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

* 4 Congressional offices don’t seem to care if the FBI ever answers Congress’s questions about the 2001 anthrax attack

Posted by DXer on June 12, 2009

Lew’s new novel CASE CLOSEDCC - front cover - small

explores the FBI’s failed investigation of the 2001 anthrax case …

* see CASE CLOSED VIDEO on YouTube

* purchase CASE CLOSED (paperback)

* Congressional offices don’t seem to care …

So far, Congress seems to be just as secretive as the FBI regarding what really happened in the investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks.

I have called the offices of …

  • Senator Charles Grassley
  • Congressman Rush Holt
  • Congressman Jerrold Nadler
  • Congressman John Conyers


I have left detailed messages in all 4 offices. My questions were quite simple …

  • has the FBI answered the questions your Senator/Congressman asked during 2008?  … YES? NO?
  • if so, can you share those answers with me … YES? NO?
  • if the FBI has not answered, what is your Senator/Congressman doing about it?  … SOMETHING? NOTHING?

So far, not one of these offices has given me the courtesy of any response at all.

It seems to me that the Congressional noise about the FBI’s investigation may be just that – noise.

Ask the questions, grab a few headlines … forget about it. And I think that’s a disgrace.

In 2001, someone carried out a mass murder using anthrax. Five people died, 17 more were infected, the country was thrown into panic.

There seems to be a general concensus on this blog and elsewhere that the FBI has not solved the case, that Dr. Bruce Ivins is not the sole perpetrator and perhaps not involved at all.

Congress doesn’t seem to care.

This complete lack of response from 4 Congressional offices makes me think that the premise I proposed in my just-published novel CASE CLOSED may be even more plausible than I supposed when I constructed my fictional scenario.

My premise in CASE CLOSED is that the FBI didn’t solve the case because it was told not to.

Wouldn’t it be absolutely terrifying if what I wrote as fiction turns out to be true?

And how will we ever know, since Congress doesn’t seem to care if it ever gets answers to the (excellent) questions it has raised?


* purchase CASE CLOSED (paperback)

* see CASE CLOSED VIDEO on YouTube

7 Responses to “* 4 Congressional offices don’t seem to care if the FBI ever answers Congress’s questions about the 2001 anthrax attack”

  1. DXer said

    The journal Nature summarized:

    “At a biodefence meeting on 24 February, Joseph Michael, a materials scientist at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, presented analyses of three letters sent to the New York Post and to the offices of Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. Spores from two of those show a distinct chemical signature that includes silicon, oxygen, iron, and tin; the third letter had silicon, oxygen, iron and possibly also tin, says Michael.”

    Ivins flask did not contain tin.  There was no iron or oxygen or silicon or tin detected in the spore coat of those spores.Dr. Michael speculated it might have been in the water. But Ft. Detrick water did not have high levels of tin.  

    Former Russian bioweapons expert Sergeui Popov reports from the ASM Conference:

    “I don’t remember the exact levels from the presentation, but it spikes out like hell.”

  2. DXer said

                 The attack anthrax was contaminated with a distinctive B. subtilus strain. No matching subtilis was found in swabbing of the USAMRIID labs were Dr. Ivins worked. The affidavit in support of a search warrant explained:

    “Both of the anthrax spore powders recovered from the Post and Brokaw letters contain low levels of a bacterial contaminant identified as a strain of Bacillus subtilis. The Bacillus subtilis contaminant has not been detected in the anthrax spore powders recovered from the envelopes mailed to either Senator Leahy or Senator Daschle. Bacillus subtillis is a non-pathogenic bacterium found ubiquitously in the environment. However, genomic DNA sequencing of the specific isolate of Bacillus subtilis discovered within the Post and Brokaw powders reveals that it is genetically distinct from other known isolates of Bacillus subtilis. Analysis of the Bacillus subtilis from the Post and Brokaw envelopes revealed that these two isolates are identical.

    “Why wasn’t this unique B. subtilis strain looked for in Bruce’s lab — or any other lab in the BSL-3 suite?” Ivins’ former boss Andrews. “It may, in fact, serve as a marker for where those preparations were really made.” At the ASM Biodefense presentation in February 2009, the FBI scientists explained that no subtilis found in any of Dr. Ivins samples was the genetically distinct subtilis.

  3. Ike Solem said

    Here are the questions the FBI has yet to answer:

    Six Anthrax Science Questions the FBI Has Yet to Answer

    •What were the four mutations the FBI says it used to link the anthrax in the envelopes to Bruce Ivins at USAMRIID?

    •What are the odds of a false positive—that is, the odds that the spore populations in Ivins’s flask RMR-1029 and in the envelopes weren’t related but shared the same four mutations by chance?

    •Eight samples had anthrax with all four mutations; one of those came from a lab other than USAMRIID. On what basis was this lab ruled out as the origin of the letters?

    •How did the FBI rule out the possibility that others at USAMRIID with access to Ivins’s lab prepared the envelopes?

    •How exactly did Ivins, if he was the perpetrator, produce an easily dispersible powder from his anthrax culture?

    •What led the FBI to suspect Steven Hatfill in the earlier years of the investigation?

    • DXer said


      Those are some questions but don’t come close to the questions that are raised, to include:

      (1) subtilis (no match),
      (2) the tin, (no match)
      (3) the Silicon Signature, (no match)
      (4) the drying, (no match; lyophilizer, a SpeedVac, did not have hood)
      (5) his alibi etc.
      (6) his lack of motive to commit murder,
      (7) the fiber evidence, (no match)
      (8) human DNA (no match)

      So the evidence against him is the same evidence against 100-300.
      But turning to your narrow list of a few issues, it is not merely access to Ivins’ lab at issue. It is access to any samples from Ivins flask 1029, which goes way beyond Ivins lab, and includes any sample which was obtained but not provided to the FBI as a sample.

      Ed says:

      “Presumably, they used the other mutations in the attack anthrax to determine the exact source.”

      Ed’s argument is based on his unsupported presumption — even though, for example, the reference to the NAS only concerns 4 morphs. His presumption is an assumption that is now founded on anything.

    • DXer said

      Here is what the FBI consultant on genetics says:

      Claire Fraser-Liggett, professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the University of Maryland Institute for Genome Sciences, asked in one news report, “What would have happened in this investigation had Dr. Hatfill not been so forceful in his response to being named a person of interest. What if he, instead of fighting back, had committed suicide because of the pressure? Would that have been the end of the investigation?”

      “I have complete confidence in the accuracy of our data,” Fraser-Liggett says, but she concedes it fails to prove Ivins is guilty.

    • DXer said

      The DARPA-funded work involving use of the lyophilizer by Dr. Ivins apparently involved the DARPA-funded work done by Ann Arbor researchers. In thanking Dr. Ivins  who in numerous patents for supplying the Ames, the researchers referenced his 1995 Vaccines article describing preparation of the spores (and the method included use of a lyophilizer).. blogger Glen Greenwald explains:

      “The leaked ‘scientific’ evidence is no better. If anything, it’s worse. The Washington Post today reports — all based on anonymous leaks — that “key to the probe” is the fact that Ivins “borrowed from a bioweapons lab that fall freeze-drying equipment that allows scientists to quickly convert wet germ cultures into dry spores” and that “the drying device, known as a lyophilizer, could help investigators explain how he might have been able to send letters containing deadly anthrax spores to U.S. senators and news organizations.” The article further claims that “the device was not commonly used by researchers at the Army’s sprawling biodefense complex at Fort Detrick, Md.”

      But that appears to be completely false. Here is the abstract of a 1995 research report [ Vaccine Volume 13, Issue 18, 1995, Pages 1779-1784 ] , for which Ivins was the lead scientist, reporting on discoveries made as part of their research into anthrax vaccines.

      Throughout the period 2000-2008, the Ann Arbor researchers would explain: “B. anthracis spores, Ames and Vollum 1 B strains, were kindly supplied by Dr. Bruce Ivins (USAMRIID, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Md.), and prepared as previously described (Ivins et al., Vaccine 13:1779 [1995]).”
      Greenwald continues:

      “Clearly, Ivins’ legitimate work researching anthrax vaccines entailed the use of a lyophilizer. As the commenter notes, “If you google ‘lyophilize’ and ‘anthrax’, most of the pages returned are about anthrax vaccines, which is what Dr. Ivins was working on at Ft. Detrick.” Indeed, even the Post article — while breathlessly touting the profound importance of Ivins’ incriminating possession of a lyophilizer — says this:

      He did at least one project for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that would have given him reason to use the drying equipment, according to a former colleague in his lab. [The DARPA-funded work that Ivins did is mentioned in numerous patents in which the Ann Arbor researchers thank Dr. Ivins for supplying Ames and note that the spores were prepared as described in Ivins, et al., Vaccine Volume 13, Issue 18, 1995, Pages 1779-1784 1 [FN. 1/ ]

      This morning I spoke with Dr. Luke D. Jasenosky of the Harvard School of Medicine’s Immune Disease Institute. Dr. Jasenosky said that it is “very common” for someone engaged in the vaccine research of the type Ivins did to use a lyophilizer, and that he “would actually be surprised if they weren’t using one.”

      The Post article goes to great lengths to stress how small and easily hidden this device is — to imply that Ivins could have weaponized the anthrax without being detected — but the FBI found out that Ivins had possession of a lyophilizer because of this:

      Ivins had to go through a formal process to check out the lyophilizer, creating a record on which authorities are now relying.

      So he didn’t exactly hide his acquisition and use of the device which, the FBI is now trying to suggest, he secretly used to convert wet spores into dry anthrax in order to perpetuate the anthrax attacks. Quite the opposite — he obtained the device in exactly the way that regulations required, knowing that there would be a clear and easy paper trail reflecting that he obtained this device — one which he obviously had legitimate reasons, on at least some occasions, to use in his work.”

      In an exclusive in early November 2008, the New York Post reported:

      “The lyophilizer, located in a hallway surrounded by four labs, did not have a protective hood. A hood is necessary to circulate and filter air and make it possible to use the lyophilizer to work with harmful bacteria without the bacteria becoming airborne. Co-workers say the hoodless lyophilizer would have spewed poisonous aerosols, infecting co-workers. But no colleagues of Ivins experienced any symptoms.

      Co-workers also point out that the machine would have to be fully decontaminated after use – a 24-hour process called paraformaldehyde decontamination that involves locking down the lab.

      Without a full decontamination, the machine would have contaminated other bacteria or liquids used on the machine at a later date. And if it had not been decontaminated, the FBI should have been able to find traces of the dry anthrax on the machine. Yet they swabbed Ivins’ machinery numerous times and were unable to find traces of dry anthrax spores in his lab, Kemp said.”

      “Even if Ivins did have access to a freeze-drying machine and a protective hood, sources who worked closely with Ivins estimate it would take a minimum of 40 days of continuous work without detection to create the volume of spores used in the attacks.” “If he was working eight hours a day on spore prep every day, it would be noticed,” said Gerry Andrews, Ivins’ supervisor between 2000 and 2003. “It’s ridiculous.” Ivins’ lab – just 200 square feet – was in “highly trafficked areas, and Bruce had colleagues that worked with him every day,” Andrews said.

      Meanwhile, in September and October of 2001, Ivins was involved in 19 research projects, including working on the Department of Defense-funded anthrax vaccine that is now in clinical trials, anthrax vaccine testing on rabbits and monkeys, and an outside project with a government-contracted lab, the Battelle Memorial Institute in Ohio.”

          Gerry Andrews told the Baltimore Examiner “The only lyophilizer available was a speed vac,” he says. “That’s a low-volume instrument that you can’t even fit under a hood” used to contain pathogens. “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.”

  4. DXer said

    At the August 2008 Science Briefing, or elsewhere, it has been reported that Dugway had virulent Ames matching the virulent Ames from Bruce Ivins flask.

    It is fruitful, then, to consider the reports on aerosol testing at Dugway, such as this April 2001 report on a study done by aerosol scientists Harper and Larsen.

    One of the products tested was the decontamination product by the Ann Arbor researchers who thanked Bruce Ivins for supplying virulent Ames at the same time they thanked the LSU people for supplying the space to do the research.

    Those LSU researchers in turn were worked with Patricia Fellows, Ivins’ colleague, friend and confidante, who was doing research on increasing the virulence of Ames through manipulation of the plasmids. LSU lab manager Pamala Coker published her thesis and an article reporting on Fellows’ data.

    Mrs. Ivins were questioned about his contacts with Dr. Fellows. Bruce wrote the dramatic email that someone gave FoxNews to Pat about how he had heard the attack anthrax was closest to the simulant made by someone he named in the email.

    One of the scientists thanked by the Ann Arbor researchers, Kimothy Smith, consulted for the FBI and was the one who typed the anthrax attack strain. He worked with Dr. Keim for 3 years before going onto Lawrence Livermore, which had a longstanding relationship with the FBI on microbiological forensics dating to 1998, when an effort to combat the perceived Bin Laden anthrax threat was first perceived.

    None of the listed LSU or University of Michigan scientists will say where the research using the virulent Ames supplied by Dr. Ivins was done. Hugh-Jones, Smith, Coker, Hamouda and Hayes all decline to respond. They also have failed to provide the Hamouda and Hayes presentations on the subject, as has the University of Michigan and ASM.

    The leader of the DARPA project, Dr. Hamouda, was a former associate of Ayman Zawahiri. He would visit Cairo from Sudan, where his mother was an accounting professor. He then attended Cairo Medical school at a time Ayman Zawahiri openly reruited in a room set aside for the Egyptian Islamic Group. He and I have a mutual friend (who now consults with intelligence agencies) who was recruited by Ayman one Friday talk into the Egyptian Islamic Group.

    LSU and University of Michigan was issued a subpoena in October 2001.

    Until the case is closed, the outstanding questions are best considered confidentially by the FBI and not by politicians who only have a very superficial understanding of things.

    It is the FBI’s job to follow the facts and evidence — to ask questions like: How could Michael Hayes at University of Michigan have done research using Ames in a petri dish if it was not there at University of Michigan?

    Was the virulent Ames from Dr. Ivins there at LSU with the other 4 characterized strains supplied by LSU?

    Why did the October 2001 subpoena of LSU limit itself to visitors post -January 2000 when Bruce Ivins first supplied the Ames prior to that and the research at LSU, I believe, was prior to that.

    The head guy at LSU, at the time of the October 2001 subpoena, says besides Hugh-Jones and his lab director there were only 3 visitors after January 2000. Who were the 3 visitors? Was the subpoena unduly restrictive and the DARPA work done there prior to that?

    Had virulent anthrax from RMR-1029 ever been shipped there or to University of Michigan? I only have partial inventory and shipping records. When will the full account be disclosed?

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