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

* DXer to FBI … it’s never too late to be right

Posted by DXer on October 15, 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  …

“Is it really fiction? … The author states loud and clear that this book is fiction. But, anyone who has witnessed the last eight years of American history sees great similarities in the underhanded way the last Administration dealt with issues and the way this “fictional” Administration worked.”

“This scary scenario is as close to truth as fiction can come.”

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DXer to FBI … it’s never too late to be right

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FBI SHIELD

On December 7, 2001, Supervisory Special Agent Jennifer Gant of the Washington Field Office wrote a memo to the Washington Field Office and Amerithrax colleagues objecting to information sharing. The memo objected to a memo written by Agent Roth about entering Amerithrax leads into a central database and classifying the priority of leads. (see copy of email below)

Fast-forward 8 years and she is at George Mason University (home of the DARPA Center for Biodefense and alum “anthrax weapons suspect” Ali Al-Timimi) making a presentation with intelligence analyst Michael Ragsdale on the importance of information sharing.

See below … “FBI Campus Liaison Initiative”
http://cupic.gmu.edu/presentations.htm#b

Now it is not my intent to second-guess Agent Gant’s December 7, 2001 memo.  Not in the slightest.  In fact, I definitely would have — and as a private citizen did — urge the same thing.  Playing things close to the vest to get the drop through electronic surveillance was a great strategy in Amerithrax 8 years ago.

But, hey … guess what.  Although the details are still murky as to how and why, the pooch was screwed.  Not once, but many times.  Publicly.  And she liked it.

Now is the time to bring the ball across the finish line and slam the ball down in a victory bounce.  No one is going to second-guess success. Mine is a tough love.

Now that US Attorney Jeff Taylor is gone, someone has to tell Agent Montooth and Mr. Persichini and explain that it is never too late to be right.

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41 Responses to “* DXer to FBI … it’s never too late to be right”

  1. DXer said

    The wonderful public access person at NAS has explained they will provide all materials submitted by external sources — not connected in any way to NAS. But to avoid me introducing confusion, let me quote:

    From: Public Access Records Office
    Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 9:46 AM
    To: ‘Ross Getman’
    Subject: BLSX-K-08-10-A

    The public access file contains materials submitted by external sources
    – sources not connected in any way to NAS.
    ***
    We comply with Section 15 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act:

    This project is subject to Section 15 of the Federal Advisory Committe
    Act (FACA); which states that all written materials presented to the
    committee (at data-gathering meeting, between such meetings, or at any
    other time in the course of the project) by any organization (whether
    government or private) or by individuals who are not officials, agents,
    or employees of the institution are subject to public disclosure and
    must be listed in the Public Access File.”

    [Now the contract, which was negotiated by NAS rather than submitted by a third party, is being produced voluntarily.]

    I would ask that the Public Affairs person not put my proposal of marriage into the file.

  2. DXer said

    1. The NAS Public Affairs office has graciously agreed to make available a copy of the contract with the FBI for anyone interested. NAS will do this even though it is not required, as she patiently explained, by the FACA*.

    2. I just spoke to the EPA FOIA Officer Larry F. Gottesman who wrote that I’ve not “expressed a specific intent to publish or disseminate the information to the general public.” By letter dated October 13, 2009, he then continues “As a result of you failing to meet the above criteria, I have not addresse[d] the additional criteria in your justification.”

    I amply demonstrated a specific intent to publish or disseminate the information — an intent confirmed by a simple google search or the links and explanation I provided in the letter. The denial is specious and has no factual basis.

    EPA never responded substantively to my request within the 20 day statutory period and thus there is no obligation to exhaust under the statute and controlling precedent District of Columbia (see June 2009 NRDC decision). The game, as he alluded, is that a different specious grounds would be invoked if I prevailed even assuming I was correct on this grounds.

    Thus, EPA, acting through Mr. Gottesman, has refused to produce the documents relating to the work done for it by the contractor formerly associated with Zawahiri. Or as he says (and I paraphrase his gist), “We’re not refusing to produce them, you would just need to pay an hourly fee in looking for them.” But what I had sought were documents already processed — and I was told orally initially that the documents had already been processed but were too voluminous (and I wouldn’t be interested because they related to decontamination). The obligation under the statute was to respond within 20 days and tell me where I could go and inspect the documents, which had already been processed. (Identifying from the log those documents is a matter of a 10 second computer search).

    In his next book, former 911 Commission counsel John Farmer should apply the learning of James Q. Wilson (of BUREAUCRACY) to Amerithrax. As 911 demonstrated, a country’s defense is only as strong as its weakest link.

    ________

    The Federal Advisory Committee Act became law in 1972 and is the legal foundation defining how federal advisory committees operate. The law has special emphasis on open meetings, chartering, public involvement, and reporting. This version is from the House web site, complete with all Amendments and annotations.

    5 USC TITLE 5 – APPENDIX 01/02/01

    5 USC APPENDIX – FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ACT Sec. 15 01/02/01

    Sec. 15. Requirements relating to the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Public Administration

    (b) Requirements. – The requirements referred to in subsection (a) are as follows:
    ***
    (3) The Academy shall ensure that meetings of the committee to gather data from individuals who are not officials, agents, or employees of the Academy are open to the public, unless the Academy determines that a meeting would disclose matters described in section 552(b) of title 5, United States Code. The Academy shall make available to the public, at reasonable charge if appropriate, written materials presented to the committee by individuals who are not officials, agents, or employees of the Academy, unless the Academy determines that making material available would disclose matters described in that section.
    (4) The Academy shall make available to the public as soon as practicable, at reasonable charge if appropriate, a brief summary of any committee meeting that is not a data gathering meeting, unless the Academy determines that the summary would disclose matters described in section 552(b) of title 5, United States Code. The summary shall identify the committee members present, the topics discussed, materials made available to the committee, and such other matters that the Academy determines should be included.
    (5) The Academy shall make available to the public its final report, at reasonable charge if appropriate, unless the Academy determines that the report would disclose matters described in section 552(b) of title 5, United States Code. If the Academy determines that the report would disclose matters described in that section, the Academy shall make public an abbreviated version of the report that does not disclose those matters.
    (6) After publication of the final report, the Academy shall make publicly available the names of the principal reviewers who reviewed the report in draft form and who are not officials, agents, or employees of the Academy.

  3. DXer said

    John Farmer’s new book GROUND TRUTH develops the theme of James Q. Wilson’s BUREAUCRACY on this issue of information sharing between agencies and within agencies. In addition to information-sharing, Mr. Farmer (former NJ Attorney General and Rutgers Law School Dean) points to a disconnect between senior policy makers and the people at the operational level with the pertinent information. Amerithrax is a case study illustrating the themes developed in 911 counsel’s Farmer’s book and in James Wilson’s BUREAUCRACY. Let’s consider the issue of information sharing between the CIA and FBI — and within the FBI — through the eyes of FBI counterterrorism expert Michael Rolince.

    Michael Rolince in 2002 served briefly as head of the investigation as Assistant Director in Charge, Washington Field Office.

    He explained:
    http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/testimony.cfm?id=817&wit_id=2316

    “Before the month was out, we were faced with another unique attack – Anthrax. Not knowing whether we faced a domestic threat, an international threat, or a follow-on attack by Al-Qa’ida, we again responded with significant resources as we dealt with an unknown killer or killers, first in Florida, then in New York, and finally here on Capitol Hill. ***
    As this massive investigation unfolded, the concern of follow-on attacks was critical to our thinking and to our development of an investigative strategy. As investigators came upon individuals who were in this country illegally, it was absolutely essential to determine to the extent possible, any connection to the attacks and the threat posed by them, if any. To do otherwise would have been irresponsible, if not negligent. ”

    Certainly as head of the International Terrorism section he presumably knew all about the previous stated intention by leaders of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad to use aerosolized anthrax against US targets and the Third Squad would have worked diligently on the issue — tasked with leaving no stone unturned.

    The purpose of the the cut-and-pastes of the History Commons chronology below (which in turn is based on news articles) is to show what Mr. Rolince knew. It is not to find fault with the benefit of hindsight. It is to emphasize that there are parallels between 911 and Amerithrax and if we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. Given that an incorrect solution means the threat has not been neutralized, an incorrect solution is not acceptable.

    In GROUND TRUTH, John Farmer says a key reason that the 911 Commission report — while true and accurate based on the materials available to them — was woefully incomplete was that the staff was not allowed to use materials that might be exhibits in the Moussaoui trial. Here, Amerithrax is a mess partly for similar and related reasons relating to the ongoing briefing in the Al-Timimi prosecution remaining highly classified.

    Now let’s turn to the former temporary head of Amerithrax and what he knew and when.

    In 1999, Dan Benjamin and Steve Simon, director and senior director of the National Security Council’s counterterrorism team, review some old intelligence files and learn that Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda’s number two leader, had done fundraising in the US a few years earlier. They call FBI agents Michael Rolince and Steve Jennings to a meeting at the White House. Benjamin will recall, “We said to them: ‘This is incredible. Al-Zawahiri was here. He must have been fundraising, he had to have handlers. What can you tell us?’ And [one of them] said, ‘We got it covered. Don’t worry about it.’ And it was a blow-off.” Only later do Benjamin and Simon learn that one of al-Zawahiri’s hosts had been Ali Mohamed, even though Mohamed is already in US custody and his arrest had been front page news by the time the White House meeting took place. The FBI still fails to pursue the connection and rejects an offer of new authority to monitor activity in radical mosques. For a discussion of Ali Mohammed, see Peter Lance’s TRIPLE CROSS.

    In January 2001, death of operative put new FBI focus on a Boston cell with which Agent Rolince was familiar. Bassam Kanj is killed in a battle in Lebanon. Kanj lived on and off in Boston for nearly 15 years, and was a friend of al-Qaeda operatives Nabil al-Marabh, Raed Hijazi, and Mohamad Kamal Elzahabi. All four of them fought together in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, then worked at the same Boston taxi company in the 1990s (see June 1995-Early 1999). This leads to a renewed focus on him in the US. In February 2001, the Boston Globe will report, “The FBI is continuing to look at Kanj’s and Hijazi’s activities in the Boston area in hopes of learning more about their contacts inside bin Laden’s far-flung organization.” Michael Rolince, chief of international terrorism operations for the FBI, will tell the Globe that both men had a “higher station” than most in al-Qaeda, and will add, “We are still trying to sort out who played what role.” [BOSTON GLOBE, 2/5/2001] The Boston FBI began investigating Elzahabi for militant ties in 1999, but lost track of him when he went to fight in Chechnya (see 1997 and 1999). But apparently he is not detected reentering the US shortly before 9/11. One cannot discuss the Boston cell without considering the case of Boston operative Aafia Siddiqui who says she was tasked with studying germ weapons. Although the new article in Harper’s in the November 2009 issue does not contain any new factual revelations, it demonstrates that even with access in Pakistan to family members and spies, the facts remain hopefully muddled due to a failure for information to be shared between the CIA and FBI. The best info in the article came from Aafia’s uncle who met her in January 2008 and says she was cooperating with the ISI and CIA at the same time the FBI issued its BOLO and $5 million reward for her.

    In terms of pre-911 matters, Michael Rolince similarly had a central position. Dale Watson, head of the FBI’s counterterrorism program, sends a memo to FBI Director Louis Freeh warning that Islamic radicals are planning a “terrorist operation.” The memo states that “Sunni extremists with links to Ibn al Kahhatb, an extremist leader in Chechnya, and to Osama bin Laden [have been involved in] serious operational planning… since late 2000, with an intended culmination in late spring 2001.” Watson says the planning was sparked by the renewal of the Palestinian Intifada in September 2000. “[A]ll the players are heavily intertwined,” the memo notes. Additionally, the memo says that “[m]ultiple sources also suggest that [bin Laden’s] organization is planning a terrorist attack against US interests.” The memo is also sent to other FBI officials, such as International Terrorism Operations Section (ITOS) chief Michael Rolince, who will later be involved in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui. Based on this report, ITOS sends an e-mail (see April 13, 2001) to all field offices, asking agents to help identify information pertaining to the “current operational activities relating to Sunni extremism.” The e-mail does not mention Ibn Khattab. Officials at FBI headquarters will later refuse a search warrant for Zacarias Moussaoui’s belongings saying they believe Ibn Khattab is not closely connected to Osama bin Laden and is not hostile to the US (see August 22, 2001 and August 23-27, 2001). Hindsight, to be sure, is 20/20 — actually, with the magnification using high-powered binoculars.

    Tom Wilshire, a former deputy chief of Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, is detailed to the FBI to help with its counterterrorism work. Wilshire was involved in the failure to watchlist Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar during the al-Qaeda Malaysia summit (see 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. January 5, 2000), and will also be involved in the failed search for them in the summer of 2001, as well as the failure to obtain a search warrant for Zacarias Moussaoui’s belongings (see August 24, 2001. He acts as the CIA’s chief intelligence representative to Michael Rolince, head of the Bureau’s International Terrorism Operations Section. His primary role is apparently to help the FBI exploit information for intelligence purposes.

    The FBI fails to inform its own head of the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui. It is unclear how this failure occurs. The highest FBI official to be informed of Moussaoui’s arrest is apparently Michael Rolince, head of the FBI’s International Terrorism Operations Section), but it seems he fails to pass the information on. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 275] Thomas Pickard, who is acting FBI director at this time, will later blame CIA director George Tenet, who was briefed repeatedly on the case, for not informing him of Moussaoui’s arrest, but Tenet will comment: “I was stunned to hear [Pickard’s comments] suggesting that I had somehow failed to notify him about Moussaoui. Failed to tell him? Hell, it was the FBI’s case, their arrest. I had no idea that the Bureau wasn’t aware of what its own people were doing.” [TENET, 2007, PP. 200-201]

    After 9/11, no clear evidence that any of the FBI’s top managers are informed of the search for hijacker Khalid Almihdhar will be uncovered and the 9/11 Commission will comment, “It appears that no one informed higher levels of management in either the FBI or CIA about the case.” However, the Commission will also note that “one witness recalls a discussion with a senior FBI official, that official denies that a discussion took place. The other alleged participant does not recall such a meeting.” The list of sources that follows this passage indicates that the senior official is International Terrorism Operations Section chief Michael Rolince, who is also informed of the Moussaoui case around this time, but will attempt to play down his knowledge of it (see Late August 2001 and March 21, 2006).

    Dave Frasca, head of the FBI’s Radical Fundamentalism Unit (RFU), and Michael Rolince, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s International Terrorism Operations Section (ITOS), have at least two brief conversations about the Zacarias Moussaoui case. Moussaoui, suspected of having ties to Islamic militants, was arrested in mid-August (see August 16, 2001). Though it is not known what Frasca and Rolince talk about, it is possible their discussions concern complaints from the Minneapolis field office about how RFU is handling the case (see August 27, 2001). According to the 9/11 Commission, there is no evidence that this discussion ever reaches Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Dale Watson or Acting FBI Director Thomas Pickard. If this is true, the FBI’s handling of the case is remarkably different than the approach taken in the CIA, where Director George Tenet is briefed repeatedly on the matter (see August 23, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 275; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 3/21/2006] A warning that Osama bin Laden and Chechen rebel leader Ibn Khattab were planning a joint operation against the US was sent to Rolince earlier in the year (see Before April 13, 2001) and the FBI is aware that Moussaoui had recruited for the Chechen rebels. Rolince will be involved in preparations for Moussaoui’s deportation to France shortly before 9/11.

    Mr. Rolince also had a key role in overseeing the flights of Bin Ladens after 9/11. The FBI official responsible for coordinating with Clarke is Assistant Director Michael Rolince, who is in charge of the Bureau’s International Terrorism Operations Section and assumes responsibility for the Saudi flights. Rolince decides that the Saudis can leave after their faces are matched to their passport photos and their names are run through various databases, including some watch lists, to check the FBI has no derogatory information about them.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 196-197, 209 ] Numerous experts are surprised that the bin Ladens are not interviewed more extensively before leaving, pointing out that interviewing the relatives of suspects is standard investigative procedure. [NATIONAL REVIEW, 9/11/2002; VANITY FAIR, 10/2003]MSNBC claims that “members of the Saudi royal family met frequently with bin Laden—both before and after 9/11” [MSNBC, 9/5/2003] , and many Saudi royals and bin Laden relatives are being sued for their alleged role in 9/11. The Boston Globe opines that the flights occur “too soon after 9/11 for the FBI even to know what questions to ask, much less to decide conclusively that each Saudi [royal] and bin Laden relative [deserve] an ‘all clear,’ never to be available for questions again.” [BOSTON GLOBE, 9/30/2003] Senator Charles Schumer (D) says of the secret flights: “This is just another example of our country coddling the Saudis and giving them special privileges that others would never get. It’s almost as if we didn’t want to find out what links existed.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/4/2003]

    Michael Rolince, head of counterintelligence at the FBI’s Washington office, says of the 9/11 hijackers, “These guys were pros. For us to have done anything, these guys had to make a mistake. And they didn’t. Could we have generated enough information-ever-to keep them off those planes? I doubt it.” [VANITY FAIR, 11/2004] In 2002, an FBI agent called this kind of argument “the Superman scenario.”

    Michael Rolince, who headed the FBI’s International Terrorism Operations Section when Zacarias Moussaoui was arrested, testifies at Moussaoui’s trial (see March 6-May 4, 2006). He initially states that he was only informed of the Moussaoui case before 9/11 in two brief hallway conversations (see Late August 2001) and did not read a memo sent to him by the Minneapolis field office. However, under cross-examination he admits he also discussed a plan to deport Moussaoui to France, where his belongings could be searched (see (August 30-September 10, 2001)).[ASSOCIATED PRESS, 3/21/2006; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 3/21/2006] According to Newsday, Rolince appears “red-faced and flustered” at the end of the cross-examination and makes the court burst out laughing when he says he did not approve a briefing to FBI field offices about bin Laden threats in the US (see Before April 13, 2001), even though the briefing states he approved it. He says one of his subordinates may have approved it.

    There is no cause for criticism — or at least, there is no purpose served by it because a successful resolution will require the FBI to on its own to change its course. But there is every reason to get it right even if it requires another do-over with attention to overcoming the problems caused by the compartmentalization and the failure to share and process all the information necessary to connect the dots.

    • DXer said

      Of course, complying with the Freedom of Information Act is a first step. Violation of FOIA is not a mission failure due to the inherent nature of bureaucracies. It is a violation of law.

  4. DXer said

    BugMaster,

    You’ve explained in the past that Battelle was producing material using Ivin’s rpa102 bug in Columbus. That is consistent with the unredacted entry relating to shipment from flask 1029. You’ve said we know Ivins sent his patented vaccine strain and RMR-1029 challenge material to Battelle, and would have at least had a hand in specifying the growth conditions to get the maximum expression of material (recombinant protective antigen) from his patented anthrax. In the past, you’ve said that not much material was needed for the inital phase (June 2001 to August 2001, at which point Battelle refused to release the product).

    Would it have ever been deposited at American Type Culture Collection patent repository by Dr. Ivins and Dr. Worsham?

    A whistleblower (someone with BL-4 experience and a JD) called me years ago. She explained that she was let go within 2 weeks of arriving at gmu upon complaining of lax security at ATCC. She says the public was overlooking the availability of Ames there at the patent repository as distinguished from the online catalog (the online catalog did not have it). She says Ali Al-Timimi would have had full access to the patent respository. Dr. Bannan, guiding the FBI’s scientific inquiry, was the collections scientist at the Bacteriology Division and so I’ve suggested he needs to recuse himself. She said she signed a confidential agreement.

    ATCC then came to handle Ames as part of managing the Critical Reagent Program. Ames is the virulent anthrax used.

    I note that the patent issued in November 2001, for example, says “The data clearly indicate the B. anthracis ΔSterne-1(pPA102)CR4, which has been deposited in the American Type Culture Collection and has been assigned ATCC designation 69714, does not form spores.” But it is not even clear to me whether this indicates that Dr. Ivins and Dr. Worsham deposited the strain.

    I am unfamiliar with the process except that only unique (patentable) bacteria would be eligible for deposit. When there is such a deposit, one would submit it to the collections scientist (i.e., the scientist now guiding the FBI’s scientific investigation inexplicably said to point singularly to Dr. Ivins). Henry N. pooh-poohed the idea that Ames would be deposited on the grounds that it would not be patentable but I now understand that because of the treatment in vaccine research (and your use of the phrase patented strain) that it would be patentable. I’ve corresponded with ATCC public spokesman and GMU counsel and they refused to provide any information of any sort.

    Would Dr. Ivins and Dr. Worsham made such a deposit of Ames grown with this media in connection with the patent that issued in 2001 or the one issued in 2002?

    Other References
    • Ivins et al. Abstr. Gen. Meet. Am. Soc. Microbiol. 94 meet. 150, May 1994.
    • Ivins et al. Infect. Immun. Feb. 1990. 58(2): 303-308.
    • Ivins et al. Infect. Immun. Nov. 1986. 54(2): 537-542.
    • Ivins et al. Infect. Immun. May 1986. 52(2): 454-45

    • DXer said

      Note that Dr. Worsham, FBI’s key expert presenting at the NAS last month, reportedly does not believe Ivins is guilty.

      From the Wash Po:

      “But at the service he was remembered for the joy he brought others: his juggling; teaching another scientist’s son how to ride a unicycle; and giving Patricia Worsham, the deputy chief of the bacteriology division, a purple T-shirt that said, “The Queen Is Not Amused.” Mourners laughed as Worsham held up the T-shirt.

      Many soldiers and Ivins’s fellow researchers filled the pews, including those who found the allegations against him inconceivable. “I’m so angry,” one of them said to another, waiting for the service to begin. “I’m so angry.” A statement issued later in the day by Ivins’s attorneys concluded: “No one who attended [the] service could believe that Dr. Ivins committed any crime.”

    • DXer said

      The 2002 Ivins/Worsham patent clarifies that the aforesaid deposit of Sterne “at the American Type Culture Collection located at 12301 Parklawn Drive, Rockville, Md. 20852, USA was made on Nov. 16, 1994.” (ATCC then moved to the gmu campus).

      • DXer said

        Here is a sample of a later patent –

        Modified Bacillus anthracis, vaccine compositions and methods of use thereof
        United States Patent Application 20070031457

        A variety of modified Bacillus anthracis bacteria useful in vaccines are provided. For instance, asporogenic strains of Bacillus anthracis are provided. In addition, Bacillus anthracis strains attenuated in their ability to repair their nucleic acid, such as in their nucleic acid excision repair ability or recombination repair ability, are provided. Strains expressing an antigen, such as protective antigen, under the control of a heterologous promoter and/or an inducible promoter are also provided. Bacillus anthracis bacteria comprising mutations in toxin genes are further provided. Vaccine compositions comprising the bacteria, methods of making the modified strains, and methods of using the vaccines are also provided.
        ***

        Thus, the invention provides an isolated Bacillus anthracis strain, comprising a genetic mutation that attenuates its ability to repair its nucleic acid (i.e., is attenuated for DNA repair). In some embodiments, the mutant strain is defective with respect to at least one DNA repair enzyme (such asUvrA and/or UvrB, or UvrC). In some embodiments, the mutant strain comprises a genetic mutation in the uvrA gene and/or the uvrB gene. In some embodiments, the uvrA gene, the uvrB gene , or both genes are deleted. (The coding sequence of the uvrA gene is shown as SEQ ID NO:1, below, and the coding sequence of the uvrB gene is shown as SEQ ID NO:2, below.) In some embodiments, the modified Bacillus anthracis strain is the Bacillus anthracis Sterne ΔuvrAB strain deposited with the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC), University Blvd., Manassas, Va., 20110-2209, United States of America, on Feb. 20, 2004, under the provisions of the Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the. Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure, and identified by accession number PTA-5825, or a mutant of the deposited strain which is defective with respect to UvrA and UvrB. In some embodiments, the modified strain is the Bacillus anthracis Sterne ΔuvrAB strain deposited with the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC), 10801 University Blvd., Manassas, Va., 20110-2209, United States of America, on Feb. 20, 2004, under the provisions of the Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure, and identified by accession number PTA-5825. In some embodiments, the mutant strain comprises a genetic mutation in the uvrC gene.

      • BugMaster said

        DXer:

        There would be no reason to deposit the Ames strain anthrax (challenge isolate) along with what was submitted for the 2002 Ivins/Worsham patent.

        Ames may still be deposited at the ATCC, but isn’t available in the general catalog.

        I would expect that access to the Ames strain, if it was in fact availble, was highly restricted, even prior to 9/11 and the anthrax attacks.

      • DXer said

        “There would be no reason to deposit the Ames strain anthrax (challenge isolate) along with what was submitted for the 2002 Ivins/Worsham patent.”

        Thanks. And is the same true of the 2001 Ivins/Worsham patent?

        You referred to the “patented strain” last week. What were you referring to? Do you now think the strain was not patented? You are definitely correct it is not in the catalog. It is in the catalog for the Critical Reagent Program. ATCC formally bid on it post-2001. I don’t know where its inventory was kept prior to that. It was “highly restricted” in the sense that there are only 16 labs that had it and labs traded like baseball cards, according to Hugh-Jones. And, of course, any researcher could just walk out the door with it.

      • BugMaster said

        By patented strain, I was referring to Ivin’s rpa-102 recombinant stern strain.

        And yes, the Ames strain could have been obtained by quite a number of individuals through different means prior to 2001 (although probably not through the ATCC).

      • DXer said

        BugMaster,

        The FBI and ATCC agree with you. In 2002 or so, the ATCC head said that they had determined that they did not have it at several levels of analysis (and as a logical matter, he would not have just been referring to the online catalog given the huge patent repository). (The confirmation that the ATCC Bacteriology Division did not have it presumably would have come from the Collections Scientist now in charge of the FBI’s science investigation). Thus, the FBI’s “Ivins Theory” is predicated on the fact that ATCC did not have it (in the affidavit it is expressly alleged that USAMRIID is the only known location for virulent Ames in Maryland or Virginia).

  5. Anonymous Scientist said

    We are now at T+ 83 days since the FBI announced they were ‘on the verge’ of closing the anthrax case.

  6. DXer said

    In August 2002, Agent Gant and Agent Lane (in counterterrorism) conducted the search at Dr. Hatfill’s girlfriend’s apartment. UPI (August 25, 2002) report stated:

    “She was screamed at by FBI agents and told that the FBI had firm evidence that I killed five people. This was told to my girlfriend by FBI agents Jennifer Gant and Pamela Lane. Can you imagine that? The FBI trumpets that I am not a suspect, and the woman I love is told the FBI has conclusive evidence that I am a murderer,” Hatfill said.

  7. DXer said

    BugMaster writes:

    “Remember:
    Ivins would have known better than to use his FA media to produce spores.”

    I agree absolutely. For that matter, given he knew flask 1029 was a mixture of two Ames samples, he would have known that it would have pointed to him as the “go-to” guy. He also knew that as the result of numerous production runs, it was highly concentrated and would have pointed to him for that reason. (Similarly, he had reason to know that there would be mutations. And he had reason to know his three adult family weapons would know his job and might notice his absence, especially upon the second mailing.)

    Instead, Ayman Zawahiri felt commanded to use the weapon of his enemies.

    “FA media was used for rpa-102 (which doesn’t sporulate).
    Work on rpa-102 was being done at Battelle from May 1st, 2001 up to around the time just prior to the anthrax attacks (based on Ivin’s “bag of worms” email of 9-7-01 where he described the rpa-102 project as being “in limbo”).”

    And when was work on rpa-102 first done? 1998? 1999? 2000? And where else were spores used that were grown in that media? LSU? Dugway? USAMRIID? Edgewood? NIH? NMRC? Ann Arbor?

    “DXer, I’m never going to convince you myself, so we will just have to see what happens next.”

    The modus operandi of letters to NYC and DC and people in symbolic positions was specifically the modus operandi of the Vanguards of Conquest (see Al Hayat letters for which there is a $5 million reward under the Rewards for Justice Program). The Vanguards had warned that they would use mailed anthrax if bail was denied to their #2, which then was denied on October 5. (see early February 2001 PDB from the CIA to President Bush). Information that the Zawahiri Task Force has had since December 2001 shows that a friend of Ayman Zawahiri then dropped what he was doing upon hearing the news of the denial of bail and rushed to mail the anthrax. (see internal memo to CIA Zawahiri Task Force memo from December 2001)

    “You have been of immeasurable help over the years in the information you have bought to light, and have my thanks and gratitude.”

    And what you say about the FA Media seems a very important piece of the puzzle — and it seems that, if true, it will corroborated by Lab Notebook 4010 which will explain the reason for the silicon signature in flask 1030. According to FoxNews, the suspects have been narrowed to four — including the leading anthrax scientist and the former deputy USAMRIID Commander. There were only 5 former deputy USAMRIID Commanders and they are all stand-up and I don’t suspect any complicity on the part of any of them (even the one who long ago lawyered up and won’t field questions). But one of them, the one who lawyered up, shared a suite with the scientist coordinating with the 911 imam and who was mentored by Bin Laden’s sheik who was subject to the 1998 Declaration of War. So the fact that he and the leading anthrax scientist were the key Battelle consultants in 1999 is highly notable. But rather than indicative of their guilt, merely tends to point to Ali Al-Timimi, whose counsel describes him as an “anthrax weapons suspect” in a federal district court filing. It is similar to the sound logic you use in explaining why Ivins is not guilty. The Smith & Wesson is the last one to suspect of a crime committed by a Smith & Wesson unless the theory is gross negligence in making the gun available.

    • DXer said

      In addition to the patent that issued in 2002, here is a November 2001 patent filed by Bruce Ivins relating to rpa102 dating to a 1994 application and a 1986 published article. Note the use of Congo Red agar selection for mutants and the use of FA medium.

      Worsham et al.

      Patent No.: US 6,316,006 Bl

      Date of Patent: *Nov. 13,2001

      (54) ASPOROGENIC B ANTHRACIS EXPRESSION SYSTEM

      Inventors: Patricia Worsham, Jefferson; Arthur M. Friedlander, Gaithersburg; Bruce Ivins, Frederick, all ol MD (US)

      Filed: Nov. 23, 1994

      ASPOROGENIC B ANTHRACIS EXPRESSION SYSTEM

      FIELD OF THE INVENTION

      This invention relates to the bacterial expression system, production and use of protective antigen (PA) against Bacillus anthracis. The PA immunogen is useful in vaccine against human anthrax. The PA can be produced by an asporogenic organism which overproduces the desired antigen, which is then harvested from the supernatant.

      BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

      ***

      In 1985 the Bacillus anthracis protective antigen (PA) gene was cloned into a plasmid (pUBHO) resulting in the formation of a recombinant plasmid identified as pPA102, which was reported in the literature (Ivins and Welkos, Infection and Immunity, 854:537-542 (1986)). The production of vaccines lacking lethal factor was possible thereby. However, a primary problem remained, since the Bacillus anthracis formed spores. Once spores have formed, they persist in the environment for months and years. Once the laboratory environment contains such spores, it is very difficult to free the environment of the spores.
      ***

      DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

      The instant invention provides organisms which produce protective antigen (PA) lacking lethal factor and edema factor proteins which, when present as contaminants in vaccine, can cause serious side effects. The producing organisms of the invention are also, surprisingly, non-sporulating. Furthermore, the desired antigen is expressed into the supernatant. Hence, the protective antigen produced is easily purified and, though protective, does not cause many of the troublesome side effects of prior art vaccines.
      ***
      The resulting plasmid was transformed into B. subtilis IS53 and two stable PA producing, kanamycin resistant isolates were found (pPAlOl and pPA102) (Ivins and Welkos, 1986). Subsequent analysis of the plasmids revealed that both had suffered spontaneous 15 deletions.
      ***
      This strain … was then subjected to Congo Red agar selection for mutants displaying an inability to bind the dye, a characteristic known to correlate with an asporogenic phenotype (Worsham, submitted). The selected isolate, now designated ASterne-l(pPA102)CR4 was further subcultured
      three times to insure that a single clone was isolated. This clone has served as the seed stock for all research and development of fermentation conditions, and purification of PA.

      ***

      Media: FA medium was used for all plates and liquid cultures described here unless otherwise specified. FA medium consisted of 33 g/1 tryptone (Difco), 20 g/1 yeast extract (Difco), 2 g/1 L-histidine, 8 g/1 Na2HPO4, 7.4 g/1
      40 NaCl, 4 g/1 KH2PO4 adjusted to pH 7.4 with NaOH.

      • DXer said

        This once again raises a question: Why would Dr. Ivins use a source of anthrax and a medium that leads to mutants that would allow the anthrax to be traced? The prosecutors contacted Dr. Keim in Spring 2008 to ask if Dr. Ivins would know that the strain could be traced — and so the issue appears to have occurred to the investigators also.

        As a layperson, the question that occurs to me: Doesn’t language like “Subsequent analysis of the plasmids revealed that both had suffered spontaneous 15 deletions” suggest he knew that he was dealing with a bag of Halloween candy that had a special combination of blue M&Ms and yellow M&Ms? His co-patentee PW is the one explaining the genetics to the NAS. If Pat W understands it, is there any reason to think that Bruce didn’t? Given that the same anthrax was supplied to a former Zawahiri associate, does it make any sense to get all excited that Dr. Ivins (1) edited Wikipedia, (2) was enraged at being accused? Let me guess: Pat knows polymorphisms but has never heard of Qutb.

      • DXer said

        The former Zawahiri associate, in thanking Bruce Ivins for supplying the virulent Ames, also thanked these people. Note the underlying USAMRIID vaccine research. $50 million in investment and no product. Clean-up at Capitol. Postal cream pitched to postal workers. Checking any of my facts is as simple and costless as an email.

        ANTHRAX, VIRULENCE
        ***********************
        A ProMED-mail post

        ProMED-mail is a program of the
        International Society for Infectious Diseases

        Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 17:43:32 -0500
        From: ProMED-mail
        Source: NY Times Online [edited]

        Scientists have discovered why different strains of the bacterium that
        causes anthrax differ so much in virulence, a finding that in theory could
        produce more effective vaccines and better tools for distinguishing and
        tracking the lethal germ. But the finding could also aid the creation of
        designer varieties of anthrax that are potentially deadlier to humans.
        Because of that potential danger, a debate occurred over whether the
        discovery should be kept secret, scientists said. In the end, it was
        decided that the benefits of publication outweighed the risks.

        The discovery was made by 6 scientists at Louisiana State University, the
        Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the United States Army Medical
        Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, the nation’s top center for
        studying germ defenses. It is published in the current Journal of Clinical
        Microbiology. The lead author, Dr. Pamala R. Coker, formerly at L.S.U. and
        now at the Livermore laboratory in California, spearheaded the research for
        her Ph.D. dissertation. The Livermore laboratory once pioneered nuclear
        arms but increasingly studies biology and germ defenses.

        The team’s finding centers on the anthrax genome, which consists of a
        single large chromosome and 2 small circles of DNA, known as plasmids, that
        carry extra genes. The scientists found that, contrary to common belief,
        each anthrax bacterium carries not just one set of plasmids but up to 243
        copies of the first and up to 32 copies of the second, which is known as
        pX02. The more copies of this plasmid in a bacterial strain, the more
        capable it is of causing disease, the scientists said.

        The [virulence] research was conducted in guinea pigs. The scientists
        found, for example, that an anthrax strain from Mozambique that possessed
        just one pX02 plasmid killed 25 percent of the test animals. But a strain
        from Australia with 32 copies of the plasmid left all the guinea pigs dead.
        [They] also reported that added factors like subtle features of the
        bacterium’s DNA chromosome appeared to help determine virulence. Thus, the
        anthrax that killed 5 Americans in the germ attacks of 2001 — the
        so-called Ames strain — was found to possess just 2 copies of pX02. But it
        nonetheless killed 62 percent of the guinea pigs.

        The pX02 plasmid carries genes that let the anthrax bacterium fashion an
        outer protein coat that acts as a defensive shield to thwart the immune
        system of hosts. The scientists suspect that multiple copies of pX02
        thicken that coating, letting the germ escape immune damage and multiply to
        do extensive harm.

        Scientists had previously identified 89 types of anthrax as genetically
        distinct but had failed to discover what determined their wide differences
        in virulence. The plasmid findings, they said, opened a new window on that
        question. [While more research needs to be done to verify these
        observations, and if confirmed they may help in the development of new
        vaccines – Mod.MHJ] it could also aid investigations of germ attacks. Dr.
        Coker of the Livermore laboratory said the finding could help forensic
        scientists track down the country and laboratory from which the weapon
        arose. That, she said, was possible because the plasmid technique acted as
        a kind of microscope to reveal finer genetic distinctions among the 89
        known varieties of anthrax. [She] conceded that the research in theory
        could also help a genetic engineer make a more deadly form of anthrax by
        increasing the number of pX02 plasmids.

        Dr. Kaplan of the University of Texas, who heads the publication board of
        the American Society for Microbiology in Washington, said no reviewer or
        official of the society raised objections to publication of the plasmid
        paper, even though the White House has urged scientists to screen their
        work carefully for possible harm to national security.

        Steve Wampler, a spokesman at the California laboratory, said the plasmid
        research was done before Dr. Coker came to Livermore, but the laboratory
        nonetheless put the paper through a careful security review. “In the end,”
        he said, “it was decided that it was fine to publish.”

        In addition to Dr. Coker of Livermore and Dr. Hugh-Jones of L.S.U., the
        paper’s authors are Dr. Kimothy L. Smith of the Livermore aboratory,
        Patricia F. Fellows of the Army research institute ….

        [Byline: William J. Broad]


        ProMED-mail

        [Dr. Coker had raised the point of multiple copies of the _B. anthracis_
        plasmids some 3 years ago and then worked to develop the necessary QPCR
        techniques to see whether she was right. The article is entitled “Bacillus
        anthracis Virulence in Guinea Pigs Vaccinated with Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed
        Is Linked to Plasmid Quantities and Clonality” J. Clin. Microbiol. 2003
        41: 1212-1218 and has the necessary methodological details. Thanks to Pat
        Fellows we were able to use her USAMRIID data from a previous virulence
        study without killing any more animals and without the delay and costs
        involved. From one isolate to another, the virulence of this pathogen
        varies widely, and hopefully this paper injects some reason into that
        variance. The major objections have centered on the perceived excessive
        intracellular bulk of multiple plasmid copies. It is now up to our critics
        to prove us wrong. If it is confirmed, as I firmly believe it will be, it
        will produce an immediate boost on studies to understand the chromosomal
        contributions to virulence besides grossly simplifying virulence
        measurements in the field; up until now virulence studies have concentrated
        on the pX01 plasmid and the actions of protective antigen (PA), edema
        factor (EF) and lethal factor (LF). There was a lot of discussion
        internally and externally on publication, but we held that the future
        benefits of this research outweighed the possible costs. – Mod.MHJ]

    • BugMaster said

      You bring up an excellent point here. Ivins, or any good microbiologist, would be aware of any polymorphism (presence of visible mutants) in any strains they worked with.

      One is constantly on the lookout for any colonies that appear on a plate that have a different appearance than the original. This is how one detects the presence of a contaminant in a culture. Even if there are 500 or so colonies on a plate, seeing the one in 500 becomes second nature very early in one’s career.

      In addition, there would have been many instances where “plate counts” of RMR-1029 material was performed. This involved diluting the material down to where single colonies are observed on plates, the colonies are counted, and the resulting count multiplied by the dilution factor, thus giving a viable count for the material being evaluated in CFUs (colony forming units).

      Ivins and his associates would have performed dozens, if not hundreds, of these procedures over time. They would have observed and noted the presence of the mutants, even if they were only 1 in 500.

      This phenomona has certainly been noted somewhere in the lab notebooks that were generated at Fort Detrick over the years, either by Ivins or other co-workers.

      Remember, the reason RMR-1029 was a pool was to guarantee that the challenge isolate hadn’t undergone some genetic changes that render it less infectious.

      And none of the morphs were isolated from any of the victims. Which means they were not as virulent, or possibly non-infectous.

  8. DXer said

    “Neither the F.B.I. or Dr. Weber tryed growing anthrax on plates using the FA media specified in Ivin’s rpa-102 patent.”

    Why would you think that one of 200 (or however many) attempts to recreate the anthrax did not include this? Wouldn’t it be an obvious thing to try given their claim that Dr. Ivins grew the anthrax used?

    “There is proof of travel. As far as the itinerary, it is known. It just wasn’t willingly disclosed to the FBI.”

    I’ve spoken to the mailer. He’s a very nice and classy guy. I have no reason to think you know him.

    • BugMaster said

      Remember:

      Ivins would have known better than to use his FA media to produce spores.

      FA media was used for rpa-102 (which doesn’t sporulate).

      Work on rpa-102 was being done at Battelle from May 1st, 2001 up to around the time just prior to the anthrax attacks (based on Ivin’s “bag of worms” email of 9-7-01 where he described the rpa-102 project as being “in limbo”).

      DXer, I’m never going to convince you myself, so we will just have to see what happens next.

      You have been of immeasurable help over the years in the information you have bought to light, and have my thanks and gratitude.

  9. DXer said

    Dr. Weber did not achieve silicon levels near the mailed anthrax, did he?

    Why would you suggest someone mailed anthrax without proof of travel?

    The proof of travel that the FBI has does not relate to anyone you know.

    • BugMaster said

      Neither the F.B.I. or Dr. Weber tryed growing anthrax on plates using the FA media specified in Ivin’s rpa-102 patent. And why would they? This media is specifically designed to INHIBIT sporulation, should a single bacterium of asporous rpa-102 revert back to a sporulating state.

      Regardless, if one was to streak out material from the RMR-1029 onto FA media agar (with the kanamycin left out, of course), there would be sporulation on the surface of the plates (in the outer layer of the growing culture, where nutrients would still become depleted, there would most likely be no sporulation in liquid culture).

      The characteristics and silicon levels found in the resulting material would match those of the material mailed to NYC.

      After all, there is a reason for everything. And Dr. Weber, with the help of DXer (by providing us with two different versions of the rpa-102 FA media formulation) have now explained how the unique characteristics of the attack material were formed.

      There is proof of travel. As far as the itinerary, it is known. It just wasn’t willingly disclosed to the FBI.

  10. DXer said

    Let’s pause and consider the high caliber leadership of the Task Force in the past. For years, the head of the investigation was Assistant FBI Director Michal Mason who was head of the Amerithrax investigation as head of the DC Field Office. He explained that he regretted that Dr. Hatfill’s name had ever surfaced and noted that they could not replicate the powder — that is, they could not replicate the Silicon Signature.

    Joining the bureau in 1985, Special Agent Mason handled narcotics violations, violent crimes, white-collar crimes and public corruption. He was especially relieved the time he did not have to shoot the suicidal Elvis impersonator in a Sears parking lot. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he served as special assistant to FBI Director Robert Mueller. He assumed responsibility for Amerithrax as assistant director in charge of the Washington, D.C., field office. He oversaw the office’s massive counterintelligence efforts against foreign intelligence agents based in Washington, D.C.

    While in Buffalo, harking back to his days watching Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. on television, he addressed the portrayal of the FBI in “X-Files”, suggesting that reality was just as interesting.

    Mason was in the Syracuse office, when 2:15 a.m. one night, a 115,000-volt transmission tower came crashing down not far down the street from me. Mason investigated when the tower on the nearby Onondaga Indian reservation came 50 feet from crashing on a cigarette shop, near where the local residents buy their smokes.

    “This is a serious felony. It is more than just criminal mischief,” Mason said. The Niagara Mohawk spokesperson declined to comment on what caused the tower to fall. But a local Onondaga businessman Oliver Hill said he knew. The tower missed crushing his cigarette shop, which had been opened without the permission of the local Onondaga tribal leaders. “There has been sabotage on that tower because on each leg there are 20 to 30 bolts,” said Hill. “All the bolts were taken out on all four legs. So when the bolts are taken out, there’s nothing to hold it up so it fell over. Yes, it was sabotage.”

    I didn’t call the local FBI office about the tower incident. After all, smoking kills 400,000 people a year.

    Instead, I called the FBI office to tell them that a Ronald Reagan mask had been found along with a bank bag where the man lay in wait with a semi-automatic — first for my brother, and then the next week my father. The FBI agent in the small local office, who did not identify himself, said something to the effect: “We killed the Closing Time Bandit who used a Ronald Reagan mask in robbing banks. So this guy can’t be responsible for those robberies.”

    Ronald Petersen had been killed Aug. 15, 1996 by FBI agents in the Rochester suburb of Henrietta while plotting another heist. The rightist, who had been tracked by a miniature television camera on a telephone pole outside his home, died in a hail of bullets. When police searched his house in Liverpool, a Syracuse suburb, they recovered 20 guns, including two Uzis, 20,000 rounds of ammunition and a cache of explosives.

    “I know. “ I said, “This guy’s parole officer says his apartment in Watertown is covered with newspaper articles glorifying famous New York State criminals. He’s trying to make you fellows look foolish. By being a copycat and making it look like you killed the wrong guy..”

    The ex-convict and three-time loser who tried to take my Dad away at gunpoint that night before Christmas got over 20 years to life, with no possibility of parole. Robbery was the apparent motive. That night, the police siren had come on in within seconds of the 911 call coming in. The gunman spent the night holed up in a nearby garage and was captured after a psychiatrist/hostage negotiator came from Syracuse and talked him out of the garage. He asked that they kneel and pray together. (I never said the gunman was very bright).

    So why have I always been such a booster of the FBI and local law enforcement (that is, until US Attorney Jeff Taylor’s recent performance at the press conference last year and Daniel Seikaly’s calculated leaks about Hatfill before that). (Attorney Seikaly of Taylor’s same office pled the Fifth Amendment in connection with such leaks; his daughter then came to represent Ali Al-Timimi, the “anthrax weapons suspect” of the other investigative squad). Why have I always been such a fan of Director Mueller and Agent Michael Mason in particular? Because it is their job to protect our loved ones.

    Sam Stanton of the Sacramento Bee provides relevant background on Mason:

    “He has a friend in Syracuse, N.Y., who’s a felon, and when he talks about his favorite case — the successful recovery of a 2-year-old girl kidnapped at Christmas — tears come to his eyes.

    The son of a truck driver whose mother died when he was a baby, Mason knew he wanted to be in law enforcement early in childhood. As an African American growing up in Chicago, he said, he knew that many minorities said they had trouble with Chicago cops. But he said he never had a negative law enforcement experience.

    He shifted his goal from joining the Chicago police force to the FBI after seeing the old Efrem Zimbalist Jr. series “The FBI” on television.

    Mason knew many FBI agents came to the bureau with law degrees, but that wasn’t realistic given his family’s finances. So he ended up with an accounting degree from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington.

    After graduation, he went into the Marine Corps, serving at Camp Pendleton and ending up a captain. But he still dreamed of joining the FBI, and when his tour of duty was up with the Corps he decided the time was right.

    “I remember when I called I didn’t have any idea how one becomes an FBI agent,” Mason said. “I called and said, ‘Can I have an application?’ And the lady, an old-timer there, said, ‘Sure, honey, we’ll send you one right out.’ “ ***

    People who have worked with him before say Mason’s nice-guy image is genuine, and a sign of that is his friendship with community activist Kathleen Rumpf in Syracuse.

    Rumpf, who calls herself a “felon for peace” (and who I adore) spent several months in prison for trespassing during a demonstration against the School for the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga. She has spent years in Syracuse fighting for prisoner rights and other issues, and when Mason showed up there one of the first things he did was meet with her.

    “I’ve been treated very badly in the past by the FBI because I’m an activist,” Rumpf said.

    But Mason was different.

    “He’s quite wonderful,” Rumpf said in an interview from the Syracuse offices of the American Civil Liberties Union. “He was incredibly responsible and treated me with great respect.

    “He said to me if he ever had to arrest me he would do it, and I said, ‘Be my guest.’ But I knew I could trust this man to be professional.”

    Local law enforcement officials echo that sentiment.

    ‘He is an outstanding individual,’ said Gary Miguel, chief deputy of investigations for the Syracuse Police Department. ‘You’re fortunate to have him.’

    In Syracuse, Miguel said, Mason worked hard to get to know the community and to cooperate with local authorities.” *** [Mason said,] “I’m not complicated enough to be political. It’s too hard.”

    Once told there was CIA involvement, he responded that his superiors might not like to hear that. Attorney Seikaly, to whom the head of the investigation and Mason reported the status of the investigation, came over from the CIA to the DC US Attorney’s Office on September 29, 2001. But a student of history likely would conclude that any suppression of information is for old-fashioned reasons: CYA. At the very least, when in doubt, follow the goddamn money.

    The question of the hour is how did Ali Al-Timimi come to have the mail drop at the Center for Biodefense that for example received issuance of the patent for concentrating anthrax using silicon dioxide in the culture medium? …the one my military lab head calls a “Wow!” microencapsulation patent. That is the best explanation I’ve seen that the FBI WMD head Majidi offers for the silicon signature. Ali Al-Timimi worked for 2 months for the former White House Chief of Staff. Did he list Mr. Card on his resume? He worked with the former deputy USAMRIID Charles Bailey at SRA in 1999. Ali did mathematical support work for the Navy and had a high security clearance. What was his security clearance for? Ali then came to work 15 feet from the leading anthrax scientist in the world, Ken Alibek, and the former deputy USAMRIID, Charles Bailey. They co-invented the method using silica in the culture medium to concentrate anthrax. The silica can then be removed through repeated centrifugation or an air chamber (according to a related patent). When you focus on Pasechnik’s work with a jet mill, on which NAS panel member D.A. Henderson has been briefed, it is time for some probing questions to be asked.

    I’ve always argued that the key to achieve the best balancing of interests was to have an informed debate. I’ve always argued that with people like Michael Mason advising Director Mueller, I felt both secure and confident that authorities would always continue to strive to strike an appropriate balance. I have no reason to think that Mr. Persichini is not of the same caliber despite my disagreement with the suggestion that the evidence establishes Dr. Ivins is guilty, rather than just that the anthrax used came originally from his flask.

    For his part, Director Mueller said, in a vintage comment, that it would be mistaken to suggest that the FBI has made a mistake. Well, respectfully, I disagree. Jeff Taylor’s comments were pretty clear and demonstrably untrue. More broadly, during the Bush Adminsitraiton, the US DOJ made a mistake in allowing itself to be politicized. Men like Mason and Mueller and Holder should be among the first to agree — and to do something about it. Did Attorney General Holder take to heart the lessons learned of the the Rich pardon in Clinton’s last days or not? Bring back the US DOJ that stands for the rule of law.

    I think they will. We are better than the US DOJ during the 2001-2008 period.

    • BugMaster said

      “he regretted that Dr. Hatfill’s name had ever surfaced and noted that they could not replicate the powder — that is, they could not replicate the Silicon Signature.”

      Can’t replicate the Silicon Signature?

      YES THEY CAN! (just consult with Dr. Weber).

      • Anonymous Scientist said

        Weber never came anywhere close to replicating the silicon. The highest silicon concentration he achieved was 0.4%. Most of his samples where he deliberately added silicon had much less than 0.1% Si.

        The admitted concentration of Si in the Leahy spores is a whopping 1.5%. In reality, it was much higher than that in the Daschle and NYP powders.

        So, no, the silicon was not replicated by Weber.

      • BugMaster said

        Weber has put forth a hypothetical situation which could have resulted in a ten-fold or more increase in the silicon levels above what he was able to obtain. So if he obtained 0.4%, levels of 4% should be attainable, especially with a rich media containing 10 times the level of yeast extract one normally uses in normal media formulations.

        So, the silicon levels were not duplicated by Dr. Weber. But they can be duplicated.

      • Anonymous Scientist said

        I can put forth any hypothetical situation I want. The point is Weber could not duplicate the silicon concentration in the mailed spores. To write “But they can be duplicated” is meaningless. If it could have been done he should have done it. To get that much silicon in there you need to add a certain silicon containing species. Weber did not do that. Apparently the person(s) who made the mailed spores did.

      • BugMaster said

        Would you not agree that the hypothesis put forth by Dr. Lewis (both growing and sporulating cells present at the same time, such as what you would have with a culture grown on plates) coupled with the use of Ivin’s FA media is at least one plausable explaination for the silica signature?

        If not, why not?

      • BugMaster said

        Sorry, correction, not Dr. Lewis, but rather, Dr. Weber.

      • DXer said

        BugMaster,

        That question is best posed to the likes of Dr. Kiel, Dr. Popov or some other microbiologist in the field. Anonymous Scientist is the lead guitarist in a Led Zeppelin cover band.

      • BugMaster said

        Is Ed Lake on bass?

      • DXer said

        “Is Ed Lake on bass?”

        Is this a fish pun? Or are you suggesting he rolls bass and smokes it?

        Ed’s theory is that it is 95% certain that a child wrote the letters. He is not on base. He’s not even in the same ballpark.

  11. DXer said

    In Beyond Anthrax: The Weaponization of Infectious Diseases Beyond Anthrax: The Weaponization of Infectious Diseases Edited by Larry I. Lutwick and Suzanne M. Lutwick Towata, NJ: Humana Press, 2009. 374 pp , at what page does Lutwick et al. define weaponization in the narrow manner used by Dr. Michael in his powerpoint or Dr. Majidi in his briefing to the science media (before the roundtable briefing to general media)? (post-production treatment with a chemical additive for the purpose of increasing dispersability i.e., floatability)

    • DXer said

      There are chapters of MICROBIAL FORENSICS that need to be copied and given NAS panel members — such as Dr. Ezzell’s chapter on handling evidence and Dr. Lenski and Dr. Keim’s chapter on “Population Genetics of Bacteria in a Forensic Context.” Dr. Lenski is a panel member. Although the chapter explains it is simplifying things to avoid some wrinkles presented in Amerithrax, it does expressly address identifying the rogue lab using the Amerithrax genetics.

      Better yet, give NAS panel members a copy of the entire book.

    • DXer said

      I see that SL used to work at the organization headed by Lew before he became a globetrotter. Given NAS presenter JM has no expertise in weaponization and instead has expertise in pinpointing the location of the silicon, we should now ask Larry and Suzanne Lutwick the implications of JM’s finding. For example, ask them about microencapsulation.

  12. BugMaster said

    The Holder Justice Department is fully aware of who mailed the letters, DXer.

    And it wasn’t Bruce Ivins.

    • BugMaster said

      How are the following terms related?

      Damage Control

      Cover-up

      Conspiracy

      Best to avoid slippery slopes. One could loose their footing, and take quite a fall.

  13. DXer said

    The guidelines for classifying and prioritizing “persons of interest” were issued in a memorandum dated December 3, 2001. Just four days later, FBI Special Agent Jennifer Gant objected to the information-sharing:

    “The divisions are reluctant to add names to the ‘Persons of Interest’ list for many reasons…. [T]he list is widely disseminated in the FBI and DOJ, and based on past experience, there is a probability that it will be leaked or accidentally fall into the hands of the national media. This would end any covert investigation into the potential people involved. This list has the potential to be a major detriment to the case, yet has no apparent value.”

    Now Jennifer Gant is making very sound points. And it would explain why the folks in the one investigative squad and the science squad are so clueless even 7 years after the memo was written.

    But what explains the investigative failure of THE THIRD SQUAD?

    Absent the conflicts of interest detailed above, it could just be assumed that they could not make a case — that there is no other suspect. And the case went cold along with Dr. Ivins.

    But under all the circumstances, a “trust us” response does not cut it here.

    • DXer said

      The National Academy of Sciences proceeding represented an opportunity to overcome the conflicts of interest described below through transparency — but that never materialized.

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