weeks ago, he spoke of how angry the presence of his former jailers in his homeland made him. 'If they have come here to help us, why do they kill civilians and why can't they even provide electricity to Kabul seven years after invading?', asked the 30-year-old former footballer, arrested in Pakistan during the closing days of the war of 2001.

Almost all the former detainees describe mistreatment - ranging from waterboarding - the repeated half-drowning of prisoners to get them to talk - through to beatings, sleep deprivation, being kept in 'stress positions' and exposure to extreme temperatures for long periods. Most say that the worst abuse occurred in US bases in Afghanistan, notably in the eastern and southern cities of Jalalabad and Kandahar, or at the logistics centre of Bagram airfield, where a 500-capacity makeshift prison was built. American military spokesmen in Afghanistan deny any mistreatment.

By comparison, the former prisoners say, Guantánamo was relatively bearable. 'It was better there,' said Abdul Nasir, who added that he had been deprived of sleep in the Bagram prison. 'The food was OK. There was more exercise. When I arrived [in 2003] we had just 20 minutes twice a week. By the end it was two hours a day.' Like others interviewed by The Observer, Nasir, 26, claimed that rows frequently broke out in Guantánamo over religious practice. 'The guards made noise when we were praying. They shouted bad things,' he alleged. 'There was nearly a riot because they were handling the Koran that we were allowed in our cells.'

Many former detainees say they have been told by the Afghan government or their former jailers not to talk to journalists. Several senior former Taliban figures, such as Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, their former ambassador to Pakistan, are under house arrest in Kabul, supposedly as part of the largely moribund 'reconciliation process'. The head of the reconciliation commission was in Canada and unable to comment, his office said.

Mirwais Yasini, Deputy Speaker of the Afghan parliament, played down the danger of returnees joining Taliban insurgents in control of large parts of the south and east of the country. 'We should try to reintegrate them, but [the returnees] should not get any special treatment,' he said from his office in the new Afghan parliament building. 'Their story is that of Afghanistan: a tragic tale.'

Many former detainees return to hardship, chaos and violence. In the six years he has been gone, Abdul Nasir's village on Kabul's outskirts has barely changed but for a new road and new insecurity. 'We are worried to go into the fields at night because the coalition think we are Taliban and shoot at us,' said Nasir's elder brother. 'Every week, the Taliban are firing at the police in the village. Our school was burnt down and there have been bomb attacks.'

Nasir was arrested by Afghan troops in 2002, accused of attacking a border post with a group of Pakistani Taliban. Though he now denies the allegation, legal sources close to his case said he had confessed, claiming he had been press-ganged by fellow students at the religious school where he had been studying in the anarchic Pakistani tribal zones.

Saeed Jan was freed two years ago. He says he does not know why he was arrested in 2002 and says he was repeatedly beaten after his arrest in the eastern Kunar province and again at Bagram by American personnel. He returned to his village to find his sick wife and mother had died and his 12-year-old son had been killed in a fall while collecting wood. 'When I got home I said to myself it would have been better to have stayed in detention,' he said. 'At least my village is peaceful, but I have four other children and no money. We are hungry and I cannot afford food.'

The detainees are being released into Afghan custody after their cases are reviewed by US authorities. They are usually held in the new wing, built with American funds, at Pul-e-Sharqi prison near Kabul, where they are tried under Afghan law by local terrorist courts. Most are released and given about £5 and some clothes. Many claim to have been the victims of denunciations by tribal enemies or rivals in complex local power struggles. It is difficult to confirm their stories, although many details appear convincing. In the aftermath of the invasion of 2001, with large bounties on offer for information leading to the arrest of al-Qaeda or Taliban supporters, coalition authorities with little knowledge of Afghanistan were often manipulated by factions and individuals to eliminate long-standing enemies.

Haji Ghalib, a tribal elder from eastern Nangahar province released late last year, claimed he was falsely denounced after closing down a drugs bazaar when he was police chief in a rough district near Jalalabad. 'It was a ridiculous accusation, but the Americans believed it. They beat me, gave me no food and interrogated me by strapping me to a wooden plank and pushing my head into water. I kept telling them they had got the wrong person,' he said.

Independent sources confirm that Ghalib, a former fighter against the Russians, had fought against the Taliban in previous years and was allied with an anti-Taliban warlord.

'I spent four years in Guantánamo without any evidence of any guilt at all because I am innocent,' he said in Kabul. 'But I am not angry at the Americans because they were the victims of bad information. But I would like the money and vehicles they took from me. I am in a very difficult situation now, and I am worried about the people who accused me, because they could do it again.'

More than 500 detainees have been released from Guantánamo and American authorities have indicated that only about 70 of the 263 still in their custody will be tried. They include at least a dozen senior al-Qaeda figures. A few hundred prisoners are still held in Bagram, where two have died of injuries sustained during interrogations.

The detainees often return to tragedy and destitution. Saeed Ameer, from the eastern Nangahar province, was arrested in 2002 after explosives were found in his home. He denies all knowledge of the cache and blames a relative. 'I told the US that I had fought against the Taliban and spent five years in their jails,' he said last week. 'But they took me to their base, beat me until I was unconscious and kept me awake for days and days. Then they took me to Guantánamo and I stayed there for four years.' Ameer now scrapes a living trading livestock, though he cannot afford meat himself. 'There are 30 people in my family and a kilo of mutton is £2. How can I afford that?', he said.

Tora Bora veteran Mohammed Umr said he just wanted to join his family in Saudi Arabia, where he grew up. It was from Medina that he travelled in 2001 for 'jihad'. He said that he had now forsworn violence and hoped to get married, settle down and have children.

Yet Umr was still angry. 'Osama bin Laden is the only person who is concerned about the plight of the Muslim world. This Afghan government are un-Islamic collaborators with the West,' he said. 'No one here likes the Americans. In the provinces there are civilians being killed for nothing. There is chaos, violence, tyranny. This is enough to make even an ordinary person furious. Imagine how someone who has suffered for years in prison feels.'

    Shadow of Guantanamo follows freed inmates back to their homes, O, 14.9.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/sep/14/guantanamo.afghanistan






YouTube bans terrorism training videos


12 September 2008
USA Today


WASHINGTON (AP) — The popular video-sharing site YouTube has moved to purge terrorists training films and other videos that extremist groups might use to attract new members, an imperfect process that will rely on users to report objectionable videos.

It's sort of like the post Sept. 11 advice — if you see something, say something. It's nearly impossible to vet every video when 13 hours of new video are uploaded every few minutes.

A quick search on Google-owned YouTube on Friday, one day after the new policies were posted, turned up several videos on how to make bombs using, for instance, such household items as toilet bowl cleaner and tin foil.

In addition to barring terror training videos, the new YouTube community guidelines include bans on videos that incite others to commit violent acts, videos on activities such as how to make bombs and footage of sniper attacks. Previously, it had policies in place against showing people "getting hurt, attacked or humiliated," banning even clips OK for TV news shows.

YouTube has not identified specific videos on its site that led to the change, nor said exactly how it will choose those that are purged. YouTube does not deny that extremist groups could have used the site.

The Internet has become a powerful tool for terrorism recruitment. What was once conducted at secret training camps in Afghanistan is now available to anyone, anywhere because of the Web. Chat rooms are potent recruitment tools, but counterterrorism officials have found terrorist-sponsored videos are also key parts of al-Qaeda's propaganda machine.

YouTube, large as it is, represents a fraction of the video content available on the Web. Videos can also be transmitted by e-mail or other means without ever appearing in a public forum like YouTube.

Google did not include its popular e-mail service, gmail, under the new YouTube guidelines, nor address whether it would ever try to limit Google searches for the same kind of material on other sites.

Even so, backers of the latest change hope it will blunt al-Qaeda's strong media online campaign.

"It's good news if there are less of these on the Web," FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said. "But many of these jihadist videos appear on different websites around the world, and any time there is investigative or intelligence value we actively pursue it."

Researchers have found terror-training videos posted online in both English and Arabic. Videos of varying sophistication appear to show how to slit someone's throat or make suicide vests, said Bruce Hoffman, a counterterrorism expert and professor at Georgetown University. Others are violent anti-American speeches or montages of militants appearing to attack U.S. forces.

Hoffman said he does not know which of the worst videos appeared on YouTube.

"It's going to do nothing to take these videos off the Internet," said John Morris, an Internet free speech expert at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Morris noted the availability of other terror-tinged videos on other sites. "This change isn't going to make this any different."

A year ago, a Homeland Security Department intelligence assessment said "the availability of easily accessible messages with targeted language may speed the radicalization process ... for those already susceptible to violent extremism."

But experts in the field debate whether shutting down extremist sites is effective. Keeping them online allows analysts and investigators to monitor what is being said and in some cases who is saying it.

"The reality is by shutting it down, it is more or less a game of whack-a-mole — it pops up somewhere else," said Frank Cilluffo, homeland security director at George Washington University. However, he said, forcing extremists to find other ways to post videos could give officials a better opportunity to monitor them.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, asked Google to ban videos from al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist groups. Lieberman said the private sector has a role in protecting the United States from terrorism.

By banning these videos on YouTube, "Google will make a singularly important contribution to this important national effort," Lieberman wrote to Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt in May.

Lieberman spokeswoman Leslie Phillips said Lieberman hopes other host sites will institute similar policies. "This is an ongoing debate," she said.

YouTube spokesman Chris Dale would not respond to questions about Lieberman's appeal but instead said YouTube regularly updates its policies regarding content. Without announcement, YouTube included a link to the new restrictions at the bottom of administrative notices on its home page.

    YouTube bans terrorism training videos, UT, 12.9.2008, http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2008-09-12-youtube_N.htm







On 9/11, Reflections on Terrorism


September 11, 2008
The New York Times


To the Editor:

Re “On Nov. 4, Remember 9/11,” by Jeffrey Goldberg (Op-Ed, Sept. 9):

I agree that our highest national priority, and that of our two presidential candidates, should be to protect America from what some believe is a “nearly inevitable” nuclear terrorist attack.

But I disagree with Mr. Goldberg’s formula to accomplish this, especially his statement that “the paramount goal is not prosecution, but pre-emption.”

Our current policy of pre-emption — killing suspects by assassination or military might — is the moral equivalent of the bully on the playground who bashes you for not liking him. It leads only to more hatred.

Instead, we must strive patiently and systematically to capture and prosecute the plotters. For fanatics, only the humiliation of a fair, public trial, consistent with our long-held concepts of justice, that exposes them as deranged fools and subjects them to the contempt of the world can make them realize that there are consequences here on earth for their heinous acts.

No one is talking about being soft on terrorism. But there is a right way and a wrong way. We must choose the right one — our survival depends on it.

John Perkins
Pacific Palisades, Calif., Sept.
9, 2008

To the Editor:

I am saddened by Jeffrey Goldberg’s supposition that protecting America from a “nearly inevitable attack” should be the next president’s sole priority.

Living in New York City, one faces personal risk walking near a crane at a construction site, riding in a taxi on the way to Kennedy Airport or simply crossing a busy traffic-filled intersection. And yet we have learned to face these risks and go out and live our lives each day.

I believe the top priority for our next president should be a return to positive, constructive investment in America and a dismantling of the culture of terror.

Let’s overhaul health care, restore the economy, fix the housing market and address global warming, and resist the temptation to stay inside and cower because an orange alert has been issued.

Susan Q. Schwartz
New York, Sept. 10, 2008

To the Editor:

Anyone who doesn’t believe that jihadis are within reach of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal while the Iranians are hard at work perfecting a long-range delivery system is either naïve or in denial.

Whether terrorists actually succeed in detonating such a weapon in the West or merely achieve that capability as a means for thermonuclear blackmail, the consequences will be devastating.

Jeffrey Goldberg’s assertion that there is no other issue is correct. This is no time to be debating the success of the surge in Iraq or habeas corpus for Guantánamo detainees.

We could be in store for a long nuclear winter if we ignore Mr. Goldberg’s forecast. How to prevent such a catastrophe is the single most important issue of the presidential campaign.

Peter J. Cotch
Andover, Mass., Sept.
9, 2008

To the Editor:

Jeffrey Goldberg is absolutely right when he says “nothing else matters” when it comes to America’s safety. The presidential candidate who convinces the most voters he can prevent a future terrorist attack here at home will win the election in November.

Right now there is a lot of talk about Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska and her coming vice-presidential debate with Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. All that chatter will fade soon enough.

When push comes to shove, the outcome of the 2008 race for the White House will come down to this: Will it be Senator Barack Obama or Senator John McCain whom voters trust most to keep their country and their families safe?

Denny Freidenrich
Laguna Beach, Calif., Sept.
9, 2008

To the Editor:

In raising the question of which candidate would deter a nuclear attack, Jeffrey Goldberg misses a critical corollary: Which candidate or party would restore America’s moral authority in the world? That authority has been drained by seven years of unilateralism, abnegation of treaties, extraordinary rendition and torture.

Without moral authority, we stand little chance of obtaining the level of international cooperation, particularly among intelligence agencies, needed to corral the world’s loose fissile material.

Nor are our prospects good for slowing Al Qaeda’s recruitment of individuals willing to give their lives to destroy ours.

Central to America’s moral standing is the rule of law. For that reason, I question Mr. Goldberg’s criticism of Barack Obama for praising the successful prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Honoring our tradition of lawful investigation and prosecution is one of many necessary weapons in the arsenal of combating terror.

Dennis Aftergut
San Francisco, Sept.
9, 2008

To the Editor:

I disagree with Jeffrey Goldberg’s understanding of the challenges facing the next president. And I disagree that we must choose a president by setting aside all other matters and asking only how well a candidate will protect us against nuclear terrorism.

The challenge for the next president will be to deter nuclear terrorism at the same time that he addresses the challenges of the economy, health care, education, the environment and the like.

If he knows how to deter nuclear terrorism but how to do nothing else, he will certainly be a failure.

David Schwartz
New York, Sept. 9, 2008

The writer served from 1980 to 1986 in the State Department’s Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, focusing on nuclear weapons policy.

To the Editor:

Re “9/11 Rumors That Become Conventional Wisdom” (Memo From Cairo, Sept. 9):

You say that many in the Middle East believe that the United States government or Israel was behind the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Perhaps we should not be too smug about ignorance in Cairo. How many Americans still seem to think that Saddam Hussein or Iran was involved in the 9/11 attacks?

Penn Pfautz
Middletown, N.J., Sept.
9, 2008

    On 9/11, Reflections on Terrorism, NYT, 11.9.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/11/opinion/l11terror.html






A 9/11 Loss Some Can See From Their Window


September 11, 2008
The New York Times


Weeks later, when the smoke had cleared and the dust settled, there, out the living room window, was the View, that most coveted of New York City apartment amenities, shattered forever.

All across the city, for days, months, maybe years after 9/11, it hurt to look out the window.

In Sunset Park, Brooklyn, Marissa Gonzalez, a corporate recruiter and writer, could not adjust. She had designed her whole fourth-floor apartment on 40th Street around the postcard-worthy outline of the Lower Manhattan skyline rising above the slope of Green-Wood Cemetery and the flats of northwest Brooklyn beyond.

“Looking out those windows was a ritual for me,” she said. “They were part of my sanctuary, my place of inspiration. It was impossible for me to go there and not tie into the day and the days after and the pain and the grief.”

A few months after 9/11, she moved out.

The question of how New Yorkers view their view may seem abstract, trivial, remote, compared with the pain of thousands upon thousands who lost loved ones, friends or colleagues when the World Trade Center towers fell. But for a broad swath of New Yorkers for whom the two towers were primarily the crowning jewel of a cherished vista, the amputated skyline was a daily reminder of loss. The way they have reached accommodation, or not, with the transformed view provides yet another window into the city’s infinitely long process of recovery.

Conversations with dozens of New Yorkers this week, when the end-of-summer light is just so and passing planes induce a wince, found them poised somewhere between Never Forget and Enough Already. Some confessed to occasional pangs of survivor guilt when they catch themselves enjoying the cityscape, diminished but still quite impressive, that gleams in their windows and draws them to park benches.

“I still think it’s the most beautiful city view there is,” said Christine Sugrue, 31, resting with her infant twins on the Brooklyn Heights promenade on Monday. Even so, she said, “Whenever I look over there, I’m always conscious that’s something missing.”

On Withers Street in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where the towers once loomed above the Williamsburg Bridge on the western horizon, Theresa Cianciotta, an assistant to a state assemblyman, said she never left her house now without casting a rueful glance at the skyline.

“There’s a lot of emptiness there,” said Ms. Cianciotta, who is in her 70s and keeps a photo she took the day after 9/11 of her husband pointing down the street at a column of smoke. She also showed off an earlier photo of the same view, the towers intact. “I will always feel very sad and angry that something like that could happen in this country.”

Just down the block, Ben Moccio, a retired security director, said he had stopped consciously noticing the towers’ absence after a year or so, as more immediate concerns asserted themselves. “There’re so many things involved in life that keep creeping up on you,” he said.

Not noticing was not possible, of course, in Battery Park City. Michelle Lord, a stay-at-home mother, moved into an apartment not long after 9/11 that looked directly onto the wound of ground zero. “I always kept my blinds down,” said Ms. Lord, 32. (She has since moved to a nearby apartment facing the Hudson; the blinds are up.)

High above Upper New York Bay in a complex called the Towers of Bay Ridge, though, Joe Metzger, a retired doorman, said the view that made his studio apartment worth having still moved him. “I had the view, that’s the important thing,” he said. “Now it’s a new view. That’s the way it is.”

In a high-rise building in Williamsburg, Theobald Wilson, a retired photographer, said that now he looked up from his computer at the space the north tower once occupied and thought, “Now I see the beautiful blue sky.”

Even Ms. Gonzalez, 51, who eventually moved much closer to the financial district, to an apartment in Chinatown that looks into the heart of Lower Manhattan, has made her peace. “The function of the view in my current apartment,” she said, “it’s not a place to go for inspiration. It’s just a normal view and needing skylight. Just a normal view.”

Some people, like Ms. Gonzalez’s former next-door neighbor on 40th Street in Sunset Park, Paula Stamatis, were able to trace the way the view out their windows had evolved, even though the skyline itself has not changed much since 9/11.

“You adjust to whatever the reality is — it’s a gradual process, like anything else,” said Ms. Stamatis, 42, a sculptor and painter. “If you have a melancholy disposition and you’re looking for something to remind you of loss, that’s going to be there.”

Her son, Zach Donovan, 21, said the difference no longer had much of an emotional effect on him.

Mr. Donovan, a college student, said, “It was more of a grief and tragedy for other people, and I didn’t want to sully the sincerity of their grief by grieving for something that for me was impersonal, tragic but impersonal.”

Few businesses in the city were prouder of their skyline view, distant though it was, than Douglaston Manor, a catering hall in Queens about 15 miles east of Manhattan. The manor’s Glass Room commands a panoramic westward view against the twinkling backdrop of the big city.

“Typically, what people say is, ‘What a beautiful view,’ ” said the general manager, Thomas DeMartino. From time to time, he said, guests are brought up a little short. “They say, ‘You must have had a terrific view of the World Trade Center.’ ”

Ann Farmer contributed reporting.

    A 9/11 Loss Some Can See From Their Window, NYT, 11.9.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/11/nyregion/11views.html?hp






Maimed on 9/11, Trying to Be Whole Again


September 10, 2008
The New York Times


Lauren Manning’s handshake is strong, almost bionic. You might think it was a byproduct of decades of playing tennis and golf. But her grip has been painfully relearned, and bolstered with more titanium pins than she cares to count.

On a hot summer day, she wore flirtatiously high-heeled sandals, creased white trousers and a long-sleeved blue blouse, leaving only feet and hands exposed. So much of her skin is still stippled with scars. “My tattoos,” she said with a rueful smile, as though they were an indelible remnant of a carefree youth. Only in her case, she noted, they cannot be “lasered off.”

On Sept. 11, 2001, Mrs. Manning — newly married, the mother of a 10-month-old boy, at the top of her profession on Wall Street — was met by a fireball as she strode into the lobby of the World Trade Center.

On a day that New York City hospitals waited to be overwhelmed by casualties, only to realize that most people either perished in the collapse of the twin towers or streamed out into the holocaust of ashes largely intact, she was among the oft-forgotten few who were severely injured yet survived.

In the face of 3,000 dead, it was easy to overlook the relative handful of people like Mrs. Manning, who was burned over 80 percent of her body and spent weeks on the brink of death, then months at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

If the nation’s worst terrorist attack is fading in many memories as its seventh anniversary approaches, it remains an everyday reality for these victims, etched in their changed appearance, their constant pain, their consciousness that they are both deeply lucky and unfathomably unlucky.

Mrs. Manning, 47, whose plight became public when the e-mail updates that her husband, Greg, sent to family and friends turned into a best-selling book, has returned to some semblance of her old life. But there are still so many things she cannot do.

She cannot walk her terrier, Caleigh, who weighs just 29 pounds but “pulls a lot,” or cook a full meal because the smallest nick in her delicately healed skin risks infection. She could not apply the glitter or fasten the hooks during a snowflake-making session in her son’s first-grade class.

“Through the grace of the people in my life, I am able to conduct what appears at first glance in many ways more normal than it is beneath the surface,” Mrs. Manning said recently. “My husband, he’s been my hands.”

There is no clear accounting of how many people were seriously injured that day. Of the $7 billion distributed by the federal government’s September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, $6 billion went to the families of those killed at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, and in the plane that went down in Pennsylvania; $1 billion went to the injured. Most of the injured were firefighters, and most of the payments were for respiratory ailments.

Burns accounted for 40 of the 2,680 injury payments.

Eighteen of the most gravely burned were taken that day to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. A dozen of those survived.

Some, like Mrs. Manning and Harry Waizer, who both worked at Cantor Fitzgerald, have regained a sense of equilibrium. For others, like Elaine Duch, who was a senior administrative assistant in the real estate department at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the before and after are clearly demarcated.

Ms. Duch, 56, has cut herself off from her old friends, partly because, as she put it, “I’m never going to be the Elaine that I used to be.” Of her current friends, Ms. Duch said, “Well, see, they did not know me before, they only know me as an injured person.”

Nowadays, she goes to the New Jersey Shore with her twin sister and a woman who saw her on the news and who sent her cards and letters every day of the five months she spent in rehabilitation. She no longer drives because her hands are too weak and she is easily rattled. She avoids zippers, tiny buttons and opening the wax paper in cereal boxes. She suffers through summers and winters because her burned skin does not tolerate heat and cold very well.

“I felt like I was young when this happened, and I feel like I’m old now,” Ms. Duch said. “I feel like my past life was a different life.”

Since she can no longer work, in her mind’s eye her professional self still haunts the upper reaches of the north tower, where she was standing in a hallway when the flames came; she managed to get down, only to be given last rites as she emerged from the building. “I’m still stuck at the 88th floor,” she says. “That’s my office.”

Her days now are filled mainly with physical therapy and psychotherapy. She has taken up painting, in what she says is a search for inner beauty. She sold her house and bought a condo in Bayonne, N.J. She changed her hair color from blond to black.

“I am happy to celebrate every birthday,” Ms. Duch said. “I am never, ever going to be the Elaine that I used to be, but I could have been dead at 49.”

Unlike Ms. Duch, Mr. Waizer is back working as a tax lawyer in Cantor Fitzgerald’s new Midtown Manhattan headquarters. Because of his injuries, he has reduced stamina and responsibilities; he no longer is the head of the tax department but, he said, he never cared much for titles.

“When you are in the hospital for as long as I was and at home for as long as I was, you think about what it is that you want to do with your life,” said Mr. Waizer, 57, who spent about two and a half years recovering from his burns before returning to work. “I realized after a time that while I still had that question, and like most people I always will have some of that question remaining, I liked what I did.”

In testimony before the 9/11 Commission on its first day of hearings in 2003, Mr. Waizer recounted how he had been going up to his office on the 104th floor when he felt an explosion and the elevator began to plummet. Burned as he beat out the flames, Mr. Waizer got out on the 78th floor and took the stairs to the ground, seeing looks of horror and sympathy on the faces of those who let him pass.

He was given a 5 percent chance of survival. Despite back pain, scarring and nerve damage, he has regained a sense of physical normalcy, though with gentle wit, he draws a line between his recovery and Mrs. Manning’s, saying, “I was never as pretty as she was.”

Perhaps the most distinctive relic of his injuries is his whispery, soothing voice, possibly caused by inhaling jet fuel that left him with “a bit of vocal cord paralysis.”

Mr. Waizer, who lives in Edgemont, in Westchester County, and has three children, ages 17, 19 and 20, said his 9/11 experience had strengthened his ties to his wife, Karen, and sharpened his moral compass. “It’s more important for me to be a good person,” Mr. Waizer said.

“Love, Greg & Lauren” is a chronicle of the three months after the terrorist attacks, as seen from Lauren Manning’s bedside. Greg Manning, who at the time was a senior vice president at Euro Brokers, in the south tower — but who was home that morning with the baby — sent daily e-mail messages to loved ones describing his efforts to connect to his comatose wife through music and poetry and baseball.

The intimate diary then details the critical moments of Mrs. Manning’s recovery as she regained consciousness — her first words were “Hi, Greg,” on Nov. 12 — and slowly began to understand what had happened. It ends in mid-December 2001, when Mrs. Manning left the hospital for a rehabilitation center. The couple agreed to talk about their lives since then, in a sort of sequel, though they asked to meet at the Midtown headquarters of Random House, the book’s publisher, rather than their home.

Mrs. Manning burst into the glass-walled conference room a half-step ahead of her husband, smiling and thrusting out one of the hands that had been so badly burned when she pushed the lobby doors open to escape.

She spent the first month in a medically induced coma having visions, she said, of falling through space into a frightening arctic darkness, nearly missing being speared on stalagmites, only to be saved repeatedly at the last minute by landing on a ledge.

Now the nightmares have receded.

“I sleep well,” Mrs. Manning said. “My dreams are of what I need to do in the future.”

She is as tiny as a sparrow. Her face is subtly different from the photograph on the book jacket, as if reflected in an ever-so-slightly blurry mirror, but still recognizable as the woman her husband called “the blond princess of Perry Street,” after their Greenwich Village address. Her makeup is subtle, her strappy sandals a triumph (no more high-top sneakers for ankle support).

The worst scars are on her back, she says, yet they do not deter her from wearing a bathing suit. Her husband says her personality seems to erase the physical scars: “People look at her, and they don’t see it.”

Mercifully, the past is receding. Mr. Manning said he no longer remembered all the words to “My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose,” the poem he recited to his wife like an anthem while she was unconscious.

They declined to say how much they received from the Victim Compensation Fund, but moved uptown from their Village apartment last year. Mrs. Manning, director of global market data at Cantor Fitzgerald before the terrorist attack, said she was “in the slow lane now” and felt a pang about not working, for the first time in her life. “You’re allowed,” her husband said.

She still follows the markets as a hobby, works with Cantor Fitzgerald’s 9/11 relief fund and collects art. She perked up as she rhapsodized about John Wesley, the pop artist, admiring what she called his “sly humor” and eroticism.

Mr. Manning left his Wall Street job in July to devote himself to writing full time; he said he had not settled on a first project.

Their son, Tyler, is learning to play Led Zeppelin on the guitar, following in the footsteps of his father, who plays bass in a band called the Rolling Bones. Tyler wants to name his band either the Bloody Eyes or the Flaming Togas. He wants to be a doctor when he grows up. Mrs. Manning does not stop to psychoanalyze.

She revels in small pleasures like reading to Tyler (the apocalyptic fantasy world of “Gregor the Overlander” is his current favorite) and taking him to play dates and soccer. Sometimes, he asks his mother, “Why did you have to go to work in that place?”

His father answers. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Mr. Manning tells his son. “She got through. None of us can tell the future.”

Lisa Schwartz contributed research.

    Maimed on 9/11, Trying to Be Whole Again, NYT, 10.9.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/10/nyregion/10injured.html






Op-Ed Contributor

On Nov. 4, Remember 9/11


September 9, 2008
The New York Times



THE next president must do one thing, and one thing only, if he is to be judged a success: He must prevent Al Qaeda, or a Qaeda imitator, from gaining control of a nuclear device and detonating it in America. Everything else — Fannie Mae, health care reform, energy independence, the budget shortfall in Wasilla, Alaska — is commentary. The nuclear destruction of Lower Manhattan, or downtown Washington, would cause the deaths of thousands, or hundreds of thousands; a catastrophic depression; the reversal of globalization; a permanent climate of fear in the West; and the comprehensive repudiation of America’s culture of civil liberties.

Many proliferation experts I have spoken to judge the chance of such a detonation to be as high as 50 percent in the next 10 years. I am an optimist, so I put the chance at 10 percent to 20 percent. Only technical complications prevent Al Qaeda from executing a nuclear attack today. The hard part is acquiring fissile material; an easier part is the smuggling itself (as the saying goes, one way to bring nuclear weapon components into America would be to hide them inside shipments of cocaine).

We live, seven years after 9/11, in the age of the super-empowered, eschatologically minded terrorist. He is motivated by revolutionary and theological concerns rather than by nationalist grievances, and he is adept at manipulating technology against its Western innovators. In the cold war, the Soviet Union had the technical ability to eliminate America many times over, but was restrained by rational self-interest, by innate conservatism, and, perhaps, by an understanding of the horror of world-ending nuclear war. Though Al Qaeda cannot destroy the world, it will destroy what it can, when it can.

That is why it was so disconcerting to hear Barack Obama, on the ABC program “Nightline” in June, commend the virtues of the federal response to the first World Trade Center attack, in 1993. “We were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial,” he said. “They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.”

This is entirely true, and yet there is no better example of why law enforcement is inadequate to the demands of effective counterterrorism today than the prosecution of the 1993 bombers. The capture and conviction of the terrorists were perfectly executed; the F.B.I. reached all the way to Pakistan to catch the plot’s mastermind, Ramzi Yousef, who is today thoroughly incapacitated at the federal “supermax” prison in Colorado.

And yet, the World Trade Center is gone. Eight years after the first attempt, Ramzi Yousef’s uncle, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, organized a more successful attack. The successful prosecution of the original bombers lulled the country into a counterfeit calm. Law enforcement was obviously unable to prevent the second World Trade Center attack; we must assume, for the country’s sake, that it is also unready for the gathering conspiracies of today, ones we must believe involve non-conventional weapons.

In my conversations with Senator Obama, he seems to understand the menace — early last year, even while trying to secure the support of his party’s left wing, he told me the possibility of a terrorist group obtaining a nuclear weapon was “the No. 1 threat” facing America. But does he understand that this threat cannot be neutralized mainly by law enforcement; that it must be anticipated by intelligence agencies, and eradicated by the military? The paramount goal is not prosecution, but pre-emption.

Did I say “pre-emption”? The doctrine that shall not be named? The Bush administration did the nation no service by pre-empting an Iraqi weapons-of-mass-destruction program that no longer existed in any meaningful way. The danger, of course, is in the ever-swinging pendulum, whose movement could lead a Democratic president to flinch when presented with intelligence (“intelligence” often being a euphemism for “Mr. President, we really don’t know exactly what’s going on, but ...”) that a ship, or a port, or a nuclear plant faces an imminent, or semi-imminent threat.

All this is not to say that Mr. Obama resembles the squashy caricature drawn by his opponents. He is actually constructively two-minded on the issue. He caught grief for proposing unilateral action against targets in Pakistan, which now appears to be Bush administration policy. And there is spine in his language, sometimes too much. In his convention speech, he said, “McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the gates of Hell — but he won’t even go to the cave where he lives.” I’m still not sure what this means, but it’s very muscular.

Barack Obama has also made useful proposals on nuclear matters, promising to secure the world’s loose fissile material in his first term. This is an over-idealistic goal, as it would require the cooperation of such countries as North Korea, Iran, Pakistan and, especially, Russia (though he’s better positioned to engage Russia on this subject than is the hectoring John McCain).

There is no one in Washington more sincerely gripped by the issue than John McCain, but he comes with his own set of problems on matters of counterterrorism, not least of which is his rhetorical excess, and his strange decision, given his (justifiable) preoccupation with the issue, to choose as his running mate the figurehead commander of the Alaska National Guard. Though Islamist terrorism might in fact be the “transcendent” threat of our time, as Senator McCain says, it is tactically imprudent to build up the already huge egos of our enemies, to feed the Islamist hope that they are, indeed, engaged in a clash of civilizations.

Years ago, in pre-9/11 Afghanistan, a leader of the Taliban’s morals police, the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Suppression of Vice, asked me to describe just how much the Taliban frightened Bill Clinton. I told him not at all. In fact, Mr. Clinton was probably not frightened enough, but I wasn’t going to let on to that. Watching this man’s crest fall was a rare pleasure in Kandahar.

Senator McCain has other problems worth noting: an excess of incaution, perhaps, about pre-emption (in our conversations, the various surprises associated with the Iraq invasion had not caused him to calibrate at all his views on anticipatory defense); and a seeming inability, or unwillingness, to differentiate among Islamist terrorist groups.

I asked him not long ago whether he believes that America conflates its problem with Iran with Israel’s Iran problem. He said Israel’s existence is an American moral and national-security imperative. “I think these terrorist organizations that [Iran] sponsors, Hamas and the others, are also bent, at least long-term, on the destruction of the United States of America,” he added. “Iraq is a central battleground. Because these Shiite militias are sending in these special groups, as they call them ... to remove U.S. influence and to drive us out of Iraq.”

There are many different things taking place inside his answer, not all of which are connected. Hamas is a disgraceful group, ideologically opposed to most of what America represents, but it is unconnected to the fight against Shiite militias. These conflations, among other things, preclude serious conversation about ideology and motivation.

So what we have is one presidential candidate who still seems to be casting about for an overarching strategy; and another one who is not entirely sure whom we’re fighting. We can hope against hope that in the next two months, these two men will discuss, in a deliberative and encompassing way, the best ways to protect America from what some nonproliferation experts believe is a nearly inevitable attack. We should, in fact, demand that this conversation take place, because nothing else matters.

Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, is the author of “Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror.”

    On Nov. 4, Remember 9/11, NYT, 9.9.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/09/opinion/09goldberg.html?ref=opinion






Memo From Cairo

9/11 Rumors That Become Conventional Wisdom


September 9, 2008
The New York Times


CAIRO — Seven years later, it remains conventional wisdom here that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda could not have been solely responsible for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and that the United States and Israel had to have been involved in their planning, if not their execution, too.

This is not the conclusion of a scientific survey, but it is what routinely comes up in conversations around the region — in a shopping mall in Dubai, in a park in Algiers, in a cafe in Riyadh and all over Cairo.

“Look, I don’t believe what your governments and press say. It just can’t be true,” said Ahmed Issab, 26, a Syrian engineer who lives and works in the United Arab Emirates. “Why would they tell the truth? I think the U.S. organized this so that they had an excuse to invade Iraq for the oil.”

It is easy for Americans to dismiss such thinking as bizarre. But that would miss a point that people in this part of the world think Western leaders, especially in Washington, need to understand: That such ideas persist represents the first failure in the fight against terrorism — the inability to convince people here that the United States is, indeed, waging a campaign against terrorism, not a crusade against Muslims.

“The United States should be concerned because in order to tell people that there is a real evil, they too have to believe it in order to help you,” said Mushairy al-Thaidy, a columnist in the Saudi-owned regional newspaper Asharq al Awsat. “Otherwise, it will diminish your ability to fight terrorism. It is not the kind of battle you can fight on your own; it is a collective battle.”

There were many reasons people here said they believed that the attacks of 9/11 were part of a conspiracy against Muslims. Some had nothing to do with Western actions, and some had everything to do with Western policies.

Again and again, people said they simply did not believe that a group of Arabs — like themselves — could possibly have waged such a successful operation against a superpower like the United States. But they also said that Washington’s post-9/11 foreign policy proved that the United States and Israel were behind the attacks, especially with the invasion of Iraq.

“Maybe people who executed the operation were Arabs, but the brains? No way,” said Mohammed Ibrahim, 36, a clothing-store owner in the Bulaq neighborhood of Cairo. “It was organized by other people, the United States or the Israelis.”

The rumors that spread shortly after 9/11 have been passed on so often that people no longer know where or when they first heard them. At this point, they have heard them so often, even on television, that they think they must be true.

First among these is that Jews did not go to work at the World Trade Center on that day. Asked how Jews might have been notified to stay home, or how they kept it a secret from co-workers, people here wave off the questions because they clash with their bedrock conviction that Jews are behind many of their troubles and that Western Jews will go to any length to protect Israel.

“Why is it that on 9/11, the Jews didn’t go to work in the building,” said Ahmed Saied, 25, who works in Cairo as a driver for a lawyer. “Everybody knows this. I saw it on TV, and a lot of people talk about this.”

Zein al-Abdin, 42, an electrician, who was drinking tea and chain-smoking cheap Cleopatra cigarettes in Al Shahat, a cafe in Bulaq, grew more and more animated as he laid out his thinking about what happened on Sept. 11.

“What matters is we think it was an attack against Arabs,” he said of the passenger planes crashing into American targets. “Why is it that they never caught him, bin Laden? How can they not know where he is when they know everything? They don’t catch him because he hasn’t done it. What happened in Iraq confirms that it has nothing to do with bin Laden or Qaeda. They went against Arabs and against Islam to serve Israel, that’s why.”

There is a reason so many people here talk with casual certainty — and no embarrassment — about the United States attacking itself to have a reason to go after Arabs and help Israel. It is a reflection of how they view government leaders, not just in Washington, but here in Egypt and throughout the Middle East. They do not believe them. The state-owned media are also distrusted. Therefore, they think that if the government is insisting that bin Laden was behind it, he must not have been.

“Mubarak says whatever the Americans want him to say, and he’s lying for them, of course,” Mr. Ibrahim said of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president.

Americans might better understand the region, experts here said, if they simply listen to what people are saying — and try to understand why — rather than taking offense. The broad view here is that even before Sept. 11, the United States was not a fair broker in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that it then capitalized on the attacks to buttress Israel and undermine the Muslim Arab world.

The single greatest proof, in most people’s eyes, was the invasion of Iraq. Trying to convince people here that it was not a quest for oil or a war on Muslims is like convincing many Americans that it was, and that the 9/11 attacks were the first step.

“It is the result of widespread mistrust, and the belief among Arabs and Muslims that the United States has a prejudice against them,” said Wahid Abdel Meguid, deputy director of the government-financed Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, the nation’s premier research center. “So they never think the United States is well intentioned, and they always feel that whatever it does has something behind it.”

Hisham Abbas, 22, studies tourism at Cairo University and hopes one day to work with foreigners for a living. But he does not give it a second thought when asked about Sept. 11. He said it made no sense at all that Mr. bin Laden could have carried out such an attack from Afghanistan. And like everyone else interviewed, he saw the events of the last seven years as proof positive that it was all a United States plan to go after Muslims.

“There are Arabs who hate America, a lot of them, but this is too much,” Mr. Abbas said as he fidgeted with his cellphone. “And look at what happened after this — the Americans invaded two Muslim countries. They used 9/11 as an excuse and went to Iraq. They killed Saddam, tortured people. How can you trust them?”

Nadim Audi contributed reporting.

    9/11 Rumors That Become Conventional Wisdom, NYT, 9.9.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/09/world/africa/09cairo.html?hp






Bush Seeks to Affirm a Continuing War on Terror


August 30, 2008
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — Tucked deep into a recent proposal from the Bush administration is a provision that has received almost no public attention, yet in many ways captures one of President Bush’s defining legacies: an affirmation that the United States is still at war with Al Qaeda.

Seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Bush’s advisers assert that many Americans may have forgotten that. So they want Congress to say so and “acknowledge again and explicitly that this nation remains engaged in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated organizations, who have already proclaimed themselves at war with us and who are dedicated to the slaughter of Americans.”

The language, part of a proposal for hearing legal appeals from detainees at the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, goes beyond political symbolism. Echoing a measure that Congress passed just days after the Sept. 11 attacks, it carries significant legal and public policy implications for Mr. Bush, and potentially his successor, to claim the imprimatur of Congress to use the tools of war, including detention, interrogation and surveillance, against the enemy, legal and political analysts say.

Some lawmakers are concerned that the administration’s effort to declare anew a war footing is an 11th-hour maneuver to re-establish its broad interpretation of the president’s wartime powers, even in the face of challenges from the Supreme Court and Congress.

The proposal is also the latest step that the administration, in its waning months, has taken to make permanent important aspects of its “long war” against terrorism. From a new wiretapping law approved by Congress to a rewriting of intelligence procedures and F.B.I. investigative techniques, the administration is moving to institutionalize by law, regulation or order a wide variety of antiterrorism tactics.

“This seems like a final push by the administration before they go out the door,” said Suzanne Spaulding, a former lawyer for the Central Intelligence Agency and an expert on national security law. The cumulative effect of the actions, Ms. Spaulding said, is to “put the onus on the next administration” — particularly a Barack Obama administration — to justify undoing what Mr. Bush has done.

It is uncertain whether Congress will take the administration up on its request. Some Republicans have already embraced the idea, with Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, introducing a measure almost identical to the administration’s proposal. “Since 9/11,” Mr. Smith said, “we have been at war with an unconventional enemy whose primary goal is to kill innocent Americans.”

In the midst of an election season, the language represents a political challenge of sorts to the administration’s critics. While many Democrats say they are wary of Mr. Bush’s claims to presidential power, they may be even more nervous about casting a vote against a measure that affirms the country’s war against terrorism. They see the administration’s effort to force the issue as little more than a political ploy.

Mr. Bush “is trying to stir up again the politics of fear by reminding people of something they haven’t really forgotten: that we are engaged in serious armed conflict with Al Qaeda,” said Laurence H. Tribe, a constitutional scholar at Harvard and legal adviser to Mr. Obama. “But the question is, Where is that conflict to be waged, and by what means.”

With violence rising in Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden still at large, there are ample signs of the United States’ continued battles with terrorism. But Mr. Bush and his advisers say that seven years without an attack has lulled many Americans.

“As Sept. 11, 2001, recedes into the past, there are some people who have come to think of it as kind of a singular event and of there being nothing else out there,” Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey told House lawmakers in July. “In a way, we are the victims of our own success, our own success being that another attack has been prevented.”

Mr. Mukasey laid out the administration’s thinking in a July 21 speech to a conservative Washington policy institute in response to yet another rebuke on presidential powers by the Supreme Court: its ruling that prisoners at Guantánamo Bay , were entitled to habeas corpus rights to contest their detentions in court.

The administration wants Congress to set out a narrow framework for those prisoner appeals. But the administration’s six-point proposal goes further. It includes not only the broad proclamation of a continued “armed conflict with Al Qaeda,” but also the desire for Congress to “reaffirm that for the duration of the conflict the United States may detain as enemy combatants those who have engaged in hostilities or purposefully supported Al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated organizations.”

That broad language hints at why Democrats, and some Republicans, worry about the consequences. It could, they say, provide the legal framework for Mr. Bush and his successor to assert once again the president’s broad interpretation of the commander in chief’s wartime powers, powers that Justice Department lawyers secretly used to justify the indefinite detention of terrorist suspects and the National Security Agency’s wiretapping of Americans without court orders.

The language recalls a resolution, known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed by Congress on Sept. 14, 2001. It authorized the president to “use all necessary and appropriate force” against those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks to prevent future strikes. That authorization, still in effect, was initially viewed by many members of Congress who voted for it as the go-ahead for the administration to invade Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban, which had given sanctuary to Mr. bin Laden.

But the military authorization became the secret legal basis for some of the administration’s most controversial legal tactics, including the wiretapping program, and that still gnaws at some members of Congress.

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said he wanted to make sure the Bush administration — or a future president — did not use that declaration as “another far-fetched interpretation” to evade the law, the way he believes Mr. Bush and aides like Alberto R. Gonzales, the former attorney general, did in using the wiretapping program to avoid the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

“I don’t want to face another situation where we had the Sept. 14 resolution and then Attorney General Gonzales claimed that that was authorization to violate FISA,” Mr. Specter said.

For Bush critics like Bruce Fein, a Justice Department official in the Reagan administration, the answer is simple: do not give the administration the wartime language it seeks.

“I do not believe that we are in a state of war whatsoever,” Mr. Fein said. “We have an odious opponent that the criminal justice system is able to identify and indict and convict. They’re not a goliath. Don’t treat them that way.”

    Bush Seeks to Affirm a Continuing War on Terror, NYT, 30.8.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/30/washington/30terror.html?hp






Anthrax Evidence Is Said to Be Circumstantial


August 4, 2008
The New York Times


The evidence amassed by F.B.I. investigators against Dr. Bruce E. Ivins, the Army scientist who killed himself last week after learning that he was likely to be charged in the anthrax letter attacks of 2001, was largely circumstantial, and a grand jury in Washington was planning to hear several more weeks of testimony before issuing an indictment, a person who has been briefed on the investigation said on Sunday.

While genetic analysis had linked the anthrax letters to a supply of the deadly bacterium in Dr. Ivins’s laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md., at least 10 people had access to the flask containing that anthrax, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation also have no evidence proving that Dr. Ivins visited New Jersey on the dates in September and October 2001 when investigators believe the letters were sent from a Princeton mailbox, the source said.

The source acknowledged that there might be some elements of the evidence of which he was unaware. And while he characterized what he did know about as “damning,” he said that instead of irrefutable proof, investigators had an array of indirect evidence that they argue strongly implicates Dr. Ivins in the attacks, which killed 5 people and sickened 17 others.

That evidence includes tracing the prestamped envelopes used in the attacks to stock sold in three Maryland post offices, including one in Frederick, frequented by Dr. Ivins, who had long rented a post office box there under an assumed name, the source said. The evidence also includes records of the scientist’s extensive after-hours use of his lab at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases around the time the letters were mailed, the source said.

In an indication that investigators were still trying to strengthen their case, F.B.I. agents took two public computers from the downtown public library in Frederick last week, The Frederick News-Post reported.

One law enforcement official said on Sunday that evidence against Dr. Ivins might be made public as early as Wednesday, if the bureau could persuade a federal judge to unseal the evidence and if agents could brief survivors of the anthrax attacks and family members of those who died.

Paul F. Kemp, a lawyer for Dr. Ivins who maintains his client’s innocence, declined to comment for the record on Sunday on the alleged evidence.

The stakes for the beleaguered F.B.I. and its troubled investigation, now in its seventh year, could hardly be higher.

The bureau, having recently paid off one wrongly singled-out researcher, Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, now stands accused by Dr. Ivins’s lawyer and some of his colleagues of hounding an innocent man to suicide. Only by making public a powerful case that Dr. Ivins was behind the letters can the F.B.I. begin to redeem itself, members of Congress say and some bureau officials admit privately.

Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the former Democratic leader of the Senate and one target of the deadly letters, said on Sunday that he had long had grave doubts about the investigation.

“From the very beginning, I’ve had real concerns about the quality of the investigation,” Mr. Daschle said on Fox News Sunday.

“Given the fact that they already paid somebody else $5 million for the mistakes they must have made gives you some indication of the overall caliber and quality of the investigation,” Mr. Daschle added. He was referring to the government’s settlement in June with Dr. Hatfill, which pays him $2.825 million plus $150,000 a year for life to compensate him for what the F.B.I. now acknowledges was a devastating focus for years on the wrong man.

Mr. Daschle said he did not know whether the new focus on Dr. Ivins was “just another false track.” He added, “We don’t know, and they aren’t telling us.”

John Miller, an F.B.I. assistant director, declined on Sunday to address criticism of the investigation, one of the largest and most costly in bureau history.

“As soon as the legal constraints barring disclosure are removed, we will make public as much information as possible,” Mr. Miller said in a statement. “We will do that at one time, in one place. We will do that after those who were injured and the families of those who died are briefed, which is only appropriate.”

He added, “I don’t believe it will be helpful to respond piecemeal to any judgments made by anyone before they know a fuller set of facts.”

The unsealed evidence would likely include affidavits for search warrants laying out the bureau’s reasons for focusing on Dr. Ivins, including summaries of scientific evidence that investigators consider central to their case. Dr. Ivins’s house near the gates to Fort Detrick was the subject of an extensive search by F.B.I. agents last Nov. 1, and bureau surveillance vehicles openly followed the scientist for about a year, according to people who knew him.

Dr. Ivins, 62, had acted strangely in the weeks before his death, and he was hospitalized from about July 10 to July 23 after associates concluded that he might be a danger to himself or others. Jean C. Duley, a social worker who had treated him in group therapy, sought a restraining order against him. He had said he expected to be charged with “five capital murders,” she said, and had threatened to kill colleagues and himself.

Ms. Duley did not say that Dr. Ivins had confessed to the anthrax attacks, and the scientist left no suicide note, according to an official briefed on the investigation.

Critics say the Hatfill settlement was the culmination of a pattern of blunders in the investigation. The F.B.I. and the United States Postal Inspection Service have thrown a huge amount of resources into the hunt for the anthrax mailer, whose letters dislodged members of Congress and Supreme Court justices from contaminated buildings, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up.

Yet from the beginning, public glimpses of the investigators’ work prompted serious questions. “What has bothered me is the unscientific, bumbling approach of our investigators,” said Representative Rush D. Holt, a Democrat and physicist whose New Jersey district includes the contaminated Princeton mailbox.

Mr. Holt said in a recent interview that his first doubts came after anthrax was found in his Congressional office in October 2001 but investigators never returned to conduct systematic testing to trace the path of the anthrax spores.

After that, he said, when contamination at a New Jersey postal processing center indicated that the letters had been mailed on one of a limited number of routes, it took investigators seven months to test several hundred mailboxes and identify the source.

“Within two days they could have dispatched 50 people to wipe all those mailboxes,” Mr. Holt said. He wrote to Robert S. Mueller III, the F.B.I. director, on Friday to ask that he testify to Congress about the investigation as soon as it is closed.

When investigators questioned people around the Princeton mailbox about whether they had seen a suspect there, they showed passers-by photos of only Dr. Hatfill, according to local residents who were questioned. Criminologists said that only by showing photos of a number of people could investigators have confidence in an eyewitness identification of Dr. Hatfill or any other suspect.

Some experts also questioned the F.B.I.’s use of bloodhounds from local police departments to try to trace a scent from the recovered letters to suspects’ homes, including that of Dr. Hatfill.

Law enforcement sources at the time said the bloodhounds’ reactions at Dr. Hatfill’s apartment were one reason for the F.B.I.’s intense focus on him. But independent bloodhound handlers said it was highly unlikely that a useful scent could be obtained from letters that might have been handled by the perpetrator with gloves, had rubbed against thousands of other scents in the mail and then were irradiated to kill the dangerous spores.

    Anthrax Evidence Is Said to Be Circumstantial, NYT, 4.8.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/04/us/04anthrax.html?hp






Terror Trial Nears End as Defense Rests Case


August 2, 2008
The New York Times


GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — Defense lawyers for Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s former driver, rested their case on Friday after less than two days, bringing testimony to a close in the first American war crimes trial since World War II.

The lawyers ended their case with written submissions from two former senior operatives of Al Qaeda held here, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described architect of the 2001 attacks. The statements were intended to bolster the claim that Mr. Hamdan was only a low-level employee with no involvement in terrorism.

In his submission, Mr. Mohammed, who described himself as “the executive director of 9/11,” said Mr. Hamdan, a Yemeni with a fourth-grade education, was too “primitive” to take part in planning terrorism attacks.

“He was not fit to plan or execute,” Mr. Mohammed said in answers to questions from Mr. Hamdan’s lawyers. “But he is fit to change trucks’ tires, change oil filters, wash and clean cars.”

Closing statements are scheduled for Monday, and the panel of six military officers hearing the case could begin deliberations that day.

Mr. Hamdan is charged with providing material support for terrorism and conspiracy. He faces a maximum sentence of life.

Mr. Hamdan’s lawyers presented only a brief defense, some of it in a courtroom closed because of national security rules. But during the two-week trial they tried to suggest, by cross-examining prosecution witnesses, that their client was little more than a low-wage worker.

Mr. Mohammed and Walid bin Attash, a second accused former senior Qaeda operative, answered questions submitted by defense lawyers, but said they would not voluntarily appear at the military tribunal. They are being held in the detention camp at the United States Navy base here awaiting trial on charges of coordinating the 2001 attacks.

In his responses, Mr. bin Attash, 30, said Mr. Hamdan “did not play any role in any planning.” Mr. bin Attash was a veteran mujahedeen fighter who lost part of his right leg in a battlefield accident in 1997.

American officials say that in addition to a role as a coordinator of the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. bin Attash was the top deputy of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the chief planner of the attack on the American destroyer Cole in 2000 that killed 17 sailors.

Mr. Mohammed’s comments included a familiar tone of derision toward Americans. He wrote that anyone who thought that everyone affiliated with Al Qaeda was involved in terror attacks “is a fool.”

He portrayed Al Qaeda as a network that includes professionals as well as workers like cooks and drivers and has business operations in many parts of the world. He suggested that Americans’ understanding of the organization was simplistic.

Mr. Mohammed’s statement did not spare the feelings of Mr. Hamdan. According to the English translation of his remarks in Arabic, Mr. Mohammed wrote that Mr. Hamdan “was not a soldier, he was a driver. His nature was more primitive (Bedouin).” He added that Mr. Hamdan was only “looking for Osama bin Laden’s money.”

Because of security restrictions, the government had for many months barred defense lawyers from meeting with former senior Qaeda leaders held here. The written answers filed Friday were the product of a complex arrangement ordered by the military judge that gave the lawyers limited access to detainees who could back up Mr. Hamdan’s claim that he was not involved in terrorism.

The defense lawyers did not say whether they believed that the panel would be persuaded by the detainees’ descriptions or angered by the comments of the two men who acknowledged close ties Mr. bin Laden.

    Terror Trial Nears End as Defense Rests Case, NYT, 2.8.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/02/us/02gitmo.html?hp






For Some Close to the Anthrax Scare, Unwelcome Memories


August 2, 2008
The New York Times


The anthrax-laced letters that unleashed a second wave of dread after the Sept. 11 attacks struck what seemed to be an arbitrary and unlikely list of victims.

A hospital worker in the Bronx, a 94-year-old woman in Connecticut, a photo editor in Florida and two postal workers in the nation’s capital all fell ill and died. The infant son of a producer at ABC News in Manhattan became ill but survived, as did several postal workers in New Jersey.

On Friday, many people revisited that fearful time after the news that a military scientist whom the authorities suspected of mailing the anthrax letters had killed himself. The scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, 62, apparently took his own life with a prescription painkiller as investigators prepared to file charges against him.

Those close to the people and locations contaminated by the anthrax mailings found minor solace in the possibility that the culprit had been found. Others, recalling the wrongful accusations previously levied against another scientist, stopped short of breathing a sigh of relief. For many, the developments served only as a reminder of the nation’s vulnerability.

Linda Ryan, 56, a nurse, and her son, Alexander, then 5, had been in the post office in Hamilton Township, N.J., that four contaminated letters passed through. Both had been prescribed antibiotics, she said.

“I was scared for my son and for my safety,” she said during a stop at the same post office on Friday. “We would come here every day to pick up our mail. After that, everything you’ve done is changed.”

In tiny Oxford, Conn., friends and family of Ottilie W. Lundgren, the 94-year-old woman killed by anthrax spores, said the news of Dr. Ivins’s death brought back a vestige of the pain they felt after she died, in November 2001.

“I think of her often, and this is going to bring a lot of it back to me,” said Mrs. Lundgren’s niece, Shirley Davis, 78, of Woodbury, who had been her aunt’s primary caretaker. “It has been painful. But I’m hoping this does bring some closure.”

The first letters containing anthrax were sent to media outlets in Manhattan and Florida. Congressional offices in Washington were next. All bore postmarks from Trenton, N.J., and had come through the Hamilton Township postal service distribution center nearby, where 30,000 pieces of mail can be processed in an hour.

The machines can whisk letters along so quickly that they are often shrouded in a fog formed by minuscule shreds of envelopes. Investigators came to believe that it was in that swirl that a tiny amount of anthrax addressed to a few locations spread to infect others.

Letters that were tainted in Hamilton are believed to have infected workers at a postal facility in Washington, D.C, and contaminated postal equipment in Manhattan.

“It was a wild time,” said Raymond Canty, 54, a mail sorter at the Morgan Station center in Manhattan, where the contaminated equipment was found. “Many of us in here were afraid to come to work. For that whole week or two, it was a touch-and-go situation.”

Mr. Canty said he did not accept the notion that one man was responsible for the anthrax attacks. “No person — I don’t think — no one guy was behind the whole thing,” he said.

His colleagues in Manhattan and in the Washington area echoed that sentiment.

David R. Hose, who supervised people handling mail for the State Department in Sterling, Va., became acutely ill after inhaling anthrax spores in 2001. He also expressed doubts.

“I don’t believe he did it,” said Mr. Hose, 65. “It’s too easy to blame someone who’s dead. If I were a scientist and had the ability to get poisons at Fort Detrick, I don’t think I’d be using Tylenol to kill myself. I’d want to die a lot quicker."

Investigators had also linked the death from anthrax exposure of Kathy T. Nguyen, 61, a hospital worker from the Bronx, to the Hamilton Township hub. One letter processed in the building at almost the same moment as an anthrax-laced letter addressed to Senator Patrick J. Leahy was traced to Ms. Nguyen’s neighborhood.

Leonida German, 35, recalled the confusion that she and other neighbors of Ms. Nguyen’s felt when they learned how she had died.

“We did not know how you could get an infection,” she said. “She was so clean, like a clean freak. You had to even take off your shoes to go into her apartment. That’s why we were shocked when she got the anthrax.”

No one died in New Jersey, but six people fell ill with anthrax, including four workers inside the Hamilton unit, which was closed for more than three years.

Glen Gilmore, who as mayor of Hamilton Township worked with the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital to provide antibiotics to local residents, said he would take no comfort if the government could prove that a single man was able to “terrorize our nation” with a tiny amount of anthrax.

“I certainly hope that this marks the conclusion of this case,” said Mr. Gilmore, who left office last year. “But even if it turns out that it’s true, it’s no reason to lessen our vigilance.”

David Giambusso, Robert Pear, Marc Santora, Nate Schweber and Paul Von Zielbauer contributed reporting.

    For Some Close to the Anthrax Scare, Unwelcome Memories, NYT, 2.8.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/02/washington/02families.html






A Onetime ‘Person of Interest’ Moves a Step Closer to Public Exoneration


August 2, 2008
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — Having been named a “person of interest” in the investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks, the former Army scientist Steven J. Hatfill has tried for six years to clear his name, both inside court and out.

Now the disclosure that a former colleague died this week, apparently by suicide, just as investigators prepared to seek his indictment in the case has provided the clearest indication yet that Dr. Hatfill may finally achieve his goal.

The Justice Department, which has not publicly exonerated Dr. Hatfill, would not comment about the case on Friday. But all indications are that investigators have lost interest in him.

A lawyer familiar with the investigation of the former colleague, Bruce E. Ivins, who like Dr. Hatfill worked at the Army’s biodefense laboratories at Fort Detrick, Md., said the expectation had been that Dr. Ivins would be indicted alone. But he died Tuesday after taking an overdose of prescription painkillers.

Dr. Hatfill, now 54, spent years in the glare of official suspicion after someone mailed envelopes containing anthrax powder to government officials and news organizations in late 2001.

Those suspicions became public in mid-2002, when F.B.I. agents wearing biohazard suits were shown on television raiding Dr. Hatfill’s apartment. John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, later described Dr. Hatfill as a “person of interest” in the investigation.

Dr. Hatfill held a tearful news conference in August 2002 where he denied any involvement in the attacks and contended that he had been smeared by F.B.I. leaks and irresponsible news reporting. But he would spend years more under scrutiny.

He accused investigators of alerting the news media in advance to the search of his home, and later of conducting constant surveillance of him. His home phone was wiretapped, he said, and agents followed him wherever he went.

Five years ago in the Georgetown section of Washington, he approached the car of an F.B.I. agent who had been trailing him, wanting to take the agent’s picture. The agent drove off, and his car ran over Dr. Hatfill’s foot. The police later issued a ticket to Dr. Hatfill for “walking to create a hazard,” and he was fined $5. No ticket was given the agent.

Declaring that his life was being destroyed by harassment, Dr. Hatfill went to court to try to clear his name.

He filed a lawsuit against the government contending that officials had leaked information about him in violation of the Privacy Act. As part of that case, the court subpoenaed reporters who had quoted anonymous law enforcement officials and tried to force them to disclose those sources.

In February, the judge in the case, Reggie B. Walton, found Toni Locy, a former reporter for USA Today, in contempt of court after Ms. Locy said she could not recall the sources of information in several articles she had written.

“There’s not a scintilla of evidence to suggest Dr. Hatfill had anything to do with it,” Judge Walton said at the time, yet the public notoriety has “destroyed his life.”

Ms. Locy appealed the decision, but Dr. Hatfill’s lawyers dropped their demands for her testimony after the government agreed in June to pay him $2.825 million plus a 20-year annual annuity of $150,000 to settle the lawsuit.

Dr. Hatfill also waged a legal battle against news organizations, saying articles suggesting that he might have been behind the anthrax mailings had defamed him.

One of his suits was against The New York Times and its Op-Ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristof. Mr. Kristof was later dropped as a defendant, and the suit against The Times was dismissed. In July, a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court unanimously upheld the dismissal, though Dr. Hatfill has asked the full court to rehear the case.

David E. McCraw, assistant general counsel of The New York Times Company, declined to comment Friday on the death of Dr. Ivins or its effect on the litigation. Mr. Kristof, who is on vacation and out of cellphone range, could not be reached for comment.

Dr. Hatfill also sued Vanity Fair for publishing an article about the case by Donald Foster, along with Reader’s Digest, which published a condensed version. As part of a 2007 settlement, other terms of which were confidential, the defendants issued a statement retracting any implication that Dr. Hatfill had been behind the attacks.

Thomas G. Connolly, a lawyer for Dr. Hatfill, said Friday that he had “nothing at this point” to say about the case. Mr. Connolly said he would wait until the F.B.I., having first briefed the families of the anthrax attacks’ victims, released more information about its investigation of Dr. Ivins.

“Out of respect for the victims’ families, we’re not going to make any comments until the families are briefed,” Mr. Connolly said.

Dr. Hatfill, he added, is not interested in speaking directly with reporters about the case.

Scott Shane contributed reporting.

    A Onetime ‘Person of Interest’ Moves a Step Closer to Public Exoneration, NYT, 2.8.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/02/us/02hatfill.html






Anthrax Suspect’s Death Is Dark End for a Family Man


August 2, 2008
The New York Times


FREDERICK, Md. — Bruce E. Ivins arrived last month for a group counseling session at a psychiatric center here in his hometown with a startling announcement: Facing the prospect of murder charges, he had bought a bulletproof vest and a gun as he contemplated killing his co-workers at the nearby Army research laboratory.

“He was going to go out in a blaze of glory, that he was going to take everybody out with him,” said a social worker in a transcript of a hearing at which she sought a restraining order against Dr. Ivins after his threats.

The ranting represented the final stages of psychological decline by Dr. Ivins that ended when he took his life this week, as it became clear that he was a suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

For more than three decades, Dr. Ivins, 62, had worked with some of the world’s most dangerous pathogens and viruses, trying to find cures in case they might be used as a weapon. Now he was a suspect in the nation’s worst biological attack.

To some of his longtime colleagues and neighbors, it was a startling and inexplicable turn of events for a churchgoing, family-oriented germ researcher known for his jolly disposition — the guy who did a juggling act at community events and composed satiric ballads he played on guitar or piano to departing co-workers.

“He did not seem to have any particular grudges or idiosyncrasies,” said Kenneth W. Hedlund, a retired physician who once worked alongside Dr. Ivins at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Frederick. “He was the last person you would have suspected to be involved in something like this.”

But to some anthrax experts, while reserving judgment on Dr. Ivins’s case, his identification as a suspect fit a pattern they had suspected might explain the crime: an insider wanting to draw attention to biodefense.

Dr. Ivins, the son of a pharmacist from Lebanon, Ohio, who held a doctorate in microbiology from University of Cincinnati, spent his entire career at the elite, Army-run laboratory that conducted high-security experiments into lethal substances like anthrax and Ebola.

He turned his attention to anthrax — putting aside research on Legionnaire’s disease and cholera — after the 1979 anthrax outbreak in the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk, which killed at least 64 after an accidental release at a military facility, said Dr. Hedlund, who worked with Dr. Ivins at the time.

The work became even more intense in the aftermath of the 2001 anthrax attack, as the field grew tremendously, with billions of dollars in new federal support for research on anthrax and other potential biological weapons and to buy new drugs or vaccines to handle a possible future attack.

Dr. Ivins was among the scientists who benefited from this surge, as 14 of the 15 academic papers he published since late 2001 were focused on possible anthrax treatments or vaccines, comparing the effectiveness of different formulations. He even worked on the investigation of the anthrax attacks, although this meant that he, like other scientists at the Army’s defensive biological laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md., was scrutinized as a possible suspect.

Dr. Ivins and his wife, Diane Ivins, raised two children in a modest Cape Cod home in a post-World War II neighborhood right outside Fort Detrick, and he could walk to work.

He was active in the community, volunteering with the Red Cross and serving as the musician at his Roman Catholic church. His showed off his music skills at work, too, playing songs he had written about friends who were moving to new jobs.

But as investigators intensified their focus on Dr. Ivins, his life began to come apart.

Local police records show unusual calls this past spring, including the report of an “unconscious male” in March. For at least six months of this year, he had attended group counseling sessions at a psychiatric center and had apparently been seeing a psychiatrist.

W. Russell Byrne, a former colleague of Dr. Ivins at the biodefense laboratory, criticized federal agents as harassing the germ scientist and his family.

“They searched his house twice and his computer once,” he said in an interview. “We all felt powerless to stop it.”

He said Dr. Ivins was recently escorted away from the laboratory by the authorities and “disgraced in a place he spent his whole career.”

“That was so humiliating,” he said. “It’s hard to believe.”

In court records, filed after Dr. Ivins discussed his plans to kill his co-workers, a social worker who led the sessions, Jean Duley, said that Dr. Ivins’s psychiatrist had “called him homicidal, sociopathic with clear intentions.” She went on to say that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was looking at Dr. Ivins and that he would soon be charged with five murders — the same number of fatalities in the anthrax attacks.

“He is a revenge killer,” Ms. Duley told a Maryland District Court judge in Frederick as she sought a restraining order against Dr. Ivins. “When he feels that he has been slighted, and especially towards women, he plots and actually tries to carry out revenge killings.”

After Dr. Ivins made the threats on July 9 about killing his co-workers, he was detained while at work and taken to a hospital before being transferred to a nearby psychiatric hospital. He was later released, but forbidden from going to Fort Detrick.

Ms. Duley said that Dr. Ivins had a history of making homicidal threats that dated to his college days. But several of Dr. Ivins’s co-workers said that while he clearly was devastated after he was singled out for possible prosecution, that does not mean he was involved in the attack.

The police had come to Dr. Ivins’s home in response to a call early on July 27 from the fire department for assistance; they found him unconscious on the bathroom floor. He was transported to the hospital, and died two days later.

His family has made no public statement about the investigation or about Dr. Ivins’s suicide. But his children both placed messages on their Facebook pages, saying goodbye to their father, hinting at the torment he went through in his final months.

“I will miss you Dad. I love you and I can’t wait to see you in Heaven,” his son, Andy Ivins, wrote. “Rest in peace. It’s finally over.”

Sarah Abruzzese reported from Frederick, and Eric Lipton from Washington. William J. Broad contributed reporting from New York.

    Anthrax Suspect’s Death Is Dark End for a Family Man, NYT, 2.8.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/02/us/02scientist.html?hp#






Anthrax Scientist Commits Suicide


August 1, 2008
Filed at 2:00 a.m. ET
The New York Times


WASHINGTON (AP) -- A top U.S. biodefense researcher apparently committed suicide just as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him in the anthrax mailings that traumatized the nation in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a published report.

The scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, 62, who worked for the past 18 years at the government's biodefense labs at Fort Detrick, Md., had been told about the impending prosecution, the Los Angeles Times reported for Friday editions. The laboratory has been at the center of the FBI's investigation of the anthrax attacks, which killed five people.

Ivins died Tuesday at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Maryland. The Times, quoting an unidentified colleague, said the scientist had taken a massive dose of a prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine.

Tom Ivins, a brother of the scientist, told The Associated Press that another of his brothers, Charles, told him Bruce had committed suicide.

A woman who answered the phone at Charles Ivins' home in Etowah, N.C., refused to wake him and declined to comment on his death. "This is a grieving time," she said.

A woman who answered the phone at Bruce Ivins' home in Frederick declined to comment.

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr and FBI Assistant Director John Miller declined to comment on the report.

Henry S. Heine, a scientist who had worked with Ivins on inhalation anthrax research at Fort Detrick, said he and others on their team have testified before a federal grand jury in Washington that has been investigating the anthrax mailings for more than a year.

Heine declined to comment on Ivins' death.

Norman Covert, a retired Fort Detrick spokesman who served with Ivins on an animal-care and protocol committee, said Ivins was "a very intent guy" at their meetings.

Ivins was the co-author of numerous anthrax studies, including one on a treatment for inhalation anthrax published in the July 7 issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

Just last month, the government exonerated another scientist at the Fort Detrick lab, Steven Hatfill, who had been identified by the FBI as a "person of interest" in the anthrax attacks. The government paid Hatfill $5.82 million to settle a lawsuit he filed against the Justice Department in which he claimed the department violated his privacy rights by speaking with reporters about the case.

The Times said federal investigators moved away from Hatfill and concluded Ivins was the culprit after FBI Director Robert Mueller changed leadership of the investigation in 2006. The new investigators instructed agents to re-examine leads and reconsider potential suspects. In the meantime, investigators made progress in analyzing anthrax powder recovered from letters addressed to two U.S. senators, according to the report.

Besides the five deaths, 17 people were sickened by anthrax that was mailed to lawmakers on Capitol Hill and members of the news media in New York and Florida just weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The victims included postal workers and others who came into contact with the anthrax.

In January 2002, the FBI doubled the reward for helping solve the case to $2.5 million, and by June officials said the agency was scrutinizing 20 to 30 scientists who might have had the knowledge and opportunity to send the anthrax letters.


Dishneau reported from Hagerstown, Md.

    Anthrax Scientist Commits Suicide, NYT, 1.8.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Anthrax-Scientist.html?hp



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