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

* questions for the National Academy of Sciences

Posted by DXer on June 22, 2009

CASE CLOSED by Lewis WeinsteinCC - front cover - small

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

* see CASE CLOSED VIDEO on YouTube

* purchase CASE CLOSED (paperback)

***

questions for the National Academy of Sciences

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NAS Publications

NAS Publications

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The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has been commissioned by the FBI to review certain scientific issues related to the FBI’s investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks. I have been in touch with the NAS, have received propmt answers to several questions, and have been invited to submit more questions.

I invite your input to those questions.

The new questions will be submitted to the NAS at the end of the day.

You can review the original questions, the NAS answers, and my proposed new questions, and submit your suggestions for amending the proposed new questions at …

* NAS answers to questions regarding the NAS-FBI study of science issues related to the FBI investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks lead to follow-up questions; readers of this blog are invited to help shape the new questions

15 Responses to “* questions for the National Academy of Sciences”

  1. DXer said

    In researching grants, a public database of NIH grants and contracts is available at

    http://projectreporter.nih.gov/reporter.cfm

    The database can be searched by investigator name, investigator institution, investigator location, and by topic (e.g., “anthracis,” “anthrax,” etc.).

    I believe, but I do not know, that other federal agencies supporting bioweapons-agents research (DOD, DOE, CDC, USDA, FDA) have analogous
    databases.

  2. DXer said

    Here are some addresses to whom you should direct your FOIA requests. We should encourage agencies to upload documents on the subject of Amerithrax or make them available in a reading room so as to most efficiently process duplicate requests.

    The Department of Justice has a decentralized system for handling FOIA requests. All FOIA requests should be addressed directly to the component that maintains the records you are seeking.

    If you are not certain which component has the records you are seeking, you should send your request to the Mail Referral Unit of the Justice Management Division, which will then forward your request to the component(s) it believes are most likely to maintain the records you seek. That address is:

    FOIA/PA Mail Referral Unit
    Department of Justice
    Room 115
    LOC Building
    Washington, DC 20530-0001
    (301) 583-7354
    (301) 341-0772 fax

    All other requests should be sent directly to the Department’s components at the addresses set out below.

    Office of the Attorney General — Requests for Attorney General records should specify that Attorney General records are being sought and should be addressed to:

    Carmen L. Mallon
    Chief of Staff
    Office of Information and Privacy
    Department of Justice
    Suite 11050
    1425 New York Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20530-0001
    (202) 514-FOIA

    Office of the Deputy Attorney General — Requests for Deputy Attorney General records should specify that Deputy Attorney General records are being sought and should be addressed to:

    Carmen L. Mallon
    Chief of Staff
    Office of Information and Privacy
    Department of Justice
    Suite 11050
    1425 New York Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20530-0001
    (202) 514-FOIA

    Office of the Associate Attorney General — Requests for Associate Attorney General records should specify that Associate Attorney General records are being sought and should be addressed to:

    Carmen L. Mallon
    Chief of Staff
    Office of Information and Privacy
    Department of Justice
    Suite 11050
    1425 New York Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20530-0001
    (202) 514-FOIA

    Civil Division — Requests for Civil Division records should be addressed to:

    James M. Kovakas
    Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Officer
    Civil Division
    Department of Justice
    Room 7304, 20 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20530-0001
    (202) 514-3319

    Criminal Division — Requests for Criminal Division records should be addressed to:

    Rena Y. Kim
    Chief, FOIA/PA Unit
    Criminal Division
    Department of Justice
    Suite 1127, Keeney Building
    950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20530-0001
    (202) 616-0307

    Federal Bureau of Investigation — Requests for Federal Bureau of Investigation records should be addressed to:

    David M. Hardy, Chief
    Record/Information Dissemination Section
    Records Management Division
    Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Department of Justice
    170 Marcel Drive
    Winchester, VA 22602-4843
    (540) 868-4591

    INTERPOL-United States National Central Bureau — Requests for INTERPOL-United States National Central Bureau records should be addressed to:

    Dorothy S. Beaty
    FOIA/PA Specialist
    Office of General Counsel
    INTERPOL-United States National Central Bureau
    Department of Justice
    Washington, DC 20530-0001
    (202) 616-9000

    Justice Management Division — Requests for Justice Management Division records should be addressed to:

    Joan Lapara
    FOIA Contact
    Justice Management Division
    Department of Justice
    Room 1111 RFK, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20530-0001
    (202) 514-3101

    National Security Division — Requests for National Security Division records should be addressed to:

    Theresa Crosland
    FOIA Public Liaison
    National Security Division
    Department of Justice
    Room 6150, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20530-0001
    (202) 514-5600

    Office of the Inspector General — Requests for Office of the Inspector General records should be addressed to:

    Deborah Waller, Paralegal Specialist
    Office of the Inspector General
    Department of Justice
    Room 4726
    950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20530-0001
    (202) 616-0646

    Office of Legal Counsel — Requests for Office of Legal Counsel records should be addressed to:

    Bette Farris, Supervisory Paralegal
    Office of Legal Counsel
    Department of Justice
    Room 5515, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20530-0001
    (202) 514-2038

    Office of Legal Policy — Requests for Office of Legal Policy records should specify that Office of Legal Policy records are being sought and should be addressed to:

    Carmen L. Mallon
    Chief of Staff
    Office of Information and Privacy
    Department of Justice
    Suite 11050
    1425 New York Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20530-0001
    (202) 514-FOIA

    Office of Professional Responsibility — Requests for Office of Professional Responsibility records should be addressed to:

    Marlene M. Wahowiak
    Special Counsel for Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts
    Office of Professional Responsibility
    Department of Justice
    950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
    Suite 3529
    Washington, D.C. 20530
    (202) 514-3365

    Office of Public Affairs — Requests for Office of Public Affairs records should specify that Office of Public Affairs records are being sought and should be addressed to:

    Carmen L. Mallon
    Chief of Staff
    Office of Information and Privacy
    Department of Justice
    Suite 11050
    1425 New York Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20530-0001
    (202) 514-FOIA

    OTHER AGENCIES:

    Department of Agriculture
    Rita Morgan
    Acting FOIA/PA Coordinator
    Room 440AA, Whitten Building
    Washington, D.C. 20250-1300
    telephone number: (202) 720-8164

    Army
    Robert Dickerson
    Chief, Freedom of Information Act Office
    Attn: AAHS-RDF
    7701 Telegraph Road
    Alexandria, VA 22315-3905
    telephone number: (703) 428-6500
    fax number: (703) 428-6522
    e-mail address: DAFOIA@conus.army.mil

    Defense Contract Audit Agency
    Keith Mastromichalis
    8725 John J. Kingman Road, Suite 2135
    Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-6219
    telephone number: (703) 767-1005
    fax number: (703) 767-1011
    e-mail address: DCAA-FOIA@dcaa.mil

    Defense Contract Management Agency
    Donna Williamson
    FOIA/Privacy Officer
    Fort Lee Transition Office
    4300 Crossings Boulevard
    Prince George, VA 23875
    telephone number: (804) 541-4770
    fax number: (804) 541-6099

    Defense Intelligence Agency
    Alesia Y. Williams
    Chief, FOIA Staff, DAN-1A
    Washington, D.C. 20340-5100
    telephone number: (301) 394-5188
    fax number: (301) 394-5356
    e-mail address: foia@dia.mil

    Defense Threat Reduction Agency
    Brenda Carter
    COSMI (FOIA)
    8725 John J. Kingman Road
    Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-6201
    telephone number: (703) 767-1792
    fax number: (703) 767-3623
    e-mail adress: efoia@dtra.mil

    National Security Agency
    Pamela N. Phillips
    Chief, FOIA/PA Office, DJP4
    9800 Savage Road, Suite 6248
    Ft. George G. Meade, MD 20755-6248
    telephone number: (301) 688-6527
    fax number: (301) 688-4762

    Navy
    Miriam Brown-Lam
    Head, DON, Privacy Act/FOIA Policy Branch
    CNO (DNS-36)
    2000 Navy Pentagon
    Washington, D.C. 20350-2000
    telephone number: (202) 685-6545
    fax number: (202) 685-6580
    e-mail address: foia@mail.navy.mil

    Department of Health and Human Services
    Robert Eckert
    Director, FOIA/Privacy Division
    Room 5416, Mary E. Switzer Building
    330 C Street, S.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20201
    telephone number: (202) 690-7453
    fax number: (202) 690-8320

    National Institutes of Health
    Susan R. Cornell
    FOIA Officer
    Building 31, Room 5B35
    9000 Rockville Pike
    Bethesda, MD 20892
    telephone number: (301) 496-5633
    fax number: (301) 402-4541

    Department of Homeland Security
    Catherine M. Papoi
    Deputy Chief FOIA Officer
    Director, Disclosure & FOIA
    The Privacy Office
    245 Murray Drive, S.W.
    STOP-0550
    Washington, DC 20528-0550
    toll-free number: (866) 431-0486
    telephone number: (703) 235-0790
    fax number: (703) 235-0443
    e-mail address: foia@dhs.gov

    United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    Catrina Pavlik-Keenan
    800 N. Capitol Street
    Fifth Floor, Suite 585
    Washington, D.C. 20536
    Telephone number: (202) 732-0300
    Toll-free number: (866) 633-1182
    Fax number: (202) 732-0310

    Department of Justice
    FOIA Contacts

    Central Intelligence Agency
    Delores Nelson
    Information and Privacy Coordinator
    Washington, D.C. 20505
    telephone number: (703) 613-1287

    Office of the Director of National Intelligence
    John F. Hackett
    Director, Information Management Office
    Washington, D.C. 20511
    telephone number: (703) 482-1707

    Office of Government Ethics
    William E. Gressman
    Senior Associate General Counsel
    1201 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 500
    Washington, D.C. 20005-3917
    telephone number: (202) 482-9245
    fax number: (202) 482-9237

    United States Postal Service
    Jane Eyre
    Manager, Records Office
    475 L’Enfant Plaza West, S.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20260-5202
    telephone number: (202) 268-2608
    fax number: (202) 268-5353

    • Anonymous Scientist said

      What does this list of FOIA addresses have to do with the questions to NAS?
      Or do you just like making posts with 10,000 or more words?

      • DXer said

        The NAS procedure contemplates a public comment period. Public comments will most likely to be persuasive if they are armed with information and data. Now that the log for flask 1029 has been released to reporters under FOIA, it seems that other FOIA requests might be fruitfully submitted notwithstanding the case has not been closed yet. Once the Committee members are named, there is only a 20 day comment to raise any conflicts of interests — especially any that have not been disclosed. The FOIA addresses will permit a member of the public to ferret out any pending grants or consulting contracts.

  3. DXer said

    Anonymous Scientist is jumping ahead to substantive questions. I think Lew’s focus presently is on procedural questions, and I have focused on one: screening for conflicts of interest stemming from relationships subject to secrecy requirements, including classified work.

    The NAS webpage which I will borrow heavily from, explains that careful steps are taken to convene committees that meet the following criteria:

    An appropriate range of expertise for the task. The committee must include experts with the specific expertise and experience needed to address the study’s statement of task. Experts will be needed to determine the reason for the origin of the tin signature and the origin of the subtilis contamination, including any FBI conclusion that, for example, the high level of tin might have been due to high levels of tin in the water; whether heme indicates the use of sheep blood agar and implications of the peer-reviewed published work by FBI consultant Dr. Kreuzer-Martin; the weight to be given the absence of a match with fibers; the viability of using a lyophilizer without a hood in aerosolizing the anthrax; ; the FBI’s conclusions that the printing defects were limited to Maryland and Virginia; the FBI’s conclusion that the ratio isotope analysis was inconclusive and the implications of the peer-reviewed and published work by Dr. Ehrlinger; whether the Silicon Signature resulted from use of the DARPA-funded patented method Microdroplet Cell Culture, use of Ames in a soil suspension, a silicone sealant on the inside of the envelope, rice hull contamination, silicanizing solution on the glass, or use or silicanizing solution in the culture medium; and, finally, the probativeness of the genetic analysis relating to the four morphs that limited persons of interest to 100-300. One of the strengths of the National Academies is the tradition of bringing together recognized experts from diverse disciplines and backgrounds who might not otherwise collaborate. These diverse groups are encouraged to conceive new ways of thinking about a problem.

    Selection of appropriate committee members, individually and collectively, is essential for the success of a study. All committee members serve as individual experts, not as representatives of organizations or interest groups. Each member is expected to contribute to the project on the basis of his or her own expertise and good judgment. A committee is not finally approved until a thorough balance and conflict of interest discussion is held at the first meeting, and any issues raised in that discussion or by the public are investigated and addressed.

    A balance of perspectives. Having the right expertise is not sufficient for success. It is also essential to evaluate the overall composition of the committee in terms of different experiences and perspectives. The goal is to ensure that the relevant points of view are, in the National Academies’ judgment, reasonably balanced so that the committee can carry out its charge objectively and credibly.

    POINT OF VIEW IS DIFFERENT FROM CONFLICT OF INTEREST

    A point of view or bias is not necessarily a conflict of interest. Committee members are expected to have points of view, and the National Academies attempt to balance these points of view in a way deemed appropriate for the task. Committee members are asked to consider respectfully the viewpoints of other members, to reflect their own views rather than be a representative of any organization, and to base their scientific findings and conclusions on the evidence. Each committee member has the right to issue a dissenting opinion to the report if he or she disagrees with the consensus of the other members.

    Screened for conflicts of interest. All provisional committee members are screened in writing and in a confidential group discussion about possible conflicts of interest. For this purpose, a “conflict of interest” means any financial or other interest which conflicts with the service of the individual because it could significantly impair the individual’s objectivity or could create an unfair competitive advantage for any person or organization. The term “conflict of interest” means something more than individual bias. There must be an interest, ordinarily financial, that could be directly affected by the work of the committee. I have pointed to the issue of the FBI’s payment of 40 scientists to a 30 day retreat in Naples, Florida the month before Bruce Ivins’ suicide at which FBI scientist Bannan presented. Sponsored by the FBI and CIA, it provided not only financial compensation but a possibility for recruitment for later work. Notwithstanding the secrecy that surrounded attendance list of the conference, the NAS will not want to be surprised on this issue and can be expected to require full disclosure on the issue. I expect the NAS will screen, or at least require being made aware of attendance so that whether it constitutes a disqualifying financial conflict of interest can be addressed. Except for those rare situations in which the National Academies determines that a conflict of interest is unavoidable and promptly and publicly discloses the conflict of interest, no individual can be appointed to serve (or continue to serve) on a committee of the institution used in the development of reports if the individual has a conflict of interest that is relevant to the functions to be performed. For more information, see the National Academies’ Web site.

    Other considerations. Membership in the three Academies (NAS, NAE, IOM) and previous involvement in National Academies studies are taken into account in committee selection. The inclusion of women, minorities, and young professionals are additional considerations.

    Specific steps in the committee selection and approval process are as follows:

    Staff solicits an extensive number of suggestions for potential committee members from a wide range of sources, then recommends a slate of nominees.
    Nominees are reviewed and approved at several levels within the National Academies; a provisional slate is then approved by the President of the National Academy of Sciences, who is also the Chair of the National Research Council.
    The provisional committee list is posted for public comment in the Current Projects System on the Web (http://www8.nationalacademies.org/cp/).
    The provisional committee members complete background information and conflict of interest disclosure forms.
    Committee balance and conflict of interest discussion is held at the first committee meeting.
    Any conflicts of interest or issues of committee balance and expertise are investigated; changes to the committee are proposed and finalized.
    Committee is formally approved.
    Committee members continue to be screened for conflict of interest throughout the life of the committee.

    Comments on Provisional Committee Appointments

    Viewers may communicate with the National Academies at any time over the project’s duration. In addition, formal comments on the provisional appointments to a committee of the National Academies are solicited during the 20-calendar day period following the posting of the membership and, as described below, these comments will be considered before committee membership is finalized. The NAS welcomes your comments. (Use the FEEDBACK link at this URL.)

  4. Anonymous scientist said

    Did the FBI science labs use accepted scientific method to demonstrate that it was possible to manufacture 5-10g of anthrax powder in the time frame of 12-24 hours total work performed over a period of 2-3 weeks as they claim the person responsible did, Dr Bruce Ivins at Fort Detrick?

    How many runs would be needed in 3 litre preparation flasks? How many spores per ml of liquid in each flask? How much centrifugation would be needed to concentrate the powder to one trillion spores per gram? Could the material have been dried using only the equipment available at Detrick?

    Did the FBI perform these runs in order to scientifically prove their theories are sound?

    In April of 2008, a joint publication between Dugway and the CDC was published to study the simulated opening of a letter filled with spores:
    Development of an Aerosol System for Uniformly

    Depositing Bacillus Anthracis Spore Particles on Surfaces
    Paul A. Baron,1 Cherie F. Estill,1 Gregory J. Deye,1 Misty J. Hein,1
    Jeremy K. Beard,2 Lloyd D. Larsen,2 and Gregory E. Dahlstrom2

    Click to access 560588__790515467.pdf

    The spores were dried as described:

    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.

    Did Detrick have access to the proprietary azeotropic drying technology used by Dugway? Do or did Detrick have an exclusionary ball mill separated by increasingly finer mesh screens? If not, what is the FBI theory for a product like the Daschle or Leahy powders being made without this equipment? Did the FBI demonstrate that they could make an identical product without such equipment that yielded powder particles that formed secondary aerosols as was shown by the EPA to take place in the Hart building?

  5. DXer said

    Will employment at a Battelle-managed lab constitute a disqualifying conflict of interest? In April 2007, the FBI sent Ivins a letter saying he was “not a target of the investigation” and said it was investigating 42 people who had access to RMR-1029 at the Battelle labs in Ohio. He would fed ex Ames to Battelle, including the Battelle-managed Life Science lab at Dugway. The Ames at Dugway was found to have the same genetic profile (4 morphs).

    Given that Battelle was sued for $50 million and the Florida high court ruled that it could be found liable if deemed negligent, would that not be a financial disqualifying interest? If not, why not?

    The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals certified the question owed by Battelle Memorial Institute to the Florida State Supreme Court. The Florida Supreme Court issued a decision October 30, 2008 holding Battelle owed a duty of due care to avoid unauthorized access to the virulent anthrax:

    “The complaint stated that despite this knowledge, the government failed to provide adequate security for the handling or shipping of the materials, and, as a result, sometime before October 2001 anthrax was improperly intercepted either from USAMRIID or from another research facility to which the materials had been sent. The complaint does not describe the relationship between the government and the person who initially intercepted the anthrax or between the government and the person who eventually mailed the anthrax to American Media.

    The complaint against Battelle alleged that Battelle breached its duty of care to Mr. Stevens by failing to implement adequate security procedures at its facility. The suit alleged, inter alia, that Battelle failed to properly maintain the anthrax it was using for research, monitor employees who had access to the anthrax, or secure the facility from unauthorized access. The complaint also alleged that Battelle was negligent in its hiring practices because it failed to conduct background investigations prior to hiring individuals who would have access to anthrax. Finally, the complaint alleged negligent supervision of employees working with anthrax. As a result of these failings, the complaint alleged that anthrax was obtained and sent to American Media.”

    The Court concluded:

    “We hold, therefore, consistent with the analysis set out above, that a laboratory that manufactures, grows, tests or handles ultrahazardous materials does owe a duty of reasonable care to members of the general public to avoid an unauthorized interception and dissemination of the materials.”

    Thus, it would seem that any scientist who works for or at a lab managed by a corporation or other party that had virulent Ames should be disqualified. Alternatively, at a minimum, any scientist who works for or at a lab managed by a corporation or other party supplied Ames by Bruce Ivins must be disqualified.

    By the time of ruling by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals confirming it would allow the widow of an anthrax victim to continue a $50 million lawsuit claiming that the federal government was ultimately responsible for her husband’s death, Mrs. Stevens had already entered into a stipulation providing for the voluntary dismissal with prejudice of Battelle on February 20, 2009. No settlement terms were disclosed. But there are still other potential litigants to whom Battelle owes the same duty. Battelle’s disqualifying interest goes far beyond mere civil liability.

    • DXer said

      Ensuring Independence and Objectivity at The National Academies

      CENTER FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
      Washington, DC

      Copyright © 2006 by Center for Science in the Public Interest
      The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) founded in 1971, is a nonprofit health-advocacy
      organization. CSPI conducts innovative research and advocacy programs in the areas of nutrition, food
      safety, and alcoholic beverages and provides consumers with current information about their own health
      and well-being. CSPI is supported by almost one million subscribers in the United States and Canada to
      its Nutrition Action Healthletter and by foundation grants.

      Preface

      Each year, Congress and government agencies call upon the NAS to provide the best scientific
      advice possible on important and controversial topics. NAS reports invariably earn high
      marks from the scientific community, and this study, which did not evaluate the quality
      of any particular NAS report, makes no effort to question that consensus view.
      Rather, because commercial pressures on the conduct of science have grown expo-
      nentially in recent decades, we focused on the process of nominating committees, as well
      as the composition of committees, both of which strongly influences the conclusions and
      recommendations of reports. We focused on the committee selection process because of
      the importance of protecting NAS committees from those pressures. Only through pre-
      venting the appearance of bias, imbalance, and conflicts of interest can the NAS ensure
      that the high quality and reputation of its reports will be maintained in the future.
      Unfortunately, we found serious deficiencies in the NAS’s committee-selection
      process that could jeopardize the quality of future NAS reports. The NAS has allowed
      numerous scientists (and others) with blatant conflicts of interest to sit on committees.
      Compounding that problem, those conflicts of interest usually are not disclosed to the
      public. Whether complete avoidance of conflicts of interest on committees would have
      improved the committees’ recommendations is impossible to know. At the very least,
      though, improving the process of committee formation and excluding individuals with
      conflicts or balancing them with individuals having sharply contrasting views, would
      provide added insurance that Academy recommendations will continue to be both top-
      notch and merit respect throughout the world.

      Michael Jacobson, Ph.D.
      Executive Director
      Center for Science in the Public Interest

      [Disclaimer: I worked for years pro bono in coordination with CSPI head Michael Jacobsen
      in seeking to rid public schools of soda. CSPI paid to scan hundreds of documents I gathered
      under FOIA from around the country. The effort involved planning numerous class actions. I am
      hopelessly biased in appreciating the good work done by CSPI.]

      BACKGROUND

      ….
      In 1997, NAS committees funded by the federal government came under the jurisdiction
      of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). Congress required the agency to
      avoid using scientists with direct conflicts of interest on study panels (unless their expert-
      ise is deemed essential and not available elsewhere) and to seek balance on points of view.
      This report found serious breaches of both of those rules.

      STUDY FINDINGS:

      1. A Failure to Eliminate
      Direct Conflicts of Interest

      For the purposes of this study, CSPI defined a direct conflict of interest as a financial tie within the last five years to a compa-
      ny or industry that is relevant to the committee topic. A five-year window is comparable to policies at leading academic journals that
      require conflicts of interest disclosure in published articles. Among the 320 professionals on 21 NAS committees investigated by CSPI
      over the past three years, at least 56 (18 percent) had direct conflicts of interest.

      Finding: Nearly one out of every five scientists appointed to an NAS panel has direct financial ties to companies or indus-
      try groups with a direct stake in the outcome of that study. This consistent pattern of appointing scientists with conflicts of
      interest clearly violates the spirit of the Federal Advisory Committee Act amend-
      ments that apply to NAS.

      2. A Failure to Achieve Balance Independent background checks by CSPI investigators found at least 66 scientists
      whose employment, significant and long-term financial relationships, published writings, think-tank membership, or courtroom
      testimony demonstrated pro-industry positions. On the other hand, only nine of the 320 scientists worked for or were closely
      identified through their writings or published studies with environmental or public interest
      groups.

      Finding: NAS did a poor job of balancing points of view on a majority of the study panels examined. The NAS does not
      appear to consider information about potential bias or conflicts of interest prior to nominating individuals to a committee.
      As a result, about half the panels examined had scientists with identifiable biases who were not offset by scientists with
      alternative points of view.

      3. A Failure to Disclose Information about Conflicts of Interest

      Among the 320 scientists and other professionals examined in this study, nearly a
      fifth had some ties to industries that might be affected by the study. Yet the NAS revealed
      those ties to the public (via its website) in only 46 percent of those cases.

      Finding: The NAS provides brief biographies of nominees to its committees on
      the agency’s website. Such biographies could assist people who were considering
      commenting on a committee’s composition. However, those biographies are woefully inadequate because, in a majority of
      cases, they fail to provide crucial data regarding conflicts of interest and points
      of view.

      RECOMMENDATIONS

      To achieve its stated goal of “ensuring independent, objective advice” for federal
      agencies, Congress, and the general public, the NAS should take the following steps:

      • The NAS should expand its definition of conflicts of interest to include any
      financial ties within the past five years with companies that might be affected
      by the committee’s work, either directly or indirectly.

      • If it allows a scientist with a conflict of interest to serve on a committee, the
      NAS should publish prior to the first meeting of the committee a waiver
      documenting the nature of the conflict and the reason for the waiver.

      • The NAS should expand its definition of balance on committees to include
      bias and point of view, in addition to areas of expertise. The definition of
      point of view should be expanded to include scientists with extensive ties to
      industry as having a “pro-industry” bias. Balance should be defined as
      never having more than three such scientists on any committee and
      always balancing pro-industry scientists with at least an equal number of
      public health-oriented scientists.

      • To encourage compliance, the NAS should adopt sanctions, such as a three-year ban from serving on any NAS panel, when a committee member fails to disclose appropriate information on the NAS disclosure forms.

      • The NAS should make a much greater effort to expand the pool of candidates for committees by reaching out to the
      broader scientific community and not relying on existing boards, committees and routine contacts. It should pub-
      licly announce through its website and other outreach channels that it is forming a new study committee; that
      announcement should occur at least three months before the first meeting of the committee and include an invi-
      tation to the public to submit nominations for membership on the committee.

      • Twenty days before a panel’s first meeting (or at the same time that it posts the tentative roster for the committee),
      the NAS should publicly disclose all conflicts of interest, biases, and points of view of the scientists chosen for
      that panel. Only after consideration of public comments should NAS staff make that roster final.

      • The NAS should maintain a listserv that notifies interested individuals when a committee is being formed
      and when it has chosen a tentative list of nominees. The latter notice should include a link to the proposed list of
      nominees.”

      I refer you to the long and detailed CSPI report.

      Click to access nasreport.pdf

      • DXer said

        Further excerpt from CSPI report:

        “In 2003, NAS formally unveiled a new policy governing committee formation, disclosure, and how it defined balance and conflicts of interest. The policy stated that all committee nominees’ biographies
        will be disclosed on NAS’ website 20 days before the first meeting, giving the public time to comment on the roster. It required staff to screen prospective members, who were required to complete a “Background Information and Confidential Conflict of Interest Disclosure,” which included employment history, conflicts of interest, stock holdings of more than $10,000 in a potentially affected corporation, research funding from a party that would be affected by the committee’s decision, and relevant patents. Those disclosures could lead to a person’s exclusion from the committee if he or she was “understood to be completely committed to a particular point of view and unwilling, or perceived
        to be unwilling, to consider other perspectives.” 15 These new rules have, over the past two years, led consumer groups to issue numerous challenges to individuals chosen to serve on NAS panels.16

        ***
        The NAS staffers do not conduct an independent background search on potential committee members for potential conflicts of interest and biases. They rely on self-disclosure. NAS officials state that there are too
        many committee members selected each year to allow independent assessment by NAS staff.19 If, after posting the committee roster on the website, the public provides pertinent information, that information may be
        appended to the original information disclosed on their confidential disclosure form. When an NAS staffer determines a scientist with a conflict of interest has expertise that can not be found elsewhere, that conflict is
        deemed “unavoidable” and publicly disclosed.20

        ***

        The NAS staff obtains information about conflicts of interest from “Background Information and Confidential Conflict of Interest Disclosure” forms filled out by
        prospective members. The forms state the reason for disclosure: “The individual, the committee, and the institution should not be placed in a situation where others could reasonably reasonably
        question, and perhaps discount or dismiss, the work of the committee simply because of the existence of conflicting interest.”

        ***
        The financial interests of a prospective member’s spouse, employer, clients, or business research partners are also considered.
        ***
        The committee may use public meetings, information submitted by outside parties, scientific literature, and committee members’ work to produce its report. The committee meetings where reports are deliberated
        and written are closed. The public has access to summaries of those meetings, but interim and final drafts of the report remain confidential. “Committee members continue to be screened for conflict of interest
        throughout” the deliberation process.

        ***

        Independent experts are chosen to review and provide anonymous comments to the committee once the report is produced. Reviewers are not checked for individual conflicts of interest because, the NAS states,
        they don’t have the final say in the report; they assess the report for scientific support, effective organization, and objectivity, which the committee considers in its final decision.25 Once the committee responds to the reviewer’s
        comments, a new set of internal review monitors ensures that the review criteria have been met. Top NAS officials approve the final report before sending it to the sponsor and releasing it to the public.26”

        For a wealth of learning on this subject, see the CSPI press releases on these issues at:
        http://www.cspinet.org/integrity/press/

  6. Anonymous scientist said

    The FBI responded to questions posed by Representative Nadler on the question of silicon content as follows on April 17, 2009:

    * FBI Laboratory results indicated that the spore powder on the Leahy letter contained 14,479 ppm of silicon (1.4%).
    * The spore powder on the New York Post letter was found to have silicon present in the sample; however, due to the limited amount of material, a reliable quantitative measurement was not possible.
    * Insufficient quantities of spore powder on both the Daschle and Brokaw letters precluded analysis of those samples.

    Will the NAS study team be taking a “deep dive” into the detailed science of this analysis? Did the FBI used Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) spectroscopy to obtain the result of 14,479 ppm of silicon in the Leahy powder? How much sample was needed for this in total? Was the sample dissolved in solution first using standard ICP protocols? How much of the solution was used to introduce into the ICP nebulizer? Were standards used for calibration per normal ICP protocol?
    When the FBI in their April 17, 2009 response above stated that the New York Post sample also contained silicon was this also a ICP result? How much total sample was used? Was the sample prepared in solution first? How much solution was placed in the ICP nebulizer? What were the results that the FBI stated were unreliable? Do NAS also agree that the quantitative silicon result for the New York Post powder is unreliable?

  7. Anonymous scientist said

    The FBI and Sandia national labs announced last year that the silica found in the spores sent to senators Daschle and Leahy consisted of a continuous coating of a phase of SiOx underneath the exosporium. Since this was underneath the exosporium they concluded that the sopores were not “weaponized” – since weaponization usually involves forming a coating of fumed silica nanoparticles (silica particles with individual particles in the size range 10-50nm) which is located OUTSIDE the exosporium.
    Did the FBI or Sandia consider that the silica could have been added as a molecular monomer rather than as already formed solid fumed silica nanoparticles? A 1961 study shows that even large molecules can penetrate the highly porous exosporium (Gerhardt, P. & Black, S. H. . J. Bact. 82, 750–759 (1961)).
    Did the FBI attempt to re-create the silicon signature found in the Daschle, Leahy and New York Post powders? Were they able to recreate the identical continuous phase of SiOx under the exosporium? Was the quantity of SiOx the same or similar? What form of silicon was added to the spores if they did try to do this? Was it added during spore preparation or after spore preparation?
    How did they rule out the following: That the spores were treated with a monomer of a siloxane compound (for example Dimethyldichlorosilane (trade name Repelcote)) that penetrated the exosporium in it’s monomer form and then polymerized on the spore coat in situ.
    Did they attempt reverse engineering with polymerized glass techniques like this? If not, why not?

  8. Anonymous scientist said

    Will the NAS be obtaining the internal laboratory reports written by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology on the SEM and EDX analysis of the Daschle and New York Post powders? If not, why not?

    These reports should be available to NAS by contacting:
    Ms. Bonnie Short
    Records Manager
    Room M-003E
    Armed Forces Institute of Pathology
    BLDG 54, Room M-003E
    6825 16th St., NW
    Washington, DC 20306-6000

    The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology obtained both SEMs and EDX spectra of the Daschle and New York Post powders. They detected the elements silicon and oxygen in both powders. The reports show that there was more than one order of magnitude more silica in the New York Post powder compared with the Daschle powder. Can this amount of silica be explained using the scientific method as being “naturally occurring” as the FBI claim?

  9. Anonymous scientist said

    A study by the EPA was published in December 2001 entitled “Secondary Aerosolization of Viable Bacillus anthracis Spores in a Contaminated US Senate Office” Christopher P. Weis, PhD; Anthony J. Intrepido, MS, CIH; Aubrey K. Miller, MD, MPH; Patricia G. Cowin, MS, CIH; Mark A. Durno, BS; Joan S. Gebhardt, PhD; Robert Bull, PhD.
    http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/288/22/2853

    In this study the Hart building was entered and environmentally tested for the presence of anthrax spores. Using a particle size collector it was found that “Viable B anthracis spores reaerosolized under semiquiescent conditions, with a marked increase in reaerosolization during simulated active office conditions. Increases were observed for B anthracis collected on open sheep blood agar plates (P<.001) and personal air monitors (P = .01) during active office conditions. More than 80% of the B anthracis particles collected on stationary monitors were within an alveolar respirable size range of 0.95 to 3.5 µm."
    The conclusion of the study was that the powder prepared and sent to Senator Daschle "reaerosolized under common office activities. These findings have important implications for appropriate respiratory protection, remediation, and reoccupancy of contaminated office environments."

    Last year the FBI stated that the powder sent to Senators Daschle, Leahy and other recipients contained no special additives and was not weaponized. Did the FBI use accepted scientific method to reach that conclusion? Did the FBI prepare a powder of anthrax of anthrax simulant that acted the same as the powder in the Hart building? Did they use equipment similar to what was available to their suspect Dr Bruce Ivins inside Fort Detrick where they claim the powder was manufactured?
    If the FBI did prepare a powder or powder stimulant in this simple manner did it also reaerosolize (in other words after initially falling on surfaces, then formed a secondary aerosol) under common office activities? Did more than 80% of the B anthracis particles collected on stationary monitors fall within an alveolar respirable size range of 0.95 to 3.5 µm?

  10. Anonymous scientist said

    Can we have the names and academic affiliations of the study team? Do the study team consist of a broad range of scientists from the physical sciences as well as life sciences? Are there chemists, chemical engineers, aerosol specialists, analytical chemists?

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