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

* Dr. Bruce Ivins RMR-1029 inventory records, from 1997 to 2003, pursuant to a FOIA request

Posted by DXer on June 26, 2009

CASE CLOSED is a novel which answers the question “Why did the FBI fail to solve the 2001 anthrax case?” … Here’s an excerpt from the CASE CLOSED story; the (fictional) DIA team reviews the connection between the anthrax attack and the subsequent invasion of Iraq …

“After the nationwide panic caused by the anthrax mailings settled down, pretty much nothing happens in the FBI’s anthrax investigation. The next we hear about anthrax is in February 2003, when Secretary of State Abner Grant goes to the United Nations and holds up a vial of something – it wasn’t actually anthrax – claiming that Saddam can deliver biological weapons of mass destruction to the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Of course, we learn later that Saddam had neither WMD nor any way to reach our shores. U.N. arms inspector Blix said something much like that a few days before we invaded Iraq.”

*** click here to buy CASE CLOSED by Lew Weinstein


Dr. Bruce Ivins RMR-1029 inventory records,

from 1997 to 2003,

pursuant to a FOIA request


One of the CASE CLOSED bloggers asked for USAMRIID lab records regarding RMR-1029 anthrax, and received the following response …

Attached is the response to your FOIA request for USAMRIID lab records
of individuals accessing or otherwise using the anthrax research
flask(s) designated Reference Material Receipt Record “1029” (RMR-1029)
from 1996 to 2008.

Redactions are pursuant to the privacy concerns under 5 U.S.C. 552,
exemption (b)(6).

Please call upon me if I can be of any further assistance.



John P Peterson
Chief, Freedom of Information/
Privacy Act Office
HQ, U.S. Army Medical Command
COMM: 210-221-7826

The USAMRIID RMR-1029 Inventory Documents, covering the period October 22, 1997 to November 18, 2003,  follow …

RMR 1029 inventory - p1 - smallRMR 1029 inventory - p2 - small

33 Responses to “* Dr. Bruce Ivins RMR-1029 inventory records, from 1997 to 2003, pursuant to a FOIA request”

  1. DXer said

    “These documents bear close study — to include a white-out changing Building 1412 to 1425, a discrepancy of 100 ml dating back to between May 1999 and prior to February 2000, and other discrepancies. They are unredacted and were not produced under FOI.”

    Did Bruce Ivins do a “redo” of this page to conceal an unregistered transfer of 100 ml to a trusted researcher (under regulations effective in mid-1997) — which would make him an unwitting accessory-before-the-fact?

    Anthrax and Al Qaeda: Infiltration of US Biodefense

    Buy 3 softcover copies at cost and get free overnight shipping (up to $15) with guaranteed delivery by December 24.

    • DXer said

      Alternatively, if Bruce Ivins altered the record after the anthrax mailings, would it make him an accessory-after-the-fact?

  2. Beat Schaub said

    Ed: We don’t know exactly what is meant by “the FBI went back, contacted Dr. Keim, several years later, and found out that he had retained the two original submissions. How can he retain his “the two original submissions” AND submit them to Keim and the repository?

    Huh? HE refers to Dr. Keim not Ivins and therefore he recieved AND retained the samples. The case was still open, of course Dr. Keim kept sample 1 AND sample 2. You don’t throw away evidence until the case is closed (in court) and even then you keep it in case of appeal. Actually the destruction of sample 1 by the FBI is a CRIME, because its evidence, wrong tube or not.

    You should check the chronology of the FBIs statement. Yes in the beginning they believed it was not RMR-1029 and could not detect the mutations. But in the end their suspicion was found invalid when they went to Dr. Keim, who had duplicates from the first and second samples, analyzed them using the new test methods AND confirmed both contained culture from RMR-1029.

    My beliefes and opinion (in contrast to your “facts”) are that your “facts” are based on two assumption the WHERE (Inside USAMRIID), which forensic tells us is improbable and the WHEN, which lab experience tells us is improbable too. All of your points are conclusions based on circumstancial evidence (no alibi, unsupervised work etc) based on assumptions (the where and when).
    STRONG circumstancial evidence: X was seen at the place of crime
    WEAK circumstancial evidence: X cannot proofe he was not at the place of crime.
    In my mail I was merely pointing out
    A) Your evidence is weak (that does not make it wrong per se)
    B) Mentioning the same evidence multiple time does not increase its strength.
    C) Its unfair to stamp someone guilty before he is found guilty (See Hatfill), especially on such weak evidence
    D) Its a courts responsability to decide whether someone is guilty or not

    Something I did not explicitly state but could add here:
    E) You condem the witchhunt against Hatfill (Even defend the FBI that it was due to public pressure, poor FBI), yet you do the same to Ivins.

  3. Beat Schaub said

    Ed: When investigators started focusing on specific samples of Ames, Ivins DID try to mislead the investigation. He was asked to supply a sample from RMR-1029, and he evidently deliberately provided a sample that couldn’t be used as evidence. When it was discovered that that sample was not a usable sample, he provided another sample which evidently was not from RMR-1029.

    That is untrue, first when he sent in his first sample he didn’t do it on request but knowing that this was coming. He did so using the wrong tube (but then the specifications where not out yet). He sent in a second tube contained culture from RMR-1029 as newer tests proved.

    From ANTHRAX PRESS BRIEFING, August 18, 2008
    Background Official: And since the repository — second repository sample submitted by Dr. Ivins did not, but was allegedly 1029, that raised some suspicion. At that time, the FBI went back, contacted Dr. Keim, several years later, and found out that he had retained the two original submissions. We seized those, brought them back, and they tested POSITIV for BOTH of those assays.

    In important question here would of course be what happend to the FBI sample? We know that they destroyed the first sample because it was in the wrong tube but the second?

    P.S.: Correction to my last Post its not Dr. Klein but Dr. Keim

    • BugMaster said

      Ed, I don’t quite understand why Ivins would have thought that submitting a false sample would have misled anyone. He was clearly aware that numerous samples were being submitted to the FBI from other labs, including those he knew he had sent material directly from the RMR-1029 flask. These transfers were documented, so any of the transferred material would still be traced back to RMR-1029, even if the FBI hadn’t obtained ANY material from Ivins.

      Some time ago, I recall that some comments were made regarding this incident, I believe by Ivin’s attorney (not sure, however, my account of this is a bit hazy). The explanation put forth was that for the second submittal, Ivins took material from RMR-1029, streaked it out, isolated from this a single colony, grew it up on a separate plate, and submitted it. In otherwords, a CLONE from RMR-1029 was submitted, instead of a sample representative of all the morphs present.

      Why would he do this? Maybe to see what kind of response he would get, tweak the FBI’s nose, so to speak. It would have been one way to at least get a response from them, and therefore, more information about what direction the investigation was taking.

      Remember, people like Ivins tend not to be overly respectful of authority. If he was innocent, he would probably have concluded by now that the FBI were a bunch of idiots. If I was in his position (and by this I mean here assuming he was innocent)getting fed up and frustrated by the situation, and wanting to know what was really going on I would have done exactly the same thing!

    • BugMaster said

      Ed, I would like to add a comment made by a political analyst a while back. He was discussing Elliot Spitzer’s downfall. The comment was:

      “One of the drawbacks of almost always being the smartest kid in the room is that one then often regards others with contempt”.

      That, at the very least, contributed to Ivin’s downfall.

    • Beat Schaub said

      Ed wrote: Because the first set of samples couldn’t be used in court, some time later the FBI requested a second set of samples from Dr. Ivins. This time, Dr. Ivins prepared the set properly, but he used anthrax from some source other than flask RMR-1029. That was very clearly another attempt to mislead the investigators.

      The Anthrax Scientific Press Briefing disagrees:
      BACKGROUND OFFICIAL: And since the repository — second repository sample submitted by Dr. Ivins did not, but was allegedly 1029, that raised some suspicion. At that time, the FBI went back, contacted Dr. Keim, several years later, and found out that he had retained the two original submissions. We seized those, brought them back, and they tested POSITIVE for BOTH of those assays.

      The FBI’s test obviously failed at the beginning but new tests confirmed the identity of sample 2 to be RMR-1029.
      Using the wrong kind of tubes for the first sample hardly is malicious misleading, but could be a honest mistake (maybe he failed to see that the tube had changed). In addition we only know that he bleached areas in the lab because Ivins told us so, agian not misleading but honesty.

      I wrote you to find flaws in my logic but the last email by you you actually resorted to insults, and could not add anything to my case anymore. Nevertheless you claim to be open to new opinions, yet even though I wrote you exactly the same as above you still claim that sample two was not RMR-1029, when even the Backtground Official confirms that later testing showed it was RMR-1029.


  4. Beat Schaub said

    Ed Lake: If you accept an assignment to create a “pool” of anthrax spores for another government agency, would it be common or even ethical to keep some for yourself?

    Why not, how else can you produce more for someone else? The one thing that is uncommon is to use up biological material or to give away everything. Quality control might even require that you take a sample and keep it. Besides we can safely assume that whoever sent the letters was not so much concerned with ethical or right.

    Ed Lake: Nonsense. The case against Dr. Ivins is overwhelming. Conspiracy theories are not proof of innocence.

    Your overwhelming case consists of more holes than a sieve:

    Access to RMR-1029:
    Everybody at Ft. Detrick could have taken a sample before 1999 when it was transferred to a more secure location, up to then it was in an easily accessible place. It was sent out to several laboratories at which point again a large number of persons (including cleaning personnel for all we know) could have taken 1 microliter to start a new culture. Despite that, only one laboratory had RMR-1029/daughter thereof when the FBI collected samples indicating a less than perfect sample acquisition method. Due to the fact that a huge number had access to RMR-1029 it’s almost impossible to exclude everybody else. Simply because nobody can have an air tight alibi for multiple days (As there is not a single defined timepoint when the letters have been sent but a 2/3 day long timeframe) unless he was in another country. The alibi also looses importance if one is not preoccupied by the one culprit theory and includes the possibility of multiple culprits.
    It is entirely irrelevant who worked with RMR-1029 at the time of the attack since the attack spores where made of a daughter culture.

    The Where (Overtime, Unsupervised Work, Bleachings)
    While the location of the mailbox, the pre-stamped envelopes and RMR-1029 point in the general direction of Ft. Detrick we don’t know where exactly the attack spores were produced. The only FORENSIC EVIDENCE we have is that the airfilters at Ft. Detrick did NOT show unusual high CFU counts (Dried spores would ultimately end up in the filtration system of the AC, as we know they get easily airborn) indicating that this is NOT WHERE the attack spores were produced. That this is not preposterous claim is shown by the FBI’s Hatfill case as well as the claims by the FBI how easy such spores are produced. In addition, this the B. subtilis found in the first attack was not found at Ft. Detrick. Finally, other personnel at Ft. Detrick claims that Ivins could not have done it. So:
    => Ivins overtime / unsupervised work is actually an alibi because we know he was not where the spores were produced.
    => Ivins secret bleaching, which he reported to a friend AND we only know of because Ivins told us; took place where the spores were NOT produced.
    => Since Ivins could bleach without anybody noticing we can assume any number of people could have done so, just they did not reveal it.

    The When (Overtime, Unsupervised Work, Bleachings)
    There is no evidence for the timeline. But experience tells us that the refinement of the protocol observed by the difference of quality between the two attack waves CANNOT be achieved in three weeks, working only in evenings and in secrecy. I personally doubt that it can be achieved in three weeks working exclusively on this.
    => This makes his overtime / unsupervised work / bleaching irrelevant as we don’t know when the production has taken place.

    The How (Equipment and Experience)
    We don’t know how the spores were prepared therefore we can only guess whether Ivins had access to the necessary equipment. However if the boasts of the FBI are true, no special equipment was required at all to produce the spores (Incubator, centrifuge etc. can be obtained easily), supporting the theory that the spores were not necessarily INSIDE of Ft. Detrick produced. The how also could tell us about the expertise needed, what we know is that they did not work with dried spores at Ft. Detrick. We also know that the wet growing of anthracis is well published and can be reproduced by anyone. Therefore anyone working on DRIED bacillus spores (e.g. Dugway people but also many other labs) should be considered more experienced when it comes to dried anthracis spore production.

    The Alibi
    Sure Ivins has no conclusive Alibi for time when the letters were sent.
    We DON’T HAVE: Ivins was at the place where the letters were sent, at the time they were sent.
    We HAVE: Ivins cannot prove he was not there at that time.
    Fortunately, you don’t have to prove your innocence; your guilt has to be proven.

    The Silicon
    Low concentrations of silicon such as found in RMR-1030 are naturally occurring as claimed by the FBI and might be the result of the addition of silicon anti foaming agent. None of the ~200 protocols tested by the FBI resulted in silicon concentrations as high as found in the attack spores clearly indicating that a very specific protocol was used which resulted in this.
    => Ivins would not have deviated from the well known and documented protocols.
    => The high silicon count cannot be the result of some obscure purification method because it did not add to the deadliness and therefore there is no reason to enrich it.

    The Mental Health:
    If Ivins psyche was a problem, how comes that he was allowed to work at Ft. Detrick?
    And how comes none of his colleagues noticed/reported it?
    We should also not that he was in treatment / therapy all the time, so he was open and honest about his mental problem.

    Driving a Distance to the Mailbox
    Well, that is the most obvious thing to do; everybody with half a brain would drive a couple of miles before placing the letters into the mailbox. It’s the most logical thing to do.

    The Motive
    On the patents Ivins is only listed as provider of the spores and would as such not have profited much, leaving people with access to RMR-1029 AND much more direct interests.

    Misleading the Investigators
    Ivins did not mislead the investigators: Sample 1 was the wrong tube but sent in before official specifications (Wrong tube = obvious, the FBI also immediately realized that it was the wrong tube). Sample 2, as sample 1, contained culture from RMR-1029 but first set of tests failed, only later the FBI realized this with two new tests (using the duplicate from Dr. Klein, which raises the questions what had happened to the sample they have gotten? Used up? Destroyed?). The error is not with Ivins but with the FBI. Obviously others misled the FBI because only one sample containing RMR-1029 or derivate was recovered from outside Ft. Detrick even though it was sent out multiple times to multiple institutions. Alternatively, the test of the FBI is not so reliable and they did not repeat it with the new methods on all samples.
    He also admitted to the bleaching, something we wouldn’t know without him generally indicating that he did not try to mislead the FBI.

    Your circumstantial evidence assumes
    A) That the spores where prepared INSIDE Ft. Detrick, which is not supported by forensics, in contrast, forensics tells us that’s the place where it did not happen.
    B) The spores were made immediately before the first attack and between the two attacks. Again experience tells us how unlikely that timeframe is.

    So it takes neither Conspiracy Theory, nor slandering the FBI to show that the case is weaker than weak.


  5. DXer said

    From: Ivins, Bruce E
    Subject: RE: USAMRIID/Password Change Schedule
    Date: Friday, March 24, 2000

    3/30 is a bad day for [redacted] and me (019), … Can it be done on another day, say 3 April? If not,
    just give us [redacted]. Bruce Ivins) our passwords the way you did it 6 months ago (on a sheet of paper),
    and we’ll use them. We don’t have to make them up ourselves. It actually might be more convenient the latter
    way, since we are in and out of the office a lot. Could that be one (just giving us our passwords on a paper, so
    that if we forget, we can look them up)?


    – Bruce I.

  6. Jeffrey Adamovicz said

    LMW NOTE: this is a repeat of a blog comment made by Dr. Jeffrey Adamovicz on May 11, 2009, which surely has great relevance here now that the RMR-1029 logs have been published.

    Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey J. Adamovicz, Ph.D., who spent much of his military and scientific career at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, has received the Bronze Star Medal for exceptionally meritorious service in Iraq. LTC Adamovicz served as chief microbiologist for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Iraqi Surveillance Group in Baghdad. Between April and July 2003, he planned, organized and led armed missions to find evidence of weapons of mass destruction, associated activities and personnel. Most recently, LTC Adamovicz served as Chief of the Bacteriology Division at USAMRIID. In this capacity, he directed the Institute’s research program on vaccines and therapeutics to counter bacterial diseases like anthrax, plague and glanders. He was responsible for a staff of 65 military and civilian employees and a research budget of about $13 million.

    Dr. Adamovicz comment, repeated in full (I added the bold highlights) …

    I am Bruce’s friend and colleague so I am somewhat biased on this topic.

    However, I was also the Chief of Bacteriology at USAMRIID and in Bruce’s supervisory chain and understand very well the science and the lab’s capabilities. So here is my take on the “evidence” surrounding this case.

    The original observations on the genetic mutants were made at USAMRIID-these are valid.

    The subsequent genetic assays for the morphotypes to trace the supposed source all appear to be scientifically valid.

    However, there are a couple of rubs. For instance, one would only need a representation of the four mutant types in a sample to fool the morphotype assay. Supposedly, the original RMR 1029 has more then 30 morphotypes but no evidence to support this claim has been provided.

    The more important and obvious problem is this: the FBI testing reports 8 samples with all four morphotypes (7 came from samples from USAMRIID and one from an unnamed source). RMR1029 ws prepared by Bruce in 1997 from a large number of smaller spore preps, these were assembled from in-house preps and a large number of preps from Dugway proving grounds.

    RMR1029 aliquots were subsequently provided to other internal and external collaborators principally to support animal challenges.

    This begs two questions.

    1. Why did only two labs submit samples that are positive for RMR1029? Does this mean that a lot of places (including the real perpetrator) failed to comply with the FBIs voluntary sample submission scheme? Why didn’t the FBI themselves comment on the extent of compliance? They know or should know which labs legitimatley possessed RMR1029 so this knowledge should have been matched with the results as an internal proficinecy test ( a common quality control practice). While I no longer have access to detailed distribution records I can confidently state that more then two labs possessed aliquots of RMR1029.

    2. Was there ever a search for RMR1029 precursor samples that possess all four morphotypes? I asked the scientific panel a question about this at the ASM-biodefense meeting in February 2009. They claimed they couldn’t answer this as it related to the investigation of the case. This answer was unsatisfactory and suggests that either the science staff has been told to not ask these questions or are very naive.

    Related to the genetic analysis is the issue of a so-called rare mutant B. subtilitis (niger variant) contaminant present in the first set of letters. The FBI/postal inspectors original affidavit claimed that there was a very unique genetic marker in this contaminant. It seems to me that this would make it a useful forensic tool. I believe the niger variant strain was used extensively at Dugway Proving Grounds as a simulant BW agent. So the question is was this variant found at Dugway or any other laboratory including the contract labs used to support forensic testing. Again, when I asked this question at the ASM-BD meeting the science panel could provide no useful information. Are they compartmentalized in the extent of their analysis or just completely naive?

    Next topic. Analysis of silicon content. There is still a huge unresolved issue on this subject. Early reports from 2002-4 seemed to suggest there was added silicon. Then, the recent reports from Sandia say there is not added silicon.

    These recent claims are unsubstantiated by experimental evidence and instead based on poor observational technique.

    The conclusion that no silicon was added is based on the STEM technique which looks at 200 nm “spots” on individual spores and provides a qualitative readout of the relative about of compounds contianing silicon. Here’s the problems. Joe Michaels who did the analysis publicly admitted that it is no better then 50% accurate in estimately the content in the spores (Bad science #1). He did not analyze the slicon content in the extracellular area. My educated guess is that this is where the majority of any additive would actully reside. It is not clear why this wasn’t analyzed (Bad science #2).

    Lastly, if your hypothesis is that someone added silicon to the spores (or didn’t) you should do the obvious experiment to support or refute your hypothesis? Namely a simple titration experiment to add increasing amounts of common silicon containing compounds to your spores and demonstration that your technique can detect this titration. This would also give data on the relative sensitively of your technique. To be fair to Joe he’s not a biologist or a microbiologist. This begs the question why wouldn’t a microbiologist be placed in charge of this type of experimentation?

    I will say initially I believed the FBI when they claimed that possessed overwelming evidence.

    However, I’ve come to the conclusion that their evidence is a mixture of good and bad science, poor/compartmentalized information, and a lot of inuendo.

    I could go on for some time about other poor examples of “evidence” but I think that is enough for today. I truly hope the NAS panel is allowed to see all the “evidence.” I can only predict that their conclusions will be the same as mine.

    • DXer said

      Wednesday December 19, 2001 09:55
      UNM Anthrax May Be Twin To Strain in Attacks

      Journal Staff Writer
      Albuquerque Journal

      Anthrax used in research at the University of New Mexico likely is an identical twin to the type that infected 18 people, according to a UNM spokesman.

      The university expects its anthrax to be tested soon to see whether its genetic fingerprint matches that of mailed spores that ultimately resulted in five death this fall, said Sam Giammo.

      “We would be very surprised if it didn’t match perfectly,” Giammo said.

      UNM’s anthrax comes from the same batch sent out by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease to five other laboratories. The samples from those laboratories already tested identical to spores in letters sent to political and media figures, according to the Washington Post.

      The U.S. Army lab is in Fort Detrick, Md.

      UNM doesn’t use anthrax in the finely milled form that made the germs in the bioterrorism mailings deadly, Giammo added, although the anthrax could be ground down to the tiny size that helps anthrax spores seep through small openings, float for a longer length of time in the air and be inhaled more easily. The U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground — one of the five sites — confirmed this month that it has used the dry powdery form in its research to test detection equipment and decontamination methods, according to news reports.

      Many laboratories use the Ames form of anthrax that was in the letters, but that form has several sub- types that can be identified through genetics. The FBI has been focusing on government research programs as a possible source of the anthrax used in the attacks, according to the Post story.

      But The Associated Press quoted an Army spokesman as saying such matches don’t help discover source of the bioterrorists’ anthrax. The Army lab got its supply in 1980 from a U.S. Agriculture Department lab in Ames, Iowa, which might have supplied a number of other laboratories, he said.

      UNM hasn’t received a formal request to test an anthrax sample as part of the bioterrorism investigation, but it knows that it will be asked to supply one, Giammo said. It is awaiting notice on where to send it, he added.

      Anthrax used at UNM is rated a Biosafety Level 2 substance, according to Giammo. Substances and research techniques are rated at four levels, with 1 being the least dangerous and 4 the most dangerous. UNM has two Level 3 labs now and is developing plans for a Level 4 lab.

      UNM is using the anthrax in a project that focuses on early detection of and vaccination against biowarfare agents. The project started earlier this year with $5.1 million in funding over three years from the federal Naval Surface Warfare Center in Virginia.

      Albuquerque Journal Wednesday December 19, 2001

    • DXer said

      CBC: Anthrax War part 6/7

    • BugMaster said

      Notice the specifications of this material, 3.0 x 10!10, 1 liter volume. How could it be that a pool consisting of material concentrated from multiple fermentation runs when combined resulted in a volume of almost exactly 1 liter, with a concentration of a nice round number of 3.0 x 10!10?

      NONSENSE! The material was pooled, concentrated, and then diluted out to the target concentration. A 1 liter aliquot was then sent to Ivins, where it received the RMR-1029 designation.

      What happened to the rest of the pool?

      Was a master seed bank derived from this pool, in case this valuable reference standard became contaminated or expired (note the expiration date!)?

      If there was no master seed bank produced, what about working seed banks? Was one made at Dugway? What about all the facilities that received material from RMR-1029?

      Was all material tranfered to other facilities labeled “Unauthorized Duplication Prohibited”?

      The FBI seems to make a big deal regarding the uniqueness of this flask. The only thing I find unique here is the ignorance surrounding their claim!

      • BugMaster said

        Correction, should read:

        “A 1 liter aliquot was then transferred, and then received the RMR-1029 designation”.

        What happened to the rest of the pool? What is the minimum number of pool precurors that one would have to combine to obtain a mixture with all 4 morphs?

      • DXer said

        From Keim et al, Science (2002):

        In addition to the SNPs and VNTRs detected
        in this analysis, we identified two large
        inversions in pXO1 of the Florida isolate in
        relation to the previously sequenced Sterne
        strain. The largest (44.8 kbp) occurs between
        coordinates 117,178 and 162,008 (using the
        Sterne strain coordinates). It is flanked by
        inverted copies of an IS1627 sequence and is
        centered on the pXO1 “pathogenicity island”
        (11), which includes the genes for the tripartite
        lethal factor toxin (18). Inversion of the
        pathogenicity island has been described (19);
        our sequence coverage data and polymerase
        chain reaction (PCR) amplification across the
        junctions show that the Florida isolate contains
        a mixture of both orientations.

      • BugMaster said

        You kind of missed the point I was making regarding the pool, Ed, but regardless, it seems to me (and Dr. Adamovicz) that the F.B.I. should have found more than 8 genetic matches to the RMR-1029 flask.

        BTW: On your website, you pose the question “So, how did they determine the source was flask RMR-1029 and not one of the other seven sources (a.k.a. “cultures derived” from RMR-1029)?

        Was it ever disclosed that all the other seven sources were subcultures (as in “cultures derived) of RMR-1029? Could some of them be remenants of material transferred from RMR-1029 to other institutions? (If so, you would not refer to them as a “sub-culture” or “cultures derived”, but rather, “a portion of the original RMR-1029 material”.)

        You appear to be convinced that the F.B.I. has additional evidence that directly links the material in the RMR-1029 flasks to the attacks (as opposed to the other 7 possible sources), and they just haven’t disclosed it yet.

        This may be a possiblity, but if so, do you have any sources or information to support your belief (other than your unwavering faith in the F.B.I.)? If they do in fact have this compelling evidence, why don’t they release it? If they did, wouldn’t they then be able to convince many of their critics (including myself) as well as Senator Grassley and other members of congress that the case is indeed essentially closed?

      • BugMaster said

        “Others on this forum want to ASSUME that there was no science involved in reducing the number of possible sources from 8 to 1, because that would mean that it was done with standard FBI gruntwork. And that allows people here to argue that the FBI gruntwork was probably not thorough, since the FBI is assumed to be incompetent.”

        You bring up a very valid point, Mr. Lake. Since the Hatfill fiasco, many have assumed that the FBI is incompetent. The lack of physical evidence and overall weakness in their case against Ivins (by weakness, I mean that if the case had gone to trial, based on the evidence we are aware of, Ivins would have been aquitted due to reasonable doubt) only contributes to the public’s perception of incompetence on their part.

        I have concluded that such an assumption is not appropriate here. I know of one scientific analysis which would very likely to tie the material in the flask to the directly attack material, although it is not based on genetic analysis.

        Under under one senario only, however. And such a senario still wouldn’t prove Ivins was the mailer.

      • BugMaster said


        Had there been a trial, Ivins would have been aquitted, and not just due to “public perception”.

        As far as the Hatfill fiasco, someone is writing a book about that exact issue.

        Not sure when it will be published, however.

      • BugMaster said

        BTW, Ed, have you gotten a response from the acting assistant attorney general yet?

  7. DXer said

    The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has explained the real thrust of Exemption 6.

    “In carrying out the balancing of interests required by Exemption (6), our first inquiry is whether disclosure of the names and addresses of employees constitutes an invasion of privacy and, if so, how serious an invasion. We find that, although a limited number of employees will suffer an invasion of privacy in losing their anonymity and in being asked over the telephone if they would be willing to be interviewed12 in connection with the voting study, the loss of privacy resulting from this particular disclosure should be characterized as relatively minor. Both the House and Senate reports on the bill which became the Freedom of Information Act indicate that the real thrust of Exemption (6) is to guard against unnecessary disclosure of files of such agencies as the Veterans Administration or the Welfare Department or Selective Service or Bureau of Prisons, which would contain “intimate details”13 of a “highly personal”14 nature. The giving of names and addresses is a very much lower degree of disclosure; in themselves a bare name and address give no information about an individual which is embarrassing. In the conduct of appellees’ study, any disclosure of information more personal than a name and address is wholly consensual and within the control of the employee. Appellees represent that any employee who does not wish to undergo an interview may refuse …”

    • DXer said

      Ken D., if an unredacted version is not provided within the statutory time period, this is the issue to sue upon.

      The American public has a right to know what their government is up to, and FOIA was enacted to secure this right. FOIA requires full disclosure of government records unless a requested record falls with one of the statute’s nine, narrowly-construed exemptions. The burden is on the government to prove that withheld records fall within an exemption. The government’s burden under Exemption 6 is a heavy one. Congress has erected an imposing barrier to nondisclosure under Exemption 6 by restricting its reach to cases where harm to an individual’s privacy caused by disclosure is not only “unwarranted” but is “clearly” so. Any alleged privacy interest must be weighed against the public’s interest in disclosure. The only public interest in disclosure identified by the U.S. Supreme Court is informing the public about “what their government is up to.” U.S. Dep ‘t of Justice v. Reporters
      Committee for Freedom of the Press, 489 U.S. 749, 773 (1989).

      In crafting FOIA, Congress declared that “government by secrecy benefits no one. It injures the people it seeks to serve; it injures its own integrity and operation. It breeds mistrust, dampens the fervor of its citizens, and mocks their loyalty.” S. Rep. No. 813, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., 10 (1965). The U.S. Supreme Court has declared that FOIA “is broadly conceived. It seeks to permit access to official information long shielded unnecessarily from public view and attempts to create a judicially enforceable public right to secure such information from possibly unwilling official hands.” EPA v. Mink, 410 U.S. 73, 80 (1973). The Court also has observed that FOIA’s ultimate purpose is to enable “the public to have sufficient information to be able, through the electoral process, to make intelligent, informed choices with respect to the nature, scope, and procedure of federal governmental activities.” Renegotiation Bd. v. Bannercraft Clothing Co., 415 U.S. 1, 17 (1974) (quoting Frankel v. SEC, 460 F.2d 813, 816 (2nd Cir. 1972), cert, denied, 409 U.S. 889 (1972)). Similarly, the Court has declared that the “basic purpose of FOIA is to ensure an informed citizenry, vital to the functioning of a democratic society, needed to check against corruption and to hold the governors accountable to the governed.” NLRB v. Robbins Tire & Rubber Co., 437 U.S. 214, 242 (1978); see also Nat’l Archives & Records Admin, v. Favish, 541 U.S. 157, 171-72 (2004) (“FOIA is often explained as a means for citizens to know ‘what the[] Government is up to.’ This phrase should not be dismissed as a convenient formalism. It defines a structural necessity in a real democracy.”).

      Indeed, “ours is a democratic form of government where the public’s right to know how its government is conducting its business has long been an enduring and cherished value.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep ‘t of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108, 1122 (D.C. Cir. 2004). The U.S. Senate made express reference to this overarching principle when it quoted James Madison in the “Purpose of Bill” section of its Report on FOIA:

      Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both. S. Rep. No. 813, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., at 2-3 (1965).

      The Senate Report accompanying FOIA also states “[i]t is the purpose of the present bill… to establish a general philosophy of full agency disclosure unless information is exempted under clearly delineated statutory language and to provide a court procedure by which citizens and the press may obtain information wrongfully withheld.” S. Rep. No. 813, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., at 3 (1965).

      Consequently, this Court has declared that, “[a]t all times, courts must bear in mind that FOIA mandates a ‘strong presumption in favor of disclosure.'” Nat’I Ass ‘n of Homebuilders v. Norton, 309 F.3d 26, 32 (D.C. Cir. 2002) (quoting Dep ‘t of State v. Ray, 502 U.S. 164, 173 (1991)). FOIA “requires federal agencies to disclose information upon request unless the statute expressly exempts the information from disclosure.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Rossotti, 326 F.3d 1309, 1310 (D.C. Cir. 2003). “Although Congress enumerated nine exemptions from the disclosure requirement, ‘these limited exemptions do not obscure the basic policy that disclosure, not secrecy, is the dominant objective of the Act.'” Norton, 309 F.3d at 32 (quoting Dep ‘t of the Air Force v. Rose, 425 U.S. 352, 361 (1976)).

      Because “[t]he legislative plan creates a liberal disclosure requirement, limited only by specific exemptions,” the exemptions “are to be narrowly construed.” Bristol-Myers Co. v. Federal Trade Com., 424 F.2d 935, 938 (D.C. Cir. 1970), cert, denied, 400 U.S. 824 (1970); see also Vaughn v. Rosen, 484 F.2d 820, 823 (D.C. Cir. 1973) (Exemptions from disclosure “must be narrowly construed, in such a way as to provide the maximum access consonant with the overall purpose of the Act.”).

      As a result of FOIA’s presumption of full disclosure, the government bears the burden of justifying its decision to withhold requested information. As the Senate Report accompanying FOIA states: Placing the burden of proof upon the agency puts the task of justifying withholding on the only party able to explain it. The private party can hardly be asked to prove that an agency has improperly withheld public information because he will not know the reasons for the agency action.S. Rep. No. 813, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., at 8 (1965). The U.S. Supreme Court thus has declared that “[ujnlike the review of other agency action that must be upheld if supported by substantial evidence and not arbitrary or capricious, the FOIA expressly places the burden ‘on the agency to sustain its action’ and directs the district courts to ‘determine the matter de novo.”‘ U.S. Dep ‘t of Justice v. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 489 U.S. at 755 (quoting 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B)); see also King v. Dep’t of Justice, 586 F. Supp 286, 290 (D.D.C. 1983), affd, 830 F.2d 210 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (“Congress has directed the courts to make a de novo review of the agency’s classification decisions with the burden on the agency to justify non-disclosure.”) (citations omitted). “The burden is not a light one.” Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Dep’t of the Interior, 53 F. Supp. 2d 32, 35 (D.D.C. 1999). “And there is nothing about invoking Exemption 6 that lightens the agency’s burden. In fact, ‘under Exemption 6, the presumption in favor of disclosure is as strong as can be found anywhere in the Act.'” Multi AG Media LLC v. Dep’t of Agrie, 515 F.3d 1224, 1227 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (quoting Norton, 309 F.3d at 32).

      Exemption 6 of FOIA exempts “personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” 5 U.S.C. § 522(b)(6). In determining the applicability of Exemption 6, this Court applies a well-settled, three-step analysis. The first inquiry considers whether the requested information contained in “personnel [or] medical files [or other] similar files.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6). The second inquiry is whether the disclosure of the requested information would compromise substantial privacy interests. Id. If the privacy interests at issue are de minimis, then disclosure cannot amount to a “clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” in light of FOIA’s broad policy favoring disclosure. Ripskis v. Dep ‘t of Housing and Urban Development, 746 F.2d 1, 2-3 (D.C. Cir. 1984). The third inquiry balances the public interest in disclosure of the requested information with the potential harm to privacy that would result from the disclosure. 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6). In creating Exemption 6, “Congress sought to construct an exemption that would require a balancing of the individual’s right of privacy against the preservation of the basic purpose of the Freedom of Information Act.” Ripskis , 746 F.2d at 2-3. “If the balance favors the privacy element, the agency is justified in withholding the data; if the interests of the public in full revelation are stronger, the information must be released; if the weights are approximately equal, the court must tilt the balance in favor of disclosure, the overriding policy of the Act.” Board of Trade v. Commodity Futures Trading Com., 627 F.2d 392, 398 (D.C. Cir. 1980); see also Stern v. FBI, 131 F.2d 84, 91 (D.C. Cir. 1984) (Exemption 6’s language “require[s] a balance tilted emphatically in favor of disclosure”).

      “[T]he scope of the exemption is held within bounds by the use of the limitation of ‘a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.'” S. Rep. No. 813, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., at 9 (1965); see also Rose, 425 U.S. at 378 n.16 (Congress’ use of the “clearly unwarranted” language “was a considered and significant determination.”). “Exemption 6 does not protect against disclosure [of] every incidental invasion of privacy — only such disclosures that constitute ‘clearly unwarranted’ invasions of personal privacy.” Rose, 425 U.S. at 382. Exemption 6 is directed “at threats to privacy interests more palpable than mere possibilities.” Id. at 381 n.19. “Withholding information to prevent speculative
      harm is indeed contrary to the statute’s policy favoring disclosure.” Carter v. United States Dep’t of Commerce, 830 F.2d 388, 391 (D.C. Cir. 1987). “By restricting the reach of Exemption 6 to cases where the invasion of privacy caused by disclosure is not only unwarranted but clearly so, Congress has erected an imposing barrier to nondisclosure under this exemption.” Kurzon v. Dep ‘t of Health & Human Services, 649 F.2d 65, 66 (1st Cir. 1981). Indeed, it is a “rare case” when “the calculus unequivocally supports withholding . . . because Congress has weighted the balance so heavily in favor of disclosure.” Id. “The only relevant public interest to be considered in disclosure to be
      weighed in this balance is the extent to which disclosure would serve the core purpose of the FOIA, which is contributing significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government.” Dep ‘t of Defense v. Federal Labor Relations Authority, 510 U.S. 487, 495 (1994) (emphasis in original); see also Renegotiation Bd., 415 U.S. at 17 (“Congress was principally interested in opening administrative processes to the scrutiny of the press and general public when it passed the Information Act”) (internal quotations and citations omitted). Uncovering corruption is an important component of this public interest. See NLRB, 437 U.S. at 242 (“basic purpose of FOIA is to ensure an informed citizenry . . . needed to check against corruption . . ..”); see also Washington Post Co. v. Dep’t of Health & Human Services, 690 F.2d 252, 264 n.39 (D.C. Cir. 1982) (noting that one principal purpose of FOIA is to monitor official conduct) (citation omitted). It is not the only component, however.1 The broad public interest in being informed about “what the[] government is up to” encompasses many other important components, including monitoring whether an agency is carrying out its statutory duties and exposing agency inefficiency, prejudice, favoritism, and incompetence. See, e.g., Multi AG Media LLC, 515 F.3d at 1232 (ordering release of data regarding farmers who receive farm subsidies because “the information will enable the public to more easily monitor whether the agency is carrying out its statutory duty” of “catching cheaters and lawfully administering its subsidy and
      benefit programs.”).2 “Because the ‘basic purpose of [FOIA] . . . focuses on the citizens’ right to be informed about what their government is up to,” any information that “sheds light on an agency’s performance of its statutory duties is 2 The Court also noted that the presumption of disclosure is “of special force” and there exists “a special need for public scrutiny” where agency action “distributes extensive amounts of public funds in the form of subsidies and other financial benefits.” Multi AG Media LLC, 515 F.3d at 1232 (citing Brock v. Pierce County, 476 U.S. 253, 262 (1986) (“[T]he protection of the public fisc is a matter that is of interest to every citizen.”); News-Press v. Dep ‘t of Homeland Sec, 489 F.3d 1173, 1192 (11th Cir. 2007) (“easily” concluding that there is a substantial public interest under FOIA Exemption 6 in “learning whether FEMA is a good steward of (sometimes several billions of) taxpayer dollars in the wake of natural and other disasters”); United States v. Suarez, 880 F.2d 626, 630 (2nd Cir. 1989) (“[T]here is an obvious legitimate public interest in how taxpayers’ money is being spent, particularly when the amount is large.”)).

    • DXer said

      US counterintel chief to be replaced


      WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. official who oversees government efforts to catch foreign spies and foil their plots will leave his post on July 4.

      National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair announced the departure of Joel Brenner, the national counterintelligence executive for the last three years, in a message to employees sent Friday. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the message.

      Brenner’s departure comes in the midst of National Intelligence Director Blair’s review of all counterintelligence activities and policies. No reason was given for Brenner’s departure and his replacement has not yet been announced. Brenner could not be reached for comment.

      The counterintelligence executive sets policy and coordinates government actions to discover foreign spies and intruders trying to steal information from government computer networks. Active spy hunting is left to the FBI and counterintelligence officers inside individual government agencies.

      Brenner explained the field of counterintelligence this way in a February speech: “If there’s a hole in your fence, security’s job is to fix it. Our job in part is to figure out how it got there, who’s been coming through it, and what they took when they left,” he said, adding. “And how to return the favor.”

      Brenner’s departure creates a third vacancy at the senior levels of the office of the director of national intelligence.

  8. DXer said

    For that, Ed, refer to the “Anthrax vaccine efficacy in golden Syrian hamsters”he was updating/supplementing.

    Or as Dr. Ivins might say in the palindromic “Ed Ode”:

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

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

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

  9. BugMaster said

    The correction appears to show 1.2 mls, Ed, note the entry for 18 March 02, a withdrawal of 1.2 mls also.
    Could have been for an internal quality control check (to check the actual number of viable spores). I agree, it would be interesting to see the redacted information.

    • Anonymous scientist said

      Ed, as usual in his relentless campaign to “prove” Ivins was guilty, misses the point. Why on earth would Ivins RECORD samples he withdrew to make a weapon he intended to terrorize the nation with? Duh – the answer is, of course, he wouldn’t. He could easily have taken out 1 ml of RMR-1029 and replaced it with with 1 ml of water to ensure the volume stayed the same. That would dilute the spore concentration slightly, but not enough to be noticed.
      The interesting portions, asides, of course, from the shipments to Battelle and Dugway, are the aliquots drawn AFTER the attacks. Remember, Ivins was ASSISTING with the investigation. There are many aliquots drawn in November 2001. It sounds like he was drawing these to possibly look at them under a SEM microscope and compare with the mailed spores – that’s what I would have done if I wanted to assist the investigation. If I had performed the attacks I would have altered RMR-1029 by mixing in some RMR-1030 for example. I ceratinly wouldn’t have drawn RMR-1029 aliquots to help the investigation if I’d used that flask to make the weapon – nobody in their right mind would have done that.
      It will be interesting to see what the purpose was of these aliquots in November.

    • BugMaster said

      All one would have to do is stick an inoculating loop into the flask, withdraw it, and streak onto a blood or nutrient agar plate.

      The loop would transfer 10 microliters or less, not enough to be detectable in a 1 liter container, but at a spore concentration of 1.0 x 10!10 per ml, more than enough to cover the plate with a culture identical to the flask’s contents (all 4 morphs, plus any others not characterized).

      A 1.2 ml documented withdrawal as the starting point for attack material seems highly unlikely here.

      Besides, there weren’t any more attacks soon after the March 18, 2002 1.2 ml withdrawal, now was there?

    • BugMaster said


      If this was a math error, then the actual volume of the flask on the date of the last entry (which stated a end volume of 21 mls) would have been approx. 121 mls. If the 100 mls had actually vanished (10% of the total!), then yes, that is compelling evidence against anyone who had access to the flask.

      I would like to think that if this is actually the case (10% vanished without documentation!), then the FBI would have noticed by now, and we would have heard about it by now.

      Most likely, a math error. But good detective work, Ed, for finding it!

  10. Anonymous Scientist said

    Congratulations Lew, this is a great document. It’s likely that the drawn portions of 1ml-8ml were for internal Detrick experiments. But it’s likely that the quantities over 50ml were for shipping to other institutes.
    And there were 8 such shipments before September 2001.

    They are listed here along with what we know. Now we just need to find the others. It’s clear that the number of people with access to RMR-1029 goes beyond even hundreds.

    Shipping date Quantity Destination

    4/3/00 75ml unknown
    7/7/00 40ml unknown
    8/28/00 40ml unknown
    12/4/00 100ml unknown
    4/6/01 60ml University on New Mexico?
    5/1/01 90ml Battelle
    6/15/01 50ml Battelle
    7/9/01 50ml Dugway

  11. DXer said

    It also, as a single example, corroborates the March 2001 fed ex shipment to Rick Lyons at UNM.

    • DXer said

      His small animal lab did vaccine work funded by DARPA at the University of New Mexico. He forthrightly announced in December 2001 that he expected that what he had would be genetical identical.

  12. Anonymous Scientist said

    This corroborates dates I was previously told of shipments to Duway and Battelle:

    Bruce Ivins sent on:

    May 1, 2001

    90 ml of RMR-1029 to Battelle

    June 15, 2001

    50 ml to Battelle

    July 9, 2001

    50 ml to Dugway

    But there are apparently MANY more large shipments of 50ml or more from the flask.

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