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

* 55 flasks of anthrax prep … now where can I hide these?

Posted by DXer on July 29, 2009

CASE CLOSEDCASE CLOSED is a novel which answers the question “Why did the FBI fail to solve the 2001 anthrax case?” … click here to … buy CASE CLOSED by Lew Weinstein

Here’s what readers say about CASE CLOSED  …

“Lew’s  story is a quick read. In July 2008 a physician employee of the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases dies. The FBI immediately not only declares the death a suicide, but also announces that the doctor had been their prime suspect in the 2001 anthrax murders by mail. “I don’t @#$%ing think so!” says the director of the nation’s Defense intelligence Agency (DIA) and a covert investigation of the FBI itself begins.”


Anonymous Scientist writes …

  • I calculated that it would take at least 55 litres of liquid preparations to make enough spores for the attacks.
  • You would use a 2 liter flask half full – so you’d need 55 of them.
  • This pictorial representation demonstrates the enormity of the task of keeping such work concealed.
  • The alternative would be to prepare one flask at a time over an estimated 35 weeks as Jeff Adamovicz calculated.

Dr. Bruce Ivins

Dr. Bruce Ivins

55 flasks******


* there are so many ways to demonstrate that the FBI’s case against Dr. Bruce Ivins is simply not convincing

* even if the FBI now finally “closes” the anthrax case, it cannot be a CASE CLOSED until we know what needs to be known.

* What does a novel have to do with the real anthrax case?


72 Responses to “* 55 flasks of anthrax prep … now where can I hide these?”

  1. DXer said

    Ed, until recently, you insisted everyone else was wrong when they explained that it had been determined that there were 8 genetically identical isolates from those collected — you insisted there was only 1. So your confusion on this central question was so basic that it affected your understanding of the strength of the government’s findings disclosed to date.

    You don’t bother correcting your facts — and even when you do you still cling to your earlier beliefs. You argue:

    “17. His wife ran a day care center at the time of the attacks, Ivins had many contacts with children, and the facts indicate that a child of about 6 was used to do the actual writing on the anthrax letters.”

    Correct your facts, Ed.

  2. DXer said

    “The amount of evidence pointing to Bruce Ivins as being the anthrax mailer is thousands of times more damning than any evidence against anyone else.”

    Ed, how does one know the evidence until one has seen it? For example, for over a year, the FBI has refused to provide a copy of the Bruce Ivins’ written account of his activities in the lab (Lab Notebook 4010) or the forensic examination of the New York Powder by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. The sound approach is to press for the evidence, not propagandize a list of false charges or inferences such as your charge that it is 95% certain a First Grader wrote the letters because you falsely claim he had a day care center at his home in Fall 2001, when it in fact did not operate except 2003-2004. The relevant information is the information from the State of Maryland and not your assertion — it is the AFIP data not your assertions etc.

  3. BugMaster said

    Ed’s real problem may come the day Ivins is exonerated. (Assuming he will be, which I at this point believe is more likely than not).

    He may be subject to a defamation of character lawsuit from Ivin’s family and former co-workers.

    Our beloved ringmaster is really capable of doing better. Perhaps that is why I get a bit frustrated with him from time to time.

    • BugMaster said


      I’m really not sure if relatives / friends / co-workers could file a defamation of character lawsuit (or if they even would).

      But I am sure there are plenty of lawyers out there that would be willing to take the case and try!

      If Ivins is innocent, and the real culprit is arrested and convicted, I would say that would be vindication of Bruce Ivins.

      “The amount of evidence pointing to Bruce Ivins as being the anthrax mailer is thousands of times more damning than any evidence against anyone else.”

      Hey! What’s the FBI doing giving you all the evidence they had against everyone else anyway, Ed! They’re not supposed to do that!

      The case against Ivins hasn’t reached the “tipping point” where I’m convinced of his guilt. Should that time come, I will be sure to let you know.

    • DXer said

             In 2008, the FBI released details of the July 2002 Hatfill apartment search: container of Cipro for Peck Chegne, spinner flask labeled “B Thuringensis simulant”, “notebook w/ handwritten notes re; anthrax, milling & munitions”, zip disk labeled “bio agents,” “notes on spore dispersal”, “notebook w/ handwritten notes re: dissemination and Pentagon, WTC, White House and Congress,” regulator for fermentation, sheet of paper w/ instructions for fermentation, DOD window decal, silencer, nerve agent detector, and two stuffed animal gerbils. It’s enough to make you look around your desk and think: Do I really need those stuffed animal gerbils? How is that going to play in the press? What will the press or the FBI or Ed imagine I do with the gerbils?

    • BugMaster said

      Yup, I would say that is the NY material. See how it is all caked and clumped together.

      Impressive image, overall.

    • BugMaster said


      “They’re not giving me anything. I just collect everything and try to analyze it. The information about other “suspects” all comes from news reports.”

      “What’s the FBI doing giving all those reporters all the evidence they had against everyone else anyway, Ed! They’re not supposed to do that!

    • DXer said

      Ed is correct that Ivins is a “thousands times” better suspect that the folks he thought and argued were responsible for 8 years.

      He has explained on a different forum:

      “I had a guy in New Jersey with the know-how, the lab equipment, the motive and everything else needed to make him a good suspect EXCEPT access to the Ames strain.”

      He continued:

      “I also had a guy in another state with a PERFECT alibi for the date of the first mailing, who was evidently the FBI’s first “person of interest” in the case. The searches done of his home after he was fired from (or quit) working at Battelle indicated the authorities may have thought he took something out of a lab that he shouldn’t have. Battelle was [one] of the labs which had samples of the Ames strain.

      I put 2 and 2 together and got 3847628.” (They didn’t even know each other and neither had any access to Ames).

      Ed concludes:

      “The evidence against Bruce Ivins is much more compelling than what I had.”

      Indeed. His theory was announced to be baloney in 2001 but he reasoned that they thought his theory was right, argued that they did not actually suspect Hatfill etc.

      So I would agree that the theory as to Ivins is a thousand times more compelling idea than Ed’s theory — and is a thousand times more compelling than his present First Grader Theory wrote the letters theory. He even refuses to correct his false claim that there was a day care at Dr. Ivins’ home in 2001.

    • DXer said

      Ed says the FBI had no real suspects until the mutations in the attack anthrax started pointing to Ivins. Ed did not even know for over a half decade that there were three compartmentalized squads investigating Amerithrax and one of them has never leaked. As for the squad investigating Hatfill, Ed argued for a half decade that the FBI did not consider Hatfill a suspect. He was mistaken and alone in his view. Ed has argued for nearly a decade that it is 95% certain that a First Grader wrote the letters. Ed has no basis for the conclusion and is alone in his view. And Ed has never addresssed the persons investigated by the third squad. He assumed that there were no such suspects because, he reasoned, the hijackers were all “dead, dead, dead.”

      Al-Timimi’s renowned attorney, Professor Turley, on the other hand, has said Ali Al-Timimi was considered an anthrax weapons suspect. Ed desperately wants to avoid discussing the facts relating to the Center for Biodefense patent involving concentration of anthrax using silica in the culture medium. Under the March 14, 2001 patent application, the excess silica is removed through repeated centrifugation.

      Ed correctly explained that “weaponization” is just a buzz word used by those unwilling to address the implications of the forensic findings. (In response to a FOIA request, Sandia has refused to expedite the request for the powerpoint presentation on silica even though the research was funded by taxpayers and the FBI has announced that the investigation is expected to be closed imminently).

      The “Silicon Signature” point to access to the scientist whose counsel says the FBI has considered an anthrax weapons suspect, who had access to the process. The process was co-invented by the former deputy USAMRIID commander who advised Battelle and came up with a way to concentrate anthrax using silica in the culture medium. Dr. Alibek, also a leading Battelle consultant, was the famed former Russian bioweaponeer and was co-director of the DARPA program provided the technical know-how. Al-Timimi’s program was co-sponsored by American Type Culture Collection, which has the largest microbiological depository in the world and maintains the Critical Reagent Program which has virulent Ames. The DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense research was supplied Ames by NIH, which was working with Bruce Ivins.

      Dr. Al-Timimi was the former assistant of White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card. Thus, there were grave political perils at his status as a suspect coming out leading up to the 2004 election. The Administration was arguing that Saddam was responsible. For it to be known that the White House had given a letter of commendation to Al-Timimi would have been calamitous. He wasan “anthrax weapons suspect” who was the son of a lawyer working at the Iraqi embassy. Ali received a letter of commendation from the White House for high security clearance work at the Navy in 1999 while at SRA. But reporters had been sent off chasing barking dogs. When affirmative leaks serving to distract attention to Hatfill did not ultimately carry the day, FBI Director imposed strict compartmentalization between the squads over the lead investigator’s strident objections that investigators would not be able to “connect the dots.” Either FBI Director Mueller can now set things right, or else this will be his legacy.

      Professor Turley is in a position to know facts that Ed has not read in the newspapers. The fact that Al-Timimi was the former assistant to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, according to his attorney in open court, did not make the newspapers. It was Al-Timimi’s original defense counsel, the accomplished defense counsel Ed. M. who represented Zacarias Moussaoui, who first explained in his opening argument that Dr. Al-Timimi was the former assistant of the White House Chief of Staff.

      This fact is just a small part of what has Amerithrax so botched and has caused the FBI to be so unwilling to share information. There are obstacles that are even far greater.

      This is an email from ‘Dr. Ali Al-Timimi’s Support Committee’

      April 5, 2005
      This is a summary of the court proceedings that took place yesterday
      April 4th 2005. We will send a summary everyday inshallah.

      The trial of Dr. Ali Al-Timimi started yesterday immediately after the
      jury selection. Al-Timimi is charged with inducing group of Muslim
      youth to travel and fight against India. …

      U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema instructed the jurors to keep an
      open mind through out the trial. She also reminded them that what the
      prosecutors and the defense team say is not considered evidence in the
      case. Neither the prosecution nor the defense has taken oath in this
      court to tell the truth. What is considered evidence in this case is
      what the witnesses say.

      Opening Statements
      Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg started his opening statement
      by portraying Al-Timimi as a person who is just specialized in teaching
      Islam at Dar al Arqam. “The case is about this man who on Sept. 16,
      2001, came to a gathering of young men in Fairfax and told them,
      counseled them and induced them to fight against the United States,” Kromberg
      said. Other than this statement, Mr Kromberg opening statement offered
      little or no information about the actual case that Dr. Al-Timimi is
      charged with. He spoke about Al-Timimi’s comments about the space
      shuttle crash that took place in 2003 and that Al-Timimi saw in the space
      shuttle crash a good omen of the fall of Israel and end to the supremacy
      of the West.

      In his opening statement, Defense attorney Edward B. MacMahon Jr. said
      that Al-Timimi was born and raised in Washington DC. He has a degree
      in Biology and he is also a computer scientist, and a mathematician. He
      worked for Andrew Card, who’s now the White House chief of staff, at
      the Transportation Department in the early 1990s.

    • BugMaster said

      Ed Lake put a VERY INFORMATIVE post on his website.

      Good job, Mr. Lake! Despite the fact that you are stubborn, (and perhaps a bit biased) your site still provides an excellent “clearing house” for information.

      So, Majidi, have you figured this one out yet!

    • BugMaster said


      The message in the letters was delibrately worded as to imply that the sender was somewhat unsophisticated. (attempt to link to al qeada, mis-spelling of penicillin).

      It appears the CONTENTS were formulated to give the same impression.

      90% pure spores, obtained using a known, published procedure (or based on a known procedure).

      10% crud grown on plates in the kitchen.

      Two sources, produced by two different techniques, blended together.


      No wonder that after almost 8 years, the FBI still says:

      “We still don’t know exactly how this was made”

    • BugMaster said

      Guess we’re going to disagree on this one. And as far as “filtered”?


    • BugMaster said

      What I wonder about, Ed, is why after all this time the FBI is stating that they still don’t know how this material was made. If they are in fact dealing with material that was a blend of two different batches using two different techniques, that would make their forensic analysis considerably more difficult.

      Plus it would be an excellent way for the mailer to cover his tracks in regards to any material being traced back to its source.

    • BugMaster said

      “It’s my understanding that they wash the spores and then filter out anything that is smaller than a spore. That gets rid anything that is water soluble and the same density as a spore. And, after doing that and centrifuging a couple times, you might filter out anything that is – say – bigger than 5 microns.”

      That would be a very difficult filtration process, Ed. One problem is recovery, quite a bit of the spores would still get stuck in the filter. Also, one can filter material only so long before the filter itself becomes clogged.

      The theoretical process you discribe would be as much as an art as a science. Very difficult to reproduce consistantly.

    • BugMaster said

      “You seem to have a crazy fantasy that even though the FBI couldn’t reproduce the silicon signal (silicon in 65% to 75% of the spore coats) using any KNOWN formula for spore creation, the culprit had TWO such formulas and used one for the media letters and combined that formula with ANOTHER such formula for the senate letters.”

      No, Ed, just compare the two images (senate mailing material and NY Post material) on your website.

      Two very different pictures, Ed.

    • BugMaster said


      “The NY Post letter looks like something scraped directly out of a Petri dish after drying there”

      Yes, exactly, Ed, I agree. Note the appearance, of “spores in plaster”. The “plaster” could be the extracellular polysaccarride and slime present when bacillus sporulates on the surface of a plate (much less slime, hopefully, when it occurs in liquid).

      “The clump of spores from the Leahy letter looks like something that was removed from the Petri dish before drying, washed and purified and then dried.”

      I don’t know if that is possible, Ed. The crud looks like it is enclosed in plaster!

      Any purification process requires a starting material of at least a minimum quality. The question is, could that dried crud then be re-solubilized, washed, and purified to result in material that was 90% pure (and at a very high concentration, requiring a very high yeild!).

      I don’t think this is very likely. But then again, we are discussing a hypothesis here. I wasn’t there when the material was purified, and I hope Ed wasn’t either!

    • BugMaster said

      “Why would you dry what’s on the plate before purifying it if you KNOW that makes purification more difficult?????? The guy didn’t go to the New York Post, get his “dried crud” back and use it to make the senate powder. He made the senate powder from scratch”

      You’re right, Ed, poor choice of words on my part. By “dry crud”, I should have stated, “material produced on plates, as opposed to in liquid”. Such material isn’t actually dry, but is very thick, viscous, and, depending on the type of sporeformer and media used, can even be quite difficult to scrape off the surface of the agar. (I’ve scraped a few plates of a non-pathogenic b. subtilus before, Ed.)

      BugMaster also wrote: “Any purification process requires a starting material of at least a minimum quality.

      When the meaning is not distorted, “minimum quality” just means a significant percentage of the bacteria have formed spores. It doesn’t have anything to do with how the media looks.”


      “Besides, in theory if you leave the growth to do its thing in a Petri dish, you’ll get PURE SPORES without any need to remove debris. Enzymes are released by the mother bacteria that cause the carcass of the dead mother germ to dissolve away. So, if the bacteria ingested all the media before sporulating, and the mother carcasses of the mother germs dissolve away, what you have left is pure spores in a Petri dish.”

      Totally, absolutely wrong, here, Ed, and exaggeration to the point of being laughable!

      Truth, is, Ed, neither one of use knows what procedures were used, and why there was so much difference between batches.

      This would be another area of scientific analysis that the NAS should review. I believe they will have access to confidential information if they need it.

      I suspect, Ed, that 12 to 18 months from now, we will all agree in regards to Ivin’s innocence or guilt. When that day comes, I’ll see if I can break away and head up to Racine and buy you a beer.

    • BugMaster said

      I’ll buy you that beer, Ed.

      It’s a date.

  4. DXer said

    I couldn’t even get Ed to correct his website where he — as a premise of his “it-is-95%-certain-a-First-Grader-wrote-the-letters” Theory — falsely claimed that there was a day care center in Fall 2001 at the home. (The news accounts explained that the day care did not start until his children were grown.) I privately approached him for a week asking that he should check his facts and correct his claim. He didn’t. Then I privately gave him the contact person’s telephone number. Then her email. Then when he refused to check his facts, I asked she write a nice letter under FOI confirming the dates of operation.
    He still won’t change it — just like he hasn’t changed any of the numerous factual errors. His steadfastness on an Ivins Theory did not alter one bit when 10 months after the rest of us he realized that 8 isolates were genetically identical, not just one. (You tried your best explaining it to him on the BloggerNews forum but he refused to listen.) The failure of the resolution of his 8 versus 1 confusion to alter the strength of his conviction was a big red flag as to how he processes information.

  5. DXer said

    Analytical chemist Chris Hassell, FBI Lab Director, said in a March 2009 press release that “Although the chemical fingerprint of the spores is interesting, given the variability involved in the growth process, it was not relevant to the investigation.”

    • DXer said

      In his presentation at the first day of the NAS meeting, Dr. Hassell said there were preservatives in the flask that were not found in the powder.

      • BugMaster said

        “In his presentation at the first day of the NAS meeting, Dr. Hassell said there were preservatives in the flask that were not found in the powder.”

        Like the 1% phenol? No kidding. One wouldn’t expect much of the phenol to be carried over, BUT:

        Unlike diatrizoic acid, detection of trace amounts of phenol is much more difficult.

        It would be virtually impossible to detect trace amounts of phenol, since it can’t be easily separated and distinguished from all the other biological material present that contains an aromatic ring (aromatic amino acids, some vitamins such as para-amino benzoic acid, parahydroxybenzoic acid, etc).

        But then, if they did perform the analysis, then they should be able to submit their method development data, method validation data, results with positive and negative controls, and limits of sensativity.

      • BugMaster said

        Did Dr. Hassell state:

        “We screened for the presence of diatrizioc acid and found none”?

      • BugMaster said

        The term “organic residues” could refer to diatrizoic acid. And if their trace elements screening was set up to detect heavier materials such as iodine, then this would indicate that diatrizoic acid probably wasn’t present.

        But I would think part “We assumed from the physical evidence that it was a regrowth” would only apply to the material that was mailed to NYC.

        I am assuming the NAS will review the analytical methods used here.

      • BugMaster said

        Also, note that any material produced on plates probably wouldn’t have the elevated levels of manganese associated with the Lehigh-Doi media formulation.

  6. DXer said


    The previous reported finding (from 2002) is that the growth occurred within 2 years before the mailing.


    In Richmond late July, Dr. Michael reported that he could not rule out post-sporulaton treatment with a siliconizing solution.

    Dr. Kiel expert at making simulants and head of the air force lab reported to me on an experiment he did involving siliconizing solution for these purposes in the slurry before drying and found that the same silica spike resulted.

    Ed, Dr. Michael’s comments provide no support for the conclusions you assert on your webpage.

    Between your false claims that 1) he had multiple or various New Jersey connections, 2) that there was a day care at his home in Fall 2001 where a First Grader wrote the letters, 3) your arguments regarding the Silicon Signature that don’t disclose Dr. Michael’s presentation and what he has now acknowledged, and 4) and your mistaken belief that only 1 — not all 8 isolates — was genetically identical, your list of reasons look like a slate of wrong answers. You are just too stubborn to make corrections given you are a True Believer who wants to pin the crime on a First Grader that does not exist. Now if there were highly classified proceedings at which they were briefing the issue of the First Grader’s involvement, that would be different.

    • anonymous scientist said

      Don’t Forget Lake’s distortion of the facts for years that the FBI did NOT attempt to reverse engineer the spores – in spite of the fact that Mueller himself announced this objective 6 years ago. Now we have MULTIPLE FBI scientists stating that they tried (and failed) to reverse engineer the spores. They deliberately added silicon species but could NOT reproduce a layer of SiOx on the spore coat under the exosporium.

      Also don;t forget that for years Lake claimed weaponized spores were not coated with silica at all. He claimed that would make them heavier. He still refuses to correct the quotes from Ken Alibek on his website.

      In short, Lake is simply a shill – and a rather transparent one at that.
      “Shill” can also be used pejoratively to describe a critic who appears either all-too-eager to heap glowing praise upon mediocre offerings, or who acts as an apologist for glaring flaws.

  7. DXer said

    Thought question:

    Given that not even the AUSA prosecuting Al-Timimi (Gordon) had seen the highly classified material relating to Al-Timimi, is there any reason to think that the AUSA prosecuting Amerithrax (Ken) had?

  8. DXer said

    “that they need to force the FBI to release it. When you think about it, that was amazing statement”

    In calculating how to proceed, the US DOJ should assume that everything that they don’t want to be known is already known and will be revealed the day after it is closed — or eventually will be forced to be revealed in litigation or pursuant to an independent investigation of the investigation. Everyone who comes out in support of the closing of the case had better personally have seen all the material evidence, both proving Dr. Ivins is guilty (such evidence has not yet been disclosed) and all Brady material. I remember the internal email years ago from the AUSA in charge “It looks like we still have our jobs.” Well, anyone tolerating a false result in Amerithrax involving this issue of the anthrax threat faced by the country should realize what is at stake.

    • anonymous scientist said

      “Everyone who comes out in support of the closing of the case had better personally have seen all the material evidence, both proving Dr. Ivins is guilty (such evidence has not yet been disclosed) and all Brady material.”

      I think you just hit the nail on the head of why, one year after Ivins’ death and the FBI accusations, the case is still not closed. I actually don’t see them closing it any time soon – but you never know. Most of the folks who aided and abetted the accusation that Ivins did it seem to have left. Who is left to be embarrassed? There’s Mueller I suppose and Montooth.

      A popular new line as we enter this new stage of truth may be “it’s not my fault, the FBI withheld information from me”. That’s one that Sandia will probably be needing to repeat many times.

      • DXer said

        Seem to have left? Don’t be silly. Mr. Persichini, Mr. Dellefera, AUSA Kohl are all still singing the same tune. Even Ed is still singing the same tune and hasn’t changed his false claim (despite otherwise updating his page):

        “17. His wife ran a day care center at the time of the attacks, Ivins had many contacts with children, and the facts indicate that a child of about 6 was used to do the actual writing on the anthrax letters.”

        I think, Anonymous Scientist, we all know why Ed hasn’t discussed that riveting presentation Dr. Michael made in Richmond last week.

      • anonymous scientist said

        Yes, Ed has probably heard the same as we have about Dr Michael’s presentation – that explains the deafening silence from him.

  9. DXer said


    I’ll publish a picture of the NY Powder in a few minutes ( ) as soon as I find it on my cluttered desk top.

    While I do that, do me a favor and correct your claim in your list of reasons Ivins is guilty — the one where you say the day care was operating at his home and it is 95% certain that a First Grader wrote the letter. I’ve provided a copy of a letter from the State of Maryland confirming the operation of the day care as limited to 2003-2004. (As reported by news accounts, the day care came only after his kids were grown).

  10. Ike Solem said

    Consider the effect of the Daschle-Leahy letters on the postal system:

    “These modeling data suggest that approximately 0.7–63.4 million total airborne spores and approximately 0.2–20 million spores <5 µm may have been produced by contaminated mail during work shifts at the two USPS processing and distribution centers where inhalation anthrax developed in postal workers. These data are plausible, given the contamination with B. anthracis documented by environmental sampling of both the New Jersey and the Washington, D.C., facilities.[6,20] Although the results of air sampling were negative, dust samples grew 39.7 million CFU/g.[20] A contaminated letter in Washington, D.C., purportedly contained 2 g powder with 100 billion to 1 trillion spores per gram,[21] which suggests that letters can be a source of infectious material.

    Airborne Infection with Bacillus anthracis-from Mills to Mail: Discussion,

    That’s a good technical article that should put to rest any claims that the preparation was anything other than a high-tech weaponized one: – for example,

    Genomic analysis recently identified the isolate used in the mailings as the Ames strain, which is used in multiple research laboratories. However, the strain was prepared for aerosolization in powder form, and we are not aware of published data on infectious doses for powdered preparations. The method of preparing bacilli for aerosolization may affect retention of aerosolized agents and their virulence of B. anthracis. For example, the surface-active compound Tergitol was found to increase virulence 10-fold in guinea pigs.[24]

    As A.S. notes, preparing this quantity of spores at high purity would be a difficult and dangerous task all by itself – let alone converting the purified liquid spore suspension to a dry powder. However, the process A.S. describes would fail to generate a pure powder, 5 um particles size, with 100 billion to 1 trillion spores per gram. As revealed previously, the method used is probably spray-drying using sophisticated equipment (try the BattellePharma Electrospray Nebulizer).

    Since a dense culture of bacillus can reach 1 billion spores per mL, one might assume that a few flasks would suffice. This is not the case, as the spores have to be purified away from cell debris, entailing large losses along the way. Second, for someone to produce a pure powder with all the characteristics of an advanced bioweapon on their first attempt is just not possible.

    Ivins is clearly just another Hatfill – and the real issue is how the anthrax letters were used to spur massive growth in the U.S. biowarfare program, which also included mandatory anthrax vaccinations for U.S. soldiers, courtesy of Emergent Biosolutions and government contracts proffered by BARDA, DHHS, DHS, etc.

    For fun, try reading this:

    Emergent BioSolutions Inc. Chairman and CEO Fouad El Hibri insists that good business opportunities often arise in time of crisis.

    “Government support is also very much needed because most of the products that we are developing right now are supported by NGO’s or the US government,” he added.

    And, see this:

    “For Ivins’ family and former colleagues who have maintained his innocence, a closed case will mean the FBI is putting faith in circumstantial evidence and a scientific fact-finding process that brought investigators to a flask of anthrax spores under Ivins’ control, but accessible to more than 100 people.

    “We don’t convict beakers in this country,” said Rockville attorney Paul Kemp, who represents the Ivins family. “We prosecute, convict or acquit human beings.”

  11. Anonymous Scientist said

    I should reiterate that the calculation of 55 liters of liquid preparation needed to make enough spores to fill the attack letters is simple and uncontroversial.

    It assumes that at least 10g of spores suspended in liquid would be needed to eventually create enough dry powder to be used in all the envelopes. That is an optimistic estimation – probably more than 10g in suspension would be needed.

    It is already an established, solid fact that the concentration of spores in RMR-1029 was 3×10^10 spores/ml. This means the entire 1 liter of RMR-1029 contained 30g of spores.

    But RMR-1029 was distilled down to 1 liter from many manufacturing runs – which mostly took place at Dugway. 164 liters of wet preparation were needed to create the single liter of RMR-1029. Hence, by simple extrapolation, 55 liters would be needed to create 10g of spores.

    As another poster pointed out, 2 liter flasks are very large and probably not even used at Dugway. 1 liter flasks would be more commonly used. If 1 liter flasks were used then 110 half-full flasks would be needed to create 55 liters. If the flasks were 1/3 full then 165 flasks would be needed.

    Of course, after the 55 liters were made they would have to be distilled down to a reasonable volume – as was done in the creation of RMR-1029. This is yet another impossibly time consuming step.

    Any way you look at it – it is impossible for 1 person to carry out these operations.

    • Anonymous Scientist said

      More information was provided at today’s NAS briefing on the make-up for the 1 liter flask of RMR-1029.
      It was disclosed that a total of 22 flasks of spores were brewed at Detrick and these were combined with a “number” of “large” fermenter runs at Dugway.

      Let’s assume that the Detrick flasks were 1 liter flasks (likely 2 liter flasks are too big). If the 1 liter flasks were 1/2 full of liquid this would mean that a total of 11 liters were made at Detrick – leaving a balance of 164-11= 153 litres made at Dugway. It is unknown how large the fermenter at Dugway is. It could hold 50 liters. If this is the case at least 3 fermenter runs at Dugway would have been needed.

      The data disclosed at today’s NAS meeting again underscores the impossibility of one person brewing 55 litres of spores undetected. The FBI admitted they have absolutely no idea how the person the accuse of making the spores achieved this remarkable feat. They just “know” he managed it – somehow.

      Amazingly none of the NAS committee members asked the FBI how many litres of spores they theorized were needed to make enough for the mailings. Hopefully they will notice this rather large elephaant in the living room in the near future.

      • BugMaster said

        Agreed, Ivins could not have produced the material in the timeframe the FBI describes.

        At the very least, he would have had performed multiple fermentations over a period of time. But then, where did he hide 16 to 55 liters of raw material?

        And if his motivation was to cause a scare, why go to all the trouble (and risk detection) to create enough anthrax to kill 300,000,000 people when a much smaller amount would still be more than sufficient to cause a panic.

      • DXer said

        What fermenter do you posit him using. Dr. A says the motor to the fermenter was seized and had been for a very long time.

      • BugMaster said

        That’s the point. He didn’t have access to a fermentor. Repairing the fermentor was probably not a priority for USAMRID because in Ivin’s area, they didn’t produce material at that scale.

        Which leaves only shake flasks.

      • DXer said

        Which brings us back to the 100 ml discrepancy (see discrepancy between December 1999 and February 2000 entry). Dr. Ivins’ expressed concern that his stocks did not square with his inventory after hearing someone that someone said at a party, apparently in December 2006. He was told in response by a superior not to worry that the FBI situation was “under control.” It is a huge assumption that 100 ml is something to assume away when the issue at bar is whether there was a withdrawal of 100 ml. that was then used in the mailed anthrax. John E. retired in 2006. When was his retirement party?

        Usually when withdrawn for aerobiology experiments the virulent Ames from flask 1029 was used without subculture. The fact that US Attorney Taylor did not rely on the missing 100 ml in making his accusatio toward Ivins is notable and may be significant but does not make the issue disappear. Maybe Dr. Ivins was innocent except for an unregistered transfer and alteration of documents. For example, if FBI scientist John Ezzell told General John Parker that they did not make dry powdered anthrax at Ft. Detrick — when in fact he knew that he had made dry powdered anthrax for DARPA — then the question arises how the documentation would look for the anthrax used. Was the 100 ml withdrawn for a DARPA project on which Ivins was assisting?

        Did the FBI tell Jennifer Smith that its anthrax expert had made dry powdered anthrax at Ft. Detrick depite the public denials?

      • DXer said

        In an e-mail obtained by FOX News written by Bruce Ivins to Patricia Fellows titled “HOT News”, Ivins reported to his former Fort Detrick colleague a colleague’s report that the anthrax powder they were asked to analyze after the attacks was nearly identical to that made by one of their colleagues.

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

        In rereading this, it seems that maybe it was Tom G. who told the General that they didn’t make dry powdered anthrax. But John confirms to me that he made the dry powdered anthrax — and he made it for DARPA. I believe everything John told me and have confidence in him — he is under gag order, however, and has not called me back again to tell me more.

      • DXer said

        When the FBI uses the phrase “naturally occurring” to refer to the silica even though the amount in the first mailing was massive (see FBI’s response to Conyers)of these different hypotheses, it points to use of virulent Ames from flask 1029 in a soil suspension such as was prepared for an Edgewood experiment involving gamma irradiated Ames provided by FBI anthrax scientist John Ezzell. (Alternatively, the Ames could have come from a large collection that similarly was a mixture (given the hypothesis that the same morphs would not develop in any large collection has never been tested)

      • BugMaster said

        “Why would the anthrax mailer create a crude powder using shaking flasks (or a fermenter)?”

        He didn’t. The crude material was made on plates. Boris Popov noted that some of the debris looked like dried agar.

        “For a broad range of bacterial species, ~1 liter of culture yields ~1 gram
        of cells. With a sporulation efficiency of, say, 70% and a purification
        efficiency of, say, 70%, ~2 liters of culture would yield ~1 gram of spores.

        More than a pint. But not much. Several standard shaken-flask cultures, or
        a single standard fermenter run, would have sufficed to produce all the
        Amerithrax material.”

        I agree here also, Ed. But maybe we are making assumptions as to sporulation efficiency. Also that 1 gram of wet spore prep probably isn’t 1.0 x 10!12, the actual rough number given for 1 gram of the DRIED material.

        Also, yeild losses in the purification.

        I don’t know why 160 plus liters of material when purified down yielded the 1 liter of material in RMR-1029.

        But I think the view of someone like Adamovicz who worked with Ivins and had at least some knowledge carries a lot of weight here.

      • BugMaster said

        “Yes, his view does carry a lot of weight here – even though it probably shouldn’t. If Ivins was the culprit, what does that say about Adamowicz’s powers of observation? They worked together.”


        There is a big discrepancy here between what your contact at Rutgers reported and what Adamowicz claimed.

        Adamowicz clearly has a basis for his conclusions. It would be of great help here if he could weigh in here and provide some further explaination. Granted, he couldn’t reveal anything classified or confidental, but the protocols Ivins used were published (and based on previous published protocols) so maybe he could provide some clarity here.

        “Then there’s also the issue of the silicon inside the spore coats. It was the same for the media letters as for the senate letters.”

        Was it? I know your website provided quite a number of excellent images of the spores, but I wasn’t paying real close attention to which material was shown at the time. Somehow, I remember the images being only of the Daschle / Leahy material.

        Do you still have the images? Could you provide links? It would be interesting to compare the images of the pure material with those of the “dog chow.”

      • DXer said

        Dr. Ebright and Dr. Popov have been mentioned.

        An interesting article in MIT Technology Review in March/April 2006 is based on interviews with Dr. Popov (an expert at GMU who had worked as a Russian bioweaponeer), Rutger’s Richard Ebright and others:

        “’There are now more than 300 U.S. institutions with access to live bioweapons agents and 16,500 individuals approved to handle them,” Ebright told me. While all of those people have undergone some form of background check — to verify, for instance, that they aren’t named on a terrorist watch list and aren’t illegal aliens — it’s also true, Ebright noted, that ‘Mohammed Atta would have passed those tests without difficulty.’ “


        ‘That’s the most significant concern,’ Ebright agreed. ‘If al-Qaeda wished to carry out a bioweapons attack in the U.S., their simplest means of acquiring access to the materials and the knowledge would be to send individuals to train within programs involved in biodefense research.’ Ebright paused. ‘And today, every university and corporate press office is trumpeting its success in securing research funding as part of this biodefense expansion, describing exactly what’s available and where.’”

      • DXer said

        Last year, Dr. Popov graciously provided a detailed expert opinion at my request. Dr. Nass posted it on her excellent blog and then supplemented it with additional comments. Here is his discussion of the issues being discussed by Bugmaster and Ed.

        “2. In order to test my scenario of the inconspicuous preparation of anthrax powders in the lab by somebody like Bruce Ivins, I estimated the amount of spores required for one letter. The information on internet says that the letters contained about seven to ten grams of material, of which roughly two to three grams were weaponized spores . Federal investigators say the Leahy anthrax powder had not been lost in the letter’s opening. The amount, typical of the tainted letters, was 0.871 g .

        So, let’s assume it was 0.9 g. According to Dugway and my estimates of the spore weight (based on the spore size of 1 micron^3) one gram of dry spores contains from (0.7 to 1)x10^12 spores. It is (0.6 to 0.9)x10^12 spores/letter. If the Bruce anthrax was 3×10^9/ml, it would take him at least 200 ml of the spore suspension per letter from the flask he possessed. For all five letters, he must have used up the whole one-liter flask. The solid medium process in the lab gives us 5×10^9 spores from a regular Petri dish. It would require at least 100 plates/letter. This number of plates is impossible to handle inconspicuously. In any case, if the amount of powder in the letter is correct, and the spores constitute the majority of it, there is more than a 10-fold discrepancy between the required amount of spores and the amount the perpetrator could have covertly taken from the flask or prepared on the agar plates. This bolsters a hypothesis of the fermentor-cultivated spores at the microbiological facility.

        Interestingly, the powder from the first letters sent on Sep 18th to NY contained a lot of unsporulated bacteria. It is impossible to imagine that the powder of this quality could have been prepared for the military experiments by knowledgeable personnel. They would certainly discard the prep. Was the perp in rush to prepare the spores as quick as possible to make a connection with 9/11and therefore, by mistake, stopped the fermentation before the culture sporulated completely? It was only a week between the bombing and the mailings – very tight but possible schedule for this kind of job, if all the equipment was readily available. The next preps were more successful, but took longer. Has the equipment been previously used to cultivate B. subtilis for training purposes? This would be consistent with a contamination. Again, it indicates availability of a facility, and I’m afraid to say – a team effort, which is something fundamentally different from a lonely Bruce using Petri dishes and a lyophilyzer.

        3. The perpetrator did not have to use plates, but it is the simplest way. However, I disagree with the investigators’ time estimate. 3 to 7 days for several grams of spores? Have they tried to do it themselves? Running a fermentor and drying spores is not a 3-day job. It is not enough time even for a growth and sporulation on plates (we harvest spores on the 5th day). As I said earlier, a week is a very tight schedule. For a fermentor, there are additional steps of growing the seeding cultures (one or more days, depending on the volume). And fermentation cannot be accomplished during the evening hours only. By the way, did Bruce have access to the fermentor?”

        Note: Dr. GA explains that the fermentor was inoperable — having a seized motor.

        The theory of fermentor can only stand if other people were aware of the perpetrator’s experiments. If we accept this, we ought to conclude it was a collective effort at the well-equipped facility: it wasn’t just Bruce alone.

      • DXer said

        Dr. Ebright’s point about the ease by which a Salafist supporter of the jihadists could gain access to deadly pathogens and know-how is illustrated Ali Al-Timimi who had rights of access to the largest microbiological depository in the world at American Type Culture Collection (“ATCC”) in Manassas, where the FBI scientist guiding the FBI’s science investigation, Dr. Bannan, worked as the collections scientist in the Bacteriology Division.

        Ali worked 15 feet from the leading anthrax scientist in the world and the former USAMRIID deputy Commander, a prolific Ames researcher. The researchers headed the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense and it was DARPA, not the Bacteriology Division, that was involved in making dry powdered anthrax to be made at Ft. Detrick in the late 1990s. DARPA had asked the FBI’s anthrax specialist John Ezzell to make it. Dr. Ivins says he had heard from Tom Geisbert that it was the anthrax closest to the attack anthrax.

        Ali had a high security clearance and a letter of commendation from the White House for his high security work for the Navy while at a contractor, SRA, in 1999.

        Dr. Al-Timimi’s counsel summarizes his connections to the salafist-jihadis:

        “we know Dr. Al-Timimi:

        * was interviewed in 1994 by the FBI and Secret Service regarding his ties to the perpetrators of the first World Trade Center bombing;

        * was referenced in the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing (“Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US”) as one of seventy individuals regarding whom the FBI is conducting full field investigations on a national basis;

        * was described to his brother by the FBI within days of the 9-11 attacks as an immediate suspect in the Al Qaeda conspiracy;

        * was contacted by the FBI only nine days after 9-11 and asked about the attacks and its perpetrators;

        * was considered an anthrax weapons suspect;


        * was described during his trial by FBI agent John Wyman as having “extensive ties” with the “broader al-Qaeda network”;

        * was described in the indictment and superseding indictment as being associated with terrorists seeking harm to the United States;

        * was a participant in dozens of international overseas calls to individuals known to have been under suspicion of Al-Qaeda ties like Al-Hawali; and

        * was associated with the long investigation of the Virginia Jihad Group.


        The conversation with [Bin Laden’s sheik] Al-Hawali on September 19, 2001 was central to the indictment and raised at trial. ***

        [911 imam] Anwar Al-Aulaqi goes directly to Dr. Al-Timimi’s state of mind and his role in the alleged conspiracy. The 9-11 Report indicates that Special Agent Ammerman interviewed Al-Aulaqi just before or shortly after his October 2002 visit to Dr. Al-Timimi’s home to discuss the attacks and his efforts to reach out to the U.S. government.

        [IANA head] Bassem Khafagi was questioned about Dr. Al-Timimi before 9-11 in Jordan, purportedly at the behest of American intelligence. [redacted ] He was specifically asked about Dr. Al-Timimi’s connection to Bin Laden prior to Dr. Al-Timimi’s arrest. He was later interviewed by the FBI about Dr. Al-Timimi. Clearly, such early investigations go directly to the allegations of Dr. Al-Timimi’s connections to terrorists and Bin Laden — [redacted]”

        Thus, Dr. Ebright is correct in urging that proliferation of such opportunities of access to know-how and pathogens increases the risk of an incident such as the Fall 2001 mailings.

      • anonymous scientist said

        Serge Popov:
        “The solid medium process in the lab gives us 5×10^9 spores from a regular Petri dish. It would require at least 100 plates/letter.”

        That pretty much rules out plates. Also. Serge assumes that EVERY spore ends up in the weighing balance after extraction, concentration, placing in the envelope, passing through the mail, extracting from the envelope and placing in the mass balance. That is completely unfeasible and it’s likely for every gram of dry powder that finally made it to the weighing balance, 3 grams would need to have been made. This can be tested. Imagine that you weigh out precisely 1 gram of talcum powder, then add it to 100ml water. Now your job is to remove all the water – then scrape out the remaining powder as best you can, fold it up in some paper, add to an envelope, mail it to yourself, open the envelope, extract it from the paper as best you can, add to a weighing balance. How much do you think you have left?

        The FACTS are that 164 liters of suspension was needed to make the single liter of RMR-1029. The FACTS are that the FBI have admitted that they have absolutely no idea of Ivins made the powder. They tried (and failed) to reverse engineer the powder. They have actually stated they DO NOT KNOW how he made it. Only in their imaginations could one person have done this – they DID NOT test if it was possible – they have admitted that.

        It is clear from the statements of Jennifer Smith that she knows there is important exculpatory information out there – she basically told the panel that they need to force the FBI to release it. When you think about it, that was amazing statement – there are also probably others like Jennifer how realize a travesty of justice has taken place here, resulting in the death of a US citizen as a result of an FBI investigation gone haywire.

      • BugMaster said


        I find the comment about the crystals in some of the powder most interesting. But what about the claim that freshly grown were found in the senate letters?

        How did the FBI determine they were “freshly grown”? Apparently they made the statement, “The spores were produced within a reasonable timeframe of the time of the mailings”

        What do they mean by “reasonable timeframe”? Sound like idiotic doublespeak to me. Do they mean the spores didn’t come from 10,000 BC? That sounds reasonable.

      • BugMaster said


        Carbon 14 dating cannot make a determination like this with a high level of certainty. Check out the Wikipedia entry

        Note the numerous caveats.

        “It’s my understanding that in addition to using Carbon-14 dating, they used other dating techniques as well. Similar but different.”

        You don’t suppose they will ever disclose these special techniques, or have their conclusion about the age of the culture (and the methods used to determine the age of the culture) to the NAS for review.

        This conclusion is no basis for claiming that none of the material came from RMR-1029 (or perhaps from remainents of the material pooled to create RMR-1029).

        Surely they presented other evidence to support their conclusion. What else did they say?

      • anonymous scientist said

        Lake wrote:

        “BTW, your bizarre belief that 2/3rds of the powder would have escaped the envelopes conflicts with your mistaken belief that postal equipment didn’t really do any “milling.” ”

        As usual, Lake distorts the truth. I never anywhere claimed that 2/3 of the spores would escape the envelope. I said 2/3 would be lost in the CUMULATIVE operations of (1) Extracting spores from a suspension of water (2) Concentrating the spores (3) Milling the spores (Dugway’s Jeff Mohr says in plain English they were MILLED see him on video here: ) (4) Transferring the spores to the envelope in a glove box (5) The envelope going through the postal system (6) Spores getting absorbed in the paper (7) Transferring the the spores from the opened envelope to a weighing container in the glove box.

        That is SEVEN separate loss mechanisms – not ONE as you distort.

        As I stated previously – you are a shill and rather transparent one at that.
        “Shill” can also be used pejoratively to describe a critic who appears either all-too-eager to heap glowing praise upon mediocre offerings, or who acts as an apologist for glaring flaws.

      • DXer said

        Boys, boys. Quit quibbling. Who cares what you think. Neither of you are even microbiologists. On silicon, upload Dr. Michael’s presentation and let it speak itself. Then I want Ed to conform his website to Dr. Michael’s explanation in response to questioning.


        “This plenary session also will feature a fascinating talk from Dr. Joe Michael, Sandia National Laboratories, regarding the highly classified and confidential Anthrax government investigation. Don’t miss this exciting presentation!”

      • BugMaster said

        “Yes, carbon dating isn’t very precise. But I said they calculated it to within 2 years. And, I think (but I’m not sure, even though it seems logical) that it’s somewhat more precise on nearer dates than it is when looking at things 6,000 years old or more.”

        Actually, its the other way around. Much less reliable when measuring organic material that existed after 1950.

        From your website:

        “As I stated before, they also proved beyond any doubt that the attack anthrax in the senate letters was NOT taken directly from flask RMR-1029, dried and placed in the letters. Freshly grown spores were in the senate letters.”

        If their carbon dating is the only basis for concluding the spores were less than 2 years old, there is still considerable doubt.

        From Wikipedia:

        Radiocarbon dating laboratories generally report an uncertainty for each date. For example, 3000±30BP indicates a standard deviation of 30 radiocarbon years. Traditionally this included only the statistical counting uncertainty. However, some laboratories supplied an “error multiplier” that could be multiplied by the uncertainty to account for other sources of error in the measuring process. More recently, the laboratories try to quote the overall uncertainty, which is determined from control samples of known age and verified by international intercomparison exercises. In 2008, a typical uncertainty better than ±40 radiocarbon years can be expected for samples younger than 10,000 years. This, however, is only a small part of the uncertainty of the final age determination”.

        So what is the FBI’s uncertaintly associated with this data?

      • BugMaster said


        Initially the FBI reported that the carbon dating information demonstrated that the attack material wasn’t some left over relic from the cold war.

        Now there is a claim that this data “proves beyond a doubt” the spores were too fresh to be from the same time frame that the spores used to create the RMR-1029 pool were from?!

      • anonymous scientist said

        Shill Ed lake writes:

        “Jeff Mohr misspeaks when he says that the spores were milled.”

        Of course he did. Just like FBI Director Mueller “misspoke” when he announced the FBI was going to attempt to reverse engineer the spores, right?
        Just like Sandia’s Paul Kotula “misspoke” when he said that out of 200 attempts to reverse engineer the spores none matched the silicon signature of the attack spores.
        Just like Ken Alibek “misspoke” when he said weaponized spores were not coated with silica.
        Just like Ken Alibek said there was “no principle” to coating spores.
        “Shill” can also be used pejoratively to describe a critic who appears either all-too-eager to heap glowing praise upon mediocre offerings, or who acts as an apologist for glaring flaws.

      • DXer said


        Contrary to what Ed says, Chris Hassell the first day said that in the dating the errror bars on the mass spec used were large. It limited things only to the late 1990s on — ruled out early 1980s. To get his exact phrasing and so I haven’t misstated it, I believe his statement would be about 46 minutes in. So you have raised a good point and the FBI no doubt will provide the NAS documentation relating to the issue you mention.

      • DXer said

        It was about 44 minutes in, to be more precise, that Dr. Hassell explained that it was the “bomb pulse technique” used and that the error bars were large and mainly permitted them to rule out the scenario that it was left over product from the 1980s.

        It was shortly before he was asked something to this effect: “How did you determine that was the universe of Ames samples — or how did you determine where the Ames samples were in the world?”

        He responded that was “part of that area we just don’t go near.”

        Oh, come on, Chris. Let’s go there instead of saying the dead guy did it while wrongfully (and immorally) withholding the AFIP data and his lab notebook from production under FOI.

      • BugMaster said


        “They used carbon dating experts to determine when the spores were made. They were made no more than two years before the mailing.”

        This can’t be done, Ed, not with carbon dating! If this is in fact what Hassell stated before the NAS board, then the FBI has lost all scientific credibility in their eyes!

        “It was about 44 minutes in, to be more precise, that Dr. Hassell explained that it was the “bomb pulse technique” used and that the error bars were large and mainly permitted them to rule out the scenario that it was left over product from the 1980s.”

        That’s the only conclusion that can be made from the dating studies.

        So why now, Ed, are you stating:

        “As I stated before, they also proved beyond any doubt that the attack anthrax in the senate letters was NOT taken directly from flask RMR-1029, dried and placed in the letters. Freshly grown spores were in the senate letters.”

        Total BS, Ed, absolute total BS!

    • BugMaster said

      “They used CHEMICAL analysis to determine that the spores in RMR-1029 were not dried and put into envelopes for the senate mailing. I’ll try to get the exact quotes from the NAS meeting.”

      I would appreciate that, Ed. And then you can correct your website.

  12. DXer said

    Bruce Ivins supplied Tarek Hamouda virulent Ames. See numerous patents and published articles and presentations.

    The head of the company and Tarek’s co-inventor of numerous patents, James R. Baker, says that the research with the virulent Ames was done by a “microbiologist” under the “direct supervision of Bruce Ivins” at Ft. Detrick. (Other research involving virulent strains was done at space made available by the FBI’s genetics consultant Kimothy Smith at LSU). Dr. Hamouda and Dr. Baker also visited Dugway for aerosol tests where virulent Ames was located.

    Researchers who were thanked were involved in the research involving making a more effective bioweapon/vaccine — involving the cloning of virulence plasmids. Patricia Fellows, Ivin’s colleague and confidante, spearheaded that research. It was published by Pamala Coker, also thanked, whose PhD dedication shows her close relationship with the FBI genetics expert.

    Pat Fellows, as I recall, was director of the B3 but I don’t know her title offhand. Patricia and Mara Linscott (who Ivins had a crush on apparently and left anonymous gifts for) were the subject of the focused questioning by the FBI reported by Mrs. Ivins (see the police report upon Ivins’ suicide).

    Did Tarek Hamouda take pharmacology from Ayman Zawahiri’s father, who was pharmacology professor at Cairo Medical (and passed in 1995)?

    Did Tarek Hamouda research antimicrobials with Ayman Zawahiri’s sister, Heba, who is an antimicrobials/cancer researcher there? (and whose email is readily available)

    Did he work with Ayman Zawahiris other sister there?

    Did he know Ayman Zawahiri’s uncle who was Dean of the Medical school at one point?

    Did he know Ayman Zawahiri such as my correspondent Tawfiq Hamid (who has been Tarek’s family friend for years) did? “Tawfiq” is a family friend of Tarek’s and was recruited by Ayman Zawahiri into the Egyptian Islamic Group while at medical school. The medical school had set aside a room for that purpose. Tawfiq now consults with intelligence agencies and publicly urges that the ideology of Salafist-Jihadist is seriously misconceived. (I once told another friend of mine who knows Zawahiri well and is the brother of the chief Egyptian prosecutor that there was no provenance established for any of these old books but I don’t think we need to go there in a true crime matter; I just wanted Ayman to know that as a grown man, he is being guided by a book he learned by rote at 11… what kind of rationality is that even if he were correctly interpreting the words written?)

    Now NanoBio received $80 million in investment after 911 without a marketed product — $50 million was from Perseus, a DC venture firm led by Richard Holbrooke, now #3 at the State Department and in charge of Pakistan / Afghanistan.

    Did Tarek Hamouda know the Siddiquis who had been in Ann Arbor up to 2001? Ismat, Fowzia, sister-in-law MD Lubna K., or Aafia herself? (They are all associated with Ann Arbor addresses). Did he know IANA head Bassem Khafagi, whose personal papers were kept by Ali Al-Timimi for safekeeping? Did his family go to the local islamist school 1 mile from the lab which has been the focus of so much FBI interest and questioning (and subpoena of records)?

    I don’t know the answer to those questions. I don’t even know the date Tarek Hamouda did the research with Bruce Ivins. (My guess it was in Spring 1998). But I am dumbstruck by all you folks who don’t appreciate the relevance to the inquiry at bar.

    Dr. Hamouda or Dr. Baker, if I am mistaken in any of my facts, please let me know.When Dr. H you wouldn’t respond to the emailed inquiry, I tried my best to get answers to these questions. Your co-inventor James has refused to give details (e.g., date, personnel, documents) relating to your research with Bruce Ivins using virulent Ames. Given your work is funded partly by US taxpayer money –(see large DARPA grant), the public really, really does have a right to know. Given that the FBI’s expert John Ezzell made dry powdered anthrax for DARPA, the public really, really, really does have a right to know. It’s not that dual purpose in the biodefense field is wrong or illegal — it is the public is not interested in things being kept secret just to avoid the embarrassment of some politicians. The White House letter of commendation to the Salafist coordinating with the 911 imam and Bin Laden’s sheik at the GMU Discovery Hall (housing the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense) is but one example of the reasons the FBI does not want to share information. The more fun question would be to ask for a copy of any letter of reference that Andrew Card (Bush’s Chief of Staff) provided Dr. Al-Timimi in gaining a high security clearance for work for the Navy.

    Given that NanoBio received $80 million dollars in investment, pitched hand cream to postal workers, sought to decontaminate the Senate office buildings etc., I would have thought Dr. Baker would have been more forthcoming with the facts and documents but he wasn’t. I couldn’t even get copy of the 11 page presentation to the ASM by Dr. Hamouda (and there was more than one presentation) or a copy of Michael Hayes presentation about how their biocidal agent killed Ames in a petri dish.

    Lessons learned from the anthrax letters
    Bioattack countermeasures have dual use in disease vaccine research

    By Bob Graham and Jim Talent | Thursday, July 30, 2009

    One year ago, Bruce E. Ivins, the purported perpetrator of the anthrax mailings of October 2001, died. Mr. Ivins was a senior biodefense researcher for the U.S. Army. Assuming the FBI is correct that Mr. Ivins acted alone in the production and distribution of the anthrax that infected 22, killed five and terrorized the nation, this is an appropriate time to review five important lessons from this incident.

    1. Bioterrorism is not beyond the reach of non-state actors such as al Qaeda or lone-wolf domestic or international terrorists. Some have wrongly assumed that Mr. Ivins was capable of producing a weaponized version of a common animal disease only because he had access to sophisticated equipment at the Army lab. The equipment he supposedly used can be found in most state-of-the-art laboratories or purchased on various Web sites for considerably less than the cost of a used minivan, and it is available all over the world.

    2. Deadly pathogens are widely accessible. Mr. Ivins’ easy access to a deadly pathogen may have made it easier to obtain the starter culture,


    In comparison to the facts of the true crime matter, the Senators’ oped today was pretty clueless.

  13. DXer said

    The entire argument made by Lew in his post above was based on the undisclosed assumption by Anonymous Scientist that the 100 ml missing was a mathematical error and yet Anonymous offers nothing but surmise in support of his undisclosed assumption. It clearly was central to his argument and is a necessary premise.

    Anonymous Scientist cannot explain that convincingly anymore than he can explain the
    2 hours 15 minutes on September 14 in BL3
    2 hours 15 minutes on September 15 in BL3
    2 hours 15 minutes on September 16 in BL3.

    Anonymous Scientist, let me put it this way…

    41 shots,
    41 shots,
    41 shots…

    100 ml,
    100 ml,
    100 ml,

    2 hours 15 min.
    2 hours 15 min.
    2 hours 15 min.

    Given the missing 100 ml, you are grasping at straws to make an argument with a pretty picture that rests on the undisclosed premise that he did not take a little — he took a lot.

    If the lab notebook gave some other explanation for the 2 hour 15 minutes on the three successive days, we would have heard about it, right BugMaster?

    • BugMaster said

      I’m not sure where you are going with this, DXer. But I will say that if there was in fact a 100 ml deficiency in the amount of material in RMR-1029 (and not just a math error), we would have heard about it a year ago, along with allegations of a submittal of a false sample and clandestine bleaching operations.

  14. Anonymous Scientist said

    The actual total mass of spores needed is quite difficult to estimate especially since the spores begin their journey suspended in water and end their journey on a mass balance – after being extracted, dried, transfered to an envelope, sent through the mail and then extracted from the envelope and placed on the mass balance.

    Let’s assume we start with 1 gram of spores suspended in 33ml of water – this is the same concentration as RMR-1029. First we extract that 1 gram – or as much of it is we can. The first step is centrifugation. How much do we lose? Let’s be generous and say we manage to recover 90%. So we have a 0.9g pellet of spores that now needs to be dried. Let’s say it’s dried with Patrick’s azeotropic drying technique. What’s the yield here? Let’s estimate that it’s 80%. So we now have 0.72g of spores. This now needs to be processed into a powder. Dugway use a pneumatic ball-mill to do this, and the spores are processed through progressively smaller gauge meshes. A lot of material would get lost here – sticking to the fine mesh material and also to the mechanical balls in the ball mill. A good yield here would be 70%. So we now have 0.5g left. Now we have to take that 0.5g and transfer it to an envelope, using a spatula or even a syringe with a heavy gauge needle.
    Again, let’s be generous and say we manage to transfer 90% of it, the rest being lost by sticking to the spatula or becoming aerosolized in the process of transfer. We have manged to get 0.45g of that original 1g suspended in water into the envelope, but there’s a long way to go yet before Dr Ezzell at Detrick opens that envelope and tries to extract the powder.

    But let’s continue to be generous and say we only lose 5% in the mail trip due to that high speed sorting machine at Brentwood that would result in 2 fatalities from spores that passed through the pores of the paper. Dr Ezzell is now holding the envelope in the glove box, and there is now only 0.43g of powder left in there. Probably 10% of the powder is absorbed within the paper pores and cannot be recovered to be recorded on the balance. So there is only 0.39g left that can be recovered. Dr Ezzell has a steady hand but as he extracts the powder from the open paper with his spatula he notiuces that the powder is flying off his spatula and coating the inside of the glove box. He does his best, but he’s lost at least 10% in making the transfer to his weighing container. He reads the digital output on the mass balance and there is 0.35g of powder recorded.

    So even in the most generous scenario, for every gram recovered and recorded on the balance, at least 3 grams would have to be manufactured in a liquid suspension to begin with.

    This gives a more realistic scenario of how many liters of suspension would need to be brewed in order to fill all 6-8 of the envelopes that were sent.

    • BugMaster said

      You are assuming that the material was prepared somewhat akin to those used for the production of biological weapons during the cold war.

      I don’t with your scenaro, it isn’t the simplest explanation.

  15. DXer said

    From New York Times:

    “Without giving an opinion of Dr. Ivins’s guilt or innocence, both Dr. Ezzell and Dr. Mohr said they believed that any experienced microbiologist could have grown and dried the anthrax using equipment Dr. Ivins had in his laboratory. The trickiest step, they said, was producing anthrax with the letters’ high concentration of spores per gram, a skill Dr. Ivins had mastered.”

    Anonymous Scientist and Bugmaster, given that Dr. Ezzell has made dry powdered expert at Ft. Detrick and you folks have not, he is the qualified expert to speak to this question whether Dr. Ivins could have made dry powdered in the amount in the letters in the time available to him. He knows what equipment he used and he likely would know whether it was available to Dr. Ivins as it was available to him for the DARPA project for which he made it. Dr. Ezzell was the one Ivins pointed to as making dry powdered anthrax closest to the anthrax and so even Dr. Ivins would credit his expertise BTW, for what DARPA project did Dr. Ezzell make dry powdered anthrax?

  16. DXer said

    Doesn’t Anonymous Scientist and Dr. JA, interviewed on NatGeo, make the assumption that Bruce Ivins would only take a small amount and have to grow more?

    Wasn’t 100 ml in fact MISSING from flask 1029?

    Anonymous Scientist, why do you try to minimize this inconvenient fact? You need to state as your premise that the missing 100 ml did not represent a missing 100 ml.

    Why isn’t this a straightforward matter — the missing 100 ml was used to make the attack anthrax, and calculations by non-microbiologists such as Anonymous Scientist or microbiologists who have not created a dry powder such as Bugmaster are to be heavily discounted. It is the experience of someone who has made dry powdered anthrax that counts. FBI anthrax scientist John Ezzell has made dry powder at Ft. Detrick and says it could be made using equipment available to Dr. Ivins at Ft. Detrick. Presumably he also has opined to the FBI regarding the time available to him.

    So rather than non-expert speculation, we should just ask JE what equipment he used and how anthrax he used to make the dry powder (and the volume in liquid form, weight of the dry powder etc.)

    • BugMaster said

      “You need to state as your premise that the missing 100 ml did not represent a missing 100 ml”

      I would think that by now if in fact there was an actual 100 ml shortage in the flask, as opposed to a simple math error, we would have heard about it by now. (Who knows, someone may be dumping 100 mls out of the flask as we speak!).

      As far as the dry powder, I can only theorize on how it was obtained. The equipment needed, however, may not have been that difficult to obtain. Most of what could have been needed could be found on Ebay, or bought at the local hardware store. One component would have had to have been purchased from a lab supply company, but since it is something that is almost universal in usage, would raise no suspicion.

      I disagree, I think the most difficult part of the process would be getting the “liquid smoke” powder into the envelopes without killing the cat!

      • DXer said


        Am I correct that the difference between 37 ml and 137 ml. upon his last draw (and actually well before that) would have been apparent to Dr. Ivins?

        Am I correct that the 2006 email evidences that he reported his concern that this stock would not match his inventory?

        Could 100 ml have been the amount used in the anthrax attacks of Fall 2001?

      • BugMaster said

        I am assuming that there really wasn’t an actual physical shortage (in otherwords, the flask(s) contained a total of 137 mls, to reflect the actual transfers) rather than 37 mls (which would indicate that 100 mls actually had gone missing).

        This is just a guess on my part. I am assuming that if 100 mls was actually missing, the FBI would have presented that as compelling evidence against Ivins (and that evidence would be quite compelling!).

        Not sure what he was referencing in regards to inventory, but remember that the recent audit of Fort Detrick turned up quite a number of discrepancies.

      • Anonymous Scientist said

        The 100ml is almost certainly just a math error. Remember – there is no graduation mark on the flask itself – or at most very rough and inaccurate ones.
        So when 1ml is removed it is removed with a very accurate pipette and 1ml is subtracted from 1000ml leaving 999ml. If 100ml is removed it is removed with a different pipette calibrated for 100ml. The cumulative record continues. It all relies on the accuracy of each pipette removal and not making an error when you do the subtraction on paper !
        It wouldn’t even be noticed that 100ml was missing in the flask – at least not until the end of the flask. If Ivins simply made a math error then at the end of the flask when, according to the record there was only 19ml left in it, then he would probably have noticed there was actually 119 ml. In fact, there would probably be less than 119ml of liquid after 5 or so years – some water will have evapoarated after all that time.

        But it makes no sense that he would remove 100ml, give it to some person whose name he didn’t record – but then actually record not that 100ml was taken but that the running total had somehow lost 100ml !

        If he wanted to remove 100ml with it never being noticed he could just have removed 100ml than replaced 100ml of water. That would have got lost in the noise easily. It would just have been more dilute – but nothing that could ever be proven was unauthorized removal.

        And to answer DX-ers question – no 100ml of RMR-1029 would not be enough for the spores in the envelopes. That 100ml would contain about 3 g of anthrax spores – but as I have pointed out in another post – that 3 g in suspension would only have been enough to record one letter’s worth of recovered and weighed spores from one envelope.

  17. Anonymous Scientist said

    As I said in another post – I think 3g is a serious underestimation. It’s closer to 10g.

    The estimation of 55 litres is a straightforward extrapolation from the fact that it took 164 liters of liquid preparation to make the 1 liter of RMR-1029.

    However, I do agree that 30% volume is probably nore correct than 50% working volume. If 10g is closer to reality on what was made then we have even more flasks if we have only 30% volume.

    It’s apparent however, even at only 3g, this would be impossible to conceal – and actually impossible to achieve even with the luxury of working without the restraints of concealment. One person simply could not do this even working 24 hours/day for 4 weeks.

  18. BugMaster said

    “You would use a 2 liter flask half full – so you’d need 55 of them.”

    Depends on the amount of oxygenation needed by the culture. For strains requiring high levels of O2 to be able to obtain a high cell density, shake flasks are typically run at 20% volume. 25% – 30% might work, but in this case, I would expect 30% to be the upper limit (plus there is a concern about material being slung out of the flask as it is shaken).

    Two liter shake flasks are not very common, they are pretty much at the upper limit of what can be handled in your typical lab shaker. The most one could get into a single shaker would be 8 or so.

    I think an estimate of approx. 3 grams of final material is more realistic, requiring about 26 2 liter shake flasks, assuming a more realistic 30% working volume.

    I would seriously doubt USAMRID even has 26 2 liter flasks! Even if they did, that would require a minumum of 3 shakers!

    If Ivins was monopolizing 26 2 liter shake flasks and 3 shakers, everyone would be asking:

    “Dr Ivins, what the hell are you doing!”

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