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

* still no answers from NAS

Posted by DXer on October 9, 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  …

“CASE CLOSED takes headline events and weaves a credible scenario around the anthrax scare and government departments working under the radar.”

“Lew Weinstein is a meticulous researcher and a determined storyteller. CASE CLOSED  will keep you up at night — reading, then worrying.”

******

email from Lew to NAS (10-9-09) …

It’s now been a month, and no answers to the questions I have asked regarding the NAS/FBI decision to withhold documents in apparent violation of FOIA law.

Why is this so difficult for NAS?

Your failure to respond, and to at least explain your decision, makes NAS look bad.

see related posts …

17 Responses to “* still no answers from NAS”

  1. DXer said

    One issue within the NAS task is the issue of contamination.

    On March 18, 2008, Ivins accidentally spilled anthrax on his pants. He attempted suicide for the first time the next day.

    … Ivins’ access to all laboratories at Fort Detrick because he had failed to immediately tell supervisors he had spilled anthrax on his pants at work. …
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-01-06-ivins_N.htm

    A DNA technician contaminated the Levy crime scene accidentally with her own DNA. “FBI Analyst Accidentally Contaminates Chandra Levy Case DNA,” Washington Post, October 17, 2009
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/16/AR2009101603386.html?hpid=sec-metro

    “An FBI forensic analyst mistakenly got some of her own DNA on evidence recovered from the site where Chandra Levy’s body was found, attorneys said Friday during a hearing in D.C. Superior Court.”

    Accidents happen.

  2. DXer said

    If the Homeland Security and NAS expert is correct about the method of processing, an interesting interview on microencapsulation would be the biochemist who unwittingly supplied the flat for the 7/7 bombings. He is an expert on functional polymerization for pharmaceutical purposes. The process helps delivery of the drug to the intended organ.

    The attorney for the Egyptian biochemist was Mamdouh Ismail. In late March 2007, islamist attorney Mamdouh Ismail was arrested. ( Prominent Islamist lawyer arrested, accused of membership in militant group, AP, 3 April 2007 ) Egyptian authorities accuse Mamdouh Ismail, a prominent defender of islamists of working with Ayman Zawahiri as a key liaison with Iraqi and Yemeni jihadis. He was a former EIJ member who had been imprisoned for 3 years after Sadat’s assassination, The prosecution claimed that Attorney Ismail linked the Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan with networks in Algeria, Iraq and Yemen. Egypt’s Supreme State Security Prosecution also charged Ismail with leading what officials termed al Qaeda’s “Egyptian Project,” an effort to revive al Qaeda in Egypt.

    Montasser Al-Zayat, who announced in 1999 that Ayman Zawahiri was going to use anthrax to retaliate for the rendering of senior Egyptian jihad leaders, said of Magdy: “So far the ministry has not given us a word, but El-Nashar has a right to have someone to defend him.” Magdy was detained for questioning after the massacre at Luxor, his brother says, because he associated with the wrong people at mosque.

    Returning to Egypt shortly before the 7/7 bombings in London, Magdy dared authorities to link him to the 7/7 bombings and they never did. Magdy was never charged and there is no indication in Amerithrax that the FBI even knows the method of processing. It does not even appear that MI5 told the US DIA that it had intercepted samples in Rauf Ahmad’s luggage after the September 2000 conference in the UK.

    Dr. Al-Nashar worked and studied in North Carolina the year before 2001 where Ali Al-Timimi’s charity has a branch.

    Lawyer Mamdouh Ismail’s alleged contact with Zawahiri was the spymaster who has written about the Amerithrax investigation. Spymaster-historian Al-Hukaymah was the author of the description of the Amerithrax investigation in 2002. He joined the Egyptian Islamic Group in 1979. He was arrested in 1981 after Sadat’s assassination. He once was arrested alongside the blind sheik Abdel-Rahman. Al-Hukaymah dedicated the treatise that discussed Amerithrax “[t]o the pious and the hidden who are not known when they come and who are not missed when they disappear — To those whom their God will answer when they pray to Him. To all the eyes that are vigilant late at night to bring victory to this religion.”

    The introduction of the 152-page book starts:

    “The Manhattan raid led to a radical change in the perception of American Security. After the northern half of the continent had been isolated from the rest of the world and its threats by two oceans, it now came from inside. The surprise hit the symbols of American power in its economic and security dimensions.”

    Published at al-Maqreze Center for Historical Studies website (www.almaqreze.com) by the one-time EIJ shura member al-Sibai, the section on the anthrax investigation appears to have been written in 2002.

    “The Anthrax Scandal:
    Over many months, there was an excited search for the person responsible for the worst biological terror attack on American soil. Six letters sent by mail to Leahy, Daschle, Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, The New York Post and the offices of the National Enquirer in Florida, led to the sickening of 18 people and five deaths. The crime was especially scary because anthrax, which is a complex powder that scatters in the atmosphere, had spilled from the envelopes and spread through parts of the mail system and contaminated a Senate building. One year later, the main post office in Washington had not yet opened.

    The FBI is under great pressure to close this case, and the anthrax criminal is supposed to be alive and free. Two members of the Senate have asked to receive regular reports about this investigation from the FBI, and they have become increasingly impatient.”

    After a lengthy discussion of the focus on Hatfill, the author explains,

    “Until the investigators find material evidence that connects a person to the crime, they are forced to speculate about the motives and methods of the criminal. They are still casting a wide net. Law enforcement sources say they have issued hundreds of subpoenas and they are analyzing thousands of documents in search of new evidence.

    The evidence may be small and unseen – sweat or an odor on an envelope – but that is all that they need in order to attract the dogs.”

    Al-Hukaymah pointed to the Aldrich Ames incident and the FBI’s inability to find the perpetrator of the anthrax mailings as evidence that U.S intelligence can be defeated. Aldrich Ames, head of counterintelligence relating to the Russians, had a different rolex for different days of the week. He drove a new jaguar to work. Aldrich told the CIA that his money came from his wife’s foreign inheritance, and the CIA never required meaningful corroboration. So we should not be that surprised when someone known, to borrow Dr. Alibek’s description to me, as an “Islamic hardliner,” is given access to Center for Biodefense and ATCC facilities, to include a program funded by DARPA’s $13 million during the relevant period. Al-Timimi’s letter of commendation from the White House for his high security work for the Navy just adds insult to the injury of the FBI’s failure to solve Amerithrax. Perhaps the focus should not be on more money for biodefense but on doing a better job at maintaining biosecurity. Dr. Rita Colwell’s recommended approach of dealing with the risk of infiltration is by “engendering trust” in the laboratory. The difficulty is that Zawahiri knows the taxpayer-funded scientists don’t know or care jack about intelligence analysis. As Reagan would say, trust but verify. Zawahiri appreciates that various key intelligence is not being shared with people with a need to know as the head of homeland security explained this past week. The busy scientist handsomely profiting from government grants has little time to acquaint himself with Qutb.

    The Obama White House and US Attorney Eric Holder so far have merely continued and perpetuated the mistakes made by the Bush Administration officials. Those earlier mistakes were made to avoid embarrassment. For example, publication of the letter of commendation to Al-Timimi from the White House for his high security work for the Navy would be awkward. That, however, should be of no concern — whether under FOIA or in the Amerithrax investigation.

    Spymaster Al-Hukaymah reportedly was Ayman’s connection to Mamdouh Ismail, an Egyptian defense attorney and a former member of “the Jihad group” who since the 1980’s has represented various Egyptians accused of terrorism offenses in Egypt. Mamdouh Ismail represented al-Nashar, the biochemist who was an expert on polymerization and had a key to the 7/7 bomber’s flat. Ismail was one of several hundred rounded up following the assassination of Anwar al-Sadat in 1981.

    After the blind sheik said in March 1999 that an attempt through a political party should not be attempted, Al-Zayat and Mamdouh Ismail deferred to the Blind Sheik’s wishes and Attorney Ismail has publicly objected to a reconciliation between Cairo and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The two had worked with EIJ shura member al-Sibai before he took refuge in the UK. Mamdouh Ismail was accused of complicity in an “Egyptian project” of al-Qaeda, taking his orders from Ayman al-Zawahiri via al-Qaeda propaganda chief al-Hukaymah and the UK-based EIJ publicist Hani al-Sibai. Both al-Hukaymah and Al-Sibai denied the charge. Al Sibai considers himself historian of the movement and published his diaries in Al Hayat in 2004. He is at al-Maqreze Center for Historical Studies website that published the treatise that included the discussion of Amerithrax. Al-Hawsawi, whose laptop contained the anthrax spraydrying documents, has also asked for the assistance of counsel from London.

    Mamdouh Ismail apparently has been successful in the defense of his own matter because he has remained prominent defense counsel for accused jihadists. (“Hussein bombing suspects remanded into custody,” October 5, 2009)

    • DXer said

      Agent Lambert formally objected to Director Mueller’s decision to compartmentalize the three squads — which prevented even the two investigative squads from knowing what the other was doing. As a result, the squad who knew that Bruce Ivins edited Wikipedia and had a crush on a young co-worker (and thus hides things from his wife) perhaps had no reason to know about, for example, the interception of samples from Rauf Ahmad’s luggage after attending a conference with all the USAMRIID folks.

      Conversely, a supervisory female agent from THE THIRD SQUAD formally objected to the requirement that all leads and POIs be added to a central database. I’ll look for the memo and give it to Lew for posting.

      There is a constant tension between the risk of leaks and the importance of sharing information necessary to permits others to do their job. Reasonable people can disagree. Certainly, independence of the science is important to its validation. Sequestration of consulting experts is to be expected and done as a matter of course.

      Despite these reasonable differences in opinion and approach to whether the investigative squads are compartmentalized, an adjustment needs to be made when the end-product — the analysis — comes up with what is provably the wrong answer. This is especially true when the process of arriving at the answer was dominated by people in key positions who had extraordinary conflicts of interest, including:

      lead prosecutor Daniel Seikaly, whose daughter represented “anthrax weapons suspect” Al-Timimi pro bono;
      lead scientist Dr. Bannan who was the collections scientist at the Bacteriology Division at ATCC which co-sponsored Al-Timimi’s program;
      and lead genetics scientist Kimothy Smith, who provided the lab space to the former Zawahiri associate supplied virulent Ames by Bruce Ivins.

      Here, Ivins was and is provably the wrong answer. It is long past time to take a different approach.

      To start, USAMRIID should move forward and upload Ivins 1,000 emails and EPA should move forward with its FOIA production on an expedited basis. If it is too much they should just email them and I’ll have them uploaded by the next day.

      At the same time, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano should have Homeland Security conduct an internal independent review of Amerithrax — that is, if her role is to have any relevance to homeland security and avoiding the next 9/11. The first order of business should be why the Zawahiri Task Force did not timely share information with the Amerithrax Task Force in December 2001. The reason I know they didn’t is because a transcript of a September 11, 2002 conversation with an FBI agent proves they didn’t.

      Napolitano: Sharing intel key in fight vs. al-Qaida
      Arizona Daily Star – ‎Oct 13, 2009‎
      Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said law-enforcement authorities are tracking terrorists with al-Qaida leanings in the United States. …

      In the U.S., the government has put money into gathering intelligence about the movements of terrorist suspects, Napolitano said. “The key thing is intelligence analysts,” she said.Top federal officials push intel sharing to thwart terror plots

      MSN Philippines News
      DHS: Intel-sharing on terror lacking
      The Hill – Jordy Yager – ‎Sep 30, 2009‎
      11 terrorist attacks, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told members of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on …

      • DXer said

        Of course, while the scientists need to be compartmentalized, it is important that they not draw conclusions that go beyond their data or their experience. Dr. Weber’s approach illustrates a sound approach.

      • BugMaster said

        And one should listen to scientists that put forth conclusions based on their data and experience.

  3. DXer said

    Penguin has graciously agreed to send a review copy of IN DEFENCE OF THE REALM so that we can see exactly what is said about MI5 seizing samples after Rauf Ahmad’s 2000 conference — and can better understand the sourcing, characterization, and details.

    As early as a day after Amerithrax is closed, a book containing analysis and original documents (including internal FBI and DOJ emails) titled THE THIRD SQUAD will be available here:
    http://www.blurb.com/user/RossGetman

  4. Anonymous Scientist said

    We are now at T+ 80 days since the FBI announced they were ‘on the verge’ of closing the anthrax case.

    • BugMaster said

      The case isn’t being closed more than a year after Ivin’s death because either:

      A.) Ivins had nothing to do with the anthrax mailings (most likely outcome at this point).

      or:

      B.) Ivins wasn’t the only individual involved in the anthrax mailings.

      Of course, as far as the existing Amerithrax Task Force is concerned, they have their man.

      But they don’t appear to be the only “task force” involved in the investigation at this point.

      Case not closed. Not even close.

  5. DXer said

    The Times obituary for Dr. Pasechnik (he died in late November 2001) said:

    “The defection to Britain in 1989 of Vladimir Pasechnik revealed to the West for the first time the colossal scale of the Soviet Union’s clandestine biological warfare programme. His revelations about the scale of the Soviet Union’s production of such biological agents as anthrax, plague, tularaemia and smallpox provided an inside account of one of the best kept secrets of the Cold War. After his defection he worked for ten years at the U.K. Department of Health’s Centre for Applied Microbiology Research before forming his own company, Regma Biotechnics, to work on therapies for cancer, neurological diseases, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. In the last few weeks of his life he had put his research on anthrax at the disposal of the Government, in the light of the threat from bioterrorism.”

    In Russia, he had created Institute of Ultra Pure Biochemical Preparations. He was 51 when he told Dr. Alibek that he was bummed that he was going to be forced to retire at age 55.

    After defecting, in the UK he worked for CAMR (Porton Down), the sponsor of the conference at which Rauf Ahmad obtained anthrax samples and gained contacts from whom he was learning tricks relating to processing anthrax. Bruce Ivins took over planning the conference in June 2001.

    M15’s attempt to spin their interception of samples from Rauf Ahmad’s luggage is curious given that there is no indication that they ever shared the information with the US. My friend James was the DIA anthrax analyst. MI5 characterizes the interception as foiling a biological attack (or at least their unofficial historian does) — even though next year mailed anthrax was in fact used against US targets. Mailing lethal letters to DC and NYC newspapers and officials in symbolic positions was the precise modus operandi of Zawahiri’s Vanguards of Conquest. It is what the group had threatened to do if bail was denied Vanguards of Conquest #2 Mahjoub. His bail was denied on October 5, 2001. The mailer dropped what he was doing and rushed to mail the anthrax to the Senators deemed most responsible for appropriations to Egypt and Israel. So does MI5 deserve credit for foiling Ayman Zawahiri’s plans or blame for allowing him to succeed?

    To see how microencapsulation is distinguished from the post-production addition of colloidal silica, see

    Technical Aspects of Biological Weapon Proliferation, Federation of American Scientists.
    http://74.125.113.132/search?q=cache:C_A6DQnsCpEJ:www.fas.org/spp/starwars/ota/934405.pdf+microencapsulation+Pasechnik&cd=12&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    Microencapsulation was discussed in the reading material that Ayman Zawahiri asked Atef to arrange to get for him.

    Plague wars: a true story of biological warfare – Google Books Result
    by Tom Mangold, Jeff Goldberg – 2000 – Current Events – 477 pages
    … 369-70 MI6 on Iraqi research, 288 and Pasechnik defection, 91, 101 on Project Coast, 270-1 and ‘Temple Fortune’, 163 microencapsulation, 330, …
    books.google.com/books?isbn=0312203535…

    The book was on the list that served as an addendum to a Science article on the perils of scientific openness. Other reading material was not declassified.

    James Adams told Pasechnik’s story in the 1994 book, The New Spies which I strongly recommend to you. I also recommend the highly readable DEAD HAND by David Hoffman, former foreign correspondent for the Washington Post.

  6. DXer said

    In GROWING UP BIN LADEN, due to be released October 27, Bin Laden’s wife and son explain that a litter of puppies Bin Laden’s sons adopted was gassed by al Qaeda fighters to see how long it would take them to die. The one puppy filmed was adorable.

    • DXer said

      http://www.nydailynews.com/news/us_world/2009/07/10/2009-07-10_osama_bin_ladens_son_omar_says_dad_is_evil_in_new_memoir.html

      Omar Osama bin Laden says father gassed his dogs in chemical warfare experiments.

      OSAMA BIN LADEN’S son Omar first realized the depth of his father’s evil when his beloved dogs were taken away and gassed in a chemical warfare experiment, he says in a new memoir.

      ***

      Omar, 28, describes weeping as a teenager when told that Al Qaeda needed his pets to conduct chemical warfare tests.

      “After I learned the truth about the puppies, I turned even further away from my father,” whose jihad led only to death, Omar writes in the book set for release by St. Martin’s Press later this year.

      It has been widely reported that Bin Laden’s goons tested nerve agents at the Derunta camp in Afghanistan. In 2002, CNN obtained and showed video of dogs – fully grown – being gassed by visible toxic fumes.

      Bin Laden’s fourth son admits he knew in advance of plots against targets like the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa, where 224 perished.

  7. DXer said

    There were three Amerithrax squads, not two. The leaks came from the first squad (in the case of the bloodhound and pond draining stories, they came from the lead prosecutor at the US Attorney’s Office, not the Task Force). The YouTube videos and science briefings came from the second squad. They were fully authorized and well done. The third squad has conducted a confidential investigation and the case remains open.

    The Third Squad
    http://www.anthraxandalqaeda.com

  8. DXer said

    Let’s consider the recent National Academy of Science panel on nutrition in schools. How many panel members know the current level of benzene in soda? How many have seen recent testing results, both national and international? How many have seen the documents provided by the whistleblower who was part of the secret industry project codenamed PROJECT DENVER? How many sessions were closed instead of open? To what extent did the NAS comply with the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (and Freedom of Information Act)? The FDA Commissioner resigned without explanation two days after I emailed him news that the soda kids had been drinking for decades contained benzene, a fuel additive. I represented a courageous industry whistleblower who had been part of a secret industry project. Crawford wrote an email to FDA employees saying he was quitting and walked out of the building. It turns out the Commissioner already knew about the contamination due to benzene formation, having been a drinking water contamination expert and chief scientific advisor to a trade association carrying water for the soda industry. He resigned owning something like $68,000 in Pepsi stock and $78,000 in the stock of the major food lunch distributor. Senators Kennedy and Clinton demanded why he was resigning but he refused to say. The same US Attorney who screwed the pooch in Amerithax failed to make him allocute as to the reason he was resigning. For his conviction for two misdemeanors he was sentenced to community service. It was an example of politicization of justice. Where public health is involved, business as usual inside the beltway should not be countenanced.

    Published on Sunday, March 12, 2006 by the Providence Journal (Rhode Island)
    Big Soda vs. Our Kids: Better Beware of Benzene in Soda Pop
    by Ross E. Getman

    Internal soda-company documents provided by a whistleblower show that in late 1990 it was known that the benzene being discovered in some soft drinks was not due to contaminated carbon dioxide, as had been the case with Perrier. Rather, it was due to the breakdown of benzoate in the presence of ascorbic acid. On Jan. 12, the Food and Drug Administration gave me two memos from 1990-91 about benzene in soft drinks. The representatives of the National Soft Drinks Association told the FDA at the time that they wanted to avoid any publicity on the issue.

    In June 1998 there were massive recalls of both Coca-Cola and Pepsi products because of benzene contamination. There were even more massive and controversial recalls of Coca-Cola in Europe because of benzene contamination in June 1999. Coca-Cola was severely criticized for how it handled the 1999 benzene crisis. France and Belgium banned all Coca-Cola products temporarily, because they were dissatisfied with Coke’s explanation of how benzene had gotten into the drinks.

    Yet even at the time of the 1998 and ’99 recalls, the big soda companies did not disclose to consumers the nature of the underlying problem.

    The uploaded internal documents show that the industry knew that sometimes there were benzene levels of 25 parts per billion “off the shelf,” and 82 parts per billion after exposure to heat and light. In testing in 1990, one well-known diet-soda product had been measured at 1 part per billion “off the shelf” and 41.5 parts per billion after exposure to heat and light. This problem of the tendency of benzene to form would be greatest in the hot climates of many developing countries — precisely where the companies’ soda sales are increasing.

    A court in India said last year that Coke and Pepsi had to disclose the presence of a chemical contaminant in their drinks: “The sale of the product should not be allowed without disclosing the composition of the product and the presence, if any, of insecticide, pesticide, and chemicals. It was submitted that in case such a disclosure is made, there would be panic in the market and the business will dwindle. . . . It is not difficult to imagine why the respondent companies want to keep the question of the presence of pesticides in carbonated beverages and soft drinks under wraps. . . . Such secrecy cannot be legitimately allowed, and the veil of secrecy must be lifted for public knowledge and information in the public interest, so that they can make an informed choice.”

    The FDA has agreed to my request that it conduct a survey of benzene in soft drinks in the United States. The problem here is largely controlled by the industry’s use of the chelating agent calcium-disodium EDTA, which was added after the benzene problem was discovered.

    The FDA, however, advises me that calcium-disodium EDTA is not approved for use in non-carbonated soft drinks, and that a formal ruling will be required. (The supplier, Dow, reports that calcium-disodium EDTA was originally approved for metal cans, because of the risk of degradation of the metal.) The British Food Standards Agency has confirmed that calcium-disodium EDTA is not approved for beverages at all.

    In previous testing, reported in the early ’90s in a journal for analytical chemists, the FDA researchers had inexplicably used a protocol that not only did not simulate shelf life, but also carefully kept all the samples refrigerated — thus failing to address the central issue of the effect of heat and light.

    The problem of the effect of heat and light and its role in benzene formation were never disclosed to consumers. Regulators from around the world have told me that they were unaware of it.

    The European Union standard for benzene levels is now 1 part per billion. Given that Pepsi’s witness in 2001 testified that 3 parts per billion is not uncommon, sodium benzoate should not be used with ascorbic acid (or real juice). The companies should not be selling their drinks without disclosing to consumers this tendency of benzene to form.

    Before the recent press broke, the British Food and Drink Federation confirmed that the present 1-part-per-billion water standard would serve as the guide to whether there should be a recall. The American Beverage Association, however, argues that the standard for drinking water should not apply.

    Parents should get angry, and insist that companies follow the limit set for drinking water.

  9. DXer said

    That Porton Down conference had a lot of Russians. Rauf Ahmad says he made internet contacts and developed sources regarding methods of processing. Our tax dollars at work.

  10. DXer said

    Old Atlantic’s posts provide excellent context for passages from David Hoffman’s wonderful book.

    David Hoffman in the newly published DEAD HAND (2009) writes:

    — One of Pasechnik’s most important inventions was a “milling” machine that used a powerful blast of air to turn batches of dried agent into a fine powder. He also developed new methods of microencapsulation — covering the tine particles containing the infectious agents in poly- …

    Comment: If you look at the Alibek Microdroplet Cell Culture method (which military experts advise me is a microencapsulation patent), after the silica is used to concentrate the anthrax, it can be removed by either repeated centrifuging or an air chamber. Now it was really reckless to let a Salafist coordinating with the 911 imam and mentored by Bin Ladens’ religious sheik (Sheik al-Hawali who was subject of the 1998 “Declaration of War” along with Blind Sheik Abdel-Rahman) to share a suite with Dr. Alibek and the former deputy USAMRIID Commander. (see Fox News report)
    Over a half decade ago Ken Alibek told me he knew Ali was a hardliner. And the fact that Al-Timimi had a letter of commendation from the White House for his classified work for the Navy should have been irrelevant. Allowing the infiltration, at the very least, was grossly negligent. If Andrew Card wrote Al-Timimi a letter of recommendation, as former supervisors often do, I can see that it would have posed an awkward situation for the Administration. Ali’s father worked at the small Iraqi embassy as an attorney.

    Here are some additional excerpts:

    –While …. Popov attempted to modify the genetic makeup of pathogens, Pasechnik’s mission was more practical: to optimize the pathogens for use in combat, and to build superefficient industrial methods to produce them. If anthrax or other agents were to be deployed in wartime, they needed to be manufactured in large batches, remain stable, survive, survive dissemination into the air and be effectively dispersed. Pasechnik’s job was to find ways to prepare and manufacture the pathogens so they could be weaponized without losing effectiveness and virulence. Working with models of the deadly agents, he sought to master the complex of how to concentrate the pathogens and turn them into aerosols.

    –“Nevertheless, some of us worried that foreign inspectors would see through schemes. By 1988, Biopreparat had produced an instruction manual for employees on how to answer questions for inspectors Alibek said. “Every conceivable question — What is this room for? Why is this equipment here? — was followed by a prepared rely, which workers were expected to memorize.

    –Alibek, who had built the anthrax assembly line at Stepnogorsk and was now working in Moscow at the Biopreparat headquarters, sensed the tension over possible international inspections. “Once knowledgeable foreign scientists set foot in one of our installations, our secret would be out,” he wrote in his memoir. When Alibek became first deputy director of Biopreparat in 1988, he was put in charge of hiding the evidence. The assignment soon crowded out his other duties. A special task force for the deception plans was set up at the Moscow Institute of Applied Biochemistry. Even the name of the institute was itself a deception. “The institute had no connection with biochemistry: its function was to design and manufacture equipment for our labs,” he said. The task force was given the equivalent of $400,000 to creat a cover story, or “legend”…

    — On the bleak steppe of Kazakhstan, new workers streamed into the massive new factor at Stenogorsk. By 1986, Ken Alibek, the chief of the anthrax assembly line, recalled that he supervised nine hundred people, and the Soviets had created “the most effective anthrax weapon ever produced.” He remembered working at a frenzied pace, spending all his days and nights in the laboratories. “I still shuddered occasionally when I looked at the bacteria multiplying in our fermenters and considered that they could end the lives of millions of people. But the secret culture of our labs had changed my outlook.”

    The pressure-cooker environment took a heavy tool, and accidents happened every week. Once, he recalled, a technician was infected with anthrax. The man’s neck began to bulge, closing off his breathing. Antibiotics did not work. Within days, death seemed inevitable. At the last minute, they injected the man with a huge dose of anthrax antiserum and saved him. “The technician’s narrow escape drove home the potency of our new weapon,” Alibek recalled in his memoir. “Our powdered and liquid forumations of anthrax were three times as strong as the weapons that had been been developed at Sverdlosk.”

    • DXer said

      “He also developed new methods of microencapsulation — covering the tiny particles containing infectiousagents in polymer capsules to preserve and protect them from ultraviolet light.”

      Dr. Crockett, two doors down from Al-Timimi, in the PhD thesis supervised by the leading anthrax scientist Alibek and former deputy USAMRIID Commander Alibek (and she also credits Bill Patrick) explains that microencapsulation is redundant in the case of anthrax due to its structure. But she explains that it still would serve a useful in getting the particle size down (in reducing the need for sophisticated equipment in the milling process). She explained it was a technique not developed in a bioweapons program but in the pharma field. Elsewhere I quote passages from her thesis and her language is the best guide.

      Picking up with the Pasechnik story… he feared going to the United States or Great Britain thinking either country might force him to go work on biological weapons. But with few options left, he reluctantly called the British embassy. The British Secret Intelligence quickly responded and took him to a safe house on the coast.

      • DXer said

        “Alibek said the Soviet Strategy for the visits worked out over the previous weeks, was to hide as much as possible, and waste as much time as possible with meals, drinks and official speeches, to limit the time for the visitors to carry out inspections. Vodka and cognac were ordered at every stop. Popov said there was a “huge training program” before the visits so that every employee knew to repeat the “legend” that they were working on defense against pathogens.” (p. 354)

        (Comment: You would think that inspectors would be trained and ordered not to drink on the trip; as I vaguely recall, Dr. Ivins in planning the June 2001 conference wanted there to be plenty of good wine).

        “The visitors saw machines for preparing biological and aerosols that would be the perfect size for sticking in the … upper respiratory system. After the visitors left, Alibek felt victorious. Although the Westerners had suspicions, they could prove nothing.”

        “At the last stop, Pasechnik’s Institute in Leningrad, Alibek thought he could relax. ‘The worst was behind us,’ he later wrote. ‘Nothing at Pasechnik’s old institute would pose a threat. Or so I thought.’ All the incriminating equipment had been moved, and the laboratories scrubbed down.”

        “Then, during the tour, one of the vistors stopped by an imposing machine and asked, “What’s this?” ‘I groaned inwardly. I had forgotten about Pasechnik’s jet milling equipment.'”

        “This was the machine that used a powerful blast of air to turn agents into a fine powder. An institute proffered an explanation. ‘For salt,’ he said. ‘That’s where we mill salt.'” (p. 357)

        On Al Qaeda and anthrax, Mr. Hoffman has some stock history from Cullins’ December 2001 article on Zawahiri’s hard drive and Tenet’s book.

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