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

* Dead Silence: Fear and Terror on the Anthrax Trail

Posted by DXer on May 31, 2009

Just published …

Dead Silence

Dead Silence: Fear and Terror on the Anthrax Trail  by Bob Coen and Eric Nadler

purchase on at …

Publisher’s description:

Dead Silence—the first in-depth look into the new biological arms race—tells the inside story of the U.S. anthrax attacks and their connection to the existence of a frightening global germ warfare underworld. Their investigation intensifies to include the mysterious deaths of some of the world’s leading germ war scientists in the wake of 9/11, including that of Bruce Ivins—the man the tabloids called “Doctor Doom” and the FBI controversially insists is the lone perpetrator of the anthrax attacks.


CASE CLOSEDThe more truth we learn about the anthrax attacks and the failed FBI investigation, the more we will be disgusted with the continuing failure to solve a case of mass murder that terrorized America. So I welcome the publication of Dead Silence and look forward to reading it.

Sometimes fiction can be as powerful a means of informing and influencing as non-fiction.

In my novel CASE CLOSED, I also raise the question that maybe Dr. Ivins did not die of suicide. It was just too convenient for the FBI to be able to blame the entire anthrax attacks (Ivins the sole perpetrator) on a dead man who could not defend himself.

This was one poignant example in a continuing stream of FBI refusals to testify under oath on these matters. Every time FBI Director Mueller says “I don’t know” or “I’ll get back to you later,” with no intention of ever getting back to anybody, it increase suspicion that the FBI is hiding dark secrets.

I deal with these possible secrets in a fictional way in CASE CLOSED, revealing stunning abuses of power at the highest levels of government.

Does my novel tell what actually happened? Of course not. It’s a novel!

But many readers, including one well place source in the Intelligence Community, have told me my story of conspiracy and murder is, unfortunately, “all too plausible.”

CASE CLOSED is now available on amazon …

* purchase CASE CLOSED (paperback)

* purchase CASE CLOSED (Kindle)


43 Responses to “* Dead Silence: Fear and Terror on the Anthrax Trail”

  1. DXer said

        The Washington Post, in an article “Hardball Tactics in an Era of Threats,” dated September 3, 2006 summarized events relating to George Mason University computational biology graduate student Ali Al-Timimi:

    “In late 2002, the FBI’s Washington field office received two similar tips from local Muslims: Timimi was running ‘an Islamic group known as the Dar al-Arqam’ that had ‘conducted military-style training,’ FBI special agent John Wyman would later write in an affidavit.

    Wyman and another agent, Wade Ammerman, pounced on the tips. Searching the Internet, they found a speech by Timimi celebrating the crash of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003, according to the affidavit. The agents also found that Timimi was in contact with Sheikh Safar al-Hawali, a Saudi whose anti-Western speeches in the early 1990s had helped inspire bin Laden.
    The agents reached an alarming conclusion: ‘Timimi is an Islamist supporter of Bin Laden’ who was leading a group ‘training for jihad,’ the agent wrote in the affidavit. The FBI even came to speculate that Timimi, a doctoral candidate pursuing cancer gene research, might have been involved in the anthrax attacks.

    On a frigid day in February 2003, the FBI searched Timimi’s brick townhouse on Meadow Field Court, a cul-de-sac near Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax. Among the items they were seeking, according to court testimony: material on weapons of mass destruction.”
    Al-Timimi had rock star status in Salafist circles and lectured in July 2001 (in Toronto) and August 2001 (in London) on the coming “end of times” and signs of the coming day of judgment. He spoke alongside officials of a charity, Islamic Assembly of North America (”IANA”) promoting the views of Bin Laden’s sheiks. Another speaker was Ali’s mentor, Bilal Philips, one of the 173 listed as unindicted WTC 1993 conspirators. Bilal Philips worked in the early 1990s to recruit US servicemen according to testimony in that trial and interviews in which Dr. Philips explained the Saudi-funded program. According to Al-Timimi’s attorney, Ali “was referenced in the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing (“Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US”) as one of seventy individuals regarding whom the FBI is conducting full field investigations on a national basis.” The NSA was intercepting communications by Fall 2001 without a warrant.

    At the same time the FBI was searching the townhouse of PhD candidate Ali Timimi, searches and arrests moved forward elsewhere. In Moscow, Idaho, FBI agents interviewed Nabil Albaloushi. (The FBI apparently searched his apartment at the same time they searched the apartment of IANA webmaster Sami al-Hussayen, who they had woken from bed at 4:00 a.m.) Albaloushi was a PhD candidate expert in drying foodstuffs. His thesis in 2003 was 350 pages filled with charts of drying coefficients. Interceptions showed a very close link between IANA’s Sami al-Hussayen and Sheikh al-Hawali, to include the setting up of websites, the providing of vehicles for extended communication, and telephone contact with intermediaries of Sheikh al-Hawali. Al-Hussayen had al-Hawali’s phone number upon the search of his belongings upon his arrest. Former Washington State University animal geneticist and nutrition researcher Ismail Diab, who had moved to Syracuse to work for an IANA-spin-off, also was charged in Syracuse and released as a material witness to a financial investigation of the IANA affiliate “Help The Needy.” After the government failed to ask Dr. Diab any questions for nearly 3 months, the magistrate bail restrictions and removed the electronic monitoring and curfew requirements.

    In Moscow, Idaho, the activities by IANA webmaster Sami al-Hussayen that drew scrutiny involved these same two radical sheiks. U.S. officials say the two sheiks influenced al Qaeda’s belief that Muslims should wage holy war against the U.S. until it ceases to support Israel and withdraws from the Middle East. Sami Hussayen, who was acquitted, made numerous calls and wrote many e-mails to the two clerics, sometimes giving advice to them about running Arabic-language websites on which they espoused their anti-Western views.

    According to witness testimony in the prosecution of the Virginia Paintball Defendants, after September 11, 2001, “Al-Timimi stated that the attacks may not be Islamically permissible, but that they were not a tragedy, because they were brought on by American foreign policy.” The FBI first contacted Timimi shortly after 9/11. He met with FBI agents 7 or 8 times in the months leading up to his arrest. Al-Timimi is a US citizen born in Washington DC. His house was searched, his passport taken and his telephone monitored. Ali Al Timimi defended his PhD thesis in computational biology shortly after his indictment for recruiting young men to fight the US in defending against an invasion of Afghanistan.

    Communications between Al-Timimi with dissident Saudi sheik Safar al-Hawali, one of the two fundamentalist sheikhs who were friends and mentors of Bin Laden, were intercepted. The two radical sheiks had been imprisoned from September 1994 to June 1999. Al-Hawali’s detention was expressly the subject of Bin Laden’s 1996 Declaration of War against the United States and the claim of responsibility for the 1998 embassy bombings. He had been Al-Timimi’s religious mentor at University.

    ABC reported in July 2004 that FBI Director Mueller had imposed an October 1, 2004 deadline for a case that would stand up in court. The date passed with no anthrax indictment. Al-Timimi was not indicted for anthrax. He was indicted for sedition. Upon his indictment, on September 23, 2004, al-Timimi explained he had been offered a plea bargain of 14 years, but he declined. He quoted Sayyid Qutb. He said he remembered “reading his books and loving his teaching” as a child, and that Qutb’s teaching was prevented from signing something that was false by “the finger that bears witness.” He noted that he and his lawyers asked that authorities hold off the indictment until he had received his PhD, but said that unfortunately they did not wait. On October 6, 2004, the webmaster of the website Babar Ahmad was indicted. It was not until 2007 that the North Brunswick, NJ imam who mirrored the website was indicted (on the grounds of income tax evasion).

    The indictment against the paintball defendants alleged that at an Alexandria, Virginia residence, in the presence of a representative of Benevolence International Foundation (”BIF”), the defendants watched videos depicting Mujahadeen engaged in Jihad and discussed a training camp in Bosnia. His defense lawyer says that the FBI searched the townhouse of “to connect him to the 9/11 attacks or to schemes to unleash a biological or nuclear attack.” Famed head of the former Russian bioweaponeering program Ken Alibek told me that he would occasionally see Al-Timimi in the hallways at George Mason, where they both were in the microbiology department, and was vaguely aware that he was an islamic hardliner. When what his defense counsel claims was an FBI attempt to link Al-Timimi to a planned biological attack failed, defense counsel says that investigators focused on his connections to the men who attended his lectures at the local Falls Church, Va. In the end, he was indicted for inciting them to go to Afghanistan to defend the Taliban against the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan. During deliberations, he reportedly was very calm, reading Genome Technology and other scientific journals. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment plus 70 years.

    At his sentencing, Dr. Al-Timimi spoke in clear and measured tones:

    “I will not admit guilt nor seek the Court’s mercy. I do this not out of any disrespect to the Court. I do this simply because I am innocent.

    My claim of innocence is not because of any inherent misunderstanding on my part as to the nature of the crimes for which I was convicted nor is it because my Muslim belief recognizes sharia rather than secular law. It is merely because I am innocent.
    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
    I declare the government’s recitation poor as it stripped those words of their meaning.

    Imprisonment of any term, as this Court well knows, is a crisis for the incarcerated and his or her loved ones. I am no exception to that.

    But the real crisis brought on my imprisonment, I sincerely believe is America’s. For if my conviction is to stand, it would mean that two hundred and thirty years of America’s tradition of protecting the individual from the tyrannies and whims of the sovereign will have come to an end. And that which is exploited today to persecute a single member of a minority will most assuredly come back to haunt the majority tomorrow.”

    KSM invoked George Washington in his statement to a military tribunal in March 2007. That was far less compelling because he was admitting to many serious crimes. The evidence presented at Al-Timimi’s trial, however, was offered only to show that Dr. Al-Timimi was guilty of nothing other than exhorting some young men to go abroad and defend their faith. It seems that, under the government’s case, his only crime was to put his religion before his nation-state. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 70 years. As one Washington Post reporter said of such cases, the government seemed to be engaged in shadow boxing.

    As Al-Timimi explained in his eloquent statement upon sentencing, he was convicted out of fear.

    The former head of the DARPA Biological Countermeasures Program, Dr. Stephen S. Morse, in an interview airing on Charlie Rose on October 10, 2001, explained that there was no need for the public to fear. He noted that maybe the mailer had a personal reason — there was no reason to assume the Florida death related to terrorism or a large group. Dr. Morse urged that we put it into perspective and inform the public so as to remove the mystery. He explained we should not allow ourselves to feel fear. As reiterated in other interviews that week, he said mailed anthrax was not a great danger. As those words aired, however, more letters were en route from that mailbox at 10 Nassau St. in Princeton. The anthrax mailer asked a pointed question in the letter containing a much more highly refined product — product that aerosolized much more readily. The new batch of letters asked: “Are you afraid?”

    The answer was clearly yes. To use the technical Army expression with such a biohazard, it had “major pucker factor.” After the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology detected silica, former USAMRIID Deputy Commander Charles Bailey, identified as a scientist at Advanced Biosystems Inc. at George Mason University, declined to comment on the purpose of the silica. He told one reporter:  “I don’t think I want to give people — terrorists — any information to help them.”

    Dr. Timimi’s attorney was understandably annoyed that they kept moving Al-Timimi between prisons and did not let him consult privately with his client. George Washington University Professor Jonathan Turley, his counsel on appeal, explained that last year they were playing a game of “Where’s Waldo?”, preventing him from consulting with his client. Now we know where he is but the ongoing proceeding is shrouded in great secrecy while they litigate the issue of the Administration’s alleged illegal wiretapping.

  2. Ike Solem said

    Ed, that’s just disinformation. Again, it is clear that the two letters had different preparations of anthrax but were prepared by the same person(s), which pretty much rules out Ivins right there.

    I think you’re just acting as a stenographer for the propaganda campaign, Ed. It’s fairly obvious – every time the FBI has changed it’s story over the past eight years, you’ve also altered your web site to reflect those changes – i.e., you boosted the Steven Hatfill story, and now you’re parroting the FBI claims on the use of silica compounds to aerosolize the spores.

    Scientifically speaking, those arguments do not hold water – so why do you keep repeating them?

  3. DXer said


    You disagreed with everyone (including at least two dozen microbiologists I could name) who said that the genetics analysis merely winnowed the field to 8 identical isolates, based on 4 morphs. With access by 100-300 people. You said that you assumed that additional morphs, not yet disclosed, would limit things to Ivins specifically.

    Yet the FBI’s referral to NAS only concerns 4 morphs.

    You declined my offer to give you Dr. Ravel’s powerpoint.

    You didn’t bother to obtain a homemade transcript or audiotape of the ASM conference.

    You didn’t bother to watch the documentary in which Jeff Mohr said it was “milled”.

    And you continue to pontificate and name-call without doing basic research like reading books or going to the library. In the 8 years I’ve known you, I have never known you once to go to the library. Instead, you spend a lot of time posting many hundreds of pictures of nude celebrities to the web and keep an archive available for webposters even though you have been advised it is illegal to appropriate the likeness of people for such purpose. I recommend you do more research and study the materials available to you and leave the science to the scientists who will publish shortly in the EID. The FBI scientists should be commended for their hard work and we look forward to seeing the articles. As for the former Administration who sought to close Amerithrax at the expense of Bruce Ivins without disclosing persuasive evidence, Jeff T. knows, as they say in the beltway, that it is not over until the fat lady (of justice) sings.

    Ed, is it your understanding that the FBI is going to reveal the additional genetic evidence in the EID articles — even though Dr. Keim has explained to you he knows of no such evidence?

    • DXer said


      Your style of argument — your schtick — about “conspiracy theorists” and “true believers” is a way to fill the void given your failure to take the time to do substantive research. Ironically, you are the one who has the conspiracy theory that a scientist used a First Grader to send the anthrax letters. There is no credible evidence to support your theory which you argue is nearly certain. You are a “true believer” and have held fast to the theory because “you know it when you see it.” Instead of being so wedded to your convictions, and resorting to name-calling those who have different opinions, you need to solicit the opinions, data and facts and post them. That is when you are at your strongest such as when you did such a great job posting a transcript of a conversation with Dr. Alibek and when you passed on Dr. Meselson’s views over the years. Now you have provided a valuable service by reporting the Sandia person’s comment about how initial reports were based on an inability of the equipment used by AFIP to distinguish between two things (PDMS and silica). But that can all wait for elucidation by Sandia in July and in the published article(s).

      On silica, personally, I agree with you — and not Anonymous Scientist. I just think he looks cute in his casual khakis and love a Scottish brogue. I agree that the silica likely was in the culture medium like the FBI claims. But I can understand, based on the explanation from Sandia, the source of the initial conflicting reports. But it took something like two years just to get you to accept that Sandia had in fact detected silica and that it was a major component. And that it needed explaining. Truth arises from a robust debate over the merits — never name-calling.

      But I find your name-calling and your First Grader theory to cause you to lack credibility as a researcher.

      I have always commended your hard work in maintaining and making available the Hatfill docket and that will always stand to your credit. Indeed, I hope you will return to the day that you cast a skeptical eye to those who have not provided evidence but instead merely assert that they have such supporting evidence. Even the NYT nowadays seems to think a single well-placed anonymous source cuts it on such a subject as whether Ivins is guilty of murder.

      In fact, contrary to your suggestion, the FBI has never said that additional evidence was turned up after Ivins death. We’ve seen the returns from the searches. Most people say, “Okay, let’s see the evidence you claim to have.”

      You just misunderstood what Gonzales’ former national security counsel was saying. He correctly stated things — you just misunderstood him (and you were the only one who did as evidenced by the numerous posts discussing the subject elsewhere such as at Dr. Nass’ forum.

      Let’s have the old Ed back — where as in the Hatfill matter, you scrutinized the evidence and took a skeptical, open-minded view.

      But most of all, embrace the FBI’s conclusion that the silica could have been in the culture medium.

    • DXer said

      This one point — relating to the genetics — underlies why Ed disagrees with all the other observers. Rather than focus on the merits of the genetics argument by obtaining the relevant material or deferring to the expert opinion, he just resorts to his usual name-calling.

      Ed writes:

      “In response to the arguments from the True Believer, I probably emailed him this quote (from United States Attorney Jeff Taylor at the Aug. 6, 2008 press conference) a half dozen times:

      First, we were able to identify in early 2005 the genetically-unique parent material of the anthrax spores used in the mailings. As the court documents allege, the parent material of the anthrax spores used in the attacks was a single flask of spores, known as “RMR-1029,” that was created and solely maintained by Dr. Ivins at USAMRIID. This means that the spores used in the attacks were taken from that specific flask, regrown, purified, dried and loaded into the letters. No one received material from that flask without going through Dr. Ivins. We thoroughly investigated every other person who could have had access to the flask and we were able to rule out all but Dr. Ivins.”

      Ed interprets this as meaning that the flask — as opposed to all 8 isolates (including the 7 isolates downstream from the flask — was the only match. He’s wrong. At least two dozen scientists have explained it to him in posts and news articles and commentary. There is not a single microbiologist or First Grader who thinks that. Jeff Taylor does not think that. He clarifies things elsewhere. Instead, there were 8 isolates who had the same genetic profile and could not be distinguished. This, without more, explains why Ed is the “true believer.” He does not seek factual evidence, he just “knows it when he sees it.” He is what he disparagingly calls a True Believer, because he knows no way to rebut the evidence I’ve presented. He can only avoid it.

    • DXer said

      Ed assumes that the FBI will someday explain how they eliminated all others even though DC Field Office head Persichini has expressly said in an 2009 interview that they will not be doing that.

      On the issue so dear to his heart — silica — he cannot bring himself to brace the FBI’s WMD head’s statement because he realizes the implications run counter to his Ivins Theory.

      There his views were again based on his misunderstanding of what US Attorney Taylor was saying. Taylor was saying that all 8 isolates were identical.

      Ed does not probe the distribution of Ames from RMR 1029 because he (wrongly) assumes that the FBI will someday explain how they excluded the 100-300 with access.

      Ed does not like the implications of what the FBI said about silica because he knows the patent relating to concentration of anthrax using silicon dioxide in the culture medium was filed March 14, 2001 and was confidential in 2001. The FBI’s scientist at Sandia confirms that no silica was observed on the exosporium and that instead it was below the exosporium, absorbed in the coats. The presence of any silica, Drs. Meselson and Alibek say, would agree may have come from the culture medium because of the special tendency of anthrax spore coats to attract silicon. Indeed, the silica may have been in the culture medium and then removed as described by a mid-March 2001 and related patent filed by researchers at Dr. Alibek’s Center for Biodefense at GMU. Dr. Alibek abruptly left the country and would not tell Coen and Nadler the reasons.

      Ed abdicates analysis for assumptions based on his refusal to understand what the FBI is saying in plain language. I hope he changes and explores the issues. With an emphasis on questions, rather than the assumptions and attribution of motive that regularly characterize his posts on his webpage. Invariably, if you send him a news article without comment he will make a public assumption as to why you sent it.

      “The silicon is probably the most important scientific evidence that would lead anybody to question whether Bruce was capable of making these spores,” says Gerald P. Andrews, Bruce Ivins’ former boss. Andrews and George Mason University professor and former Soviet bioweapons researcher Sergei Popov believe the silicon was purposely added, due to unnaturally high levels of the mineral in the spores.

      Kathryn Crockett, Ken Alibek’s assistant — just a couple doors down from Ali Al-Timimi — addressed these issues in her 2006 thesis, “A historical analysis of Bacillus anthracis as a biological weapon and its application to the development of nonproliferation and defense strategies.” She expressed her special thanks to Dr. Ken Alibek and Dr. Bill Patrick. Dr. Patrick consulted with the FBI and so the FBI credits his expertise. But Ed does not want to obtain a redacted transcript of the February 19, 2009 hearing because his lawyer has said the FBI considers him an “anthrax weapons suspect.” Given that this fellow just doors down from the leading experts who used silicon dioxide in the culture medium was coordinating with the 911 imam, the hypothesis ventured by the WMD Chief might raise questions needing answers not addressed by Ed’s assumption that a First Grader wrote the letters.

      One military scientist who headed a lab that aerosolizes anthrax simulants tells me the GMU patents which serve to increase the viability of a wide range of pathogens. More broadly, the DIA analyst for anthrax once commented to me that the internal debate seemed relatively inconsequential given the circumstantial evidence — overlooked by so many people — that US-based supporters of Al Qaeda are responsible for the mailings. Most of Dr. Ivins’ colleagues have thought Al Qaeda was responsible.

      Dr. Michael told FOX News “I don’t think it’s not enough [the Silicon Signature] to say that he did it….” So we are left with nothing other than the rage of someone whose life work and career was ruined by folks like Ed unwilling to ask questions relating to the distribution of Ames, for example. Ed is willing to accuse someone of heinous crimes without verifying basic facts — and looking past the facts readily available to him.

      He has done it repeatedly.

      For example, where was the research done using the virulent Ames supplied by Bruce to the Ann Arbor researchers. Ed doesn’t know and doesn’t care because Gonzales’ former counsel on national security matters says the dead guy did it. The Ann Arbor researchers thanked the guy who typed the anthrax attack for the FBI (Kimothy L. Smith) for providing the space for the animal study using four characterized strains of virulent anthrax at the same time they thanked Bruce Ivins for supplying virulent Ames. But Ed isn’t curious on the question of the access to RMR 1029 because Ivins’ wife (after the kids were grown) had a daycare center! Case closed.

      Ed is left relying on undisclosed evidence that Mr. Persichini has said will not be revealed — how they excluded others. Ed’s fixation on First Graders as small comfort in addressing the threat posed by the documents showing Ayman Zawahiri’s plans to infiltrate US using charities and universities.

      The crucial mistake Ed has made is that he misunderstood the critical FBI explanation of the genetics (and thought it pinpointed 1 isolate rather than 8). He still has not corrected this fundamental error even though the referral to the NAS specifically refers only to 4 morphs and not additional morphs as Ed imagined. Ed refuses to embrace the only stated reason for the Silicon Signature suggested by the WMD head, he says, because he was interrupted and might have ventured other possibilities. That is no reason of course to not explore the one hypothesis ventured. Ed refuses to address the distribution of Ames and does not even know where the DARPA-funded research for which Bruce is thanked for supplying virulent Ames in numerous patents was conducted. Ed does not even know the nature of the DARPA work for which he had signed out the lyophilizer. In short, he has abdicated all analysis in order to exchange insults and insist a First Grader wrote the letters.

      What we need now instead is the contribution of people who ask more questions than they make assumptions and unsupported assertions. One of the first things we need is for a full inventory and shipment records 1997-2001 to be obtained and uploaded. I offered it to Ed and he said before uploading it he would have to think about what he said about it. The point Ed misses is that it is the facts and documents are important.

    • DXer said

      Ed similarly is incurious about this and it took Anonymous Scientist to obtain a redacted copy of the email that Bruce Ivins gave Fox (and through investigation fill in the blanks).,2933,342852,00.html
      FBI Focusing on ‘About Four’ Suspects in 2001 Anthrax Attacks

      Friday, March 28, 2008

      By Catherine Herridge and Ian McCaleb

      WASHINGTON — The FBI has narrowed its focus to “about four” suspects in the 6 1/2-year investigation of the deadly anthrax attacks of 2001, and at least three of those suspects are linked to the Army’s bioweapons research facility at Fort Detrick in Maryland, FOX News has learned.

      Among the pool of suspects are three scientists — a former deputy commander, a leading anthrax scientist and a microbiologist — linked to the research facility, known as USAMRIID.

      The FBI has collected writing samples from the three scientists in an effort to match them to the writer of anthrax-laced letters that were mailed to two U.S. senators and at least two news outlets in the fall of 2001, a law enforcement source confirmed.

      The anthrax attacks began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, further alarming a nation already reeling from the deaths of 3,000 Americans. Five people were killed and more than a dozen others were infected by the deadly spores in the fall of 2001.

      A leading theory is that the anthrax was stolen from Fort Detrick and then sealed inside the letters. A law enforcement source said the FBI is essentially engaged in a process of elimination.

      Much of the early public focus fell on a Fort Detrick scientist named Steven Hatfill, who is suing federal authorities for identifying him as a person of interest. Now the FBI is focusing on other scientists at the facility.

      “Fort Detrick is run by the United States Army. It’s the most secure biological warfare research center in the United States,” a bioterrorism expert told FOX News.

      Asked to comment on the likelihood that the anthrax originated at the facility, the expert said:

      “It’s not suprising, except that it would underscore that there was serious security deficiencies that existed at one time at Fort Detrick — the ability of researchers to smuggle out some type of very sophisticated anthrax weapon and in some quantity. And, nevertheless, it was possible.”

      In December 2001, an Army commander tried to dispel the possibility of a connection to Fort Detrick by taking the media on a rare tour of the base. The commander said the Army used only liquid anthrax, not powder, for its experiments.

      “I would say that it does not come from our stocks, because we do not use that dry material,” Maj. Gen. John Parker said. The letters that were mailed to the media and Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy all contained powdered anthrax.

      But in an e-mail obtained by FOX News, scientists at Fort Detrick openly discussed how the anthrax powder they were asked to analyze after the attacks was nearly identical to that made by one of their colleagues.

      “Then he said he had to look at a lot of samples that the FBI had prepared … to duplicate the letter material,” the e-mail reads. “Then the bombshell. He said that the best duplication of the material was the stuff made by [name redacted]. He said that it was almost exactly the same … his knees got shaky and he sputtered, ‘But I told the General we didn’t make spore powder!'”

      Asked for comment, an Army spokeswoman referred all calls to the FBI. The FBI would not comment about the pool of suspects, but a spokeswoman said the investigation clearly remains a priority.

    • DXer said

      Ed doesn’t know anything about Ayman’s plan to infiltrate the US biodefense using charities and universities because he doesn’t read or analyze material relating to it. His work was done 7 years ago when he posted some block lettering by first graders.

      EXCLUSIVE: Al Qaeda eyes bio attack from Mexico

      By Sara A. Carter June 3, 2009


      U.S. counterterrorism officials have authenticated a video by an al Qaeda recruiter threatening to smuggle a biological weapon into the United States via tunnels under the Mexico border, the latest sign of the terrorist group’s determination to stage another mass-casualty attack on the U.S. homeland.

      The video aired earlier this year as a recruitment tool makes clear that al Qaeda is looking to exploit weaknesses in U.S. border security and also is willing to ally itself with white militia groups or other anti-government entities interested in carrying out an attack inside the United States, according to counterterrorism officials interviewed by The Washington Times.

      The officials, who spoke only on the condition they not be named because of the sensitive nature of their work, stressed that there is no credible information that al Qaeda has acquired the capabilities to carry out a mass biological attack although its members have clearly sought the expertise.

      The video first aired by the Arabic news network Al Jazeera in February and later posted to several Web sites shows Kuwaiti dissident Abdullah al-Nafisi telling a room full of supporters in Bahrain that al Qaeda is casing the U.S. border with Mexico to assess how to send terrorists and weapons into the U.S.

      “Four pounds of anthrax — in a suitcase this big — carried by a fighter through tunnels from Mexico into the U.S. are guaranteed to kill 330,000 Americans within a single hour if it is properly spread in population centers there,” the recruiter said. “What a horrifying idea; 9/11 will be small change in comparison. Am I right? There is no need for airplanes, conspiracies, timings and so on. One person, with the courage to carry 4 pounds of anthrax, will go to the White House lawn, and will spread this ‘confetti’ all over them, and then we’ll do these cries of joy. It will turn into a real celebration.”

      In the video, obtained and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, al-Nafisi also suggests that al Qaeda might want to collaborate with members of native U.S. white supremacist militias who hate the federal government.

      Sean Smith, a spokesman for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, said the U.S. takes such threats seriously.

      “We can never stop being vigilant while there are individuals who seek to do harm on the American people,” he said. “We continue to step up our efforts with additional personnel and better technology along the northern and southern borders and continue to strengthen our sea, land and air ports of entry.”

      A U.S. counterterrorism official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said al-Nafisi is a “person of interest” and a veteran recruiter for al Qaeda. Misidentified on some blog sites as a professor, he is a Kuwaiti dissident and al Qaeda associate who is thought to have communicated with senior al Qaeda leaders in recent years, the counterterrorism official said. The recruiter is also said to have close ties to Mullah Mohammed Omar, the senior Afghan Taliban leader now thought to be in Pakistan.

      Al-Nafisi “is a significant ideological player in terrorist circles, and that makes him dangerous because he can inspire his followers to do extremely bad things,” the official said.

      Drug Enforcement Administration and Defense Department officials have been paying close attention to links between various terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah, and drug cartels in South America, Central America and Mexico.

      “It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that terrorist organizations would utilize the border to enter the U.S.,” said a DEA official who also asked not to be named because of his involvement in ongoing intelligence operations. “We can’t ignore any threat or detail when it comes to al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations bent on attacking the U.S.”

      The Times first reported in March that Hezbollah — an Iran-backed group based in Lebanon — is using routes that Mexican drug lords control to smuggle contraband and people into the United States to finance operations.

      While Hezbollah appears to view the U.S. primarily as a cash cow to finance its operations elsewhere, “it should not be viewed lightly, as the money raised can be used against the U.S. or assets in future operations,” another counterterrorism official said.

      No confirmed attacks in the U.S. have been linked to Hezbollah.

      In the video, al-Nafisi emphasized that al Qaeda had chemical laboratories in Afghanistan prior to the U.S. invasion. He described his admiration for Hezbollah and said that al Qaeda continues to have scientists and resources at its disposal.

      “The Americans are afraid that the [weapons of mass destruction] might fall into the hands of ‘terrorist’ organizations like al Qaeda and others,” he told followers. “There is good reason for the Americans’ fears. … [Al Qaeda] had laboratories in north Afghanistan. They have scientists, chemists and nuclear physicists. They are nothing like they are portrayed by these mercenary journalists – backward Bedouins living in caves. No, no, by no means. This kind of talk can fool only naive people. People who follow such things know that al Qaeda has laboratories, just like Hezbollah.”

      Intelligence officials said the video provides important insights into al Qaeda recruitment methods and views of the West.

      In the 10-minute clip, al-Nafisi suggested that al Qaeda might want to make common cause with what he claimed are “300,000” members of white supremacist and other militias in the U.S.

      “These militias even think about bombing nuclear plants within the U.S.,” he said. “May God grant them success, even though we are not white, or even close to it, right? They have plans to bomb the nuclear plant at Lake Michigan. This plant is very important. … May God grant success to one of these militia leaders, who is thinking about bombing this plant. I believe that we should devote part of our prayers to him.”

    • DXer said


      I had previously quoted the FBI WMD Chief’s statement.
      It was exactly as I quoted.
      He says it could have been in the culture medium.
      You nowhere address who among researchers using Ames used silica in the culture medium and why.

      Given that a leading anthrax expert and the former USAMRIID deputy Commander did — and they shared a fax and maildrop with the man coordinating with the 911 imam — the FBI WMD’s Chief comment deserves close attention. Indeed, Ali Al-Timimi had a letter hand-delivered in the name of Bin Laden’s sheik on the First Anniversary of the letters to the Senators threatening dire consequences if Iraq was invaded.

      The government has reason, as former FBI Counterterrorism Chief Ben Furman wrote me, to keep information from the public. He says the public will only ever know the tip of the iceberg and that is the way it should be. (I would agree as a general matter except that there are other indications that the US DOJ has been politicized as it was during this period.) He agrees Amerithrax is a “mess.” You, in contrast, think that Amerithrax has remained open for the past year while FOIA information officers got out their magic markers!

    • DXer said

      For 7 years, for example, you argued that Michael Failey was responsible even though he never had worked with anthrax in his life and thought it was a virus rather than a bacteria. (I insisted you take down the articles that named him but you took him down only after everyone had read them and so for the next 7 years we knew full well what your theory was. You argued that he specifically arranged to have a perfect alibi on the date of the mailing — thus proving that he was involved. His mother had called the police when he got in a dispute with a neighbor while mowing.

      You thought he conspired with a New Jersey scientist that he in fact never knew and you thought that some unidentified First Grader wrote the letters.

      You dismissed the FBI’s rejection of your theory on December 21, 2001 — the headline was to the effect that the suggestion was “baloney” — by saying that the FBI was not at liberty to admit that the file was actually open. They had to pretend it was closed, you said.

      Now you dismiss as “conspiracy theorists” when folks experienced in microbiology and prosecution (including US Senators) say that the evidence presented by the FBI in no way shows Ivins was responsible for the mailings.

      You were wrong in being close-minded for 7 years, Ed, and you are wrong now not to be interested in questions such as who had access to virulent Ames from RMR-1029 and how they were excluded. You are also wrong in thinking the FBI has ever said that they were going to explain how they were excluded.

      All the NAS review will accomplish is confirm science not in substantial dispute — that there was a stream of isolates with the same genetic profile as the attack anthrax.

    • DXer said

      Referring to the FoxNews report describing the email Bruce Ivins gave FoxNews in March 2008 about anthrax powder made by someone that was just like the attack powder, Ed says:

      “All you are saying is that, if I do not look at what you look at, read what you read and believe as you believe, then I must be wrong.”

      Ed is not interested in the report or the email, he says, even though he relies on the expert named by Bruce as making the powder that matched the anthrax. He is not interested in how authorities eliminated the other three reported as suspects between March 2008 and August 2008. Hundreds of other named experts are on record saying, in contrast, that they want to see how the FBI excluded others with access to RMR 1029 or see probative evidence relating to Dr. Ivins. Ed’s confusion stems from him thinking genetics somehow limited things to Ivins — his mistaken assumption that more 4 morphs were probative in winnowing the field.

  4. Anonymous scientist said

    An interesting excerpt from the book:

    “The journalists pressed him on the finding of the AFIP that did find silica in the samples. Meselson said he couldn’t really comment because “they haven’t released their data for independent verification.” The release, he noted, was prevented by the ongoing Amerithrax probe. Nadler then brought up the letter of a UN representative named Kay Mereish that was published in the August 2007 issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Merish’s letter noted a recent speech in Paris by an unnamed scientist US scientist [Editor’s note: the scientist was in fact named and cited] who had examined the attack powder and concluded it contained an additive that made it a more effective weapon. At that Meselson rose and extracted a document from a folder nearby. “I can show you this,” he said, “but you can’t make a copy.” Nadler read what he took to be an internal FBI memo, which suggested that the forensic expert who had given that speech [Editor: cited by KM as Smalls] may have violated security statutes and could face investigation.”

    “These are very sensitive areas,” said Meselson. “One should be very careful here.” (p.36)

    • DXer said

      “He arrived bearing a box of chocolates….” (p. 34) (referring to a visit by Gary Matsumoto to the authors)

      • DXer said

        “The ghoulishness of the brave new world upon which he reflected was heightened by his matter-of-fact tone of voice, his thick Scottish brogue, even his casual khaki trousers. Outside the window, Coen could see that every house in this featureless subdivision was virtually identical to its neighbor. Like liar’s dice, he thought. You would never know from the looks of it which one is empty and which housed folks — like this guy — who claimed important knowledge about the intricacies of mass annihilation.” (p.32)

    • Anonymous scientist said

      I should add that Matthew Meselson was one prominent US scientist who for years strongly argued that the spores were not weaponized with silica.

      He told Chemical and Engineering news that AFIP only saw a silicon peak and not peaks for silica in their EDX spectrum. This, of course, was incorrect – the spectrum AFIP released showed silica peaks.
      Yet, the spectrum AFIP released shows a peak for the element silicon, not silicon dioxide (silica).

      Meselson’s past involvements with the world of bioweapons has been highly controversial. The book “Plague Wars” describes his role in the Sverdlovsk incident where, for more than a decade, he was wrong about the source of anthrax that killed almost 100 people in a Soviet town:

      excerpts from Mangold and Goldberg’s “Plague Wars”:

      CHAPTER NINE Incident at Sverdlovsk

      Page 76:

      The Soviets now went to extraordinary lengths to buttress their lies and make them supportable and credible worldwide. What had begun as a local cover-up in Sverdlovsk, now became an international fairy tale, a fiction of breathtaking audacity.

      Page 77:

      Throughout the rest of the 1980s, Matthew Meselson, a respected Harvard professor of microbiology and longtime arms control activist, unwittingly helped the Soviet caravan of deception and disinformation gain acceptance in the West.
      Meselson emerged as the leading scientific expert to oppose his own government’s interpretation of Sverdlovsk in favour of the Soviets’ old tainted-meat cover-up. He defended the Soviets’ case publicly and doubtless from the most honest of beliefs. President Reagan was now in the White House and, no matter how forcefully his administration complained about Sverdlovsk, Meselson remained utterly convinced that there had been an accident with bad meat and it had nothing to do with any secret biological weapons plant.
      With his well-deserved and impressive academic/scientific credentials, his views were usually sought and carefully listened to. He also became an important figure for the US media to consult. His opinions about Sverdlovsk were widely quoted in the serious press, books, and prestigious scientific journals. The record shows that after 1980 his publicly stated views on Sverdlovsk broadly agreed with the explanations issued by the Soviets themselves.

      Page 81:

      But the guilty involvement reached even higher. Next, it emerged that Boris Yelstin himself also must have known about the cover-up. In May 1992, Yeltsin’s new Russian government formally acknowledged what was now well known, but still had no official imprimatur. The man who had been the powerful communist party chief of the Sverdlovsk region in 1979 was none other than President Boris Yeltsin. He now admitted that the outbreak had been caused by an accident at the biological weapons facility, and not by natural causes. This presumably correct version became the official position of the Russian government, and remains so to this day.
      Meselson, however, remained unfazed. In the face of Yeltsin’s admission and the Russian and US press disclosures, the professor assembled a team of expert American scientists and went with them to Sverdlovsk in June 1992 to see for himself. They interviewed two outstanding Sverdlovsk doctors Faina Abramova and Lev Grinberg who participated in the 1979 autopsies at Hospital 40. For thirteen years, these brave pathologists had secretly hidden incontrovertible medial evidence from the KGB including preserved tissue samples, slides, and autopsy reports which proved that the victims had died from breathing in the anthrax.
      Meselson later claimed that he and his team had made the discovery of the new truth from these important witnesses, but again, the facts were against him. The two Russian doctors had previously spoken to Soviet reporters and the Wall Street Journal, so Meselson was simply taking credit for being the final arbiter who had authenticated the evidence.
      After making a second trip to Sverdlovsk, Mesleson finally published his results in 1994 in the journal Science; the article accepted that the tainted-meat story was bogus. But, perversely, he still would not admit that the US government had been right for fifteen years, or that he had been wrong. Rather, he trumpeted the fact that he anf his team had finally uncovered the “defenitive proof” that the true cause of the outbreak was pulmonary anthrax.
      “This should end the argument about where the outbreak came from,” Meselson somewhat pompously told the New York Times “Right up until now, people have still been debating the matter.”
      Yet, to the bitter end, Meselson still clung to a benign interpretation of Soviet motives. He noted that the cause of the accident was still not determined, which implied that it may have involved only a Soviet research centre, one for finding an antidote to an anthrax attack, and not a military production centre for biological weapons. By clinging to this position, he could still argue that the Soviets were not violating the BWC, but were conducting permissable research under the treaty.

      • DXer said

        “As the LIfe Science Test Facility … Coen and Nadler were introduced to Dr. Alan Jeff Mohr, an affable tour guide who proved as cheerful and ready to please as the public affairs staff. He happily accommodated the cameras by directing via microphone, several scientists working behind the small glass windows of the sealed lab doors. On command, the space-suited researchers extracted receptacles from liquid nitrogen. Small red signs on the doors of the different labs identified the toxic agents being worked with inside — including “Bacillus anthracis — Ames.” The notorious Ames strain of the attack letters.

        “You can’t film that,” warned Nicholson.

        “Yes, for security reasons we can’t allow you to show the agents we’re working on,” agreed Mohr. And then he named them — one by one as the cameras rolled, with sound on. (p. 196)

        [Editor’s note: The Ames shot is in the film].

    • DXer said

      At Dugway –

      “Coen was surprised at the frankness of the answer he received after he asked Dr. Mohr about the anthrax letters. ‘A bunch of us worked with the FBI on Amerithrax. So we all know all the ins and outs and we have to be careful about that because we signed statements saying that we wouldn’t talk about exactly what that anthrax looked like.”

      But then he told Coen and Nadler something about what it looked like and gave specifics:

      “Alrighty, then,” he said clapping his hands and continuing on to the next room.” (p. 196)

      • DXer said

        “Mohr confirmed to the journalists that his lab [Life Sciences facility at Dugway] was indeed weaponizing anthrax. “It’s probably the only laboratory in the country that does and the reason we make it is because we test detectors.” He walked past them past a lab where he said Ames anthrax… were aerosolized. “This morning, the system under test broke, or at this moment right now we’d be aerosolizing anthrax,” he noted. “So, we’re air washing that chamber right now, and then we’re going to go in there later on today and fix that detector so that we can go back again and resume testing tomorrow.”

        “Mohr had been at Dugway for twenty-eight years, heading up the biological division for many of them. He was nearing a move over to the ‘private sector,’ he said, and it was clear to Coen and Nadler that he sense a golden age approaching. Dugway’s Life Science Facility had helped to revive bioweapons research in the post-9/11 era. Mohr’s division had grown into a major operation.” (p. 197)

      • Anonymous scientist said

        The interview with Dr Mohr is very interesting. As Dr Mohr states – the team at Dugway worked on the Amerithrax case and were intimately familiar with the mailed spores.

        In March 2008 they published a paper stating that the attack spores WERE WEAPONIZED !!!! This was before the death of Bruce Ivins.

        And yet today the story from the FBI is that in January 2002 they knew the mailed spores were NOT weaponized !!!!

        The paper published by Dugway can be found here:

        The inconsistencies of the stories being presented by US government agencies are stunning.

      • DXer said

        DR. BURANS: It’s known that Bacilli are capable of mineralizing different types of elements including silicon, so as early as 1982 Bacilli species Bacilli species have been shown to localize silica within their spore coat.

        QUESTION: Can I ask a follow-up?

        DR. MAJIDI: It could have been within the growth media. It could have been within —

        Ed, Dr. Majidi, the FBI WMD Chief said at the Amerithrax Science Briefing that the silica could have been in the culture medium.

        Now if he had said that the silica could have been in the chalk used by First Graders, it might point to your First Grader Theory.

        But instead the FBI’s theory, especially given the trillion spore concentration, supports the theory relating to access to the know-how involving silica in the culture medium to concentrate anthrax.

      • DXer said

        Ed, rather than fixate on your First Grader theory, you need to consider if silica was detected, why?

        And what are the implications of the findings detection by Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (“AFIP”) AFIP’s of silicon and oxygen and conclusion it was silica — putting aside where it was localized.

        The FBI recently has made it clear its views that the silica detected by the AFIP was not an additive used for the purpose of weaponization in 2006.

        I gave the press a copy of the article I got from the FBI lab scientist in an attempt to resolve the debate as to silica as an additive once and for all. But while the press just focused on the fact that there was no “sophisticated additive” for the purpose of increasing dispersability, does the AFIP conclusion that silica was strongly indicated shed critical light on the investigation of the anthrax mailings in the Fall of 2001?

        Hypothesis #1:

        Use of sol-gel as a drying agent. Russian bioweaponeer Ken Alibek has explained that: “There is an old microbiology or chemical technique to dry out some stuff. Actually it involves silica gel. That’s what you need to keep in mind. Because, if you remember when you buy shoes what you got inside shoes is silica gel. So, you got silica gel. It was put in there for a specific purpose – to remove moisture.”

        Hypothesis #2:

        In 2003, I had speculated that the silica on the spore surface was due instead to a silicone sealant spray on the inside of the envelope (rather than as a coating). The standard manual instructions on poison letters advise using such a spray or sealant so as to avoid killing the mailman. In “Target: Terrorism: Look at Al Qaeda’s Dreadful Recipe Book,” CNN on November 15, 2001 quoted the manual: “Write a letter to the victim mentioning very exciting and very interesting news.” Wipe the envelope from the inside with silicone sealant”) The FBI seized a Gatorade bottle filled with glue in its first search in November 2001) The owner of the home searched said: “Then they took away our Elmer’s glue for testing. I told them, ‘You’ve been surveilling this house for weeks, and this is what you do?”

        Hypothesis #3:

        But in the event a silicone sealant is not the reason, then as an alternative hypothesis perhaps the FBI is looking for someone coming from some place with very high levels of silica in the water. Water is used both in culturing the anthrax spores and can be used in purifying them. Silicon does not occur as a free element in nature, but it occurs as silicates and silicon dioxide. Silica, like arsenic, is found in the makeup of water from regions of high volcanic activity. Parts of California, New Mexico, Mexico, and other regions contain silica concentrations in excess of 30 mg/L.

        The Senior Scientist, Directorate of Science and Technology, Central Intelligence Agency, has been one of those involved in determining whether stable isotopes of elements in the water used as a culture medium can identify the geographic origin or water used in culturing the anthrax used in the mailings. The published journal articles indicates that the CIA funded the research. “Stable isotope ratios as a tool in microbial forensics–Part 1. Microbial isotopic composition as a function of growth medium.” “Stable isotope ratios as a tool in microbial forensics: Part 2. Isotopic variation among different growth media as a tool for sourcing origins of bacterial cells or spores”; “Stable isotope ratios as a tool in microbial forensics–part 3. Effect of culturing on agar-containing growth media.” Coincidentally, I recently tested a number of Russian mineral waters and elsewhere associated with geothermal springs that had very high TDS (or Total Dissolved Solids). (One imported mineral water from a geothermal spring in Mexico tested above the legal limit for arsenic but has not been recalled; another water, an apparently unauthorized counterfeit Muslim holy water, has been recalled for excessive levels of arsenic).

        Ibn Khattab, an Arab leader fighting in Chechnya. Khattab was a close friend of Bin Laden’s and has been intimately involved in Al Qaeda’s plans to weaponize biological agents since 1998 according to intelligence provided at the time by a foreign government. Ibn Khattab was killed by a poison letter in 2002. As one possible solution to the Amerithrax puzzle, the Balkans have extremely high levels. the US-based Al Qaeda operative Elzahabi came from the Balkans to the Twin Cities where Zacarias Moussaoui was located in mid-August 2001. He lived at a house in Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota that also served as a mosque. But it seems highly unlikely that he brought anthrax that had been cultured in water with high silica content or brought such water.

        According to what investigators tell NBC, however, the hypothesis that the anthrax was made abroad has been rejected by the FBI. A study of the water shows that the water came not from a foreign source, but from the Northeastern United States. See NBC NIGHTLY NEWS, NBC TV, 7 PM, October 5, 2006 reported: “Investigators tell NBC News that the water used to make them came from a northeastern U.S., not a foreign, source.”

        Hypothesis #4:

        If the silica detected by AFIP is due to some other sort of lab contamination generally, lots of things contain silica that may have leached, such as rice hull ash. One scientist who was on the board at a Minnesota house Elzahabi lived was a rice hull researcher, but he confirms to me that he was not one of the scientists on the board of the particular charity whose home was searched, despite one media report.

        Hypothesis #5

        For example, the example cited in a November FBI 2001 memo was leaching from silicanized glassware. Silicanized glassware is used for sticky substances.

        Hypothesis #6

        The March 14, 2001 DARPA-funded patent involving concentration of anthrax using silica in the culture medium. Ali Al-Timimi, who was sentenced to life plus 70 years — and now is subject to highly classified proceedings on remand — came to share the suite of offices with Russian bioweaponeer Ken Alibek and former USAMRIID (Deputy) Commander Charles Bailey. His counsel says he has been considered an “anthrax weapons suspect” and said by a testifying FBI agent to have strong connections to the broader Al Qaeda connected.

        Hypothesis #7

        Use as a defoaming agent in a spraydrying process.

        Now both BHR and Russian bioweaponeer Serge Popov have addressed these issues and I refer you to their lengthy written opinions for the details. As I recall, BHR points to “hypothesis #6”. Serge points to a #6 merely as a possible hypothetical. He also mentions #7 as a possibility. But he emphasizes that even if it did not aid dispersability, it was added on purpose.

      • DXer said

        Former State Department analyst, whose work I recommend, gives good summary at this link.

        “Interested readers should study the contributions of Barbara Hatch Rosenberg (Sept. 9) and Serguei Popov (Sept. 24) at I find quite intriguing Rosenberg’s reference in footnotes 21 and 22 of her analysis to U.S. Patent Application number 09/805,464 by Charles Bailey and Ken Alibek, March 14, 2001. The patent (#6,649,408) was issued on Nov. 18, 2003. Silica is mentioned repeatedly in the patent, and the instructions look very much like they could have been used by the preparer of the anthrax in the letters. Rosenberg suggests that the patent application was available to 100+ potential anthrax attack suspects well before the anthrax attacks, but it is not clear that the application was made public before the attacks started.

        * 29 Sep, 2008″

        The opinions by BHR and Serge were originally posted on Dr. Nass’ webpage, which I also highly recommend. It has an archive of posts beginning after Dr. Ivins’ suicide.

      • Anonymous Scientist said

        Mohr stated to Nadler and Coen (remember this was BEFORE the death of Bruce Ivins):

        ‘A bunch of us worked with the FBI on Amerithrax. So we all know all the ins and outs and we have to be careful about that because we signed statements saying that we wouldn’t talk about exactly what that anthrax looked like.”

        I interpreted that as being his team was intimately familiar with the mailed spores. If the above statement does not mean they had intimate knoweldge of what the mailed spores looked like, then what does?

        Then (again BEFORE Ivins death) – they published a paper in the Journal of Aerosol Science that contained this:
        “In the anthrax attack of 2001, some of the material was believed

        to be in a “fluidized” form (defined here as having fumed

        silica added). In order to simulate the aerosol-deposited nature

        of the anthrax biowarfare agent on surfaces, a two part study

        was initiated.”…………………..

        So, we have this team at Dugway who are intimately familiar with the mailed spores and they write a paper in April 2008 stating they believe the mailed spores were fluidized (in other words “weaponized). They undertake a costly study to simulate the opening of the envelopes using weaponization techniques to make dry powder anthrax – techniques it would have been IMPOSSIBLE for Bruce Ivins to recreate at Detrick.

        But AFTER Ivin’s death, Ed Lake claims he wrote to them and claims they now state that they undertook the costly study with statements saying they beleive the spores were “fluidized” based on what they read in Washington Post and NOT based on what they directly knew about the real powder.

        Yes, sure, that sounds highly plausible :))))

        But, no worries. Let’s just get their lab notebooks and haul them all before the Congressional committee and have them testify under oath. After all, we do want to know the truth, right?

      • Anonymous Scientist said

        Since Ed Lake likes to quote from that New York Times article by Scott Shane, here’s another “quote” from it:
        “The Times review found that the F.B.I. had disproved the assertion, widespread among scientists who believe Dr. Ivins was innocent, that the anthrax might have come from military and intelligence research programs in Utah or Ohio. By 2004, secret scientific testing established that the mailed anthrax had been grown somewhere near Fort Detrick. And anthrax specialists who have not spoken out previously said that, contrary to some skeptics’ claims, Dr. Ivins had the equipment and expertise to make the powder in his laboratory.”

        That was bombshell information at the time – they were apparently, according to Scott Shane, now saying they had solid scientific proof that linked the mailed spores to Detrick and only Detrick.

        But it turned out to be yet more FBI junk science. They had nothing of the sort. It was a leak that Scott Shane swallowed hook, line and sinker.
        In the weeks following, bloggers completely exposed and dismantled that leak for the junk science it was. Isotopes could NOT have traced the spores to Detrick.

        The New York Times had to add an embarrassing post-script to the article 2 months later:
        Postscript: February 28, 2009
        A front-page article on Jan. 4 about Bruce E. Ivins, the late Army scientist who the Federal Bureau of Investigation says was responsible for the anthrax letter attacks of 2001, reported that F.B.I. scientists had concluded in 2004 that out of 60 domestic and foreign water samples, only water from near Fort Detrick, Md., where Dr. Ivins worked, had the same chemical signature as the water that had been used to grow the mailed anthrax. That information, provided by a former senior law enforcement official who did not want to be named in the article, suggested that the anthrax could not have come from military and intelligence research programs in Utah and Ohio, as some defenders of Dr. Ivins’s innocence had speculated. The F.B.I. declined to answer questions for that article, which said that the evidence against Dr. Ivins was circumstantial and that many of his colleagues believed the F.B.I.’s conclusion was wrong.

        On Tuesday at an American Society for Microbiology conference in Baltimore, an F.B.I. scientist, Jason D. Bannan, said the water research ultimately was inconclusive about where the anthrax was grown. An F.B.I. spokeswoman, Ann Todd, said on Wednesday that the bureau “stands by the statements” of Dr. Bannan. The case will be reviewed this year by the National Academy of Sciences.


        The conclusion that can be drawn form this is that one cannot trust ANYTHING that was claimed in this article by ANYONE – especially when they don’t provide proof.

      • Anonymous Scientist said

        But you fail to say who wrote that. Was it a Dugway author or a CDC author?

        You’re favorite phrase “Borg Collective” is hardly applicable. I can tell you that there are VERY few BW scientists at Dugway who aeroloze anthrax. Beard and Larsen are 2 of the best known aerosol anthrax specialists. Dugway is an isolated communinty and you can count on the fact that all of that isolated community knows what the others are doing – especially when it comes to aerosolizing anthrax.

        As Mohr stated:
        “Mohr confirmed to the journalists that his lab [Life Sciences facility at Dugway] was indeed weaponizing anthrax. “It’s probably the only laboratory in the country that does and the reason we make it is because we test detectors.” He walked past them past a lab where he said Ames anthrax… were aerosolized. “This morning, the system under test broke, or at this moment right now we’d be aerosolizing anthrax,” he noted. “So, we’re air washing that chamber right now, and then we’re going to go in there later on today and fix that detector so that we can go back again and resume testing tomorrow.”

        It is COMPLETELY implausible to believe that Beard and Larsen would write in a paper “In the anthrax attack of 2001, some of the material was believed to be in a “fluidized” form (defined here as having fumed silica added)” if they had already believed for 7 years that it was NOT fluidized.

        The Hart building study showed
        NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The anthrax mailed to a Senate office last fall was able to become airborne again even after it settled in the office, US government scientists reported Tuesday.

        The fact that ordinary movement in the office was enough to send anthrax back into the air provides evidence that the spores were altered to make them more dangerous, according to Dr. Christopher P. Weis of the US Environmental Protection Agency National Enforcement Investigations Center in Denver, Colorado.

        Why do you think Dugway chose to make their simulant with fumed silica? They did it because they KNOW that without that work-up the spores would NOT behave as they above study showed. They would NOT become airborne again.

        The FBI would have to prove that someone can go into Suite 3 at Detrick and make a powder that BEHAVES the SAME as the powder in Hart building behaved, in the same time frame with the same equipment, without leaving any traces. They know they cannot do that – they know it’s impossible.

      • DXer said

        Ed, in the Coen and Nadler book and the related documentary, the expert you are relying on said:

        “It was milled down to one micron single spores, yes it was…”

        Previously you have repeatedly argued at length that the spores were not milled.

        Do you agree with Dr. Mohr that the spores were milled? Or do you think he was wrong?

      • DXer said

        “Dr. Alibek also cleared up a false assumption I made about why he, Matthew Meselson and William Patrick III were all so certain the attack anthrax was not milled.

        I assumed that milling would chip some of the spores and the chips and the chipped spores could be easily seen via an electron microscope. In reality, it’s even easier to see than that. Milling produces very visible effects: The single spores and the particles with multiple spores would all have a somewhat rectangular appearance. Milling spores does not create round objects, it creates objects which are flat on one or more sides. So, the simple fact that the attack spores looked like natural round spores was clear proof that the spores had not been milled – another major indicator that the attack anthrax did not come from any massive government industrialized process.”

        So, Ed, do you now think that the spores were milled like Dr. Jeff Mohr says? Or not milled which you have argued for 7 years.

        I have no position on silica beyond crediting the FBI’s science briefing that the silica could have been in the culture medium so spare me your name-calling and lay discussion of technical matters. Why don’t you just credit the FBI’s statement that the silica could have been in the culture medium and give it a rest until the EID articles are published?

      • DXer said

        When I asked if Ed agreed with Dr. Mohr who said that the anthrax was milled, and I suggested that he had been filmed in the documentary saying that, Ed responded:

        “I wouldn’t trust anything Cohen and Nadler wrote.”

        The film is available to watch on Vuze.

      • DXer said


        I am hoping you will embrace the FBI’s scientific conclusions at the Science Briefing and not seek to avoid the only origin that was suggested for the Silicon Signature — that the silica was in the culture medium.

        In the meantime, in addition to waiting for the experts to address the issue in the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases, someone should obtain a copy of the redacted transcript of the February 19, 2009 hearing in the Al-Timimi prosecution.

        05/15/2009 292 Notification Regarding Security Clearance by USA as to Ali Al-Timimi (jlan) (Entered: 05/15/2009)
        02/27/2009 290 ORDER granting 289 Motion to Withdraw as Attorney. Katherine Joanne Seikaly withdrawn from case as to Ali Al-Timimi (1). Signed by District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema on 2/27/2009. (rban, ) (Entered:


        02/27/2009 289 MOTION for Withdrawal of Appearance of Katherine J. Seikaly as Co-Counsel for Dr. Al-Timimi by Ali Al-Timimi. (rban, ) (Entered: 02/27/2009)
        [this was the daughter of the former head prosecutor in Amerithrax, the man who pled the Fifth Amendment regarding the Hatfill leaks]

        02/19/2009 288 For the reasons stated in an under seal hearing, the Government’s Motion for Treatment of Certain Defense Filings as Classified 282 is deemed resolved; and, it is hereby ORDERED that the transcript of the closed portion of the February 19, 2009 hearing will remain classified and under seal pending classification review. The government is directed to carefully review the transcript and make only those redactions necessary to protect classified information.Signed by District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema on 02/19/08. (yguy) (Entered: 02/24/2009)

        02/19/2009 Minute Entry for proceedings held before District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema:CLOSED HEARING held on 2/19/2009. US appeared through Gordon Kromberg.Deft appeared w/counsel Johnathan Turley. Pltf motion was argued in open court and deemed resolved. (Order to follow). (Court Reporter Thomson.) (yguy) (Entered: 02/24/2009)

        02/13/2009 287 UNDER SEAL – Defendant Dr. Ali Al-Timimi’s MOTION to Compel Discovery (filed w/Court Security Officer) (yguy) (Entered: 02/18/2009)

        02/12/2009 286 UNDER SEAL Defendant Dr. Ali Al-Timimi’s Reply To Government Response To The Motion For Disclosure Of Evidence Derived From (filed w/Court Security Officer) (yguy) (Entered: 02/12/2009)

      • Anonymous Scientist said

        Ed Lake uses this quote:
        “Without giving an opinion of Dr. Ivins’s guilt or innocence, both Dr. Ezzell and Dr. Mohr said they believed that any experienced microbiologist could have grown and dried the anthrax using equipment Dr. Ivins had in his laboratory.”

        Is this the same Dr Ezzell who had never before seen a dry anthrax powder when he opened the envelope (as reported in Marilyn Thompson’s book)? This was after spending his entire career working on anthrax.

        Would you say Ivin’s old boss Russel Byrne was an “experienced microbilogist”?
        He said he didn’t know how to make it. Is he deliberately lying?

        It’s difficult to prove a negative – in other words it’s almost impossible to prove that someone CANNOT do something. But it’s relatively easy to prove that someone CAN do something. This can be done using the scientific method. Go into Suite 3 and reproduce the powder that contaminated the Hart building using what Ivins had available. Details do not need to be given – just results that are comparable to the Hart building findings of re-aerosolization.

        Just saying “it’s easy to do” is not science. It’s bullshit.

        “USAMRIID doesn’t deal with powdered anthrax. … I don’t think there’s anyone there who would have the foggiest idea how to do it. You would need to have the opportunity, the capability and the motivation, and he didn’t possess any of those.”

      • Anonymous Scientist said

        The only debate is proving it using the scientific method.

        If the FBI want people to buy their story they need to demonstrate that a powder can be made that behaves the same as the Hart powder. Dugway needed to use extremely sophisticated equipment to do this – and it was their stated intention to simulate the opening of the Daschle letter in the Hart Building.

        But if the FBI believe none of this is necessary then they have a wonderful opportunity of using science to prove it. They can just make a powder using the equipment Ivins had and WITHOUT using silica additives. Then they can demonstrate that this powder behaves precisely as the Daschle powder was shown to behave in the EPA study.

        Making statements without actually bothering to PERFORM A TEST is junk science. The FBI tried that with their “lead in bullets” junk science.

        References are below for the Dugway Daschle powder simulation as well as the FBI lead in bullets junk science.


        The culture was incubated at 30◦C in a 10 L fermentation
        vessel with an agitation rate of 250 RPM and an aeration rate
        greater than 0.5 volumes min−1. Sporulationwas generally complete
        within 24 h. Spores were collected by simple centrifugation
        to remove spent media. The pelleted material was dried by
        a proprietary azeotropic method. Ten percent (by weight) of an
        amorphous silica-based flow enhancer was added to the dried
        spores. The dried material was milled using an exclusionary
        ball mill. In this process the material passed through a series
        of stages separated by increasingly finer mesh screens. In each
        stage 0.01 m diameter steel balls forced the product through the
        screen separators. A pneumatic vibrator actuated the entire mill.

        Tobin says the Quantico lab was the only place in the country that did bullet lead analysis, and the assertion that you could actually match a bullet fragment to a specific batch or box of bullets went unchallenged for 40 years — until Tobin retired in 1998 and decided to do his own study, discovering that the basic premise had never actually been scientifically tested.

        “FBI lab personnel testified that you could match these fragments to this bullet,” Kroft remarks.

        “Yes, that’s correct,” Tobin says.

        Asked what he found out, Tobin tells Kroft, “It hadn’t been based on science at all, but rather had been based on subjective belief for over four decades.”

        “So what you’re saying is that this is junk science?” Kroft asks.

        “That’s correct,” Tobin says. “It’s worthless as a forensic tool.”

      • Anonymous Scientist said

        Ed lake writes:
        “There have been papers written on this. One example is “Estimating aerosol hazards from an anthrax letter” by J. Ho and S. Duncan. It was published in Aerosol Science in 2005. Using BG spores as a simulant, they showed that ordinary BG spores will disperse from a letter just as happened with the anthrax letters.”

        You are making up your own facts. You are pretending that this study used raw dried spores. Ho and Duncan very carefully did not reveal how they made the simulant they used.

        Private correspondance reveals this:

        “Another observation is that Beecher has demonstrated little aerosol experience before or after publication of this paper. Yet, in the discussion, much speculation was given to particle size distributions for anthrax spore preparations. In some statements, he clearly could not distinguish the significance of number versus mass particle size distributions. He probably never handled spore powders in a weighing balance. If he did, he would have understood the difference between raw dried spores as compared to prepared material designed for aerosol dissemination.

      • Anonymous Scientist said

        Ed lake wrote:
        “You can argue that Bruce Ivins couldn’t have made the powders with the equipment he had, but I think the NAS will be showing that he could have done it.”

        He seems to agree that the ONLY way to show that someone could make a powder with the same properties as the mailed spores, that shows the same data as the Hart building EPA studies (ie. re-aersolization of single spores) is for NAS to actually do the experiment and prove it.

        Not doing so would be similar to the FBI’s junk science lead in bullets analysis – ie. ““It (lead in bullets) hadn’t been based on science at all, but rather had been based on subjective belief for over four decades.”

        Most scientists agree that the most important role NAS will play will be to use the scientific method to prove the FBI’s subjective belief that Ivins had the equipment at his disposal to do it:

        “The only opinions that I would place any confidence in would have to come from individuals who have made the stuff, in the same quantity of the letters,” said infectious disease specialist W. Russell Byrne. “And then I would ask them to go into B3 in building 1425, work there for a couple of weeks and reproduce what they say Bruce did. That’s the only way I could, in good conscience and in the spirit of objective scientific inquiry, believe them.”

    • DXer said

      “One aggressive reporter influenced by Jacobsen and other US Army sources he trusted had a go at the FBI panel at its briefing. Gary Matsumoto, employed in 2008 by Bloomberg News, had grabbed the germ war issue by the short hairs while writing his 2004 book, Vaccine A, about the controversial vaccine against anthrax used in the military. He was also one of very few non-scientists to have work published in the prestigious Science magazine, when his article on the schism between the FBI and the Department of defense over the anthrax refinement question was published in November 2003. Matsumoto’s intelligence and sources interested Coen and Nadler, who courted the reporter as a source for years after the article appeared. There were phone conversations and coffee meetings and one lunch date for which the journalists were kept waiting for two hours. During all of these meetings, Matsumoto dropped hints about depths of collusion, secrecy and ultimate significance of his findings. He chided Coen and Nadler for being naive, for being in over their heads, but he kept returning their phone calls and fishing for their findings.

      Matsumoto said his agent was pushing him to write a book on germ warfare and that he had key military co-authors in place. “A Russian general and a U.S. general, you see the level I’m getting at?”

      One day in the fall of 2007, Matsumoto announced that he was coming to see them “right now.” He arrived bearing a box of chocolates. “I don’t know if it’s appropriate to bring gifs on the High Holy Days,” he said guessing, correctly, his hosts’ religious heritage.

      Matsumoto was momentarily silenced by the walls of the office, covered as they were with the ephemera of the anthrax trail. Coen and Nadler watched fascinated as the former ROTC cadet, now in his forties, walked over to the whiteboard where they had mocked up the web of players and sources they were cultivating, and began to talk. He recognized key names and spoke for an hour about how the anthrax affair was “very bad business” that he personally wanted out of. “Why are you guys doing this?” he asked almost plaintively. Nadler picked up the box of chocolates and told Matsumoto, “Gary, it’s holy work. We’re doing it for our kids — all the kids.” Matsumoto shook his head and told Nadler and Coen that they were at the tip of the iceberg that his own book’s revelations would “blow them away.” Still, he said, they were foolish for thinking their work might make a difference.

      “I really don’t know why you guys are doing this,” he said again, turning to the journalists, who were already regretting at that moment that they didn’t have a camera training on Matsumoto to catch this performance. Matsumoto said he was probably done with anthrax. He spent much of his free time these days dreaming of designing a video game. After an hour or so, he wished his fellow investigative journalists the best of luck and left.

      But by the time Bruce Ivins died, it became clear that Matsumoto, despite not having written about anthrax in some time, had not retired from the germ war game. At the 2008 FBI briefing, he went at the experts with detailed questions far beyond the ken of fellow journalists in the room. There were thrusts and parries about the reliability of “silica signal detection capabilities of EDX machines,” “dry weight percentages,” and the “discrepancy between your findings and those of two US Army laboratories.” Under the stern gaze of the governmental official who conducted the meeting but refused to give his name or position, Matsumoto finally got one FBI consulting scientist to admit that the silica weight percentage was “high” — a victory in the eyes of the cognoscenti only.

      The debate over additives and silica endures. The more Coen and Nadler listened to the range of expert opinions, the more they became convinced that the anthrax found in the letters to the senators required a skill set and equipment not found in Ivins’ high security lab within Fort Detrick. They tended to believe Jacobsen and his ilk.” (DEAD SILENCE: Fear and Terror on the Anthrax Trail, p. 34-35)

    • Anonymous Scientist said

      This adds some more factual background to the citation by Kay Mereish. Kay published a letter in “Applied and Environmental Microbiology” responding the FBI’s Douglas Beecher. The letter is below:
      Unsupported Conclusions on the Bacillus anthracis Spores
      Douglas J. Beecher reported on the methodology that a U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation laboratory used to identify an intentionally anthrax-contaminated letter(s) among mail collected from a Congressional building or postal facility that serves the U.S. Congress after the incident of contamination that occurred on 15 October 2001 (1). The described sampling strategy and initial screening and analysis methodology using direct plating were reported to be efficient and safe. However, the data supplied in the paper could not be used as evidence for judging the quality of the spores or to support or dismiss conceptions about the presence or absence of spore additives or about the production engineering used to prepare the spores. Furthermore, the type of sampling and analysis data presented in the paper could not be used for extrapolation of ideas concerning spore quality or the method of production. It is possible that Dr. Beecher’s laboratory has performed additional analysis and obtained data that might support such conclusions but that were not included in the paper; if that is the case, it would be more scientifically appropriate to add “unpublished data” in parentheses next to the conclusions he offered concerning the apparent lack of additives, spore quality as reflected in particle size distribution, and the production engineering. In a meeting I attended in September 2006, a presentation was made by a scientist who had worked on samples of anthrax collected from letters involved in the same incident in October 2001; that scientist described the anthrax spore as uncoated but said that it contained an additive that affected the spore’s electrical charges (D. Small, CBRN Counter-Proliferation and Response, Paris, France, 18-20 September 2006; organized by SMi []).
      It would be of importance for Dr. Beecher to submit data in support of his conclusions in another paper to establish a sound scientific basis for his arguments.

      The cited scientist is Dorothy Small. Dorothy Small was involved in the envioronmental sampling of the US Postal facility in DC.

      Surface sampling methods for Bacillus anthracis spore contamination.Sanderson WT, Hein MJ, Taylor L, Curwin BD, Kinnes GM, Seitz TA, Popovic T, Holmes HT, Kellum ME, McAllister SK, Whaley DN, Tupin EA, Walker T, Freed JA, Small DS, Klusaritz B, Bridges JH.
      Centers for Desease Control and Prevention , Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.

      During an investigation conducted December 17-20, 2001, we collected environmental samples from a U.S. postal facility in Washington, D.C., known to be extensively contaminated with Bacillus anthracis spores. Because methods for collecting and analyzing B. anthracis spores have not yet been validated, our objective was to compare the relative effectiveness of sampling methods used for collecting spores from contaminated surfaces. Comparison of wipe, wet and dry swab, and HEPA vacuum sock samples on nonporous surfaces indicated good agreement between results with HEPA vacuum and wipe samples. However, results from HEPA vacuum sock and wipe samples agreed poorly with the swab samples. Dry swabs failed to detect spores >75% of the time when they were detected by wipe and HEPA vacuum samples. Wipe samples collected after HEPA vacuum samples and HEPA vacuum samples collected after wipe samples indicated that neither method completely removed spores from the sampled surfaces.

      So the question is – if there was no additive and the powder was easily made by Ivins as the FBI claim today, why would the FBI be considering investigating this for “violated security statutes”?

  5. Ike Solem said

    “HHS works in close collaboration with key partners, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. HHS, through ASPR/BARDA, executes acquisition programs, utilizing the Special Reserve Fund commensurate with these priorities. HHS also works to promote open communication of U.S. Government needs to industry, an essential partner in Project BioShield. The availability of a substantial, long-term funding source was designed to provide the incentive for industry to respond to U.S. Government requirements and develop critical medical countermeasures for the American public.”

    Notice that the expansion of this program (Project Bioshield) has had no effect on increasing public health safety in the U.S. – look at swine flu and the ever-present threat of drug-resistant TB, for just two examples.

  6. DXer said

    “Eric Nadler grinned — he liked the heat in the room. Coen remained stone-faced, his eyes narrow behind his stylish green glasses.”

    “Then it was the turn of Senator Patrick Leahy, head of the committee and himself a target of one of the anthrax letters. Leahy spoke with gravitas in a gravelly, languid voice chiding the director for bureaucratic bamboozlement right out of Catch-22. Finally he dropped the detachment: “I have been very reluctant to even ask questions about this because my office and myself were put at risk because of a letter that was addressed to me and I realize we did not suffer like the familiaries of those who had people die … I do not believe in any way, shape or manner that [Ivins] is the only person involved in this attack on Congress and the American people. I do not believe it at all. I believe there are others involved either as accessories before or after the fact. I believe there are others who can be charged with murder.”

    Coen and Nadler, “Dead Silence,” (2009), p. 14.

  7. DXer said

    “Consider the case of a doctoral student at George Mason University whose dissertation thesis centered on the alleged Rhodesian use of biological agents. For months before Coen went to South Africa, the student had pressed the reporter to divulge his information including sources and methods, if possible. The fellow — wired into US law enforcement — had numerous contacts among Selous Scout veterans and had even arranged for some of them to give a series of private talks at hotels near Washington, D.C. during which they denied that the Scouts had used anthrax during the war. When the journalists met with him at an outdoor cafe in Virginia in spring 2007, they asked for a copy of his dissertation. He demurred, explaining that it was locked in a safe and “embargoed for twenty-five years,” the result of classified US material within. “That must be a helluva dissertation,” Nadler cracked. “You bet,” the graduate student answered without cracking a smile.”

    Coen and Nadler, “Dead Silence: Fear and Terror on the Anthrax Trail,” (2009), p. 150.

  8. DXer said

    “The USDA ran a laboratory not far from the university but had to retrieve its anthrax collection from a storage closet it rented in a local strip mall under less than standard biohazard safety levels. These samples — crucial baseline samples for “Amerithrax” detectives — were also destroyed (with, astonishly enough, the approval of the FBI), making it impossible for investigators to compare them when it seemed possible later that the anthrax in the letters may indeed have been linked to Ames, Iowa as well as to the Ames strain.”

    Coen and Nadler, Dead Silence: Fear and Terror On The Anthrax Trail, p. 29.

  9. DXer said

    The Bush Administration wanted to invade Iraq. The man the FBI suspected of accessing know-how relating to the creation of an anthrax aerosol — involving concentrating anthrax using silicon dioxide in the culture medium — was the former assistant (for 2 months in 1996) for White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card. This presented an untenable situation. Anthrax would prove to be the result of the Administration’s negligence in allowing infiltration of US biodefense despite warnings.

    As Richard Clarke today explained in an op ed to the Washingotn Post, the Bush response to terrorism was all about the political implications.

    Ali Al-Timimi worked at George Mason University’s Discovery Hall throughout 2000 and 2002 period. The Mason Gazette in “Mason to Pursue Advanced Biodefense Research” on November 17, 2000 had announced: “The School of Computational Sciences (SCS) and Advanced Biosystems, Inc., a subsidiary of Hadron, Inc., of Alexandria, are pursuing a collaborative program at the Prince William Campus to enhance research and educational objectives in biodefense research. The article noted that the program was funded primarily by a grant awarded to Advanced Biosystems from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). A 2007 GMU PhD thesis explains that the “An Assessment of Exploitable Weaknesses in Universities” by Corinne M. Verzoni offices and research located in Discovery Hall, making this an attractive building on the Prince William Campus to target for information and technology.” The 2007 PhD student biodefense student explained: “Discovery Hall currently has BSL 1, 2 and 2+ labs in which students work with attenuated and vaccine strains of Fracella tularemia, anthrax and HIV. GMU will eventually have new biological labs featuring a BSL-3 lab which will have anthrax and tularemia.”

    Instead of starting a center from scratch, GMU chose to join forces with Dr. Alibek and Dr. Bailey’s existing research firm, Hadron Advanced Biosystems Inc. Hadron was already working under contract for the federal government, having received funding from DARPA. Dr. Alibek told the Washington Post that he and Bailey had spent their careers studying an issue that only recently grabbed the country’s attention, after the anthrax mailings the previous fall. Dr. Bailey and Alibek met in 1991, when a delegation of Soviet scientists visited the USAMRIID at Ft. Detrick. Dr. Bailey explained that the purpose of the tour was to show the Soviets that the US was not developing offensive biological weapons. Bailey said he tried to engage Alibek in conversation but Alibek remained aloof. Alibek, for his part, explains that he was suspicious of this American smiling so broadly at him. A year later, Alibek would defect to the US and reveal an illegal biological program in the Soviet Union of a staggering scope. Alibek says that one reason he defected was that he realized that the Soviet intelligence was wrong — that the US research was in fact only defensive.

    Former USAMRIID Deputy Commander and Acting Commander Ames researcher Bailey coinvented, with Ken Alibek, the process to treat cell culture with hydrophobic silicon dioxide so as to permit greater concentration upon drying. He was in Room 156B of GMU’s Discovery Hall at the Center for Biodefense. The patent application was filed March 14, 2001. Rm 154A was Victor Morozov’s room number when he first assumed Timimi’s phone number in 2004 (and before he moved to the newly constructed Bull Run Hall). Morozov was the co-inventor with Dr. Bailey of the related cell culture process under which the silica was removed from the spore surface.

    One ATCC former employee felt so strongly about lax security there the scientist called me out of the blue and said that the public was overlooking the patent repository as a possible source of the Ames strain. ATCC would not deny they had virulent Ames in their patent repository pre 9/11 (as distinguished from their online catalog). The spokesperson emailed me: “As a matter of policy, ATCC does not disclose information on the contents of its patent depository.” Previously, though, the ATCC head publicly explained that it did not have virulent Ames.

    George Mason University, Department Listings, accessed August 17, 2003, shows that the National Center For Biodefense and Center for Biomedical Genomics had the same mail stop (MS 4ES). The most famed bioweaponeer in the world was not far from this sheik urging violent jihad in an apocalyptic struggle between religions. Dr. Alibek’s office was Rm. 156D in Prince William 2. The groups both shared the same department fax of 993-4288. Dr. Alibek advises me he had seen him several times in the corridors of GMU and was told that he was a religious muslim hard-liner but knew nothing of his activities. At one point, Timimi’s mail drop was MSN 4D7.

    BIODEFENSE, THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR . . . . . . . . . . . 3-8545 . . . . . . FAX 993-4288 . . . . . . . . MS 4E3
    KEN ALIBEK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156D Prince William II . . . . . . . . 3-xxxx
    Deputy Director
    Charles Bailey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156B Prince William II . . . . . . . . 3-xxxx
    Kathryn Crockett . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157 Prince William II . . . . . . . . . 3-xxxx

    BIOMEDICAL GENOMICS, CENTER FOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3-2674 . . . . . . FAX 993-4288 . . . . . . . . MS 4E3
    VIKAS CHANDHOKE . . . . . . . . . . 181B Prince William II . . . . . . . . 3-2674

    Al-Timimi, Ali . . . . . . . . . . . . 3-xxxx

    Charles Bailey at 3-4271 was the former head of USAMRIID and joined the Center in April 2001. He continued to do research with Ames after 9/11. Dr. Alibek reports that shortly after the mailings, he wrote FBI Director Mueller and offered his services but was advised that they already had assembled a large group. A 2004 report describes research done by Dr. Alibek and his colleagues using Delta Ames obtained from NIH for a research project done for USAMRIID. There were two grants from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency from 2001. One $3.6 million grant dated to July 2001 and the other was previous to that.

    Ali Al-Timimi had the same telephone number that Dr. Victor Morozov of the Center for Biodefense would later have when he joined the faculty and occupied the newly constructed Bull Run Building, which opened in late 2004 (Rm. #362). Dr. Morozov focuses on the development of new bioassay methods for express analysis, high-throughput screening and proteomics. He has recently developed a new electrospray-based technology for mass fabrication of protein microarrays. Dr. Morozov is currently supervising a Department of Energy-funded research project directed at the development of ultra-sensitive express methods for detection of pathogens in which slow diffusion of analytes is replaced by their active transport controlled and powered by external forces (electric, magnetic, gravitational or hydrodynamic). His homepage explains that: “A variety of projects are available for students to participate in 1. Develop methods for active capturing of viruses and cells. 2. AFM imaging of macromolecules, viruses and cells. 3. Develop active immunoassay. 4. Analyze forces operating in the active assay of biomolecules and viral particles. 5. Develop immobilization techniques for antibodies and other biospecific molecules. 6. Study crystallization dynamics and morphology of organic and inorganic crystals in the presence of protein impurities. 7. Develop software to analyze motion of beads. 8. Develop software to analyze patterns in drying droplets. 9. Develop an electrostatic collector for airborne particles.”

    Al-Timimi obtained a doctorate from George Mason University in 2004 in the field of computational biology — a field related to cancer research involving genome sequencing. He successfully defended his thesis 5 weeks after his indictment. Curt Jamison, Timimi’s thesis advisor, coauthor and loyal friend, was in Prince William II (Discovery Hall) Rm. 181A. The staff of Advanced Biosystems was in Rm. 160, 162, 177, 254E and several others. Computational sciences offices were intermixed among the Hadron personnel on the first floor of Prince William II to include 159, 161, 166A, 167, 181 B and 181C. Rm. 156B was Charles Bailey, former commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, who was head of the Center for Biodefense. Defense contractor Hadron had announced the appointment of Dr. Bailey as Vice-President of Advanced Biosystems in early April 2001. “Over 13 years, Dr. Bailey had served as a Research Scientist, Deputy Commander for Research, Deputy Commander and Commander at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute. As a USAMRIID scientist, he designed and supervised the construction of BL-3 containment facilities. His hands-on experience with a wide variety of pathogens is chronicled in 70 published articles. During his 4 years with the Defense Intelligence Agency, he published numerous articles assessing foreign capabilities regarding biological weapons.” When I asked Dr. Bailey to confirm Al-Timimi’s room number relative to his own, his only response was to refer me to University counsel. Counsel then never substantively responded to my inquiry regarding their respective room numbers citing student privacy. Ali’s friend and thesis advisor, Dr. Jamison never responded to an emailed query either. GMU perhaps understandably was very nervous about losing the $25 million grant for a new BL-3 regional facility to be located very near our country’s capitol.

    The reports on the study on the effectiveness of the mailed anthrax in the Canadian experiment was reported in private briefings in Spring and Summer of 2001. An insider thus was not dependent on the published report later that Fall. (The date on the formal report is September 10, 2001).

    Dr. Charles Bailey for DIA wrote extensively on the the biothreat posed by other countries (and presumably terrorists). He shared a fax number with Al-Timimi. What came over that fax line in Spring and Summer of 2001? At some point, Dr. Al-Timimi, Dr. Alibek and Dr. Bailey also shared the same maildrop. It certainly would not be surprising that the two directors who headed the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense — and had received the biggest defense award in history for work with Delta Ames under a contract with USAMRIID — would have been briefed on the threat of mailed anthrax. The 1999 short report by William Patrick to Hatfill at SAIC on the general subject was far less important given that it did not relate to actual experimental findings.

    Plus, it is common sense that while someone might use as a model something they had surreptitiously learned of — they would not use as a model something in a memo that they had commissioned. Thus, it was rather misdirected to focus on the 1999 SAIC report commissioned by Dr. Hatfill rather than the 2001 Canadian report. The Canadian report related to the anthrax threat sent regarding the detention of Vanguards of Conquest #2 Mahjoub in Canada. Mahjoub had worked with al-Hawsawi in Sudan (the fellow with anthrax spraydrying documents on his laptop). The anthrax threat in late January prompted the still-classified Presidential Daily Brief (“PDB”) in early February 2001 by the CIA to President Bush on the subject.

    In Fall 2001, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (”AFIP”) had detected silicon dioxide (silica) in the attack anthrax — with a characteristic big spike for the silicon. No silica was observable on the SEMs images that Dr. Alibek and Dr. Matthew Meselson saw. The Daschle product was “pure spores.” Was silicon dioxide used as part of a microdroplet cell culture process used prior to drying to permit greater concentration? As explained in a later related patent, the silica could be removed from the surface of the spore through repeated centrifugaton or an air chamber.

    Dr. Alibek and Dr. Bailey had filed a patent application in mid-March 2001 involving a microdroplet cell culture technique that used silicon dioxide in a method for concentrating growth of cells. The patent was granted and the application first publicly disclosed in the Spring of 2002. Weren’t the SEMS images and AFIP EDX finding both consistent with use of this process in growing the culture? Didn’t the AFIP in fact also detect oxygen in ratios characteristic of silicon dioxide? Wasn’t the scientist, now deceased, who performed the EDX highly experienced and expert in detecting silica? The applicants in March 2001 for an international patent relating to vaccines were a leading aerosol expert, Herman R. Shepherd, and a lonstanding anthrax biodefense expert, Philip Russell.

    Dr. Morozov is co-inventor along with Dr. Bailey for a patent “Cell Culture” that explains how the silicon dioxide can be removed from the surface. Perhaps it is precisely this AFIP finding of silicon dioxide (without silica on the SEMs) that is why the FBI came to suspect Al-Timimi in 2003 (rightly or wrongly, we don’t know). The FBI would have kept these scientific findings secret to protect the integrity of the confidential criminal/national security investigation. There was still a processor and mailer to catch — still a case to prove. After 9/11, intelligence collection takes precedence over arrests. As Ron Kessler explains in the new book, Terrorist Watch, many FBI officials feel that they are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. Outside observers are constantly second-guessing them about how to proceed rather than trusting that they are in the best position to balance the competing considerations of national security, intelligence gathering, the pursuit of justice, and the safeguarding of civil liberties. Above all, in disclosing the theory of access to know-how, the FBI has needed to protect the due process rights of Al-Timimi while he defended himself on other charges.

    An example from October 2006 of equipment that went missing from GMU’s Discovery Hall was a rotissery hybridization oven belonging to the Center for Biomedical Genomics. “This equipment can be used to manufacture biological agents and genetically modified agents, which could potentially be used as biological weapons,” the Corinne Verzoni explained in her PhD 2007 thesis. “Upon hearing about instances or missing equipment in Discovery Hall, the author contacted campus security who was unaware of instances of missing equipment. Missing equipment should be reported to the equipment liaison. Missing equipment may not be reported to campus security because labs tend to share equipment. Equipment also goes missing because it is not inventoried if it is under $2,000.

    She gives another example:

    “A DI system is a de-ionized water system, which removes the ions that are found in normal tap water. The assistant director for operations noticed the DI system in Discovery Hall was using the entire 100 gallons in two days, which is an enormous amount of water for the four DI taps in the whole building. According to the assistant director for operations, it is difficult to calculate the reason for that much water since no leak was found. A large amount of water used over a short period of time for unknown reasons could indicate that the research is being conducted covertly.”

    “A student with legitimate access to Discovery Hall,” she explained, “has easy accessibility to equipment. A student with access to the loading dock could steal equipment on the weekend when campus security is not present in Discovery Hall. A student could also walk out of the entrance with equipment on the weekend without security present.” She concluded: “The events at GMU demonstrate opportunity to create a clandestine lab, the ability to sell items illegally, or the ability to exploit school equipment.” In a late September 2001 interview on NPR on the anthrax threat, Dr. Alibek said: “When we talk and deal with, for example, nuclear weapons, it’s not really difficult to count how much of one or another substance we’ve got in the hands. When you talk about biological agents, in this case it’s absolutely impossible to say whether or not something has been stolen.” A spokesman at the GMU “Office of Media Relations” emailed me in mid-December 2007 noting: “While working toward a doctorate in bioinformatics here at George Mason University, Mr. Al-Timimi had no access to any sensitive or secure materials or matter. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to let me know.” When I emailed him questions, he did not know any of the answers and then never got back to me.

    Presently, Al-Timimi’s prosecution is on remand while the defense is given an opportunity to discover any documents that existed prior to 9/11 about al-Timimi and to address an issue relating to NSA intercepts after 9/11. Ali’s defense counsel explained to the federal district court, upon a remand by the appeals court, that Mr. Timimi was interviewed by an FBI agent and a Secret Service agent as early as February 1994 in connection with the first World Trade Center attack. The agents left their business cards which the family kept. Defense counsel Johnathan Turley further explained that “We have people that were contacted by the FBI and told soon after 9/11 that they believed that Dr. Al-Timimi was either connected to 9/11 or certainly had information about Al Qaeda.” According to Al-Timimi’s defense counsel in a court filing, Ali “was described to his brother by the FBI within days of the 9-11 attacks as an immediate suspect in the Al Qaeda conspiracy.”

    The Bush faced a horrible prospect: it would be discovered that the former assistant to the White House Chief of Staff — and not Saddam — was responsible for the anthrax. It would be even worse if it turned out that there was an Al Qaeda-Saddam connection in this regard because Ali’s father worked at the Iraqi embassy.

    At a conference on countering biological terrorism in 1999 sponsored by the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. Dr. Alibek was introduced by a former colleague of Dr. Bailey:

    “Dr. Llewellyn: This is rather strange because I just met Dr. Alibek today. He was introduced to me by Dr. Charlie Bailey, who now works for SRA. But Charlie and I were associated with the Army Medical Research and Development Command Defense Program for over 20 years.”

    Isn’t SRA who Al-Timimi worked for 1999 where he had a high security clearance for work for the Navy? See Milton Viorst’s article “The Education of Ali Al-Timimi. Did Dr. Bailey also work there at SRA in 1999? Did they work together? When I emailed Dr. Bailey in December 2007 to confirm Ali had the room right near his at Discovery Hall he politely referred me to counsel and took no questions. Dr. Alibek and Dr. Popov have told me that Ali is not known to have worked on any biodefense project. Dr. Popova told me I should direct any such questions to Dr. Bailey. Dr. Bailey told me I should direct any questions to University counsel. University counsel declined to answer any questions. This is one of those uncomfortable questions that Condoleeza Rice in 1999 in writing about bioterrorism the public might have to ask about intelligence matters relating to bioterrorism. Unfortunately, it is easier to ask the question than get any answers from this Administration. As insider Richard Clarke observed today in the Washington Post, however, the Administration did not heed warning about Al Qaeda and then was motivated primarily by the political implications of revelations. The Administration’s approach undermined the rule of law and the country’s standing in world opinion — and by so doing has made the country less safe.

    • DXer said

      “Alibek was this new biowar’s Cassandra. He regularly opined on the ease with which small terrorist groups or even individuals might produce crude weapons. He would become particularly emphatic on the subject in the run up to war with Iraq in 2003, when his persistent assurances that Saddah Hussein had biological weapons of mass destruction were touted by the Bush Administration. But it would be just as simple, he noted, for a rogue collective to steal some vials collecting dust in Siberia. And let’s not forget the Biopreparat scientists — a small army of expertise. For ever Pasechnik or Alibek toiling for freedom and democracy, he suggested, there were a dozen less repentant bioweaponeers for whom currencies varied only in quantity, not quality. The brain from Russia, he warned, was arming the Third World.”

      Coen and Nadler, “”Dead Silence: Fear and Terror On The Anthrax Trail,” (2009), p. 135.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: