CASE CLOSED … what really happened in the 2001 anthrax attacks?

* tracking Dr. Ivins’ RMR-1029 anthrax; more questions for UM and LSU researchers

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 28, 2009

… why the FBI failed to solve the 2001 anthrax caseCASE CLOSED

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Dr. Bruce ivins

Dr. Bruce Ivins


tracking Dr. Ivins’ RMR-1029 anthrax;

more questions for UM and LSU researchers


The following email was sent to researchers who performed anthrax vaccine research at the University of Michigan (UM) and Louisiana State University  (LSU) in 2001 …

Dr. James Baker has graciously replied to my earlier questions, stating …

  • That work was done
    • at USAMRIID by a microbiologist under Dr. Ivins direct supervision
    • and at LSU under the direction of Dr. Hugh Jones.
  • There was never any ‘distribution’ of anthrax and all the work done at UM used simulant organisms.
  • I apologize if the citation was confusing.

Dr. Baker’s answer has been posted to the CASE CLOSED blog. There is a comment posted to that article (see … DXer said June 27, 2009 at 6:47 pm), which includes citations from various patent applications and other materials, and asks the following questions, which I am forwarding to you

  1. When was the research at USAMRIID done? What month(s) and year(s)?
  2. When was the research at LSU done?
  3. Who was the microbiologist who worked under the supervision of Bruce Ivins at the BL-3 lab at USAMRIID?
  4. Who were the NanoBio scientists who worked under the supervision of Dr. Martin Hugh-Jones at LSU?
  5. Was Bruce Ivins-supplied virulent Ames at LSU?
  6. If so, was it still in existence at the time of the subpoenas during the mid-October 2001 through February 2002?
  7. What do the LSU researchers, including FBI genetics consultant Kimothy Smith, say about whether virulent Ames was at LSU and, if so, whether any supplied by Bruce Ivins was provided in response to the subpoena.
  8. What does Pamala Coker say? (she would have taken over by the time of the subpoena from Kimothy)

You may wonder why I am asking these questions. Who am I, and what right do I have to bother you so many years after these events took place?

CASE CLOSEDI am a novelist, the author of CASE CLOSED, which presents a fictional scenario to explain why the FBI failed to solve the anthrax case. I started the CASE CLOSED blog to promote the novel, but it has taken on a life of its own as a forum for those who don’t believe the FBI’s accusation of Dr. Ivins (and a few who do) to present and argue their positions. This has stimulated me to continue to seek answers.

The FBI’s case simply does not wash. Why?

The central problem is that the FBI accused Dr. Ivins, claiming he is the sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks, without ever proving its case. It is very convenient to the FBI to have charged a dead man, eight days after his alleged suicide, since this means they never have to go into court and actually prove their case.

The FBI has ever since their announcement refused to answer questions, even those from Congressmen and Senators. Many people, including scientists, journalists, Congressmen and Senators, have publicly expressed their doubts about the FBI’s conclusions. The FBI has presented no witnesses and no physical evidence to support its case against Dr. Ivins. More pertinent to the questions included here is that the FBI has never explained how it excluded other research labs as potential sources of the attack anthrax.

RMR-1029 log - p.1

RMR-1029 log - p.1

The CASE CLOSED blog has now obtained and published Dr. Ivins’ RMR-1029 inventory logs …

http://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/dr-bruce-ivins-rmr-1029-inventory-records-pursuant-to-an-foia-request/

It is the intent of the CASE CLOSED blog to track down, to the extent possible, and to eliminate, to the extent possible, other potential sources of RMR-1029 anthrax which might have been diverted and modified for use in the 2001 attacks.

So … if you have answers to any of the questions above, I look forward to your responses.

LEW WEINSTEIN

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46 Responses to “* tracking Dr. Ivins’ RMR-1029 anthrax; more questions for UM and LSU researchers”

  1. DXer said

    James Baker confirms the simulant was used at University of Michigan.

  2. DXer said

    GAO, Dr. James Baker is available to answer the questions and provide documents.

  3. DXer said

    David Willman writes:

    “We just learned that the Pentagon has a secret project to develop anthrax bacteria with augmented virulence and the possible ability to defeat the anthrax vaccine.” (p. 72)

    The research done by Patricia Fellows involved inserting additional copies of x101 and x102 plasmids — thus rendering the Ames more virulent. It was published in a PhD thesis by LSU’s Pamala Coker.

  4. DXer said

    The Amerithrax Weekly Updates

    Dr. Paul Jackson, LANL provides genetic profile analysis to test for potential genetic modifications made through the use of known cloning vectors and antibiotic and vaccine resistance modifications.

    Comment:

    Former Colleague #2, Patricia Fellows, was doing work inserting additional copies of x101 and x102, the virulence plasmids. It had not been reported yet at the time of Dr. Paul Jackson’s work. Would his analysis apply also to her work — to additional copies of x101 and x102. Pamala Coker, in explaining the research to the New York Times when she published it as part of her thesis, explained that it served to make a more lethal bioweapon (in addition to helping researchers build a better vaccine). Pamala was head of the LSU BL-3 and dedicated her thesis to her predecessor, FBI genetics expert Kimothy Smith, as I recall. The former Zawahiri associate supplied virulent Ames by Bruce Ivins thanked Patricia Fellows for her technical assistance and thanked Pamala Coker for providing the LSU BL-3. He thanked Bruce Ivins for supplying the virulent Ames and worked alongside Bruce in the BL-3.

    Has any reporter even asked Tarek Hamouda about Heba Zawahiri?

    The FBI and USAMRIID has failed to provide a copy of the email written by Bruce to Former Colleague #1, Mara Linscott on September 17, 2001, the day Dr. Ivins allegedly (under their theory travelled to Princeton.

    I recommend that the DOJ and the USAMRIID lawyers make a supplemental FOIA production as if jobs depended on compliance with FOIA.

  5. DXer said

    The NAS report concludes:

    “The FBI repository was
    developed from an intensive
    effort to identify laboratories
    having access to the Ames
    strain; however, we cannot
    conclude that this approach
    identified every laboratory or
    was a comprehensive
    representation.”

    ANTHRAX AND AL QAEDA: THE INFILTRATION OF US BIODEFENSE
    http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1443811

    100+ graphics -
    http://www.anthraxandalqaeda.com

  6. DXer said

    Turning to the merits of your posts, BugMaster, your first post said:

    You wrote:”Was b. subtilis genetically identical to the contaminant present in the letters mailed to New York isolated from the AMI building in Florida?
    If the answer is yes, then I would most likely concede “case closed”.”

    Now, you have training in microbiology. Explain your logic here. It makes no sense that I can see, regardless of its brevity. So while you raised a point that is relevant regardless of one’s theory, you were just confused.

    The key issue is that the genetically distinctive subtilis in the letters can be associated with the suspect.

  7. DXer said

    Who did this research? Where was it done? When was it done?

    Methods of preventing and treating microbial infections

    Abstract
    The present invention provides methods and compositions for inactivating bacteria including bacterial spores using an oil-in-water emulsion are provided. The oil-in-water emulsion comprises an oil, a surfactant and an organic phosphate-based solvent. These methods can be used to inactivate a wide variety of microorganisms including bacteria, bacterial spores, fungi, fungal spores and enveloped viruses.

    Inventors:
    Baker, Jr.; James R. (Ann Arbor, MI), Hamouda; Tarek (Ypsilanti, MI), Shih; Amy (Ann Arbor, MI), Myc; Andrzej (Ann Arbor, MI)
    Appl. No.: 09/561,111
    Filed: April 28, 2000

    In Vitro Study With Bacillus Anthracis

    Experiments with Novaclor 401 preparations to study the bactericidal effect of the compounds of the present invention on the spore form of B. anthracis were performed. The sporicidal activity of different dilutions of Novaclor 401 (in water) on six different strains of B. anthracis is shown in FIG. 3. As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, Novaclor 401 killed over 98% of seven different strains of anthrax (those of FIG. 3 and Ames, USAMRID) within 4 hours and is as efficient as 1-10% bleach. Similar sporicidal activity is found with different dilutions of Novaclor 401 in media (FIG. 6). FIG. 7 shows the time course for the sporicidal activity of Novaclor 401 against the Del Rio, Tex. strain of B. anthracis compared with zero time at room temperature. As shown, Novaclor 401 can kill anthrax spores in as little as 30 minutes.

  8. DXer said

    Who did this research? Where was it done? When? (Hint: Ed, it was done at the same place at the same time).

    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=1&p=1&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&S1=((Bruce+AND+Ivins)+AND+Ames)&OS=Bruce+and+Ivins+and+Ames&RS=((Bruce+AND+Ivins)+AND+Ames)

    Further Evidence of the Sporicidal Activity of Nanoemulsions Against Bacillus Species

    The present Example provides the results of additional investigations of the ability of nanoemulsions to inactivate different Bacillus spores. The methods and results of these studies are outlined below.

    Surfactant lipid preparations: X8P, a water-in-oil nanoemulsion, in which the oil phase was made from soybean oil, tri-n-butyl phosphate, and TRITON X-100 in 80% water. X8W.sub.60PC was prepared by mixing equal volumes of X8P with W.sub.808P which is a liposome-like compound made of glycerol monostearate, refined Soya sterols, TWEEN 60, soybean oil, a cationic ion halogen-containing CPC and peppermint oil.

    Spore preparation: For induction of spore formation, Bacillus cereus (ATTC 14579), B. circulars (ATC 4513), B. megaterium (ATCC 14581), and B. subtilis (ATCC 11774) were grown for a week at 37.degree. C. on NAYEMn agar (Nutrient Agar with 0.1% Yeast Extract and 5 mg/l MnSO.sub.4). The plates were scraped and the bacteria/spores suspended in sterile 50% ethanol and incubated at room temperature (27.degree. C.) for 2 hours with agitation in order to lyse the remaining vegetative bacteria. The suspension was centrifuged at 2,500.times. g for 20 minutes and the pellet washed twice in cold diH.sub.2O. The spore pellet was resuspended in trypticase soy broth (TSB) and used immediately for experiments. B. anthracis spores, Ames and Vollum 1 B strains, were kindly supplied by Dr. Bruce Ivins (USAMRIID, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Md.), and prepared as previously described (Ivins et al., Vaccine 13:1779 [1995]). Four other strains of anthrax were kindly provided by Dr. Martin Hugh-Jones (LSU, Baton Rouge, La.) These strains represent isolates with high allelic dissimilarity from South Africa; Mozambique; Bison, Canada; and Del Rio, Tex.

    In vitro sporicidal assays: For assessment of sporicidal activity of solid medium, trypticase Soy Agar (TSA) was autoclaved and cooled to 55.degree. C. The X8P was added to the TSA at a 1:100 final dilution and continuously stirred while the plates were poured. The spore preparations were serially diluted (ten-fold) and 10 .mu.l aliquots were plated in duplicate (highest inoculum was 10.sup.5 spores per plate). Plates were incubated for 48 hours aerobically at 37.degree. C. and evaluated for growth.

    For assessment of sporicidal activity in liquid medium, spores were resuspended in TSB. 1 ml of spore suspension containing 2.times.10.sup.6 spores (final concentration 10.sup.6 spores/ml) was mixed with 1 ml of X8P or X8W.sub.60PC (at 2.times. final concentration in diH.sub.2O) in a test tube. The tubes were incubated in a tube rotator at 37.degree. C. for four hours. After treatment, the suspensions were diluted 10fold in diH.sub.2O. Duplicate aliquots (25 .mu.l) from each dilution were streaked on TSA, incubated overnight at 37.degree. C., and then colonies were counted. Sporicidal activity expressed as a percentage killing was calculated:

    • Old Atlantic said

      “Spore preparation: For induction of spore formation, Bacillus cereus (ATTC 14579), B. circulars (ATC 4513), B. megaterium (ATCC 14581), and B. subtilis (ATCC 11774) were grown for a week at 37.degree. C. on NAYEMn agar”

      They were grown for a week. That is for 7 days. Below this in the same paragraph, they indicate they got anthrax from Ivins and prepared those spores as described. That may mean as described above or may be a reference to an Ivins paper. They may be the same.

      Ivins in one of his patents grew anthrax for 5 days using a fermentor. The yield was approximately 250mg of spores for 5 liters. The 7 day growth likely gives a higher yield.

  9. DXer said

    Who did this research depicted in Figure 3 of this patent? Where was it done? When was it done?

    US Patent 6506803 – Methods of preventing and treating microbial infections
    US Patent Issued on January 14, 2003
    http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/6506803/fulltext.html

    No. 561111 filed on 04/28/2000

    FIG. 3 illustrates the sporicidal activity of different dilutions of an emulsion of the present invention on different B. anthracis spores.

  10. DXer said

    Who was the microbiologist who did this work with Bruce Ivins-supplied Ames?

    Where did he do it? When did he do it? And what is your source?

    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=2&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&S1=((Bruce+AND+Ivins)+AND+Ames)&OS=Bruce+and+Ivins+and+Ames&RS=((Bruce+AND+Ivins)+AND+Ames)

    TABLE 19 BCTP sporicidal activity against 2 different strains of Bacillus anthracis spores as determined by colony reduction assay (% killing). BCTP at dilutions up to 1:1000 effectively killed > 91% of both spore strains in 4 hours at either 27 or 37.degree. C.; conditions that differed markedly in the extent of spore germination. Sporicidal activity was consistent at spore concentrations up to 1 .times. 10.sup.6 /ml. Ames Ames (cont) Vollum 1 B B. anthracis Room Temp. 37.degree. C. Room Temp. 37.degree. C. BCTP 1:10 91% 96% 97% 99% BCTP 1:100 93% 97% 97% 98% BCTF 1:1000 93% 97% 98% 99%

  11. DXer said

    Ed touches upon what would be known — or what as a layperson he thinks would (not) have been known — about the genetic inquiry. In 1999, a Porton Down scientist had reported to sfam members (it is the UK society for applied microbiologists) on a conference in Taos, New Mexico in August 1999 that included a talk Tim Read, (TIGR, Rockville, USA) and concerned the whole genome sequencing of the Bacillus anthracis Ames strain. The Ames strain may have been a mystery to Ed and others after the Fall 2001 mailings, but not to motivated sfam members or Ayman Zawahiri. If Al Qaeda is responsible for the anthrax mailings, he would know that he was using the weapon of his enemies as counseled by the koran and hadiths.

    The year before, the 3rd International Conference on Anthrax was held at the University of Plymouth on September 7 – 10, 1998 and was organized along six themes: The natural ecology and global incidence of anthrax, the detection, identification and classification of B anthracis, structure and function of both spore and vegetative components, the molecular biology of B anthracis, Pathogenesis – the toxins, and the possibility of vaccines. The Conference again was jointly organised by the Society for Applied Microbiology and DERA, CBD Porton Down. At the 1998 conference, Martin Hugh-Jones of LSU and Peter Turnbull, then of Porton Down , A.M. Friedlander of Ft. Detrick, each coauthored multiple papers available for purchase online. (Although Ed doesn’t know it, Dr. Turnbull provided Hugh-Jones with virulent USAMRIID Ames). Bruce Ivins would attend the conferences and it was on his return from one conference in the late 1990s — attended by Ayman Zawahiri’s scientist Rauf Ahmad — that he began planning the June 2001 conference that was to be sponsored this time by USAMRIID. Ayman Zawahiri’s scientist was an insider at Porton Down/USAMRIID conferences and Ed doesn’t even know what lab he visited on his mission to acquire pathogenic Ames!

    The Conference proceedings are available on Video. Did Dr. Rauf ever obtain virulent Ames? What lab did he visit? Lew, can you upload an excerpt from the correspondence between Rauf Ahmad and Ayman Zawahiri that starts out “I have successfully achieved the targets” and describes his visit to a BL-3 lab? Rauf Ahmad, with whom I have corresponded, attended the same conferences as the USAMRIID and Porton Down scientists and Martin Hugh-Jones. But you won’t find any scientist wanting to describe having beers with Rauf.

    Imagine, if you will, Ayman in his armchair watching some Porton Down scientist lecture on anthrax. Compare the capability Ayman was showing on gathering intelligence on the Ames strain and the anthrax work by Keim’s lab (and USAMRIID) to the US understanding of Ayman’s program to weaponize anthrax pre-9/11. Who had the better intelligence?

  12. DXer said

    Ed, are you saying that Martin Hugh-Jones did not, for example, have virulent Ames from Peter Turnbull, who in turn got it from USAMRIID? If so, on what basis? What is your source? Given this article is on your webpage, why would you point only to a sample from a dead cow in Texas?

    http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:3n4APRJoU44J:www.ph.ucla.edu/EPI/bioter/anthraxmuddytrail.html+%22Peter+Turnbull%22+Ames+anthrax&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    British scientists in turn shared the Ames strain with other researchers. In the mid-1990s, Porton Down sent a packet containing Ames spores to Hugh-Jones, and also to a “very few” others, said Turnbull, who declined to name them.

    “It wasn’t random,” said Turnbull. “We would know the other person’s bona fides. It was not spread around promiscuously.

  13. DXer said

    http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:Cb_WGqCVP2sJ:www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/Bioter/trackinganthraxvaccinations.html+%22It+was+like+trading+baseball+cards.%E2%80%9D+anthrax+Ames&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    “It was like trading baseball cards,” anthrax expert Martin Hugh-Jones, a professor at Louisiana State University, said in an interview last week. “If you have some strain that I needed, then I’d send you something I had.”

    Hugh-Jones said he got most of his anthrax from the Porton Down lab in Great Britain, one of those that had received the Ames strain directly from Fort Detrick.

  14. DXer said

    Ed says:

    “(1) The Ames strain samples at LSU were samples obtained during an anthrax outbreak near Del Rio, Texas.”

    Hi Ed, are you suggesting that Hugh-Jones did not also get Ames from Peter Turnbull at Porton Down (supplied by Porto Down) as reported? On what basis? And did not also make space available at LSU for the Bruce Ivins-supplied Ames as widely reported? On what basis? And found it a routine matter to get strains from USAMRIID, whether from Art or Bruce? Obtained samples from researchers like trading baseball cards for a collection that had, what, 1200 samples? (I don’t recall the precise number but have linked an article that has it). Did Pamala Coker give you a response different from the one she gave Lew? What did Hugh-Jones or Kimothy Smith tell you on this subject if anything, whether now or in years past?

    (2) Paul Keim has the capability to determine genetic differences between different samples of the Ames strain.

    FBI consultant Paul Keim and FBI consultant Fraser-Liggett, are all world anthrax experts (as is Martin Hugh-Jones and former LSU researcher and FBI consultant Kimothy Smith. (FBI consultant Kimothy Smith was thanked for supplying the Ann Arbor researchers the space).

    BTW, Paul Keim does not know if Bruce Ivins is guilty. And Dr. Fraser-Liggett does not think the genetics evidence points to Ivins, as opposed to a stream of genetically identical isolates.

    The question, Ed, is (a) whether Bruce Ivins-supplied Ames was at LSU, (b) if so, whether it was supplied in response to the subpoena. If you have any learning on the subject, by all means, please link or identify your sources and we’ll be educated. But you’ve already shown your ignorance by not even knowing about the virulent Ames (from USAMRIID) supplied by Peter Turnbull at Porton Down. Dr. Hugh-Jones was a collector, a compleatist. He would ask researchers for a copy of what they had. And then gave Dr. Keim a complete copy of his collection.

    (3) The log for flask RMR-1029 does not show any shipment to LSU.

    What are you relying on? The redacted version or the unredacted version? And what is your source? I have had Lew upload a copy of the redacted log with (b)(6) redactions but I have not uploaded the unredacted version.

    “It appears that you have some BELIEF that no amount of evidence can alter.”

    Your belief, Ed, that a First Grader wrote the letters is not shared by even a second person.

    The belief that the government has not shown, even in private briefings, evidence showing Bruce Ivins is responsible is shared by seasoned prosecutors Leahy and Specter. You are a web pornographer, not an analyst as you claim.

    • DXer said

      I said:

      “The question, Ed, is (a) whether Bruce Ivins-supplied Ames was at LSU”

      Ed conclusorily asserted without any support of authority:
      “The answer is: NO.”

      Ed, have you even read the numerous patents and literature that I have cited describing the research with the Ivins-supplied virulent Ames? You spend by far the largest part of most days posting hundreds of fake pictures of nude celebrities on the web, providing an archive so that 16 year-olds around the world can take and post them for years to come. You think it honorable that you work so hard to protect innocents — and you dismiss the prurient hobby of making fake nude photos as just a “guy thing.” But as a result, you have no time to actually do research which is why you just post your same-old tired name-calling schtick.

      “If you had any evidence to support such a claim, you’d have shown it to us.”

      I actually have been trying to rule LSU out to simplify matters, and would welcome Dr. Hugh-Jones saying that the NanoBio research did not include the Ivins-supplied Ames at LSU. Dr. Coker most definitely did not say that (and it would have taken 2 seconds tops). And Dr. Baker did not say that. He said the research was done at both USAMRIID and LSU, but that the work at U of Mich just involved simulants. If he meant that the Ivins-supplied Ames was not at LSU, he can clarify the issue and say it today. James Bakers is highly accomplished and multi-tasking individual – who has garnered $80 million in investment for the product(s) not yet marketed. He is not shy.

      In contrast to your conclusions and unsupported assertions about a First Grader writing the anthrax letters, I am having a Harvard MBA and former president of a health research institute ask the questions and get answers from people with personal knowledge and publish them in real-time. In contrast, you make assumptions and conclusory assertions (contradicted by even the published articles on your own website). Lew, OTOH, probes and gets answers from those with personal knowledge.

      The USAMRIID Bacteriology Division head has pointed to the issue of compliance with the March 2002 subpoena by Universities that had virulent Ames. Here, there was a loving relationship between the FBI genetics consultant and the LSU lab director involved in supplying samples.

      I have formally asked all those involved what they knew about (a) the presence of Ivins-supplied Ames at LSU, (b) whether it existed at LSU at the time of production by LSU, and (c) and if it was there at one point but not at the time of production, then what happened to it. You can assume the conclusion, but that approach is best reserved for posting pictures where “you can know it when you see it.”

      But I do appreciate your discussing the merits for a change and so have this question for you. Did Michael Hayes do the research he presented involving virulent Ames in a petri dish being killed by the biocidal agent at the September 1998 ICAAC conference? If so, where did he do it?

      Now if it turns out that Ivins-supplied Ames was not at LSU, that sharpens the importance of the question: Who was the microbiologist working under the direct supervision of Bruce Ivins? And what institution was he/she with? You don’t know the answer to that but if experience is a guide, likely have an assumption to assert.

      For example, by reason of the fact that it was not at Ann Arbor, we can rule out it being stolen by the janitor at Ann Arbor. Now we want to have a basis for doing the same thing — besides your assumptions that conflict with all the cited patents, literature and other evidence.

      Finally, you write:

      “You claim that no one else believes that a child wrote the letters. But when I point out to you that the idea originally came from other people …”

      Well, I agree you stole the idea from a poster in a newsgroup and then claimed it was your own. But its been years now since she agreed that it was a really stupid idea. So, you got me, Mr. Lake. There was a poster 8 years ago — the one you stole the idea from — who once had agreed with the idea! Good luck with your theory!

    • BugMaster said

      O.K., Ross, now be nice. We tolerate your incessant lenghty (and in my opinion, irrelevant) postings here as well as Ed’s stubborn demeanor.

      Really, if you do in fact have UNREDACTED copies of the RMR-1029 records, then UPLOAD THEM ALREADY!.

      Also, I think you should apologize to Mr. Ed for calling him a pornographer. I don’t think that someone who in the past went on an occasional “Bosom-Quest” for entertainment should automatically be labeled a “pornographer”.

    • DXer said

      BugMaster,

      Did you get your graduate at GMU? Study under and with Ken Alibek? I ask only because you discount the argument I make regarding the person with a high security clearance, Al-Timimi, who shared a maildrop and fax with Kenneth Alibek, who I understand to have been your friend and mentor. (But I would need you to confirm or deny it). Al-Timimi was coordinating with the 911 imam and Bin Laden’s sheik. So to be dismissive of the argument without discussing the merits points to an undisclosed bias. If you are going to not have your identity known. that’s fine by me. But it at least important to understand any source of bias. I otherwise just think of you with someone with some training in microbiology who doesn’t know anything about intelligence analysis or follow counterintelligence matters.

      Do you still work in Maryland? Work for the government? But not USAMRIID?

      Separately, you seem unfamiliar with the hundreds of pictures that Ed maintains on an ongoing basis. It is a heavily trafficked archive. Hundreds and hundreds of fake pictures with the pictures of real people put on the heads of the nude bodies of others. How is that an occasional “bosom-quest”? In an interview with FoxNews, he gave a lengthy defense of the practice of taking pictures of real people and putting fake heads on them — and was disappointed that FoxNews cut it out. Sophia Loren, for example, is adamantly against the practice — whether by someone self-appointed protector of her innocence or not. I think the characterization of the practice in court filings is quite appropriate. But by dressing it up as revealing the fakes — because he knows it when he sees it — he organizes and collects them all so that anyone can simply view and retrieve them.

    • BugMaster said

      Not a GMU graduate, never met Alibek or Al-Timini. Current assignment is non-governmental.

      Considering what real filth is available to minors on the internet these days, I don’t consider Ed’s photoshopped beauties a real issue, and also not relevant to this discussion. The point I was trying to make was to try not to allow our conversations degenerate into personal insults.

      BTW: Some time ago, I have found in one of your posts information that answered a question I had been wondering about for years. (I cannot expand on this). So in a way, I owe you an apology, it was not fair to characterize all your posts as “irrelevant”.

    • Anonymous scientist said

      Another piece of information provided by the RMR-1029 records is that the spore concentration is 3e9 spores/ml. So, when the flask was made up, since it contained 1000ml (one litre) there were 3e12 spores present. That’s 3 grams of spores.
      Don’t forget that RMR-1029 was the result of THIRTY production runs at Dugway and Detrick. And it only contained 3 grams – probably less than half of the material that was mailed. That gives you some idea of what level of effort was needed to produce the mailed spores.

      Try Googling Edgewood, anthrax and “jet mill” – you will find a Edgewood document where they used a jet mill to create fine powdered simulants for BWs. The bottom line is that it takes specialized techniques to create a powder that will behave the way the EPA showed that the Daschle powder behaved in the Hart building. Dugway used a ball mill followed by successive passing through fine meshes. Ivins did not have access to any equipment like this.

      And there is no way Ivins could have hidden 60+ production runs of spores. He couldn’t even have done that in a year.

    • Anonymous scientist said

      I should have written 3e10 spores/ml. But don’t forget there is a big difference between spores in the flask in water and recoverable dried spores to place in envelopes. Yield would decrease at every step, centrifugation, drying, transferring between equipment, etc. We are still talking about a number of production runs it would be inconceivable to hide.
      There is little doubt that the FBI did not even try to prove their theory that he “must have managed it somehow”. Hopefully NAS will show this gaping hole in the FBI fairy tale.

    • DXer said

      BugMaster,

      Are you Bugs N Gas Gal? Who stopped posting upon Ivins suicide and had followed the matter?

      http://bugsngasgal.wordpress.com/

    • BugMaster said

      Actually, the flask had a spec of 3e10 / ml, not 3e9. That corresponds to 600,000 LD50 (for rhesus monkeys) / per ml, based on a LD50 of 50,000 spores. This is why the RMR-1029 material was transferred directly to Battelle to use as a challenge isolate for Ivin’s RPA-102 / Vaxgen – Project Bioshield Phase I – III project. Ivins didn’t need to extract a small sample from the flask and grow it to a larger volume, the 90 mls followed 50 mls transferred to Battelle in 2001 provided more than enough material.

      BTW, that means that one cannot distinguish between a subculture taken directly from the flask and a subculture taken from any of the transferred material, since the transferred material was directly from the flask.

      As far as spore yields, I disagree, with non-anthrax bacillis (such as b. thuringensis and other non-pathogenic strains) yields in excess of 1 gram / liter of spore material is routine.

    • DXer said

      BugMaster,

      Can I have one last guess?

      Are you the Bugs N Gas Gal who stopped posting after Bruce Ivins committed suicide? But for the first week closely followed the matter — and told her adoring fans that she would be posting on forums? If so, your superhero identity is safe with me.

    • DXer said

      Bugs N Gas gal is “a nice midwesterner temporarily held hostage in northern Virginia, a repugnant region teeming with evil, mannerless mutants.” Her “interests are WMD, chemical and biological terrorism, biotechnology, the latest research in science & technology, science fiction, frogs, meerkats, min-pins, birds, and fungi.”

      Her “background includes a bachelor of science in biology and a master’s in strategic intelligence focusing on terrorism studies. I served 7 years in the U.S. Army doing body and fender work on nuclear warheads, then worked as a lab tech and inorganics analyst at a national research lab and a couple of commercial testing labs. Later I worked for an innovative GIS software company and I also worked for the U.S. government. Today I also have a job, a fact which pleases me a great deal. Someday I plan to build a potato gun. In the meantime, this blog is sort of a hobby although it does not fire flaming potatoes.”

      “If you want to send me something of chemical or biological interest, or you would like to comment without it appearing on my blog, you can email me at bugsngasgal(at)comcast(dot)net.”

      “Please note that comments containing links are moderated, so yours may not show up immediately. And finally, a disclaimer: anything on this blog is my own opinion and not necessarily the opinion of any past or present employer, blah, blah, blah.”

    • BugMaster said

      Nope, DXer, not me. I find her views of Nothern Virginia most amusing, although a bit harsh!

    • DXer said

      BugMaster,

      Are you Biodefense Student?

      http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:EIHdEoT6bBsJ:www.freerepublic.com/tag/by:biodefensestudent/index%3Ftab%3Dcomments%3Bbrevity%3Dfull%3Boptions%3Dno-change+%22Debra+Anderson%22+%22Biodefense+Student%22&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    • DXer said

      BugMaster,

      Are you Biodefense Student?

      Did you come from Iowa?

    • BugMaster said

      DXer:

      I’m not interested in playing 20 questions here. What I am interested in is those unredacted logs.

    • DXer said

      On the logs, I’ve asked jp, the head FOI person, for the logs for flask 1028 and 1030. I figure that is a pretty safe request, although whether they will be promptly produced (as soon as Monday) might depend on whether they have already been processed for Mr. Shane and Mr. Willman.

      I believe Scott was only given a redacted version of 1029 and so that required the lengthy explanation of legal precedent under (b)(6). My offer to jp the top FOI fellow was that I would brief the issue for him under whatever law he thought so that we could see if we could get on the same page. I do think that the (b)(6) exemption is inapplicable. (Especially where only a corporate name or university name is mentioned. But I think the DOD has been great on FOI issues and so don’t mean to be critical at all. They gave me 100+ pages of correspondence between Ayman Zawahiri and his infiltrating scientist (and associated documents) for the cost of an email. I just hope that to expedite things someone in Maryland like Attorney Kissin would drive over and pick up the entire file that Mr. Shane and Mr. Willman were provided and scan and upload it. Once documents are produced, they are very easy to obtain. The search has already been done. Given your training in microbiology — you would be especially suited to reviewing Ivins’ lab notebook 4010.

      Someone should also call jp (whose number Lew provided) and ask for the USAMRIID Log Notebook 4010. It would help you gauge the relevance of posts, the origin of the Silicon Signature in flask 1030, the origin of the subtilis (if there was any), the reason the lyophilizer (Speed Vac) was signed out for the DARPA project etc.

      It was Ed who suggested he had the unredacted logs when he hadn’t. I had said that I had asked for copies with the redactions eliminated and I encouraged my friend Ken to bring suit to obtain them if they weren’t produced within the statutory period for an appeal.

  15. DXer said

    Fox News -

    Leahy did not say why he believed Ivins had help and he also cast doubt that the Army scientist was the attacker in the first place.

    “If he is the one who sent the letter, I do not believe in any way, shape or manner that he is the only person involved in this attack on Congress and the American people. I do not believe that at all,” Leahy said.

    He added: “I believe there are others involved, either as accessories before or accessories after the fact. I believe that there are others out there, I believe there are others who could be charged with murder. I just want you to know how I feel about it, as one of the people who was aimed at in the attack.”

    Mueller did not directly contradict Leahy, saying “I understand that concern.”

    Still, Mueller maintained the Justice Department’s view that Ivins was the mastermind and sole attacker.

    “In the investigation to date, we have looked at every lead and followed every lead to determine whether anybody else was involved, and we will continue to do so,” Mueller told Leahy. “And even if the case does become closed, if we receive additional evidence, indicating the participation of any additional person, we certainly would pursue that.”

  16. DXer said

    The Hartford Courant
    Labs That Perform Bioterrorism Research Proliferating

    By DAVE ALTIMARI | Courant Staff Writer
    August 16, 2008

    Martin Hugh-Jones, a professor at Louisiana State University, said obtaining permission to work with that strain has become almost like a status symbol for labs. LSU was one of 16 laboratories identified by the FBI as working with the Ames strain of anthrax before the letters were mailed.”

  17. DXer said

    FBI conclusions in anthrax probe meet skepticism

    Robert Roos * News Editor

    Aug 15, 2008 (CIDRAP News)
    ***

    But expert observers have said it’s not possible to evaluate the FBI claims about the DNA evidence implicating Ivins because the agency has not published the details.

    Dr. Martin Hugh-Jones, an anthrax expert at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, told CIDRAP News, “As others, including D.A. Henderson [who led the fight to eradicate smallpox], have said, we only have their word on this until they publish the details of this study.”

  18. DXer said

    Who Was Bruce Ivins? : NPR
    Aug 1, 2008 … Martin Hugh-Jones at Louisiana State University says he wept when he heard Ivins had died. He says after the anthrax attacks in 2001, …

  19. DXer said

    Source: Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2002.

    AFTERMATH OF TERROR

    Military Lab Studying Anthrax Isn’t Set to Receive Some Samples

    By GARY FIELDS and MARK SCHOOFS, Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET
    ***

    One scientist who has talked several times with scientists at Fort Detrick but who is still waiting to send a sample is Martin Hugh-Jones, an anthrax expert at Louisiana State University. “Half of the government is saying you shall” and “the other half is saying you shan’t,” he said.

  20. DXer said

    Ames Strain Of Anthrax Limited to Few Labs

    … others known to have the Ames strain are Martin E. Hugh-Jones, …

    http://www.ph.ucla.edu/EPI/bioter/aimsstrainfewlabs.html

    • DXer said

      From the January 2002 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 49, No. 1)
      Science and Technology: Anthrax and Bioterrorism
      Trail of Terror

      So why choose this strain? “Ames is certainly a challenge to any vaccine,” says Martin Hugh-Jones of Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. When lab animals immunized with the vaccine now being given to thousands of American troops are exposed to anthrax, many are still killed by the Ames strain.

      Alternatively, the attackers may simply have wanted a strain of proven virulence that’s hard to trace, says Ken Alibek, former deputy head of the Soviet bioweapons program. “If I were a terrorist, I would certainly not use a strain known to be from my country,” he told New Scientist.

      • DXer said

        The grown-within-two-years of mailing was one of the first pieces to the puzzle reported in 2002 or so.

        Question: Did the FBI consult a genetics expert when contacted by the Iowa State University about destroying the collection there? (According to the authors Coen and Nadler, who do not provide any source, the USDA also destroyed the collection that it had at the strip mall near the University).

  21. DXer said

    Anthrax attacks was it really a lone American?
    http://pierrelegrand.net/2006/07/06/2253.htm

    “Want some [Ames]? “I’d look for a dead animal,” LSU’s Martin Hugh-Jones advises. “You could just take some blood from the animal, some tissue, and swab and grow it up on blood agar–nothing easier. . . . I’d say first-year college microbiology.”

  22. DXer said

    http://cmbi.bjmu.edu.cn/news/0112/10.htm

    “Hugh-Jones, too, says he could think of no one fitting the bill when federal agents questioned him recently. But he did post the FBI’s psychological profile of the perpetrator on ProMED, believing that some subscribers might
    have more information. “It’s a small world,” says Hugh-Jones. “I’m sure I know somebody who knows him.”

    Without a clue

    November 8, 2003
    The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

    Dr Martin Hugh-Jones, while deferring to Spertzel’s military expertise, disagrees.

    “The betting is still that it’s domestic and I have no reason to doubt that. My working model is that somebody came across some weaponised material being used in a trial and appropriated a small amount of it.” Who was it? “I have my suspicions and I start with some of my best friends.”

  23. DXer said

    http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/bioter/anthraxmuddytrail.html

    Source: Washington Post, November 25, 2001.

    Deadly Anthrax Strain Leaves a Muddy Trail

    By Steve Fainaru and Joby Warrick, Washington Post Staff Writers

    **

    Martin Hugh-Jones, an anthrax expert at Louisiana State University who maintains a global database of anthrax outbreaks for the World Health Organization, concurred that it was relatively simple in the past to obtain anthrax cultures from USAMRIID.

    “They kept the stuff there, and if you needed a culture, you called up Art” — Col. Arthur Friedlander, USAMRIID’s senior military research scientist, Hugh-Jones said.

    ***

    Other researchers received the bug in its virulent form. One such recipient was at Fort Detrick’s British counterpart, the Chemical Defense Establishment at Porton Down, near Salisbury, England. Peter Turnbull, a former Porton Down microbiologist, said the institute also was testing vaccines that would protect troops against various anthrax strains.

    British scientists in turn shared the Ames strain with other researchers. In the mid-1990s, Porton Down sent a packet containing Ames spores to Hugh-Jones, and also to a “very few” others, said Turnbull, who declined to name them.

    “It wasn’t random,” said Turnbull. “We would know the other person’s bona fides. It was not spread around promiscuously.”

    Investigators are now hoping that retracing the movement of Ames will help lead them to the person or group behind the anthrax mailings of September and October. Since mid-October, FBI agents have visited universities, pharmaceutical laboratories, hospitals and veterinary centers to find out who may have had access to the strain.

    Some researchers, such as Louisiana State University’s Hugh-Jones, have been subpoenaed and questioned for hours about the possibility that Ames spores might have been lost or stolen. Hugh-Jones said he has turned over laboratory documents to the FBI and insisted his lab kept the Ames strain under tight control.

    “Nobody got it from us; it stopped with us,” he said.

    • DXer said

      FBI Subpoenas Labs And Universities In Anthrax Probe
      By Earl Lane
      Washington Bureau
      NewsDay.com
      10-31-1
      http://www.rense.com/general16/FBIsubpoenaslabs.htm

      “A subpoena was delivered Oct. 16 to the lab of Martin Hugh-Jones, an anthrax specialist at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. According to Richard Hidalgo, assistant to the dean of the school of veterinary medicine at LSU, it asked the school to provide by Oct. 23 a log of all visitors and employees at the Hugh-Jones lab since Jan. 1, 2000, including their Social Security numbers and dates of birth. The subpoena also asked for information on shipments of pathogens to and from the lab. “Besides Dr. Hugh-Jones and his lab director, only three others have been in the lab” during the time in question, Hidalgo said. “I’ve never been there myself.” Hugh-Jones, who questioned the necessity of using subpoenas to obtain information from research labs, said LSU’s reply was sent to the FBI last week. A subpoena also was delivered to the University of Michigan, according to a source who asked not to be identified. “All research institutions are being contacted by the FBI and asked for information,” the source said. “They were seeking personnel records for those who may be working with select agents.”

      ***

      LSU’s Hidalgo said the FBI appears to be looking for any breach in the strict handling procedures for anthrax and other select agents.”

  24. DXer said

    http://www.mdcbowen.org/p2/ww3/anthrax_comes_home.htm
    November 4, 2001

    Lacking Leads, Anthrax Hunt Comes Home

    By ROBIN WRIGHT and JOSH MEYER, Times Staff Writers

    ***

    On the domestic front, investigators are looking at a wide range of possibilities, including that the anthrax might have originated in a university biomedical laboratory.

    ***
    A grand jury for the southern district of Florida, in its investigation of the photo editor’s death, has subpoenaed university and research laboratory records in search of where anthrax spores have been kept and who had access to them. USC and Louisiana State University were among those subpoenaed.

    “They wanted to know which cultures we had on hand and who had been visiting our lab,” said Martin Hugh-Jones, an LSU scientist.

    Hugh-Jones said he believes that LSU’s security was tight enough to keep the university’s anthrax out of terrorists’ hands, but he suggested that high-grade material capable of causing inhalation anthrax was not so carefully guarded elsewhere.

    “I think they got it from a labeled vial in a lab,” he said. A visitor or rogue scientist could “just steal it and slip it in his pocket.”

    ***
    The Intelligence Front

    A senior intelligence official said an intense search by the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies had found “no evidence yet of foreign involvement” in the handful of anthrax-laden letters that have spread fear in several states.

    But the official, who asked for anonymity, added that the CIA had not concluded that the source was domestic either.”

    Codename Zabadi: The Infiltration Of US Biodefense
    http://www.anthraxandalqaeda.com

  25. DXer said

    http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/bioter/anthraxprobefarandwide.html

    Source: Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2001.
    The Anthrax Probe Ranges Far and Wide As Investigators Scour Tips, Trash for Leads

    ***

    The Leahy Letter

    Top anthrax experts have clashed over one of the most basic questions: ….

    Former Soviet bioweapons specialist Kenneth Alibek countered that making the powder wasn’t especially demanding. “It could be a technician working at one of the hospitals or one of the companies or somebody who worked many years before in the field,” he said during the hearing.

    ***

    Whoever created the weapon had to have access to the Ames strain of anthrax. And because the Ames strain is quite rare in nature, according to Paul Keim, a professor at Northern Arizona University who is an expert on anthrax strains, that means the mailer almost certainly obtained it from a laboratory.

    Martin Hugh-Jones, an anthrax expert at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, said the FBI returned to his lab in mid-November for a two-and-a-half-hour interview asking him for the “name, rank and serial number” of everyone who had visited the facility in the last five years. Previously, the FBI had subpoenaed records going back a few months.

    Because of the training required, the anthrax mailer “had a mentor, and we’re going to find him,” says a senior law-enforcement official. Dr. Hugh-Jones agrees and says the international community of anthrax researchers is tightly knit. “We know this guy,” says Dr. Hugh-Jones. “One of us knows him.”

    Professor Keim has estimated that fewer than 20 U.S. labs probably possess the Ames strain. Not so, counters the senior law-enforcement official. “More labs than you think” could have acquired the Ames strain, said this official, who points to how freely scientists share microbes. He says scientists have been known to bring anthrax to conferences in “a test tube in their pocket.”

    ***

    FBI officials say that a military connection is merely one avenue the Bureau is following. The FBI has subpoenaed a list of everyone at the U.S. Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., who had access to anthrax, according to a senior employee, who said he had been questioned by law-enforcement agents. …

    This person stressed that other military labs had access to anthrax, including Dugway Proving Ground in Utah….”

    • DXer said

      http://blog.nj.com/ledgerarchives/2008/08/fbis_critics_call_anthrax_hunt.html

      “Microbiologist Martin Hugh-Jones of Louisiana State University contends the FBI is wary – justifiably – of repeating blunders in the failed prosecution of nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee.

      President Bush wants the bureau to proceed carefully, to ensure proper procedures are followed and any anthrax evidence holds up in court, a spokesman has said.

      Other scientists, led by Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a bioweapons expert with the independent Federation of American Scientists, have accused the bureau of foot-dragging.

      Rosenberg, who teaches at the Purchase campus of the State University of New York, has hinted at potentially embarrassing U.S. violations of an international biowarfare treaty. She also maintains the FBI has suspects around Washington, D.C. – claims rebutted by the FBI and White House.

      From day one, the FBI’s targets should have been the handful of military labs and contractors believed capable of “weaponizing” anthrax into the airy, potent powder that wafted from the letters, said Jonathan King of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

      “You’re talking about profoundly misleading the American public,” said King, a molecular biologist. “It’s like saying you’ve found a missile for a nuclear submarine and can’t figure out where it’s from.”

      BOOSTING BIODEFENSE

      King subscribes to the popular theory that someone in the biodefense world – laid off, perhaps – plotted the crimes to boost funding or jobs.

      “There is a long history of increasing funding for military programs by claiming there is a threat,” said King, citing past missile and bomber “gaps.”

      If boosting biodefense was the motive, it worked: The Bush administration is proposing a $1.5 billion increase for bioterrorism research.”

  26. DXer said

    https://avma.org/onlnews/javma/dec01/s121501a.asp

    The anthrax detectives

    Unlike most people, Dr. Martin Hugh-Jones looks forward to getting bloody swabs in the mail. He collects them to track anthrax. Dr. Hugh-Jones, a professor of epidemiology at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, and collaborator Paul Keim, PhD, a professor of microbiology at Northern Arizona University, have built and maintain one of the largest anthrax databases in existence today. Databases such as theirs, and another at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, are the ones that investigators are turning to as they attempt to identify anthrax samples used in recent bioterrorist attacks.

    Russian roots
    Dr. Hugh-Jones is no stranger to bioterrorism. In 1979, when a human anthrax epidemic broke out in Sverdlovsk, a city of the former Soviet Union, the England-educated veterinarian participated in the investigation. He was also in Russia in 1992 when its government finally admitted that the outbreak was caused by an accidental spore emission from a biological warfare facility. Dr. Hugh-Jones, along with other American scientists, befriended Russian pathologists involved in the investigation and managed to obtain tissue samples from people infected in the outbreak. These samples were the start of the Midwestern and Los Alamos databases.

    After returning from Russia, Dr. Hugh-Jones sought out Dr. Paul Keim, whom he calls a genius at analyzing genes, and a team effort began. “I am the collector,” explained Dr. Hugh-Jones. “I find out where the outbreaks are happening worldwide, contact the people concerned, and get the cultures. I then send them to Paul Keim’s laboratory and he does the genetic analysis.” Dr. Keim’s laboratory is also involved in collecting some samples.

    Usually, people send specimens for the Midwestern database to Dr. Hugh-Jones, but he also obtains the specimens himself from bloody swabs or dirt. The epidemiologist keeps track of outbreaks by monitoring the literature and doing good, old-fashioned detective work. He is also moderator for correspondence concerning anthrax for Promed mail, a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases. This Internet collaboration of international doctors, academics, public health workers, and government officials tracks outbreaks of infectious diseases.

    Cutting edge
    Thus far, the Midwestern database has roughly 1,200 isolates, which include specimens from most parts of the world. The Los Alamos database has had similar success, and the two groups collaborate. Each isolate can be tied to a specific geographic area, using genetic fingerprinting. On the basis of similarities in the bacteria’s DNA, anthrax can be organized into categories. These categories are called strains by some researchers, but other scientists prefer to define them as different genotypes.

    Investigators rely mainly on two techniques to create genetic fingerprints of Bacillus species in the databases. One technique, known as AFLP (amplified fragment length polymorphism), relies on analyzing short DNA sequences that contain genetic information. Using AFLP, scientists extract DNA from bacteria and cut it into small fragments, using nature’s natural scissors—restriction enzymes that recognize and cut specific stretches of DNA. After being amplified to improve the interpretation process, these fragments are analyzed and compiled into a fingerprint that is added to a database.

    The second genetic fingerprinting technique, MLVA (multiple locus variable number of tandem repeats analysis), relies on analyzing the pieces of DNA that don’t code for proteins. Although believed to be functionally useless, these strands contain repeated sequences of base pairs that are more highly variable from strain to strain than “useful DNA.” The repeated sequences are usually surrounded by specific markers, which allow researchers to find and cut them. These fragments are then fingerprinted and added to a database.

    Ames strain
    On Oct. 25, Office of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge announced that investigators had made progress in identifying anthrax samples used in the October bioterrorist attacks.

    “Department of Defense DNA tests show the anthrax samples from Florida, New York, and Washington are indistinguishable, meaning that they all come from the same strain of anthrax or the same family of anthrax,” announced Ridge—”Ames strain.”

    Using DNA analysis, investigators had created genetic fingerprints of the samples from affected people, sifted through the vast databases, and found a match.

    Army records showed that the Ames strain had originally come from a sick cow in Iowa and was sent to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases in 1980. The Army, determining that the strain was unique, named it Ames, simply because of its origin.

    Since then, the Army has supplied it to various laboratories in the United States, and the strain has been disseminated by other routes to facilities around the world. Because of the strain’s popularity, the initial identification did not uncover the senders of the contaminated letters.

    24/7
    Many people investigating the bioterrorist attacks have been instructed to refrain from directly commenting on the progress of the investigation. Dr. Kimothy Smith, is a veterinarian and an associate professor of epidemiology in Dr. Keim’s laboratory at Northern Arizona University. Dr. Smith says he cannot confirm or deny working on the bioterrorism case, but when asked about his workload in early November, he responded, “I’ve been working 24/7 in the last month.”

    Dr. Smith is hopeful that science will provide a break in the case. All genetic markers, the veterinarian said, are not created equal; some allow for the differentiation of very closely related isolates better than others, especially when investigators are using MLVA.

    As of early November, work at NAU was showing that, using ultra-sensitive markers, one could trace strains of a different type of anthrax, called Sterne, to a particular laboratory. Sterne has also been disseminated all over the world. “We can go into old strains like Sterne, [and] theoretically Ames, look much closer into those strain types, and differentiate types from different laboratories,” Dr. Smith says.

    This promising sleuthing ability is made possible by three factors: bioterrorists need to grow large batches of anthrax for it to be useful as a biological weapon, anthrax undergoes genetic mutations every 1,000 generations, and mutations lead to different fingerprints.

    For a given sample of anthrax, Dr. Smith says, “We can go back and estimate the number of generations that separate two isolates. We can build a tree of relatedness, saying this strain is so many generations from this laboratory strain and this many generations from this other one, etcetera.”

    As of Nov. 5, investigators had not traced the anthrax strain used in the October attacks to a specific laboratory. Workers involved with the Midwestern database and the Los Alamos database continued to toil. But, one thing was certain: the databases, started almost 10 years ago, have played an important role in the investigation.

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