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

* Experts urge panel to deepen forensic understanding

Posted by DXer on August 2, 2009

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

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Adam Behsudi writes in the Frederick News Post (8-1-09)

A panel of experts convened for a second day Friday to examine the scientific process employed by the FBI to identify the anthrax used in the deadly 2001 mailings.

The meeting featured presentations from three experts who worked on the case. Scientific methods were explained, and the 15-member panel was asked to use the study as a means to prepare for future attacks.

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SEE RELATED POST – OPINION … * LMW: The end of the NAS trail, I suspect, will be that the FBI’s anthrax science was a mess that couldn’t convict Bruce Ivins or anyone else

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A lawmaker also addressed the group, criticizing the FBI’s handling of the country’s first widespread bioterrorism event.

“If the technical and scientific procedures are as flawed as the nontechnical procedures, they certainly deserve a look,” said Rep. Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat from whose district the letters were mailed.

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SEE RELATED POST … * Congressman Rush Holt meets with NAS panel, says their work is important but their mandate is too narrow; calls for passage of Anthrax Investigation Commission legislation he introduced in March 09

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Holt said the study sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences would be useful for answering some key questions but was too narrow in scope.

Investigators last year determined that Fort Detrick scientist Bruce Ivins was the primary suspect in the attacks that killed five people and sickened 17. A flask of anthrax under Ivins’ control was identified as the origin of the bacteria used in the letters.

Ivins, who had a record of serious mental health issues, died July 29, 2008, of an intentional overdose of Tylenol after learning he was to be indicted in the mailings.

Holt has submitted legislation to form a special commission to examine the FBI’s eight-year investigation highlighted by a multimillion-dollar settlement after investigators wrongly accused Fort Detrick scientist Steven Hatfill.

“Simply stated, the government suffers from a credibility gap on this issue,” he said.

The FBI has not yet formally closed the case.

One of the experts who made a presentation at the meeting led a genetic study to sort through more than 1,000 samples of anthrax. The method found the anthrax in the letters matched eight samples that could be traced to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, where Ivins worked.

Claire Fraser-Liggett, a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, performed the analysis while director of the Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville.

The positive samples were isolated through the identification of four specific mutations. Those were genetically matched with anthrax gathered from the envelopes and the spinal fluid of the first victim, Robert Stevens, a photo editor at a Florida tabloid.

Fraser-Liggett said the work to find a match began in late 2001, but the successful method was not completed until 2007, when agents began to seriously investigate Ivins.

“I was hopeful that perhaps genomics would provide sufficient amount of information to be able to track the material to its source, but I then, and have always, asserted that in no way did I ever believe that this kind of genomics-based investigation was ever going to lead to the perpetrator,” Fraser-Liggett said.

“That was going to require much more traditional police investigation.”

The 18-month academy study will affirm the validity of the investigative science but will stop short of explaining how the FBI sorted Ivins from the dozens of people who had access to RMR-1029, the strain of anthrax used in the mailings.

Jennifer Smith is a retired FBI agent and biochemist who now leads BioForensic Consulting. Smith was involved in the agency’s DNA unit when the investigation began.

“I want to say that I hope this committee is able to see information that was shared … even if that information might currently be housed within the classified files,” she said.

Bruce Budowle was a senior FBI scientist before his current post as director of the Center for Human Identification at the University of North Texas.

He said no new methodology was used in the case, but it significantly advanced the field of microbial forensics.

He advised the government to capitalize on relationships with the private and academic sectors to prepare a structure for examining microbial forensics.

“Get those experts ready today for the next event that occurs,” Budowle said. “We would know who to go to in the process instead of having to search them out.”

The committee will likely meet again next month.

Alice Gast, the committee chairwoman and president of Lehigh University, said the academy has the ability to pursue classified materials. The study will deepen as the group learns more and asks additional questions, she said.

“Really it remains to be defined — the scope of all materials we’ll receive,” Gast said.

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26 Responses to “* Experts urge panel to deepen forensic understanding”

  1. DXer said

    S.P. Velsko, “Physical and Chemical Analytical Analysis: A Key Component of Bioforensics,” AAAS Annual Conference, February 15, 2005
    https://e-reports-ext.llnl.gov/pdf/316652.pdf

  2. DXer said

    The authors of “Non-DNA Methods for Biological Signatures” in MICROBIAL FORENSICS, edited by Dr. Budowie and his colleagues, address Carbon 14 dating of biological samples.

    “ACCELERATOR MASS SPECTROMETRY

    The Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (CAMS) operates a dedicated AMS system that is housed in an 8,000 square-foot facility. Currently, this system performs ~25,000 analyses per year for isotopes of 10 different elements, which makes it the most versatile and productive AMS system in the world. This system is particularly well suited for the precise analysis of carbon 14 in organic samples, which makes it amenable for the precise measurement of this isotope in bacterial samples.

    AMS uses mass spectrometry and nuclear detection to directly measure the concentration of an isotope in a sample, eliminating inefficiencies from decay counting of radioisotopes.”
    ***
    “All living things accumulate Carbon 14 from their nutrients and food and maintain a Carbon 14 that reflects their average intake. At the cessation of nutrient intake, which occurs at death or during periods of dormancy, the Carbon 14 content of the organism decreases exponentially with time. This is the basis for traditional carbon dating, which is routinely used to determine the age of organic materials. However, because relatively large amounts of Carbon 14 were created during atmospheric nuclear tests in the 1950s and early 1960s, all living things have elevated levels of Carbon 14 that can be used to estimate their age since 1950. The measurement does not depend on the radioactive decay of Carbon 14, but rather on the elevated concentrations of atmospheric Carbon 14 that have been accumulated by all living things.

    Recent AMS analyses at CAMS have demonstrated that precise Carbon 14 measurements can be determined from relatively small (<1 mg) samples of bacterial cultures. These cultures were from archived collections dating back to the 1950s. They clearly showed the incorporation of "bomb Carbon 14" and yielded radiocarbon contents that were consistent with the age of their production.

    In addition to the possibility of identifying culture dates, isotopic Carbon 14 signatures may make it possible to discern whether bacteria in question are not from the same culture. For example, bacteria grown on the same carbon media will contain identical Carbon 14 concentrations. However, bacteria grown on media that were produced at different times would have their own distinctive Carbon 14 content. With this approach it may be possible to discriminate the sources of otherwise genetically identical organisms by their Carbon 14 signatures."

    • DXer said

      The authors continue:

      “In order to determine the age of the [BG] powder, accelerator mass spectrometry was applied to measure the Carbon 14 content of the sample, thereby determining a date based on the amount of that isotope present. As has been pointed out earlier (in the section describing Accelerator Mass Spectrometry), AMS analyses have determined that precise Carbon 14 measurements can be determined from relatively small samples. These samples were taken from 1950s archives and showed the incorporation of nuclear testing-derived Carbon 14, yielding dating results consistent with their production dates. … The date arrived at by Carbon 14 analysis was 1955, in reasonable agreement with the actual date produced of 1963. The actual measurement of Carbon 14 in the sample is very accurate, but its interpretation is less so. The time resolution of Carbon dating is ~ 1-2 years, and is somewhat less for more recent samples due to the flattening of the “bomb curve” which measures the Carbon 14 content of the atmosphere. In this case, the older Carbon-derived date may indicate that the medium used to grow the sample was old or that there were other influences due to sample storage and handling later on. There are several facts which can change the ratio of Carbon 14 and influence a Carbon 14 derived date. For example, the addition of fossil fuel carbon can lower the amount of Carbon 14 in a sample and make the sample appear “younger” than it actually is, which Carbon 14 contamination increases the Carbon content and artificially “ages” the sample. Fractionation of carbon isotopes by bacteria is potentially another confounding factor, albeit less well understood for Carbon 14 than other isotopes.

      Clearly there is a need for methods to date the manufacturer of BW agents that can be applied to very recent samples, and are independent of some of the possible artifacts that can influence Carbon 14 dating. ( (pp. 289-90)

  3. DXer said

    Dr. Budowie has explained that:
    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=17696298

    “The reliability and proper interpretation of results rely substantially on understanding the performance and limitations of an assay. Validity and rigor are essential for the tools of microbial forensics, for determination of quality and for establishing confidence in results attained in analyses. Quality Assurance guidelines have been developed and are similar to those adopted for human DNA forensic analyses. The section (Section 8 of the guidelines) related to validation is listed below:

    8.1 The laboratory should use validated methods and procedures for analyses.

    8.1.1 Developmental validation should be appropriately documented and should address specificity, sensitivity, reproducibility, bias, precision, false-positives, false-negatives, and determine appropriate controls. Any reference database used should be documented.

    8.1.2 Preliminary validation is the acquisition of limited test data to enable an evaluation of a method used to provide investigative support to investigate a biocrime or bioterrorism event. If the results are to be used for other than investigative support, then a panel of peer experts, external to the laboratory, should be convened to assess the utility of the method and to define the limits of interpretation and conclusions drawn.

    8.1.3 Internal validation should be performed and documented by the laboratory.

    8.1.3.1 The procedure should be tested using known samples. The laboratory should monitor and document the reproducibility and precision and define reportable ranges of the procedure using control(s).

    8.1.3.2 Before the introduction of a new procedure into sample analysis, the analyst or examination team should successfully complete a qualifying test for that procedure.

    8.1.3.3 Material modifications made to analytical procedures should be documented and subjected to validation testing commensurate with the modification and have documented approval.

    Validation is an essential process by which a procedure is evaluated to determine its efficacy and reliability for analysis. The fundamental categories of validation are developmental validation, internal validation and preliminary validation. Developmental validation is the acquisition of test data and the determination of conditions and limitations of a newly developed methodology for use on samples. Internal validation is an accumulation of test data within the laboratory to demonstrate that established methods and procedures perform within determined limits in the laboratory. These two types of validation are crucial for addressing the reliability and robustness of any method routinely implemented in the laboratory.

    Preliminary validation, however, is not described in the human DNA forensic arena, but is essential when addressing biodefense and biosecurity. One cannot predict which microorganism, virus, or toxin will be used in the next attack (planned, attempted, or successful) or the next hoax. Yet, authorities will need to respond expeditiously to protect the public and the country’s assets. If there are no established validated standard operating protocols to identify or characterize the bioweapon, it is incumbent upon the microbial forensic scientists and others to identify any tools that are available to assist in the investigation even if they have been used previously for research purposes only. It would be irresponsible to wait for months or years (as is done for human identity testing) for validation of an analytical procedure when an attack is under way and biosecurity is threatened. However, quality of the methods used and understanding the limitations of a methodology should not be overlooked. Therefore, the concept of preliminary validation was developed. Preliminary validation is the acquisition of limited test data to enable an evaluation of a method used to assess materials derived from a biocrime or bioterrorism event. The evaluation is based on peer review of extant data, typically by a panel of experts that determines the extent of use and limitations of the technology or methodology and makes recommendations of evaluations or studies that may be needed prior to processing evidentiary material or studies that may be carried out subsequent to analyses and results are obtained. The goal is to be able to respond expeditiously, effectively, and efficiently while maintaining scientifically valid and rigorous approaches.

    Validation of a procedure includes addressing many parameters. Some of these are listed in Table 6. While not all parameters may be applicable for any one assay, they should be considered to ascertain whether they apply. By using appropriate validation criteria, the reliable conditions can be determined for the methodology or for the interpretation of the analytical results. In addition, conditions can be defined under which the results or the standard interpretation are not valid.”

  4. DXer said

    For background on Dr. Michael’s refusal to provide a copy of his presentation, consider the discussion of Sandia’s treatment of FOIA in “Holding Back: how agencies thwart the Freedom of Information Act,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November 1, 2003. The article states: “While the physical distance between the Albuquerque office and department headquarters in Washington can be measured in miles, their interpretations have been light years apart.” In “DOE claims Sandia Labs sold information illegally”, (in the Albuquerque Journal I believe), dated March 29, 2002 explains “Because the research was paid for by taxpayers, it should have been shared” for free, investigators said. DOE lawyers in April 1990 sent a letter to the lab saying that the transactions in which the lab profited were illegal. Such a deal is “against DOE policy and violates the DOE’s statutory mandate to widely disseminate results of research and development at DOE facilities.”

    “DOE Charges Watchdog for Sandia Labs Data,” Albuquerque Journal,” December 20, 2002 was followed by “Activists Win Fight For Access,” April 3, 2003. There the issue involved the requestor wanting to avoid what were substantial search costs. To have such costs waived, the article explains, “The person must have a means to share the requested information with the public.” Lew, if Dr. Michael or the FOI person emails a copy of the presentation, you’ll upload it, won’t you? I won’t even bother commenting on it as my aim is just to distribute the presentation and let the presentation speak for itself. Yes, I saw the YouTube video and NatGeo Special. I think Dr. Michael and Dr. Kotula are great. I just think that Dr. Michael’s conclusions go beyond his field and data — they certainly go well beyond location of the silicon. It is the presentation to his learned colleagues I am seeking to see what conclusions he stated to them. As a document, it is subject to FOIA even if Dr. Michael feels he gains some benefit from having allowed M&M exclusive rights to it. (Perhaps it draws a crowd or is just part of that organization’s standard policy). But here it is a federal statute that applies. And search costs don’t even enter into it because there are none. I’m just looking for a simple powerpoint presentation.

    I totally understand that Anonymous Scientist undermines his case by being negative. But it is not negative to enforce the Freedom of Information Act. I support Anonymous Scientist in his request for the AFIP report under FOIA and Dr. Michael offered no basis for disputing the authenticity of the data I claimed came from AFIP. Seeking to enforce the Government in the Sunshine Act request is vindicating a citizen’s belief in the rule of law. So I hope Dr. Michael changes his mind. I would also ask for a copy of Paul Kotula’s presentation under FOIA.

    • DXer said

      DOE Headquarters Request Form (Electronic)
      http://management.energy.gov/FOIA/foia_request_form.htm

      • DXer said

        How to Submit a FOIA Request
        FOIA requests to the NNSA Service Center may be submitted in writing, by fax, or e-mail. You may contact the NNSA Service Center regarding the FOIA program at the following address:

        NNSA Service Center
        Attention: OPA
        P. O. Box 5400
        Albuquerque, NM 87185-5400

        You may also fax your NNSA Service Center FOIA request to (505) 845-5438
        or

        e-mail to FOIOfficer@doeal.gov

        You can contact the FOIA NNSA Service Center Staff at (505) 845-6202 and toll free at 866-747-5994. To file a FOIA request, please include the following information:

        • Name (Required)
        • Organization
        • Address (Required)
        • Phone Number (Required)
        • Fax
        • E-mail Address
        • Reasonably describe requested documents (Required)
        • Requester Identification (i.e. individual, educational or noncommercial scientific institution, private company, or media) (Required)
        • Your agreement to pay fees or request a fee waiver (Required)
        • If required, request expedited processing

        The standard electronic FOIA request form for submitting a request to DOE/HQ is located at: http://www.management.energy.gov/FOIA/foia_request_form.htm

        Please clearly mark the mailing envelope, fax, or e-mail “Freedom of Information Act Request.”

        The NNSA Service Center is also responsible for processing all FOIA requests for the facilities listed below. We do not process requests for the Savannah River Site Office.

        SITE OFFICE
        PLANT OR LABORATORY

        ***
        Sandia National Laboratories/New Mexico
        ***

  5. DXer said

    Dr. Joe Michael reports that he did not say what I had reported.

    I, of course, was not there and was attending the Ben Franklin institute in Phila. and DaVinci center in Allentown furthering my science education — which usually includes interactive exhibits like running through a large heart or getting on a bicycle.

    The FBI should comply with the Freedom of Information Act and produce the AFIP report so that Dr. Michael has the benefit of it in making his conclusions about the Silicon Signature. WMD head Majidi concludes that it could have been in the culture medium and I agree. I haven’t heard that Dr. Michael disagrrees with the suggestion by the WMD Chief.

    • DXer said

      What I thought he had said concerned a question, I thought, whether he could exclude siliconizing solution in the slurry before drying. And I thought he had said he could not. But he reports I was mistaken. And I was under the impression he said he had not performed such an experiment although I did not include that in my earlier characterization. The lab that performed the experiment, as I have previously explained, was the Air Force lab in Texas. A siliconizing solution was used in the slurry before drying and the SEMS, to my untrained and uninformed eye, look the same as the SEMS for the Leahy product. Dr. Kiel is a military expert in creating anthrax simulants. Dr. Michael has never made an anthrax simulant. So while I credit Dr. Michael for correctly identifying the location of the silicon — and thank him and Sandia for their expertise — I do not rely on him for inferring the reason that silica may have been added to the culture medium or otherwise. As I’ve said, his conclusions seem to go both beyond his field and his data.

      He has refused to give me a copy of his presentation even though Sandia is a government laboratory and is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. I would think that is a violation of FOIA but he took offense when I suggested that the taxpayers had a right to a copy of the presentation and claimed I was being negative. It simply is not negative to seek to enforce the Freedom of Information Act.

      Dr. Kiel is the one who told me that the March 14, 2001 “Microdroplet Cell Culture” looked to be an encapsulation patent that increases the viability of a wide range of pathogens. Kathryn Crockett, Ken Alibek’s assistant — just a couple doors down from Ali Al-Timimi — addressed these issues in her 2006 thesis, “A historical analysis of Bacillus anthracis as a biological weapon and its application to the development of nonproliferation and defense strategies.” She expressed her special thanks to Dr. Ken Alibek and Dr. Bill Patrick. Dr. Patrick consulted with the FBI and so the FBI credits his expertise. “I don’t want to appear arrogant. I don’t think anyone knows more about anthrax powder in this country,” William Patrick told an interviewer. Dr. Alibek’s access to know-how, regarding anthrax weaponization, similarly, seems beyond reasonable dispute. Dr. Crockett successfully defended the thesis before a panel that included USAMRIID head and Ames strain researcher Charles Bailey, Ali Al-Timimi’s other Department colleague. She says that scientists who analyzed the powder through viewing micrographs or actual contact are divided over the quality of the powder. She cites Gary Matsumoto’s “Science” article in summarizing the debate. She says the FBI has vacillated on silica. “Regarding the specific issue of weaponization,” Dr. Alibek’s assistant concluded in her PhD thesis, “according to several scientists at USAMRIID who examined the material, the powder created a significant cloud when agitated meaning that the adhesion of the particles had been reduced. Reducing the adhesion of the particles meant that the powder would fly better.” She explains that “The most common way to reduce electrostatic charge is to add a substance to the mixture, usually a silica based substance.”

      On the issue of encapsulation, she reports that “many experts who examined the powder stated the spores were encapsulated. Encapsulation involves coating bacteria with a polymer which is usually done to protect fragile bacteria from harsh conditions such as extreme heat and pressure that occurs at the time of detonation (if in a bomb), as well as from moisture and ultraviolet light. The process was not originally developed for biological weapons purposes but rather to improve the delivery of various drugs to target organs or systems before they were destroyed by enzymes in the circulatory system” (citing Alibek and Crockett, 2005). “The US and Soviet Union, however, ” she explains, “used this technique in their biological weapons programs for pathogens that were not stable in aerosol form… Since spores have hardy shells that provide the same protection as encapsulation would, there is no need to cover them with a polymer.“ She explains that one “possible explanation is that the spore was in fact encapsulated but not for protective purpose. Encapsulation also reduces the need for milling when producing a dry formulation.” She wrote: “If the perpetrator was knowledgeable of the use of encapsulation for this purpose, then he or she may have employed it because sophisticated equipment was not at his disposal.”

  6. DXer said

    Joe Michael pointed out to me that unlike the 2002 Tutorials, no film was made of the 2009 plenary session and it was expressly prohibited. The 2002 Tutorial was filmed because it was not a plenary session. Dr. Mansfield whose EMAL undergrads did the 2002 filming confirmed what Joe had said. Dr. Michael confirms that he has never seen the AFIP data (that is, other than what I posted).

  7. DXer said

    The so-called “911 imam” Anwar Al-Awlawki was coordinating with Al-Timimi, the colleague of the leading anthrax scientist and former deputy USAMRIID commander, a prolific Ames researcher. Anwar has posted a recent blog entry. Anwar Al-Awlaki is an American citizen and was the muslim chaplain at George Washington University. Anwar fled after 9/11 because of his extensive ties to Al Qaeda.

    Living in Yemen now, Anwar writes :

    “Casualties amongst the ranks of the mujahideen: None. None killed, none injured and no damage to their houses or property either. The first face to face fight between the army and the mujahideen ended in a resounding victory for the mujahideen. May Allah bless them with further victories. The army pulled out after asking for a truce from the mujahideen. May this be the beginning of the greatest Jihad, the Jihad of the Arabian Peninsula that would free the heart of the Islamic world from the tyrants who are deceiving the ummah and standing between us and victory.”

    Anwar is fluent in English. He was interrogated by the FBI while detained in Yemen a year or two ago. He says he is staying put to avoid any charges the
    FBI may feel they have against him. He can be reached by email by reporters if they want to ask his views on subtilis 168, GB-22 and the 98.6% homology. Or a reporter could just ask Anwar who he thinks mailed the anthrax and what he thinks of the FBI’s validation of the methodologies it used.

  8. DXer said

    The subtilis was closest to ATCC strain 168 and 23 regions were found to be different — about 98.7% homology. The strain was dubbed GB-22. A couple out of 300 came up positive but then they ended up being negative upon further processing. The subtilis was not found at USAMRIID or in Bruce Ivins flask 1029 and Dr. Budowie says that nothing has turned up yet pointing to the location of the subtilis. Maybe the FBI just looked in the wrong places.

  9. DXer said

    Of the 4 that they assayed, there were two that had three — two that had A1, A3 and D. He said that Dugway was not one of the ones that had 3 or 4 morphs.

  10. DXer said

    There were actually many morphs in flask 1029. Dr. Budowie says they could have easily gone back and done another 4. But didn’t.

  11. DXer said

    Jennifer Smith said that sometimes data was reported as FBI-generated when actually it was generated by an outside lab.

  12. DXer said

    The morphs were discussed by John Ezzell’s technician, Terry Abshire. Dr. Ezzell tells me he is the one who made the dry powdered anthrax at Ft. Detrick for DARPA.

  13. DXer said

    Low-level Human DNA Evidence

    Jennifer Smith pointed to the current debate over techniques for getting the most information out of low-level human DNA. She told the NAS panel in late July 2009 that if the FBI explored the issue, it would be interesting for the panel members to see it. FBI agents, in fact, did swab Bruce Ivins for human DNA.

    Separately, she explained that she expected that the FBI would be giving the panel members Brady-material, evidence that might be exculpatory.

  14. DXer said

    The FBI person on the first day of the NAS hearing in describing the charge explained that the FBI is required under the contract to provide ALL documents in its possession and to facilitate production of documents in the possession of other agencies. So under the charge, it would seem that the disposition of this issue of documents in the possession of the FBI, at least, has already been decided. Jennifer suggested that ALL documents are in the possession of the FBI, leading me to think she was saying “Don’t blame the CIA when the CIA fails to cooperate in document production” (and plays hide-the-ball like they are doing with USAMRIID documents that are subject to FOI). (The FBI took the Army’s copy of Ivins’ lab notebook so that it could not be produced and they could characterize things based on his 2005 recollection rather than the actual notebook).

  15. DXer said

    Here is a lawyers’ book on questioned documents. It includes sections on altered documents, inks and pens, tape, xeroxing and printing.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=KQ5DioreWrwC&dq=%22International+Journal+of+Forensic+Document+Examination%22++ink&source=gbs_navlinks_s

    The first page of Ivins’ flask 1029 record produced in FOIA indisputably has been altered using white-out. (An earlier version exists showing it was stored in Building 1412 rather than 1425).

    The ink was a liquid ink that can be associated with paritcular brands.

    The brand or brands of the tape likely can be identified.

    Xerox machines can leave unique marks and agents went to possible xeroxes used by the perp(s) and took samples.

    And printing defects in the Federal Eagle envelope were observed.

    The NAS should review the FBI’s scientific approach to all of these issues and the plans and validation relating to their methodology.

  16. DXer said

    .
    The type of ink used was a fluid-like ink, rather than ink from a ball-point pen.

    The FBI stated in affidavits, “Due to the distinguishing characteristics of ink, which vary by manufacturer, it is sometimes possible to match ink writing with the pen or brand of pen used to apply it.” If and when they catch the right guy, they might be able to match the ink used on the letters with things he or she had written in the Fall of 2001. For example, if the FBI reveals that a fancy Swiss pen was used, then we can ask if it was Dr. Ivins was the proud owner of a fancy Swiss pen or whether it was someone else.

    Researchers at the Midwest Forensics Resource Center at Iowa State University are building a library of ink profiles to help forensic scientists identify inks on fraudulent documents and other evidence. MFRC scientists will pair mass spectrometry with a new sampling technique called Direct Analysis in Real Time (DART) to reveal the chemical makeup of ink faster and in greater detail than ever before.

    DART mass spectrometry analyzes ink by creating a stream of warm gas containing excited-state helium atoms or nitrogen molecules in the DART source. The gas stream is pointed at an ink sample, and the gas and excited-state species evaporate and ionize molecules from the sample. A mass spectrometer measures the production of ions to create mass spectrum data for each ink sample tested.

    In contrast to other types of ink analysis, like liquid chromatography, which require cutting a small sample from a questioned document, DART mass spectrometry is able to test documents without physically or visually altering them. The questioned document is open to the environment, and all sizes of materials may be tested in their original form.

    According to Roger Jones, U.S Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory associate chemist, “The great thing about the DART system is that it can sample the ink straight off the paper. You don’t have to extract a sample first. Before DART, we had to cut a little bit of sample out and dissolve it in solvent for analysis. So, now we can look at the document without visibly altering it, which is good for forensic science. We don’t destroy the evidence.”

    Eliminating the sampling extraction process saves busy forensic scientists time. Jones said that benefit alone would have been enough to consider the DART method a success.

    “We would have been satisfied with the mass spectra looking basically like the spectra obtained by the old extraction mass spectrometry methods, because the DART system still gets around damaging the sample and reduces the work involved in analysis,” said Jones, “Time constraints are the major complaint of every forensic scientist. Their caseloads are so large that they just don’t have the time to do traditional ink analysis.”

    But, on top of saving time and preserving evidence, the DART method also yields richer data about ink samples than previous sampling methods. Initial tests of the DART system indicate that the mass spectra reveal more components of the ink than conventional mass spectra. Using DART, forensic scientists may be able to differentiate between inks like never before.

    Jones and John McClelland, Ames Laboratory senior physicist and DART project leader, plan a three-phase project. Currently in the first phase, they are experimenting to determine the best way to analyze inks and build the library.

    The library of ink mass spectra will be produced in the second phase of the project. Researchers will use samples from the U.S. Secret Service International Ink Library to create a comprehensive, vetted, and computer searchable library of mass spectra of the more than 8,000 inks the Secret Service has compiled.

    The third phase of the project will focus on creating computer software used to store and access the mass spectra library.

    “Commercial mass spectrometry software available today is all based on the old style of mass spectrometry. We get a different type of data from DART. So, the assumptions used in existing software for searching and matching mass spectra do not work the best for DART,” said Jones.
    The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice is funding the project.

    This comment has been adapted from a news release issued by DOE/Ames Laboratory.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070718001516.htm

    • DXer said

      Consider also the issue of markings on the xerox machine that can be probative. We know the dates Ivins is supposed to have made the anthrax. We know it is said he wrote and prepared the letters during the September 14-17, 2001 period. It should be a simple matter to ascertain the xerox machines available to him — they would have already canvassed the xerox matchines in the Ft. Detrick vicinity back in 2001 and 2002.

      Also, was the tape a match with tape sold in the Maryland area? Was it a match with other tape seized in 2001 and 2002 from Ft. Detrick?

      Absent a match, as mentioned by Dr. Budowie, it is scientific “Brady material” that should be disclosed to the National Academies of Science panel.

      They would be considering it not insofar as it is probative of the guilt or innocence of a particular person, but it would relate to the scientific methodology and approach they employed.

  17. Ike Solem said

    First of all, this story has some odd phrasing:

    1) “Ivins, who had a record of serious mental health issues, died July 29, 2008, of an intentional overdose of Tylenol after learning he was to be indicted in the mailings.”

    There is no evidence that the FBI was planning any indictment before Ivin’s death, as they did not have the evidence. Had they brought the matter before a grand jury, for example? For an example of how a typical FBI case might go, see here:

    http://indianapolis.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/pressrel09/ip070809.htm

    The subject was arrested on Mar 6 2009, the grand jury was convened, and it returned an indictment on Jul 8, 2009. He then was arraigned on Jul 10, 2009, and his trial date was set to Sept 5th, 2009.

    Does the FBI and the press really expect the public to believe that a similar process was in the works for Bruce Ivins? If they were so sure they had they right guy, why didn’t they arrest him, as is the normal procedure?

    On the issue of the genetic analysis, we get into some complicated territory involving microbial genetics. Here is some background from the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sep 1 2008:

    By early 2003, Fraser-Liggett and her colleagues were stuck: Out of more than five million code characters in the DNA, the envelope anthrax looked identical to the original Ames strain. It had no distinguishing mutations. But then a researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., made a key discovery that would turn suspicion on his own colleagues. The insight, Fraser-Liggett said, came from observation. Spores from the attack envelopes had been cultured on special plates, revealing several sub-populations of bacteria that looked different to the naked eye – some more yellowish, others growing in rougher or smoother blobs. Fraser-Liggett said she and other geneticists knew instantly that the different-looking colonies probably carried mutations they could use. By early 2004, she and her colleagues turned up a handful of key mutations – four of which were turned into tests to screen the 1,070 samples.

    Seven samples tested positive for all four mutations. Since the samples’ history was recorded in lab notebooks that the FBI had collected, investigators could see that all seven had been derived from the same source – a set of two flasks labeled RMR-1029 in Ivins’ lab at USAMRIID. But the investigators got a negative result from the sample Ivins sent in, according to affidavits released Aug. 6. Since all other samples derived from RMR-1029 tested positive, Ivins’ sample should have as well.

    The affidavits say FBI agents raided Ivins’ lab in 2004 and seized his flasks of RMR-1029. Those tested positive for all four mutations, as did an earlier sample Ivins had made from RMR-1029 that was stored in Keim’s lab. Did Ivins alter the official sample he submitted? Keim said the test was sensitive enough that it should have picked up the signature of the mutant spores had Ivins followed the FBI’s directions for making the samples. “Ivins may simply have failed to collect a representative sample,” he said, adding that “the FBI is implying he did it on purpose.”

    There are two other possibilities.

    One is that when when Ivins sent the first flask sample in, it was not contaminated, but that in the period between then and the FBI coming in and seizing his flask, the contamination occurred. Sample mishandling is not out of the range of possibilities, in any case.

    Second, the claim here is pretty interesting, microbiologically speaking – namely, that mutations accumulated during the 1997 production run for the spores in the Ivins flask. According to the document posted here, those spores came from Dugway Proving Ground, and since they were spores, they would have remained in stable unchanged form since they were produced from Dugway stockpiles in 1997, if you follow. Indeed, that document indicates that said spores in RMR-1029 were produced at Dugway, not at Detrick – and isn’t it possible that only part of the run was sent to Detrick, and the rest was used to test bioweapon designs as part of the very secretive “biological threat assessment” program? That would be the second possibility.

    Funny, isn’t it, how we know the names of so many Fort Detrick scientists from regular mentions in the press, but not the name of anyone affiliated with Dugway or Battelle?

    Notice also that while the FBI shut down Fort Detrick and did an aggressive investigation there under the tenure of Richard Lambert, no similar investigations took place at either Dugway Proving Ground or at Battelle’s West Jefferson anthrax lab (which specializes in microbial aerosol technology).

    Finally, for an understanding of the technology used to turn purified spores into potent bioweapons, one must look no further than the wide and publicly available literature on similar, well-intentioned aerosolization efforts with vaccines and drugs:

    http://www.biotech360.com

    “Frankly,” says Edwards, “most vaccines are prepared by freeze drying – lyophilization; you create a powder that is not inhalable.” So, he explains, “we needed to make the organisms in a dry-powder form that is inhalable, and the question was, how to do that.” Edwards decided that his best bet was spray drying, which is used to make many food products, including powdered milk. Simply put, this technique sprays a liquid as droplets through hot gas. The result is a dry, powder-form of the starting liquid.”

    See also, Spray drying TB vaccines for pulmonary administration, Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy

    Dual use technology, unfortunately. Still, if that doesn’t convince you that the lyophilization claims are nonsense, what will? Those claims were made in numerous places, for example in the New York Times, Sept 05 2008, Scott Shane & Nicholas Wade:

    “They noted that he had a lyophilizer, which could be used to dry wet anthrax into powder, a form not ordinarily used at Fort Detrick.”

    That was the same NYT that initially helped point the finger of suspicion at Steven Hatfill, apparently via deliberate FBI leaks to Time columnists like Nicholas Kristoff. Fact check much?

    Furthermore, several news reports in late 2001 indicated that FBI agents were quizzing pharmaceutical companies about anyone who might have access to such ‘spray-drying’ equipment – and then all that was dropped in favor of the low-tech lone-wolf theory, i.e. Steven Hatfill, who, inconveniently, chose a lawsuit over suicide in response to the harassment.

    Ivins, of course, had no spray drying equipment, which appears to require the equivalent of BSL-4 containment facilities to be used to prepare anthrax bioweapons… otherwise, everything in the surrounding area would end up as contaminated as the Hart Senate Office Building and the Brentwood mail facility.

    In other words, there is just no way he could have done this.

    • anonymous scientist said

      As Serge Popov points out below – even the lypholizer Ivins had access to could only a produce a solid film of gunk stuck to the inside of the microtube as a film. Incredibly the FBI have now actually admitted publicly that they have absolutely no idea how Ivins made the powder – they just “know” he did it – somehow.

      merylnass.googlepages.com/SergeiPopovcommentsonBR.doc

      The disappointment was that the lyophilizer turned out to be a speedvac device useful for drying small amounts of liquids into solid films on the walls of the microtubes, but not into the fluffy powder.

    • DXer said

      Ike,

      I spoke to the technical representative of Bucchi in 2002 or so — they made the mini-spraydryer on the market. A small scale or mini-spraydryer is indicated rather than a pilot scale because of the samll quantity. He said that they had a problem with the static charge (such as was observed in the attack anthrax) due to the speed with which it came out of the nozzle. He said they had not ever been able to figure out a way to avoid it. In Fall 2001, I believe there were 200 in the US. I asked Ken Alibek in 2003, and there is a transcript, in a Q and A whether someone expert at making dry powdered milk could make it and he said yes. DTRA reported the same thing. Ken for years argued, along with others such as Dr. Spertzel, that use of a spray dryer was indicated.

  18. DXer said

    What the Amerithrax Task Force Knew And When

    Eric Lichtblau writes in BUSH’S LAW: The Remaking of American Justice (2008):
    “Over the past two and a half years, a team of NSA technicians, analysts, and translators working round-the-clock out of cubicles at an open office the size of a small newsroom at Fort Meade had eavesdropped without warrant on the phone calls and e-mails of several thousand people in the United States suspected of ties to terrorists. An Islamic charity in Oregon had apparently been monitored. So had a woman in Baltimore [Fowzia Siddiqui]whose sister [Aafia] was suspected of being an al Qaeda ‘facilitator, an imam [Aref] at a mosque in Albany with suspected ties to militants in Iraq, and a truck driver in Cleveland [Faris] who talked of taking a blow torch to the Brooklyn Bridge.”

    In United States v. Ali Al-Timimi, attorneys have wrangled about the government’s failure to produce law enforcement interviews of Al-Timimi after WTC 1993 and after 9/11 — as well as failure to produce NSA intercepts from 2002. Al-Timimi’s original attorney was the first to tell us in 2003 that the FBI raided Ali’s townhouse on February 26, 2003 because they feared he was part of a planned WMD attack. Al-Timimi’s townhouse was raided two weeks after the blind sheik’s son, Mohammed Abdel-Rahman — a member of Al Qaeda’s 3-member WMD committee — was captured in Quetta, Pakistan. Al-Timimi’s attorney, Edward McMahon, in the Moussaoui case, stipulated to a timeline of events in 2001 related to what the US knew about a planned attack. Over this same period the United States government was failing to disrupt the coming attacks, microbiologist Al-Timimi was publicly lecturing on the signs of the coming day of judgment. In both July and August 2001, in Toronto and then London, Al-Timimi was lecturing on the end of times alongside the man known as the “911 imam.” “911 imam”, Awlaqi, was a fellow Falls Church iman who counseled key hijackers first in San Diego and then in Falls Church. Before that, in 1993 and twice in 1996, the man joining Al-Timimi at the podium was none other than Mohammed Abdel-Rahman, the blind sheik’s son. Mohammed Abdel-Rahman would serve on Al Qaeda’s WMD committee and recruit scientists. Al-Timimi was granted a high security clearance and allowed to work alongside top anthrax bioweaponeers at the same time law enforcement and intelligence memos were flying fast and furious about Al Qaeda’s interest in biological weapons and the planned attack known to relate, in part, to the detention of blind sheik Abdel-Rahman.

    Although the timeline by Al-Timimi’s defense attorney begins on February 6, 2001, I have added some notes from the first week in February 2001 that set the stage. In February 2001, the CIA briefed the President in a Presidential Daily Brief (”PDB”) on “Bin Laden’s Interest in Biological and Radiological Weapons” in a still-classified briefing memorandum. Like the PDB on Bin Laden’s threat to use planes to free the blind sheik, the February 2001 PDB would illustrate the wisdom that most intelligence is open source. There was little about Ayman’ s plan to use anthrax against US targets in retaliation for rendering of EIJ leaders that was not available to anyone paying attention. The blind sheik’s attorney in Cairo had announced that Zawahiri likely would use weaponized anthrax to protest the detention of senior Egyptian militants. The previous military commander of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, then on trial, had made the same claim, along with yet another EIJ shura member. In September 1999, a London cleric even had a dialogue with Bin Laden, in open letters read at mosques in Pakistan and London, in which the cleric called for a holy biowar against the United States and Bin Laden responded.

    The timing of the specific PDB on Al Qaeda’s biological weapons in early February 2001, however, was due to anthrax threat letters sent in late January 2001 to the Immigration Minister in Canada and the Justice Minister. The letters were sent upon the announcement of bail hearing for a detained Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader who had managed Bin Laden’s farm in Sudan. Canada announced on January 18, 2001 that an Egyptian Islamic Jihad Shura member, Mahjoub, would have a January 30 bail hearing. Someone sent an anthrax threat letter to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Minister Caplan had signed the security certificate authorizing Mahjoub’s detention. After arriving in Canada in 1996, Mahjoub continued to be in contact with high level militants, including his former supervisor in Sudan, al-Duri, an Iraqi reputed to be Bin Laden’s chief procurer or weapons of mass destruction. Beginning on February 6, 2001, another former colleague of al-Duri in Sudan, Jamal Ahmad Al-Fadl, began his testimony in the Southern District of New York in United States v. Bin Laden about his own early efforts on Bin Laden’s behalf to obtain WMD. Then Assistant United States Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was the prosecutor. (The United States has been required to produce 900 pages of transcripts of video conferences between FBI agents and al-Fadl.) Al Duri, while living in Tucson, Arizona, was acquainted with Wadi al Hage. Wadi al Hage was another witness cooperating with authorities in connection with the prosecution of Bin Laden in Spring 2001 relating to the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Africa.

    On February 6, 2001, a Senior Executive Intelligence Brief (”SEIB”) indicated a heightened threat of Sunni extremist terrorist attacks against United States facilities, personnel, and other interests. (A SEIB, once called the National Intelligence Daily, is a CIA-produced intelligence summary similar to the President’s Daily Brief; it must be returned to the CIA within 5 days.

    In March and April 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency disseminated a series of reports warning that Abu Zubaydah was planning an operation in the near future.

    On April 13, 2001, the FBI sent an all-office message summarizing the intelligence reporting to date on the Sunni extremist threat.
     
    On April 20, 2001, a Senior Executive Intelligence Brief indicated that that Osama Bin Laden was planning multiple operations.
     
    On May 3, 2001, a SEIB indicated Bin Laden’s “public profile may presage attack.”

    On May 23, 2001, a SEIB reported a possible hostage plot against Americans abroad to force the release of prisoners, including Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who was serving a life sentence for this role in the 1993 plot to blow up landmarks in New York City. (The anthrax letters followed the pattern of letter bombs mailed in late 1996 to NYC and DC newspaper offices, along with people in symbolic positions associated with the detention with Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and the WTC bombers. That is, the modus operandi of the anthrax letters was not just the modus operandi of The Friends of Abdel-Rahman, it was their signature).
     
    On May 26, 2001, a SEIB indicated that Bin Laden’s plans were advancing.

    In June 2001, over the course of a week, Yazid Sufaat briefed Ayman Zawahiri and Hambali on his efforts at cultivating anthrax).
     
    On June 19, 2001, a CIA report passed along biographical information on several terrorists mentioned, in commenting on Khalid Mohammed, that he was recruiting people to travel to the United States to meet with colleagues already there so that they might conduct terrorist attacks on Bin Laden’s behalf. (An early December 1998 PDB to the same effect to President Clinton — declassified and included in the 911 Commission Report — reported that the aircraft and attacks were being planned by the brother of Sadat’s assassin, Mohammed Islambouli. Islambouli was in a cell with Khalid Mohammed (”KSM”), who by December had come to lead the cell planning anthrax attacks in the United States.

    On June 21, 2001, after a press report from a journalist reporting from Bin Laden’s entourage, United States embassies raised the force protection condition for United States troops in six countries to the highest possible level, Delta. The embassy in Yemen was closed. (In February 1999, militants had threatened to attack with anthrax if Americans did not promptly leave the country; the militants were thought to be connected to Abu Hamza in London; Ayman Zawahiri was in contact with a cell in Yemen).  

    The unclassified portion of “Daily UBL/Radical Fundamentalist Threat Update” for June 22, 2001 under “Newly Reported Threats and Incidents” (recently uploaded to intelwire.com) states:

    “State notified all embassies and the national security community of a terrorist threat warning on 6/22/01. ‘The State Department has been made aware of the following uncorroborated threat information indicating a possible near term strike against U.S. interests (NFI). Usama Bin Laden reportedly intends to strike against U.S. interests within the next two days according to the information held by an Arab in Kabul, Afghanistan on 6/21/01. The Arab in Kabul was sure that the strike, whose location he did not disclose, would generate an American response. The DOD European also put out a similar warning to all military commands.”

    On June 22, 2001, the CIA notified all its station chiefs around the world about intelligence suggesting a possible al Qaeda suicide attack on a United States target over the next the few days. The same day, the State Department notified all embassies of the terrorist threat and updated its worldwide public warning.

    On June 23, 2001, the title of a SEIB warned, “Bin Laden Attacks May be Imminent.”

    On June 25, 2001, a SEIB titled Bin Laden and Associated Making Near-Term Threats reported that multiple attacks were being planned by Bin Laden and his associates over the coming days, including a ’severe blow’ against United States and Israeli “interests,” during the next two weeks. (Senator Leahy is in charge of the subcommittee that oversees appropriations to Egypt and Israel).

    Also, on June 25, 2001, an Arabic television station reported Bin Laden’s pleasure with al Qaeda leaders who were saying that the next few weeks “will witness important surprises” and that the United States and Israeli interests will be targeted. At the end of June 2001, an Qaeda intelligence report warned that something “very, very, very, very” big was about to happen, and most of Bin Laden’s network was reportedly anticipating the attack.

    In late June 2001, a CIA terrorist threat advisory indicated a high probability of near-term “spectacular” terrorist attacks resulting in numerous casualties.

    On June 30, 2001, a SEIB titled “Bin Laden Planning High-Profile Attacks,” repeated that Bin Laden operatives expected near-term attacks to have dramatic consequences of catastrophic proportions. The SEIB contained an article titled “Bin Laden Threats Are Real.”

    The intelligence reporting at the end of June consistently described the upcoming attacks as occurring on a calamitous level, indicating that they would cause the world to be in turmoil and that they would consist possibly of multiple — but not necessarily simultaneous — attacks.

    Threat reports surged in June and July 2001.

    On July 2, 2001, a SEIB indicated that the planning for Usama Bin Laden’s attacks continue, despite delays.

    Also on July 2, 2001, the FBI issued a National Law Enforcement Telecommunications (”NLETS”) message concerning potential anti-United States attacks. The message summarized the information regarding the threats from Bin Laden and warned that there was an increased volume of threat reporting. The message indicated a potential for attacks against United Statets targets abroad from groups “aligned or sympathetic to Usama Bin Laden.” The message further stated, “The FBI has no information indicating a credible threat of terrorist attack in the United States.” The message asked recipient to “exercise extreme vigilance” and “report suspicious activities” to the FBI. (Later that summer, when a flying school instructor reported Zacarias Moussaoui and it was known he was associated with Bin Laden’s colleague Ibn Khattab, who intelligence showed was related to Bin Laden’s CBRN aspirations, FBI HQ denied the request that a FISA warrant be sought for his laptop.)

    On July 5, 2001, the CIA briefed the Attorney General on the al Qaeda threat, warning that a significant attack was imminent. In addition, the Attorney General was told by the CIA that preparations for multiple attacks were in late stages or already complete and that little warning could be expected. The briefing addressed only threats outside United States.

    On July 13, 2001, a SEIB indicated that Bin Laden’s plans had been delayed, maybe for as long as two months, but not abandoned.

    On July 19, 2001, one of the items mentioned by the Acting FBI Director in a conference call with his special agents in charge, was the need, in light of increased threat reporting, to have evidence response teams ready to move at a moment’s notice, in case of an attack. The Acting Director did not task FBI field offices to try to determine whether any plots were being considered within the United States or to take any action to disrupt any such plots.

    On July 25, 2001, a SEIB stated that one Bin Laden operation was delayed, but that others were ongoing.

    On August 1, 2001, the FBI issued an advisory that in light of the increased volume of threat reporting and the upcoming anniversary of the bombings of the U.S. embassies in East Africa (which occurred on August 7, 1998), increased attention should be paid to security planning. The advisory noted that while most of the reporting indicated that the potential for attacks were on U.S. interests abroad, the possibility of an attack in the United States could not be discounted.

    On August 3, 2001, the CIA issued an advisory concluding that the threat of impending al Qaeda attacks would likely continue indefinitely. The advisory suggested that al Qaeda was lying in wait and searching for gaps in security before moving forward with the planned attacks.

    An article in the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing (”PDB”) titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S” was the 36th PDB item in 2001 relating to Bin Laden or al Qaeda and the first devoted to the possibility of an attack in the United States. The PDB again mentioned the detention of the blind sheik Abdel-Rahman as motivating the attack.

    On August 7, 2001, a SEIB indicated that Osama Bin Laden was determined to strike in the United States.

    On August 23, 2001, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet received a briefing on Zacarias Moussaoui, titled “islamic Extremist Learns to Fly.” (Both Zacarias Moussaoui and Mohammed Atta had made cropduster inquiries during the summer).

    On August 24, 2001, a foreign intelligence service reported that Abu Zubaydah was considering mounting terrorist attacks in the United States to Attack Targets in the United States.

    The Stipulation ended just before the most interesting pre-911 data point.
     
    A report titled “Risk Assessment of Anthrax Threat Letters” issued on September 10, 2001. It was a study of the mailed anthrax threat in January 2001. In contrast to a 1998 study by William Patrick that had been requested by Dr. Hatfill’s employer SAIC, the Canadian study found considerable exposure to those in the room resulted when such a letter was opened. Bacillus globigii spores (in dry powder form) had been donated by the US Department of Defense (Dugway Proving Ground, Utah). “The letter was prepared by putting BG spores in the center of a sheet of paper, folding it over into thirds, placing the folded sheet into the envelope and sealing using the adhesive present on the envelope. The envelope was then shaken to mimic the handling and tumbling that would occur during its passage through the postal system.” The aerosol, produced by opening the BG spore containing envelope, was not confined to the area of the desk but spread throughout the chamber. Values were almost as high at the opposite end of the chamber, shortly after opening the envelopes. 99% of the particles collected were in the 2.5 to 10 mm size range.  The report explained: “In addition, the aerosol would quickly spread throughout the room so that other workers, depending on their exact locations and the directional air flow within the office, would likely inhale lethal doses. Envelopes with the open corners not specifically sealed could also pose a threat to individuals in the mail handling system.” The authors of the study emailed the study to the head of the CDC’s investigation of the anthrax mailings but he did not open or read the email. The lead CDC investigator explained: “It is certainly relevant data, but I don’t think it would have altered the decisions that we made.” In the week after 9/11, only an estimated 16 individuals in the United States knew of the report). Question: Was Ali-Al-Timimi one of the 16 who knew of the Canadian report on the danger of anthrax aerosols from mailed anthrax? Was the Canadian report faxed to the Alibek/Bailey/Timimi fax number or sent to his mail drop?

    On October 5, 2001, bail was denied for Egyptian Islamic Jihad shura member Mahjoub. The anthrax mailer then rushed to mail the potent anthrax to the author of “Leahy Law” — that allows continued appropriations to security units in the event of “extraordinary circumstances.” The postmark was Tuesday, October 9, but Monday was a holiday, leaving the possibility the anthrax was mailed as early as October 6.

    In March 2003, the FBI questioned people in Ann Arbor, MI and asked them if they knew of any conspiracies against the United States. Homam Albaroudi, co-founded the Islamic Association of North America in 1993, reports he was among those the FBI sought to question. He had been a member of the Ann Arbor Muslim Community Association (“MCA”) since 1999. He served on its board for 3 years. He organized the Free Rabih Haddad Committee in December 2001 and sought to garner support for Mr. Haddad in connection with the closed proceedings relating to his immigration status. The Muslim Community Association (“MCA”) runs the Michigan Islamic Academy which is right across from the University of Michigan North Campus.

    USAMRIID scientist Bruce Ivins supplied former Zawahiri associate Tarek Hamouda, whose laboratory was right near the University of Michigan campus and near the Michigan Islamic Academy, virulent Ames for a DARPA-funded project. The work was done at Ft. Detrick under the direct supervision of Bruce Ivins. FBI anthrax expert John Ezzell tells me that he had previously made dry powdered anthrax at Ft. Detrick for DARPA and according to Ivins, it was the closest match to the attack anthrax.

    In 2001, Dr. Albaroudi was head of its PTO. As the American Civil Liberties Union explained in a suit against the United States Department of Justice in 2003, approximately 1000 people attend services at the mosque each Friday. MCA employs about 20 people and has about 700 registered, dues-paying members. Approximately 200 students were enrolled at the Michigan Islamic Academy which offered classes from pre-K through 11th grade. In addition to the standard academic curriculum used in state public schools, the ACLU explained, the school offers classes in Arabic language, Quranic recitation and Islamic Studies. The mission of the school is to provide students with the basic knowledge require to preserve their basic Islamic heritage, religion and cultural identity. Rabih Haddad, founder of the Global Relief Foundation, taught as a volunteer at the school twice a week. Bassem Khafagi, the Chairman who had been questioned about Ali Al-Timimi before 9/11 lived in Ann Arbor. The MCA held numerous rallies and fundraisers supporting Rabih Haddad in connection the closed proceedings on his immigration status. The ACLU has noted that Dr. Albaroudi stepped down from the IANA becaue of personal differences with other IANA leaders. The ACLU reports that after the FBI raided IANA’s offices in February 2003 and Al-Timimi’s residence in Northern Virginia, the FBI sought to question him notwithstanding he no longer was associated with IANA.

    The ACLU explains:

    “The FBI contacted Mr. Albaroudi again in or about March 2003. On this occasion, the FBI agents who contacted him said they had not singled him out but rather were interviewing many people in the area to find out whether anyone had learned of any conspiracies against the United States Mr. Albaroudi explained to the FBI that he would have contacted them of his own accord if he had learned of any conspiracies against the United States. The FBI then asked Mr. Albaroudi about another co-founder of IANA [Bassem Khafagi], who had recently been arrested for an overdraft check and then detained on immigration charges. The FBI did not pursue efforts to speak with Mr. Albaroudi after he informed them he did not feel comfortable speaking without an attorney present.”

    According to Ali Al-Timimi’s lawyer, Bassem Khafagi was specifically asked about Dr. Al-Timimi’s connection to Bin Laden prior to Dr. Al-Timimi’s arrest.” Given that, according to his counsel, Al-Timimi was an “anthrax weapons suspect,” it appears that much of the investigation of former and present charity officials related to that suspicion about IANA’s celebrated speaker Al-Timimi. Whatever the US knew, it appears they wanted to know more.   Given that Al-Timimi had been the former assistant to the White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and the Administration had negligently allowed the infiltration at the program sponsored by the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) housed in the same building as the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense — with the White House even giving Al-Timimi a White House letter of commendation, it did not want the public to know.

    US DOJ: Inside the beltway, it isn’t over until the fat lady sings. It’s never too late to get it right.
       

  19. DXer said

    “Don’t question our investigative approach.” said FBI WMD Chief Majidi at the mid-August 2008 Science briefing.

    And to make sure you don’t, the truth has been gagged (all USAMRIID employees), redacted (all documents produced), under seal (ongoing and past briefing in matters such as US v. Al-Timimi), classified (numerous documents that should be declassified according to former CIA/FBI agent WMD intelligence analyst PhD Jennifer Smith), autoclaved (NYP anthrax and Iowa ISU and USDA Ames), withheld from production under FOI (Log Notebook 4010, RMR Record 1030, September and October 2001 emails without a statutory exemption, or not put in writing.

    But we don’t need these carryovers — like a bad hangover — of the highly politicized US Bush Administration and Department of Justice. Most intelligence is “open source.” By all appearances they were not able to figure it out based even on that open source information.

    http://www.anthraxandalqaeda.com

    I. Vanguards Of Conquest: Summons to Conquest

    a. The February 2001 PDB From The CIA To President Bush: The Late January 2001 Threat To Use Mailed Anthrax In Retaliation For Detention Of Senior Egyptian Islamic Jihad/Vanguards of Conquest Leader Mahjoub

    b. The Other “Anthrax Weapons Suspect”: White House Chief of Staff’s Former Assistant Ali Al-Timimi

    c. Dead Certain At The Bush White House That Al Qaeda Was Responsible

    d. Zawahiri’s Planned Use Of Charities And Universities As Cover

    e. Planned Infiltration Of US And UK Biodefense

    f. The Supporters of Blind Sheik Abdel-Rahman

    g. EIJ Military Commander’s Claims About Ayman’s Anthrax Plans To Retaliate For Rendering And Torture Of Egyptian Islamic Jihad Leaders

    h. Infiltration Of The ATCC-Sponsored Program At GMU’s Discovery Hall Housing The DARPA-Funded Center For Biodefense

    i. Selectively Leaking and Compartmentalized, The Amerithrax Task Force Lumbers Forward

    j. The Former Collections Scientist From ATCC’s Bacteriology Division Coordinates The Microbial Forensics Claimed To Point To Ivins And Away From ATCC

    k. The “Presidential Surveillance Program” And 2009 House Intelligence Committee Inquiry

    l. Mohammed Al-Islambouli Finally Surfaces

    m. Motive: The Need To See Things Through Your Adversary’s Eyes

    n. The Documentary Clues

    o. Conclusion

    II. Means: Al Qaeda’s Biochem Program Codenamed “Curdled Milk”

    a. Codename “Swift Knight”: Bin Laden’s Plan With Ibn Khattab To Use Charities And Infiltrators In Creating Biological Weapons

    b. The March 1999 Public Announcement Of Zawahiri’s Quest To Weaponize Anthrax

    c. Zawahiri’s April/May 1999 Memos To Al Qaeda’s Military Commander Atef And Interest In Anthrax And Pesticides

    d. Open September 1999 Letter From A London Radical Sheik Al-Bakri Calling For Holy Biowar And Bin Laden’s Response

    e. Condoleeza’s Rice’s Remarks On Facing The New Threat of Biological Warfare And Stomaching The Associations Involved In Collecting BW Intelligence

    f. “I Successfully Achieved The Targets”: Assistance of Pakistan Scientist Rauf Ahmad In 1999 -2000

    g. “You Are Dead! Bang”: Ayman’s Plan To Use Charities And Universities As Cover In Weaponizing Anthrax

    h. Al Qaeda’s 2001 Threat To Use Mailed Anthrax In Connection With Jailed Senior Vanguards of Conquest Leader And Former Bin Laden Farm Manager Mohammad Mahjoub

    i. September 10, 2001 “Risk Assessment of Anthrax Threat Letters”

    j. Taliban’s Interest In The Anthrax Vaccine Laboratory

    l. The Empire Strikes Back: The Rendition of Former Vanguards Of Conquest #1, Cairo M.D. Ahmed Agiza

    m. Hambali, Anthrax Lab Tech Yazid Sufaat, And Ayman’s Anthrax Bomb Maker

    n. KSM’s Plan To Poison A Reservoir In Upstate New York

    o. The Mid-February 2003 Capture of Al Qaeda WMD Committee Member Mohammed Abdel-Rahman And Related Capture Of KSM

    p. “Operation Imminent Horizon”: The Late February 2003 Raid Of Ali Al-Timimi and Other IANA-Affiliated Supporters Of Bin Laden’s Sheik al-Hawali

    q. The Early March 2003 Arrest Of Bacteriologist Dr. Abdul Qudus Khan

    r. Capture of KSM’s Assistant Hawsawi And Seizure Of Laptop With Anthrax Spray Drying Docs

    s. Al Qaeda’s US-Based Biochem Operative Al-Marri

    t. 2003 Capture Of Hambali And Sufaat’s Assistants, And Seizure Of “Extremely Virulent” (But Unweaponized) Anthrax

    u. Warlord Hekmatyar’s Henchman In Kabul: Gitmo Charges And Anthrax Powder

    v. Unconfirmed Claim: 2007 Capture Of Taliban Spokesman With Anthrax Packets Intended For Mailing To Government Officials

    w. Access To Ames Strain From Bruce Ivins’ Flask

    x. Lies, Damned Lies, and Lyophilizers

    y. Made In USA: Cell Culture

    Ivins Theory Under The Microscope

    The Rewriting Of History: The Whiting Out Of Inconvenient Facts

    Mixed Genotype And The Four Morphs

    Silicon Signature

    Subtilis Contamination

    The Tin Man

    Isotope Ratios

    Potential Leads

    The Federal Eagle Envelope

    Nice Work If You Can Get It

    III. Motive: Reason Senators Leahy And Daschle And The US Media Were Targeted

    a. The Anthrax Letters: “Written In Language You Can Understand”

    b. Profile Of An Angry Man: Cairo MD Ayman Zawahiri

    c. FBI Director Mueller: Remember the Anthrax Letters. Remember Oklahoma City.

    d. Deterrence Against Invasion of Afghanistan

    e. Significance Of Mailing Dates: Camp David Accord And Sadat’s Assassination

    f. “Leahy Law” And Appropriations To Military And Security Units

    g. Zawahiri’s View Of The “Lies” Of Secular Media

    h. “Release Him”: Retaliation For Detention Of Blind Sheikh And Other Detainees

    i. “The Far Enemy”: Zawahiri’s Victory In EIJ Debate Whether to Target US

    j. Despots, Democracy, and the Cease-Fire Initiative After The Luxor Massacre

    k. The CIA’s December 4, 1998 Presidential Daily Brief : The Ghost Of Sadat’s Assassin Islambouli Visits United States To Plan the Attacks Using Aircraft And Other Means

    l. “Do No Harm”: Biography of the Former Cairo MD Vanguards of Conquest #1 Agiza

    m. “Do No Harm”: Biography of the Former Cairo MD Vanguards of Conquest #1 Al-Sharif

    IV. Modus Operandi: “Pouring Musk On Barren Lands”

    a. Targeted Assassination Of Individuals In Symbolic Positions

    b. “[Cairo] Medical School (1979-1982)”: Recruitment By Ayman Zawahiri

    c. The Cairo Medical School Dropout Trained To Recruit US Operatives And Make Booby-Trapped Letters

    d. The Cairo Medical School Alum Who Was Zawahiri’s Tour Guide On His US Tour

    e. Hallmark Greetings: Egyptian Islamists’ Earlier 1996 Letter Bombs To DC And New York Papers And Symbolic Targets

    f. Requirement Under Laws Of Jihad Of Warning Before Using Biochemical Weapons

    g. “Set Our Brothers Free”: Continuing Practice Of Sending Poisonous Letters As Threats

    h. Use Of Code:

    KSM And Clouds (As Sahab)

    Jennifer Lopez Letter And Atta’s Jenny Code

    “In The Hearts of Green Birds” (Inside Green Birds)

    “Greendale School”

    “Franklin Park”

    Allusion To Atta And Genomic Sequencing Of The Ames Strain

    i. Summer 2001 Inquiries About Cropdusters And Helicopters

    j. Choice Of Mailbox At 10 Nassau St. In Princeton

    k. Target Acquired: Al Qaeda’s Spymaster On Amerithrax

    l. Zawahiri’s Booklet On “Covert Operations”

    m. Poisoned Penpal: The Murder Of Chechen Rebel Leader Ibn Khattab

    V. Opportunity: Tracking Potential Al Qaeda or Egyptian Islamic Jihad or Islamic Group Supporters

    a. Sailing The Good Ship Anthrax

    b. WMD And The Hunt For Moles

    c. Know Not Just Your Enemy, But Who He Knew

    d. The FBI’s Letter to the American Society of Microbiologists And The September 26, 1998 Presentation About A Biocidal Agent For Which USAMRIID Scientist Bruce Ivins Supplied Virulent Ames Strain

    e. The Egyptian Connection: The Path Of Jihad Begins And Ends In Cairo

    f. Chasing Islambouli’s Ghost: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

    g. When Insiders Go Postal: US Postal Employee Ahmed Abdel Sattar

    h. Charity Is As Charity Does: The US-Based Blind Sheik Followers Who Saw No Evil

    Alkifah / Care

    Global Relief Foundation and Benevolence International Foundation

    American Islamic Group (Detroit-Based Adjunct Wayne State University Professor Jayyousi)

    Ann Arbor-based Islamic Assembly of North America (under construction)

    i. “Steeds of War”: BIF And Its Connection to Bin Laden, Atef And Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

    j. Manhattan Anthrax Mystery Linked To Jihad Supporting (Former BIF Employee) Doctor

    k. 2001 Greenlight Of Biological Attack By US-Based Operatives

    l. Hani And Nawaf On “The Straight Path”: Connecting The Kuala Lumpur, San Diego, Falls Church And New Jersey Dots

    m. Kandahar Souvenir: Hijacker Ahmed’s Blackened Leg Lesion In June 2001

    n. Al-Marabh: Escape To Parrot-Ice

    o. Elzahabi: Another Boston Cabby Who Got Around

    p. Astonishing Aafia:

    q. Aafia at Brandeis: Truth – Even Unto Its Innermost Parts

    r. Houston: We May Have A Problem

    s. Aafia, Anthrax, Silica, and Zabadi (Yogurt or Curdled Milk)

    t. The 80 Year-Old Professor With Mickey Mouse Ears

    u. Uncle’s First-hand Account Of Aafia Siddiqui Visit In January 2008

    v. “Ode To Anthrax”: The US-Based Falls Church, VA And Chicago-Area Hamas Fundraisers

    w. Was Mahmoud Jaballah The Egyptian In The Library Researching Anthrax?

    x. Hoax Letters That May Fly As Real Thing

    y. North Brunswick, NJ Connection To Al Qaeda’s Website

    z. Elbaneh : The Man From Buffalo Worth $5 Million

    aa. “Jafar The Pilot”

    bb. Al Marri And The Alleged IANA Connection To The Local Macomb Mosque

    cc. The Sympathizer Who Was A HVAC Technician At Lawrence Livermore Lab

    dd. Was Jdey The Anthrax Mailer?

    ee. Return to Ames

    VI. Sheiks, Bioweaponeers, And DARPA

    a. The “Teflon Terrorist” And Risk Of Infiltration

    b. Hardball Tactics In An Era Of Threats

    c. The Education Of Ali Al-Timimi

    d. Al-Timimi’s Connection To AQ WMD Comm. Member Mohammed Abdel-Rahman

    e. “The Straight Path”: Connecting The Dots

    f. GMU Center For Biodefense: Discovery Hall

    g. September 2001 Hadron Webpage: “Innovative Intelligence and Biodefense Solutions”

    h. Ali And Islamic Ruling On The Peace Process

    i. Ali On The Need For A Fiqh Suitable To Our Time and Place

    j. The 2006 Arrest Of Former Falls Church “911 Imam” And Fellow Salafist Lecturer Awlaqi

    k. Al-Timimi’s Attorney: What The US Knew And When

    l. Source of Fishy, Shaggy Dog Stories That Derailed Public Understanding Of Investigation Pleads Fifth While His Daughter Represents Al-Timimi Pro Bono

    m. A Wiretap Balancing Act: The New Legal Regime That The White House Forgot To Tell The FISA Judges About

    n. Nano Is Now: Microencapsulation Of The Matter

    VII. Sunshine: The Best Disinfectant

    Conclusion

    Selected Bibliography

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