Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dec. 4 - Dec. 10, 2011 Discussions

Ivins evidently experimented with drying spores in the lyophilizer. It didn't work as well as other methods. The spores were "wrecked" by the freezing process.

The main comment for this week, however, is about how long it can take a big organization like the FBI to change directions. It appears that some within the FBI were looking at Ivins as early as 2005, maybe 2004. FBI Special Agent Edward Montooth started focusing on Ivins as the prime suspect in 2006. And U.S. Attorney Rachel Lieber seems to have become convinced that Ivins was the killer in early 2008, when she started preparing to have him indicted and put on trial.

The point I tried to make is that the FBI and DOJ are made up of individuals, and each individual looks at the facts from a slightly different point of view. So, when an individual is asked a question, they may give an answer that seems inconsistent with someone else's answer. When that happens, it isn't necessarily because the massive organization called "The FBI" has changed its direction, it's more likely because a different individual simply expressed his or her point of view of what's happening.

Also, did Ivins mail the letters from Princeton because Newark was just too far? He wanted to see al Qaeda blamed for the letters, and UAL flight #93 had left from Newark. Ivins may have wanted to mail the first letters in Newark, but he either couldn't get that far that night, or he changed his mind once he'd reached Princeton.


  1. Okay, Mister Lake wrote:
    The main comment for this week, however, is about how long it can take a big organization like the FBI to change directions.
    Actually we (the discussants of this case) keep on using 'the FBI' as a rhetorical trope but it seems to me that probably only about 60 to 120 total agents (FBI and Post Inspectors)were on that task force over the life of the task force (October 2001 to February 2010?). And of that number, probably there was a core leadership at any given point of 3 to 10(?) people, with the subordinates filling out the rest. So we aren't so much talking about the wide organization (thousands of agents from coast to coast)as about a select subset of agents. Naturally, at some point they were consulting with the lawyers (Rachel Lieber et alia)but not about every suspect, and not about every suspicion.
    That doesn't mean that there weren't foot soldiers in regional FBI offices running down this and that, but those foot soldiers would have had little notion of the big picture (whom the task force 'liked' at a particular time etc.).

  2. Anonymous,

    I can't disagree.

    However, many of the "discussants" attack the entire FBI as part of their rantings. They attack "the FBI's" methodology and history. They rant about Ruby Ridge and Waco and just about every FBI case in history. Some were pointing out every case they could find where some FBI agent committed a crime, as if it meant that no FBI agent could be trusted. So, they're not just talking about the "60 to 120" agents who may have been on the task force at one time or another. They are very often talking about the entire organization.

    When some "discussants" are talking about "the FBI" as a single entity, it's difficult for another "discussant" such as myself to get them to talk about just the people in the FBI who were part of various task forces.

    Plus, while the entire organization didn't really have to "change directions," very large organizations have very unique problems when it comes to major projects. The people in management levels have many other projects going on at the same time. They worry about political ramifications, budget considerations and how they look to their peers. They worry about morale and possible embarrassments. Changes in direction upset them. They usually don't know all the details and have to be convinced that the change is absolutely necessary.

    So, it takes awhile for big organizations to change directions - even if 95 percent of the people in the organization have their own problems to deal with. They are usually all aware of the BIG cases and how they are progressing.

    You made a good point. Nevertheless, I think it is infinitely easier for a group of 120 people to change directions than it is for a group of 120 people to change directions when they are part of a large organization of tens of thousand of people.

    What's the difference? I thin it's the fact that you can't be so easily replaced when you're in a smaller organization, and there aren't as many people who think they can do a better job than you can do and have friends in high places ready to help.

    I've worked in major corporations, and I ran a company that consisted of only 5 people. I could get things done in an hour in the small company that would have taken a year in the major corporation.