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

* Questions arising from a reading of the Summary of the FBI Investigation of Dr. Bruce E. Ivins

Posted by DXer on February 26, 2010

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When I read about the FBI/DOJ press conference in August 2008, I was so upset by the lack of any real evidence against Dr. Ivins that, over the next 45 days, I wrote my novel to explain why  the FBI had failed to solve the anthrax murders. CASE CLOSED is of course a fiction, but it has been described by many readers, including one highly respected member of the U.S. Intelligence Community, as a quite plausible scenario .

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

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Each of the numbered items below was taken directly from the Summary of the FBI Investigation of Dr. Bruce E. Ivins released 2/19/10

The items marked “Q” are questions that arose in my mind as I read the FBI report.

Items in blue are reader comments on specific items; thanks for the addditions.

  • NOTE: if you’d like your comment appended to this post, please indicate the item # to which it refers.

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1. This (new DNA science) was a groundbreaking development in the investigation. It allowed the investigators to reduce drastically the number of possible suspects, because only a very limited number of individuals had ever had access to this specific spore preparation that was housed at USAMRIID.

Q: Is the more than 350 individuals who apparently had or could have had access to RMR-1029 anthrax, plus others to whom the 350 could have given the anthrax, a “very limited” number of individuals?

DXer comments … Oh, by the way, the former Zawahiri associate who was working with virulent Ames from Flask 1029 alongside Bruce Ivins is from the University of Michigan. The very first person I asked about him was the University of Michigan scientist referenced by the FBI whose correspondence and field involved the codons.

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2. It was determined that Dr. Hatfill could not have been the mailer because he never had access to the particular bio-containment suites at USAMRIID that held the RMR-1029. In other words, although Dr. Hatfill had access to Ames strain anthrax while at USAMRIID, he never had access to the particular spore-batch used in the mailings.

Q: Were access and internal controls at USAMRIID so secure that those who were not supposed to be there could have gained access to RMR-1029 anthrax? Could others have received RMR-1029 anthrax from those who did have legitimate access?

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3. The Task Force focused its investigation on those researchers who had access to the lab at USAMRIID where RMR-1029 was being stored between September 11 and 18, 2001, and again between October 1 and 8, 2001 – the windows of opportunity to have processed and mailed the anthrax used to commit the crime.

Q: Why was the investigation focused on these two limited time windows? What evidence proves that the attack anthrax could only have been obtained at those times?

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4. Investigators learned that Dr. Ivins was alone late at night and on the weekend in the lab where RMR-1029 was stored in the days immediately preceding the dates on which the anthrax could have been mailed. Before the anthrax mailings, Dr. Ivins had never exhibited that pattern of working alone in the lab extensively during non-business hours, and he never did so after the anthrax attacks. When confronted, he was unable to give a legitimate explanation for keeping these unusual and, in the context of the investigation, suspicious hours.

Q: Since when does mere presence in a lab provide knowledge of what was done in the lab during those times? What explanation did Dr. Ivins give? When was he asked, since he apparently did not become a suspect until 2007, six years after the nights in question? Were there any emails or other written records that indicated what he might have been doing on the nights in question?

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5. As investigators reviewed Dr. Ivins’s voluminous e-mails, including e-mails during the time frame of the anthrax attacks, it became clear that he was suffering from significant psychological problems, which not only further concerned the investigators, but also contributed to their increasing scrutiny and monitoring of him. Investigators obtained authorization to place open registers on Dr. Ivins’s home and work telephones and e-mail accounts, and obtainedconsent to analyze his home computer hard drives. The Task Force examined his Internet searches and postings and reviewed his e-mail communications from both his personal and USAMRIID computer (with the approval of the Commander at USAMRIID). A GPS device was installed on his car, interviews with his associates were conducted, his trash was regularly searched, and confidential sources were used to gather further information.

Q: Can it then be assumed that these aggressive investigative measures were not used with respect to Dr. Ivins prior to 2007?

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6. By the fall of 2007, agents and prosecutors concluded that they had exhausted the results that could be obtained from using covert investigative tools. Increasingly persuaded that Dr. Ivins was involved in the anthrax attacks, agents obtained search warrants for his residence in Frederick, Maryland, his cars, and his office at USAMRIID, mindful that this would confirm for Dr. Ivins that he was a subject of the investigation.

Q: What specific information led investigators to become “increasingly persuaded” that Dr. Ivins was involved in the anthrax attacks?

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7. Searches of his trash and e-mail accounts in the spring of 2008 produced additional evidence linking Dr. Ivins to the anthrax letters.

Q: What was this “additional evidence?” Has it all been released?

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8. On July 12, 2008, Task Force agents again searched the Ivins residence, based on new evidence that he had made specific threats in a group therapy session on July 9, 2008. During the search of his residence they recovered a bullet-proof vest, together with a homemade reinforced body armor plate, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and smokeless handgun powder.

Q: What relevance do comments made in 2008 have to an action allegedly taken in 2001? What exactly did Dr. Ivins say and why does the FBI think there was a connection to the anthrax attacks? What does the FBI see as the connection  between the items found at Dr. Ivins’ house in 2008 and the anthrax attacks of 2001? Did Dr. Ivins have those items in his possession in 2001?

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9. Dr. Ivins was among the very few anthrax researchers nationwide with the knowledge and ability to create the highly purified spores used in the mailings.

Q: Has the FBI considered the statements of other scientists that Dr. Ivins did not in fact have such knowledge and ability, nor the equipment? What basis does the FBI have to discount such statements by respected scientists?

Bugmaster comments … BULLSHIT! I have reviewed two published papers by Ivins where he gives the protocol used to create material of such purity. If I had access to the Ames strain and the contrast agent used in the purification process, I could do it too!

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10. Motive. According to his e-mails and statements to friends, in the months leading up to the anthrax attacks in the fall of 2001, Dr. Ivins was under intense personal and professional pressure. The anthrax vaccine program to which he had devoted his entire career of more than 20 years was failing. The anthrax vaccines were receiving criticism in several scientific circles, because of both potency problems and allegations that the anthrax vaccine contributed to Gulf War Syndrome. Short of some major breakthrough or intervention, he feared that the vaccine research program was going to be discontinued. Following the anthrax attacks, however, his program was suddenly rejuvenated.

Q: Regardless of the status of the vaccine research program, does the FBI have any evidence to indicate that Dr. Ivins had any reason to to fear that his livelihood was in jeopardy? Is the FBI aware that all research programs, and particularly all vaccine research programs, are speculative in nature and prone to failure? In fact, many if not most such programs do fail, and Dr. Ivins surely knew this.

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11. In the month before his suicide, his homicidal tendencies became more pronounced, as he posted violent messages on the Internet regarding a reality TV star and made death threats during a group therapy session.

Q: How is Dr. Ivins behavior in 2008, even if accurately reported, relevant to his alleged actions in 2001. Is the FBI insidiously implying that the actions of a man driven almost to suicide in 2008 has anything to do with what he might have been thinking in 2001? By 2008, he had been subjected to the intense pressure of the FBI (described in this summary);  did the FBI ever consider the potential impact of such pressure on a person who they knew to be quite fragile?

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12. Scientific analysis by the USPIS, FBI, and United States Secret Service (“USSS”) revealed that the envelopes used in the attacks were part of a batch distributed in bulk to post offices in Maryland and Virginia, and envelopes from this same batch were sold at post offices in Frederick, Maryland, and surrounding communities.

Q: How many such envelopes were sold, near Frederick and elsewhere, in 2001 and before? Does the FBI have any evidence that Dr. Ivins actually purchased such envelopes? Did the FBI ascertain if any of the other 350 + persons with access to RMR-1029 anthrax also had access to these envelopes?

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13. They (the FBI) concluded that the envelopes most similar to those used in the attacks were also distributed to the Frederick, Maryland post office, which was located just a few blocks from the home of Dr. Ivins, and where Dr. Ivins maintained a post office box at the time of the mailings.

Q: What is the meaning of the expression “envelopes most similar” to those used in the attacks? Were the envelopes identical to those used in the attacks or just similar? How many other envelopes were similar to the attack envelopes and where could they be purchased?

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14. In an e-mail he sent to a colleague on September 26, 2001 – i.e., after the first anthrax letters were mailed, but before they had been discovered – Dr. Ivins wrote: “I just heard tonight that the Bin Laden terrorists for sure have anthrax and sarin gas” and “Osama Bin Laden has just decreed death to all Jews and all Americans.”

Q: DXer has already spoken to this email …

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15. Dr. Ivins was particularly fond of a book dealing extensively with coded messages, including codes conveyed in bolded letters and codes involving the letters “A” and “T” – both of which letters are significant in genetics.

Q: So what? Did the FBI ascertain if any of the other 350 were also interested in codes, or perhaps really liked The DaVinci Code?

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16. Dr. Ivins engaged in a series of actions and made several statements that were evidence of a guilty conscience. In the immediate aftermath of the anthrax attacks, he – one of the nation’s leading experts in anthrax – sent an e-mail to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) suggesting nonsensical explanations for why the first victim might have contracted inhalation anthrax. A few months after the anthrax attacks, he took environmental samplings for anthrax contamination in the building where he worked – an unauthorized procedure – and found it only in the area where he himself worked. He then decontaminated his office and his lab, and failed to report it. In the spring of 2002, when the Task Force undertook efforts to link known cultures of Ames anthrax to the mailed material, he submitted questionable samples of RMR-1029 to the FBI Repository.

Q: Does the FBI often present cases which rely on “evidence of a guilty conscience” rather than evidence that the accused person actually committed the crime? Why are any of the examples cited by the FBI an indication of a guilty conscience? How does the FBI define a guilty conscience? Would the FBI agree that its own complicity in the decision of scientists in Iowa to knowingly destroy the largest repository of “Ames” anthrax just days after the anthrax attacks might also be construed as evidence of a guilty conscience?

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17. In the week after the first search of his residence in connection with the anthrax investigation, he (Dr. Ivins) threw out in the trash a book about secret codes that included a passage about using a series of bolded letters to disguise a message, which was strikingly similar to the technique used in the attack letters. The night he threw out the book, he went out into the street in the middle of the night in his long underwear, immediately after the garbage truck came at about 1:00 a.m., and confirmed that his trash had been picked up.

Q: Again, what does this behavior in 2007 have to do with a crime committed in 2001? One would think that 600,000 investigator work hours would produce something better than this.

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18. As the investigation began to focus on him, Dr. Ivins made threatening statements related to the anthrax investigation to another scientist.

Q: So what? This was in 2008, after the FBI had been hounding the man, torturing him until finally he was driven to commit suicide.

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19. Dr. Ivins had a number of habits and strange proclivities consistent with the modus operandi of the anthrax mailer. He had a penchant for going on long drives to mail letters and packages from distant post offices, often using a pseudonym when doing so, thereby disguising his identity as the mailer.

Q: Who can read such statements, after 600,000 investigator work hours, without thinking that if this wasn’t all so serious, it would be laughable.

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29 Responses to “* Questions arising from a reading of the Summary of the FBI Investigation of Dr. Bruce E. Ivins”

  1. DXer said

    http://www.fredericknewspost.com/media/pdfs/FortAnthraxRushHolt.pdf

    At her blog ( http://anthraxvaccine.blogspot.com/ ) , Dr. Meryl Nass summarizes a long memorandum posted by Frederick News-Post written by Frederick attorney Barry Kissin.

    “Kissin Memo: Piecing Together the Anthrax Letters Story

    The Frederick News-Post has posted a long memorandum by Attorney Barry Kissin, a resident of Frederick, Maryland on its website. Attorney Kissin has no professional connection to USAMRIID or Dr. Ivins. Yet he has followed the anthrax letters story closely, and has written a cogent and thoroughly documented though controversial paper discussing what various people said (and when they said it) about the anthrax letter spores.

    There are so many important points that I will not attempt to select out just a few.

    One major impression you are left with is that US government agencies–and no one else–control all the evidence in this case. The evidence has been described in different ways at different times, and by different spokespeople, who were often under cover of anonymity.

    The public and media have had no direct access to the evidence: what we believe we know about this case is what has been doled out to us, little bits at a time. Much information has been withheld. Some has turned out to be disinformation: for example, the claim that the “chemical signature” of the water in which the spores were grown identified Frederick, Maryland, or the claim that the envelopes could be traced to the Frederick post office.

    The evidence has been managed, such as during a meeting on the science held by FBI for science reporters in August 2008, when a person overseeing the FBI testimony (of Vashid Majidi) claimed to be a Naval employee, turned out to be on Battelle’s payroll, and actually answers to God knows who.

    The FBI’s case is a sticky mess of facts, innuendo, and unsupported claims (some of which have faded away once their fiction was revealed, such as the “natural” occurrence of silicon within the spores). There is no solidity anywhere you press against this case.

    Scott Shane has written in the NY Times that by many measures this has been the most complex and expensive case in the FBI’s history. Yet the FBI’s narrative plays fast and loose with the truth–in those few places the truth can be discerned. Hundreds of FBI agents are not part of a conspiracy. So what really happened to this investigation? How was it managed? Was it obstructed, how and by whom?

    The taxpayers have bought a pig in a poke with this most expensive investigation, and it is time to inspect the goods.”

    • DXer said

      Barry nowhere addresses the fact that Flask 1030 had a Silicon Signature. Unless and until people realize the reason for the Silicon Signature in Dr. Ivins’ Flask 1030 (and see Sandia powerpoints about variability), they should not be deriving political conclusions from the issue of the Silicon Signature in both Flask 1030 and the attack anthrax.

      At the very least, they need to address the issue.

  2. DXer said

    05/1/2006

    ________ maintained the Ba spores in the freezer. _______ explained that petri dishes could be left out in the labs for a couple of days but the dishes would be taped with para film. Streaked plates would be kept in a refrigerator.

  3. DXer said

    5/04/2006 302

    “Regarding destruction of ‘lots’ of BA, _________ noted that would archive a small part of a lot, and then destroy the rest by autoclave. _________ does not know if any Ames scheduled for disposal was recycled to be used for ad-hoc studies. _______ could not elaborate on the rules that were in place for the access, storage, and dissemination of Ames, and noted that these rules/procedures were controlled by the individual investigator in the lab who dealth with the bacteria.”

  4. DXer said

    3/29/2006 WFO Memo

    “The initiatives described above demonstrate a significant difference between expected keycard access data for employees using the containment area of Building 1412, and the actual data for employees during several Ba aerosol challenges between 9/1998 and 8/2001. The records of these employees often did not include at least one access point that is required for entering or exiting the containment area. The initiatives therefore have demonstrated that it is likely employees involved in aerosol challenges have piggybacked and/or experienced system failures when using keycard access badges and key card access codes.”

    Anthrax and Al Qaeda: The Infiltration of US Biodefense (February 25, 2010)
    440 pages
    http://www.blurb.com/books/1204466

  5. DXer said

    3/7/2006 302 re access to Ames from Flask 1029 –

    ________ recalled that IVINS maintained a supply of Ames in a walk-in cooler in suites ___ of Buliding ___ and that this was common knowledge.
    ***
    ___________ explained that the common practice adhered to by employees using the autoclaves was to place materials in the autoclave and only when it was full was it turned on. Since there were no set policy that was followed, _________ explained that materials were often left together on the floor (from various employees) by the autoclave waiting for it to be full before it was run.”

  6. DXer said

    The standard manual instructions on poison letters — in the chapter titled “Poisonous Letters” — advise using such a spray or sealant so as to avoid killing the mailman precisely because of this risk of leakage through the pores of the envelope.

    CNN LIVE THIS MORNING
    Target: Terrorism: Look at Al Qaeda’s Dreadful Recipe Book
    Aired November 15, 2001
    http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0111/14/tpt.00.html

    The poisonous letter is the title of one section no poison inks. “Write a letter to the victim mentioning very exciting and very interesting news,” it reads. “Wipe the envelope from the inside with silicone sealant,” it goes on, “so it would not kill the mailman.”

  7. DXer said

    Not So Subtilis: The Missing Contaminant in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary
    By: Jim White Thursday February 25, 2010
    http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/31691

  8. DXer said

    US House Seeks Further Review Of Anthrax Attacks

    WASHINGTON (AP) ― The House of Representatives is seeking further review of the 2001 anthrax mailings that killed five people.

    House members approved an amendment to an intelligence authorization bill Thursday that would require the government to look for credible evidence of foreign involvement in the attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 others.

    The action comes six days after the FBI closed its investigation by concluding Army scientist Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator of the attacks.

    The amendment was offered by New Jersey Democrat Rush Holt, from whose state the letters were mailed, and Maryland Republican Roscoe Bartlett. Maryland is home to Fort Detrick, the Army installation where Ivins worked before he killed himself in 2008.

    Both congressmen have expressed doubts about the FBI’s conclusions.

    AMERITHRAX – Graphics

    1. Infiltration of US Biodefense: Dugway

    2. Bruce Ivins email – concern samples were missing

    3. Was code used in the letters?

    4. Does this document seized in Afghanistan point to infiltration of US biodefense?

    5. Ayman Zawahiri’s correspondence with infiltrating scientist Rauf Ahmad

    6. Discovery Hall
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/anthraxandalqaeda_discoveryhall-1.jpg2

    7. Ayman’s recruiting network for his anthrax planning and the announcement of his plans in March 1999

    8. order not to talk to Bruce

    9. 100 ml discrepancy

    10. expanded inventory of what was done with Flask 1029 – he hadn’t noted withdrawals for work by his own group

  9. DXer said

    The Red Cross confirmed that Bruce Ivins typically attended their monthly meeting held on the third Monday of every month. The third Monday in September 2001 fell on September 17, 2001, the night he allegedly mailed the anthrax. He attended a 4 hour training session on September 22, 2001 for which a formal record was kept.

    Given that this would have been the first Red Cross meeting after 911, reporters should contact members of that Red Cross group and ask if they remember meeting Dr. Ivins. It might have been memorable given that it occurred the week after 911.

  10. Anonymous Scientist said

    page 25 here:

    http://foia.fbi.gov/amerithrax/847444.PDF

    In IVINS’s experience, freezing “wrecks” spores. He has never seen lypholized spores which were not damaged or in poor condition. For this reason, IVINS does not believe the material in the anthrax laced letters was lypholized. If it was lypholized, something was probably added to protect the spores.

    • Anonymous Scientist said

      page 26 here:
      http://foia.fbi.gov/amerithrax/847444.PDF

      IVINS does not understand how the samples of RMR 1029 he sent to Battelle Memorial Institute and the University of New Mexico could possibly not genetically match the RMR 1029 sample in possession of the FBI. He is very confused by that, and it just does not make sense scientifically.

      • The list of those who got RMR-1029 and those who sent back samples from that before RMR-1029 was crowned as the official flask should be compared. 8 samples were returned in the great search but many more were sent out by Ivins before Sep 11 2009?

  11. Anonymous Scientist said

    http://www.aolnews.com/nation/article/some-doubt-fbis-findings-that-scientist-bruce-ivins-sent-anthrax-letters/19372388

    Some Doubt FBI Line That Scientist Sent Anthrax LettersUpdated: 5 minutes ago
    Print Text Size E-mail More
    Allan Lengel
    Contributor
    (Feb. 25) — Not everyone is buying the FBI’s finding that government scientist Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer.

    The Justice Department, FBI and U.S. Postal Inspectors announced Friday that they were closing the case and released a 92-page report explaining why Ivins, who killed himself in 2008, was the culprit.

    Jeffrey Adamovicz, the former chief of bacteriology for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases in Frederick, Md., where Ivins worked, wrote the Frederick News Post expressing serious misgivings about the FBI findings that Ivins sent the deadly letters that killed five and sickened 17 others in 2001.

    “The evidence is still very circumstantial and unconvincing as a whole,” Adamovicz wrote in an e-mail to the paper. “I’m curious as to why they closed the case while the [National Academy of Science] review is still ongoing. Is it because the review is going unfavorable for the FBI?”

    The academy is reviewing the validity of the science used by investigators in the case, but does not plan to say whether Ivins did it or not.

    Ivins committed suicide from an overdose of Tylenol as federal investigators were focusing on him and preparing to file an indictment in the lengthy probe known as the Amerithrax investigation. Charges were never filed.

    His death came about a month after the Justice Department agreed to pay an out-of-court settlement valued at $5.85 million to scientist Steven Hatfill, who had long been the key suspect in the case. Hatfill had sued the Justice Department, which had labeled him “a person of interest.” He alleged that the federal government went on a smear campaign and leaked information that was damaging to his reputation.

    The government, after several years, conceded that Hatfill was not involved in the case.

    Interestingly, in the earlier years of the anthrax probe, the head FBI investigator at the time felt he had enough circumstantial evidence to indict Hatfill. But the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington balked, reasoning that there were far too many holes in the case.

    Adamovicz wasn’t the only person of note to express skepticism in the wake of Friday’s report.

    Rep. Rush D. Holt, D-N.J. , who is a physicist, and who presides over a congressional district where the anthrax letters were sent, issued a statement expressing doubt.

    “This has been a closed-minded, closed process from the beginning,” Holt said. “Arbitrarily closing the case on a Friday afternoon should not mean the end of this investigation. The evidence the FBI produced would not, I think, stand up in court. But because their prime suspect is dead and they’re not going to court, they seem satisfied with barely a circumstantial case.”

    Holt added that “the National Academies of Science review of the FBI’s scientific methods in this case won’t be released until summer, but the FBI doesn’t seem to care.”

    The FBI has said it believes strongly in its conclusion.

    “The report is based on nearly 3,000 pages of documents that have been made public,” Michael Kortan, the chief FBI spokesman in Washington told AOL News.

    The three agencies said Friday, in announcing their findings, that, “The Amerithrax investigation found that the late Dr. Bruce Ivins acted alone in planning and executing these attacks.”

    The summary portrayed Ivins as a psychologically tormented man who had a long-time obsession with a sorority in New Jersey, not far from the mailbox that was used to mail the anthrax letters. It said he had devoted his entire career to the anthrax vaccine program, which seemed to be failing — that is, until the anthrax attacks. Then it was “suddenly rejuvenated.”

    The report also said Ivins made unexplained and suspicious visits to the lab in Frederick, Md., late at night and on weekends around the time of the attacks. It said he had never worked those hours before or after the anthrax attacks. When confronted about the “suspicious hours,” he could provide no legitimate explanation, the report said.

    Authorities laid out other details in the report, including an FBI theory that Ivins had embedded a secret scientific code in the mailed letters that was a reference to two colleagues he had been obsessed with. And it said he had access off hours to a lab room that had all the “necessary tools to grow, harvest, and purify the anthrax, as well as to the equipment capable of performing the forbidden function of drying the anthrax.”

    Ivins denied to investigators that he was capable of producing such sophisticated and high-quality anthrax spores as those that were used in the letters. But the report said his lab notes suggested that he in fact “could, and did, create spores of the concentration and purity of the mailed spores.”

    Gerry Andrews, another former chief of bacteriology at the lab in Frederick, said it wouldn’t have been unusual for Ivins to work odd hours because he was working on experiments with animals and he could get more done at certain times, according to the Frederick News Post.

    ” The FBI, I think, is trying to give folks the wrong impression of the timeline” to make their case against Ivins more convincing, Andrews said, according to the Frederick News Post.

    “Bruce didn’t have the skill to make spore preps of that concentration,” Andrews said. “He never ever could make a spore prep like the ones found in the letters.”
    Filed under: Nation, Crime, Top Stories

  12. DXer said

    Dr. Ivins did not record withdrawals for animal challenges done within his own lab and the FBI developed an inventory control sheet that reflected these. That appears to be show an encapsulation study in March 1998. What did that study involve?

    On August 28, 2000 virulent Ames from Flask 1029 was used for “DARPA mass spec project with JHU-APL / See FD-302, #3605 4/15/2003. What did that study involve?

  13. DXer said

    Let’s consider the DOJ’s “Code” section.

    The DOJ states:

    “There are 20 such distinct amino acids, which themselves have single-letter designators. The sequence of the amino acid chain is determined by the DNA sequence, which is translated three nucleic acids at a time.”

    The DOJ states: “each of the 64 different codon sequences code for a specific amino acid.” DOJ notes “Investigators also obtained a letter to Dr. Ivins from a researcher from the University of Michigan dating back to the 1980s, in which the author discussed codons.”

    What the DOJ does not tell you, is that while there are 64 possible triplets or “codons,” there are only 20 amino acids and some amino acids are specified by more than one triplet.

    Phenylalanine, for example, is made not only by the codon UUU, but also by the codon UUC.

    There are six ways of making each of the amino acids leucine, serine and arginine.

    Only two of the 20 are specified by unique codons: tryptophan (UGG) and methionine.

    From this analysis, the DOJ imagines, two possibile hidden meanings emerged: (1) “FNY” – a verbal assault on New York, and (2) PAT – the nickname of Former Colleague #2.

    The DOJ elaborates:

    TTT = Phenylalanine (single-letter designator F)

    But I thought the codons for phenylalanine are UUU and UUC. In fact, I thought phenylalanine and tyrosine are each encoded by two codons (UUU/C and UAU/C, respectively).

    The DOJ says that “AAT = Asparagine (single-letter designator N)”

    I thought its codons are AAU and AAC.

    Could either AUSA Ken Kohl or the University of Michigan researcher explain it to me — I realize that the author of that book (I also have the book) says the FBI is all wet on this.
    And so for us laypersons the DOJ’s theory can be understood to have melted immediately upon being offered.

    But perhaps the University of Michigan researcher has other insights and can explain why the DOJ’s Summary passes the all-important, highly technical inside-the-beltway “giggle test”?

    This discussion of codons came from a book I coincidentally had out from the library for my fourth grader called “100 Most Important Science Ideas.”

    I hesitate to return it to the library lest the FBI — which first obtained the documents from Ivins about his research with the former Zawahiri associate in 2005 — might misapprehend it as evidence of guilt.

    AUSA Ken Kohl, author of the report, and the DOJ agents who came up with their cockamamie interpretation, seem to lack common sense.

    Their 92 page summary seems to be a conclusion in search of arguments — finding none they had to make up some really bizarre sh–. Their interpretation is not merely reading “tea leaves” — based on comments from their expert author, it is not even a sound interpretation of the codons.

    • DXer said

      Oh, by the way, the former Zawahiri associate who was working with virulent Ames from Flask 1029 alongside Bruce Ivins is from the University of Michigan.

      The very first person I asked about him was the University of Michigan scientist referenced by the FBI whose correspondence and field involved the codons.

      Small world, ain’t it?

      • DXer said

        “Investigators also obtained a letter to Dr. Ivins from a researcher from the University of Michigan dating back to the 1980s, in which the author discussed codons.”

        Where has the US DOJ provided this? What sort of nonsense is it to reference and rely on documents not provided?

        Where has the DOJ provided all relevant pages of Lab Notebook 4010? To include the pages containing his notations on the health of the animals and his work with the Egyptian national from the University of Michigan.

    • “TTT = Phenylalanine (single-letter designator F)

      But I thought the codons for phenylalanine are UUU and UUC. In fact, I thought phenylalanine and tyrosine are each encoded by two codons (UUU/C and UAU/C, respectively).” Dxer above

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenylalanine

      “The codons for L-phenylalanine are UUU and UUC. ”

      Dxer you are a codon mensch.

    • “The DOJ says that “AAT = Asparagine (single-letter designator N)”

      I thought its codons are AAU and AAC.” Dxer

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asparagine

      Its codons are AAU and AAC.

    • DXer said

      Let’s consider the University of Michigan Medical Center letter dated May 10 [1998] to Bruce Ivins:

      “My colleagues and I would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to both you and Dr. Ivins for the opportunity to work at USAMRIID. Dr. Ivins _______________________ were very helpful and cooperative in facilitating our studies as well as providing excellent technical assistance. Their efforts made our stay at USAMRIID both pleasant and highly productive. In particular, our discussions with Dr. Ivins provided valuable insights which will enable to better define and develop our technology.

      The data generated in these studies serves to clarify and validate the results which we have seen in our model systems (see attachments). We were able to block growth of both strains of B. anthracis with emulsion incorporated media (Table 1). We also were successful in reducing both Vollum and Ames spore counts by 95% (as assessed by CFU of viable organisms). These reductions were observed at spore concentrations of up to 1 X 10 6/ ml (Figure 1) and were seen even in conditions which limited germination (room temperature incubation). Decreased numbers of spores also were identified microscopically in the media after treatment. In contrast, no reduction in counts was noted with an initial spore innoculation of 1 X 10 8 / ml (Figure 2). These conditions probably overwhelm the emulsion given the concentration of spores in approaching the concentration of lipid vesicles. However, extremely high spore concentrations may alter the effect of the lipid in other ways and we are designing experiments with inhibitors of germination used at lower spore densities to clarify this result.

      We were pleased with this outcome and the personal interaction that produced them. Given the non-toxic nature of these emulsions, we feel that they may have a role in the decontamination and treatment of agents such as anthrax and alphavirus. We look forward to future collaborative efforts with Dr. Ivins and his laboratory staff. With the diverse nature of our respective programs, we believe that a cooperative approach will serve to accelerate the development of these compounds.”

      My acquaintance, Dr. Hamid, the former Egyptian Islamic Jihad member recruited by Ayman Zawahiri, says he called the University of Michigan Tarek Hamouda, a lifelong friend, and asked him pre-911 about patents. He was told that it was all in the marketing.

      All those patents thank Bruce Ivins, Mara Linscott (“Former Colleague #1) and Patricia Fellows (“Former Colleague #1) for providing technical assistance. Those patents also thank the FBI’s genetic expert KS, who played such a key role in Dr. Keim’s lab in 2001-2002.

      The decontamination agent that was the subject of the testing above was tested at the US Capital after the mailings. The hand cream based on the emulsion tested was pitched to postal workers. $80 million in investment and the VP this week confirmed that there still was no marketed product.

      I’m not a cynic. So I don’t view the investment as part of a closed legend of a illegal bioweapons program. I just view it as another example where the US law enforcement agencies and national security agencies were snookered again just as they were in the case of Ali Mohammed, EIJ’s chief of intelligence, who worked for the US Army and reported to Bin Laden that he and Cairo Med alum Dahab (who Ali recruited in the early 1980s) had recruited 10 sleepers.

      Dr. Hamouda would visit Cairo as a child from Khartoum where his mother was a professor of accounting. Dr. Hamouda graduated from Cairo Medical in December 1982, the heyday of the aftermath of the Sadat assassination when the VOC head Agiza was prosecuted and the same time Ali Mohammed recruited Dahab. (Ali Mohammed and Dahab then lived and recruited sleepers in the US). Dr. Hamouda was closer to St. Louis MD Hamid, who won’t talk to his brother given his brother’s consultation with the US intelligence community.

      Dr. Hamouda, before working with Dr. Ivins with virulent Ames, worked in the same department at Cairo Medical as Ayman Zawahiri’s sister Heba. Her family had hired lawyer Mamdouh Ismail over the rendition of her brother Muhammad at the time the intent to use anthrax was announced by Ayman Zawahiri’s colleagues. Mamdouh Ismail has been charged as a conduit with jihadis in Egypt and Yemen.

      Dr. Hamouda received his microbiology degree in 1994 and then 3 years later because of a lack of proper vetting by DARPA, was in charge of the DARPA project with which Dr. Ivins was cooperating and for which he had the speed vac signed out. When I contacted University of Michigan scientist James Baker and submitted a FOIA request for the documents only now produced by the DOJ, all I got was an arrogant and dismissive response and false claim that there were no responsive documents.

      The documents now produced by the US DOJ indicate that the FBI first obtained the correspondence relating to Dr. Hamouda’s research in 2005, which is incompetent. It’s one thing to leave an important crime unsolved and say there was insufficient proof. It is quite another to blame the dead guy, WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER, who had been driven to suicide by mischaracterizing emails and Lab Notebook 4010 pages that are nowhere produced. Dr. Ivins was upset that it would come out he was a frequent cross-dresser and upset that his anthrax had been used in the attacks and he would be blamed for it — and he felt he would be subject to being charged. Given his alteration of records, missing samples, the possibility of unregistered transfers and more, he may very well have been properly charged. But there is no evidence he was the processor or mailer or that the sadness he expressed about the victims of 911 and the anthrax mailings was insincere.

      And the suggestion he did it while drunk from vodka and Ambien is nonsense. The mailings and the lack of forensic evidence indicate a high degress of functioning and care in planning.

      • DXer said

        Mamdouh Ismail’s contact — his intermediary in communicating with Ayman Zawahiri — was the spymaster who wrote the treatise on Amerithrax.

        Where is the CIA’s pride? Zawahiri and his colleagues are laughing at what will go down as the greatest failure in intelligence and crime-solving in US history.

        Infiltration of US Biodefense: Dugway

        Bruce Ivins email – concern samples were missing

        This document seized in Afghanistan point to infiltration of US biodefense.

      • DXer said

        The DOJ also has provided a December 5, 1997 letter from a University of Michigan Medical Center scientist to Bruce Ivins. It states:

        “Dear Dr. Ivins:

        It was a pleasure speaking with you the other day. I much appreciate your willingness to work with us concerning our new anti-sporicidal material. We are looking forward to doing it in vitro evaluating or not whether this material against anthrax spores given its efficacy against other species of bacillus spores. These studies would involve mixing the material with the spores for varying lengths of time and then either separating the spores or culturing them directly to determine the viability. We might also do fixation of the spore preparations to determine if there are any ultrastructural changes in the spores that can be oberved with electron microscopy.

        My technicians are fully trained in the contagious pathogen handling and have experience with level 3 biosafety requirements. They, as I, are willing to undergo the anthrax and plague immunizations, although I was hoping that they might be able to administer the vaccines at the University of Michigan. This might allow us to only make one trip to USAMRID before we begin the studies. If we could either purchase the vaccine from you or from a commercial distributor, we would be happy to administer it and document titers in any way you feel appropriate.

        I look forward to the initiation of this work. I believe it could be a very interesting collaboration that could eventually lead to animal studies. On December 19, commensurate with the filing of patents on this material, I will send you additional data on the formulations and our studies concerning the ability of these materials to inactivate spores both in vitro and in vivo.

        Sincerely,

        ____________
        _____ Division of Allergy

  14. BugMaster said

    “9. Dr. Ivins was among the very few anthrax researchers nationwide with the knowledge and ability to create the highly purified spores used in the mailings.”

    BULLSHIT! I have reviewed two published papers by Ivins where he gives the protocol used to create material of such purity. If I had access to the Ames strain and the contrast agent used in the purification process, I could do it too!

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