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

* How the FBI Botched the Anthrax Case – former FBI Agent Brad Garrett – 6-30-08

Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 20, 2009

Mr. Garrett wrote (6-30-08) …

  • The anthrax investigation, almost from the beginning, was hampered by top-heavy leadership from high ranking, but inexperienced FBI officials, which led to a close-minded focus on just one suspect and amateurish investigative techniques that robbed agents in the field the ability operate successfully.
  • I saw it firsthand as one of the FBI agents assigned to the anthrax case and directly involved in the investigation of Dr. Steven Hatfill.
  • Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to pay $5,825,000 to Hatfill, whom former Attorney General John Ashcroft once described as “a person of interest.”
  • There are many lessons learned from the missteps in the anthrax investigation. (NOTE: these are spelled out in the article; see link below)

Brad Garrett retired from the FBI and is now an ABC News consultant. Garrett holds a PhD and was the hostage negotiation coordinator for the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

LMW COMMENT

Mr. Garrett wrote this article just after the settlement with Dr. Hatfill, but before Dr. Bruce Ivins committed suicide and was charged by the FBI (in a press conference, not a court of law) as the sole perpetrator.

That sequence of events, as the FBI tumbled and fumbled from Dr. Hatfill to Dr. Ivins, is highly suspicious. This time, they chose someone who was conveniently deceased.

No embarrassing law suits would ever emanate from Dr. Ivins.

I wonder when the leading minds at the FBI and the Department of Justice decided to say they were sure Dr. Ivins was the perpetrator, and who actually made that decision. My guess is that it was after Dr. Ivins committed suicide and was no longer in a position to defend himself.

How else could the FBI have confidently claimed that they had identified the sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax mass murder when they had …CC - front cover - small

  • no witnesses who saw Dr. Ivins prepare powdered anthrax, sneak it out of USAMRIID, write and fill the envelopes and drive to Princeton to mail the letters,
  • no physical evidence such as spores in Dr. Ivins’ home or car,
  • no compelling science; just look at the furious arguments that have emerged since August 2008, still unresolved,
  • and an impossible timeframe; Dr. Ivins could not have been in Princeton when the FBI originally said he was; so they just changed their story, leaving the impression that they were making it up as they went along

I have developed a (fictional) scenario to explain the FBI’s inexplicable failure to solve the 2001 anthrax case in my new novel, CASE CLOSED, to be published in June 2009.

 

you can read Mr. Garrett’s entire story at … http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=5276220

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13 Responses to “* How the FBI Botched the Anthrax Case – former FBI Agent Brad Garrett – 6-30-08”

  1. Ike Solem said

    DX, the Al Qaeda theme only makes sense if Al Qaeda snuck a mole into the U.S. biowarfare program, and that mole filched a number of different preparations. Considering the shoddy security record of DOE – Battelle, that would indeed be plausible – if there was the remotest shred of evidence that it was the case. As noted, you could accuse Aum Shinrikyo (who actually tried it, and failed) of something similar.

    Hiding behind an anonymous moniker doesn’t add to the credibility, by the way.

    So, who benefited? Three corporate firms, really – Vaxgen, Emergent Biosolutions/Bioport, and Battelle, who was their sole subcontractor on all their work.

    Exhibit 99.1

    VaxGen Selected by U.S. Government
    to Develop New Anthrax Vaccine

    October 3, 2002 – Brisbane, Calif. -VaxGen Inc. (Nasdaq: VXGN), the
    current leader in AIDS vaccine development, has been awarded a contract from the
    National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S.
    National Institutes of Health (NIH), to develop a new anthrax vaccine and to
    create a feasibility plan to manufacture an emergency stockpile of 25 million
    doses. NIAID is expected to award a separate contract in 2003 to manufacture the
    stockpile….

    As a major sub-contractor to VaxGen, Battelle of Columbus, Ohio, will have
    primary responsibility for initial manufacturing of the vaccine candidate as
    well as for conducting pre-clinical safety and efficacy studies in accordance
    with FDA guidelines. VaxGen has budgeted approximately $4.5 million for
    Battelle’s contributions to this urgent initiative. Battelle has substantial
    experience in biologics research and development, specifically including anthrax
    vaccines.

    SEC filings are very informative.
    http://www.secinfo.com/d13Wqv.31tp.d.htm

    The same is true for Emergent Biosolutions, see their press release:

    “New Studies Conclude BioThrax Plus Antibiotics Provide 100% Protection In Animals When Administered After Anthrax Exposure” – Jan 10 2006.

    Preliminary results from a similar study performed in rabbits, sponsored by NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease) and performed at Battelle Memorial Institute, indicate the animals were protected against death when treated with BioThrax plus antibiotics after aerosol exposure to anthrax spores, under conditions where antibiotic prophylaxis alone was only partially protective.

    So, it’s not too hard to see who has financially benefited from the anthrax attacks – Emergent Biosolutions and Battelle, the U.S. anthrax vaccine makers – and the program had been scheduled for termination in 2001, if you go read the press.

    Emergent Biosolutions has merged with Vaxgen – I actually knew some of the people involved in Vaxgen back when their main goal was to come up with an AIDS vaccine – and then they decided to get on the anthrax gravy train.

    It used to be that all anthrax vaccine was produced as needed by a Michigan university – and then the program was privatized during the Clinton years, and bid out. Admiral Crowe was on the board of Bioport (now Emergent Biosolutions), which is run by a Saudi, Faud al-Hibri, I believe, so they got the contract. Their plant was leaky, and so Battelle was chosen as their subcontractor in the late 1990s.

    Since Ames is the “anthrax vaccine challenge strain”, it seems clear that these three private firms must have had access to it, right?

    You have to wonder if we are really looking at a case of corporate terrorism and murder, somewhat as depicted in “Michael Clayton”.

    I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find that Bruce Ivins was murdered, and it was made to look like a suicide. Why? Well, he had aggressively resisted the FBI’s insinuations, as had Steven Hatfill – and he didn’t write a letter. Furthermore, that huge HHS anthrax contract might have run into political difficulties if the contractees were still suspects in the crime, right?

    I think that this speculation is far closer to the truth than any Al Qaeda notion – I think we are looking at for-profit corporate terror and corporate murder, to tell you the truth.

    • DXer said

      Ike,

      If you click on the name DXer, you will find contact information, name, location and my email.

      Bruce Ivins committed suicide as reflected by the note to his wife, the circumstances.

      The best source of information on the suicide is the police report by the Frederick police which I invite you to read.

      • Ike Solem said

        DX, you have to look at the similarities to the Frank Olson case on this one.

        Frank Olson was one of the early members of the U.S. biowarfare program with a graduate degree in microbiology from the Univ of Wisconsin, having joined the Army’s Special Operations (biowarfare) branch in 1943 and had been appointed acting chief of SO for a few months in 1952. Project MK-ULTRA, the CIA brainwashing/drug interrogation program, is well-known. It was actually part of an umbrella of projects called MK-NAOMI, Project Bluebird, and Project Artichoke. Frank Olson was, in other words, part of a partnership between the CIA and the Army in which the CIA could use drugs or bioweapons prepared by Army scientists, in addition to his responsibilities as a biowarfare research scientist. He had apparently witnessed chemical interrogations that ended in death, for example – and he had developed doubts about his chosen career.

        It is in this context that the head of the CIA branch, Sid Gottlieb, secretly dosed Olson and a host of other biowarfare scientists with LSD at Deep Creek Lake in Michigan during the annual joint CIA-Army conference.

        The official story is that soon after, Olson “flipped out”, and was instructed to visit a psychiatrist in New York (Dr. Harold A. Abramson, secretary Naomi, which is how MK-NAOMI was named), accompanied by a CIA operative, Robert Lashbrook. After meeting with the psychiatrist, Olson checked into a high rise hotel, arose in the middle of the night without waking his companion, smashed the window open, and lept to his death.

        The generally accepted modern view is that Olson wanted out of the biowarfare program, and might have even gone public about it. Thus the CIA had their operative smack him on the head in the hotel room, break the window, and throw Olson to his death, after concocting a story about his “irrational behavior”. This was in Nov. 1953, at the height of the Cold War, and what the CIA and the Army feared above all was public exposure of the rather large U.S. biological warfare program. Olson was already tired of the biowarfare gig, by his family’s accounts. Gottlieb, the CIA guy responsible, became head of CIA’s Technical Services, after getting a mild reprimand from Allan Dulles for his “poor judgment” in slipping LSD to edgy biowarfare scientists.

        Maybe it was stuff like this that turned off Olson:

        http://www.frankolsonproject.org/Articles/VictimsBlood.html

        Well, that’s the Frank Olson story… I just can’t help noticing the startling similarities: guy commits suicide after being ordered to visit therapist. Frank Olson died in 1953; Bruce Ivins in 2008… Well. Speculation has its place – but apparently Ivins left no suicide note? That’s odd. I mean, I would have expected something? An outraged denial, a tearful confession, something… David Kelly didn’t leave a note, either. I do enjoy the occasional John Le Carre novel, but it sure seems weird.

        Pure speculation, but why are there so few reports about the “suicide”? The original “breaking story”, recall, was David Willan in the LA Times:

        Ivins died Tuesday at Frederick Memorial Hospital after ingesting a massive dose of prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine, said a friend and colleague, who declined to be identified out of concern that he would be harassed by the FBI.

        The death — without any mention of suicide — was announced to Ivins’ colleagues at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, or USAMRIID, through a staffwide e-mail.

        The Frederick Post, on the same day, reported this:

        About 1:15 a.m. Sunday, Emergency Communications received a medical emergency call from Ivins’ Military Road home, said Lt. Shawn Martyak of the Frederick Police Department. Officials found Ivins unresponsive on the floor in a room in his home.

        At the time when officers were called to the home, there was nothing to indicate it was a suicide, he said.

        The department was notified Tuesday afternoon that Ivins had died by Frederick Memorial Hospital officials, Martyak said. They are conducting a death investigation which is the standard department procedure regarding suicides. A final report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is not expected for several weeks, he said.

        In 1953, the headlines ran “Army Bacteriologist Dies in Plunge From N.Y. Hotel…” Cause? Suicide. Odd, isn’t it? More mystery – and little followup by the lead press outlets. In fact, the press refused to ask many hard questions of the FBI, who finally ended up running some weird “private scientific conference” staffed by a pack of DOE- Battelle public relation types.

        In all fairness, they had one good genetic expert on hand, Prof. Paul Keim – if there is a single reliable source here, he’s the one, go read his papers, they’re models of clarity – but he limits his analysis to the genetic link between the flask spores and the letter spores (and he is not an FBI or DOE or Battelle employee). That analysis looks fairly robust – but there are serious chain-of-custody, plausible contamination, and timeline issues involving that famous flask, that would lead to it all being tossed in a court of law – which is where it would have ended up if Ivins had stayed alive. In particular, an aggressive search-and-sample routine was not carried out at in Ohio or Dugway, I don’t think – so claims of “unique fingerprints” are nonsense. Humans have fingerprints, but when a bacteria divides, the copy is highly accurate – genetic clones are the norm.

        That, after all, is how we can track the path of the swine flu outbreak from Mexico – by looking for identical clones, and taking a whole lot of samples. If you don’t take samples, you have nothing to examine…

        Before he died, Ivins looked like Hatfield all over again – and with a giant multi-million dollar anthrax vaccine contract about to be squeezed out by Health and Human Services before the end of 2008 (yes, it went to Emergent Biosolutions).

        Speaking of HHS, I was not surprised to see that a large effort was made to sabotage the Daschle nomination to the head of HHS – and do you want to bet that Battelle lobbyists played a role in that? $100,000 in paid-off back taxes involving an apparently honest error… that would lead to the dismissal of the entire Congress, wouldn’t it?

        In this context, that episode looks a little different, I think.

    • DXer said

      I’ve recommended you read the police reports on the suicide.

      Regarding the origin of Ames, I recommend the 2002 Science article by Keim et al.

  2. DXer said

    WE’LL LET MOM TELL LEW
    (A palindrome reads the same forwards and backwards)

    We panic in a pew.
    We’ll let Mom tell Lew.

    Reviled did I live, said I, as evil did I deliver.
    Revered now I live on. O did I no evil, I wonder ever?

    Kayak salad, Alaska yak.
    Campus Motto: Bottoms up, Mac

    Wow! Sis! Wow!
    Wonton on salad? Alas, no, not now!

    “Desserts, sis?” (Sensuousness is stressed).
    Desserts I desire not, so long no lost one rise distressed.

    “Do nine men interpret?” Nine men, I nod.
    Doc, note I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod.

    May a moody baby doom a yam?
    Marge let a moody baby doom a telegram.

    Oh who was it I saw, oh who?
    Oozy rat in a sanitary zoo?

    Was it a car or a cat I saw?
    War! I saw ‘Nam — man was I raw.

    Tis in a DeSoto sedan I sit.
    To Idi Amin I am an idiot.

    Race fast, safe car.
    Rats live on no evil star.

    Toot! Toot!
    Too hot to hoot.

    Stop, Syrian! I start at rats in airy spots.
    Stop! Murder us not, tonsured rumpots.

    Trap a rat! Stare, piper, at star apart!
    Trade ye no mere moneyed art.

    If I had a hi-fi!? If I had a hi-fi!?
    I, madam, I made radio. So I dared! Am I mad? Am I?

    Ah! A mop, a man, a map: Omaha!
    Was it felt? I had a hit left, I saw.

    Solo gigolos.
    So many dynamos.

    Oh, no! Don Ho.
    Ogre, flog a golfer. Go!

    Ten animals I slam in a net.
    Pets, Ed, I sidestep.

    Nurse, save rare vases, run!
    Now, sir, a war is won.

    Mad? Am I, madam?
    Madam, in Eden, I’m Adam!

    Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas.
    Are we not drawn onwards, we few, drawn on to new era?

    Ma handed Edna ham.
    Ma is as selfless as I am.

  3. Ike Solem said

    “The FBI’s stock profile concerning a biological agent was a lone, unstable individual.”

    Actually, the initial FBI supposition was that someone had done this in order to raise fear and manipulate events, not to kill people. The letters were sent to major media outlets and then to politicians, and were labeled “take penicillin” and “we have this anthrax”.

    Compare that to the Aum Shinrikyo cult, notorious for attacking Japanese subways with sarin nerve gas, but also for their (failed) attempts to release anthrax. In those cases no warning was given and the cult really was out to kill people.

    The clear warning is more an indication that this was meant to cause a panic, which it did, but not to kill people. If so, then the first round of letters was a complete failure – even the one person who became sick and died, Bob Stevens, was thought by CDC to have caught the disease on a weekend vacation with his family.

    That then explains the more potent preparation in the second letter, the clear labeling with ‘we have this anthrax’, and the destination – the Hart Senate Office Building.

    This points more towards someone taking the stuff of the shelf somewhere, rather than making it themselves – as in, “That didn’t work, let’s try something stronger” – and then it contaminated the entire mail system between Princeton and Washington.

    In other words, I’m guessing the material was stolen from a biological threat assessment program stockpile, and that points towards just two labs, one in Ohio and one in Utah – but first, we need to know more about the biological threat assessment program and what they actually did – and what they might still be doing.

    As far as why a pharmaceutical concern would benefit from fear over anthrax, see this story:

    Wednesday, October 1, 2008
    Emergent Biosolutions wins $404M anthrax vaccine award
    Washington Business Journal – by Tucker Echols Staff Reporter

    Emergent Biosolutions Inc. has won a contract to provide more anthrax vaccine to the U.S. government worth as much as $404 million.

    The order is for 14.5 million doses of Emergent’s Biothrax vaccine which will be added to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Strategic National Stockpile. The order will earn Emergent between $364 million and $404 million depending on how much of the order can be filled with vaccine with a shelf life of four years.

    Emergent expects to begin filling the new order in the third quarter of 2009 after it has finished delivery of its existing order of 18.75 million doses of Biothrax, an order valued at $448 million. Emergent believes the new contract will be completed filled by the third quarter of 2011

    Emergent is Bioport’s new name, and they’ve absorbed Vaxgen, the other recombinant anthrax vaccine firm. Both those firms subcontracted all their testing to Battelle’s West Jefferson Ohio facility, by the way.

    Yes, we need anthrax vaccine stockpiles…. or do we? Do we really need to vaccinate our troops against anthrax? Of course not – but it is a big entrenched cash cow, and so it keeps on ticking, even though the Cold War has been over for 20 years now.

    • DXer said

      Ike,

      Certainly lots of companies benefited (although Ivins did not). For example, the small Ann Arbor company, NanoBio, to which Bruce Ivins gave virulent Ames received $80 million in investment and has not yet marketed a product. $30 million — or is it $50 million by now, it’s hard to keep up — came from a DC venture firm led by Richard Holbrooke called Perseus. Their vaccine-related DARPA-funded worked involved developing nanoemulsions. The vaccine would be delivered intranasally as I recall. The Ann Arbor NanoBio researchers thanked Dr. Jane A. Alexander for her support of the DARPA research they were doing involving the virulent Ames strain supplied by USAMRIID’s Bruce Ivins. Bruce did the research for them the lead researcher tells me. They visited Dugway in 1999 for aerosol experiments using surrogates and I believe testing was done in 2001 involving surrogates at Edgewood. It was John Ezzell who was mentioned in the email by Bruce Ivins. Presumably the email referred to him making a surrogate. Someone should ask Dr. Ezzell whether he made the surrogate used at Edgewood for the 2001 DARPA experiments at Edgewood. Previously he supplied Delta Ames, I believe, for research relating to anthrax in soil.

      But sending poisonous letter bombs is also fairly understood as consistent with Al Qaeda’s modus operandi in that the Al Qaeda operations manual, the most recent version on CD-ROM, had a chapter on “Poisonous Letter.” As with the insertion of biologicals into food, the key is mass panic, not mass casualty.

      The Belgian Prime Minister and the US, British and Saudi Arabian embassies have been sent letters containing hydrazine and an arsenic derivative used in nerve gas in May 2003. This bears on modus operandi. Some argue that islamists would never merely send lethal substances through the mail (though the risk of significant casualty is low) to send a message or warning. One of the ingredients is hard to obtain, suggesting one Health Ministry spokesman to remark that “We’re not dealing with a small-time joker.” A trial of 23 suspected al-Qaeda members was in its third week. “Set our brothers free. Bastards.” Couldn’t be a threat by islamists because they only go for mass casualties — not threats. Right? One of the defendants in that trial allegedly sought hydrazine for use in producing a bomb. A 45- year old Iraqi man was arrested.

      A similar modus operandi was followed in New Zealand with cyanide in early 2002 and early 2003 by a sender purporting to be islamist.

      A December 2004 report on terrorism in the European Union noted that in July 2004, eight letters arrived at several official locations in Brussels that contained an ochre-coloured chemical substance that caused itchy eyes and breathing problems. Tests indicated that the substance was adamsite (phenarsasine). Some of the letters included “a threat letter written in (very poor) English, demanding that two recently convicted Islamic extremists are released within that month.”

      Zawahiri feels that in the usual case, the best way to get a lot of people watching is to kill the maximum number of people. But he wouldn’t disagree with the comment by Brian Jenkins that “Terrorism is theater.” Just those 10 grams cost an estimated $6 billion and have been the subject of thousands of news stories and the focus of widespread bioterrorism preparations. They were fully adequate to do the job even within the constraints of small batch production.

      The anthrax sender may not have intended to harm anyone. Stevens’ death was reported late on October 5. Whether the mailer knew of the death might depend on whether the mailing was made Saturday, October 6 — or whether it was made as late as Tuesday, October 9, the day it was postmarked after a long holiday weekend.

      Al Qaeda’s shura or policy-making council is concerned with handling its efforts in such a way as to develop and maintain the Arab hatred of the US and Israel. That requires a delicate balance and choice of suitable targets and methods. For example, as explained by the spokesperson in mid-February, Abu al Bara’a Al-Qarshy, Al Qaeda will not use WMD in a muslim country, particularly the home of Mecca and Medina. Terrorism involves public relations. Zawahiri divines from his religious texts that it is moral to kill American civilians on the grounds that they stood silent as taxpayers while US-bought weapons were used on Palestinians. In 1998, in an interview that appeared in TIME Magazine, Bin Laden himself explained that it was Al Qaeda’s “religious duty” to obtain chemical and biological weapons, but it was up to them how to use them.

      As Dr. Jane A. Alexander of DARPA once explained at DARPA Tech, 1999:

      “Small scale attacks may be adequate to immobilize national will with panic unless reasonable defenses are available. Terrorists do not need the technological sophistication of a military offensive biological warfare program. A military offensive BW program strives for predictable effect so that military operations can be planned. Terrorists could actually benefit from the variation of the onset and outcome of the illnesses creating added panic in the public.”

      The al Qaeda shura (policy-making council) may deem that Al Qaeda needs to choose the methods of attack carefully so that they are both are effective and calculated to gain the support of others. (Gassing the Kurds ultimately was a public relations debacle for Saddam once the world stopped looking the other way).

      It was only after the mailings that Suleiman Abu Ghaith claimed that Al Qaeda has the right to murder four million Americans, in a three-part article “In the Shadow of the Lances,” posted in June 2002 on the web-site of the Center for Islamic Research and Studies, Abu Ghaith wrote:

      “The Americans have still not tasted from our hands what we have tasted from theirs. The [number of] killed in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were no more than fair exchange for the ones killed in the Al-‘Amiriya shelter in Iraq, and are but a tiny part of the exchange for those killed in Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, the Philippines, Bosnia, Kashmir, Chechnya, and Afghanistan.”

      “We have not reached parity with them. We have the right to kill four million Americans – two million of them children – and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands. Furthermore, it is our right to fight them with chemical and biological weapons, so as to afflict them with the fatal maladies that have afflicted the Muslims because of the [Americans’] chemical and biological weapons.”

      “America knows only the language of force. This is the only way to stop it and make it take its hands off the Muslims and their affairs. America does not know the language of dialogue!! Or the language of peaceful coexistence!! America is kept at bay by blood alone.”

      It is precisely that Ayman Zawahiri feels that the warning required under the Koran and Hadiths has been given that it is not acceptable to get the solution to Amerithrax wrong.

      • DXer said

        In late August 2001, NanoBio relocated from a small office with 12 year-old furniture to an expanded office on Green Road located at Plymouth Park. After the mailings, DARPA reportedly asked for some of their product them to decontaminate some of the Senate offices. The company pitched hand cream to postal workers. The inventors company, NanoBio, is funded by DARPA. NanoBio received a $3,150,000 defense contract in 2003. Dr. Hamouda graduated Cairo Medical in December 1982. He married in 1986. His wife was on the Cairo University dental faculty for 10 years. Upon coming to the United States in 1994 after finishing his microbiology PhD at Cairo Medical, Dr. Hamouda was a post-doctoral fellow at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in downtown Detroit. His immunology department biography at Wayne indicates that he then came to the University of Michigan and began work on the DARPA-funded work with anthrax bio-defense applications with James R. Baker at their company NanoBio.

        The University of Michigan researchers presented in part at various listed meetings and conferences in 1998 and 1999. The December 1999 article titled “A Novel Surfactant Nanoemulsion with Broad-Spectrum Sporicidal Activity of against Bacillus Species” in the Journal for Infectious Diseases states:

        “B. anthracis spores, Ames and Vollum 1B strains, were supplied by Bruce Ivins (US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases [USAMRIID], Fort Detrick, Frederick, MD) and were prepared as described elsewhere. Four other strains of B. anthracis were provided by Martin Hugh-Jones (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.”

        In the acknowledgements section, the University of Michigan authors thank:

        Shaun B. Jones, Jane Alexander, and Lawrence DuBois (Defense Science Office, Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) for their support.
        Bruce Ivins, Patricia Fellows, Mara Linscott, Arthur Friedlander, and the staff of USAMRIID for their technical support and helpful suggestions in the performance of the initial anthrax studies.
        Martin-Hugh-Jones, Kimothy Smith, and Pamela Coker for supplying the characterized B. anthracis strains and the space at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge).
        Robin Kunkel (Department of Pathology, University of Michigan) for her help with electron microscopy and a couple of others for technical assistance and manuscript preparation.
        The researchers found that their nanoemulsion incorporated into the growth medium completely inhibited the growth of the spores. Transmission electron microscope was used to examine the spores.
        The authors explained that “The nanoemulsions can be rapidly produced in large quantities and are stable for many months *** Undiluted, they have the texture of a semisolid cream and can be applied topically by hand or mixed with water. Diluted, they have a consistency and appearance similar to skim milk and can be sprayed to decontaminate surfaces or potentially interact with aerosolized spores before inhalation.”

        A March 18, 1998 press release had provided some background to the novel DARPA-funded work. It was titled “Novavax Microbicides Undergoing Testing at University of Michigan Against Biological Warfare Agents; Novavax Technology Being Supplied to U.S. Military Program At University of Michigan as Possible Defense Against Germ Warfare.” The release stated that “The Novavax Biologics Division has designed several potent microbicides and is supplying these materials to the University of Michigan for testing under a subcontract. Various formulations are being tested as topical creams or sprays for nasal and environmental usage. The biocidal agent’s detergent degrades and then explodes the interior of the spore. Funding, the press release explains, was provided by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense.

        In a presentation at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) on September 26, 1998, Michael Hayes, a research associate in the U-Michigan Medical School, presented experimental evidence of BCTP’s ability to destroy anthrax spores both in a culture dish and in mice exposed to anthrax through a skin incision. “In his conference presentation, Hayes described how even low concentrations of BCTP killed more than 90 percent of virulent strains of Bacillus anthracis spores in a culture dish.” Its website explains that the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy is the “[p]remier meeting on infectious diseases and antimicrobial agents, organized by the American Society for Microbiology.”

        An University of Michigan Medical school, Medicine at Michigan, (Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring 1999) explained:

        “In studies with rats and mice in the U-M Medical School under the direction of James R. Baker, Jr., M.D., professor of internal medicine and director of the Center for Biologic Nanotechnology, the mixture, known as BCTP, attacked anthrax spores and healed wounds caused by a closely related species of bacteria, Bacillus cereus. (The letters BCTP stand for Bi-Component, Triton X-100 n-tributyl Phosphate.)
        Baker describes the process as follows: “The tiny lipid droplets in BCTP fuse with anthrax spores, causing the spores to revert to their active bacterial state. During this process, which takes 4-5 hours, the spore’s tough outer membrane changes, allowing BCTP’s solvent to strip away the exterior membrane. The detergent then degrades the spores’ interior contents. In scanning electron microscope images, the spores appear to explode.” The rapid inactivation of anthrax bacteria and spores combined with BCTP’s low toxicity thus make the emulsion a promising candidate for use as a broad-spectrum, post-exposure decontamination agent.
        ***

        The research is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the central research and development organization for the U.S. Department of Defense.”

        Dr. Baker, by email, advises me that Ivins did the studies involving Ames for them at USAMRIID. He reports: “We never had Ames and could not have it at our UM facilities.” Before September 2001, it’s office was described as in the basement of a downtown bank which seems to describe 912 N. Main St., Ann Arbor, just west of University of Michigan campus.

        An article in the Summer of 2000 in Medicine at Michigan explains:

        “Victory Site: Last December [December 1999] Tarek Hamouda, Amy Shih and Jim Baker traveled to a remote military station in the Utah desert. There they demonstrated for the U.S. Army Research and Development Command the amazing ability of non-toxic nanoemulsions (petite droplets of fat mixed with water and detergent) developed at Michigan to wipe out deadly anthrax-like bacterial spores. The square vertical surfaces shown here were covered with bacterial spores; Michigan’s innocuous nanoemulsion was most effective in killing the spores even when compared to highly toxic chemicals.”

        As Fortune magazine explained in November 2001 about NanoBio: “Then bioterror struck…. It moved to a bland corporate park where its office has no name on the door. It yanked its street address off its Website, whose hit rate jumped from 350 a month to 1,000 a day.” NanoBio was part of the solution: “in the back of NanoBio’s office sit two dozen empty white 55-gallon barrels. A few days before, DARPA had asked Annis and Baker if they could make enough decontaminant to clean several anthrax-tainted offices in the Senate. NanoBio’s small lab mixers will have to run day and night to fill the barrels. ‘This is not the way we want to do this,’ sighs [its key investor], shaking his head. ‘This is all a duct-tape solution.’ ” James Baker, founder of Ann Arbor’s NanoBio’s likes to quote a Chinese proverb: “When there are no lions and tigers in the jungle, the monkeys rule.”

        It’s naive to think that Al Qaeda could not have obtained Ames just because it tended to be in labs associated with or funded by the US military. US Army Al Qaeda operative Sgt. Ali Mohammed accompanied Zawahiri in his travels in the US. (Ali Mohamed had been a major in the same unit of the Egyptian Army that produced Sadat’s assassin, Khaled Islambouli). Ali Al-Timimi was working in the building housing the Center for Biodefense funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (“DARPA”) and had access to the facilities at both the Center for Biodefense and the adjacent American Type Culture Collection. Michael Ray Stubbs was an HVAC system technician at Lawrence Livermore Lab with a high-level security clearance permitting access. That was where the effort to combat the perceived Bin Laden anthrax threat was launched in 1998. Aafia Siddiqui, who attended classes at a building with the virulent Vollum strain. She later married a 9/11 plotter al-Balucchi, who was in UAE with al-Hawsawi, whose laptop, when seized at the home of a bacteriologist, had anthrax spraydrying documents on it. The reality is that a lab technician, researcher, or other person similarly situated might simply have walked out of some lab that had it. What was NanoBio’s old street address? Why is Aafia Siddiqui associated with an address at 1915 Woodbury Drive in Ann Arbor? An Assistant United States Attorney has claimed in open court (in the opening argument in United States v. Paracha) that Aafia was willing to participate in an anthrax attack if asked.

        Among the documents found in Afghanistan in 2001 were letters and notes written in English to Ayman Zawahiri by a scientist about his attempts to obtain an anthrax sample. One handwritten letter was on the letterhead of the Society for Applied Microbiology, the UK’s oldest microbiological society. The Society for Applied Microbiology of Bedford, UK, recognizes that “the development and exploitation of Applied Microbiology requires the maintenance and improvement of the microbiological resources in the UK, such as culture collections and other specialized facilities.” Thus, Zawahiri’s access to the Ames strain is still yet to be proved or disclosed, but there was no shortage of possibilities or recruitment attempts by Ayman. One colleague of his estimates that he made 15 recruitment attempts over a many year period. Dr. Keim observes: “Whoever perpetrated the first crime must realize that we have the capability to identify material and to track the material back to its source. Whoever did this is presumably aware of what’s going on, and if the person is a scientist, they can read the study. Hopefully, the person is out there thinking: When am I going to get caught?”

        After the February 2009 presentation, the New Scientist summarized: “Eight samples had all four. One came from a flask labelled RMR-1029 that Ivins was responsible for at USAMRIID. The other seven came from cultures taken from that flask, only one of which was not located at USAMRIID. So while these findings show the attack spores came from one of these cultures, the FBI has gone further in concluding the attack came directly from the RMR-1029 flask.” The FBI has not yet identified the location of the 8 isolates downstram from Ivins’ flask known to be an identical match — or the 100+people it says had access. For the US Attorney Jeff Taylor to make it seem, however, that only Ivins had control over anthrax that was genetically identical was specious. The more commonsensical point would be that Ivins would have no reason to use anthrax so directly traceable to him by reason of being a distinctive mix of Ames strains.

        In an April 2001 report describing testing of decontamination agents at Dugway, the best performing decontamination nanoemulsions were University of Michigan, Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory.

        In June 2001, in addition to the conference at Annapolis organized by Bruce Ivins, a conference was held at Aberdeen Proving Ground (Edgewood) for small businesses that might contribute to the biodefense effort. It it showcased APG’s world class facillities that had the full range of relevant equipment, as well as the range of activities and research featured by presenters at such conferences. It was called “Team APG Showcase 2001.″ Edgewood maintains a database of simulant properties. The info and equipment, including spraydrying equipment, is available to participants in the SBIR — promoting small business innovation. So might the anthrax attack have required the learning of a state? Well, to get that, all you needed to do was go to the program that shares such research for the purpose of innovation in the area of biodefense. APG built a Biolevel-3 facility and, according to a Baltimore Sun report, by October 2002 had 19 virulent strains of anthrax, including Ames. A 1996 report on a study done at Edgewood involving irradiated virulent Ames provided by John Ezzell that was used in a soil suspension. Another article discusses Delta Ames supplied to Edgewood by the Battelle-managed Dugway, subtilis, and use of sheep blood agar. Did Battelle have virulent Ames across I-95? Edgewood tested nanoemulsion biocidal agents during this time period, according to a national nanobiotechnology initiative report issued June 2002.

      • DXer said

        TO: Membership of the American Society for Microbiology
        FROM: Van Harp, Assistant Director, Washington Field Office
        Federal Bureau of Investigation
        ***
        I would like to appeal to the talented men and women of the American Society for Microbiology to assist the FBI in identifying the person who mailed these letters. It is very likely that one or more of you know this individual. A review of the information-to-date in this matter leads investigators to believe that a single person is most likely responsible for these mailings. This person is experienced working in a laboratory. Based on his or her selection of the Ames strain of Bacillus anthracis one would expect that this individual has or had legitimate access to select biological agents at some time. This person has the technical knowledge and/or expertise to produce a highly refined and deadly product. This person has exhibited a clear, rational thought process and appears to be very organized in the production and mailing of these letters. The perpetrator might be described as “stand-offish” and likely prefers to work in isolation as opposed to a group/team setting. It is possible this person used off-hours in a laboratory or may have even established an improvised or concealed facility comprised of sufficient equipment to produce the anthrax.

        It is important to ensure that all relevant information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, is brought to the attention of the investigators in this case. If you believe that you have information that might assist in the identification of this individual, please contact the FBI via telephone at 1-800-CRIME TV (1-800-274-6388) or via email at the following website: Amerithrax@FBI.gov
        There is also a $2.5 million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible in this case.

        In a presentation at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) on September 26, 1998, Michael Hayes, a research associate in the U-Michigan Medical School, presented experimental evidence relating to work done by USAMRIID scientist Bruce Ivins establishing BCTP’s ability to destroy anthrax spores both in a culture dish and in mice exposed to anthrax through a skin incision. “In his conference presentation, Hayes described how even low concentrations of BCTP killed more than 90 percent of virulent strains of Bacillus anthracis spores in a culture dish.” Its website explains that the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy is the “[p]remier meeting on infectious diseases and antimicrobial agents, organized by the American Society for Microbiology.” Tarek Hamouda made a similar presentation to the American Society of Microbiologists presentation in Atlanta, Georgia. Neither has responded to emails or provided a copy of their respective presentations. Both ASM and University of Michigan failed to produce copies of the presentation.

    • DXer said

      Ike,

      Deadly letters were actually the signature, not merely the modus operandi, of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

      Lance Williams of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote an eye-opening profile of Khalid Dahab, a Cairo Medical School drop-out who recruited US operatives for Al Qaeda. He was trained by Bin Laden’s head of intelligence, former US Army Sergeant Ali Mohammed. Ali Mohammed had recruited him while he was student at Cairo Medical in the early 1980s. The article was based on statements made in a Cairo court proceeding.

      Williams reports that Bin Laden personally congratulated Dahab, an Egyptian- born US Citizen, a Silicon Valley car salesman and member of Zawahri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad/Vanguards of Conquest, for recruiting Islamist Americans into al Qaeda. The account of Dahab’s confession was first published in the October 10, 2001 edition of the London-based Arabic language newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat. Dahab said he and Bin Laden’s head of intelligence, former U.S. Army Sgt. Ali Mohamed. Ali Mohamed was also a Silicon Valley resident. Ali Mohamed had traveled to Afghanistan in the mid-1990s to report to bin Laden on the success the two were having in recruiting Americans. Bin Laden told them that recruiting terrorists with American citizenship was a top priority.

      Ali Mohamed has admitted role in planning the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, killing more than 200 people.

      Williams wrote: “Dahab’s confession supports the view of many terrorism experts that al Qaeda has “sleeper” operatives on station in the United States for future terrorist attacks.” Khaled Duran, an author and terrorism expert who has written about the Silicon Valley cell, said the recruits would be expected to “fade into the woodwork” until the organization needed them, he said. Williams continues: “His story, obtained from accounts of Egyptian court proceedings and interviews with people who knew him, is entwined with that of Mohamed, a former Egyptian military officer and aide to bin Laden who recruited Dahab into al Qaeda, brought him to America and became his handler.”

      Handsome and outgoing, Dahab spoke excellent English. He said he was from a wealthy Alexandria family. His mother was a physician and he was planning a career in medicine.

      “But Dahab told acquaintances he had been radicalized by a tragedy that happened when he was a schoolboy: his father, he claimed, had been among 108 people killed in the 1973 crash of a Cairo-bound Libyan Arab Airlines plane that was shot down by Israeli fighter jets when it strayed over the Sinai Peninsula, which at the time was occupied by Israel. He claimed that his father’s death — and Egypt’s failure to avenge it — had turned him against the Egyptian government and against Israel and the United States, as well. He said he was drawn toward Islamic Jihad, a radical movement that had assassinated President Anwar Sadat in 1981 in an effort to remake Egypt into a fundamentalist Muslim state.”

      Williams reports that it was while a medical student i in about 1984, according to his confession, that Dahab met Mohamed, who then was an officer in the Egyptian commando forces and a Jihad operative planning to emigrate to the United States. Dahab came to the United States in 1986, obtaining a student visa by saying he wanted to study medicine. He rented an apartment in Santa Clara, where Ali Mohamed now lived with his American wife. He dropped the name Dahab, calling himself Khaled Mohamed or Ali Mohamed, the same name used by the man who had recruited him. “He sometimes claimed, falsely,” Williams explains, “that he had been a physician in Egypt, said people who met him.”

      “In 1992, Dahab married a junior college student from a tiny town in South Dakota whom he met while lawn-bowling in Santa Clara. His third wife converted to Islam. They had four children, and the marriage helped him win citizenship, acquaintances said. The family settled in a duplex near Santa Clara High School. Dahab struggled to support his family, court records show. He worked as a maintenance man at Kaiser Hospital in Santa Clara, then at National Semiconductor, then as a $30,000-per-year car salesman in San Jose.” In the mid-1990s, despite financial problems, “[h]e was often abroad, traveling extensively in the Middle East, vacationing in Pakistan, telling associates he was starting a chemical business in Egypt.”

      “In 1995, using a fake passport and identity documents, Dahab and Ali Mohammed smuggled Zawahiri into the US from Afghanistan for a covert fund-raising tour. Dahab reports that part of the money financed the bombing of the Egyptian Embassy in Pakistan. Dahab also said that at Mohamed’s direction he had gone to terrorist camps in Afghanistan in 1990 and trained guerrilla fighters to fly hang gliders. He said Islamic Jihad was planning a hand-glider assault to liberate imprisoned Jihad leaders, some of whom had been locked up since the assassination of Sadat.”

      A former friend remembers that Dahab turned up in the parking lot at the Al- Noor Mosque in Santa Clara, driving a station wagon with a hang glider in the back and saying he was bound for Afghanistan. “He said, ‘I am going to take (the aircraft) to Afghanistan and help the mujahedeen — I am going to take it over there and train people to fly it,’ ” the friend said. “People said, ‘Oh, you crazy guy — they thought he was joking.’ ” Jihad later canceled the attack, Dahab said in his confession.”

      Williams continues: “Meanwhile, Dahab said Mohamed gave him military training and taught him how to make letter bombs. Dahab said he had also worked as an al Qaeda communications specialist, aiding terrorists inside Egypt by patching through their calls to other operatives in Afghanistan and the Sudan. This helped the terrorists plan operations while avoiding electronic surveillance by Egyptian security forces who routinely wiretapped calls between Egypt and countries that harbored jihad terrorists.

      Also in the 1990s, Dahab said, he and Mohamed were told to begin recruiting U.S. citizens of Middle Eastern heritage. Dahab said the recruitment project had first been outlined to him by an al Qaeda fighter named Abdel Aziz Moussa al Jamal, who, according to Arabic press accounts, recently surfaced in Islamabad, Pakistan, serving as translator for Taliban envoy Abdul Salam Zaeef. On another visit to Afghanistan, Dahab said, he and Mohamed discussed the project with Zawahiri and bin Laden.” “Dahab told Egyptian authorities he and Mohamed had found 10 recruits, all of them naturalized U.S. citizens who had been born in the Middle East. The account of the confession did not name the recruits or provide other details about them.”

      Williams explains that Dahab was arrested and sent to an Egyptian prison. “By 1998, Dahab was spending more and more time abroad, and he told a family law judge in San Jose that he intended to move his family back to Egypt. In August 1998, while Dahab was in Egypt, al Qaeda mounted suicide attacks on the embassies in East Africa. Within weeks Ali Mohamed was arrested for complicity in the attack. He pled guilty.
      .
      In October 1998, the Egyptian military moved to crush Islamic Jihad by arresting more than 70 of the organization’s leaders. Dahab decided to flee, and on Oct. 28 booked a flight to the United States. According to Dahab acquaintances, Egyptian security police boarded the plane shortly before takeoff and took him away in handcuffs. Dahab confessed his involvement with al Qaeda and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.”

      Sleepers, the former head of Bin Laden’s intelligence (and a former US Army sergeant) Ali Mohammed testified, “don’t wear the traditional beards and they don’t pray at the mosques.” An Al Qaeda encyclopedia, Military Studies in the Jihad Against the Tyrants, advises sleepers to “have a general appearance that does not indicate Islamic orientation,” and for men not to wear a beard. The book also instructs sleepers not to denounce unjustice faced by the ummah, and not to use common Islamic expressions such as “peace be on you,” nor to go to Islamic locations, such as mosques.

      Consider the example of another “sleeper” or operative, Tarik Hamdi of Herndon, Virginia. ABC News employed him to help secure an interview with bin Laden in early 1998. ABC News transported Hamdi to Afghanistan, unaware that his real purpose in going there was to carry a replacement battery to bin Laden for the satellite telephone he would later use to order the embassy bombings in East Africa. ABC was also unaware that the CIA had planted a listening device in the phone.

      The successful CIA operation, however, did not serve to prevent the planning of the embassy operation. Ironically, it facilitated it. If we don’t learn from history, we are bound to repeat it.

      • DXer said

        While Al-Timimi was recruiting for the Taliban, he was also connected to one of the principals on Al Qaeda’s WMD Committee, Mohammed Abdel-Rahman — the blind sheik’s son — through the Ann Arbor-based charity IANA. Mohammed Abdel-Rahman spoke at the first conference of the Ann Arbor-based Islamic Assembly of North America (”IANA”) in 1993 and was noted to be from Afghanistan. Mohammed Abdelrahman spoke alongside Ali Al-Timimi again, for example, in 1996 in Toronto and again that December in Chicago at the annual IANA conference. (The December conference was held after blind sheik Abdel-Rahman was indicted.) Mohammed Abdel-Rahman was close to bin Laden and was engaged in planning key operations. OBL considered him like a son. Mohammed was on the three member WMD committee with Midhat Mursi. Mohammed Abdel-Rahman ran a training camp that was part of the larger complex of several camps. He was an explosives trainer.

        The “Superseding Indictment” in United States of postal employee Ahmed Abdel Sattar and others explains that on February 12, 1997, with Mohammed Abdelrahman back in Afghanistan, a statement issued in the name of the Islamic Group threatened, “The Islamic Group declares all American interests legitimate targets to its legitimate jihad until the release of all prisoners, on top of whom” was blind sheik Abdel Rahman. Three months later, on May 5, 1997, a statement issued in the name of the Islamic Group threatened, “If any harm comes to the [S]heikh [,] al-Gama al-IsIalamiy[y]a will target [] all of those Americans who participated in subjecting his life to danger.” The statement also said that “Al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya considers every American official, starting with the American president to the despicable jailer [] partners endangering the Sheikh’s life,” and that the Islamic Group would do “everything in its power” to free Abdel Rahman. The same person who posted notice of the 1996 conference where Al-Timimi, Bilal Philips and Mohammed Abdel-Rahman spoke, then posted notice of a protest titled “STOP RAILROADING OF SHEIKH OMAR ABDEL RAHMAN – PROTEST US POLICIES AGAINST ISLAM.” The Rally was to take place on June 20, 1997 in front of the US Bureau of Prisons in Washington DC.

        An FBI affidavit, drafted in support of a warrant for the search of Post Office employee Sattar’s Staten Island apartment, explains that Sattar was the communications hub to and from the imprisoned Abdel-Rahman. The 42-year-old postal worker worked as a paralegal during the blind terrorist’s federal trial for attorneys Lynne Stewart and Stanley Cohen. Sattar was in frequent contact with Egyptian Islamic Group leaders worldwide, including Rifa’i Taha Musa (”Taha”) and WMD Committee member Abdel-Rahman’s son Mohammed.

        Al Qaeda continued to seek religious approval from blind sheik Abdel-Rahman for its attacks. The US indictment of the Post Office worker in contact with Mohammed Abdel-Rahman alleged: “On or about June 19, 2000, one of Abdel Rahman’s sons, Mohammed Abdel Rahman, spoke by telephone with SATTAR and asked SATTAR to convey to Abdel Rahman the fierceness of the debate within the Islamic Group about the initiative, and said that “even if the other side is right,” SATTAR should tell Abdel Rahman to calm the situation by supporting “the general line of the Group.”

        The indictment of the US Post Office employee Sattar further alleges: “On or about September 21, 2000, an Arabic television station, Al Jazeera, televised a meeting of Usama Bin Laden (leader of the al Qaeda terrorist organization), Ayman al Zawahiri (former leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization and one of Bin Laden’s top lieutenants), and Taha. Sitting under a banner which read, “Convention to Support Honorable Omar Abdel Rahman,” the three terrorist leaders pledged “to free Abdel Rahman from incarceration in the United States. During the meeting, Mohammed Abdel Rahman, a/k/a “Asadallah,” who is a son of Abdel Rahman, was heard encouraging others to “avenge your Sheikh” and “go to the spilling of blood.”

        In December 2001, the blind sheik’s lawyer Montasser Al-Zayat — the fellow in touch with US Post Office employee Sattar who claimed in March 1999 that Zawahiri was going to use weaponized anthrax against US targets — claimed that Mohammed Abdel-Rahman, 29, had died from wounds received during the bombardment of the Tora Bora caves in eastern Afghanistan. Mohammed Abdel-Rahman was arrested in mid-February 2003 and Ali Al-Timimi’s townhouse was searched two week later. The papers of Ann Arbor-based IANA head Bassem Khafagi were found at his residence, being kept for safekeeping.

  4. DXer said

    The FBI’s stock profile concerning a biological agent was a lone, unstable individual. In October 2001, the profilers pretty much just reached into the filing cabinet. One Special Agent involved in profiling such incidents explained in a conference, at which Dr. Steve Hatfill was also a presenter: “The closest I’ve ever come to biological-chemical issues is when the toilet on the 37th floor gets backed up *** It isn’t the Middle Eastern people. It isn’t white supremacists. It is the lone individual, lone unstable individual. That statistically, from the cases that we have, is the biggest threat right now.”

    Quoted in a June 2002 Wall Street Journal column titled “The “lone wolf” theory is evidence of the Bureau’s ineptitude,” FBI Special Agent Rowley was highly critical of the FBI in “chalking this all up to the ’20-20 hindsight is perfect’ problem.” The Minneapolis agents who arrested Zacarias Moussaoui before September 11 had quickly identified him as a terrorist threat and identified the legal grounds on which he has since been indicted.

    FBI Special Agent Fitzgerald, who had some early involvement in Amerithrax in issuing the “profile,” years earlier had special responsibility for scrutinizing the language of the manifesto in UNABOM. In late September 2001, his colleague from UNABOM, Kathleen Puckett turned in her study of “lone wolves” to include Kaczynski and others. Dr. Puckett sees “howling loneliness” as the key characteristic of a “lone wolf.” Before turning to work on domestic terror cases of the 1990s, her counterintelligence work typically involved Soviet spies. She would go and kibbitz the local agents on what she perceived as the personality of the subject. She retired on September 30, 2001 and handed in her study on lone wolves on her way out the door. By October, her colleague Fitzgerald was turning in a “lone wolf” profile for his assignment in Amerithrax. Judging from his comments to the media, he was one of those who was swayed based on the fact that Daschle and Leahy were Democrats.

    Hunting the American Terrorist (2007), by History Publishing is dedicated in part to the victims of the anthrax mailings. Dr. Terry Turchie and Dr. Kathleen Purkett appear to agree with the Special Agent Fitzgerald’s profile from October 2001. (Fitzgerald was their former team member) They write:

    “Then, right on the heels of 9/11, another wave of attacks paralyzed the east cost of the United States. During the week of September 18, 2001, five letters containing micronized anthrax were mailed to addresses between New York and Florida. They targeted journalists, U.S. Senators, and news magazines. As in the case of Kaczynski and Rudolph cases, the envelopes had fictional return addresses. Notes accompanying the mailings were supposedly from Islamic fundamentalists, and almost everyone in the government and the media quickly cast blame in that direction.
    For those of us who were involved in the domestic terror campaigns of the 1990s, however, the anthrax mailings had all the earmarks of a lone wolf.”

    Garbage in, garbage out. They appear to have been unaware of the al Hayat letter bombs.

    One person’s lonely lone wolf is another man’s US-based dedicated islamist operating under strict principles of cell security. It seems that the FBI was making the same mistake it made in the case of the assassination of Rabbi Kahane 10 years earlier by the blind sheik’s bodyguard Nosair.

    Inexplicably, the profilers do not seem to have been persuaded after 9/11 by the open source intelligence that Zawahiri had obtained anthrax for the purpose of weaponizing it for use against US targets. If intelligence analysis is an art, criminal profiling is drawing with crayons. A “profile” in connection to a person’s facial features might refer to what they look like in the dark. But, here, war had been declared. A weapon had been used by the enemy it had previously said it would use that specific weapon. Intelligence analysis, not profiling, was what was needed. The profilers apparently did not take to heart or learn the lesson of the al Hayat letter bombs in December 1996. James R. Fitzgerald, head of the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit, told an interviewer: “The attacker appears to be an opportunist [who] took advantage [of the terrorist attacks].” He continued “The rhetoric [in the letters] is made to sound like what a nonterrorist thinks a terrorist sounds like. The perpetrator was probably a right-winger with an ax to grind. It’s no secret that they [the intended recipients] are Democrats. People, including the Unabomber, have used representational targets for years.” Alluding to the mistaken notion that security guard Richard Jewell was responsible for the Olympic Park bombing, Vincent Cannistraro, formerly of the CIA, explained of the profile that the FBI are “intellectually convinced they’re on the right track, but they don’t want to come up with a janitor theory that’s wrong again.” The vague profile was fine but Agent Fitzgerald’s expanded comments to the press about the profile missed the mark. FBI profiler Fitzgerald, however, can be forgiven his early miscalculations. Such a profile likely was useful in supporting warrants in the US in connection with a variety of leads that prudently needed to be pursued. The forensics, without more, tended to point to a “domestic” source.

    The official published profile was very vague and spoke of a nonconfrontational loner carrying a grudge. Malcolm Gladwell, author of the acclaimed Blink, in his New Yorker article concludes that criminal profiling is no different than a parlor trick known by astrologers for years.

    “[Forensic psychologist Laurence Alison] wanted to know why, if the F.B.I.’s approach to criminal profiling was based on such simplistic psychology, it continues to have such a sterling reputation. The answer, he suspected, lay in the way the profiles were written, and, sure enough, when he broke down [a particular] analysis, sentence by sentence, he found that it was so full of unverifiable and contradictory and ambiguous language that it could support virtually any interpretation. Astrologers and psychics have known these tricks for years.”

    Victims and targets were highly skeptical of the FBI’s profile. David Pecker, the AMI publisher commented:
    “I don’t believe in coincidences. I still think it was tied to al-Qaida. I don’t believe it was domestic.”

    The emphasis in the press reports has always, however, been on the suggestion that the mailer likely is “domestic” rather than foreign — a lone, male scientist who works in a lab. The profile was issued shortly after the White House meeting where it was agreed that Al Qaeda was the likely culprit, but that the theory and the possibility of a state sponsor would not be discussed. Vice President Cheney was not at all impressed by the FBI’s profile and went on television to express his skepticism. Although the FBI profile was widely criticized by experts and in editorials in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, and other newspapers and magazines, it was more flexible than its critics imagined. The Amerithrax profile of a loner with a grudge permits a variety of motivations. The FBI uses the word “domestic” to include Americans sympathetic with an extremist islamic cause. The Washington Post explained in late October: “The FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service are considering a wide range of domestic possibilities, including associates of right-wing hate groups and U.S. residents sympathetic to the causes of Islamic extremists.” FBI profiler James R. Fitzgerald, head of FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, argued that the product could have been made for equipment costing as little as $2,500. Profilers were not actually part of Amerithrax Task Force and it is not clear how steeped they were in the historical evidence of Zawahiri’s intent to use aerosolized anthrax, relying on the cover of charities and universities. Fitzgerald testified at civil deposition that on first hearing term “person of interest” had never heard Hatfill’s name.

    “Actually I didn’t focus as much on the term as I did the individual that was named because I had never heard the name before or even if there was a name. I don’t even remember if there was a name associated when the term “person of interest” first came out. But I remember saying oh, maybe they finally have someone in the anthrax case because I was out of the loop at this point.”

    Outside pundits covered the entire range. Jason Pate, of the Monterey Institute of International Studies, said of the numerous private anthrax theories that have arisen:

    “We all have our pet theories. But none seems to fit the facts exactly. Dr. Rosenberg thinks it’s a disgruntled worker conspiracy. Drs. O’Toole and Inglesby think it’s Sept. 11 accomplices. (Dr. O’Toole is now head of biosecurity for Homeland Security). I think it’s some right-wing extremists. But maybe it’s a disgruntled right-wing extremist scientist accomplice.”

    An interesting article in MIT Technology Review in March/April 2006 is based on interviews with Sergei Popov (an expert at GMU who had worked as a Russian bioweaponeer), University of Maryland researcher Milton Leitenberg, Harvard’s Matthew Meselson, Rutger’s Richard Ebright and others:

    “’There are now more than 300 U.S. institutions with access to live bioweapons agents and 16,500 individuals approved to handle them,” Ebright told me. While all of those people have undergone some form of background check — to verify, for instance, that they aren’t named on a terrorist watch list and aren’t illegal aliens — it’s also true, Ebright noted, that ‘Mohammed Atta would have passed those tests without difficulty.’ “
    ***
    ‘That’s the most significant concern,’ Ebright agreed. ‘If al-Qaeda wished to carry out a bioweapons attack in the U.S., their simplest means of acquiring access to the materials and the knowledge would be to send individuals to train within programs involved in biodefense research.’ Ebright paused. ‘And today, every university and corporate press office is trumpeting its success in securing research funding as part of this biodefense expansion, describing exactly what’s available and where.’”

    The analytical problem is that researchers tend only to focus on their narrow field. So an analyst focused on Al Qaeda may not know anything about US biodefense programs. An analyst knowledgeable about US biodefense programs may not know anything about Egyptian Islamic Jihad. To knowledgeably address the issue of infiltration and the use of universities and charities as cover — which the documentary evidence shows Zawahiri planned to do and did in his anthrax weaponization program — requires a willingness to become knowledgeable and investigate the different substantive areas.

    Brian Levin, a domestic terrorism expert at the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, once reasoned that “the people committing these acts are foreign-based or have foreign sympathies. It would seem to me to be improbable that a domestic extremist would be able to put together such an attack in such a short period.” Was there something forensically about the anthrax that the FBI was not disclosing relating to the detection of silicon dioxide (silica) that in addition to the strain used, pointed to someone with access to US biodefense information? Was the FBI truly fixated on U.S. scientist Steve Hatfill? Or was the media merely fixated on the possible lead they are in the best position to know about? The camera trucks can get to Frederick by the 5 o’clock news and be home in time for dinner. The cooperation of the Pakistan ISI is not required to be able to film the draining of a Maryland pond. Certainly, the prosecutor heading the Amerithrax prosecution was throwing gasoline on the fire by fueling a Hatfill theory with the specious exclusives he was feeding to ABC News, Newsweek and the Washington Post. His daughter then worked for microbiologist Ali Al-Timimi pro bono on his criminal defense.

    More fundamentally, all the really interesting stuff is classified. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (”FISA”) unit in the Department of Justice has traditionally been known as the “Dark Side.” Everything coming from Khalid Mohammed, according to Agent Van Harp at the time, is classified. To understand the matter, journalists would have to have the cooperation of someone coming over from the Dark Side — which would be a felony. The solution to the Amerithrax case did not likely lie at the intersection of Bin Laden and Saddam streets among those cubicles at Langley with desktop PCs, not unlike any other office. Nor did it lie with the girls of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Instead, it likely lies with the Zawahiri Task Force at Langley (if it still exists) which hopefully has an intersection of Ayman Avenue and Rahman Road. If not, we might be looking at a different crossroads altogether. The former FBI Counterterrorism has told me that Amerithrax is a mess but he still thinks it is important to keep information from the public. I disagree. We’ve seen how the Bush Administration politicized the administration of justice and used it for its own ends.

    The Report of the Joint Inquiry Into the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001— by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, addresses strategic analysis, training and staffing. Did the agents and analysts in the basement of Quantico who came up with the FBI’s profile have relevant training or input from analysts expert in Al Qaeda? Assuming they did, did an investigative bias creep into their approach to the anthrax mailings that should instead have been informed by a strategic understanding of Zawahiri’s Vanguards of Conquest and its modus operandi? Is Bradley Garrett really not able to connect the dots I’ve outlined given that he is not uninformed on these matters? Did the profilers and Agent Garrett know of the al Hayat letter bombs (related to the imprisonment of the blind sheik) and KSM’s threat to use biochemical weapons in retaliation for the detention of the blind sheik and other militant islamists? Did the profilers and Agent Garrett know of the role of Islambouli, the brother of Sadat’s assassin, in working with KSM in planning the attacks on the United States? Just as with 9/11, the correct understanding of the anthrax mailings begins with a trail that leads back to Malaysia, Khalid Mohammed, Hambali, Yazid Sufaat, Rauf Ahmad, Zacarias Moussaoui, various charities, the Albanian returnees trial, Bojinka, and even the assassination of Anwar Sadat. As George Santayana said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
    Hatfill, a former USAMRIID scientist, who knew bioweaponeer Ken Alibek and William Patrick, was the subject of a lot of leaked reports and then later was the plaintiff in various civil suits. He once explained his view of the true crime matter:

    “Throughout this entire year I’ve tried to sit on the fence. There are times when I think it could be domestic. There are times when I think it’s foreign. I don’t know. I don’t have enough information. I haven’t seen the powder. I don’t have enough scientific evidence to make any sort of determination except that when these deaths happened I think we all thought it was terrorism. It was a follow-on to 9/11, and I for one was shocked when the FBI declared that this was a domestic incident. I thought they were out of their minds. It’s hard to make any decision unless you have the evidence. I haven’t seen the powder. I can’t comment on it — its sophistication or anything else. I don’t have enough data to make a firm conviction. However, I believe if it had been domestic after the millions of dollars and thousands of man- hours that the FBI has put into this, I think those people would be in jail now. And I think the fact that there is no suspect points us towards perhaps a foreign power or a terrorist group involved — just simply by the process of elimination.”

    In its March 31, 2005 Report to the President, the Commission on Intelligence Capabilities said: “competing analysis is of no use, even counterproductive, if there is no attempt at constructive dialogue and collaboration.”

    In September 2005, Debbie Weierman, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington field office said that this “globe-spanning investigation remains intensely active and broadly focused.” According to one recent letter to a Congressman rejecting the request for a briefing, the investigation has spanned six out of seven continents. The FBI had conducted 9,100 witness interviews, 67 searches and issued 6,000 grand jury subpoenas.

    In a press conference in October 2005, Director Mueller said that the FBI was pursuing all domestic and international leads. He told the public to remember Oklahoma City. Remember 9/11. Both crimes involved a hatred of US policy. He declined to say if they had a suspect. That year, FBI agents visited Asia, Africa and Afghanistan in the course of the Amerithrax investigation. You can reach online a video of FBI Director Mueller’s October 2005 Briefing on the Amerithrax Probe.

    Attorney General Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 18, 2007:

    “Senator, Director Mueller, I believe, has offered to get the chairman a briefing. And we’re waiting to try to accommodate the chairman’s schedule to make that happen.”

    ”We understand the frustration and the concern that exists with respect to the length of time. This is a very complicated investigation. I know that the director is very committed to seeing it to some kind of conclusion in the relatively near future.”

    No progess was announced over the course of the next 9 months. Senator Leahy was totally dissatisfied with the vague briefing he received and in an interview by a blogger, sounded very angry. The new Attorney General who took over in Fall 2007 was former United States Chief Judge Mukasey for the Southern District of New York. Mukasey presided over the trial Sheik Abdel Rahman and his codefendants for the plot to destroy New York City landmarks. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit commended him for his fairness and impartiality.

    Whatever your political persuasion, and whatever disagreements about individual issues relating to due process and civil liberties, I have always urged that the FBI and CIA deserved some latitude on this issue. We are, after all, facing this threat together. First, the nature of such an investigation is that we lack sufficient information to second-guess (or even know) what the FBI and Postal Inspectors on the Amerithrax Task Force are doing. Media reports are a poor approximation of reality because of the lack of good sources. Indeed, there has been compartmentalization and divergent views even within the Task Force. Second, I argued, hindsight is 20/20. Third, now that the leaks relating to US scientist Dr. Steve Hatfill seem to have long since been plugged, it was not likely we could do better in striking the appropriate balance between due process and national security. The FBI’s profile, I argued, included a US-based supporter of the militant islamists. Attorney General Ashcroft once explained that an “either-or” approach is not useful. The media has tended to overlook the fact that when the FBI used the word “domestic” the word included a US-based, highly-educated supporter of the militant islamists. As Ali Al-Timimi’s counsel notes in a late 2007 court filing unsealed (except for certain redacted passages) in April 2008, Al-Timimi “was considered an anthrax weapons suspect.”

    But in light of the showing that US Attorney Taylor and DC Field Office head Persichini have made, unless they come up with the evidence showing Dr. Ivins is guilty, the day after they close the case they should submit their resignation.

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